Sunday, December 6, 2020



Hello, and welcome again to the Virtual Advent Tour, hosted by sprite writes. Check her blog everyday for a new Advent post from all over the world. Everyone is welcome to share a bit of their Christmas or holiday. If you would like to contribute, head over to sprite writes and pick a date. She has done such a great job keeping this tradition going. (The advent tour is where I first met sprite back in 2007 - how is that possibly that long ago?)

I know everyone says it, but 2020 has been a rough year. We have been extremely lucky here on PEI and have been quite Covid-free, but this week we had a case at my high school, so teachers all had to be tested, we've got 60 or so kids on quarantine as they were close contacts of the positive case, plus all the other kids who are rightly concerned and anxious and stayed home. So far, it doesn't appear to have spread, but it's been a crazy, stressful week as we joined the rest of North America in dealing with the pandemic. 

Everything about Christmas is going to be different for so many people, so falling back on the little traditions that make Christmas meaningful will be more important than ever. Enjoying some decorations you inherited or made, making some favourite recipes to eat with your household, listening to music and watching your favourite holiday movies can all still happen during a pandemic. 

Here's a song I quite enjoy, even if it becomes the biggest ear worm once I listen to it. Adam Sandler amuses me and it's a holiday song - enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by again this year. Having the Virtual Advent Tour is now a tradition at Christmas for me, and one that continues in spite of the pandemic. Here's a look back at my past posts:

In 2019, I shared the extra things that make Christmas sparkly

In 2018, I shared several posts:
    - a look at some Canadian history on December 6th that I always remember
    - a look at advent calendars through my years

In 2017, I shared a song by local sister singers on a charity album
    - in a second post, I shared how I decked the halls with physics haikus with my class

In 2016, I shared the lights of my town, and a recipe for Spumoni shortbreads
In 2015, I shared my Christmas decorations in our new home
In 2014, there was no tour

In 2013, I shared a Christmas series of novellas by Anne Perry that I listened in audio
In 2012, I posted some favourite Christmas mystery  books
In 2011, I posted a 'recipe' for fruitcake that my grandmother had given me.

In 2010, I took a humorous look at some local events on Prince Edward Island.
In 2009, we played 'guess the carol'
In 2008, I played a game of 'guess the movie', and my favorite Christmas picture ever.
In 2007, it was the original 'guess the carol' game, with your vocabulary tested, and my whipped shortbread cookie recipe.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I Loved But Didn't Review


I barely get anything watched on Netflix that I want to watch, let alone imagine what books should be turned into a movie, so this week's topic, Top Ten Books that Should be Made into a Movie isn't going to work for me. Instead, I'll catch up on last week's topic, Books I Loved But Didn't Review, and adapt it a bit to be the last Ten Canadian Books I Read by Didn't Review (and I loved half of them a lot)
I'm mostly a rule follower, but when I break, I break bad.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl

Causeway: A Passage from Innocence by Linden MacIntyre
What a wonderfully written memoir! Set in Cape Breton, MacIntyre, a Canadian journalist, recounts his childhood, framed by the building of the Canso Causeway, which connected mainland Nova Scotia to Cape Breton in 1955. From the chronic poverty life of Cape Breton, to his somewhat difficult relationship with his father, MacIntyre does a great job of blending the large world with his small life. I was looking up information (Angus L MacDonald, now known as a Halifax Bridge but was once a premier) to realizing that in such a short time how the Gaelic language has disappeared (MacIntyre's grandmother only spoke Gaelic). I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Plus, I learned he is married to Carol Off, a CBC journalist. 

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo
This was a YA book through YA Sync, the free summer audiobook program. I don't always love YA books, and most of this summer's have been okay, but not great. Sometimes they focus too much on fantasy or witches, and sometimes they don't focus at all, trying to cover too much territory and ideas. So after a few YA books that seemed all over the place, I was very pleased with Easy Prey, which also happened to be set in Canada. Easy Prey is about a teacher who gets outed on social media with inappropriate photos and the three students who are suspected of posted the pictures.
Catherine Lo did a fabulous job of plotting and characters and dealing with the timely issue of cyber crimes. When I finished, I thought, That was a great book!

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
It's been a very, very long time since I read The Handmaid's Tale (published in 1986) and I haven't watched the series on television but I still remember the main points of the story, so decided to go ahead and listen to Atwood's latest volume. I am always so surprised at how readable her books are. She is so lauded and recognized as literature, that I expect more ephemeral writing, but it is very accessible. This book jumps around in time and characters a lot, and it wasn't always clear (in audio) when things were happening, but I just went along for the ride, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her plotting was excellent, and how everything came together at the end was well worth the listen. 
Don't get pulled in by the fact that is says Margaret Atwood is one of the readers. She only dramatically intones the chapter breaks, lol.

The Innocents by Michael Crummey
This was another well written, thoroughly engrossing read. Set in an isolated outport in rural Newfoundland in the late 1800s, what might happen if the parents of two young children died. leaving them to survive on their own? This is that tale. While they have more contact with the outside world that you would expect, they are isolated for much of their lives, struggling to survive in the most inhospitable setting imaginable. Crummey takes the reader along as the brother and sister grow and survive and, somehow, beautifully, tells their tale.

The Answer Is... Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek

Like Martin Short and Chris Hadfield before him, Trebek tells his thoroughly Canadian memoir of happiness and positivity. My husband and I have been Jeopardy fans since we first met in university, watching at 1 pm, and trying to catch final jeopardy before running across campus to get to a 1:30 pm chemistry lab. The Jeopardy prime time special in January with Ken, James and Brad was the best show of the winter, and all summer, Jeopardy has been 'opening the vaults' to some classic episodes. (OMG, Chuck! I forgot about Chuck!) With Alex's cancer announcement, Jeopardy has taken on new specialness knowing there is an end coming. This memoir is delightful and Alex is full of appreciation and positivity about his life. Nothing too dramatic at all happens, and even if it did, Alex  chalks it up to stuff happens in life and you have to get over it. Don't read this if you are looking of gossip or dirt, but do read it to get a peek at an awesome, kind man who is just what he seems.

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald
Narrated by a neuro-atypical girl, this book could have ventured into too cuteness, but the world of Zelda and her older brother Gert is a little to real and violent to be mushy. Orphans, Zelda and Gert are looking out for each other as best they can. Zelda has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and is pretty high functioning but needs lot of rules for life to work for her. Her brother is trying to stay in college but has to look out for Zelda at the same time. Drug dealing ensues. If you liked The Rosie Project, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, I recommend Vikings. I liked, but didn't love, all of them.

An Irish Doctor in Love and at Sea AND
An Irish Doctor In Peace and at War
by Patrick Taylor

Since I discovered listening to this series and my library has all of them, I try to fit a couple in each summer. They are surprisingly long but very easy listening. Doctor Fingal Flaherty O'Reily continues on his tale of life in 1960s Northern Ireland, superimposed on his memories from the 1930s. He is up to his wartime service in the past, but it is the present world with Donal Donally, and Bertie Bishop and all the characters of Bally-Buckle-Bo that I really enjoy. 

The End of Her by Shari Lapena
Lapena is known for her suspenseful books. I am finding her hit and miss and the more I read of her, the more the same the books feel. I've listened to most of her books, and maybe this kind of suspense works better on the printed page, because I argue back continuously with the narrator in the audiobooks. If you have liked her previous books, you will probably like this one as well. 

The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra

This was a cute memoir by actor Rajiv Surendra (known for his role in Mean Girls as the rap-mathlete) as he tries to attain the role he feels he was meant to play - the boy in The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Once he discovers the book he loved is being made into a movie, he does all he can to prepare for the role. Luckily it took several years for the movie to get made, so he had lots of time to prepare. He goes to India, he learns to swim, he studies religions, and in the meantime, attends college in Toronto and acts in some other jobs. This memoir was fine, but it is always difficult to have enough material and perspective to write a memoir in your twenties.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Most Anticipated New Releases for 2nd Half of 2020

What books are you looking forward to in the rest of 2020? That's the topic this week for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I'm not a person who pre-orders books, or who has to read the newest book immediately. I'll keep an eye on the library's new releases and hope to get near the front of the line for most of these. 
What I am excited about is Hamilton on Disney Plus this weekend! I've been listening to the songs this week to get ready!
(I've been having image issues on Blogger recently so I am not even going to try today. Could you see the images in my last few posts?)

Hamnet & Judith by Maggie O'Farrell
July 21, 2020
The last of the Women's Prize for Fiction books I expect to get to and I've read some great reviews already. 

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith
September 15, 2020
The next in the Cormoran Strike/Robin Ellacott series - I didn't even realize there was an upcoming release until I was looking around for this topic

All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny
September 1, 2020
Another Inspector Gamauche - hope to get the audio version of this one

Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt by Steven Johnson
May 12, 2020
It's all ready been released, but I'm a fan of Johnson's nonfiction and I'd like to read his latest 

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella
October 27, 2020
I recently read a Kinsella after a break of a number of years and forgot how great she is at her type of book. Really so good.

Rapture: Fifteen Teams, Four Countries, One NBA Championship by Nick Nurse
September 29, 2020
Basketball is just about back, and Nick Nurse is a very interesting character. I could read this as the Raptors defend their title

Again Again by E Lockhart
June 2, 2020
Another one that has already been released, but it's pretty recent, and Lockhart is a great writer

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


As we get close to the Summer Solstice (June 20th) it is time to be thinking about what books are on the summer TBR list. Every week That Artsy Reader Girl hosts a list-making extravaganza called Top Ten Tuesday. Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for all the lists, and future topics.

Continuing Series:

The Ghost Fields 
Elly Griffiths

The Abbot's Agreement
Mel Starr

The Women's Prize Nominees:

All This Could Be Yours
Jami Attenberg

Anne Enright

The Canadians: 

The Testaments
Margaret Atwood

Linden MacIntyre

Books I Own and Want to Read:

Daphne DuMaurier

The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder
Sarah J Harris

YA Sync Books:

Like No Other 
Una LaMarche

Into White
Randi Pink

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I’ve Added to my TBR and Forgotten Why

The topic this week is Books I've Added to My TBR and Forgotten Why. I went to my Librarything account where I've added all the books I've bought over the years, starting in 2007 when I joined LT. There are more books there than the ten I have listed here. I changed my list a bit - these aren't one I've forgotten why. There were books that I can't remember why I bought, but the ones I've listed here today are ones I still want to read, and may turn into an unofficial Summer TBR list! 

For more posts on this topic, and for future lists, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl, host of this great weekly meme.

Oryx and Crake 
Margaret Atwood
I've actually read the next 2 books in this series, so there is no reason why I haven't read this. My son even had it on his reading list for a science fiction English course he took this year. (I'm pretty sure he didn't read this one. Funny story - as he's telling me the reading list for the course, 6 or 7 novels, he says - we won't have to read all these books. Oh, was he surprised to see what happens in a university English course!)

The Wheel on the School
Meindert deJong pictures by Maurice Sendak
Newbery Winner 1955
It's not even a long book! 

The Elegant Universe 
Brian Greene
A grand ole physics book about String Theory. I've read the counter argument book - The Trouble with Physics against String Theory. This is so old now, it's actually probably historical.

The Last King of Scotland
Giles Foden
It was a movie in 2006 which is probably when I picked up the book. Haven't seen the movie yet either.  

Say You're One of Them
Uwem Akpen
A collection of short stories, set in Africa. I think I've read a few of the stories but I definitely didn't finish it.

Dewey Decimal System of Love
Josephine Carr
Looks like a cute chick-lit type of book. Related to books? 

The Well of Lost Plots
Jasper Fforde
I read the first two in the Thursday Next series in 2008! And never continued. I've read other Fforde books since and am always impressed with their humour and plotting. 

The Land of Spices
Kate O'Brien
Some of the people I met on LT were into the Virago Modern Classics, reprints of old books by forgotten women writers. They have a lovely dark green edging which makes them easy to spot at books sales. I picked up a few but never got into reading them. These are probably the books that would be on the Women's Prize for Fiction list back in the day.

Beatrice and Virgil
Yann Martel
One of the tags of I have on this book is 'from wendycat' and I entered it in 2010. Wendy - I still haven't read this book! 

The Blythes are Quoted
LM Montgomery
I remember wanting this for Christmas in 2009, and getting it. It is so very pretty, and I have it on a display of my Anne of Green Gables figurines (I'll post a picture some day) but I never got into this last published book by Maud. I believe it is more akin to Olive Kitteridge - a series of short stories, but all contain to varying degrees, the Blythe family. 

I have to say, after writing about all these books I am quite excited to dig into some of these books. Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I bump to the top of this very old pile of books?

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books that Give a Summer Vibe

Top Ten Tuesday is thinking about those summer vibes. What books give you that summer vibe? I'm looking for books with summer in the title, or ones that remind me of summer. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, and you can find more posts and future topics there.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy 
by Jeanne Birdsall
All the Penderwicks books take place in the summer as that is when all the interesting things happen to kids, on summer vacation. This is a delightful little series, where the children actually grow over time.

Thimble Summer 
by Elizabeth Enright
Originally written in 1938 and a Newbery Winner, my memories are hazy about this one, but I think it was just a simple, kind story.

The Last Summer of Me and You
by Ann Brashares
Classic chick-lit beach-book.

Last Days of Summer 
by Steve Kluger
Quality kids book set in WW2, lots of baseball, and heartbreak.

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread
by Don Robertson
Morris Bird III walks across the city to prove his bravery and has many adventures.

The Dry
by Jane Harper
Great mystery set in Australia during a drought.

August Heat
by Andrea Camilleri
All the Inspector Montalbano books set in Sicily, Italy evoke summer time, and heat, and good food.

The Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson
English coast just before WW1. Not as good as Major Pettigrew, but a good historical fiction read.

I Want to Go Home
by Gordon Korman
Summer = summer camp, and this is a fantastic children's story, one of the funniest I can remember reading.

Big Summer 
by Jennifer Weiner
This is next on my audiobook listens - I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


The topic this week is First Lines. I've gone through and found the first lines of some books I've loved, and also where the first line so clearly identifies the book, I smile as soon as I read the first line. Do you recognize the lines as well? I've hidden the answer after the quote - highlight the area to see if you are correct.
Top Ten Thursday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl - check out her site for links to today's topic, and to see the future topics.

Monday 27 January 129 lbs. (total fat groove), boyfriends 1 (hurrah!), shags 3 (hurrah!), calories 2,100, calories used up by shags 600, so total calories 1,500 (exemplary). Bridget Jones' Diary

If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling's whole life would have been entirely different. The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

Maniac Magee was not born in a dump. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Dave, I just finished the first chapter of a new novel - a real crime novel with a dead body and all- and I thought of you. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz

Major Pettigrew was still upset about the phone call from his brother's wife and so he answered the doorbell without thinking. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it. The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

How angry am I? You don't want to know. Nobody wants to know about that. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

At half past six on the twenty-first of June 1922, when Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was escorted through the gates of the Kremlin onto Red Square, it was glorious and cool. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died. The Milkman by Anna Burns

The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Patterson

Sunday, May 17, 2020

WEEKEND COOKING: Oatmeal Waffles

Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader is back to blogging, and has taken over the hosting of Weekend Cooking. I thought I had participated many times over the years, but a perusal of my blog shows me I only did once. In honour of Marg's return (it is so nice to see an 'old' face in my feed reader) that I am going to try to post a little more regularly, and Weekend Cooking is a great start for me.

A few Christmases ago I bought the family a waffle maker for a house present. It has taken me a while to get the hang of making them so they don't squeeze out the side and make a huge mess to clean up but I have. I also have found the recipe that I make over and over again, so much so that I don't even look for other recipes anymore. If they don't all get eaten (rarely)  I just pop them in the toaster the next day. My favourite way to eat these waffles is with some cut up fruit (strawberries or bananas), and a little bit of syrup. If I'm serving for company, I might get some Cool Whip.

As I think about some of my favourite recipes, it turns out I really, really like oatmeal, so don't be surprised to see more oatmeal recipes here.

Oatmeal Waffles (from kyleecooks)

makes 4 or 5, depending on your waffle maker)

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
4 Tbs butter melted
1 Tbs dark brown sugar

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, oatmeal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, butter and brown sugar.
Add wet to dry, and mix until just combined. The mixture will be thick!
Pour batter into a lightly greased waffle iron and cook until desired colour is reached.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


The topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is your Spring TBR list. I love making these lists, but maybe this one should be the 'social distancing/isolation list' as we all hunker down and live our best introverted bookworm life. I also expect to get through this list a lot faster than a usual seasonal TBR list. It is technically our March Break this week and how the next few weeks plan our isn't exactly clear for teachers yet, but I expect to be home for quite a bit. So, read on...

Couple of audiobooks I've got borrowed for my walks:

Ask Again, Yes! by Mary Beth Keane
I'm already part way through this one and really liking it!

Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor by Patrick Taylor
Looking forward to a little stay in the simpler 60s of Ireland

next in a series:

Rest Not in Peace (Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon) by Mel Starr 
Way back in the 1200s...

Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
I got this Kindle book on Amazon because my library is missing books 5 & 6 in the series, which is ridiculous. I actually won a $10 Amazon gift certificate through the Participaction app, just for recording my active minutes of exercise. 

books I grabbed at the library on Sunday because I was worried the library would close (which it has!)
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg 

Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett 

Girl: A Novel by Edna O'Brien 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch 

And my Book Club book for the month:

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah 

Also, Happy St Patrick's Day!