Saturday, June 29, 2013

CHALLENGE: Paris in July 2013

It's almost time for Paris in July, 2013 edition. I've enjoyed dabbling in a few books each July since Karen at Bookbath and Tamara at Thyme for Tea started it.

During the month of July, read your book, eat some food, watch a movie. Something French.

The books I hope to read include:

Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood.
It's a female detective series that I enjoy, starring Phryne Fisher, set in 1920s Australia. I'm going with the fact that the Eiffel Tower is on the cover that there will be some connection to Paris.

Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth
Looks like a fun, intrigue-based spy story, chick lit style. Young Jackie Bouvier (Kennedy Onassis) is recruited by the CIA. I added it to my library list after last year's challenge  so someone must have enjoyed it.

Madame Bovary goes on my list every year, although I can't see me getting it read at all. Similarly, I've got Madame de Stael on a account that I still haven't finished. Maybe this July!

It's not quite the same thing, but we are planning to go to Quebec the first week of August, staying in Quebec City one night, and then a week at Sherbrooke for the Canada Games. Go PEI Basketball!  It'll be the finale to Paris in July - my very own Quebec in August!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List

Topic Today:  Top Ten Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List 
Check out The Broke and the Bookish for more links and future TTB lists.

I love these TBR lists, and I've been making them to remind me of books I really want to read before I get distracted by other shiny new books. This is a good mix of new books, books I've bought, authors I like love, library books, and reading challenges. Looks like a great summer!

1. Blood Safari by Deon Meyer (I'm trying to read all Meyer's books)

2. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark (supposed to be a great new mystery series)

3. Microserf by Douglas Coupland (for the Canadian Challenge)

4. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (more Morton!)

5. Americah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (great new fiction by great author, library)

6. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (more great new fiction by great author)

7. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (a nonfiction)

8. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin (school library book)

9. Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth (or something elso for Paris in July, library)

10. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro (Canadian and Short Stories with a terrible cover)

Monday, June 17, 2013

LIST: the well read canadian

John at the Book Mine Set has made his list (inspired by other lists) of the books that should be read to be a well read Canadian. Or to be Canadian well-read. I guess it goes either way. I've read 37 which seems alright, but wouldn't be a passing grade. How do you do? It's a ready made list for the Canadian Book Challenge if you want to join.

1. Lucy Maud Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
2. John Vaillant- The Tiger
3. Modecai Richler- Barney's Version
4. Rohinton Mistry- A Fine Balance
5. Miriam Toews- A Complicated Kindness
7. Susanna Moodie- Roughing it in the Bush
8. Wayne Johnston- The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
9. James Houston- White Dawn
10. Michael Ondaatje- In the Skin of a Lion

11. Robert Munsch- The Paperbag Princess
12. Christian Bok- Eunoia
13. Pierre Berton- the Last Spike
14. Margaret Laurence- Stone Angel
15. Seth- It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
16. Ken Dryden- The Game
17. Farley Mowat- Never Cry Wolf
18. Carol Shields- The Stone Diaries
19. M. G. Vassanji- the In-Between World of Vikram Lall
20. Michel Tremblay- The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant

21. Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights on Air
22. Sheila Watson- the Double Hook
23. Robertson Davies- Fifth Business
24. Richard Van Camp- Lesser Blessed
25. Ann-Marie MacDonald- Fall on Your Knees
26. Kit Pearson- The Sky is Falling
27. Kenneth Oppel- Silverwing
28. Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid's Tale
29. Marshall McLuhan- Understanding Media
30. Alistair MacLeod- No Great Mischief

31. Alice Munro- The Love of a Good Woman
32. Guy Vanderhaeghe- The Last Crossing
33. Emma Donoghue- Room
34. Guy Gavriel Kay- The Summer Tree
35. Douglas Coupland- Generation X
36. Tomson Highway- The Rez Sisters
37. Leonard Cohen- Beautiful Losers
38. Phoebe Gilman- Something From Nothing (I read Jillian Jiggs and The Balloon Tree)
39. The Complete Poems of Robert W. Service
40. David Adams Richards- Mercy Among the Children

41. Joseph Boyden- Three Day Road (read Through Black Spruce)
42. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki- Skim
43. Ivan Coyote- Bow Grip
44. Naomi Klein- No Logo
45. Will Ferguson- Why I Hate Canadians
46. Lisa Moore- February
47. Mary Watson- Crow Lake
48. Alan Bradley- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
49. Cory Doctorow- Little Brother
50. P.K. Page- Planet Earth: Poems selected and new

51. Lawrence Hill- The Book of Negroes
52. Timothy Findley- The Wars
53. Margaret Atwood- Alias Grace
54. Jane Urquhart- The Stone Carvers
55. Mavis Gallant- From the Fifteenth District
56. Hugh MacLennan- Barometer Rising
57. Joy Kogawa- Obasan
58. Wayson Choy- Jade Peony
59. Chester Brown- Louis Riel
60. Yann Martel- Life of Pi

61. Gabrielle Roy- The Tin Flute
62. W.P. Kinsella- Shoeless Joe  (pretty sure I read this years ago)
63. Elizabeth Smart- By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
64. Thomas King- Green Grass, Running Water
65. Sara Gruen- Water for Elephants
66. William Gibson- Neuromancer
67. Margaret Laurence- The Diviners  (I read The Stone Angel)
68. Marie-Claire Blais- A Season in the Life of Emmanuel
69. Brian Moore- The Luck of Ginger Coffey
70. Ethel Wilson- Swamp Angel

71. Stephen Leacock- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
72. W.O. Mitchell- Who Has Seen the Wind?
73. Robert Sawyer- Flashforward
74. Roch Carrier- The Hockey Sweater
75. Eric Walters- Camp X
76. Bryan Lee O'Malley- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
77. Jeff Lemire- Essex County
78. Hubert Aquin- Next Episode
79. David Bergen- The Time in Between
80. George Elliott Clarke- Wylah Falls

81. Lynn Coady- Saints of Big Harbour
82. Michael Crummey- Galore
83. Esi Edugyan- Halfblood Blues
84. Rawi Hage- De Niro's Game
85. Bernice Morgan- Random Passage
86. Peter C. Newman- The Canadian Establishment
87. bpNichol- The Martyrology
88. Louise Penny- Still Life
89. Paul Quarrington- Whale Music  (read King Leary)
90. Sinclair Ross- As For Me and My House

91. Nalo Hopkinson- Brown Girl in the Ring
92. Vincent Lam- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
93. Dennis Lee- Alligator Pie
94. John McCrae- "In Flanders' Fields"
95. Zoe Whittal- Bottle Rocket Hearts
96. Andrew Davidson- The Gargoyle
97. Al Purdy- Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets
98. Pierre Berton- The Arctic Grail
99. Stephen Galloway- The Cellist of Sarajevo
100. Lynn Johnston- Something Old, Something New

Friday, June 14, 2013

BOOK: Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sarah Delijani

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sarah Delijani, 280 pages

review book from Simon & Schuster Canada

I watched Jon Stewart's last show before his hiatus from The Daily Show. He showed a clip* of Jason Jones in Iran in 2009, during the revolution and protests before the 'democratic' elections. One of the reporters they talked to was subsequently arrested. Stewart and the show had become friends, and after his eventual release, and book writing, Stewart decided to make a movie based on the events. That's what his hiatus is for, and it is also the subject of this book, sort of.

The revolution and protests of 2009 mirrored the revolution and crack down that happened in the 1980s. Starting in Evin Prison in 1983, a child is born to a prisoner. Delijani immersed the reader in the scene - the fear, the confusion, the horror. Several stories are followed in the 1980s, from connected young people who have been imprisoned, and their young children who are looked after by other family members. Some of the prisoners survive, some don't. Some left Iran, some stayed. Twenty odd years later, the children are grown, and living their own revolution, and also the effects of having parents who were in prison for the same revolution.

It was a beautiful book, and reminds you that an 'axis of evil' represents a government and its leaders, not the people. Iran had been a well educated, vibrant country with women who had vital roles in society. Then, bam. A totalitarian government, fundamentalist religiously based changed all that. The people are still fighting, still rebelling as best as they can. The fact that a new generation who grew up under Khomeni still turned out in numbers to protest showed that the brainwashing of a generation did not take.

It's a book that brings history, and modern events to life. As I read, I enjoyed the story and the people, but at all times, recognized that as much as it is a novel, it is also what has really happened to real people.

In the author’s own words, “Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an attempt not only to keep alive the memory of my uncle and all those who were murdered in that blood-soaked summer, but also to shed light on this dark moment in Iranian history, on its tales of violence, prison and death, which have remained untold for so long. To give voice not only to the victims of this atrocity, but also to the ordeal of their families and their children, who have had to live with their unspoken grief buried inside them year after year, decade after decade.”

Other books to read:  Persepolis 1 and 2  by Marjane Satrapi; Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi; 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi (as a book by one of the Iranian children who left Iran before the revolution)

(*Behind the Veil: Persians of Interest, Minarets of Menace, Ayatollah You So these are links to the Comedy Channel, the Canadian site. They should also be on Comedy Central. Don't judge! I get my news from The Daily Show)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BOOK: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, 375 pages

It's all the rage to write a fictional autobiography from the perspective of a famous man's wife. (The Paris Wife - Ernest Hemingway's first wife; The Aviator's Wife - Charles Lindbergh's wife; even vaguely American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld from a few years ago.) As long as they're as good as the ones I've read so far, I say keep 'em coming. Note to self - find The Aviator's Wife.

I loved Zelda! It was told from her perspective, from how the author interpreted events. We zip from the Southern US to New York, flapper life, the famous time in Paris, and the eventual destruction of some lives. Sure, Zelda probably had bipolar disorder, but much like many women in the 1930s and 40s who were institutionalized, it was that they weren't towing the male line. Imagine wanting to create in her own right and name and not just as Scott's wife? I thought it was interesting that in the author's notes at the end, she mentions how much of the mythology of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald is based on what Ernest Hemingway wrote about them in The Moveable Feast, and he certainly wasn't a Zelda fan.

also reviewed: bookfool at bookfoolery (the review that inspired me to request from the library. Thanks Nancy!)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

CHALLENGE: 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

John Mutford at The Book Mine Set is once again (seventh time!) hosting The Canadian Book Challenge. It's easy - just read books by Canadians and about Canada. Some people read by themes (provinces, authors, kids, mysteries) but I just read the ones I want. The only rule is that reviews must be written and posted. (I don't get all mine reviewed, and then they don't count in my totals :{

John met Douglas Coupland! Holy moly that's exciting. I think I will
have to read a Coupland this challenge to commemorate this. I adored Hey Nostradamus! and Eleanor Rigby and All Families are Psychotic and Generation A. Plus, the Canadian Souvenir books, and the Terry Fox book. I want to read JPod, Microserfs, Miss Wyoming, or Girlfriend in a Coma.

Head to The Book Mine Set to get more details and to sign up.

Pool of Books (left over from last year or the year before)
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
Diamond Dreams by Stephen Brunt
Getting Over Edgar by Joan Barfoot
The Age of Longing by Richard B Wright
The Republic of Love by Carol Shields
 Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
 The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence
 Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
 In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje

Ideas/books since the last challenge
Teaching by Gerry Dee
The Reluctant Detective by Martin Finley
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Our Lady of the Lost and Found
Inger Ash Wolfe series

Books I Actually Read:

1.  Indian Horse - Richard Wagamese
2.  The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud
3.  Cockroach - Rawi Hage
4.  How the Light Gets In - Louise Penny
5. Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley
6. The Bear - Claire Cameron
7. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield
8. The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
9. MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood
10. Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People - Douglas Coupland
11. The Silent Wife - ASA Harrison

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

BOOK: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, 436 pages

Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly Orange Prize) shortlist 2013

 Flight Behavior, State of Wonder, Intuition: a trifecta of Orange nominated, well written, science based books. Something also about their readability - not character driven, not particularly plot driven, but characters grow and change, and there is a page-turning aspect to the plot - what will happen next? I didn't loove any of the three, and yet, I quite enjoyed reading each of them, and found them very engaging.

Kingsolver (of The Poisonwood Bible fame) writes this one closer to home - the mountains of Appalacia, and her environmental concerns. The last Kingsolver I read was Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, her non-fiction account of living strictly off her own land, self-sufficiently.

Plot - Monach butterflies appear on a Tennessee hill destined for clear-cutting, which would provide some much needed money. Dellarobia, the married at 17, stay at home mother of two, has been feeling stifled, and becomes involved in the butterflies when the scientists come to study them. The book is maninly Dellarobia, and her growth and self-examination. You cheer for Dellarobia as you read, hoping for her to find what she needs in her life, to stretch her intellect, and reach her potential.

Best part - a guy who comes to hand out leaflets (the mountain becomes quite a magnet for all types of protesters) for ways to lower a person's carbon footprint. As he explains all the tips to Dellarobia, the conceit of the rich and middle-class who need these tips to assail their guilt at the damage to the environment becomes laughable.
ex) take tupperware to restaurants to take home your left-overs (Dellarobia hasn't been to a restaurant in two years)
- carry a nalgene bottle instead of buying bottled water (Dellarobia would never buy water, too poor)
- reduce intake of red meat (Dellarobia is trying to increase her family's eating of red meat instead of KD, and she doesn't have a freezer)
- try to buy reused items (Dellarobia laughed at this one - she has no new items of clothes)
- switch to socially responsible stocks and investments
- make sure computers get recycled (Dellarobia doesn't have a computer - guy looks shocked)
he ends with - fly less. Less? she says.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books Featuring Travel In Some Way

Top Ten Books at The Broke and the Bookish is Featuring Travel In Some Way (road trips, airplanes, travelogues, anything where there is traveling in the book!) Check out here for more Top Ten Tuesday posts.

1. Paper Town by John Green
Has the coolest, funniest road trip in any book

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
She walks the Pacific Coast Trail by herself

3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Hogwart's Express, leaving from Station 9 1/2 is the coolest way to get to school

4. Life of Pi by Yann Martell
Crossing the Pacific Ocean in a boat with a tiger

5. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Gotta have a train ride here somewhere

6. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
That fateful horse and buggy ride with Anne and Matthew changed both their lives forever

7. The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
She travels all over the world as a spy in the 1960s. Her trip down a river in Turkey was pretty memorable

8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Travelling by foot is the most harrowing of trips, especially in this ash-laden view of the future

9.  The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Don Robertson
When Morris Bird III pulls his wagon across Cincinnatti after a natural gas explosion, a little boy shows courage

10. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
The main character's legs will force him to walk without stopping, sending him on walking trips to where he doesn't know

Did I forget any great travel books?