Monday, December 31, 2012

BOOKS: December Reads

107. Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas - John Baxter, 270 pages [Christmas Spirit Challenge]

After reading A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, I thought this would be a great Christmas book. An Australian ex-pat describes his life in France as he plans to cook the big Christmas Feast for his wife's family. It was foodish, and French, and a visit to France. Fancy food, and culture shock.

108. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn, 430 pages

The book that everyone was talking about this year. Good thrilling read that is hard to review without giving away anything, but even saying there are twists a-plenty gives some away. I guessed the gist of the twists, but still enjoyed the book. The characters were terrible, terrible people, but there was also a farcical sense to the writing. I was picturing a Coen Brothers take on it by the end. By not viewing it as realistic, I thought the characters were well done, even though I imagine there are some twisted people like them out there.

109. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking - Susan Cain, 10 h 37 min
reviewed here. 
Excellent read about one way to divide people into categories, instead of women and men from Venus and Mars.

110. Breath - Tim Winton, 217 pages, [Australian Reading Challenge; NY Times Notable Book 2008]

Surfing life in Australia in the 1970s, as remembered by a middle-aged paramedic. Eleven year old boys beginning living a much older life with two hippies at the edge of society. Some distrubing plot twists about a little boy lost. The surfing part was well done, as was the idea of chasing thrills, and what to do after that wears out or is no longer possible.

 111. Wishin' and Hopin' - Wally Lamb, 279 pages, [Christmas Spirit Challenge]

Delightful and charming, in the Christmas Story vein of remembering Christmas past. Set in 1964 Connecticutt, a third cousin of Annette Funicello remembers grade five and the Christmas concert that year. Lots of crazy characters - Catholic school with nuns, subsitute teacher from Quebec, a veritable United Nations of children including a recent Russian girl, the typical snotty girl who tries to run the show, and poor naive Felix who is on the verge of learning the birds and the bees.

112. Miracle and Other Stories - Connie Willis, 289 pages [Christmas Spirit Challenge]

Willis is huge fan of Christmas stories and movies. Also included in the collection of 8 short stories are lists of recommended Christmas books and movies. She even tries to refer to them in her stories. It's a mixed bag of stories, some bordering on supernatural (Miracle), with time travel (Inn) and ghosts (Adaptation).

113. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley, 271 pages [Canadian Book Challenge, Christmas Spirit challenge]
reviewed here

Sunday, December 30, 2012

CHALLENGE: Series Goals 2013


Thanks to SuziQoregon at Whimpulsive for the inspiration, this was my most successful challenge of last year. I got organized, and read a ton (or 20) of books, and got back to my mysteries. I got a good number of series up to date, found a few new ones, and rediscovered a few older series that I'd forgotten. So, once again!

The Ones I got up to date in 2012. Will there be new books in my favorite series in 2013? 

Darko Dawson by Kwei Quartey
The Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French

Inspector Armand Gamauche by Louise Penny
     How the Light Gets In (Aug 2013)
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
     The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon (Nov 2013)
Vish Puri by Tarquin Hall
      The Case of the Love Commandos (Oct 2013)
Detective Erlendur by Arnaldur Indridason
       Strange Shores (Sept 2013)
Flavia de Luce by Alan Bradley
    Speaking From Among the Bones - read April 2013
Inspector Montalbano by Andrea Camilleri
   The Dance of the Seagull  - listened May 2013
   Hunting Season (April 2013) --> never got released
   Treasure Hunt (Sept 2013)

The Ones I Had on the list in 2012, but didn't finish:

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz   
4. The Spellmans Strike Again Mar 2013

5. The Trial of the Spellmans  May 2013
6. The Last Word (July 2013)

Martin Beck Crime series by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall
6. Murder at the Savoy
7.The Abominable Man
8. The Locked Room
9. Cop Killer
10. The Terrorists

Phrynne Fisher by Kerry Greenwood
8. Urn Burial (Not available in library)
9. Raisins and Almonds (Not available in library)
10.Death before wicket (Not available in library)
11. Away With the Fairies  (Not available in library)
12. Murder in Montparnasse  july 2013

13. Castlemaine Murders (Not available in library)
14. Queen of the Flowers
16. Murder in the Dark
17. Murder on a Midsummer Night
18. (Not available in library)
19. (Not available in library)
20. (Not available in library)

The Ones Where I thought I'd read in 2012 and then didn't: 

Inspector Espinosa by Luis Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Only one of these that I have left to read may be available at my library.

Harry Hole by Jo Nesbo
Nemesis  Oct 2013

The Devil's Star
The Redeemer
The Snowman
The Leopard

Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
3. Dexter in the Dark (August 2013)

4. Dexter by Design
5. Dexter is Delicious
6. Double Dexter
7. Dexter's Final Cut (Sept 2013)

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Pardonable Lies  April 2013
Messenger of Truth August 2013 (audiobook)

An Incomplete Revenge
Among the Mad
The Mapping of Love and Death (available in audiobook/Halifax)
A Lesson in Secrets (available in audiobook/PEI)
Elegy for Eddie
Leaving Everything Most Loved

An Irish Country Series by Patrick Taylor
An Irish Country Christmas
An Irish Country Girl
An Irish Country Courtship

The Ones Where I Forgot how good they were:

Commissario Brunetta by Donna Leon
4. Death and Judgment  (read in 2012)
2. Death in a Strange Country
3. Dressed for Death
5. Death in High Water

The Ones Where I started new in 2012?

Matthew Shardlake by CJ Sansom
Dissolution (read in 2012)
Dark Fire

Mrs Pollifax - Dorothy Gilman

Hazel Micallef - Inger Ash Wolfe
The Calling (read in 2012)
The Taken
A Door in the River

Harry Bosch by Michael Connelly
The Black Echo (read in 2012)
The Black Ice   (Feb 2013)
The Concrete Blonde (May 2013)
The Last Coyote
Trunk Music

the ones I want to start reading in 2013  

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Mistress of the Art of Death (read Jan 2013)
The Serpent's Tale (read August 2013)
Grave Goods (available in audiobook/Halifax)
A Murderous Procession 
Jack Caffery by Mo Hayder (rec'd by suziQoregon)
Birdman (2000) april 2013
The Treatment (2001) Sept 2013 (audiobook)
Ritual (2008)
Skin (2009)
Gone (2010)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

BOOKS: Flavia de Luce 3 books

A little Flavia Spree...

Three years ago, I first read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, and was thrilled with the newest mystery detective: Flavia de Luce. Flavia, an eleven year old chemistry whiz with a special interest in poison, is on the verge of growing up. She lives in Buckshaw with her widowed father, two nasty older sisters, and the requisite caring employees around the ancestral home.

I had great intentions of reading the second book, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, and I was so excited when I won a copy as part of the Early Reviewers Program at Librarything back in January 2010. Alas, the book never arrived. Stupid mail. I was mad and took it out on the book, and never did get around to reading it. When my book club picked Sweetness as our October book, I took it as a sign to finally read The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag. I had forgotten how light and enjoyable they were, and I whizzed though it. I then proceeded to read one a month until I am now all caught up.

I talked before about the reasons why eleven year old Flavia is the perfect age for being a detective: free to roam around, smart enough to think, brave enough to ask questions and butt in to places, and young enough not to know any better. Add the eccentric, privileged household with the library and widowed, distracted father and not hanging around any other children, and we've got the perfect storm to create Flavia.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley, 271 pages [Canadian Book Challenge, Christmas Spirit challenge]
I'd been spending so much time sitting halfway down the stairs that I was beginning to feel like Christopher Robinp57 (whenever I recognize a little line from something else, it always makes me wonder how many other references I am missing)

Flavia continues her odd life in 1950s England where she studies chemistry and poisons, battles with her sisters, and manages to investigate murders at an alarming rate. This one was set at Christmas time, with Buckshaw being rented out to a film company, and Flavia plotting to catch Father Christmas in the act. When the leading lady is found murdered, and the blizzard trapping everyone at Buckshaw, Flavia gets to solve her very own closed room murder.

I had concocted the gunpowder myself from niter, sulfur, charcoal, and a happy heart. p 138

I've enjoyed the books, and Flavia is a delight, but there seems to be no forward progress in discovering anything else about the family, and in particular Dogger. We are getting some clues that there is much more to Dogger the handyman. This book also seemed to hint at some war-time activity of some of the family members, and for some reason, I've always felt there was some mystery about  Flavia's mother's death. One more book is just being released, and I've seen the title listed for a sixth book, but I'm not sure if this series has a finite end point or not. I've read some reviews that the next book ends with a crazy cliff-hanger, the first for this series.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

LIST: Top Ten Books I Read In 2012

Only a week or two late! On December 18th, the topic was Top Ten Books Read in 2012 hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Not only did I miss it then, I don't even know what day it is today. But at some point I'd like to post this list - seems like the right time. In no particular order:

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

When She Woke by Hilary Jordan

Seven Days/The Devil's Peak by Deon Meyer

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Did you read any of these books? Did you love them as well? Let's chat in the comments.

BOOK: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, 10h 39 min

read by Kathe Mazur

 I'm liking these non-fiction audio-book reads. Quiet is a wonderful read/listen. Susan Cain writes of the positive attributes of introverts, sometimes referred to as sensitive, sometimes as highly reactive, depending on which research has been done. I can see why it has become a popular book amongst readers, as I imagine a high proportion of readers are in fact, introverts.

Much of the book I spent nodding in recognition. Sections are devoted to cultural differences, nature versus nurture, pseudo-extroverts, and interspersed are anecdotes about real people. Real life case studies about Eleanor Roosevelt, Dale Carnegie, and Rosa Parks illustrate the points Cain is making. As in Malcolm Gladwell's books, sometimes case studies make the point better than scientific studies. Cain does include the research that is being done, talk of the amygdala (which was mentioned also in Annoying; I can't believe the amygdala figured prominently in two books in a row!) and brain reactivity.

This book is also helpful for teachers and parents, however, it was more written for extroverts and how to deal with the introverts they might deal with. I recognized for example why I was never a fan of group work as a student or why even as a teacher, I don't rely a lot on that type of teaching. I would, however, have liked a section on how an introvert parent could deal with an extrovert child. There was a reverse section (extrovert parent with an introvert child) but the opposite situation sets up challenges as well.

Cain does tend to make huge generalizations, and I think if I was an extrovert, her exhortations of the attributes of introverts might have made me uncomfortable. It is estimated that about one-third of the population is introverts. Gathering all the information on research in one place was pretty powerful, as the subtitle said. Really great book overall, for introverts, and people who deal with introverts. So, basically, everyone.

Every year I attempt this challenge, as I do like to read nonfiction science books.

1. Newton by James Gleick
2. Stiff by Mary Roach
3. Quiet by Susan Cain (more in the social science realm, but close enough!)

Here's the link to this year's project: Science Book Challenge

Thursday, December 20, 2012

CHALLENGE: Ireland Reading Challenge 2013

 Once again, Carrie at booksandmovies is hosting the Ireland Reading Challenge. I've participated the last two years, and plan to join in again! In 2012, and 2011 I read seven and then six great books.

~ The challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
 ~ Choose your commitment level:
Shamrock level: 4 books
Luck o’ the Irish level: 6 books
Kiss the Blarney Stone level: 8 books
Ceilidh level: 10+ books

Head over to get more information or to sign up: here

Authors: Kate O'Brien, Edna O'Brien, Tana French

the book pile list:
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Sushi for Beginners - Marion Keyes
An Irish Country Christmas - Patrick Taylor
John Connolly - The Reapers
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
Marsha Mehran - Rosewater and Sodabread
Molly Keane - Devoted Ladies

The books that got read: 
1. A Week in Winter - Maeve Binchy
2. Skippy Dies - Paul Murray
3. The Testament of Mary - Colm Toibin
4. An Irish Country Christmas - Patrick Taylor

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

LIST: Top Ten Tuesday: New Authors

This week, the topic at The Broke and Bookish for the Top Ten Tuesday is New to Me Authors. When I check my New Authors challenge that I've kept updated, I see I've read 47 new authors this year. Awesome! I divided my list into authors with many books (38), and debut authors (9). As I check the lists, I'm picking authors who I plan to read again, or look forward to another book by them.

Top Ten New to Me Authors (in no particular order)

1. Jane Harris (Gillespie and I)
I know that Harris has written another Orange nominated book (The Observations), and Gillespie and I was a fun romp through Scotland.

2. CJ Sansom (Dissolution)
Finding a new series wasn't really something I needed, but this series set during Henry VIII time and starring a hunchback lawyer, grabbed me, and I will keep reading this series.

3.  Paula McLain (The Paris Wife)
I really liked this historic novel set during Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway's short marriage in Paris. The starving artist living in Paris is romanticized for a reason, and McLain's research made The Paris Wife one of my favorite books of the year.

4.  Mary Roach (Stiff)
Roach has several other non-fiction books I now can't wait to read - Packing for Mars, Spook, and Bonk. She tackes off-beat subjects with a wonderful humour. Imagine enjoying a book about everything imaginable that could be done to a dead body.

5.  Inger Ash Wolfe (The Calling)
Another start to a new mystery series. This one is set in Canada, with a middle aged female detective. The mystery here was particularly gruesome, but the supporting police were likeably off-beat. Inger Ash Wolfe is a pseudonym for Michael Redhill, but I hadn't read him either.

6.  Alice Hoffman (Green Angel)
A modern day type of fairy tale, Hoffman wrote a sweet tale with some magical touches that could easily be seen as a story about New York and 9/11 . It's about grief, and recovery, and getting on with life. I know that Hoffman is often recommended for fans of Sarah Addison Allen, and vice versa.

7.  Marian Keyes (Watermelon)
I need a somewhat chick-lit author writing books set in Ireland to take the place of my beloved Maeve Binchy. Watermelon was cute enough, and there are more books about the Walsh sisters. I don't want it everyday, but sometimes cotton candy is just what you want to eat!

8.  Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
 Debut author. The Night Circus was so vividly imagined, so magically amazing, with characters I wanted to know more about, that I can't wait to see what Morgenstern writes next.

9.  Allegra Goodman (Intuition)
 Goodman was one of those authors that I had never heard of, and then was recommended to me by 1morechapter. She knew me well, because I quite enjoyed this science research based novel that evenly showed many issues and sides. Kind of like Jodi Picoult, but less emotionally manipulative.  Almost at the same time, Cookbook Collector showed up on Librarything as book I would like. On the list for next year!

10.  Ernest Hemingway (A Moveable Feast)
Hemingway on my list? This is the most surprising new author for me. I've always avoided Hemingway (too much testosterone and boy stuff) but after The Paris Wife, which described the experiences that Hemingway had before he wrote his books, and this, his non-fiction account of his time in Paris, I really want to read one of his novels. A Moveable Feast gave insight into how Hem (I feel like we are buds now, that we might have a drink together) wrote, and the innovative way he tried to write.

I left off some great Canadian authors like Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues), Patrick deWitt (The Sisters Brothers), Lauren B Davis (Our Daily Bread). Also, books by Julie Otsuka (The Buddha in the Attic), Tina Fey (Bossypants), and Karin Altenberg (Island of Wings) delighted me in other ways. I read a lot of great new authors this year!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

EVENT: 2012 Advent Tour

Welcome to An Adventure in Reading's part of the Virtual Advent Tour!
Be sure to visit the others posting today:

December 6
Teresa @ Teresa's Reading Corner
Lisa @ Books. Lists. Life

I'm going to highlight a few books that are set at Christmas time, but are part of some excellent on-going mystery series. The idea behind this post is my luck at landing at a book (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows)  in another series, (Flavia de Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley), set at Christmas, that I am about to pick up at the library. Merry Christmas to me!

 Voices by Arnaldur Indridason, 344 pages (book 3 of 8)
translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder
The series:  Set in Iceland, Detective Erlunder is a loner, with children that he left years ago trying to come back in his life. As a young boy, he and his brother got lost in a blizzard, and his brother was never found. He has a special interest in missing person cases.
Give a brief summary of the book:
Detective Erlunder is back investigating the death of a hotel doorman, killed in his Santa suit. Set the week before Christmas, Erlunder doesn't want to go home and all his detectives are worrying about getting home in time and getting everything done more than finishing the case.
As with all good mystery series, the detectives, including Erlunder, Elinborg, and Sigurdur Oli, are as interesting as the mystery itself. Erlunder is the classic cop - alone, miserable, and fighting crime to avoid fighting his own demons. This case brings up more from his past, and his daughter Eva Lind is back, pushing him, and in his face, trying to make him face the decisions he has made with his family. He seems to be on the verge of a break through.
Additional Thoughts on the Series:
The development of the main characters, plus the bleak Icelandic setting make this a great series to read.
 Shakespeare's Christmas by Charlaine Harris, 242 pages (book 3 of 5)
The series:
Lily Bard moves to Shakespeare, Arkansas to start her life over after she suffered a brutal attack. She works quietly as a cleaning woman, and tries not to make any connections to the people around her. The series chronicles her slow recovery. Although written by the author of Sookie Stackhouse, this series is not at all like the vampires.
Give a brief summary of the book:
The bad news about this book is that it really had nothing to do with Christmas; the good news is that it was an excellent little mystery. Lily has travelled to her hometown for the wedding of her sister just before Christmas. It's a big sacrifice, because she'll be back with her parents and all the people who knew her before and just after the brutal attack that changed her life. Plus, she's the maid of honor and there are showers and parties, and Lily will have to get dressed up, with makeup?
Soon after she arrives, the town doctor and nurse are bludgeoned to death, and then Lily's boyfriend, private investigator Jack shows up, investigating an eight year old kidnapping.
Additional Thoughts on the Series:
Another excellent edition of the Lily Bard mystery series. The mystery itself was tight, and interesting, and Lily's cleaning actually came in handy for her snooping. I like seeing Lily's evolution as she is beginning to come back to the land of the living and caring people. Her love interest and now her family, and showing a new side to her as she grows back into a person. 
 Dead Cold by Louise Penny,375 pages (also known as A Fatal Grace) (book 2 of 8)

The series:
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surete gets called to the small village of Three Pines to solve crime. (think Cabot Cove!) The villagers are all connected, and Gamache and his team deal with on the job politics.
Give a brief summary of the book:
Gamache is called back to investigate another murder in Three Pines, a village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, during another Christmas season. The self-styled new age guru who was electrocuted has accumulated many possible suspects with as many motives for murder.
Getting to know the recurring characters; the interaction between Gamache and his investigative team as he mentors and teaches; the Canadian setting, which included lots of snow and curling this time; the village of Three Pines

Any other favorite books set at Christmas that aren't really Christmas books? Leave a comment
Thanks for stopping by again this year. Having the Virtual Advent Tour is now a tradition at Christmas for me. Here's my past posts:
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, December 4, 2012

CHALLENGE: What's in a Name 6

Time to sign up for the What’s in a Name 6 Challenge at Beth Fish Reads! I have been doing this challenge for the last five years - I can't miss number 6. These are my ideas for now.

  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Dressing Up for the Carnival (Carol Shields)
  2. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title: Skippy Dies (Paul Murray); The Black Ice (Michael Connelly)
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: Dressing Up for the Carnival (Carol Shields)
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: Enna Burning (Shannon Hale); The Fire Dwellers (Margaret Laurence)
  5. A book with an emotion in the title: History of Love (Nicole Krauss)
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: Our Lady of the Lost and Found; Well of Lost Plots (Jasper Fforde)
What I Actually Read:
5. A book with an emotion in the title: History of Love (Nicole Krauss)
3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: Dance of the Seagull (Andrea Camilleri)
2. A book with something you’d find in your kitchen in the title: The Black Ice (Michael Connelly)
     Skippy Dies (Paul Murray)
6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: Where'd You Go Bernadette (Maria Semple)
4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: The Firebird (Susanna Kearsley)
1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: Dressing Up for the Carnival (Carol Shields)

Monday, December 3, 2012

BOOK: 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi

 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi, 278 pages

Ghomeshi, the CBC host of Q, was born just 9 days before me so I knew that 1982 would hit all my cultural markers. In 1982, Jian and I were 14 years old, finishing up grade nine, and starting grade ten. It was the beginning of the 1980s for that music we all still love. Jian was much more into New Wave music and David Bowie than I was, but I still recognized nearly all his references, musical or otherwise. And although we both grew up in the suburbs, living in suburban Toronto was a completely different experience than a suburb on Prince Edward Island. He could take a subway and see The Police in concert. I had no opportunities to see anything even remotely similar in 1982. I think Toronto (the band) played at the Exhibition that year, which doesn't really count as a rock concert.

It's about that tricky age, trying to define yourself. Ghomeshi had the added difficulty of being an Iranian immigrant to Canada by way of London. He keeps it light, and includes many lists. Let me describe the type of lists he wrote:
1. Musical influences
2. being 14
3. girls he had crushes on
4. coming of age
So as you can see, it is a coming of age story about a musically interested teenager.

I'm not sure who the book is aimed at. In one sense, it is going to be forty-somethings who will identify with him, and remember living that life. But Ghomeshi explains in detail how things were different as if he is writing to a fourteen year old living today. We had no cell phones, no wikipedia to look anything up, no playlists - you had to make a mixed tape, and how much more difficult it was to buy music. It was funny to read about that, but I'm not sure how many teenagers will be reading the book. 

His writing style is casual, and humorous, with forays into his philosophies and musical development. Ghomeshi is very likable, and it is like you are listening to him on the radio as he tells some stories about his youth. Enjoyable way to spend some time, especially if you already know and like Ghomeshi, or were a teenager in the 1980s.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

BOOKS: November Reads

Let's try a little monthly summary of books read again.

 100. 1222: a Hanne Wilhelmsen novel by Anne Holt, 313 pages

here's my review of 1222

101. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, 373 pages

Canadian Book Challenge; book 8 in the series
Inspector Gamauche and Beauviour head to an isolated monastary in Northern Quebec after a monk has been killed. The good inspector is trying to get to know the suspects in this classic locked room mystery - it had to be one of the monks.  Beavoir is hiding his relationship with Gamauche's daughter and now in recovery for his pain killer addiction. When Gamauche's boss shows up unexpectedly, he pushes all the buttons of the detectives.

Beauvoir is a strange character, deeply flawed. He is so easily provoked that it is a wonder he figures anything out. I started finally liking him a few books back, but he's back to being a cranky, bitter fellow. The books are ending more and more with unfinished business with the characters. Hopefully we'll be back in Three Pines in the next book, dealing with the fall out between Gamauche and Beauvoir.

102.  Ru by Kim Thuy, 141 pages

Canadian Book Challenge; Giller Prize 2012 Shortlist

 This reminded me very much of Buddha in the Attic because:
1. it was about the immigrant experience in a new country (Vietnam to Canada)
2.Very short, non-linear chapters
3. Lyrical, poetic writing that says a lot in very few words
4. Really enjoyable literature that stretches my reading in a good way

103. The Maze Runner by James Dashner, 375 pages

Book 1 of the series 

Book club read this one. They were a little disappointed that it was a continuing series. I wasn't planning to read any more, until I got to the last chapter, and then wow, holy cliff-hanger batman! One in the club didn't finish, but one really enjoyed it, everyone else was neutral. It is very young adult oriented in the style of writing and characters. I'm not sure exactly what quantifies that, but that's what it felt like.

Futuristic novel where teenage boys are trying to survive/escape the world they find themselves in, and then a girl shows up. I was very surprised they didn't turn more Lord of the Flies - they stayed very structured and moral even against setbacks and disagreements.

104.  Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palca, Flora Lichtman, (audiobook, 6 h 9 min)

here's my review of Annoying

105. 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi, 279 pages

Canadian Book Challenge

review to come soon

106. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley, 370 pages

Canadian Book Challenge

Another wonderful Flavia de Luce mystery. Such fun!

Next up: the Christmas themed I Am Half-Sick of Shadows. My reading doesn't always line up nicely this way, but I've just ordered it from the library, in time to read for the season.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

BOOK: Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palca, Flora Lichtman

Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joe Palca, Flora Lichtman, (audio book, 6 h 9 min)

I'm quite enjoying listening to these nonfiction audio books, now that I've discovered the power of my iPhone, and the attachment in the car. It's easy to stop and start in small pieces with nonfiction - I don't have to follow the thread of a plot.  I usually listen to CBC radio, so am used to landing in the middle of some informational show. My biggest criteria to begin with is length - getting through the books in three weeks library loan can be a challenge, so Annoying seemed about perfect.

Annoying is a fledgling scientific field with just the beginnings of research. The authors, who alternated reading the chapters, have gathered all the available research and explain what has been done, as well as going through what might define an annoyance, and why we would get annoyed at something. Lack of predictability is a big factor in many annoyances, and explains why a one-sided cell phone conversation annoys nearly everyone. Evolutionary reasons? A scream or cry can be annoying but it will wake you up to feed your baby or warn you of danger. Genetic reasons? Is there a gene that makes some people more susceptible to annoyances? Huntington patients may hold a key as their brains are affected. Neuroscience and psychology are looking into brain research.

It was all very interesting stuff.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

BOOK: 1222 by Anne Holt

1222: a Hanne Wilhelmsen novel by Anne Holt, 313 pages

A closed room mystery in the spirit of Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Translated from the Norwegian, this is the eighth book in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series, but the first available in English. Hanne is not very likable in this book, and maybe after following her life up to this point, the reader would be more empathetic to her situation. I mean, she is really cranky, and only very reluctantly gets involved in solving the murder.

The storm that strands the passengers from a train is described so well, and is so claustrophobic, that this reader felt like she was in the middle of a huge blizzard. Norway does winter very dramatically, and Holt sets the mood well. There was a lot going on and Holt kept the characters moving around, and well defined. There were also some very interesting characters introduced, and I would read another book to see how Hanne relates to them and if she stays connected.

It took me a long time to get through this book, which I never like, but in retrospect, there was a lot to like: unique characters, dramatic setting, multi-layered main character dealing with a tough life and a murder mystery where people kept dropping (there was more than one murder).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CHALLENGE: 2012 Christmas Spirit Challenge

From the host blog The True Book Addict - head on over to sign up.

  • challenge will run from Monday, November 19, 2012 through Sunday, January 6, 2013 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany). 
  • Levels
  • Candy Cane:  read 1 book 
  • Mistletoe:  read 2-4 books 
  • Christmas Tree:  read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!) 
  •  visit this POST for a list of new Christmas books for 2012.
  • Additional levels: 
  • Fa La La La Films:  watch a bunch or a few Christmas's up to you! 
  • Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children this season and share what you read *the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above   
I've got An Irish Country Christmas here just waiting to be read

And from my post last year, I found this:
Books for Next Year: (thanks for all the reviews, folks)
1. Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
2. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
3. An Idiot Girl's Christmas by Laurie Notaro
4. Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb
5. Anne Perry's Christmas series
6. Immovable Feast: A Paris Christmas

What I read this year: 
1. Immovable Feast: A Paris Christmas - John Baxter
2. Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb
3. Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
4. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley

Friday, November 16, 2012

BOOK: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, (8 hours)

RIP 7; Science Book Challenge

Everything you ever wanted to know about bodies after they die will be found in here. If there is more, I don't think I want to read about it. Roach is extremely curious, and she ventured into many areas in her search for the story of what can happen to a body after it becomes a cadaver. From medically donated bodies for anatomy classes, to the FBI Body Farm in Virginia which studies decomposition, to research that needs particular body parts and the ethics involved, to potential funeral rites (casket, cremation, compost!), Roach goes there. She even goes to China in search of brothers who are possibly eating bodies? Throughout, she keeps a light and humorous tone which doesn't seem possible, but which adds to the charm of the book, delightfully read by Shelly Frasier.
I'm looking forward to more Mary Roach (Bonk, Packing for Mars, Spook) and her humorous take on science.

Every year I attempt this challenge, as I do like to read nonfiction science books.

1. Newton by James Gleick
2. Stiff by Mary Roach

Here's the link to this year's project: Science Book Challenge

Saturday, November 10, 2012

BOOKS: October Reads

Since I don't seem to be able to get many book reviews written, I'm going to try to do a montly summary of my reading. I still like to share what I've read, and would love to hear your comments on any of these books. Did you love it? Hate it? What are you reading that you'd recommend? What's new with you?


93. The Calling - Inger Ash Wolfe
reviewed here
Start to a good Canadian series, written by Michael Redhill. Book number 3 has been released recently.

 94. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley, 343 pages

Canadian Book Challenge; RIP 7

My book club read the first book in the series, so I took the opportunity to read the second book about Flavia de Luce. I forgot how much I enjoyed The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and now really want to get caught up in the series. They read fast and fun, with a precocious narrator that some readers find annoying, but I adore. She's into chemistry and poison, and the book is set in a 1950s post-war British village. Book club loved the book; one of the ladies was already half way through this one by the time we met. I definitely need more Flavia.

95. Bossypants - Tina Fey (audiobook)
reviewed here 
Tina Fey is fabulous. the end.

96.  The Black Echo by Michael Connelly, 481 pages

First Harry Bosch novel. Published in early 1990s about a Vietnam vet struggling in Los Angeles. Read slower than I would have expected for a mystery/thriller, but still enjoyable. Liked Harry and some of his close friends. Internal Affairs is out to get him and looks like an ongoing plot.
Picked up the next two at the library sale shelf for 25 cents each.

97.  The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, 208 pages

Librarything recommended book as a quick read. It was delightful, and peaceful, and charming. The author was struggling with a viral infection that left her immobile and exhausted. She took to watching a snail who arrived in a wild violet dish from a friend. There is much about the science of snails, but it is also a philosophical look at life. Wonderful find.

98. Stiff: the curious lives of human cadavers - Mary Roach (audiobook)
How can something be so gross and so funny at the same time? Possibly more to come on this book.

99. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, 320 pages 
Man Booker Prize longlist 2012

I won this book from lori at she treads softly after she had a giveaway, and she loved the book. I liked it a lot as well, but found the tone a bit off. It was a little light and humorous, but also there was a really dark overtone that kept me worried. Finding a way to have an existential crisis for a boring plain man as he decides to walk across England with no planning (or hiking shoes or money) was a tricky tone to maintain, especially with the info that gets revealed as he walked.

Closest book that one reminded me of was Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, but this one didn't completely charm me in the same way; but I can see how on a different day or at a differnt time, this could be a favorite book.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

BOOK: Audiobooks by funny ladies

Bossypants by Tina Fey (5 h, 32 min), read by Tina Fey

If some books are truly meant for audiobook as read by author, then Bossypants is Exhibit 1.

Tina Fey is a very funny comedian, and her timing and dry wit elevate this collection of essays to hilarious. Really, there isn't much more I can say here - she's hilarious, her take on life is self-deprecating but also woman-empowering, and I'd listen to her read the direction to bake a cake.

also reviewed: books in the city; anastasia at birdbrain(ed) book blog; trish at love, laughter and a touch of insanity; christina at christina reads; chris at chrisbookarama; literary feline at musings of a bookish kitty; raych at books i done read; lindsay at reeder reads; plus more I'm sure

If You Asked Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White (2h 17 min), read by Betty White

This was the first audiobookI listened to, just to get me started. I was limited by what books my library had available, and which ones were in MP3 format for my iPhone. The book was read by Betty White, and was composed of small essays on whatever topics interested her. She's 92, she gets to do what she wants! It was cute, and amusing, and gave some insight into the life of a star. Because Betty White is a big star!

Most of the essays would have been written after her most recent resurgence - the Super Bowl Mars bar commercial, hosting SNL after the Facebook campaign, and her Emmy-winning role on Hot in Cleveland, and she mentions a lot of names but doesn't dish at all. She is very complimentary, but I think that also goes with her philosophy of life. She seems to genuinely enjoy what she does, and is very appreciative of her good fortune in life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BOOK: Black Skies by Arnaldur Indidason

Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason, 430 pages

RIP 7; series goals

Indridason's Icelandic series, now up to book eight translated into English, have mostly been about Detective Erlendur, the solitary melencholy man inordinately interested in missing people. The last book, Outrage (my review), had Erlendur gone on a hiking trip to the eastern fjords, and thus starred Elinborg as she investigated a crime. We got to learn more about her and her family. In this latest book to be translated, Erlendur is still missing and his daughter is beginning to wonder where he might be. Instead of Elinborg, Sigurdur Oli gets to take the lead in Black Skies.

I liked Elinborg a little more than Sigurdur as he is crankier. His wife has left him, and we get to see his dealings with his parents in this book. The main mystery is relates to the monetary boom and bust that occurred in Europe, including Iceland. Sigurdur is asked by his sister-in-law to look into a case of blackmail, and ends up at the scene of a murder. Another case, left over from the last book with Erlendur, draws Sigurdur in, and we get to see how dedicated he can be to his profession.

Although we have been getting these books once a year, in book time, it appears that Erlendur has only been gone a week or two, and these two cases with Elinborg and Sigurdur have taken place simultaneously or at the very least, close together. People are beginning to wonder where Erlendur has gone, and hopefully, the next book will have his two colleagues on the case of the missing Erlendur. To truly enjoy the development of the characters, these books should be read in order, although the last two books could easily be read as stand-alones. Love these mysteries!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

BOOK: The Film Club by David Gilmour

The Film Club, by David Gilmour, 242 pages

Canadian Book Challenge

My real life book club picked this for its September read. We are just getting started with our book club and are using our local library, so are limited by what books they have available for book clubs. (Do any other libraries do this? If I search the online catalogue for 'book club kits', there are several hundred sets of books, that come with discussion questions if you like, available to borrow for six weeks, with 10 books or so for everyone. Very cool.) We've only been meeting for a few months and this was our first non-fiction book.

David Gilmour is a Canadian CBC personality. I've seen him on The National and other shows; usually he's an Arts commentator, maybe reviewing a movie or a book. The Film Club is his recounting of the years he had a Film Club with his teenage son. It's actually a little more than that - his troubled fifteen year old son was not enjoying school at all, so Gilmour lets him drop out of school and he agreed to home school him, but just by watching and discussing a couple of movies a week, Dad's choice. [This prompted the biggest discussion, naturally. Really? We were a tad judgmental at this point.] The only rule he put on his son was no drugs, but Gilmour didn't seem to consider cigarettes or alcohol a drug, even for a fifteen year old. [More questionable judgments by us/me.]

While I don't think it is possible to read this without questioning the decisions that were made by the dad, it was still very readable, and we all liked it, regardless of what we thought of the choices. We all wished there was more discussions about the actual movies, as Gilmour knows a lot about movies. [Nice index at the back of all movies watched.] Much of the book also traced the son's romantic travails, and I wasn't completely impressed with Gilmour's view of women in general. He related all his son's problems to women problems in his own life. Gilmour lives an unconventional life compared to all of us in our book club, and this difference is what makes the book a learning experience. [For one example, taking a trip to Cuba with his son and his ex-wife, mom of the son, with only the promise of a money for a potential job in the future. Which of course fell through.] General concensus was more movies, less romantic issues.

The Film Club is a well-written, engaging book, that can definitely prompt much discussion about teenagers, child-raising, and different lifestyles. Plus, you will end up with a list of movies you will want to watch.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BOOK: The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe

The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe, 419 pages

Canadian Book Challenge; RIP 7

You have to like a crime novel whose main character is a 61 year old divorced woman, heading up the local police station in small town Ontario. The Calling was released in 2008, with the understanding that Inger Ash Wolfe was a pseudonym of a famous 'literary' Canadian author. In July of this year, after writing The Taken and the recently released A Door in the River, Michael Redhill revealed that he has been writing the Hazel Micallef series.

Hazel is a wonderfully complex character dealing with many changes in her life (divorce after thirty-four years of marriage, living with her mother, bad back, drinking problem) as well as the politics of policing. Her small town deals with the usual type of crime, so when an elderly woman is found murdered, Hazel is faced with a crime she hasn't had to investigate often. It appears to be an assisted suicide. The crime scenes are vividly described and quite graphic, and as more crimes are discovered, it gets worse and worse. Alternately, the reader gets chapters about the serial killer, and his progress across Canada. A truly Canadian novel - coast to coast! The serial killer is one sick puppy.

A good crime series for me has characters in the police department I like and want to know more about. Here we have Hazel, as well as a couple of young cops, Wingate and Sevigny, that I am anxious to read more about. How will Wingate and Sevigny become a team with Hazel? All of them are quick to go their own way and step outside of accepted practice. Can they learn to work together and how much trouble are they all in after their methods in solving this crime?

also reviewed: Gavin at page 247;

Monday, October 8, 2012

BOOK: Touch by Alexi Zentner

Touch by Alexi Zentner, 264 pages

Canadian Book Challenge 6; Giller Prize Longlist 2011

There was a lot of potential in this book, but it wasn't the right book for me. It's one of those books that I liked, but didn't; I remember parts of it vividly, but didn't understand the overall theme in the book; I'm not a fan of magical realism, but sometimes it works for me - this time it mostly did. As you can see, I'm quite conflicted about it.

It is an historical story set in a small logging village in British Columbia. The story is ultimately about a minister who returns to the place he grew up. His story is also the story of his father and grandfather, the grandfather who founded the village. It's the classic 'man looks back on his life and what made him the man he is today' tale. I actually had a hard time keeping the characters organized in my head, which is strange because there weren't that many of them, but the flips in time and generation was challenging. The view of life in isolated northern Canada, and the snow! was a part I did like, as well as how the mythology of the area developed.  Also, how some people could benefit from the gold rush without mining any gold. There were some gruesome (cannibalism?) parts, and while I liked the magical stuff, it almost veered too far.

I read this back in August and it did transported me to a different time and place so it certainly set its atmosphere and location well. Ultimately, I didn't love it but I has read many rave reviews (see below) and I can appreciate why it gets the raves. Sometimes those books are hit or miss for me.

also reviewed: beachreader; terri B at tip of the iceberg; eva at a striped armchair; buried in print; jules at jules' book reviews;

Sunday, September 30, 2012

BOOK: Seven Days by Deon Meyer

Seven Days by Deon Meyer, 352 pages

RIP 7; review copy from RandomHouse Canada

Benny Griessel gets a little more time in this installment of detecting from South Africa. Last time he only had Thirteen Hours, this time he has a week! He his still sober, but has recently been assigned to The Hawks, a division within the police corps, which is more political.  Unfortunately, he gets assigned a cold case, but under direct pressure from a sniper, who publicly plans to shoot a police officer a day until the case is solved. That's a lot of pressure for a guy just getting his life straightened out. A new relationship with a famous singer struggling with her own sobriety just adds to the pressure.

I've already gone on and on about how much I am enjoying Deon Meyer's police books. Luckily I still have a few older books to read. Seven Days is the latest release, and since Benny is my favorite of his detectives, I was very pleased. The characterization, the plot, and the action makes Meyer's books very satisfying. The endings in this book to both crimes (the cold case and the sniper) were surprising, but were also famous endings from other mystery books that I've read. (I won't let on which they were, but they are the kind of resolution that you don't forget!)