Monday, December 31, 2012

Books in 2012 and a look ahead

Phew...2012 is minutes from being over and I just finished book number 63. Back in January, I realized I was on pace for 60 books instead of the 52 I had challenged myself to read, but I didn't think I'd get to 60. Life takes over and January is slow after the holiday and with the ugly West Coast weather. But then I ended up in some intense physio for my knee which gave me a solid hour of uninterrupted reading time two or three times a week for three months. And that helped. Looking at the numbers by month, it's interesting that in some periods of high stress, I barely read at all and other times when the stress was high, I was obviously escaping it through books.

So, whats the goal for 2013? I made it past my 52 book goal, so should I go for 100? Maybe one day, but that not realistic for 2013. My goal for 2013 is 24 books. Yes, I know, that's down to two books a month, but I have my reasons. My goal is split. For the first four months, I'd like to try and average a book a week, or 16 books to the end of April. That works with my current reading pace.

Come May, I will be thrilled if I am able to make it through one book a month. And that would be because of the baby that is due to arrive at the end of April.

So a modest 24 books for 2013 it is. I better get to bed so I can get cracking on book number 1 in the morning!

Oh, and my other goal? To get my books posted within a week of finishing them...before the plot and the things I liked/disliked melt away into my mommy brain. I'm tired of saying things like, oh yeah, I really liked (disliked) that book, but I have no idea if it was historical fiction or about zombies or a mystery.

Happy end of 2012 everyone. May your 2013 be full of wonderful words!

A few little stats from my 2012 reads:

How many books read in 2012? 63

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio? 59:4

Male/Female authors? 12 male, 19 female but 29 books were written by women, 34 by men and 1 was co-authored by a man and woman...I just happened to read multiple books by the same authors

Favourite book read? There were a BUNCH of books I liked a lot: the Falvia deLuce books, the Nicholas Flamel series, the Swedish crime books, but I think I'd go with The Book Thief as my favourite this year.

Least favourite? Tough...maybe A Secret Kept. It definitely wasn't as good as Sarah's Key. And then there was The Gods of Gotham. There wasn't really one I HATED though.

Oldest book read? Goodnight Mister Tom (1981)

Newest book read? I think that The Casual Vacancy wins this one. I did read a number of books published in 2012.

Longest book title? No competition here, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Demigod Files: A Survival Guide to Greek Gods and Monsters (78 characters, not including spaces)

Shortest book title? Cool Water (9 characters, not including spaces)

How many re-reads? 2

Books in translation? 10

Most books read by one author this year? 8 - Rick Riordan (and there were also a number of authors tied at 6)

How many books were borrowed from the library? 51

Name a book you've read this year which was recommended by a blogger: I don't think there was one - the ones that were recommendations came from friends and family. Some I picked up just because they looked good and some I picked up because I read an interesting review somewhere.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Hidden Child

the hidden child

So after plodding through The Casual Vacancy, I flew through The Hidden Child. I have really been enjoying the Camilla Läckberg books, so this didn't really surprise me!

The book starts with Patrik starting paternity leave and Erica returning to work...although Patrik doesn't really stop working. Erica is supposed to be writing another book, but instead starts researching her mother's past and discovers a number of interesting things. The police investigate (with some assistance from Patrik and Maja) the murder of an elderly historian, who Erica had approached to ask for assistance identifying an old Nazi medal she found in her mothers belongings.

Of course there are all kinds of twists and turns and somehow the two things are related. Once again, I didn't have it figured out until it was spelled out to me, but I suspected bits and pieces of the puzzle.

I was glad to see Erica play a bigger role in the book - I missed her while she was on maternity leave. The personal goings-on at the police station were entertaining as always...although Läckberg does seem to have baby fever - this book involved two babies and no fewer than four pregnancies.

I have the last book (the next one isn't due out until spring) waiting to be read right now. It's due back at the library by Monday and there's a hold on it so I can't renew it, so I better get cracking!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - The Hidden Child

teaser tuesday
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I finally finished The Casual Vacancy this weekend and moved on to something from my, my teaser is:

The cutlery clinked against their plates as they ate. All three of them tried not to look at the empty chair at the dining room table, but they couldn't help themselves.

The Hidden Child, Camilla Läckberg, page 87

at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

the casual vacancy

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh….that is the sound of me, sighing, because I FINALLY finished this book and I can move on to something else.

And you know, as much as I complained and complained some more about this book, it wasn’t that bad. It was just slow.

Barry Fairbrother, a resident of Pagford, drops dead one night and leaves a vacancy on the Pagford council. Of course there are two groups on council who want to fill the vacant seat with someone sympathetic to their own interests. And there are multiple families in Pagford somehow tied to Barry Fairbrother. The stories of these families unwind and intersect and eventually culminate in unhappiness for many of them.

I had a hard time at the beginning keeping the various people straight – who belonged to which family, which family had ties (good or bad) to which other families – and I probably would have been smart to make a map of the families, but about 200 pages or so in, I got them figured out.

I don’t know what my problem with the book was – I found it slow reading…I don’t think the book was paced particularly slowly, I just felt like it took forever to read. I tried to forget about who wrote the book and that helped somewhat. When I was a teenager, I read A Long And Fatal Love Chase, written by Louisa May Alcott under the pen name A. M. Barnard. I knew that and I had a hard time reading the book until I ignored who wrote it…It was very different from Little Women. I knew this book was not going to be a grown up Harry Potter, but something about it stumped me.

So, I’m kind of torn by this book – the stories were interesting and the way they intertwined was believable because Pagford is a small town, but it was such a sluggish read…I am intrigued by the BBC series that was announced this week though.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Dogs of Riga

the dogs of riga

I’m not reading the Henning Mankell books as quickly as the Camilla Läckberg books, but I’m still enjoying them!

In The Dogs of Riga, Kurt Wallander investigates two bodies that wash up on the Swedish coastline in a life raft. The police determine the bodies are Latvian and Major Liepa fromthe Riga police force comes to Sweden to work on the investigation. The Swedish part of the case is closed and he returns to Latvia to finish his investigation, but the night he returns, he is murdered. The Riga police request Wallander’s help in Riga and Wallander gets involved in some crazy business in a country just coming out from under Soviet rule. There are spies everywhere, bribes are normal and he can’t trust anyone. The book has a few crazy twists and surprises, but in the end things work out, sort of…

I’m excited to read the next book – there were a few inconsistencies that bothered my editors brain – I’m not sure if they were inconsistencies in the story or the translation – the glaring one was the Peugeot Wallander traded in for a Nissan at the end of Faceless Killers had morphed back into a Peugeot. There were a few others – the use of the word “mean” when describing someone cheap and the favourite Swedish expression, “blind alley,” which I feel is more British and I’d be more likely to use “dead end,” but hey, I don’t speak Swedish and I’m by no means a translator.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - The Casual Vacancy...still

teaser tuesday
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I'm stuck. This book is taking FOREVER...I'm looking forward to it ending...I have a big pile of books that all came off hold at the library on the same day and they are far more appealing for some reason.

The family PC was set up in a corner of the sitting room, where Simon could keep an eye on it, and make sure nobody was running up large bills behind his back. Ruth relinquished her grip on the phone and hurried to the keyboard.

The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling, page 281

at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Faceless Killers

faceless killers

More Swedish thillers/crime novels. My dad introduced me to Henning Mankell last time I was in Kelowna and I came home with a suitcase full of books – all of the Henning Mankell we could find in the house (he thinks there are more, we just didn’t know where to look). I enjoyed the Stieg Larsson books (only the last one made it on here – I started them before I started this blog) and I’ve been devouring the Camilla Läckberg books, so it made sense to read “Sweden’s greatest living mystery writer” as well.

An elderly farmer and his wife are brutally murdered by unknown assailants. The wife last word is “foreign” and she says it more than once. There isn’t a lot of evidence and there are a some strange twists that in the end are only peripherally related to the crime, but the plot focuses on the divisive debate about immigration and asylum seeking in Sweden. The book was published over twenty years ago but some of the problems and hesitations in the books echo what we’re hearing in Canada today.

If you like Larsson or Läckberg, I’d recommend Mankell for sure. Kurt Wallander is a detective I’m enjoying following.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Demigod Files: A Survival Guide to Greek Gods and Monsters

the demigod files

Hey, you, remember the note-to-self yesterday? Yeah? Well here’s another example for you.

Quick read anyone? Less than an hour! This was fun. And that’s that!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cool Water

cool water

(Note to self: stop using your phone to take pictures. Your camera that is just a camera works SOOOOO much better!)

Hello December…will I ever get caught up? This is still an October read and I still have the month of November to get through too…Fingers crossed! My pile of to-reads is going to grow soon too…Christmas is coming!

Cool Water. This book was a gift from my parents for Christmas? my birthday? a couple of years ago (oddly it’s not written in…that never happens in my family). It sat on the dresser and gathered dust, but as I’ve been unofficially on the book diet again, I’m slowly getting through that pile.

Cool Water follows some of the townsfolk in Juliet, Saskatchewan around for a day. There are some real characters in Juliet, but Dianne Warren describes their lives in such a way that they are fully believable. For a couple of nights after finishing Cool Water, I still dreamed about the characters in the book, mostly Vicki and Lee. It doesn’t happen often that I dream about characters from a book, but they seemed so real.

I was disappointed when the book ended because I wanted to know more (to me, a sign of a good book!). What happened to Vicki’s family? What happened to Lee and the horse and the postcards? What about Jodi and her trip to Alberta? What about Lila and the hard conversation(s) with Rachelle? So many questions…maybe that’s why I dreamed about them…maybe I was giving myself the endings I wanted…

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pay The Devil

pay the devil

Oh, Jack Higgins, you’re back. And yes, this is the same cover as yesterday’s post. Two books in one and according to the price tag on the back my mom paid $4 for the book. Great deal!

Pay the Devil is not a Sean Dillon book. It was written by Higgins under the pen name Harry Patterson in 1962 and in 1999 parts of it were rewritten and it was published under Higgins’ name. While the story is not a Dillon story, it is definitely a Higgins’ story – an American civil war vet heads to a family property in Ireland and discovers a land in upheaval. He ends being a sort of modern-day Robin Hood and then fleeing Ireland for America. It was good. It was fast – I read it in an afternoon.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Edge of Danger

the edge of danger

Jack Higgins. One of my guilty reading pleasures. Sean Dillon is my favourite. Especially because he’s perpetually in his late 40s but if you follow Jack Higgins’ timeline, he should be 80 or something by the time Higgins writes the last Dillon book…

This book takes place between London, Ireland and the Middle East and it’s a typical Higgins thriller. I read it in less than a day and could have kept reading. As always, Dillon gets his man…

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Stranger

the stranger

I did it! With this book, I reached my goal!!! This is book 52 for 2012 and I did it with 2 months and 3 weeks left in the year…I’m super curious to see how many books I end the year with!

I am really enjoying the Camilla Läckberg books and The Stranger was no exception. I like the characters at the police station: I’m finding the personal storylines of Erika and Patrick and their lives intriguing and I can’t wait to read more. But I will have to wait. Either for the library or for my parents to finish the next two books and then come to visit.

We were in Kelowna for a few days in October and I read this book in about 24 hours. I wondered from the very beginning about a new character Läckberg introduced and while I was right to be suspicious, the reasons I was suspicious were so far off base it’s amazing!

Patrick investigates a bizarre car accident that seems to be a drunk driver on the surface, but as the layers get pulled away in the investigation, the story gets more and more bizarre. The connections that Patrick makes are interesting and the story veers off in directions I never would have anticipated more than once! Erika was less involved in this investigation, but her experience as a stay-at-home and dealing with her sister was prominent. I’m looking forward to the next few books as I think she is soon back to work after her maternity leave and I’d like to see Erika and Patrick working together again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - The Casual Vacancy

teaser tuesday Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

It finally came in at the library…I’m not so much of a J.K. Rowling fan that I need to buy her book without reading it first (now, if it was another Harry Potter, you bet I’d be there the day it was released. I even bought book seven before it was released). Anyway, Alex picked it up for me on Saturday and I’ve been plugging away at it…verdict coming once I’m done reading…but for now, here’s my teaser:
The pall bearers were almost comically mismatched: Barry’s brothers were both five foot six, and Colin Wall, at the rear, six food two, so that the back end of the coffin was considerably higher than the front. The coffin itself was not made of polished mahogany, but of wickerwork.
The Casual Vacany, J.K. Rowling, page 159

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune

the son of neptune

I’m waiting somewhat impatiently for my name to come up on the list for The Mark of Athena, but I’ve got a few weeks at least ahead of me…this book followed a similar format to The Lost Hero except this time it was Percy Jackson who had no idea where he was or why. I’m super excited to see Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter join forces in the next book. And I’m super excited that Michelle is also all over these books so I have someone to discuss them with. She’s a little peeved that the third book is Athena and not Minerva, but I think there’s a reason for that…I don’t think that the son of Neptune referred to in the title was Percy Jackson…

And with that, we're finally into October...I'm so far behind, it's unbelievable, but I'm blaming it on the six weeks in trimester number one where the guy who got up at 3:30 am every morning, the preschooler and the pregnant lady were in a competition to see who could go to bed first and our house was usually silent at sleeping by 8:30 pm at the LATEST!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monday Mourning

monday mourning

This was an unintentional reread…I have read a bunch of Kathy Reichs and I was in the mood to read some more. I picked this up at the library and as I didn’t recognize the summary, I figured I hadn’t read it…I didn’t really remember the case – it was more the little, non-case related details, like Ryan’s daughter and her friend Anne’s problems, that kept twigging my memory. And then, by the end, I remembered what was happening, but it took a while! The book was first published in 2004 and there’s a good chance I read it close to when it was released – I’m pretty sure I read the book that comes after this one, Cross Bones, when I was recovering from my back injury.

Even though it was a reread, I enjoyed it…mostly because I couldn’t remember the details! I like Kathy Reichs books – the formula is a bit predictable although not so predictable that you know what’s going to happen in the first few chapters, but the stories are interesting and there are always some good twists! I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the reread if I had a better memory of this particular story though…

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beautiful Ruins

beautiful ruins

My friend Michelle recommended this book to me this summer, partly because she had read it and enjoyed it and partly because she thought the cover was beautiful!

It starts in 1962 when mysterious dying woman arrives at Pasquale’s family’s hotel in a remote little village that’s not quite in Cinque Terre. Pasquale falls in love with her and well, it’s not meant to be. Fast forward to a world dominated by reality tv shows and an elderly Italian man shows up at a studio lot trying to find the woman from his past.

I really enjoyed the book – I liked the overlapping stories and going back and forth between the 60s and the present as well as the absurdity of the story that made it even more believable – all those famous people behaving badly!

I started reading it thinking it was a chick-lit book, but sort of high level, and something just didn’t work when I was reading it. Well…that’s likely because it most certainly isn’t chick-lit and oh, the author is man. Which I discovered when I was done reading it.

I think I need to read it again…I read it pretty quickly and I’d like to go back and reread some of it!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero

the lost hero

Yay...more Percy Jackson, except Percy Jackson is missing and all of a sudden there are Roman demigods running around with the Greek demigods. I really liked this book and how Rick Riordan meshed Greek and Roman mythologies. I really appreciated the glossary at the end that explained who the various gods where and what their Greek equivalent was. I was super impatient to read the next installment...and I have in a few days, that will be up too...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Alys, Always

alys, always

The reviews I read before I read Alys, Always were good enough to convince me I should read the book. Frances happens upon a car accident and the driver, Alys, dies from her injuries before help arrives. Somehow Frances ends up befriending Alys' family and things go from there...If Harriet Lane was trying to create a character who was creepy, she certainly succeeded. I liked Frances at the beginning of the book, but by the end I was thoroughly creeped out by the whole thing...Apparently Frances is very Rebecca-like. I've never actually made it past the first chapter in Daphne du Maurier's book, but after reading Alys, Always, I might just have to go try it again.

This was a quick read - I think there's maybe 200 pages in the book - but it was had me turning the pages because I wasn't sure if I was reading things into it or if Frances really was THAT manipulative.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Last Olympian

the last olympian

And the series ends...I liked this one...and I wasn't too happy that the series was over, but then I discovered that The Heroes of Olympus has the same characters in it! And to me that's a sign that a book or a series is good - if I'm sad there isn't more, I've probably enjoyed it, but if I'm annoyed there isn't more, the story was probably missing something. (This was sad, for sure!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Wolf Hall

teaser tuesday
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I just started a new book from a pile of birthday and Christmas gifts that goes back at least three years...Today's my teaser is:

He smiles at the thought of the Cromwells having a family name. Or any reputation to defend.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel, page 141

at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Chaperone

the chaperone

For some reason Laura Moriarty's name seemed so familiar to me, but it wasn't until after I'd finished The Chaperone that I realized it was because I'd read The Center of Everything a long time ago...

I started out enjoying The Chaperone. Cora Carlisle, a house wife from Wichita, Kansas, accompanies Louise Brooks to New York City so that Louise can audition with a dance company. I didn't realize until after I'd read the book that it was based on the real Louise Brooks. The story of Cora (based on Alice Mills) is Laura Moriarty's creation and it's quite interesting.

The tension between Cora and her husband was obvious from the first time she describes them together, but the source of the tension was definitely not what I expected it to. Cora's life story has so many twists and the twist that is the last part of the book really surprised me.

Louise Brooks drove me nuts and her mother made me tear my hair out, but when I read some actual accounts of Louise Brooks' life, it was a lot easier to understand.

I actually quite enjoyed the booked even if some of the twists in Cora's life seemed a bit far fetched.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth

the battle of the labyrinth

Wooohoooo...I remember! This is the one that takes place underground...a lot...and has Daedalus in it! I devoured these books the end of the summer - I think I read 2, 3 and 4 in about five days. Real comments coming soon...really...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse

the titan's curse

More Percy Jackson! And maybe when I move away from Percy Jackson, these posts will become more interesting...this was the book that had Artemis' hunters in it and I liked it, but that's about all I can remember (I've read 8 Rick Riordan books in the last little while and I can't keep them straight...)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters

the sea of monsters
Okay, here we go...I finished this book at the end of August and now with pregnant brain, remembering that far back is like asking me what I had for breakfast on July 27, 1989.

The Sea of Monsters is the second of five books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and I inhaled it in two days. Again, I was reminded that my knowledge of mythology sucks...maybe once I get through the back log of the sixteen books I need to write about, I can choose a book on mythology as my next book...I liked it enough to read the next three...let's leave it at that...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

miss peregrine

This book was on my 2011 Christmas list. This is noteable because I don't know the last time I read a Christmas or birthday book so quickly. Probably Christmas 2008. Baby J gave me The Hour I First Believed and we were in Kelowna and so I read it. But I have an entire shelf in our bookcase dedicated to birthday and Christmas books, many of which I asked for, that I haven't time to read yet.

But back to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. It took me a few attempts to get into the first chapter and then I was hooked. Monsters, mystery, time travel, old photographs, and it is even sort of set in World War II...what more could I ask for? Oh yeah, a great plot and awesome writing. And this book had it all. I should have written this six weeks (ish) ago when I finished the book so that my thoughts were fresh, but unfortunately life had other plans for me.

I am planning on rereading this one - it was definitely that good and I feel like I was so excited about it, I may have read it too quickly and missed something! Not bad for a book I put on my Christmas list just because it was on some "Books to Buy for Christmas" list and the old photographs intrigued me. Sometimes maybe it is okay to judge a book by its cover!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Book Thief

the book thief

Where do I start?

My mom brought this book back from Australia with her in 2008 and has been telling me I should read it ever since. It lived in the bookcase beside the bed in the room I slept in when I visited my parents. I'd see it there, but for whatever reason I'd never pick it up and start it. I finally packed it up last summer and brought it home with me. And it proceeded to sit on my bedside table, untouched, until last week.

And then I couldn't put it down. I read it in snatches while J was having a bath. I read it while dinner was cooking. I stayed up late reading it, but not too late because I didn't just want to read the story, I need to savour every word.

The Book Thief is set on a poor street in Molching, a village outside of Munich, during World War II. Yes. Another WWII novel. It is narrated by Death and it follows Liesel, a young German girl, as she adjusts to life with a poor foster family and all of the additional challenges the war brings.

The cast of characters in this book is amazing - besides Liesel and Death there is her foster mother whose language would make a sailor blush, but who loves Liesel even through all her fierceness, there's Papa, the gentle foster father with his silver eyes and his accordion, there's Rudy, the boy next door with the lemon coloured hairwho dreams of being Jesse Owens, there's Max, there's Frau Diller and Frau Holtzapfel, there are so many wonderful characters.

It's a book full of colour and full of emotion. Death associates each dead person with a colour and throughout the book colour is emphasized - hair colour, eye colour, the colour, or lack thereof, of some minor, inconsequential detail. And there are emotions. Many emotions. There's fear and anger. There's joy and sorrow. It's all there. And the reader feels it too. I had tears in my eyes a few times - just like Jessica G. in the comments on this post when Rosa held the accordion and when the eyes turned to rust and when Max left, not once, but twice and when he came back and over and over in the last 50 or so pages. I finished this book on my break at work and I'm sure they thought I was going crazy (I am temporarily helping a department that is not my own on a project that is super stressful, and don't know any of them very well, so I'm sure they thought my red-rimmed eyes were work, not book related!)

I've written before (I think over there, I thought maybe when I wrote about Suite Française, but apparently it was some other book) about being sad a book ended and wanting it to keep going, well this was one of those books. I wanted to know what happened, beyond the small snippets that Death gave us. I know why the book had to end there, Death explained it, but I want to know what happened in the years between where we leave Liesel in 1943 and where Death picks up the story again in the Epilogue. How do you think she got were she ended up? I have a bunch of theories and no answers. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be, but I want more!

Oh, and a quick quibble about the Young Adult genre. I don't get it. Apparently it's a relatively new genre. Books like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women were written for adults, with teenagers caught up in that age groups. I have a hard time distinguishing between YA for older teens and adult fiction, especially if its well written. I think this book could fall into either category. I dunno...YA is a difficult genre to define!

I'd love to hear what other thought of the book...this book really makes me wish I still had a book club because I really, really, really want to talk about it!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

lightning thief

So my thought that I would stop reading kids/young adults fantasy series and concentrate on some of the books piling up in my house? Yeah, it's just not happening. For ages I've wanted to read the Percy Jackson books, but I didn't want to buy them and because my library browsing tends to be anything adjacent to the small kids section of the library, I never picked them up. And then this book made it into one of the turning racks within easy reach of the picture books.

I read it in a day, but that's not surprising since it's geared towards the under-12 crowd. I liked was slightly predictable (I guessed who the bad guy was almost right away), but it was good. Again it was a great reminder to me that I need to brush up on my Greek mythology. The Google machine? It was my friend again. I went to the library last week to pick up the four books I had on hold (which is another reason books are piling up in my house. I need to stop putting holds on things and instead just adding to the massively huge list of books I'd like to read someday) and managed to come home with two more from this series. Maybe by the time I finish the Percy Jackson books I will have a better grasp on Greek mythology. And maybe (but not likely) I won't be drawn into Rick Riordan's world of mythology. Yeah. Fat chance. I'm already hooked.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom

Hmmm. What can I say? I picked this book up because the author, Susin Nielsen, is Canadian and she wrote some Degrassi episodes. As in old Degrassi. From when I was a kid.

It's one of those funny in-between books - Violet, the protagonist is 12, so is it kidlit or YA fiction?

Violet is an angry and upset young lady - her father, a director, ran off to California with his star, married her, and had twins. Violet lives in Vancouver with her mom and her five year old sister. Her sister's reaction to the divorce is slightly less angry than Violet's - Rosie has taken to wetting the bed and biting a girl at the daycare.

I was on the fence with this book. I loved how Violet and her friend Phoebe take control of what they think is an out-of-control situation, Violet's mom's love life, and send George Clooney a long letter detailing why he should marry Violet's mom. I love the everyday 12 year old-ness of the book - the cute guy from Winnipeg who calls Violet Pamplemousse, Violet's proclamations that she's not into boys, she'll never be into boys, look at all the guys her mom has dated that didn't work out so all boys are gross and her simultaneous (and somewhat confusing to her) crush on aforementioned cute guy from Winnipeg, the mean girl, the influence of social media on her life (I am oh so glad there was no social media when I was 12. Life was interesting enough as it was!), the Magic 8 ball conversation with her father.

Overall I liked this book for what it was - a book for a pre-teen/young teenager. I loved all of the Vancouver references. I even liked the cute ending. The only thing that drove me nuts was that the boring, dorky man Violet's mom ended up with (who isn't actually boring or dorky) was the white knight who rode in and fixed all the things wrong with their home and car - bannisters secured, old furniture removed, mufflers fixed, etc.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Book Thief

teaser tuesday
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My mom loaned me this book ages ago and I finally got around to starting it last week. Now I can't put it down (it's probably a good thing I'm almost done it!) More about it later this week, but for now I will say that it is beautifully and poignantly written.

The examination was completed and he managed to perform his first nude Heil Hitler. In a perverse kind of way, he conceded that it didn't feel half-bad.

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, page 440

at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Goodbye Maeve Binchy

After work, as I was shutting down my computer today to go home, I saw a news alert that Maeve Binchy had died at age 72. I don't remember when I read my first Maeve Binchy novel, mostly because I can't remember what it was. I think it might have been Circle of Friends which I still reread occasionally. It never fails that I get angry with Nan for her manipulative behaviour and Jack for being a coward, but I come back to it over and over. There is something very powerful about Benny and Eve's friendship. [I get annoyed with the movie because all the loose ends get tied up, even though they're not in the book. Also, only recently did I realize that slimy Simon Westward was played by Colin Firth and that makes me a little sad. And because she played Nan, I have a predisposed dislike of any Saffron Burrows character now]

I just took a look at a list of Maeve Binchy's novels and I think I've read almost all of them. I've definitely read the four books of short stories. And looking at the titles, it's interesting to remember where I was, in life and in the world, when I read them. Her books will always hold something special for me.

Rest in Peace Ms. Binchy.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Enchantress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel


the enchantress

So the series is done. The secrets have all been exposed. Or have they?

As with the other books, The Enchantress one picked up immediately where the previous book (The Warlock) left off. I wasn't as excited about this book as the others: all the way through I wished the other five were nearby so that I could thumb through them for some little kernel Scott mentioned previously that would help make the current book make sense.

The only character that really developed and grew in this book was Virgina Dare...learning a little more of her back story made her motivations much more clear. I never really got the feeling she was a "bad guy" except that her association with John Dee (who also turned out not to be a through and through "bad guy" in the end. He didn't really redeem himself, but he did show that he was a human capable of human emotions) pointed that way. I'm not sure if I needed the end of the Warlock to help me along, but I had trouble with the whole thing with Josh becoming Marethyu and living a bunch of parallel existences (in Isis and Osiris' Shadowrealm, on Earth etc) I have heard rumours that Scott is writing a series about the Earthlords and the first installment is going to be released sometime in 2013, so I'm wondering if some of the loose ends will be tied up there.

Scott's own website suggests that not everything will be revealed in the last book.

secrets revealed

screen shot from Scott's website

I'm hoping that's the case, because ugh. My reading of the end is that the prophecy [The two that are one must become the one that is all. One to save the world, one to destroy it] came true because Sophie saved our world and Josh destroyed Danu Talis. But I still have lots of questions. Did Isis and Osiris really die? What happened to Will and Billy the Kid and Machiavelli and Black Hawk? Where the three simluatneous battles necessary [I felt like they were big screen fodder]? If Marethyu was taking Nicholas and Perenelle back to Paris to die, how did the three of them manage to make it to Niten and Aoife's wedding? How did they get Aoife back from the Shadowrealm she went to to imprison Coatlicue? What adventures did Sophie have the 700 (I think) years from the destruction of Danu Talis until she returned to earth? What was Virginia Dare queen of? What happened to Bastet?

More! I want more!

I think I will probably reread this series, but I need to do it when I have all six books I will either be buying them at some point in the future or I'll move back to Kelowna for the sole purpose of borrowing them from Michelle. Okay, maybe not about the Kelowna part, but I might see if she'd trust me with them in Vancouver for a while.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots


I heard about Unorthodox on CBC one day and then I read a review of it The Globe and Mail and decided I needed to read it. I put a hold on it in the library and waited (I think I was number 100 and something on however many copies [I just checked - there are 23 now, but I think there were fewer back in April, but I could be wrong]) and promptly forgot about it until I got the email telling me to go get it or they'd charge me a dollar.

The book the following disclaimer right at the beginning:

The names and identifying characteristics of everyone in this book have been changed. While all the incidents described in this book are true, certain events have been compressed, consolidated, or reordered to protect the identities of the people involved and ensure continuity of the narrative. All dialogue is as close an approximation as possible to actual conversations that took place, to the best of my recollection.

I don't have a problem with the first statement about names and identifying characteristics: that often happens in memoirs, especially ones where the people are still alive and the story is scandalous or sensitive or could be hurtful. I don't have a problem with the statement about the dialogue either. It makes sense to me that the conversations would have to be reconstructed from memory since most people don't walk around recording all of their conversations.

The second part about changing the events made me raise my eyebrows. I thought it was a bit strange, but I started reading and thought little more of it.

But then at the beginning of July, I took a creative non-fiction course. We focused primarily on memoir, the personal essay, and literary journalism and spent some time talking about the characteristics of each and where the lines between them blurred. And during this discussion, I asked about the line between fiction and non-fiction. Our instructor told us that basically if it's true to the best of your ability, then it's non-fiction. She readily acknowledged that when you write memoir, you won't remember all the details or the exact words used in a conversation and that it's your memories that you're drawing on, so you might describe an event, situation, or conversation in a different way than someone else who was standing beside you, but she said she wasn't sure she'd ever seen a statement like that before.

We had a long discussion after that about James Frey and A Million Little Pieces and whether this book fell into that same category. We didn't come to a conclusion - maybe it did, maybe it didn't, it sort of depended. Our instructor did tell us about a book one of her instructors wrote that was essentially a memoir except that he changed two details: he only wrote about one brother when in reality he had two and he had an illness but for the purposes of the book he changed the illness. These two things prompted him to call his book a novel, even though the bulk of the book was the truth.

I pretty much forgot about the conversation and kept reading. I liked the voice, although sometimes I had trouble wrapping my brain around the present tense being used pretty much throughout. I have to admit I'm glad she changed the names and identifying details because I felt bad for some of the people she talked about having their lives splashed around the world for all to read. She talks more than once about how strongly reading in English was discouraged, so maybe few of her family and (former?) friends will actually read the book, although in the interview with the Current they discussed how the book is reportedly being read in secret and passed through the community, so maybe not.

I found the story gripping - of course I knew the ending, but I wasn't sure how we were going to get there. I didn't know much about Hasidic Jews at all before I read the book except that they seemed to dress modestly in dark clothing and the men wore curls over their ears. I have read a bunch about Hasidism in the last few days thought because I wanted to know more.

At the very end of the book, when Deborah is starting to extract herself from her family and religion, she mentions she had a blog called "Hasidic Feminist," which of course I had to Google. Remember that conversation I had with my class about memoir and James Frey? Well, the internets were comparing Deborah Feldman to James Frey (if you click on the link, you'll get to the Wikipedia page which describes the Frey controversy in detail). It turns out that she has a younger sister, but portrayed herself as an only child in the book. Her mother didn't just vanish when she was very young, her parents actually didn't divorce until she was a teenager. There's a number of other things that her detractors call attention to. Which raises the question: is this a work of fiction or of non-fiction. In The Globe and Mail article she openly states that she made some of the changes for the sake of the narrative - if you're going to mess with the timeline, then maybe you're better off to call it a novel, inspired by real events? A non-fiction novel? I'm curious to see where this goes.

I enjoyed the book - it gave me an interesting glimpse into a private culture's way of life. Of course it's only one person's perspective and with anything like this, that is worth taking into consideration. Would I recommend this book? Sure - with a grain or two of salt. And maybe the Google machine open beside you. There is so much of interest in the book - I had vaguely heard of Williamsburg and knew next to nothing about Hasidism, so it was nice to be able to find more information and some background while I was reading.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unorthodox Teaser Tuesday

teaser tuesday
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I am reading a few books are once at the moment and I wasn't sure which one to go with. This is from a memoir:

I am not aware at this moment that I have lost my innocence. I will realize it many years later.

Unorthodox, Deborah Feldman, page 29

at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Stone Cutter

the stone cutter

More Camilla Läckberg! And then I have to take a bit of a break while I wait for my parents to finish the next books and pass them along!

I liked how the story of Erica and Patrik continues. I complained that I missed Erica's detective work in The Preacher and while this book picks up not long after the other ended (it ended with Erica about to have the baby, now the baby, Maja, is a couple of months old), I actually enjoyed the way it followed Erica as she dealt with the challenges of a new baby.

I was a bit confused in a few places as there were a few blips in the translation, but overall I liked this one too! There were a lot of twists again, but this time I thought I might know who did it almost immediately - and I was right!

I am enjoying the way Läckberg carries some of the more personal story lines through the books. I am particularly enjoying the Erica and Patrick story and am certainly gripped by (and anxious to know more about) the Anna and Lucas storyline (I've seen him referred to as Maxwell in some reviews. I don't have the copy I read anymore - does anyone know if that's just some weird translation thing or if it's his last name or if it's just a mistake?)

I waited far too long to write this because I had much more to say about it when I first finished it...

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Preacher

the preacher

Finally! Something I liked! The Preacher picked up pretty much where The Ice Princess left off. Erica and Patrik are expecting a baby and Erica is basically on bed rest. That was the only thing that disappointed me about the book. In The Ice Princess, the book was written from Erica's perspective with a healthy dose of Patrik (although it is third person omniscient), but with Erica at home resting, Patrik and official police work are the focus in The Preacher.

Again, Läckberg does a great job of weaving story lines so that they are at once connected and separate. I appreciated that she carried on Erika and Anna's storylines and that she catches the reader every once in a while. More than once I thought I had the mystery all figured out and then she'd bring something else in and I'd question my thought pattern. It turned out, again, that I figured out who it was, but I was missing a few key pieces of information to string everything together so I bounced around a bit.

The translation on this was also quite good. There were a few little things - farmor (father's mother, paternal grandmother) gets translated as mother's father (maternal grandmother) and I got a bit confused and there is a weird thing with decades at one point, but overall the translation worked for me.

I'm on to The Stone Cutter now and when my parents were here on the weekend, they picked up The Gallows Bird/The Stranger (same book, different titles) and The Hidden Child and they have The Drowning already, so I think I know what I'll be reading this summer!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Gods of Gotham

the gods of gotham

Sigh. This book came with high praise and excellent reviews. And I just thought it was kind of ho-hum. It wasn't horrible. I didn't have to force myself to read it, but it wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. I had to get it back to the library (I may have possibly incurred a small fine so I could finish it) because I had four books come off the hold list at the same time and they all had additional holds on them so I couldn't renew any of them. So maybe I didn't enjoy it because I was rushed?

There were plot twists and there was flash English and there were prostitutes and crooked cops and priests and preachers and good girls who weren't really good and bad girls who might not really be bad and a big fire and a crime scene or two, but it just wasn't doing it for me. And the map in the front of the book sucked - I figured out where Five Points was and the wards were labelled, but the streets weren't.

The flash or flash-patter bugged me. I had to keep consulting the glossary but not all the words were there. And I can't really find any references online to flash - is it real???

Has anyone else read this? I'd really love to hear someone else's thoughts on it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

City of Lost Souls

city of lost souls

City of Lost Souls is the fifth of six in the Cassandra Clare The Mortal Instruments series. I wasn't thrilled with the ending of the last book and some of that spilled over into this book. It got a bit strange and there was a lot of waiting for something to happen. I will read the sixth book because I need to know what happens, but I am not as excited about it as I was about the first three book in this series or the books in The Infernal Devices. The best part of this book? I managed to get a brand spanking new copy because I was one of the first in (the virtual) line when they received the shipment!

I also heard that Cassandra Clare is writing another trilogy called The Dark Artifices that takes place sometime in the future. From what I've seen it appears that the books will follow a similar plot line to the other two series - talented teenaged Shadowhunters who have intense romantic feelings for one another that are problematic in someway. What do you think, should I read those too or am I going to be increasingly annoyed??

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Another Swedish Translation

teaser tuesday
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I'm tearing my way through the Camilla Läckberg books, so here she is again this week (from a different book than last week):

Agnes didn't care much about where the money came from. She was born rich and had always lived as rich people do. It made no difference whether the money was inherited or earned, as long as she could buy jewellery and fine clothes.

The Stone Cutter, Camilla Läckberg, page 8

at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment there (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Ice Princess

the ice princess

Oh I should have known better than to pick up a book at my parents' house when I had packed a stack of library books to read (and return before they were due)...J was having a bath and I had left my book in the basement, so to entertain myself, I pulled a book off the bookcase at the top of the stairs and got myself hooked. I read The Ice Princess quickly...I really liked it. Camilla Läckberg is a Swedish crime write and this is the first book in a series about Erica Falck and Patrik Hedström. My mom sent me home with this book and the next two. I'm on the lookout for book four and five because they have number six but haven't been able to track down the other two...

This book is a translation and I think it was well translated. Some of the nuances surprised me as sometimes translations miss those or mistranslate themm because they are so subtle, although, the translator for this book is the same man who translated the Stieg Larsson books and the Henning Mankell books. I like how the various story lines are woven together - and how some of the story lines that appear to have nothing in common actually intersect.

Erica Falck, an author, is one of the first on the scene when an elderly man discovers Erica's childhood friend dead and frozen into the bathtub. While at first it appears that Alex committed suicide, it soon comes out that she was murdered. Erica ends up getting involved in the investigation, first purely by circumstance and then out of interest as she writes a book about the victim.

I knew who murdered Alex right away. And then it was someone else and then it was someone else and then...well, you get the picture. I was right on one of my guesses though, but I loved that the book twisted and turned and kept me guessing. I appreciate the multiple threads - some related to the crime, some not - as they kept the story interesting.

I can't wait to read the new one, The Preacher

Friday, June 22, 2012

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

almost french

This is my first re-read of the year. My friend Virginia sent me a copy of this book from Australia a few years ago - it was one of the books I wrote about for the 30 day challenge. I have a love-hate relationship with Paris that I haven't quite figured out. I dream about Paris, I want to visit Paris, I want to visit Paris for an extended period of time, maybe I even want to live in Paris, but once I get to Paris, I'm not so excited about it...

Anyway, I read this book a few years ago. I had been back from living in London long enough that it was time to get on with life and stop wishing I was back there. I had days were I coped well with my reentry into Canadian life and days where I didn't cope at all. I was wrestling with all kinds of stuff, including buying a plane ticket and quitting my job and heading back to Europe. Now, I don't think I was ever going to do that...I was working at a job that barely paid my rent and groceries, so there was no way I was saving enough to get myself to Europe, find somewhere to live, and feed myself until I found a job and I was far too scared to think about putting all that stuff on my credit card. This book helped me realize that part of the reason I came home was because I missed my friends and family and I didn't want to be far away from them (and unlike Sarah Turnbull I hadn't fallen in love with a Parisian, so my decision was far less complicated) and I really probably didn't need to put myself through all that again.

I know I finished Almost French but as I reread it, there were parts of the book that I didn't recognize at all. It was like reading it for the first time...I liked it this time as much (or maybe more) that I did the first time and I'm glad I read it again. After I wrote about it for the 30 days challenge, I tried to find it, but neither the bookstore nor the library had it, but they both have it now...which is interesting since the book was written almost 10 years ago!

I think I enjoyed this book as much as I did the last time - possibly more. When I read it the first time, I read it partly as advice for where I should be heading with my life. This time I read it simply as a memoir.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Return to Teaser Tuesdays

teaser tuesday
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I did Teaser Tuesdays for ages...and then for some reason I stopped, but it's time to play here it goes:

Soon she had the coffee on, and she started setting the breakfast table for herself and her guests. They trickled into the kitchen one by one, each more bleary than the last, but they came round quickly when they began helping themselves to the breakfast she had prepared.

The Preacher, Camilla Läckberg, page 44

at Should Be Reading with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment there (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


Okay, so, Ree Drummond. I stumbled on her blog long after thousands of people started flocking there daily. I actually think I found her blog when I was attempting the GAPS diet because someone linked to one her recipes saying this was what they wished they were having for dinner (I think I was lasagne - full of cheese and wheat that wasn't allowed on GAPS)

After I found her blog, I started poking around and I read most of the first part of the book there but I still wanted to read the extras in the book. I really enjoyed reading it - even a second time. The thing is, I know there are at least two sites dedicated to hating this author and I don't really understand the hate...they don't like her love story, because how could it be real? Especially since she came from a privileged family and married someone from one of the wealthiest ranch families in Oklahoma. But I still like it. It's totally a love story and it's a memoir, so there are omissions and there are probably some instances of hyperbole and all the other things that happen when you tell a story...whatever.

I don't understand the hate towards The Pioneer Woman. Here is someone who has built a brand around what apparently was a hobby. So what if the reason she is able to do this is because she's a housewife? The hate seems to stem from her brand and its success...I have made a few of her recipes and they worked out just fine...two of them are favourites in our house. There seems to be anger towards her because instead of talking about how she homeschools her children, she has two or three bloggers who do that. She has built the successful Tasty Kitchen Community...she's obviously smart. I didn't see it in the book, but I seem to remember her plan before she met Marlboro Man was to move to Chicago to go to law school...I guess I don't understand why the hate...I get not necessarily liking her, but the stalker-like behaviour on the hate sites is scary. Why is it a problem that when your blogging business grows and you can't do it yourself any longer, you hire people to help? Who, besides Ree, her husband and kids, really care if she's the one homeschooling them or if they employ a tutor?

Sorry...this has become a rant and it was supposed to be about the book. It's a good, fast, summer book. It's kind of syrupy and a bit (over)dramatic in places, but if you're going to the beach, the cabin, the cottage, the lake house, camping or flying over continents or oceans, it's definitely a book to consider.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud

furry red monster

I finally made it into the realm of non-fiction! Kevin (and Elmo) were pretty funny...there were a few editorial things that drove me nuts (incorrect use of whom...), but the stories were cute and there were some good lessons. I thought there might be a little bit more about Elmo though...

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers is the 2011 winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. I really liked this book...the tone was great and it was pretty funny in some parts! Eli Sisters narrates the book and he is a very compassionate hired assassin. Charlie Sisters, Eli's older brother, is more ruthless and has no (very little?) conscience. The ongoing ordeal of Tub the horse is both humorous and heart breaking. The imagery of the Wild West and the lawlessness and debauchery that went hand in hand with the gold rush is excellent. Their journey down the West Coast and back again really does bring them full circle from young boys living in an abusive home, to hired guns, to grown men, safe in their home...

Oh, and can I just say, I love the cover!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Halfway to fifty-two

A Secret Kept marked halfway to completing the challenge. I can't believe I'm here already! If I can keep reading at this speed, I'm on pace to read 75 books this year. SEVENTY-FIVE. That's a lot. And I'm pretty sure I won't read that many...I have some busy times ahead of me this year.

But, I'm pretty sure I can make it to 52!

A quick round-up of the first 26 books:

All 26 came from the library
Only one book was classified as a book for adults
The 26 books belonged to 12 authors and 19 of the books where shared between four authors (apparently I've been drawn to series this go around)
There were 8 mysteries and 12 fantasy novels
Every single one of these books was new to me!

For the second half of the challenge, I'd like to think I might read a few more "grown-up" books and maybe some non-fiction. Anyone have any suggestions for either of those?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Secret Kept

Hey guys, look, I've returned to the grown-up books! This is also the halfway point for my challenge, but more on that in a later post.

I really liked Sarah's Key, another book by Tatiana de Rosnay that I read last summer, when I say this one at the library, I was happy to give it a try. It was a quick read. I finished it the same day I started it and it was a day when I had J with me most of the day and no one to help with her. Which means it was a super quick read. I was a bit disappointed because I felt like this book was quite formulaic, which isn't a bad thing except that it felt like it was written to fit into a model.

While I enjoyed the book enough, there wasn't a character I really liked. Antoine's life just felt lost although, maybe he was finding his way when the book ended. I felt like Mélanie's character started to develop in the opening chapters, but then she just dissolved into a supporting character later in the book even though she played an important role in what was to come. Her change of heart about finding out the truth about the secret just happened with no explanation and didn't fit with the other decisions characters made. It was too abrupt.

I would recommend this book as a light read for a holiday or other escape from reality! I have a hold on The House I Loved, so I'll see if it was just something about this book that rubbed me the wrong way...

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Warlock: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT (unless you've read the first four books, then you're probably okay)

The Warlock. The Deceiver. The Traitor. There were a few warlocks in this book. As I've made my way through The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, I have discovered that I really need to read it with a dictionary, an open web browser and maybe a professor of mythology by my side. I think this is a series that I will one day want to share with J, but I need to better educate myself on mythology. My biggest problem is that most of the myths I know about, apart from the Bible, are Roman and some Greek. Michael Scott doesn't just include those two, he also refers to Mayan, Egyptian, Norse, Irish, and Japanese myths among others. The books are also full of other historical figures, some of whom were instantly recognizable (Mr. William Shakespeare or Joan of Arc anyone?), some of whom I recognized but had very little context for (Machiavelli, Billy the Kid), and some who are most certainly interesting but I had no idea who they were in any context (Virginia Dare).

I read The Necromancer and The Warlock back-to-back over a few quick days. I was away from home with J and had lots of downtime and when I finished The Necromancer, I literally put it down and picked up The Warlock and kept reading. That's mostly why my post on The Necromancer is so short and refers to this one. I can't remember where one book ends and the other begins.

The Enchantress, the last book in the series, is due out very soon and I get to have one of the first copies from the library, fresh off the shelves, before anyone else reads it and I'm hoping that soon there might be a box set, maybe of trade paperbacks, so that I can read them slowly and refer to earlier books as I plug along. Oh, and so I can pay closer attention to the covers.

I wish I had made a map of the main characters and their relationships and drawn myself a family tree of sorts, because I can't remember who goes with whom now...

So far I've enjoyed this series. I am looking forward to the last book and to rereading all of them too...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Necromancer: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel


Book four in Michael Scott's series about Sophie, Josh, the Flamels and a very interesting cast of supporting characters was good. I am feeling like I'd like to have all of them around me when I read them though...more about this with The Warlock, coming soon to a blog near you...

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Tin Princess

the tin princess

This is and isn't part of the Sally Lockhart series, The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North and The Tiger in the Well being the others. It features some of the same characters, including Sally, but it focuses on her friend Jim and Adelaide, a young girl who vanished in The Ruby in the Smoke. As with The Tiger in the Well, I started reading this book to get through the series, but then it actually became kind of interesting. I felt it was a bit farfetched, but it was interesting.

And now I'm quite happy to moving forward to something else...

Would I recommend The Tin Princess? Maybe. I feel like I probably would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't thinking of it as part of the Sally Lockhart series.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Tiger in the Well

the tiger in the well

Does anyone else remember when I started this challenge I made some rules? Mostly rules for me, but rules nonetheless? (Although really, I'd call them guidelines more than rules...) Specifically, rule #1? About not finishing a book if I wasn't enjoying it?

Yeah. Me too. I remember that.

But I didn't follow that rule with this book. I struggled with this one. It was long. It involved plot elements from the first book, which I read back in February and that book is back at the library, so I couldn't flip back and check things out. I had trouble concentrating, mostly because I was reading to distract myself and it was only working some of the time...

Once I got to the last five or six chapters, I did start enjoying what I was reading, but before that, not so much. I felt like there was too much going on and too many little threads of story happening, some of which were relevant and some of which were not. And I was frustrated. And I'm sure that was the intention of Philip Pullman. Lots of the stuff going on in the book wouldn't be tolerated in our society and yet it was commonplace in late 19th century London. I also really wanted them to Google a bunch of things and maybe use GPS cell phone pinging to locate people and things. And that is a sign that I watch too many procedural dramas. Yes, that I do.

Do I recommend it? Well, I didn't think it was a good as The Ruby in the Smoke or The Shadow in the North (what's with Pullman and this series and it's "The Blank in the Other Blank" titles?), but it was interesting. It was maybe too long. And I maybe need to let go of my sentimentality...I'd read the first two, so I had to finish (sort of) the series.

So do I recommend it (yes, I asked that already and got all parenthetical on myself)? Well, maybe. I'd recommend the first two and then suggest you try number might like it better than also might be more focused than I was...