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mathgirl40's 2017 Category Challenge, Part 1

2017 Category Challenge

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Edited: Jan 5, 9:53pm Top

Here are my categories for 2017:

1. Tournament of Books
2. Evergreen Award
3. Hugo and Aurora Awards
4. Other Science Fiction and Fantasy
5. Doorstoppers
6. 1001 Books
7. Virago Modern Classics
8. Non-fiction
9. Cross-Canada Journey
10. Canada's 150th Birthday
11. Mysteries Around the World
12. Golden Age Mysteries
13. Other Mysteries
14. Dust Collectors
15. Short Stories
16. Graphic Novels
17. Horror

My goal is to read at least 5 books in each category.

I'll also be tracking again the books off my shelves, which are those books acquired before Jan. 1, 2017, and I hope to read at least 70.

Edited: Yesterday, 10:07pm Top

Category 1: The Tournament of Books

This category will include books from the 2017 Tournament of Books, held in March.

1. The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder (Jan. 21)
2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Feb. 4)
3. Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet (Feb. 8)
4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Feb. 9)
5. Moonglow by Michael Chabon (Feb. 17)
6. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Feb. 21)
7. The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Mar. 3)
8. The Mothers by Brit Bennett (Mar. 6)
9. The Nix by Nathan Hill (Mar. 7)

Category 2: The Evergreen Award

This category will include nominees for the 2017 Evergreen Award, given by the Ontario Library Association. The nominees are announced in February.

1. The Name Therapist by Duana Taha (May 16)
2. The Hidden Keys by André Alexis (June 19)

Edited: Yesterday, 10:11pm Top

Category 3: The Hugo and Aurora Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards

This category will include nominees for and winners of the Hugo and Aurora SFF Awards. This year, I plan to rejoin as a voting member and read from the Voter Packet for each of these awards.

1. Drowning in Amber by E. C. Bell (Jan. 2)
2. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Feb. 9)
3. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch (Apr. 9)
4. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Apr. 14)
5. Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (Apr. 22)
6. Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch (May 2)
7. Leviathan Wakes bu James S. A. Corey (May 5)
8. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (May 8)
9. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (May 31)
10. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (June 5)
11. Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey (June 16)

Category 4: Other Science Fiction and Fantasy

1. MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood (Jan. 7)
2. Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson (Jan. 13)
3. Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu (Jan. 17)
4. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi (Jan. 23)
5. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (Jan. 25)
6. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Jan. 31)
7. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (Feb. 3)
8. The Iron Tactician by Alistair Reynolds (Feb. 11)
9. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (Feb. 19)
10. Axis by Robert Charles Wilson (Feb. 28)
11. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Mar. 5)
12. Quantum Night by Robert Sawyer (Mar. 10)
13. Company Town by Madeline Ashby (Mar. 12)
14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling (May 17)
15. A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason (May 23)

Edited: May 20, 6:07pm Top

Category 5: Doorstoppers

1. Earth by David Brin (Jan. 28)
2. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan (May 9)

Category 6: 1001 Books

1. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (Feb. 13)
2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Apr. 10)
3. In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu (May 19)

Edited: May 20, 5:58pm Top

Category 7: Virago Modern Classics

1. High Rising by Angela Thirkell (Jan. 4)
2. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell (Jan. 30)

Category 8: Non-fiction

1. Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil (Jan. 16)
2. How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist (Feb. 27)
3. The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester (Mar. 24)
4. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (Apr. 19)
5. The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (May 14)

Edited: Jun 19, 10:31pm Top

Category 9: Cross-Canada Journey

Inspired by lkernagh, I started a virtual walk across Canada late last year using the World Walking app. My position on Jan. 1, 2017 was about 400km east of Vancouver. I expect the entire walk will take me approximately 4 years and I plan to read books related to the places I pass on my journey.

1. Klee Wyck by Emily Carr (Jan. 9)
2. Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland (Mar. 10)
3. In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany (Mar. 23)
4. The Spawning Groundsby Gail Anderson-Dargatz (Apr. 5)
5. Obasan by Joy Kogawa (Apr. 12)

Category 10: Canada's 150th Birthday

To celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary, which will occur on July 1 of this year, I am doing a BookCrossing challenge. This involves reading, registering, and releasing (passing the book to someone else or leaving it "in the wild" to be found) a number of Canadian books. Some of these I'll be mailing to fellow BC members around the world.

1. Fruit by Brian Francis (Feb. 14)
2. Where Nests the Water Hen by Gabrielle Roy (Apr. 6)
3. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro (May 28)
4. Roses for a Diva by Rick Blechta (June 4)

Edited: Jun 1, 9:21pm Top

Category 11: Mysteries From Around the World

1. Death's Golden Whisper by R. J. Harlick -- Canada (Jan. 6)
2. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George -- England (Feb. 6)
3. Phantom by Jo Nesbo -- Norway (Feb. 25)
4. The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg -- Sweden (Mar. 15)
5. In the Woods by Tana French -- Ireland (May 29)

Category 12: Golden Age Mysteries

1. The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham (Jan. 24)
2. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie (Mar. 11)

Edited: Jun 1, 9:21pm Top

Category 13: Other Mysteries

1. A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (Mar. 19)
2. The Lost Boy by Camilla Läckberg (Apr. 3)
3. Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (Apr. 7)
4. Stranglehold by Robert Rotenberg (Apr. 24)
5. The Moor by Laurie R. King (May 30)

Category 14: Dust Collectors

1. The Element of Fire by Brendan Graham (Mar. 27)
2. Dune by Frank Herbert (Apr. 17)
3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Apr. 27)
4. The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier (May 10)

Edited: Apr 30, 9:41pm Top

Category 15: Short Stories

Artwork by Tom Gauld for The Guardian

1. Darkest Powers Bonus Pack by Kelley Armstrong (Mar. 17)

Category 16: Graphic Novels

Artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez, from Locke & Key series.

1. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Apr. 29)

Edited: Jun 1, 9:20pm Top

Category 17: Horror

1. Cujo by Stephen King (Jan. 19)
2. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson (Feb. 2)
3. The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey (Apr. 25)

Books that don't fit the other categories:

1. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (Jan. 12)
2. Nostalgia by M. G. Vassanji (Mar. 16)
3. The Light Between the Oceans by M. L. Stedman (Apr. 19)
4. Love Anthony by Lisa Genova (Apr. 29)
5. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (May 28)

Jan 5, 9:42pm Top

I'm happy to be back for another year of the category challenge! I'm just reserving my spot for now and will fill in the details in the next few days.

Jan 5, 10:14pm Top

Yea! You're back. Hope you have a great 2017.

Jan 6, 4:41am Top

Welcome back and have a wonderful reading year!

Jan 6, 3:37pm Top

Great to see you back again, Paulina. I'm looking forward to getting hit by a few book bullets here during 2017.

Jan 6, 6:32pm Top

Hurray, welcome back! I'll be following your Canada's 150th category with particular interest :)

Jan 7, 10:47am Top

Good luck with your 2017 category reading!

Jan 7, 3:50pm Top

Dropping bread crumbs... I'm looking forward to seeing what you choose to read.

Jan 7, 8:16pm Top

Welcome back to the category challenge!

Jan 7, 9:05pm Top

>12 LittleTaiko: >13 MissWatson: >14 DeltaQueen50: >15 rabbitprincess: >16 tess_schoolmarm: >17 sturlington: >18 thornton37814: Thank you for all your good wishes! It's always nice to have friends stop by! I'm a little behind in getting organized for 2017, but I plan to spend some time visiting the other threads in this group soon.

>15 rabbitprincess: My Canada 150 category is tied in with a BookCrossing challenge. I plan to read, register and release a number of Canadian books, some to BookCrossers in other countries. I expect this to peak during our CanLit group read in July, if that's still in the plans.

Jan 8, 8:32pm Top

1. Drowning in Amber by E. C. Bell (3 stars)
Category: Hugo/Aurora Awards
Challenges: SFFKIT

My first book of the year is one I started when I received my Aurora Voter Packet last year but it didn't hold my interest. I finally finished it but I still feel lukewarm about it. It's too bad as it has a good premise: a private investigator who can communicate with ghosts tracks down a murderer with the supernatural help of the victim. There's some humour and romance mixed in with the mystery and fantasy elements, but I didn't care much for the writing style.

Edited: Feb 5, 7:05pm Top

2. High Rising by Angela Thirkell (4 stars)
Category: Virago Modern Classics

This is the first book in Thirkell's Barsetshire series and also my first time reading Angela Thirkell. I was totally charmed by the characters, setting and story. The activities of a small English village are seen through the eyes of a middle-aged widow and mother who writes popular novels to maintain a modest income. The story is fun and heartwarming, and I'll definitely be looking for more books from this series.

This was the perfect book to read over the holiday season, as it takes place over the weeks encompassing Christmas and New Year's Day. I absolutely adore the cover art by Mick Wiggins. We've been getting a lot of snow this season and this picture perfectly captures the beauty of winter.

Jan 8, 8:58pm Top

>21 mathgirl40: I just got hit by one of those book bullets.

Jan 9, 2:25am Top

Pleased to see your 17 easily understood categories. I have done the same so am glad to have company. I also enjoyed High Rising, a light and amusing read.

Jan 9, 1:18pm Top

>21 mathgirl40: Your thoughts on High Rising have made me very happy as I have this book on my shelves.

Jan 9, 2:04pm Top

Happy New Year!!

Jan 9, 6:31pm Top

Howdy and Happy New Year! Look forward to following your thread.

Jan 9, 11:11pm Top

Wonderful categories! I'm looking forward to following along.

And a great start already with High Rising.

Jan 10, 3:12pm Top

With all those categories with award winning, you should definitely have an award winning year of books! Have fun!

Jan 10, 6:47pm Top

>22 thornton37814: I expect the BB was for High Rising, but if it's for the other, that's OK too. Sometimes books that don't work me appeal to others, and vice versa!

>23 pamelad: I tried to come up with more interesting categories (and I love looking at the clever ideas that other LT members have posted) but I ended up recycling most of last year's categories because they worked well for me.

>24 DeltaQueen50: Great, will look forward to seeing your reaction to it!

>25 VictoriaPL: >26 luvamystery65: Thanks for the New Years greetings!

>27 VivienneR: Thanks, and yes, High Rising was definitely a great book for the first week of January.

>28 mamzel: That's a good attitude toward the new year! As you can see, I have a hard time staying away from awards lists.

Jan 10, 7:00pm Top

3. Death's Golden Whisper by R. J. Harlick (4.5 stars)
Category: Mysteries Around the World

This is the first in the Meg Harris mystery series. Meg lives in a cottage in the wilderness of Western Quebec, next to a Migiskan reserve. The disappearance of her friend Marie and the intrusion of a mining company on a nearby island are somehow tied to Meg's family history.

This book was a very pleasant surprise for me. I joined Kobo's "Super Points" rewards program, which offers a free book annually. Unfortunately, there's a very limited selection we can choose from, and other customers have complained vocally about it. Anyhow, I chose this book, not expecting much, and ended up liking it tremendously. I found it well-written and I especially liked the remote Northern setting. I will definitely seek out the next in the series.

Jan 11, 8:36pm Top

4. MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood (4.5 stars)
Category: Other Science Fiction and Fantasy
Challenges: SFFKIT

I finished my reread of Atwood's trilogy with this final book, MaddAddam. This one ties together the first two books, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, and answers all the questions about how this new crazy world came into being. The rereading made me appreciate better the intricacies of the various plotlines and the complexities of the relationships. The story is told mostly through Toby's and Zeb's viewpoints, and both are tough, resourceful and likable characters. Apparently, the television series based on this series is still in the works. I'm eager to see how the books will translate to film but I'm also worried they'll make a mess of it.

Jan 11, 8:58pm Top

5. Klee Wyck by Emily Carr (4 stars)
Category: Cross-Canada Journey
Location: British Columbia's West Coast

As mentioned upthread, I am doing a virtual walk across Canada. I'm over 400km into my journey now, as I'd started a couple of months ago, but I decided to backtrack for my first book. I'll probably do at least another book set in or near Vancouver, as, for the next couple of months, my route takes me through mostly empty space. There's a lot of that in Canada. :)

Emily Carr is one of Canada's most famous artists and is particularly well known for her paintings inspired by Aboriginal Canadians and their environment. She was also a writer, and Klee Wyck is a memoir consisting of short pieces describing her experiences interacting and occasionally living among the Aboriginals. "Klee Wyck" was a name given to her by the Ucluelet people and it means "Laughing One". That seems appropriate to me, as the stories are full of humour, warmth and interesting observations. Some of the writing might be perceived as politically incorrect these days, but Carr's love and admiration for the Aboriginal people are apparent.

Carr describes in details the many totem poles she tried to preserve in her artwork, so I thought I'd include one of her beautiful paintings, Kitwancool, below. The book cover above shows another of her works, Blunden Harbour.

Jan 12, 10:30am Top

>29 mathgirl40: It was indeed for the Thirkell book.

Jan 12, 1:25pm Top

>31 mathgirl40: I'm eager to see how the books will translate to film but I'm also worried they'll make a mess of it.

The eternal struggle of the book lover!

Jan 15, 2:07pm Top

Congratulations on five reads completed already!

>21 mathgirl40: - Making note of the Thirkell book as a perfect read for my "set in the month of December" subcategory.

Jan 19, 6:22pm Top

I like your challenge setup - lots of interesting categories. Great to see more people reading VMCs! I just picked up High Rising in December, great to see that you liked it.

Jan 19, 6:28pm Top

You've just reminded me of how wonderful the art of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven is.

Jan 22, 9:25pm Top

>34 christina_reads: Indeed. I've got a Think Geek T-shirt that says, "The book is better," because in most cases, it is.

>35 lkernagh: Yes, this one is a lovely December read!

>36 LisaMorr: Thanks! The VMCs can be a bit difficult to find, but I'm having fun searching them out in used bookstores.

>37 RidgewayGirl: One thing I've always wanted to do is to visit the McMichael Gallery which has a big collection of Emily Carr's and the Group of Seven's work. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I've never made a trip there, despite the fact that it's only a couple of hours' drive from my home.

Jan 22, 9:53pm Top

6. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (5 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous
Challenges: AwardsCAT

Atwood's reimagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest is absolutely brilliant. Although I've always been a huge Atwood fan, I was a little worried before starting this book, because there are so many ways one could mess up a reworking of one of Shakespeare's most well-loved plays. The best compliment I could give to this work is that, not only did it stand on its own as a very good story that mirrors The Tempest in clever ways, but it gave me plenty of insight into Shakespeare's play. I particularly liked Felix Phillips, the main character, one of the few really memorable and likeable male characters created by Atwood.

Jan 22, 10:06pm Top

7. Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson (4.5 stars)
Category: Other Science Fiction and Fantasy

Robert Charles Wilson's latest novel has a fascinating premise: present-day scientists have found a way to travel back in time, but to an alternative time-line. A wealthy entrepreneur takes advantage of this to open a theme-park-like resort in late 19th century Ohio, where people from both time periods can interact in a controlled way.

Wilson is one of my favourite writers, as he always manages to combine appealing multi-faceted characters, thought-provoking explorations of social issues and mind-bending science-fiction ideas. This novel includes some fast-paced adventure as well and is definitely recommended.

Jan 22, 10:19pm Top

8. Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil (4 stars)
Category: Nonfiction

Weapons of Math Destruction, by mathematician Cathy O'Neil, is all about the dangers related to "big data". O'Neil describes the faults of the mathematical models used for analytics and the erroneous conclusions that can come from them. The book can seem alarmist at times and O'Neil describes some complex ideas in very simplistic terms, but it really is scary how much the government and private corporations know about us and how they make decisions based on the data. Even though I have a fair amount of background knowledge in mathematics and computer science, I still find myself prone to making the kind of faulty conclusions that O'Neil describes, as well as accepting others' decisions without really questioning them. Some use of analytics (like LT or Amazon suggesting books I'd like to read) can be useful and generally harmless, but O'Neil shows how others can be quite damaging, especially to underprivileged groups.

Jan 23, 9:16pm Top

9. The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu (3.5 stars)
Category: Other Science Fiction and Fantasy

This is the second book of Chu's Tao series, in which once-ordinary Roen and the alien Tao that shares his body fight the evil forces in the Quasing race. I was disappointed at first, as this volume didn't seem to have the charm and humour of the first. However, as I read on, I did get caught up in the Prophus/Genjix global war and the back story as told by the Quasings inhabiting the human characters.

Jan 23, 9:30pm Top

10. Cujo by Stephen King (3.5 stars)
Category: Horror

I enjoyed this Stephen King thriller about a rabid dog who turns into a killer, though I didn't find it nearly as scary or gripping as some of his other books. I liked the various connected subplots which focused mostly on family relationships, but I found the scenes with Cujo overly long and drawn out. The book also feels dated, as much of the plot is driven by circumstances that come about because various people are unsuccessful at contacting other people. In the present time, this kind of scenario would be unlikely.

Jan 24, 10:32am Top

I love how Cujo has become a name people call large loud dogs and sarcastically call small yappy dogs.

Jan 30, 8:59pm Top

>44 mamzel: Not having read the book or seen the movie earlier, I never totally got the joke until now. :)

Jan 30, 9:01pm Top

11. The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder (4 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books

This is one of the books on the recently released Tournament of Books shortlist. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I wasn't going to read it at first, as I'm not much of a football fan, but I decided to try it out as it's such a short book. I was happy to discover it's not just about football. It's also about friendship, aging and life choices. I found some parts quite melancholy and others parts hilariously funny.

Jan 30, 9:07pm Top

12. The Dispatcher by John Scalzi (4 stars)
Category: Other SFF

I downloaded the audiobook version of this novella-length work last year, when Audible was offering it free of charge. The main character is a "dispatcher", a person who is licensed to kill critically injured people in this bizarre universe where victims of a violent death can come back to life after being dispatched. Scalzi explores interesting social issues in a mystery/thriller setting. This is typical of his work: a mostly light, fun and fast-paced novel containing some thought-provoking ideas.

Edited: Feb 5, 7:04pm Top

13. The Case of the Late Pig (3.5 stars)
Category: Golden Age Mysteries

This is a decent, though not especially notable, installment in the Albert Campion series, in which an unpleasant man that Campion knew from boyhood appears to have died twice. It took me a while to get used to the first-person narration, by Campion himself, as I hadn't encountered this in previous books I'd read from this series.

Feb 1, 10:14pm Top

14. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (3.5 stars)
Category: Other SFF

This novel is an interesting mix of fantasy and African folklore, and the author tackles a number of important social issues, including genocide and female genital mutilation. However, I found the pacing uneven; the story seemed rushed in sections and plodding in others. I enjoyed the author's recent Hugo-winning novella, Binti, much more.

Feb 1, 10:24pm Top

15. Earth by David Brin (4.5 stars)
Category: Doorstoppers
Challenges: CultureCAT

In Earth, a group of scientists search for a runaway black-hole-like singularity working through the Earth's core and hope to find it before it destroys the planet. This novel has some flaws and it was quite a challenge to read, but its ambitious scope is truly impressive. For me, the reading experience was somewhat like that of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Earth also has a vast array of interesting human and non-human characters and it shows an uncannily accurate view of the future.

The book was published in 1990, but I wouldn't have guessed it if I hadn't known beforehand. Brin's details of everyday activities, such as using the Internet, reading books on an e-reader and sorting your waste for recycling, are not so far from today's reality. However, let's hope that his frightening portrayal of an unstable Earth struggling under the effects of rapid climate change won't come to pass.

Feb 2, 6:20pm Top

>48 mathgirl40: Looks like The Case of the Late Pig is part of Season 1 of Campion, which I just borrowed from the library :) Someday I'll read the actual books!

Feb 4, 7:24pm Top

>51 rabbitprincess: I loved the Campion series and thought that Peter Davison portrayed him perfectly!

Feb 4, 7:35pm Top

16. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (4 stars)
Category: Other SFF

Gladstone creates a magical world that feels quite different from other urban-fantasy novels I've read. For one thing, law and economics play very large roles in this story. The protagonist is a lawyer working for a powerful firm, and she uses both human and supernatural skills as she investigates the murder of a deity. This seems like a promising first novel in the Craft Sequence, which a number of people have recommended to me.

Edited: Feb 5, 7:04pm Top

17. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell (4 stars)
Category: Virago Modern Classics

I enjoyed High Rising so much earlier this month that I was keen on reading another by Angela Thirkell and I was not disappointed. This is another of her Barsetshire books but involves a completely different set of characters. There is a romantic plot but the novel is mostly a very entertaining comedy of manners. I particularly like the fact that Thirkell mixes in characters of all generations and we often get to see events from the children's points of view as well as the adults'.

Feb 5, 7:23am Top

>53 mathgirl40: I've seen a few positive reviews for Three Parts Dead and the rest of the series also so think it's about time to add it to my wishlist.

Feb 5, 6:30pm Top

@55 Thanks for stopping by! I'm eager to get to the rest of the series myself ... but I have to make more progress on other series I've got on the shelves first.

Feb 5, 6:52pm Top

Here is a quick January summary:

Books read: 17
Books off my shelves: 7
Favourite books: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood and Earth by David Brin

January was a great reading month, though the high number of books read (17) was mainly due to several of them being very short. I'm also happy that I discovered Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire series!

Feb 6, 1:19am Top

Great categories! And some excellent progress on said categories! :)

Feb 6, 8:56pm Top

>54 mathgirl40: The first one in that series is in my wish list/to be read list. Thanks for the reminder about it.

Feb 8, 5:27pm Top

>47 mathgirl40: - Having enjoyed Scalzi's Sci-Fi story RedShirts, I admit I struggle a bit to picture him writing a mystery thriller, even though I really shouldn't "stereotype" authors and their works. I have made note of The Dispatcher for my future reading list.

Also, making note of of the Thirkell books.

WOOT on 17 books read in January!

Feb 9, 8:40pm Top

>58 -Eva-: Thanks!

>59 thornton37814: I loved High Rising. I hope you enjoy it too!

>60 lkernagh: Though they have mystery/thriller elements, The Dispatcher and Lock In (another I enjoyed very much) both feel very much like Scalzi books. If you liked Redshirts, you'll probably like these.

Edited: Feb 26, 9:17pm Top

18. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson (4 stars)
Category: Horror

Though Shirley Jackson is often associated with horror, only a few of these stories seemed to fit my picture of the genre. They were not particularly scary. On the other hand, most of them were very disturbing. Jackson describes very ordinary activities of average people but gives you the sense that something is just not right and under the surface, there are some truly ugly elements. Perhaps that really is the meaning of "horror". There is a wide mix of stories in this collection, with several absolutely brilliant ones, such as her most famous, "The Lottery".

Feb 9, 9:02pm Top

19. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (4 stars)
Category: Other SFF
Challenges: SFFKIT

This sequel to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was loads of fun. I especially liked the audiobook narration of Martin Freeman. He does a great Marvin. Being a lifelong Scrabble fan, I also liked how the game makes an appearance in this story.

Feb 9, 9:36pm Top

>63 mathgirl40: - this is on my list of books to read this year - looking forward to it. Scrabble? Even better.

Feb 16, 12:44pm Top

>54 mathgirl40: So, am I right in guessing that you don't necessarily have to read the Barsetshire books in order? I have High Rising, August Folly (#4) and Pomfret Towers (#6) and wasn't sure if I needed to worry about getting 2, 3 and 5 before getting started...

Feb 16, 12:52pm Top

>62 mathgirl40: I agree, the stories were very disturbing. They really creeped me out when I read them, and I don't think I ever quite finished the collection.

Feb 17, 10:15pm Top

>64 LittleTaiko: Nice to see another Scrabble fan here!

>65 LisaMorr: I've only read the first two, High Rising and Wild Strawberries, and there was no overlap at all among characters and plotlines. I don't know if later books might depend on these earlier ones. In any case, I found both books really enjoyable and I hope you do too.

>66 sturlington: I listened to the collection on audiobook, and the narrator succeeded in making the stories even creepier than they might have been.

Feb 17, 10:39pm Top

20 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (4.5 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books
Challenges: AwardsCAT, CATWoman

This collection of short stories has an interesting structure. It starts with two stories about two half-sisters living in 18th century Ghana. Subsequent stories, about their descendants, move forward in time and place until we reach modern-day America. Themes of slavery and colonialism permeate the stories. Most story collections are a mixed bag but I enjoyed every single one of these stories and thought that the characters were very well drawn.

Feb 17, 10:42pm Top

21. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George (4 stars)
Category: Mysteries Around the World (England)
Challenges: CATWoman

I'd watched the entire Inspector Lynley TV series a few years ago and especially loved the portrayal of Havers by Sharon Small. I'm happy to say that this book, on which the series is based, did not disappoint. I really liked the writing and the characters. I found the caricature of the American tourists and some of the plot elements over the top, but otherwise this was a very enjoyable first book in the series.

Feb 17, 10:54pm Top

22. Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet (3.5 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books
Challenges: AwardsCAT

This first-person narrative is told by a clearly unreliable narrator, a woman who admits to hearing voices in her head. The story is about her attempt to protect her daughter and to elude her wealthy and powerful husband whom she believes wishes to murder her. I probably would have enjoyed this story more if I hadn't listened to it on audiobook. The author had narrated it herself, in an especially dull and monotone voice. There's a reason why professionals are usually hired for audiobook recordings!

Feb 21, 11:54am Top

>70 mathgirl40: There's a reason why professionals are usually hired for audiobook recordings!
Agree! I'm listening to Lab Girl narrated by the author. I have finally gotten past the annoyance of her pronouncing "root" more like "rut". Considering the field she studies, this word comes up a lot!

Feb 22, 10:21pm Top

>71 mamzel: That would indeed be annoying! Occasionally, authors do a good job with narrations. I was once pleasantly surprised by Lesley Livingstone's narration of one of her own YA novels and then discovered that she'd worked as a Shakespearean actor for several years.

Feb 22, 10:29pm Top

23. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (5 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books
Challenges: AwardsCAT

A favourite in the Tournament of Books, this novel reimagines the Underground Railroad as an actual railway system that the main characters, Cora and Caesar, use to escape slavery. Does this novel deserve all the hype that it's received? Yes, I believe it does. The characters are wonderful, the plot is well-paced, and the alternate-history aspects make the story original and creative. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this novel has been nominated for a number of science-fiction and fantasy awards as well as for several mainstream literary awards.

Feb 22, 11:21pm Top

>63 mathgirl40:
Freeman is such a great reader of those books!

Feb 28, 6:28pm Top

Wow, we've been reading a lot of the same books lately - probably because of the tournament.

>69 mathgirl40: - I just finished reading this one over the weekend but haven't had a chance to post a review yet. You're so right about the over the top portrayal of the American tourists, at least I hope it's over the top, sometimes you hear stories... One day I'll try watching the TV show but would like to have a few more books in the series finished first.

>70 mathgirl40: - Just finished this one yesterday and think that I liked it. Definitely weird, but somehow it kept me reading. Not sure I ever bought into her fear of her husband in the beginning, but there were some interesting ideas in there.

You liked Homegoing and The Underground Railroad better than I did, but such is life. They were more of a 3 star read for me.

Mar 1, 10:29pm Top

>74 -Eva-: Yes indeed, a good narrator makes such a difference!

>75 LittleTaiko: I love following the ToB every year and seeing the different reactions to the books, as well as the analyses of the judges. Yes, I did like some more than you did, and there were some (like My Name is Lucy Barton) which many others gushed over that I just couldn't warm up to. Well, it would be boring if we all liked the same books. The intense debate among the judges and the commenters is part of what I enjoy so much about the ToB.

Mar 1, 10:32pm Top

24. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (5 stars)
Category: Hugo and Aurora Awards

This novel is considered a classic of science fiction and it definitely deserves this designation. The exploration of gender issues seems very relevant to today's discussions, even though this novel was written decades ago. Apart from the thought-provoking political and social ideas, this is also a compelling story about friendship, ideals and honour, featuring an epic road-trip. Well, to be precise, it's a sledge-trip through an Arctic-like environment, but it has all the elements of the best road-trip stories.

Mar 2, 6:30am Top

>77 mathgirl40: That is one of my all-time favorite books. You're right--it is an epic road trip story. I loved the journey aspect of the story.

Mar 2, 7:33am Top

>76 mathgirl40: Yes, the narrator makes all the difference. I'm listening to an audiobook right now where there are two narrators - a woman and a very deep-toned man. It's very jarring when they switch. I don't care for it but the story is interesting so I'm keeping with it for now.

Mar 2, 7:47am Top

>70 mathgirl40: Oh, that's too bad. I worry that were I to start listening to audiobooks, I might end up not liking a book I'd otherwise have loved, either because of the reader, or because it wasn't written with an oral rendition in mind. I'll stick to podcasts and music, although Lincoln in the Bardo tempts me with all the people participating.

Mar 2, 2:44pm Top

I have found that I usually prefer one voice in my audios rather than a mix. It seems to jar me to be constantly hearing different voices. I also have had trouble with some men readers when they do woman's voices that, to me, sound like a Monty Python skit. I seem to prefer women doing men's voices, but that might just be because it's more like my own inner reading voice.

Mar 3, 8:29pm Top

>78 sturlington: Glad you liked it as much as I did. I have a weakness for good road-trip stories.

>79 VictoriaPL: I don't mind different narrators when they have a similar style but when their voices are very different or when they pronounce names differently (yes, I have encountered this!), I too find it bothersome.

>80 RidgewayGirl: Despite my occasional complaints about narrators, I've found that for the most part, they are very good and enhance my enjoyment of the book. I love listening to audiobooks when I'm walking for exercise and when I'm doing tedious house chores.

>81 DeltaQueen50: I too have trouble with male readers doing women's voices, particularly if they have deep and gruff voices. When I was listening to the Song of Ice and Fire series, I cringed whenever Roy Dotrice tried to do young girlish voices like Sansa's.

Mar 3, 10:18pm Top

25. The Iron Tactician by Alastair Reynolds (3.5 stars)
Category: Other SFF
Challenges: SFFKIT

I'd read Slow Bullets last year and enjoyed it very much so I thought I'd try another story by Reynolds. This novella was my first introduction to the character Merlin, who has appeared in many other stories by the author. I suspect I would have appreciated some aspects of this story more if I had been familiar with the earlier stories. Yet, as a stand-alone book, The Iron Tactician is a pretty good space opera story with much of what I'd expect from this genre, including a sentient spaceship. I definitely liked this book enough to seek out more Merlin stories from Reynolds.

Mar 4, 10:42am Top

>77 mathgirl40: Ooh, an Arctic-like setting! Pretty sure this is already on the TBR list but I will have to bump it up to fit in with my other Arctic reading this year!

PS I bought my registration for Bouchercon! I also signed up for one of the Conan Doyle library tours the day before the con :)

Mar 4, 5:46pm Top

>84 rabbitprincess: I'm hoping to register for Bouchercon soon too, but I need to work things out with the rest of my family's schedules first. I'm also thinking of going to Ad Astra (an SFF convention with some big names showing up this year) in Toronto at the beginning of May.

Mar 4, 6:01pm Top

26. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (5 stars)
Category: 1001 Books

It always impresses me when an author can do more in a shorter novella-length work than most can do in a 300-page novel. This compact story explores how the return of a WWI soldier suffering from memory loss profoundly affects his wife, cousin and former lover. It is beautifully written and poignant and it shows not just the immediate impact to family lives but also the subtler effects on class structure and the roles of women at that time.

Mar 4, 10:05pm Top

27. Fruit by Brian Francis (4 stars)
Category: Canada 150

This is a quirky and humorous novel about an overweight gay adolescent boy trying to figure out and come to terms with his sexuality, body image, family relationships, friendships and all the other things that teenagers worry about.

My volume is the American edition of the novel entitled Fruit, which was a finalist in the 2009 Canada Reads event. According to Brian Francis, there are very minor differences in the two editions, which he describes in an appendix. The appendices also include an interview with the author which reveals that aspects of the novel reflect his own youth and a particularly interesting comparison of Canadian and American chocolate bars

Mar 4, 10:37pm Top

28. Moonglow by Michael Chabon (4 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books

This fictionalized memoir shows the love and affection the narrator has for his grandfather as he tells his story through a series of vignettes. These episodes go back and forth in time and cover his grandfather's Jewish upbringing, his work as a scientist during WWII, his fascination with space travel, the challenges presented by his wife's mental illness, and his finding love a second time late in life. Though the prose was lovely and the story enjoyable, I found the abrupt and frequent shifts in time particularly disorienting while listening to the novel on audiobook.

Mar 5, 8:41pm Top

29. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (3.5 stars)
Category: Other SFF

This was a fun mix of urban fantasy and police procedural. There's a lot going on here, including grisly murders, time travel, river gods and goddesses, and the main character's apprenticeship to a wizard. My one complaint is that the pacing was uneven, so at times, the story got very confusing with so much happening at once, and at other times, the story dragged. Nevertheless, the fascinating world that Aaronovitch has created and the clever and witty dialogue encourage me to continue this series.

Mar 5, 8:59pm Top

30. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (3.5 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books

This fantasy novel follows the friendship between Patricia, a witch, and Laurence, a computer nerd, and explores the complex interplay between magic and science in this world. I absolutely loved the first part of the book, which takes place during the main characters' school days. It reminded me a lot of Jo Walton's Among Others, a wonderful novel that deservedly won the Hugo award. The story fizzled for me afterward, but overall, it was enjoyable enough. I don't think it has much of a chance in the Tournament of Books, though, as it's fairly lightweight compared to the others.

Mar 5, 9:01pm Top

31. Phantom by Jo Nesbo (3.5 stars)

There were a lot of things I liked about this 9th book in the Harry Hole series, but there were a few aspects that reduced my enjoyment of it. The pacing was very slow at times. I feel the editors could have easily cut 50 pages or more without harming the story. I also have mixed feelings about the interspersing of the victim's first-person narrative into the main narrative, and I find myself annoyed with the cliff-hanger ending. Yet, this novel has the complexity and suspense I've come to expect from books in this series, and it gets us closer to Harry as he examines his relationships with his ex Rakel and her son Oleg.

Mar 5, 9:09pm Top

I agree with you about All the Birds in the Sky. I enjoyed it, but it's not going anywhere in the ToB - especially since it goes up against The Vegetarian in the first round.

Mar 5, 9:21pm Top

32. How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden (4.5 stars)

This book is a memoir from Dr. David Goldbloom, a Toronto psychiatrist, co-written with his colleague, Dr. Pier Bryden. It was fascinating to read about mental illness and its treatment from the point-of-view of the doctor, rather than that of the patient. Goldbloom also includes anecdotes from his personal life and talks about difficult and uncertain judgments he's had to make. I found his discussion of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) particularly interesting. He made it seem less scary to me, though his confirmation that we still don't understand completely how and why it works doesn't inspire complete confidence.

I have had some experience with mental illness and its treatment, through people close to me, and it can be a confusing and scary realm. It seems that's mostly due to an overburdened medical system, reluctance among people to discuss the issues openly and the limits to our current scientific understanding. I really like that Goldbloom's matter-of-fact and practical approach to his cases makes the various mental illnesses seem less frightening and opaque.

Mar 5, 9:24pm Top

>92 RidgewayGirl: I just finished The Vegetarian (review to come later) and I agree with you. Actually, I found All the Birds in the Sky a more enjoyable read but can appreciate the aspects of The Vegetarian that make it a serious ToB contender.

Mar 6, 8:01am Top

>88 mathgirl40: I agree, the time changes were a little off-setting.

Mar 6, 9:27am Top

>90 mathgirl40: - We had totally opposite reactions to this book. I loathed the first part of the book and really had a hard time convincing myself to keep reading. The middle part was fairly enjoyable and then I disliked it again. As much as I disliked The Vegetarian too, I hope that it advances over this one.

Mar 6, 9:41pm Top

>95 VictoriaPL: Glad I'm not the only one who had trouble with that!

>96 LittleTaiko: Since the book is generating such different reactions, it should at least lead to some very interesting discussion in the tournament!

Mar 6, 9:55pm Top

33. Axis by Robert Charles Wilson (4 stars)
Category: Other SFF

The low ratings given to this sequel to Spin by other LT members surprised me, but then on reflection, I suppose it is to be expected. The Hugo-winning Spin is such a great book in every respect and felt so complete on its own that a sequel would undoubtedly disappoint if one were expecting its equal. I'd read Spin twice and then waited several more years before venturing to pick this one up. I think enough time has passed that I can evaluate it on its own merits. Set in the new world connected to the Earth with mostly new characters, it has what I normally expect from Wilson: good development of characters, quality prose and most of all, exploration of big SF ideas.

Mar 6, 10:04pm Top

Here is a quick February summary:

Books read: 16 (out of 33 in total)
Books off my shelves: 6 (out of 13 in total)
Favourite books: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin and The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

I surprised myself by finishing 16 books in the short month of February. It helped that several of the books were novella-length and I had a couple of long-weekend vacations with plenty of travel time. March might not be as productive, at least in number of books, as I've got a couple of gigantic books on the go.

I'm continuing to work through the Tournament of Books list, having finished 8 now and with numbers 9 and 10 almost done.

Mar 7, 9:58pm Top

You've reminded me that I need to get around to The Left Hand of Darkness, which I keep passing over because of its small print. I'm determined now that I'll get to it sooner than later :) Of course, I get distracted easily--even now, I'd probably be re-reading The Return of the Soldier if I didn't have it in storage. I'll have to keep Le Guin on my close radar, though :)

Mar 9, 9:53pm Top

>100 whitewavedarling: Oh, I totally understand about small print being discouraging. I finally got reading glasses (in addition to the ones I usually wear) last year and now I'm getting back to some of the books on my shelves that I'd been avoiding.

Mar 9, 10:35pm Top

34. The Vegetarian by Han Kang (3.5 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books

This short novel in three parts, each narrated by a different character, follows the progression of a woman's mental illness. This book has won a number of awards and is expected to do well in the Tournament of Books. The prose is both beautiful and deeply disturbing. I can understand why this book has received so much praise, but its strangeness made it difficult for me to enjoy the reading experience or to feel a connection to the characters.

Mar 9, 10:44pm Top

35. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (5 stars)
Category: Other SFF

I'd read Pullman's trilogy about 10 years ago, at the same time that my kids did, and I enjoyed this first book even more the second time around. This is a book I really wish I could have read for the first time in my youth, although as an adult, I have a better appreciation of Pullman's political and social commentary.

I've commented on this and other threads that I don't always appreciate audiobooks narrated by the author or featuring multiple narrators. The audiobook version of The Golden Compass is definitely an exception to my general feelings. This production featured a full cast performing the dialogue with unique voices for each character, and Pullman himself did the third-person narration very capably.

Mar 10, 9:04pm Top

36. The Mothers by Brit Bennett (3.5 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books

This novel, featuring a complicated love triangle, touches on a large number of serious themes: suicide, motherhood, abortion, and religion. I liked the author's treatment of these subjects, as well as the commentary of the Greek-chorus-like "mothers", but I couldn't connect to any of the characters and found the plot terribly slow at times. It will be interesting to see how this fares in the Tournament of Books next week.

Mar 11, 9:02am Top

>102 mathgirl40: It didn't do that well in the ToB!

>104 mathgirl40: This may well be the most polarizing book of the tournament.

Mar 11, 11:11am Top

>105 RidgewayGirl: That decision certainly surprised me. However, I liked reading the judge's explanation and the subsequent comments, as it made me reconsider some of my own feelings about the book.

This may well be the most polarizing book of the tournament.
Indeed. I'm certainly looking forward to the ToB commentary for The Mothers!

Mar 11, 11:34am Top

37. The Nix by Nathan Hill (5 stars)
Category: Tournament of Books

This story about a not-very-successful English professor trying to reconnect with his mother years after she left him is my favourite book from the Tournament of Books list so far. It covers a lot of ground, including the 1968 Chicago protests, video-game addiction, Norwegian folklore, and much more. It's a huge sprawling, messy narrative, but I loved every moment of it. It reminded me, in a good way, of Donna Tartt's Goldfinch, but with more humour.

Having taught at a university for several years myself, the conversation between Samuel and Laura, where she argues that his failing her for having cheated on an assignment is so utterly unfair, had me laughing until I was in tears.

Another interesting moment (for me, anyhow) was the scene where 17-year-old Bethany plays Bruch's violin concerto #1. Coincidentally, my own 17-year-old daughter recently learned this piece and I made her listen (on audiobook) to Hill's description of the concerto. Her response was, "That's a really insightful description. The author must be a musician." It turns out that he is not, but his wife is a bassoonist with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.

I'll also add that I found Ari Fliakos's narration of the audiobook superb.

Edited: Mar 11, 11:53am Top

38. Quantum Night by Robert Sawyer (2.5 stars)
Category: Other SFF

Robert Sawyer is often hit-or-miss with me, and this one is definitely a miss. There are some good things in this book, including a few page-turning and exciting passages and many interesting ideas about consciousness, quantum physics and ethics to consider. However, there are so many ridiculously implausible scenes that I found myself rolling my eyes in disbelief many times when reading the book. Yes, I know that most SFF is implausible. I am willing to accept without question an implausible set-up (such as "elves and goblins live among us") as long as everything that occurs in that context makes sense. This novel fails in that regard.

Also, despite my considering myself a patriotic Canadian who likes to celebrate our Canadian ways, Sawyer's constant commentary about Canada, its politics and its culture drove me crazy, even though I actually agree with most of his political views. The strange thing is that I've disliked most of the Sawyer books I've read, with a few exceptions. Yet, I keep reading them. I'm not quite sure why. I suppose it's that the truly interesting sci-fi ideas he presents make up for all the other weaknesses in his writing.

Mar 12, 6:17pm Top

I always love stopping by your thread - when I get a chance to stop by, that is! - and check out all of the great reading you have been doing. Dodged some BB's although I have to admit that I am intrigued by The Nix and your 5-star rating.

Mar 14, 1:07pm Top

>107 mathgirl40: Loved the music comment on that book. Your review probably pushes that one onto the TBR list. I've been a bit intrigued by its description, but I'm thinking I might actually enjoy it if I read it at the right time.

Mar 20, 10:28pm Top

>109 lkernagh: Thanks for stopping by! I certainly find many BBs on your thread, so I'm glad you encountered some here.

>110 thornton37814: The Nix probably doesn't work for everyone, but if you do get around to reading it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Mar 20, 10:29pm Top

39. Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland (4 stars)
Category: Cross-Canada Journey

On my virtual journey walking across Canada, I'm well into the British Columbia interior right now. However, reading-wise, I'm still stuck in Vancouver. I wanted to do one more book from Canada's West Coast before moving along.

In Hey Nostradamus!, Coupland explores the consequences of a high-school shooting from the points of view of four people, each narrating one section of the book. Much of the characters' thoughts are concerned with religion and faith. The structure and content of this novel are strange and unsettling, but there were many passages that I found to be quite insightful and some even funny in an otherwise grim setting.

Mar 20, 10:31pm Top

40. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie (3.5 stars)
Category: Golden Age Mysteries
Challenges: CATWoman

The characters' attitudes feel rather dated and the romantic elements are overdone, but I enjoyed the examination of village life from the point of view of the narrator, an outsider. Though this is billed as a Miss Marple mystery, her role is actually very small. Someone expecting a Miss Marple mystery might be disappointed, but I personally enjoyed the amateur sleuthing of the narrator.

Mar 21, 11:01am Top

>112 mathgirl40: I quite enjoyed this one too despite its subject matter. I really should get around to reading some more of his works having only completed two so far. Thanks for the reminder.

Mar 22, 4:11pm Top

>113 mathgirl40: The Moving Finger is one of my favorite Miss Marple mysteries, but I'm not sure why! It's got some classic Christie misdirection, and I like the siblings at the center of the book. Oh, and the vicar's wife is wonderful!

Mar 22, 9:29pm Top

>114 AHS-Wolfy: I've only read a couple of Coupland's books myself, but a couple of years ago, I visited an exhibition of his art at the Royal Ontario Museum. It too is worth checking out.

>115 christina_reads: I liked the siblings too! Joanna is a terrific character, much more interesting than Megan.

Mar 22, 9:36pm Top

41. Company Town by Madeline Ashby (4 stars)
Category: Other SFF
Challenges: CATWoman

This book is one of the current Canada Reads contestants. There was a lot that I liked about it, including the setting of a futuristic and dystopian Newfoundland. I thought the characters were interesting and had some depth, and the story, which was a mystery/thriller in a sci-fi setting, was fast-paced and suspenseful.

What kept me from giving this book an even higher rating was the ending, which just did not seem in keeping with the direction in which the book had been moving. New, confusing elements were introduced and left me feeling that I didn't really get what had been happening all along. I hope Ashby writes a sequel, so that I can make sense of the ending and because I'd like to know what happens next to her characters.

Mar 23, 9:45am Top

>116 mathgirl40: Had no idea about his artwork so thanks for that.

>117 mathgirl40: I think I've seen some good comments on Company Town before but I think you've finally piqued my interest enough to put it on the wishlist.

Mar 23, 6:14pm Top

>117 mathgirl40: It's very interesting to see a mystery/thriller/sci-fi on the Canada Reads list! :D

Edited: Mar 29, 10:15pm Top

>118 AHS-Wolfy: >119 rabbitprincess: Well, to my surprise, Company Town hasn't been knocked out of Canada Reads yet. We'll see what happens tomorrow!

Mar 29, 10:15pm Top

42. The Drowning by Camilla Läckberg (3.5 stars)
Category: Mysteries Around the World (Sweden)
Challenges: CATWoman, AwardsCAT

In this 6th book of the Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstrom series, Patrik investigates the case of a missing person while Erica discovers that a fellow writer has been receiving threatening letters. This is another page-turning suspenseful story from Läckberg, interspersed with domestic scenes from the lives of Erica, Patrik and friends. However, I did find the resolution of the mystery somewhat difficult to believe.

Mar 29, 10:17pm Top

43. Nostalgia by M. G. Vassanji (3 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous

This speculative-fiction novel was one of the Canada Reads contenders, eliminated on the second day. It is set in a near-future where people have the option to erase memories from their past and undergo rejuvenation to have a "new", prolonged life. There are a number of thought-provoking ideas and the book made for good discussion at my book club, but I found the execution lacking. I found the major premises hard to swallow and the pacing uneven.

Mar 29, 10:18pm Top

44. Darkest Powers Bonus Pack by Kelley Armstrong (3.5 stars)
Category: Short Stories
Challenges: CATWoman

Armstrong's Darkest Powers YA trilogy, about a group of troubled teenagers with supernatural powers, remains my favourite of her works. This collection includes three companion stories. I doubt they would be of much interest to readers not familiar with the trilogy, but they are a worthwhile read for those who enjoyed the Darkest Powers series. I especially liked the first story, which is a prequel telling how Derek and Simon came to Lyle House.

Apr 1, 4:56pm Top

45. A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (4 stars)
Category: Other Mysteries
Challenges: CATWoman

This is the third book in the Mary Russell series, about the sleuthing adventures of smart and scholarly Mary and her husband, the elderly Sherlock Holmes. I'm continuing to enjoy this blend of mystery and historical fiction. This installment has Mary investigating the death of a close friend and possible connections to an ancient document that friend had given her.

Apr 1, 5:27pm Top

46. In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicky Delany (4 stars)
Category: Cross-Canada Journey
Challenges: CATWoman

On my virtual cross-Canada walk, I'm now most of my way across British Columbia, about 40km southwest of Fernie. This first book in Delany's Smith/Winters series is a timely read, as I'm in the general area where the fictional town of Trafalgar is supposedly located, in the Kootenay region. Here, by the way, is a view of the scenery near Fernie:

This mystery has Constable Molly Smith engaged in her first detective work, investigating a murder that has political consequences, as it affects the building of a resort that could potentially harm the environment, as well as the installation of a memorial supported by peace activists who were opposed to the Vietnam War.

As a mystery, this novel had some weaknesses, and the writing seemed a bit sloppy in places. However, I just found the characters so likable and the interior-BC setting so appealing that I'm really looking forward to reading the next in this series!

Apr 1, 6:46pm Top

47. The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester (4 stars)
Category: Non-fiction

In this book, Winchester tells the story of how the Oxford English Dictionary came into being. It is a lengthy story, spanning many years and involving many contributors, but much of it is focused on James Murray, who had devoted much of his life to the project.

I've read several of Winchester's books and I've always liked his ability to describe historical events in a story-like format and to explore the personalities of the people involved. This particular book did contain a greater amount of tedious detail compared to his other books. On the other hand, I should have expected this in a book about a dictionary! I was a little bit disappointed that there was only one sentence summarizing the creation of the electronic edition. This was a huge project in the late 80's that involved a number of people at my alma mater, the University of Waterloo.

Apr 1, 7:40pm Top

48. The Element of Fire by Brendan Graham (3.5 stars)
Category: Dust Collector
Challenges: RandomCAT, CultureCAT

This historical novel tells the story of a woman who settles in Boston with her children after surviving the famine in Ireland which took the lives of her husband and a daughter. The novel explores the challenges faced by the immigrants, as well as the tensions between the Protestant and Catholic Irish. I found the story a little too melodramatic for my tastes, but I enjoyed learning more about the Irish immigrant experience and about Boston in the mid-nineteenth century.

Apr 1, 7:44pm Top

49. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (3 stars)
Category: Other SFF
Challenges: CATWoman

This is a steampunk novel that I'd really wanted to like, because what's not to love about a story about a magical library and librarians with supernatural powers? It turned out that the novel was great on world-building but rather lacking in plot and character development. There are more books in the series but they don't seem too compelling at the moment.

Apr 1, 7:48pm Top

50. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (3.5 stars)
Category: Other SFF

I'd read one of the Discworld YA books, The Wee Free Men, years ago, and though it was entertaining enough, I didn't feel the urge to read more in the series. However, I decided recently that I'd give Discworld another try. The plots of the four interconnected stories in this first volume of the series didn't grab me all that much, but I really enjoyed the humour and liked a lot of the characters. I'm now immersed enough in Discworld that I'll certainly read more in the series. I found the parody of Dragonflight hilarious!

Apr 1, 8:35pm Top

Here is my March summary

Books read: 17 (out of 50 in all)
Books from my shelves: 7 (out of 20 in all)
Favourite book: The Nix by Nathan Hill

It was a good reading month. I finished several more from the Tournament of Books and enjoyed following the progress of the tournament. I was very disappointed that The Nix didn't make it to the finals but The Underground Railroad is a worthy winner.

I have a big TBR pile lined up for April and am looking forward to the group read of A Suitable Boy.

Apr 3, 9:51am Top

>128 mathgirl40: I just bought this book on a whim. The blurb made it sound a bit like the television series The Librarians , which I have occasionally watched and enjoyed.

>130 mathgirl40: I didn't pay any attention to the Tournament of Books this year. Off to check out their website...

Apr 7, 10:09pm Top

>131 VioletBramble: I'd also heard that the book was similar to The Librarians, which I've not seen yet but which sounds intriguing.

There were some excellent books on the ToB this year. I always enjoy discovering new authors on that list.

Edited: Apr 7, 10:21pm Top

51. The Lost Boy by Camilla Läckberg (4 stars)
Category: Other Mysteries

I was a little disappointed by the last installment in the Erica Falck series, so I'm happy to report that I found this one more enjoyable. There are several interwoven subplots, including one from over a century ago, and all touch on the subject of domestic abuse. There are also the usual "cozy" touches, where we spend time with Erica's and Patrik's new babies, as well as their friends and coworkers. I find Läckberg's prose pretty flat, but she's great at creating suspense and making me want to read more. I found this book hard to put down.

Apr 8, 7:29pm Top

52. The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz (3.5 stars)
Category: Cross-Canada Journey

This is one of the books on this year's Evergreen list from the Ontario Library Association. It fits well with my virtual cross-Canada journey, as it takes place in the BC interior, which I'm still in the process of crossing. The story follows a young woman's efforts to save her family farm and to deal with her brother's mental illness. The author explores themes related to the environment and First Nations issues, while weaving in myths from the Shuswap people. Anderson-Dargatz is a fine writer and creates interesting characters, but the mix of supernatural elements in this story didn't work all that well for me.

Edited: Apr 8, 7:31pm Top

53. Where Nests the Water Hen by Gabrielle Roy (4.5 stars)
Category: Canada 150
Challenges: CultureCAT

This collection of three stories, two about Luzina Tousignant, the mother of a large family living on a small island and the third about a Catholic priest, features beautiful prose, describing the remoteness and rugged landscape of Northern Manitoba. The book is great at showcasing the spirit of the Canadian pioneer. Luzina is a wonderful character: optimistic, good-humoured and open-minded. I particularly liked the middle story, about how Luzina works tirelessly to bring education to her children. It had been decades since I'd read Roy's works and I'd always recalled them as rather sad, but this novel contains a lot of humour and insightful observations.

Apr 8, 9:05pm Top

The Tin Flute is a favorite of mine and it's odd I've never read anything else by Roy. I really should remedy that.

Apr 12, 9:48pm Top

>136 RidgewayGirl: I loved Windflower too. It's been a long time since I'd last read it and I should do a reread of that, as well as The Tin Flute.

Apr 12, 9:56pm Top

54. Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (4.5 stars)
Category: Other Mysteries

This is the 5th Flavia De Luce mystery and my favourite one so far. Though it still contains the charm and wit of the earlier books, it seems less lighthearted, as Flavia broods over the possibility of losing her family home and the imminent departure of her affianced sister. In the midst of these concerns, Flavia investigates the mystery surrounding a corpse found in her village church, St. Tancred's, just as the villagers are about to unearth the bones of their patron saint.

Apr 13, 6:41am Top

>138 mathgirl40: I rated that one higher than some of the others in the series too. I'll get to the next one sometime this year--or, at least, I plan to do so.

Apr 13, 5:39pm Top

>138 mathgirl40: That was one of my favourites too.

Apr 17, 8:48pm Top

>139 thornton37814: >140 rabbitprincess: Glad to hear you two enjoyed this one too. I am looking forward to the next installment!

Apr 17, 8:56pm Top

55. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch (4 stars)
Category: Hugo Awards

I thought the first book in Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series was pretty good but not especially exciting and was going to wait a while before continuing with the series. However, seeing that the series appeared on the Hugo Best Series nominees list and I will be voting again this year, I decided to read the second book sooner rather than later. I'm glad I did, as I enjoyed this one, with its mix of supernatural and police-procedural elements and London jazz-clubs setting, much more. I'm also starting to warm up to the secondary characters such as Lesley May, whom we get to know better in this installment.

Apr 17, 9:14pm Top

56. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (5 stars)
Category: 1001 Books
Challenges: SFFKIT, CultureCAT

This is one scary book! I'm a huge fan of Margaret Atwood and have read and reread many of her books. However, it had been many years since I'd first read this one. I decided to reread it since it has vaulted back up the bestsellers lists, due presumably to the relevance of its political and social commentary in today's world, and also because of the new adaptation for television. Apart from the thought-provoking themes, I also appreciate the interesting structure of the book, which isn't completely clear until the end. This isn't necessarily Atwood's very best work but it's one I would consider a must-read because of it's impact.

Apr 18, 5:56am Top

>142 mathgirl40: Glad to hear you're enjoying the continuing adventures of Peter Grant et al. You still have plenty of good reading ahead of you there. There's not been a bad one yet in the series and I'm (im)patiently waiting for the pb release of book 6 in July.

Apr 20, 8:49pm Top

>144 AHS-Wolfy: I'm definitely planning to read at least one more from this series before voting for the Hugo Awards in July. Nice to know that the subsequent ones are just as good!

Apr 20, 9:05pm Top

57. Obasan by Joy Kogawa (3.5 stars)
Category: Cross-Canada Journey

This story, about a Japanese-Canadian woman who looks back on the displacement of her family during World War II, takes place in various parts of British Columbia and Alberta. This makes the book very appropriate for my virtual cross-Canada journey as I'm very close to the boundary of those two provinces right now.

I can't say that I enjoyed this book immensely, as I found it difficult to warm up to the characters and I found the pacing uneven. The story is also incredibly bleak. However, it is an important book that Canadians ought to read. The book shows us a regrettable time in Canada's history, when Japanese-Canadians were deported or detained in internment camps, losing their rights as Canadian citizens. They were finally given an official apology and compensation from the Canadian government in the late 1980's. Another book about this topic that I'd read a couple of years ago and liked very much is Requiem by Frances Itani.

Apr 20, 10:06pm Top

58. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (4.5 stars)
Category: Hugo Awards

I'd read Naomi Novik's Uprooted last year and loved it. I had His Majesty's Dragon on my shelves, and since the Temeraire series had just been nominated for the new Hugo Best Series award, it seemed a good time to read it. I really enjoyed the incorporation of dragons in an alternate-history fantasy set during the Napoleonic Wars. I never thought I'd find dragon warfare so interesting. The story was a little predictable at times but it was so fun to read and the characters, especially the dragons, were so well drawn. I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series. I hope the others live up to the promise of this first one.

Apr 21, 11:01am Top

>147 mathgirl40: I also liked the aspect where the dragons were self-aware and questioned their roles.

Apr 21, 2:35pm Top

>147 mathgirl40: Hooray for Temeraire! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

Apr 21, 9:55pm Top

>148 mamzel: >149 christina_reads: Nice to see other Temeraire fans here. I'll most certainly be reading more from this series!

Apr 21, 10:05pm Top

Well, my resolution to limit book purchases this year has just gone out the window. The Canadian Federation of University Women holds a used-book sale every year and it is a big event here. I was able to spare an hour and a half to shop today and didn't even manage to look at all the books available in that time. I came home with these:

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
A Bird in the House by Margaret Laurence
Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham
Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh
The Best Man to Die by Ruth Rendell
Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie
Mouse and Dragon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards
The Wars by Timothy Findley
A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel

The only thing that mitigates this buying binge is that I'd donated more than a dozen books to the same sale a few days ago. So I did reduce the volume in my house.

Apr 21, 10:36pm Top

Excellent haul! :D That sounds like a great sale. Is it always in April?

Apr 22, 8:13am Top

>153 mathgirl40: Yes, it's usually in the second half of April. Maybe I can tempt you into doing a road trip to Waterloo next year? :)

Edited: Apr 22, 9:21am Top

>153 mathgirl40: That would be fun! I could tie it in with a visit to my parents. :)

Apr 23, 12:24pm Top

Excellent haul! And even better that you managed to give some away!

Apr 23, 1:07pm Top

>151 mathgirl40: Since you donated more than you bought, that's a giant win for you. At least that's what I tell myself when I drop by the Friends of the Library site to drop off a bag of books, and leave with a smaller bag of books.

Apr 23, 5:52pm Top

>154 rabbitprincess: Great! We can make plans when we meet at Bouchercon. :)

>155 MissWatson: >156 RidgewayGirl: This is why I love hanging out here at LT. Everyone sees buying more books as a good thing!

Apr 23, 6:14pm Top

59. Dune by Frank Herbert (4 stars)
Category: Dust Collector

I'd read this novel at least a couple of times in my younger years and, spurred on by the reread at Tor.com, decided to give it a go again. I enjoyed the story as much as ever and appreciate the world-building and the ecological themes even more. Yet, the novel feels dated to me and didn't quite live up to my memories of it. Still, it deserved to be called a classic. With some trepidation, I'll continue with the Tor.com reread and go onto Dune Messiah when they start that one. I recall that I found the sequels inferior to the first and gave up after God Emperor of Dune.

Apr 23, 6:24pm Top

60. The Light Between the Oceans by M. L. Stedman (3 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous

This historical novel, about an Australian lighthouse keeper and his wife who secretly claim a baby as their own, was chosen for one of my book-clubs. My friends who'd read it all raved about it, so I feel rather bad that I didn't enjoy it as much as they all insisted I would. The author did a great job at showing the isolation as well as the rewards of a life as lighthouse keeper, and the portrayal of the place and time seemed to me very well done. However, I found the first half of the book quite dull and all of the book depressingly bleak. I think it's not a bad book-club choice, though, as the ethical issues raised by the story are worth discussing.

Apr 23, 6:36pm Top

61. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (2.5 stars)
Category: Non-fiction
Challenges: CATWoman

Celebrity memoirs don't really appeal to me. However, this final memoir by Carrie Fisher was nominated for the Hugo Best Related Work Award, and since it's short and fits the April CATWoman theme, I decided to read it. I found it quite disappointing. As a Star Wars fan, I'd hoped for an inside look at the creation of the first film. Fisher does provide interesting anecdotes about the casting process, the costuming choices, the direction of George Lucas, and other aspects of the film. However, a huge part of the book is devoted to her affair with Harrison Ford. Reading about her 19-year-old self's reactions to this, which includes passages from her diary at that time, was painful in many ways.

Apr 29, 8:40am Top

I thought I'd be spending most of the day taking some high-school kids to an out-of-town event. However, they ended up with more volunteer than needed so I decided to stay home and take care of chores and do bookish things. The latter includes, I hope, at least a few hours participating in Dewey's Readathon. Some other LT members have convinced me to join Litsy (username kwmg40) and I plan to post progress there, as well as here.

Apr 29, 10:03am Top

>161 mathgirl40: Nice! Have fun with the readathon! Look forward to seeing your progress :)

Apr 29, 7:37pm Top

>162 rabbitprincess: Thanks! Because of various family and household demands, I haven't been able to read as much as I'd have liked, but it's still more than I thought I'd be doing today, so I'm happy.

I finished the last 50 pages (out of 678) of Volume 1 of A Suitable Boy and looking forward to reading Volume 2 in May. I also finished a quick graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Now I'm dividing my time between Ben Aaronovitch's Whispers Under Ground on audiobook and The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier.

Apr 30, 9:10am Top

I ended up reading about 6 hours, which is pretty good given that I hadn't planned to do the readathon at all. I'm hoping that next time, I'll have the whole day free to indulge in reading.

May 1, 1:25pm Top

Congrats on your readathon totals! I was unfortunately too busy to participate this time, but I'm already looking forward to October. :)

Also, I just followed you on Litsy! I'm YouBookMe over there.

May 1, 9:41pm Top

>165 christina_reads: Thanks! Nice to see you at Litsy too.

May 1, 9:48pm Top

62. Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (4.5 stars)
Category: Hugo Awards

This sequel to Penric's Demon is a current Hugo Best Novella Award nominee. In this story, Penric assists a "Locator" in tracking down a shaman accused of murder. The combination of Bujold's excellent writing and Grover Gardner's superb audiobook narration can't be beat.

May 1, 9:49pm Top

63. Stranglehold by Robert Rotenberg (4 stars)
Category: Other Mysteries
Challenges: RandomCAT

In this fourth book of the Detective Ari Greene series, Greene finds himself in the midst of a homicide case that is frighteningly personal. I really like Rotenberg's mix of courtroom drama and police procedural, set in one of my favourite cities, Toronto. This one also features a mayoral race and detours into Scarborough/"Scarberia".

May 2, 12:36am Top

>151 mathgirl40: What a wonderful haul! My library's book sale is next month when I plan to pick up some books for my 10th Thingaversary (next week?). I hope I can find one or two by Margaret Laurence too.

>168 mathgirl40: Robert Rotenberg is a favourite of mine. Another series that I need to catch up on again.

May 2, 8:16am Top

>169 VivienneR: Congratulations on your 10th Thingaversary! That's definitely a good time to treat yourself to books. I'm glad to see there's another Robert Rotenberg fan out there. I hear that another in the series will be coming out this fall.

May 2, 8:17am Top

64. The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey (4.5 stars)
Category: Horror
Challenges: SFFKIT

This is an excellent post-apocalyptic story that really shouldn't be dismissed as just another "zombie novel", though it does feature a good number of zombies. This novel fits well in the horror genre, as it is disturbing and suspenseful, but its real strength is in the development of the characters, each of whom display different essentially human traits as the human race as we know it faces extinction.

May 2, 8:18am Top

65. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (4.5 stars)
Category: Dust Collector

Some have called this a contender for the "Great American Novel" and I can understand why. Apart from the very believable and sensitive story about Callie/Cal's hermaphroditism, it also tells a moving tale of the immigrant experience and gives a fascinating picture of Detroit's evolution. The characters in this book, especially the family matriarch Desdemona, are very memorable.

May 2, 8:21am Top

66. Love Anthony by Lisa Genova (4 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous

I liked how, in this novel, the author wove together two parallel stories, one about a woman who had suffered the loss of her autistic son and the other about a woman dealing with her husband's infidelity. Despite the serious subject matters, the book didn't feel depressing or maudlin and it increased my understanding of autism. I also thought the author did a superb job in creating the setting. It made me feel like I was right on the island of Nantucket. I would love to visit it one day.

May 2, 10:11am Top

>171 mathgirl40: Great to see another LT'er enjoy this book. Mike Carey's other books are good too!

May 2, 12:47pm Top

>170 mathgirl40: Another one in the Fall? I better get going and get caught up before then!

May 2, 5:57pm Top

>173 mathgirl40: - She is one of my favorite authors as she does such a nice job of creating characters you care about as well as educating the reader on various mental issues.

May 3, 3:44pm Top

>126 mathgirl40: I am only seeing this now, this book sounds really interesting. Can you recommend any of Simon Winchester's other works as a starting point that is a little less filled with details?

May 3, 10:28pm Top

>174 AHS-Wolfy: That's good to know. I'm eager to read more of Carey's work.

>175 VivienneR: I need to get caught up with Rotenberg's series too. I'd gotten mixed up and ended up reading the 4th book without having read the 3rd!

>176 LittleTaiko: I've heard good things about her other books, and I agree that she does a great job at creating her characters. I find that they are both real and likable.

>177 Chrischi_HH: If you found the premise of the The Meaning of Everything interesting, you'd probably enjoy Winchester's other book about the making of the OED, The Professor and the Madman. This book follows one of the interesting and unusual side stories related to the OED's development instead of covering its history from start to finish, as The Meaning of Everything does.

May 3, 10:41pm Top

67. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley (4 stars)
Category: Graphic Novels

I'd read O'Malley's graphic novel, Seconds, last year and liked it very much, so I thought I'd try the first book of the series for which he is better known. This story is a lot of fun, with its bold and colourful artwork, quirky characters and Toronto references. I found the scenes featuring Scott's band especially hilarious, as my husband and his friends get together to practice blues tunes in our basement every week.

May 3, 10:47pm Top

Here's a brief April summary:

Books read: 17 (out of 67 in all)
Books from my shelves: 6 (out of 26 in all)
Favourite books: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

It was a good reading month, with a large number of excellent reads and only a couple of mediocre ones. It was difficult deciding on my favourites of the month.

I've already starting reading some of the Hugo nominees and I'll be ramping that up in the next couple of months in anticipation of voting in July.

I'm also enjoying the continuing group read of A Suitable Boy. My edition is split into 3 volumes and I've finished the first.

May 4, 6:18pm Top

Taking a bb for The Girl with all the Gifts, as well as a reminder that I need to get to Middlesex sooner than later!

May 14, 5:37pm Top

>181 whitewavedarling: I hope you enjoy it! I'm hoping to watch the movie soon.

I'm afraid I have some catching up to do here at LT. I was away last weekend at the Ad Astra SFF convention in Toronto and I had a great time there. Brandon Sanderson was the Guest of Honour and he was a terrific speaker and panelist. I'm eagerly awaiting the third book in his Stormlight Archive and wondering what other Sanderson works I should read in the meantime.

I attended several panels that had a focus on science, including one featuring Robert Sawyer and Eric Choi about Martian settings for science fiction. I also attended a couple of panels on dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, which seems to be extremely popular these days.

Among the freebies they handed out was a copy of Robert Charles Wilson's Burning Paradise, which was on my wishlist, as Wilson is one of my favourite SFF writers! Another bonus of the convention was that it was held in Markham, a suburb of Toronto. The location wasn't particularly exciting in that it's in the midst of freeways and malls, but Markham has a huge Asian population, so Asian food (Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, etc.) was plentiful and cheap.

Edited: May 15, 10:17pm Top

68. Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch (4 stars)
Category: Hugo Awards

I am continuing to enjoy the River of London series, one of the Hugo Best Series nominees. After getting to know a bit about London's jazz music scene in the second book, this third one shows a little of London's art world and a lot of its Underground. As with the other books, I didn't find the plot especially exciting or suspenseful, but I love the diversity of characters and the atmosphere that Aaronovitch creates.

May 15, 10:33pm Top

69. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (4.5 stars)
Category: Hugo Awards
Challenges: SFFKIT

I finally got around to starting this series, after it was nominated for the new Hugo Best Series award. I loved the combination of hard sci-fi and noirish mystery. I found the book very hard to put down and am eagerly looking forward to reading the next in the series. I've watched the first episode in the TV series based on the book, and it looks promising, so I will probably get the remaining episodes. Now I just need to find some time to watch them. It's hard enough finding enough time to read!

At the Ad Astra convention, I attended a panel that compared the book and the TV show, and I found the discussion enlightening. The TV show definitely took more liberties with scientific principles than the book did, but I suppose that's probably true of most film adaptations. Long time lags in communications don't make for good TV and it's hard to get real actors as tall as the Belters ought to be.

May 16, 7:14am Top

>184 mathgirl40: I thought that blurb sounded familiar!

May 16, 7:23am Top

Glad to hear you had a good time at Ad Astra and that you're continuing to enjoy the Rivers of London series!

May 16, 7:27am Top

>183 mathgirl40: Glad to see you continuing to enjoy this series. It's a good one and I'm waiting for the 6th one and there's been no let-up in the quality so far.

>184 mathgirl40: I've also only read book 1 in this series and enjoyed it immensely. I've also watched the 1st season of the tv show and it's definitely worth the watch. I've made a brief start on season 2 but will probably read the 2nd book before I proceed much further.

May 16, 9:52pm Top

>185 VictoriaPL: At the Ad Astra convention, I met a lot of people who discovered the books after seeing the TV series first. It's great that the show is so popular.

>186 rabbitprincess: Thanks! It's always nice to spend a weekend in the midst of other book lovers. As for Rivers of London, I'm definitely planning to read the rest of the series, but first, I need to work through a few more of the Hugo nominees.

>187 AHS-Wolfy: I'm glad to hear that the TV show is worth watching. I'm on the library waiting list for Season 1 but I may end up purchasing it instead. I too am going to try to read the second book before I get to season 2.

May 17, 9:56pm Top

70. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (4 stars)
Category: Hugo Awards

I'm a fan of the very prolific Seanan McGuire, who also writes as Mira Grant. This novella, nominated for a Hugo award, is the first in a series, set in a boarding school for children who are unable to return to their "real" worlds. It's creepy and weird but it also has many lovely magical moments.

May 17, 10:11pm Top

71. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan (3.5 stars)
Category: Doorstopper

This book definitely deserves to be in my Doorstopper category, though it's just a virtual doorstopper, as I had to read it in e-book form. (The physical book is just way too big to hold.) This volume has 4 main storylines, in which the characters continue their various quests. I especially liked Perrin's and Min's stories. This book featured several really great scenes, interspersed among many lengthy passages that frequently seemed drawn out and repetitive. I'm quite invested in this series now and will certainly continue, but this book just seemed very, very long. I expect the next ones will feel the same, but I will read them eventually.

May 18, 9:51pm Top

72. The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier (4 stars)
Category: Dust Collectors

In this novel, the protagonist is forced to switch identities with a man who is physically his "double". Tossed suddenly into a new life, John has to deal with the financial and personal chaos that his counterpart has left him. I really liked the character development, suspense and philosophical musings on life that du Maurier had incorporated into this book. However, I had a hard time buying into the premise and this affected my enjoyment of the story. It's somewhat surprising, as I read a lot of SFF and don't have trouble accepting that aliens have landed on Earth, but I couldn't believe that all the family members were fooled!

There's a nice personal story associated with this book. Last summer, an old friend called me out of the blue and said she was passing through my city. I invited her and her family to my house and we had a lovely time together, catching up on each other's lives. The last time we saw each other was about 25 years ago. A few months ago, I was going through old books left at my parents' house and found my copy of The Scapegoat. On the first page was an inscription from my friend, who had given me this book in 1984!

May 18, 10:01pm Top

73. Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (4 stars)
Category: Nonfiction
Challenges: CATWoman, CultureCAT

Hurley is an award-winning SFF writer and in this collection of essays, she talks about her own experiences working in a traditionally male-dominated industry. She says she tries not be be angry these days, but there is definitely anger in these writings. The language and content are brutal in places. Hurley definitely does not hold back her opinions! I don't agree with some of her provocative generalizations, and I found a lot of repetition in this work, as many of the essays cover similar themes. Nevertheless, there is much that's thoughtful, insightful and inspiring in these essays. I'd encourage people, especially young women, to read these, not so much to follow her ideas slavishly but to think carefully and examine what she says. Indeed, Hurley gives this same message herself, that one should not blindly accept others' assumptions about who we are and what the world should be like.

May 18, 11:41pm Top

>191 mathgirl40: Lovely story! It's wonderful to find old keepsakes or notes of any kind in books. Yours was such a timely find.

May 22, 10:07am Top

>192 mathgirl40: - Wonderful review and potential BB for me!

May 22, 12:44pm Top

>192 mathgirl40: I recently read Lab Girl, a memoir of a research scientist, one woman in a sea of men. While her book wasn't concentrating on that, it came through as a little sad. I gathered that it's tough being a research scientist even if you're male.

May 22, 6:53pm Top

>193 VivienneR: Thanks! It was a timely find indeed.

>194 lkernagh: Thanks. Even though some of Hurley's commentary made me flinch, I definitely feel the essays are worth reading.

>195 mamzel: That sounds like a very interesting book. I'll have to keep an eye out for it. I too have been the only woman in a large department of men for most of the last 17 years. When I started, most of the men were single or had stay-at-home spouses. Recently, several men at our company took paternity leaves and just last week, I came across three male co-workers on a coffee break discussing their favourite books to read to their toddlers. :)

May 22, 7:03pm Top

74. The Name Therapist by Duana Taha (3 stars)
Category: Evergreen Awards

I picked up this book because it was on the Ontario Library Association's Evergreen list, from which I read every year. It's a mix of memoir and musings from name expert/enthusiast Duana Taha. I did not care for the informal and conversational writing style at all, and some of the passages were repetitive or had low-information content otherwise. Yet, several chapters had me saying, "Yes, that's me!" or "I know friends that fit that description exactly!"

Taha talks about the challenges and rewards of growing up with an unusual name (including the necessity of choosing a "Starbucks name" -- one to give to a server to avoid going through the hassle of spelling out one's name and then having to hear the mangled pronunciation). She also talks about the advantages and disadvantages of being one of a dozen Jennifers or Michaels at school. So, despite the weaknesses of this book, I found myself giving the ideas a lot of thought and discussing passages with friends and family members. It's a mediocre book but a great conversation starter.

Edited: May 24, 10:39pm Top

75. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander, a.k.a. J. K. Rowling (3.5 stars)

This is not the screenplay of the recent movie but the original book that had inspired it. It's a small volume cataloging, in A to Z order, the magical beasts found in the Harry Potter series. It's a fun book that includes in-jokes and other references to the novels. I listened to the audiobook version, which featured terrific sound effects but I also flipped through the print edition to view the beautiful illustrations in the new 2017 edition that I found in our local library.

Jun 2, 9:14pm Top

76. In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu (4 stars)
Category: 1001 Books

This is a collection of supernatural stories first published in 1872. The first three shorter stories were quite good and very atmospheric. The last two, each long enough to be called novellas, were excellent. "The Room in the Dragon Volant" doesn't actually feature much that's supernatural, but it's a well crafted thriller/mystery. "Carmilla" is an exceptionally creepy and suspenseful vampire story.

Jun 2, 9:53pm Top

77. A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arneson (4 stars)
Category: Other SFF

This is the first work I've read by Eleanor Arneson and I found it both thought-provoking and somewhat unusual. A first-contact story, it describes an anthropologist's and her colleagues' experiences with an alien but human-like race on a distant planet. The author explores in interesting ways gender roles and stereotypes in the alien race, as well as what's popularly known as "the prime directive" in Star Trek episodes. The humans have ongoing debates about how they can minimize any positive or negative effects on the alien population from their interference.

Jun 2, 9:56pm Top

78. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (3.5 stars)
Category: Miscellaneous

This is a moderately amusing chick-lit story about extremely rich snobbish Chinese Singaporeans. Despite the shallowness of the whole scenario (which has the characters obsessing over couture fashions, vacations on private islands and exotic foods), there are feel-good moments as the less-snobbish rich Asians and the relatively poor heroine fight off the nastiness from the rest. Though the book is set in Singapore, it says some universal things about family relationships and rich unpleasant people from any country. Being Chinese myself and having visited Singapore (where my brother currently lives), I found some of the satire amusing. However, as my family doesn't even get close to the society described in the book, it doesn't much reflect Asian culture as I know it. This book is pretty mindless entertainment … but now I want to read the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, to find out what happens to the main characters!

Jun 3, 4:37pm Top

79. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro (4 stars)
Category: Canada 150

This is a collection of stories about the childhood and early adulthood of Del, a girl living in small-town Ontario. It's a coming-of-age story told in episodes. I've always loved Alice Munro's insightful examination of the activities and relationships of everyday life, done in a way that makes these things seem anything but ordinary and dull. I really enjoyed this collection; however, my favourite Munro work remains Who Do You Think You Are (a.k.a. The Beggar's Maid).

Jun 12, 3:13pm Top

>201 mathgirl40: However, as my family doesn't even get close to the society described in the book, it doesn't much reflect Asian culture as I know it. Any more than any of the reality shows on TV these days reflects the life of most Americans!

Jun 12, 6:57pm Top

>202 mathgirl40: As far as I remember Lives of Girls and Women was my introduction to Alice Munro. I've loved her writing ever since, even though short stories are not my favourite format. I don't remember reading Who Do You Think You Are so I'll add that to my wishlist.

Jun 14, 10:15pm Top

>203 mamzel: Very true! It's fun watching from a distance, though.

>204 VivienneR: Who Do You Think You Are is, like Lives of Girls and Women, a set of connected short stories featuring common characters, so it reads somewhat like a novel.

Edited: Jun 14, 10:20pm Top

80. In the Woods by Tana French (4.5 stars)
Category: Mysteries Around the World
Challenges: AwardsCAT

Many people had recommended Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series to me and now I understand why. This first book in the series is a police procedural and psychological thriller that features well-developed, complex characters and truly excellent writing. I'm not always fond of detective novels written in the first person, but this one was done especially well. Though some minor complaints kept me from giving this book 5 stars, I found it atmospheric, creepy and very hard to put down.

Edited: Jun 14, 10:20pm Top

81. The Moor by Laurie R. King (3.5 stars)
Category: Other Mysteries

This fourth book in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series is a good solid story, as I've come to expect from Laurie R. King. It features Holmes's return to Dartmoor and the world of the Baskervilles, echoing elements from its inspiration, Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. The story is not nearly as suspenseful or interesting as the earlier books in the series and also suffers in comparison to Doyle's work. However, King does an excellent job in evoking the lonely atmosphere of the Moors.

Jun 14, 10:23pm Top

82. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (4 stars)
Category: Hugo Awards

This second book in the October Daye series, which has been nominated for a Hugo Best Series award, is a nice mix of urban fantasy and mystery. Often, books in this genre tend to be heavy in the fantasy and weak in the mystery. However, this one kept me in suspense until the end. Also, as a computer programmer, I loved the idea of the tree nymph living in a tree data structure!

Jun 14, 10:29pm Top

Here is my May roundup, a little bit late:

Books read: 15 (out of 82 in all)
Books off my shelves: 6 (out of 32 in all)
Favourite books: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey and In the Woods by Tana French

I'm continuing to read from my Hugo Voter Packet, though there's pretty much no chance I'll finish all that I want to read before the voting deadline in mid-July!

Jun 15, 5:49pm Top

Woo hoo, Tana French! :D

Jun 15, 6:45pm Top

>210 rabbitprincess: I've just read the one book, but I can already see that I'm going to be a fan of Tana French.

Jun 18, 1:11pm Top

>206 mathgirl40: - Great comments. They mirror my experience of reading In the Woods. ;-)

Jun 19, 10:21pm Top

>212 lkernagh: Thanks for stopping by, Lori!

It's been a busy June and I'm afraid I'm way behind with reviews and reading my favourite threads. I'm also frantically trying to read as much of my Hugo Voter Packet as I can before the mid-July voting deadline!

Jun 19, 10:34pm Top

83. Roses for a Diva by Rick Blechta (3.5 stars)
Category: Canada 150

I really liked the setting (the Canadian opera world) the author chose for this mystery featuring a soprano who is being stalked by a scary anonymous fan. The mystery element is weak and the writing is workmanlike but, as a psychological thriller, the novel is not bad. It kept me turning the pages anyhow.

Jun 21, 2:12am Top

>82 mathgirl40: I've been thinking I need to see about finding another series to read... I'll have to investigate whether I can get Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire in a reasonable way! Your description of mystery (and tree nymphs) has piqued my interest, since I like mysteries as potato chip series too. :)

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