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My Roundtuits read in 2016: http://www.librarything.com/topic/224446
1. Palace of Stone / Shannon Hale. 3.25 stars
2. On Thin Ice / Richard Ellis. 3.5 stars
3. Living Oprah / Robyn Okrant. 3.5 stars
4. Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder / Mark Nelson, Sarah Hudson Bayliss. 3 stars
(Maybe you could add it to your post at >1 LibraryCin:)
How about a simple listing by month? eg. those in >2 LibraryCin: could be under 'January 2017'.
The author gives some background information on many of the people who were on the Titanic when she sank; this includes crew and passengers from all three classes.
This one started off slow. There are a lot of people who were mentioned, so I found it difficult to remember who’s who, except the ones I’ve heard of before (mostly some of the 1st class passengers). Of course, once we got to the point when the ship hit the iceberg, then it really picked up for me. So, the second half of the book was much more interesting to me. After people were rescued, there was follow up information on some of them, as well. Overall, it was good.
7. Intensity / Dean Koontz
Laura and Chyna are college students and friends. When Chyna goes with Laura to her parents’ place for a weekend, she is awakened the first night by screams. Someone has broken into the house. Chyna hides, then tries to help Laura and her parents without the guy realizing she is there…
Wow! The book is titled well – it was definitely intense! After a brief set-up to the story, it was just bang, bang, bang, one thing after another! I think the audio helped with that. At first, I wasn’t sure I would like the narrator. She spoke quickly and mostly in a monotone, but after it got going, I think she was the perfect narrator for the story and it really highlighted the “intensity” of the book to do it that way. The story alternated between Chyna’s and the intruder’s (Vess’s) points of view. I was briefly uninterested in Vess’s philosophy, and I didn’t agree with some of Chyna’s decisions, but the rest of the story + the audio still made it 5 stars for me. Ever since I started listening to it, I’ve been trying to recommend it to people, but there are so many who don’t read horror!
Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather are friends and are trying to start a catering business in Dublin. Cathy’s husband, Neil, has young cousins who show up at his rich parents’ place, needing a place to stay, but they rub his parents the wrong way, so Cathy and Neil end up taking them in. Tom’s wife, Marcella, wants desperately to be a model.
There is plenty going on, as this novel follows their lives for one year. There are many characters, and the perspective goes back and forth amongst many of them, but somehow, they are pretty easy to keep straight. I quite like that Binchy often has characters in multiple novels. I enjoyed the book, but problems can be seen coming from a bit of a distance. That is, I don’t think there are really any surprises in the book.
It is the 18th century. Amari is a 15-year old girl in her village in Africa when the village is attacked by white people and the survivors are chained up and taken away. Amari has a boy she was intending to marry, but obviously that will no longer happen (though he survived the initial attack, as well). To no surprise to the reader, they are shipped to the United States where they become slaves. On the plantation that Amari goes to, she becomes unlikely friends with a white girl around her age - Polly is an indentured servant.
It’s a YA book, so it doesn’t go into as much detail as adult books might, nor is it as complex, but it was still good. I’m still not sure if Fort Mose in Florida is real, though. It’s someplace I hadn’t heard of.
In 1961, Laurel is 16-years old and (from a distance) witnesses her mother put a knife into a stranger and kill him. By 2011, Laurel has become an actress and comes home to be with her mother and family (four sisters and a brother), as her mother is dying. She intends to find out who the man was and the circumstances behind her mother’s actions.
I'd love to give it 4 stars for the great build-up and ending, but it started really slow for me and didn't pick up until about 1/3 of the way in. Once it picked up, though, it just kept building and building to reveal the multitude of secrets (and twists!) behind Laurel’s mother’s past. The book went back and forth in time between Laurel trying to find out what happened and the war, to what was happening. I’m pretty sure, on looking back at this one, I will remember it more as a 4 star book, anyway.
Capricorn has been raised on a commune, by his grandmother, Rain. He has no experience in the “real world”, but when Rain is injured and needs time to heal, Cap is taken in by a social worker and has to go to the local middle school. Cap, the new kid, is nothing like anyone’s ever seen before… this weird hippie kid, who doesn’t understand the first thing about middle school or kids his own age. Because of this, he’s an easy target to pick on.
This was really good. Meant for a younger audience, it’s pretty simple and quick to read, but a good story. I have mixed feelings about the end of the book, but overall, I really enjoyed it.
Romeo Dallaire was head of UNAMIR, the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, just before the genocide in 1994. Since then, he has become involved in trying to stop the use of children as soldiers. This book looks at how and why children become soldiers, some as young as 7 or 8 years old, and offers ways to get this stopped. He also talks a lot about the group he has formed to try to stop it; his group is trying to get the military and humanitarian NGOs to work together. He has done a lot of research and has published papers on the topic.
This is terrible. I have read both Dallaire’s Shake Hands With the Devil (which I highly recommend) and Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone (also recommended). There were a few chapters where Dallaire created a fictional boy who became a soldier, then later a fictional peacekeeper who shot a girl soldier; I thought these chapters, in particular, were very powerful. I hadn’t realized how many girl soldiers were also involved, and they have (many sad) issues of their own. Although some of the nonfiction parts of the book weren’t as interesting (in the second half of the book, as Dallaire talks about trying to get agencies to help stop this), I did find myself reading the bibliography at the end for a couple more books to read on the topic. He does repeat himself a bit, but I forgave him that. He is obviously very passionate about what he is trying to do.
In February of 1970 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Green Beret and physician, Jeffrey MacDonald, survived what he said was a break-in that resulted in the murders of his wife and two little girls, aged 2 and 5 years. It was only after 9 years that Jeffrey himself was finally charged and put on trial (though there was a hearing via the army back in 1970). Unfortunately, there were many errors during the army’s investigation into the murders. Jeffrey’s father-in-law, and early supporter, was later convinced of his guilt (after reading the transcripts of the army hearing) and pushed for years to get MacDonald on trial for the murder of his stepdaughter and grandkids.
I’ve had this book since high school and I don’t believe I ever did read it back then. I’m glad I’ve now finally read it. There were some chapters interspersed, mostly at the start of the book, but also occasionally later on, called “The Voice of Jeffrey MacDonald”. At the start, much of this was recounting his and his wife Colette’s history. I didn’t find these parts nearly as interesting, though I suppose it gives the reader a bit of insight into Jeffrey, himself. Overall, though, it was a fascinating read.
Personal opinion on the case: I have no doubt that he did it. He story just doesn’t hold up for me, not even a little bit. And this is before the physical evidence.
This is the first Miss Marple book. Mr. Protheroe is found murdered at his desk. Very soon after, two different people confess to the murder. Miss Marple lives not far away, so she must have seen or heard something! What could have really happened?
I am always mixed on Agatha Christie’s books. I decided, this time, to try the BBC dramatization instead of the book itself, and I’m certain that made a difference for the higher rating. I think it made it a bit more interesting to me, and I am glad that’s the version I listened to. I do like Miss Marple.
Keladry is 10-years old and it’s been 10 years since girls have been allowed to apply to be a page, in order to later become a knight. However, no girl has tried for it, until Kel. Unfortunately, the trainer of the pages, Lord Wyldon, doesn’t think girls should be allowed, so he puts her on a 1-year probation; no boy has ever had a probationary period. So, she is not only set apart from the others because she’s a girl, she is also on probation. This doesn’t bode well for how many of the other boys treat her.
I enjoyed this! It’s children’s or YA, so not “deep”, but certainly enjoyable. Kel did seem much more mature than 10-years old, but mostly I just ignored that. It’s less than 200 pages, so also a quick read. I definitely enjoyed it enough to continue the series. I’m happy to see there are only 4 books to this series (though it is also part of a larger “world” with other books focusing on other characters in that world, as well).
Del is a young girl growing up in small town Ontario. This follows her from a girl through high school. It’s set around WWII and a bit after.
There really wasn’t much to this book. I’ve been wanting to try Alice Munro for a while, but am not a fan of short stories, so that pretty much left me with this book. It was ok, but really nothing happened, so for anyone looking for some kind of plot, this won’t provide it.
19. Curtains of Blood / Robert Randisi
It is1888 in London, England. Three prostitutes have been murdered and they say it’s likely the same guy who has done it. Bram Stoker is running the Lyceum Theatre, and Henry Irving is playing the lead in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They are approached by the police to shut down the show, as it may be encouraging the killer. Bram gets interested in what’s going on and starts doing some research for a book he might like to write. He also becomes obsessed with the killer and may be getting a little too close…
I liked this. Far fetched, but I still found it entertaining. I thought it interesting the way the author weaved in the various author characters into the story (Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde are friends of Stoker’s). To be honest, though, I’m not sure Jack the Ripper needs to be fictionalized; this is one true story that certainly holds its own as true crime.
This is a little book of humour, poking fun of library cataloguers – little stories, as well as cartoons.
I am a cataloguer and I suspect this will mostly appeal to cataloguers and maybe to librarians and library staff, in general. Overall, though, it was ok. Some were funny, others not as much. I read it over a couple of days, and maybe my mood made a difference, as I found things funnier in the second half of the book, on the second day I was reading it.
In the mid-17th century in England, Nell grew up in a brothel. Her single-mother was a prostitute and a drunk, and her sister followed her mother’s footsteps to become a prostitute. Nell wasn’t going to do that, so she started off selling oranges outside a theatre. From there, she moved on to become a famous, well-loved actress, where she managed to catch the eye of King Charles II and she went on to become one of his many mistresses.
I really liked this. I had read one previous fictional account of Nell, but on looking back at my review, I wasn’t crazy about how that one was written, but I found this one very readable. There were parts that focused more on Charles and a bit of the politics of the time that wasn’t as interesting to me, but overall, I quite enjoyed this story. Just an fyi that Nell was a real person.
Rachel has just gotten out of an abusive relationship, but her husband doesn’t want to let go. She has a job and only a couple of good friends to help her out. Little does she know, she also has an “admirer” (a peeping tom, really) who will come to her “rescue” when she needs it. But, from his perspective, the perfectly beautiful Rachel will need to be “tested” herself.
Ok, I tried to keep that somewhat vague, as the blurb on the book doesn’t say a whole lot, so I didn’t want to give anything away. This is one of the books de Lint wrote as Samuel Key, a pseudonym he took to distinguish his darker works from his fantasy. It was told in the third person, but the reader got to know more about what was going on, as we did follow a few different characters, than the characters knew, themselves. Certainly by the end of the book, it was a page-turner, keeping me on the edge of my seat, wanting to keep reading to know what would happen! I really really liked this one!
The subtitle pretty says what the book is about. The first and last two chapters (the introduction, conclusion and “Water Saving Tips”) are more text, while the rest of the chapters are made up, primarily, of infographics to make it easier to visualize how much water is used on making those everyday products.
This was interesting. I think the graphics really help to understand the measurements a bit better than just a giant number in litres or gallons. The chapters that were all text did get a bit bogged down, so parts were a little bit dry. There was just a lot of information, but I think the book (and particularly, the infographics) helps open our eyes to how dire the situation is and may become. The “Water Saving Tips” at the end does help provide suggestions of things we can all do to help.
This was originally written in 1990, 30 years after Jane Goodall went to Gombe National Park in Tanzania to study chimpanzees My edition was published in 2010, so there is even extra info with a preface and an afterword written by Jane in 2009. This continues/updates her first book on the chimps of Gombe, In the Shadow of Man.
I read In the Shadow of Man a number of years ago, but I loved revisiting the same chimps and their offspring, and following them later in the their lives! Jane is also an adamant activist/conservationist, so at the end of the book, after all the extra chimp information and updates (which really is the bulk of the book), she writes a little bit about human-raised chimps, chimps used in experiments, chimps losing their habitat, etc. There are a number of photos of the chimps included, as well. Overall, I really really enjoyed reading this!
Author Dean Koontz and his wife, Gerda, were married a number of years and had no children before they decided to adopt a dog. They brought home a golden retriever who was unable to complete her time as an assist dog due to surgery. In addition to this book being Trixie’s story, there is also philosophy about dogs and humans, and things Dean and Gerda learned from Trixie; there is also inspiration/spirituality in the book.
What a wonderful dog Trixie must have been. She brought so much love and joy to the Koontz’s lives. Koontz is mostly known for his horror novels, but he brings humour to Trixie’s story, as well. There was more of the book that wasn’t focused on Trixie than I expected – it wasn’t very long and much of the Trixie bits were anecdotes of bigger things that happened throughout her life and things that particularly affected Dean and Gerda. I still really enjoyed it.
“Harry”, the town’s (female) postmistress and a farmer, has a dog, Tucker, and a cat, Mrs. Murphy. The pets talk to each other and other animals in this series (and help solve mysteries). In this one, shortly after an attractive man buys the neighbouring farm to Harry’s, a (non-local) man is found, murdered and in pieces.
It took a long time for this one to get going for me, I wasn’t really interested until about 1/3 of the way in (or maybe a bit further). There was a lot of description going on at the start: of the town, of the people, and their relationships. After the murder was discovered is when it started to pick up for me (though not completely). The end did leave me with enough interest to read the next in the series, though. The animals are cute, but to be honest (and as a bit of a surprise), they aren’t the main draw for me, though they do make the series a unique.
In the first book, 13-year old Brian survived in the woods by himself for almost 2 months. A couple of years later, he is asked to go back to the woods, along with a psychologist, to show how he survived the first time so those skills can be taught to others. Unfortunately, things go wrong when they get out there, and Brian needs to save not only himself, but the psychologist, as well.
I really enjoyed this. Ok, not a realistic scenario, but the book was still entertaining. I listened to the audio, which was well done. I just wish it had been a little longer – it was over so fast! Despite being short, it is fast-paced (which maybe made it feel shorter, still!).
This book is written by a couple of vegan woman who are trying to promote a vegan lifestyle.
It was ok. I don’t remember why I added it to my tbr, but maybe I thought it was going to be funny? Not sure. But, what I didn’t like was the insults and swearing. I suppose it was meant to catch your attention/be a gimmick, but I think they should have done without it. (At the end of the book, they do say the title and the way they wrote it was to catch people’s attention.)
On the other hand, I thought there was a lot of good information here. Now, these ladies are trying to convince people to go organic and vegan. I am not vegan. I am not even vegetarian (but I am close). I am “flexitarian” (yes, that’s a word! I eat meat occasionally, but not often at all), so I agree with a lot of what they have to say. Either way, I do think they gave out a lot of good information. There was a difficult section to listen to, describing some of the things that happen at slaughterhouses (I cried). I listened to the audio, but there was a large section at the end of the book that consisted of lists – unfortunately, that doesn’t work well in an audio.
Becky paid off her debt a while back, but is having trouble keeping it down again. Though she has promised her roommate she’ll be better, it’s really hard sticking to it! Her corporate boyfriend, Luke, is wanting to expand his company to the U.S., so he and Becky plan to go to New York for a couple of weeks to work on that, while Becky does some networking to see if she can also find a job. Things start off looking good, but something goes drastically wrong while there…
I have mixed feelings about Becky. I hated all the lies! Seemingly little white lies, but they build and build and build! Of course, I also don’t like shopping, so I don’t understand how she can’t hold back better on the spending, knowing how much trouble she’s getting into (though she doesn’t seem to be able to understand that, and she certainly can’t seem to face it). At the same time, I did feel badly for her when things went wrong. Whatever my feelings about Becky’s character, I did enjoy the book for light, mild entertainment. Except… mild
This is February - June:
5. Voyagers of the Titanic / Richard Davenport-Hines. 3.5 stars
6. February / Lisa Moore. 2.5 stars
7. Intensity / Dean Koontz. 5 stars
8. Copper Sun / Sharon M. Draper. 3.5 stars
9. Scarlet Feather / Maeve Binchy. 3.5 stars
10. The Secret Keeper / Kate Morton. 3.75 stars
11. Schooled / Gordon Korman. 4 stars
12. They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children / Romeo Dallaire. 3.5 stars
13. Fatal Vision / Joe McGinness. 4 stars
14. Murder at the Vicarage / Agatha Christie. 4 stars
15. Catherine de Medici / Leonie Frieda. 3.75 stars
16. Faithful Place / Tana French. 4.25 stars
17. First Test / Tamora Pierce. 3.5 stars
18. Lives of Girls and Women / Alice Munro. 3 stars
19. Curtains of Blood / Robert Randisi. 3.5 stars
20. The Truth About Catalogers / Will Manley. 3 stars
21. The Perfect Royal Mistress / Diane Haeger. 4 stars
22. I’ll be Watching You / Charles de Lint (Samuel Key). 4.5 stars
23. Your Water Footprint / Stephen Leahy. 4 stars
24. Through a Window / Jane Goodall. 4.5 stars
25. A Big Little Life / Dean Koontz. 4 stars
26. Rest in Pieces / Rita Mae Brown. 3.25 stars
27. The River / Gary Paulsen. 4 stars
28. Skinny Bitch / Rory Freedman, Kim Barnouin. 3 stars
29. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan / Sophie Kinsella. 3.5 stars
So, I'm averaging about 5/month.
I'm only on 9 for the first half of the year...
The title of this book is misleading. The author doesn’t focus all that much on the “feral” children. He discusses philosophy (what distinguishes human from animal?), linguistics, Greek mythology, wild children in literature (Tarzan, Mowgli), the people who worked with, “saved”, experimented on, etc. the children after they were found.
It could have been a much better book if he’d simply focused on the children, themselves. It was pretty dry, at times. The last story was the most interesting for me: Genie was severely abused by her father (tied up for 13 years with no human contact), and I even happened to be interested in the language acquisition part of it after she got out. Unfortunately, most of the other stories lost my interest pretty quickly once the basics of the child’s story was told and the author moved on to academic issues stemming from that child. The last story and the kids’ stories, themselves are what “pushed” this up the extra ½ star.
Juliet is a small town (just over 1,000 people) in Southern Saskatchewan, near Swift Current. This book follows some of the town residents (and local farmers) for one day. We meet Lee, who has taken over his “family” farm (we learn early on, that Lester and Astrid were not his biological parents); Norval, the town banker, whose daughter, just out of high school, is pregnant and is getting married… neither she nor her fiance are particularly responsible; Blaine, whose farm has failed and he is having trouble making ends meet for him and his family, including six children; and more.
I really enjoyed this. I grew up in a small town/farming community in Southern Sask, and loved reading about the area, though this town was meant to be (I believe it’s a fictional town) just north of the Trans-Canada highway by the sand dunes, whereas I lived a ways south of the highway. Either way, it’s not fast-paced, but I was drawn in and interested in the characters, anyway. It actually reminded me a bit of Kent Haruf’s books and his small town characters. It does switch between characters quite frequently, but – for the most part – I was able to fairly quickly figure out who was who and whose perspective we were getting each time.
This is book 2 of the series. Mercedes (Mercy) is a mechanic and a shapeshifter (coyote) who was raised by werewolves, so she knows them and their society well. There are also vampires in the area with whom she is acquainted. She owes Stefan, one of those vampires, a favour, so she accompanies him in her coyote form to see someone. When they arrive, Stefan is put under a spell while they watch a hotel maid murdered; other hotel employees have already been murdered this night. They discover that the guy who brought them there, and who did the murdering is a sorcerer-vampire, and Mercy is warned away while the vampires and werewolves try to hunt him down to destroy him before he murders more.
I really liked this one. It especially picked up in the second half when Mercy (of course!) had to get more involved again. There was a particularly tense (i.e. scary!) scene, at one point (at least for me it was!). There are a lot of characters and I did get a few mixed up occasionally (Stefan/Samuel, Adam/Andre, and a few others who I just couldn’t remember if they were introduced in book 1 or if I “skimmed” a section where they were introduced earlier in this book). However, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment very much.
This is a children’s book, a continuation of “The Birchbark House”. It is 1850 and Omakayas is now 9-years old. This book goes through another year in her life, all four seasons. In the spring, Omakayas, her family, and the other Ojibwe discover that they are being told by the white people that they need to leave. They send out four men to find out what happened, why they must leave – did they break the treaty? While the four men are gone, Omakayas learns about medicines from her grandmother, while her cousin, Two Strikes, though a girl, wants to build her own little army made up of the boys. And, there is more day-to-day stuff happening, as well.
I enjoyed this. Not quite as much as “The Birchbark House”, but it was still enjoyable and I will continue the series. There are very nice illustrations, and some well done descriptions of how things are done (similar to the first book).
Sunny is leaving Florida for New York City to move in with her boyfriend, but at the last minute, her job falls through. When a friend offers to help get her a spot on a reality tv show, Party Girls, Sunny is hesitant, but it’s a job to keep her going for a few weeks until she find a real job. Unfortunately, Sunny gets all caught up in being a star and being on tv, and she forgets what’s important.
I quite enjoyed this (overall). Sunny was very unlikeable in the middle of the story, though, when she was all caught up in herself, her image, and the show. What an awful reality show, though! I enjoyed the few parts where there were roommates watching the show, so there was a bit of an outsider’s perspective on the show itself.
David gets paid to write university papers for college students. He has been telepathic (he can read minds) all his life. He is now in his 40s(?), and his “gift” seems to be disappearing. He looks back on the good and bad his telepathy has brought him and is trying to deal with the seemingly inevitable loss of it.
Overall, it was ok. The 1970s definitely came through in the book (it was originally published in ‘72): sex and drugs. I enjoyed some of the relationships David had – the rocky relationship with his adopted younger sister, adopted when David was 10 years old; and his long-ago relationship with Kitty were particularly interesting to me. Some of the rest of it wasn’t as interesting, though. I’m not sure why the author felt it necessary to include some of the university papers her wrote for students; I found those boring and mostly skimmed those. The edition I read was published in 2008 and there was a good introduction by the author as to how the book came about.
A continuation of Catalyst, human boy Jubal, and cat Chester have a bond where they can communicate via their minds. They (and other cats) are brought to planet Mau by Pshaw-Ra, who is royalty on that planet. Pshaw-Ra has plans to rule the universe. Little does everyone know, but Pshaw-Ra is planning to find a way to use all these cats to his advantage.
It was ok. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book. I’m not a big fan of the space-stuff, but I enjoyed the cats themselves when the focus was on them and their behaviours and their links to their humans.
When Piper Kerman was jut out of university, she wanted an adventure. Well, she got a little more than she’d bargained for, as she ended up smuggling drugs. It was about 10 years later, after she was engaged, she finally served time for her crime. She was sent to a minimum security prison in Connecticut, where she spent almost a year. This book describes that year in her life.
This was really good. The prison itself wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. It seems, at least once Piper learned the “ropes”, she was able to stay on good terms with many of the prisoners and the bigger “threat” was the staff. She and many of the other inmates got along well and became friends.
The end of the book included a reader’s guide, with an interview with Piper and discussion questions. She did mention in the interview portion that, although there wasn’t violence, rape, etc, (as many people – and I – would have expected in such a place), it still wasn’t a nice place. That is, there was no privacy at all, and you have no control over your life or over many decisions. As she was transferred, towards the end, to a couple of other penitentiaries, she also discovered how much worse it could get. Piper was very lucky to have the support system that she did outside of prison; many inmates don’t have that, nor other advantages that Piper had (white skin, money, a job waiting for her when she got out…).
Two endangered voles (a specific type) – in fact the last ones on Earth! – are stolen from Animal Kingdom, a theme park/zoo in the Florida Keys. Characters in the book include the two bandits and an old woman (an activist who has a penchant for guns!), who get to know each other; the owner of the zoo, who has a questionable past, and some of his employees: one of the main ones being a PR script writer, who decides he doesn’t like all the lies he is asked to write to release to the media. Then… people start dying...
Hiaasen’s books always have so much going on, and plenty of zany characters! I quite enjoyed this one, possibly more than some of the others I’ve read, but not quite enough for a 4 star rating. I liked that Hiaasen brought back a character from a previous novel, though I can’t recall which novel, but I do vaguely remember him. I don’t think I found this as funny as some of his others, but that’s ok. I always like the environmental themes in his books.
Elizabeth is married, but spends much of her time away, researching for her thesis on whales. She is studying whale communication. When she is the first to notice a different song amongst the whales, something appears to be very wrong. But, she needs to head home to California. With trouble brewing with her husband and at the university with regards to her thesis, Apollo, a whale, races too close to shore, but won’t leave. When she tries to help get him back to the ocean, she becomes a target...
I really enjoyed this! I love animals and am interested in environmental topics, and this has a definite environmental focus, as well. There are short chapters, introduced by location and time, so you know this is time-sensitive. There were parts that kept the book a page-turner for me.
It’s late in the 15th century and artist Nicolas des Innocents is hired to design tapestries for nobleman Jean le Viste. Nicolas is a notorious womanizer and decides he wants to bed Jean’s daughter, Claude. Claude, in turn, is attracted to Nicolas, but she is yet to be betrothed and certainly can’t afford any stains on her reputation! Meanwhile, after the tapestries are designed, Nicolas must hand over the actual crafting of them to a weaver in Brussels, Georges de la Chapelle. Georges, his family, and his workers take it from there to actual make the tapestries. Georges also has a daughter, Alienor, who happens to be blind. Nicolas also works his charms on her.
Overall, I did like the book/the story, but I REALLY didn’t like Nicolas, nor did I like Claude. I did like Alienor, but I just don’t understand how all these women would fall for the jerk, Nicolas! Each chapter is told from a different point of view, but the start of the chapter tells you whose point of view you are a following, so it’s not hard to follow.
Octavia Frost is a successful author, with eight published novels. She has decided she’d like to rewrite the endings for all of them, and publish that as a collection. Her rock star/musician son, Milo, and she have been estranged for four years, but she feels she must go to him when he is arrested on suspicion of murdering his fiancee.
I much preferred the mother/son story to the multiple books and rewritten endings by Octavia Frost. I listened to the audio and often missed too much of those rewritten stories to really follow them. I did enjoy the murder mystery, though, and Milo and Octavia coming closer together again.
This book was written a very short time after Hurricane Katrina. Katrina hit at the end of August in 2005, and this book was copyrighted the same year. In Part I, the author describes the culture of New Orleans: the food, the music, the parades, Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras… He also talks about the bad side: the crime, the poverty. In Part II, he looks at the devastation caused by Katrina and contemplates the rebuilding.
I liked it. I’ve been there once, and I already wanted to go back… and the book made me want to go back even more! I was there in 2011, and most of the places I visited hadn’t been affected by the flooding. I did get to one of the affected areas that still, in 2011, mostly hadn’t been fixed up. Reading the book certainly brought back some good memories of my visit, though!
This is a fictional account of the Salem witch trials, mostly told from the points of view of three of the girls who accused many of the people, two 17-year olds and one 12-year old.
I was initially excited to find a fictional book about the Salem witches, but I skipped entire first chapter, thinking it was a quote. Suddenly the 2nd chapter started with another “quote” and I realized – oh, crap! I think the entire book is written this way: like poetry. Or, I guess the term is “in verse”. Not a fan. I skim/read that kind of thing quickly, and don’t really pay attention.
The good part: it was quick! The book did go right at the end with the notes on the real-life people, both the accusers and the accused. Also a note, in general, on why they may have accused so many people. That gave it the extra ½ star, but I’d still like to find a good fictional work on this topic.
Andromeda is a princess, and is very smart. Her mother keeps her at a distance and doesn’t really want her learning too much, including how to govern. When the kingdom is threatened by a dragon, they decide to offer sacrificial virgins to appease it.
I mostly enjoyed it, but it was a bit odd and had a definite weird ending. I’m not sure if I want to continue the series, but since they all seem to be about different characters, I think I will. I think the series is really just the same “world”.
Travis has been raising his (now) 4-year old girl with the help of his mother (at his mother’s home). But when their home burns down and his mother dies, Travis and Bella have nowhere to go. And Travis has lost his job. In looking for construction work, he gets caught up in other work he shouldn’t have, putting people’s lives (including Bella’s) at risk.
I listened to the audio, which was very well done, in addition to it being a very engaging story. The audio had three different narrators, for the three characters who told the story. Travis was one; Bella’s mother Robin was another; and a woman Travis and Bella met while looking for a job, Erin, was the third.
The story itself pulled me in immediately, then it went back in time a bit to hear how we got to that point, from Travis’s point of view. Robin’s POV went back and forth in time from when she met Travis and she later got pregnant… all while dealing with a heart problem; also her current life, 4 years later, as the fiancee of a well-known, well-connected man, running for mayor. Erin’s POV also included the current timeline, when she met Travis and Bella while Travis was looking for a job, and back in time to her married life, with a little girl she lost.
After the book drew me in at the start, I just wanted to keep listening to find out what would happen. Be warned that a Kleenex comes in handy at points. For a while, I thought I wasn’t going to like how it appeared to be heading toward the ending, but I was ok with it, after all.
This is a humourous book that teaches readers about the weather.
I am always interested in the weather and am particularly fascinated by storms and bad weather. I have occasionally thought it might be interesting to be a meteorologist. I mostly enjoyed this. There were a few parts where the science was just a little too much for me, despite my interest, but mostly the author was able to describe it in ways that made sense. There was humour thrown in, and some illustrations. I was particularly interested in the sections on storms and bad weather (no surprise to me), and at the end, I also enjoyed the section on the history of weather (and the Earth and humans, in general).
A friend of Kelly’s is moving from Colorado to New York to further her artist career, but on the morning another friend, Megan, is supposed to pick her up to get her to the airport, she is found dead. Kelly and Megan begin sleuthing to find out who killed Allison (though Kelly has been warned against sticking her nose in before!).
It was ok. A quick read. I think this is where I’ll stop with this series, though. The mystery was fine for me, but I was quite bored with Kelly’s personal issues/decisions/life. I thought the author did a nice job with her descriptions of Colorado, though. There are plenty of cozy mysteries out there, but this series has lost my interest.
In 2008, there was a “democratic” election in Zimbabwe, which apparently defeated its long-time leader/dictator, Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, however, wouldn’t accept it, so while there was to be a re-vote, Mugabe’s people hunted down and tortured and/or murdered people known to be voting against him. The (white) author, who had been born in Zimbabwe, and was now a journalist elsewhere, decided to head back and talked to Zimbabwean people to bear witness.
The book followed the author as he travelled across the country to talk to the people. There were a lot of people and much of the book, particularly the first half, focused on telling the stories of those who had been tortured. Because there were so many people, I sometimes found it hard to follow – is this a new person, or is this one of the people already mentioned? Some of the other parts were a bit dry for me. It’s horrible, everything that happened, but I found much of the book (though not all) a dry read, unfortunately.
This book is copyrighted 2010, so I looked up Mugabe. The man, at 90-something years old now, is still alive and sadly, still the leader of the country.
In 2002, Elizabeth Smart was only 14-years old when she was kidnapped from her own bedroom(!!!) in Salt Lake City, Utah. A homeless man who considered himself a prophet kidnapped her and he and his wife held her for nine months before they were caught and she was reunited with her family. Elizabeth tells the story of what happened.
In addition to her own story of what happened over those nine months, Elizabeth tells some of how things were going back home with the search. In fact, for a good chunk of the time, she was kept very close to home, until it got too cold to live in their tent and all three moved to California.
The way the story was told seemed very “simple” to me, maybe to reflect (on purpose or otherwise!) how young she was at the time? There is also a bit or repetition. I certainly remember the story in the news, even here in Canada and always wondered about her. She seems to have come through very well adjusted (despite the daily rape!). She doesn’t go into detail on that. The 4-star rating may also have to do with my interest in the case, generally.
Daniel (aka Skippy) dies in the first sentence of the book. He and a friend are in a donut-eating competition and Skippy just keels over, before even eating any of the donuts. From here, the story goes back in time, leading up to Skippy’s death and follows a few different characters, including Skippy, Howard (one of the teachers at Skippy’s boarding school), and Carl (a drug-dealing reprobate and bully). The book then continues beyond Skippy’s death to how people are dealing with it.
The book was ok. I actually found Howard’s story most interesting, but Skippy’s got more interesting after a bit. I hated Carl and really didn’t enjoy reading any of the sections that focused on him. I also didn’t much enjoy the sections that focused on Skippy’s friends. Some of the dialogue did not have quotation marks which bothers me! Also, it felt a little odd in the parts when the second-person pronoun, “you”, was used.
There is a long subtitle to this one, which pretty much says it all: “One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society”. The author is a blogger and has an advice column. She is quite outspoken when it comes to people being rude. There are chapters on people talking loudly on their cell phones (one of my pet peeves!), parents who don’t parent, telemarketers, and more.
I really enjoyed this. There was plenty of humour and I applaud her for standing up to some of these people! She goes to extremes in some cases (like with the telemarketers… or hunting down the guy who stole her car, and trying to hunt down whoever stole her identity), but good for her!
Jeff has been falsely convicted of a crime. But when he is “transferred” out of the prison, he is taken… somewhere and locked in a room with another man. It’s not long after that they are released into the tunnels underneath New York and are told that they’ll “win” if they make it to the surface. Meanwhile, his family and girlfriend think he died in a crash.
I really liked this. It didn’t take long to get sucked in, though it takes a little bit to figure out what’s going on in the book. It’s told from different viewpoints, so the reader is partial to things that the characters aren’t as they try to figure out what’s happening, as well. This was one I didn’t really want to put down – I wanted to keep reading. And, there were a couple of twists!
This is a short book describing the castles in Victoria, B.C. It describes the architecture, as well as the history of the castles and the people who lived there.
I bought this book as a souvenir the first time I visited Victoria and have finally gotten around to reading it. I saw two castles while I was there (Craigdarroch Castle and Hatley Castle) and apparently there is one more still standing. I enjoyed the book, particularly the histories of the people who lived in them - some politicians, some businessmen. The book was short, and of course, included photos of the castles.
Paula’s grandfather has just died. As she goes through some of his journals/writings, she tries to piece together his life.
I think the story was fine, but I didn’t like the way it was written. No chapters, no dialogue. I don’t think this part really bothered me, but, as an fyi, it was written like Paula was talking to her grandfather in what she wrote, using “you”. It also jumps around in time, constantly back and forth, which is something that normally doesn’t bother me, but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the jumping around, so I didn’t like the way it was done in this book. I did like the history covered in the book (it was set in Alberta and much of it in my city, Calgary). I did not like the person her grandfather was (or who Paula thought she was or who she wrote him to be) – he was a horrible person!
55. IT / Stephen King
When Bill is 11 years old in the late 1950s, his younger brother is murdered. He and his group of friends are being bullied, while kids, in general, are disappearing from their small town of Derry, Maine, in way too high numbers. Although the results are obvious to everyone (the disappearance of kids), it seems only the kids can see some of what’s happening.
I listened to the audio, narrated by Steven Weber. He is very good; he did so well with all Richie’s voices! One thing I didn’t like (though it’s a small thing), and it’s only due to the audio, is with the back and forth in time – only close to the end – it was sometimes hard to tell if it was the adult characters or the kid characters we were following. In the print book, it should be easy enough to figure out. To reiterate, throughout most of the book, the back and forth in time was easy enough to follow, but there was just a little bit near the end where I had a bit of trouble.
The other thing I didn’t like (possible spoiler, though I’m still trying to keep it vague):
When Pat Conroy was a new teacher, he set out for a small island off the coast of South Carolina in 1969/70 to teach poor kids at a black school there. What a culture shock! Not only did these kids mostly not know how to read or write, but they had never experienced Halloween! Pat did a lot for these kids over the year, and taught them in unorthodox ways.
I thought this was a memoir, but it was only at the very end of the book that it said it was “based on” his year on the island. I think it also said “fiction” somewhere, but I may be mixing that up with a review I read. I did disagree with one thing he did/argued for, but overall, I was enjoyed this book. It just might have been nice to know ahead of time that it may not have been a completely true account, though.
Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s older sister) was sent to Scotland when she was 12 or 13 to marry King James IV. She fell immediately in love when she met him, but he died young, in battle. In the years to come, she would fall easily in love and eventually be disappointed. But, she always had her and James’ son, James V, to fight for the crown for.
I don’t remember reading anything about Margaret before (though it appears that I have, but it was a number of years ago), so this was quite interesting. It’s funny, with all I’ve read about Henry (and a little bit about their youngest sister, Mary), I always thought Margaret was kind of boring, but Plaidy made her interesting to me. That may be more because she focused on her personal life than on the politics, though. Of course, the politics always came in to play to determine how her life would go. Of the few by Plaidy I’ve read, this might be one of my favourites.
Catherine Howard was Henry VIII’s fifth wife; she was also Anne Boleyn’s cousin. Catherine was not even 20 years old yet when she married Henry and Henry was almost 50. Although Henry didn’t know it, Catherine had a bit of a reputation for being promiscuous. When Henry found out, after they had been married for a short time, things did not end well for Catherine.
I have read a little bit about Catherine, but not as much as some of Henry’s other wives. This book didn’t change my opinion of her. I’m not a fan of Catherine herself, although the story was good.
In this town, survival is all about the meat. The Magnus Meat Processing Plant, or MMP (which includes the “farm” itself, the slaughterhouse, meat cattle, dairy cattle, veal calves, etc.) pretty much runs the town. Well, that and the religious group that worships meat; the cattle at the MMP are the “Chosen”. The people who work at MMP are the best paid in town and are highly regarded. But, there are a few people in town (including Richard, the man who stuns the cattle before they are killed) who are questioning it all. Richard won’t even eat meat, anymore, and his wife begs him to bring meat home for her and their twin daughters. When things start going badly, there is a showdown between the MMP workers and owner, the bishop and parsons, and the few who are questioning if this is really how it has to be.
Be warned that there are slaughterhouse descriptions in this book. I very rarely eat meat, but I have read and seen enough online to realize that what’s described in the book (the treatment of the cattle, anyway) is, sadly, probably all too real. Also, sadly, very little actually shocked me, though it’s still so horrible. I’d describe the book as a dystopian horror and I’m rating it “good”. I found it very dark and bleak, but also an interesting story.
A.J. Jacobs decides to put himself through a series of “experiments”, a month at a time. He will live in a different way each month. For example, one month is living rationally, examining and correcting for all his biases (at least as much as possible). Another month, he will tell the truth all the time, whatever comes into his head, he will say. Another month, he helped his nanny with online dating; that is, he mostly looked over the replies and replied back, etc (he calls this his month of living “as a beautiful woman”). He lives by George Washington’s 110 rules. He outsources his life, both his work and personal life. And more.
I enjoyed this! I think I enjoyed all of these. Of course, there were bits of humour here and there. Possibly my favourite was when he did his wife’s bidding for an entire month. This was in return for all the other odd experiments she’d had to put up with. Enjoyable book!
The author had a top weight of 703 lbs. She lost the majority (over 500 lbs) of that weight and recounts her story here in hopes of inspiring other people.
It was a decent story. The author started the story as a child and worked her way forward, but there were large gaps in time in her story. I listened to the audio, so sometimes lost where we were: what age she was, what weight. I found her childhood particularly interesting. She never really said how she lost all the weight, but I still found the perspective interesting. She didn’t leave her house for years; when she did, they needed special equipment to get her out and to the hospital. The comments and stares are things you don’t think about. Even how to do so many things that so many of us take for granted. When she did leave her house, her son would stand in such a way to try to block people’s stares. There are just so many things we take for granted.
Mary Anning was born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, England. She and her father would walk along the short and hunt for fossils. When she was 12, she discovered an entire dinosaur skeleton, the first one (or one of the first)! They weren’t yet called dinosaurs, but she continued to hunt for fossils throughout her life (to sell them so she could support her mother and brother after her father died). She was mostly not recognized for everything she’d done, as she was a woman. It was a time when evolution was not yet known and with all the new discoveries, it was the start of religion vs. science debate. She became friends with many male scientists – geologist and paleontologists.
I really enjoyed this! I was originally introduced to Mary via Tracy Chevalier’s “Remarkable Creatures”, then decided to find some nonfiction. Much of the book was also history, science, geology, paleontology, religion vs. science, as well as a biography about Mary. All of which I found interesting.
(Wish I could make the font bigger, like a heading!)
The author is a psychologist with an interest in animal-human relationships. This book looks at studies on so many topics, many of which create moral quandries with regard to animals. He covers so many topics, it’s hard to recall them all, but based on the title you can probably guess, one of them looks at why some cultures keep dogs as pets and some eat them. Topics include pets, animal testing, farm animals, cock fighting, dog shows and breeding, animal activists, and so much more.
I love animals, and I have plenty of moral quandries with what I do/don’t do or think, feel, etc. when it comes to animals. I am not vegetarian, but what (little) meat I eat (not very often) is humanely-raised. I won’t buy products tested on animals. I do wear clothes made from animal parts (though not fur). I will catch and release bugs, spiders, etc. One thing – that he mentioned a few times – that I always found odd was that some vegetarians eat fish. That’s one I don’t “get”! There is a lot of information and he presents the results of lots of studies, and it’s hard to remember everything, but I did find it all very interesting. And I’m still conflicted about many things!
In the late 19th century, Captain De Long paired up with the owner of the New York Herald (who funded the trip) to sail the USS Jeannette to the North Pole. At the time (though no one had yet been there), some people thought that once you pushed past the ice, there was warmer and open water. De Long, armed with maps (many of which were simply incorrect) from German cartographer Petermann, took off on the multi-year voyage with 32 other men to sail through to the ice-free section and the North Pole. Without wanting to give too much away, this would prove to be incredibly dangerous.
This was amazing! Some of the background information near the start of the book, particularly about Bennett (who funded the trip), wasn’t as interesting, but it wasn’t uninteresting, either. I seem to be fascinated by survival stories (though I’m about the opposite of a risk-taker, myself - I’ll just read about it, thanks!). This one read like fiction and it kept me wanting to keep reading to find out what happened next. It is nonfiction, so it really happened, but I honestly didn’t know how it would turn out, so I was riveted!
In ancient Egypt (I looked it up, and Hatshepsut lived around 1500 BC). Hatshupset ruled Egypt as a female Pharaoh (normally only a title/position for men). This is a fictionalized account of her life.
I seem to be in a minority for my opinion on this but… The first half was just not interesting to me. It was ok, but nothing more. It picked up somewhat in the second half, after her father died, with the power struggle between her and her half-brother. So, most of the second half, I would rate good, but there were still parts that lost my interest. It seemed, at times, like what happened was drawn out longer than it needed to be. I would have liked to know how much of the story was true, but there was no author’s note, unfortunately. All that being said, what an incredible woman, especially for the time. Decided on a rating between “ok” and “good”.
In a town in Wyoming in 1973, 18-year old Becky and her 11-year old sister Amy went to pick up some groceries. By the next morning, Amy was dead in a canyon, thrown of a high bridge, and Becky somehow managed to survive the night with a broken pelvis after having been raped and also thrown off the bridge. The author was the girls’ neighbour. The book not only looks at the crime, but it also looks at Becky and Amy’s lives, the lives of the two convicted murderers/rapists, and the author thinks back on his own life in the small town where it happened.
The first half of the book was the most interesting, where it focused on the crime and aftermath, including the trial. The next part of the book follows Becky’s life, as well as Ronnie’s and Jerry’s, in jail for their crimes. The books slips a little (at least I found it less interesting) as it looks closely at an autobiography written by Ronnie; as the author scrutinizes the autobiography, it becomes more clear why he includes as much of it as he does in the book. But, it is due to this section that I brought my rating down to just under 4 stars.
In the late 1970s in a small town in Virginia, Ave Maria is 35-years old and a “spinster”. She is a pharmacist and owns the town pharmacy. She has never worried too much about not having a man. Her father died a long time ago and her mother just recently died; she left a letter for her daughter: a letter that will change Ave Maria’s life!
I liked it, but I didn’t like the parts in Italy as much as the parts in Virginia. And did she really have to throw that extra bit in at the very end? I know, most people probably like and expect that kind of ending, for how that story was going, but I didn’t like or expect it. It actually hadn’t even occurred to me until it happened. I will still, however, continue the series (trilogy?).
It’s current day. Jane Austen (now known as Jane Fairfax) is a vampire and is running a small bookstore in a town in New York State. She has written a novel and has been trying for a long time to get it published, but she has been rejected 116 times! She is friends with Lucy, the woman who works for her, and is fighting possible romantic feelings for a local man who is interested in her, Walter.
I really enjoyed this! It’s just a light, enjoyable read and I enjoyed the literary characters. Funny thing – yes, it’s a vampire novel (so obviously unbelievable to start with!) – there were a few little things I found unbelievable, though they were little things. It’s the first book in a series (or trilogy?) and I do plan to continue.
8. The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter / Holly Robinson
This follows Holly Robinson as a child and teenager, and into the start of college. She grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s and her unorthodox father, while in the Navy, decided to pursue his interest in breeding gerbils, a new type of animal to be potentially used in laboratory research.
I enjoyed the book, but was disappointed to discover that the gerbils were being bred for research purposes (I hadn’t realized that initially), rather than as pets. Other than that, I did enjoy the story, the information about the gerbils, etc. There was also a little bit of humour here and there in the book.
The author first wrote a book where he interviewed 14 survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. I haven’t read it, though I've read plenty of other books about it. It was only later that he thought to interview some of those who killed during the genocide. In this book, the interviews were interspersed with history, sometimes a description of interview process and how it came about that the author decided to write this one, sometimes the voices of some of the survivors are included.
The killers just came across to me as very cold, no remorse – to them, it was a job. I wonder if that’s why the book didn’t affect me all that much? I felt detached while reading it. Overall, I’m rating it ok, but for me, there are much better books about Rwanda out there.
This follows Holly Robinson as a child and teenager, and into the start of college. She grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s and her unorthodox father, while in the Navy, decided to pursue his interest in breeding gerbils, a new type of animal to be potentially used in laboratory research.
I enjoyed the book, but was disappointed to discover that the gerbils were being bred for research purposes (I hadn’t realized that initially), rather than as pets. Other than that, I did enjoy the story, the information about the gerbils, etc. There was also a little bit of humour here and there in the book.
Lorna Crozier is a poet. She was born in 1948 and grew up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. This tells of her life, much of it during her childhood. Her family didn’t have a lot of money and her father was an alcoholic.
I liked this. I wasn’t sure at first, as there are short chapters that just seem descriptive, which I guess shows more of her poetic side, but those sections didn’t interest me nearly as much as her life stories. I grew up in Southern Sask, and my dad grew up in Swift Current, so it’s always fun to read about places you know. It’s a short book, and she did skip over a lot of stuff. Overall, though, I did enjoy the parts about her life and the familiar places.
Charley (Charlotte) is a columnist for a newspaper. When she is contacted by a child murderer on death row to write her side of the story, Charley is a bit hesitant, but decides to do it. Meanwhile, she and her two kids’ lives are being threatened due to some of what she’s writing in her columns.
This really pulled me in. I wanted to keep reading, and I did! I finished it faster than I’d expected, but the drawback is that I’m afraid I might forget it quicker, as well. However, it was a great read while I was reading, that’s for sure! Definite twist ending I certainly didn’t see coming!
Jack Horner/Jack the Giant-Killer is a big shot in Hollywood, but when he walks away from it, he is captured and brought to a “retirement home” for Fables. Really, it’s a prison and they aren’t allowed to leave. Jack manages to convince the others to try to escape.
I quite enjoyed this! As with all the Fables graphic novels, the illustrations are amazing. I enjoyed the little gallery at the end of various sketches of some of the characters, as well. I liked the new characters at the prison, the Page sisters (called “librarians” but really, their jobs have them in “Retrievals”, “Security” and “Research”). I will definitely be continuing this spin-off series! (Now, if only I would go back and finish the original Fables series – I only have a couple more to go!)
This is a YA graphic novel that tells of the lives and great ape studies of Jane Goodall (chimpanzees), Dian Fossey (gorillas), and Birute Galdikas (orangutans).
This was really good! I’ve read about Goodall and Fossey before, but nothing about Galdikas (though I’ve now added one of her books to my tbr!). Because it’s a fairly short graphic novel that covers all three women, it skips a lot of detail, but I really enjoyed the information that was there, and I loved the illustrations! There is also a very nice bibliography included at the end. Beautiful graphic novel about three amazing women.
12. Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History / Kalee Thompson
In 2008, a fishing trawler sunk in the Bearing Sea in Alaskan waters. There were 47 people on board. They were hours away from any help, but Coast Guard helicopters made their way there, along with a ship to help rescue as many people as possible.
The book started off a little “slower” (though still good), with cutting back and forth between the sinking of the boat and background information. At times, I found it a bit hard to follow… but only at first. As the book continued on, I got to know the people better (though there were a lot of people, so it was still easy to get some of them mixed up), so it helped me “place” where we were in the story (whether “current” timeline or background info on the people, or the history of the area, or the fishing industry, or whatever). In the end, I thought it was really good. The book was primarily put together based on interviews with the people involved.
This is a biography of Peter the Great, who was Tsar of Russia in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Of course, it’s also a history of Russia at the time. Entwined with that (due to wars) is some history of Sweden.
I should start by mentioning that I listened to the audio. It was very very loooooong. And boring. At least, the entire looooong middle section about warring with Sweden (or Tsweden, as pronounced by the narrator – like tsar; and unfortunately, we also got words like tsea and tsince), just isn’t all that interesting to me, so I tuned out. The stuff about Peter’s family life and Russian architecture – that held my interest a bit more, but not by much, unfortunately. But, oh my god – listening to that guy pronounce many words starting with ‘s’ as if they start with ‘ts’ - gaaahh! I should also add that I do find the history/biography of women more interesting to start with. Also, I seem to prefer female narrators – not all the time in either case, but often. So, all those factors may have lessened my interest in this one.
This is one of 7 books in the “Secrets” series, all written by different authors. The premise behind the series, as a whole, is that, in 1964, an orphanage in Ontario has burnt down. The oldest kids are sent off on their own with only a small piece of info given to each of them about their past.
In this one, Tess is given only a phone number (but it’s out of service) and an address in a town in Quebec. The address leads to a large abandoned house. Tess has visions, and has never told anyone other than her very best friend about them. She gets an eerie feeling in this house. What happened here and what is Tess’ connection to the place?
I really liked this. I loved the super-creepy feeling at one point in the story. Wow, this author was very good with creating that creepy atmosphere! This is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I do plan to continue on.
It’s 1938. Grace is from small-town Ohio, where she and her parents were the only Orientals, though her parents brought her up to be completely American, and has left her abusive home to go to San Francisco to try out as a dancer at an expo. While trying to find her way around Chinatown, she meets Helen, who was raised in a very traditional Chinese family/home. She convinces Helen to come with her to try out, as well. At the tryouts, they meet Ruby, another dancer, who wants to become famous. They become friends and live through WWII trying to make ends meet as entertainers in the Oriental clubs, and later on, touring the “Chop-Suey Circuit”.
I really liked this! I have to admit, I liked Grace best of the three girls, and I found her story the most interesting. The book is told in alternating chapters from each of the girls’ points of view. Each chapter is titled with the girl’s name, so I was able to follow this quite easily. It was really interesting to learn about the Chinese entertainers from the time period.
The author writes about food and wine in France.
I think I received this via a “white elephant swap” a while back. I’m not a foodie, and I’m sure someone who appreciates food, particularly French food, would get much more out of this. I found most of the food he discussed quite disgusting. I also don’t drink alcohol, including wine, though I think there was only one chapter on wine (maybe two?). At the same time, he actually is an engaging writer. And there were a couple chapters near the end that didn’t talk about food that I found more interesting – one was about food critics and travel guide ratings, and one was an entertaining chapter as the author and his wife stayed at a spa for a few days.
In 1933, when Alice was a teenager, her 11 month old brother disappeared one night during a party. In 2003, Sadie, a detective, has been suspended from her job and is in Cornwall when she comes across the mystery of Alice’s baby brother, Theo, so she tries to figure out what happened to the little boy.
I quite liked this. There are a lot of perspectives and a lot of jumping around in time, which usually don’t bother me, but even when in the past, I really had to pay attention to the start of the chapters (which outlined what time period we were in), as we even jumped between the 1930s and earlier than that. The end was quite a coincidence, though I think there as an attempt to explain coincidences a bit earlier (though in a different context). It wasn’t impossible, but still a bit far-fetched. This and “The Distant Hours” are the ones I’ve rated the lowest by her, though 4 stars is still very good, in my opinion. Have to admit that, going through a stressful time, there were times when I had a bit of trouble focusing, but I don’t think I really missed anything for it.
I haven't yet read The Clockmaker's Daughter. I think it's the only one by her that I haven't gotten to yet.
ETA: It looks like that one hasn't come out yet! So, we'll have to wait. GR says September this year is when it's supposed to be published.
The author was a writer of screenplays and books, and never liked cats. When a girlfriend and his brother got together to get him a Scottish Fold cat (their ears are bent down), he fell in love instantly! But, his lifestyle involved a lot of travel. Right from when the little kitten, at 6 weeks old, came to live with him and flew across the country to do so, Peter brought Norton with him most of the time when he was travelling. Norton had no problems with it. He loved people and people loved him.
Love this little cat! What a charmer! Felt badly that he was separated from mom and siblings at only 6 weeks, though (that’s really too soon; from what I’ve read, ideal is 12 weeks to be completely socialized, though most breeders and many rescues will send them out at 8 weeks, when they are physically ready). I’m not sure the years/decades Norton lived, but the book was written in 1991, so maybe less attention was paid to that back then? There were cute little cat illustrations at the start of each chapter, as well.
Irene Spencer was part of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Mormons) and one of multiple wives of Verlan LeBaron. The LeBaron’s were not thought highly of; in fact, it was thought they were crazy. Verlon’s brother Ervil thought himself a prophet, and when people didn’t follow him, he decided it was time for “blood atonement” - that is, those who didn’t follow him should be killed.
Irene Spencer wrote an earlier book (Shattered Dreams) that I liked much much more. It followed her life. In this one, she was on the sidelines (somewhat), though her and her husband’s lives were in danger. I have to admit, when I started reading it, I was expecting a continuation of her first book (though I don’t recall where her earlier book left off, so maybe there wasn’t much to continue?), so it took me a while to realize that this wasn’t her own story this time, so it took a while to get a little more interested. There are a lot of people, so sometimes hard to remember who’s who. Overall, I’ll rate this one “ok”.
Percival is a Chinese man living in Vietnam during the war. He runs an English school, and he longs to go home to China. When his son is arrested and later released, Percival arranges to have his son sent to China so that he’ll be safe. As Percival moves on with his life with Vietnemese-French woman Jacqueline, he worries about his son.
This one started really slowly for me. It went back and forth in time, and with a few characters having both Chinese and English names, I was slightly confused, initially. Once we got about a third of the way into the book (and mostly, those characters with multiple names were known by their English names), it picked up for me. This was about the time Percival’s son was son was sent away – or maybe when he was arrested. Anyway, it really picked up for me. There were some parts that were more political that I wasn’t as interested in. I know next-to-nothing about the Vietnam War, so initially I felt like that also made it a bit harder to follow the story, but again, it seemed to get clearer as the book went along. Overall, I’m rating it “good”.
This is a biography of three generations of a Chinese-Canadian family. Chan Sam came to Canada and left his Chinese wife at home, but soon brought a beautiful younger Chinese woman to Canada as his concubine: May-ying. May-ying gave Chan Sam 3 daughters; before the 3rd one (Hing) came along, the other two had been taken back to China to live with Chan Sam’s Chinese wife. Hing, the daughter who stayed in Canada, was mostly neglected by her drinking, gambling mother. Hing’s daughter, Denise, is the author of the book. The book does focus mostly on May-ying, but it also tells the story of the family in China, as well. I can’t recall the phrase in the book, but something along the lines of a split family.
I thought this was very good. It covers a good portion of the 20th century, so it also includes a bit of history of how Chinese people were treated in Canada, and North America, in general, over that century. The story was interesting, and it did primarily focus on the most interesting person, in my opinion, May-ying. There was also a nice set of photos included – photos of those in both Canada and China.
I thought this was a good introduction to history and culture of the Romani people (more commonly known as “gypsies”). It was interspersed with photos and cartoons, and it was written by a Romani. I knew nothing, beyond stereotypes. I have read one fictional book that stuck in my mind and created an interest in reading some nonfiction about Romani. In addition to history (including slavery and the Holocaust), more detail about some of the culture included food (including a few recipes) and language. There were also some well-known/notable Romani people (and descendants) listed (including Charlie Chaplin, Rita Hayworth, Django Reinhardt, Michael Caine, Bill Clinton). Good book, certainly a good introduction, in my opinion.
Cat is an author and gets her inspiration through dreams. Unfortunately, she has not been dreaming for a few months and is now blocked. What she doesn’t know is that there is… something out there feeding on her dreams! And he’s feeding on others, as well, but Cat’s dreams are the ones he really wants.
This was good. I liked the real world sections of the book more than the dream sections, but that’s not a surprise to me. Cat didn’t really have friends in the real world, so I enjoyed the sections where she was making friends (though that was more secondary to the story). There were a lot of characters introduced at the very start of the book, so I was afraid I would get them confused, but surprisingly, it was rare to not figure out who we were following in the story fairly quickly – de Lint must have given enough clues to be able to follow easily.
John Wood was working for Microsoft when he took a trip to Nepal only to discover the lack of books/libraries in the schools there. Being an avid reader since he was a kid, he promised to return in a year with books for the school. It didn’t take long before he became so passionate about it, that he quit his job and started up what later became Room to Read in order to help developing countries build schools and libraries. This was later extended to grant scholarships to be sure girls would complete their schooling, as well. Room to Read has also expanded beyond Nepal into a number of other (mostly Asian) countries.
This was good. He obviously loves what he does and it’s amazing how quickly Room to Read grew and how many countries it now helps. The first half of the book includes parallels and how working at Microsoft helped him start up this small non-profit. In the second half, he tells more stories of some of the kids who were/are personally impacted by the schools, and particularly some of the girls who have been granted scholarships.
This is a romance set in England during WWII. We follow three sisters who all fall for military men. One, a pilot; one, a submarine guy; and the third sister… well, she just falls for them all.
There probably is more of the historical fiction to this than the romance. Or, since I so rarely read romances, maybe that’s just what I focused on more. I don’t even remember why I have this book, but I’ve had it a long time! Overall, I’m rating it ok. The story was fine, and I did enjoy the setting, but there were definitely some eye-rolling moments, as well as some cringe-worthy moments when it came to the various romances.
Nicola is able to “see” things when she touches them. When her work takes her to Russia to buy some art, she has a second mission in mind. A woman had recently come in wanting to sell a piece of art that she insisted came through her family’s generations, originally gifted from Peter the Great’s wife, Catherine. But there is no proof. Nicola is hoping to find some proof while she’s in St. Petersburg, along with her friend, Rob, who has the same “gift” of sight, but is better at it than Nicola is.
I preferred the modern day storyline to the historical one in this one. I’ve been to St. Petersburg and loved “visiting” some of the places again: Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood and, in particular, the Hermitage… but also, one of a chain of restaurants our tour group visited, Stolle, was mentioned in the book: “a small chain with several locations strung all through the city, and served what one might call traditional Russian ‘fast food’: homemade pie.” Yum! Good memories!
Anyway, I was surprised to find that many of the historical characters in this one were real – thanks to an author’s note at the end, which I always like to see in my historical fiction! In fact, it was quite a detailed note. I guess this is the second book in a “series” (loosely-based, I think), where one of the (historical) characters in the first book reappears in this one (I haven’t read that one). I recognized one of the contemporary characters from another book by this author that I’ve read, though, so that’s always fun.
Rachel has been blind since she was a teenager, and now she’s receiving a cornea transplant that finally “takes”. She has no idea what she’s in for. She received the corneas of a serial killer and is now having terrifying visions. And the killing continues…
I really liked this one. It kept me wanting to read. I did guess at the mystery very shortly before it was revealed, but I still really enjoyed the story to get there. Apparently, it is a series, and I do plan to continue.
Nat and Sam are siblings and their parents have paid for a contract to take their own lives. The Coporations have packages one can choose and, although there are different settings to choose from, there is a set plan for that last week of their lives. The family is heading to Hawaii. As the week goes on, more “pharms” are given to all of them to make things easier on everyone. It’s sometime in the future, and Nat and Sam’s parents are in their 80s and 90s (it’s not uncommon for humans to live longer and longer now) and can remember when life was as we know it now: before things had to change as most species went extinct and nonrenewable resources are no longer available for human use/consumption.
I quite liked this. It’s a fast YA read, and seemingly/possibly not that far off once we run out of oil and such. It is told in diary form from Nat’s point of view. She writes as if she is writing to “you”, the reader, as a space person of some sort, which I thought was a bit odd. The “you” part didn’t bother me, but I’m not sure where exactly space fit in. Overall, I thought it was good.
It’s been so long since I read the first book in the trilogy, I can only assume this is picking up where book 1 left off. I hope I’m not giving away any spoilers for book 1 by simply saying that Ky and Cassia have been separated and they are searching for each other.
I really hate when a series (especially one that continues right where the last one left off) doesn’t give some kind of recap of the previous book. I was pretty lost for a good portion of it, but it did pick up for me about half way through. Even though I still didn’t understand how the characters got to where they are now, at least I could just concentrate on what was happening “now”, in this part of the story. This was told in alternating viewpoints between Ky and Cassia. I liked a couple of the new characters, particularly Eli and Hunter. I will read the last book in the trilogy, if nothing else but for closure of the series. I’m rating this one “ok”, only because it was better in the second half.
When Jackie’s boyfriend leaves for Thailand (after she has packed up in order to follow him to Boston!) to “find himself”, then she hears from him that he’s found a new girlfriend, Jackie is devastated and doesn’t quite know what to do. With one of the very few girlfriends she has (she only has two, and one is in New York), she decides to get all dolled up and go out and find someone new.
This was fun! I wasn’t crazy about Jackie, herself, but parts of the story were quite amusing and I laughed out loud! Her job was entertaining (she’s a copy editor for a romance publisher). I don’t read a lot of chick lit, but I quite enjoy it when I do. This was a quick read and I do like this author. I really liked the ending.
What the author, a professor of psychology, calls “Generation Me” has also been referred to as “Millennials” and “Generation Y” – people born primarily in the 1980s and 1990s. She compares studies of three generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X and “GenMe”, with the focus on GenMe, and brings those statistics to this book. The statistics speak to averages and she also offers anecdotes that illustrate those averages she’s found in the statistics.
GenMe-ers have always been told they are special, to pursue their dreams and that they can be anything they want to be. But, the reality is that it’s now harder for that to realistically happen. So, people of this generation are disappointed, sometimes to the point of anxiety and/or depression when they do not actually realize those dreams. Additional chapters in the book also look at sex, equality, and work.
This was originally published in 2006, but I read the “Revised and Updated” edition, published in 2014, so there was more up to date info. I found this very interesting. It is a lot of stats, but I thought the author made it very readable. I think it might be even more interesting to parents, teachers, etc, as she also offers advice at the end of the book.
When Maude leaves her home in the countryside of France, she heads to Paris. The only work she is able to find is to work as a “repoussoir”, or as a sort of “foil” to a pretty girl. That is, Maude is the ugly or plain girl who is hired to accompany a debutante to one or more events in order to make the debutante look better by comparison. Maude is hired by the Isabelle’s mother, but Isabelle doesn’t know that that’s why Maude is there. They become friends and Maude wants to help Isabelle in the things she wants, but she is forced to help Isabelle’s mother encourage Isabelle to marry, as that is her job.
I really liked this. I was wondering if it was based on a real agency that hired out girls for this purpose, so I was looking forward to the author’s note at the end (it was based on a fictional agency in a short story). It was also set during the time the Eiffel Tower was being built, which is interesting. The book has some strong girl characters.
This book follows a fictional account of the Borgias. Rodrigo became pope in the late 1400s. He had four(?) children, including Cesare and Lucrezia. History has not looked upon them kindly. Rodrigo had a number of mistresses. Cesare, though becoming a cardinal (for a while) also slept around. There were rumors of incest among them, and murders happened. This book opens when the conclave is happening just as Rodrigo will be voted in as the new pope and Lucrezia is 13 years old and soon to be married.
How was this even acceptable for a pope!? How did he get voted in? (Hmmm, missed in in my reading of the book, but the summary tells me he bought his way to the papacy.) And for a cardinal (Cesare)? All the sleeping around. Even if there wasn’t any incest going on, Rodrigo’s children made it obvious he wasn’t celibate. Was this not a requirement of priests and higher ups in the Catholic Church at the time!? Anyway, I just didn’t find most of the book very interesting. I found the parts that focused on Lucrezia the most interesting and paid most attention to that, otherwise I was often skimming.
The White Mountains in New Hampshire have 48 peaks over 4,000 feet. The author, Tom Ryan decided to raise money for cancer by hiking these peaks in the winter with his little miniature schnauzer, Atticus. This is their story.
I listened to the audio (read by the author). He does have an accent, which took my mind off what I was listening to occasionally to spell the word in my head (i.e. park = pawk), though mostly it wasn’t a big deal. (Oh, but for the life of me, I could not figure out the town he lived in (though that wasn’t the accent)! All I could hear was “Newb Report”; I looked it up and it was Newburyport. Say that fast (or even a normal speed!) and it sounds like Newb Report, which sounded like a very odd name for a town!) Anyway, I liked Atticus and they sure had a wonderful connection. The story just didn’t “wow” me, but it was enjoyable.
Tora has recently moved to the Shetland Islands, a ways off the coast of Scotland, with her husband, Duncan. When one of her horses dies and she digs a hole to bury him, she discovers a very well preserved body of a woman. Tora works at the local hospital with pregnant women and can tell that this woman gave birth not long before she died. Also, her heart was taken. Tora can’t stop herself from trying to figure out what happened, even as the police as also trying to do their jobs.
I really liked this. I was pulled in early and wanted to keep reading, to know what was happening. There are a few twists along the way and page-turning moments. Also, there is some local mythology that makes up a good portion of what’s going on, which is interesting.
Natascha Kampusch was 10 years old in 1998 when, walking to school alone for the first time, she was grabbed and thrown into a white delivery van. She was kept prisoner, mostly in a “dungeon” underground in her kidnapper’s house for 8 years before she escaped.
This is the first kidnapping story that I remember being so blown up in the media. (Sadly, there have been a number of them since). For those who are squeamish about sex/rape, she leaves this out; it doesn’t actually sound like there was a lot of that, anyway. There is plenty of physical abuse, though.
It is a translation, so there is the occasional awkward phrase or sentence, but I was certainly interested in her story. I think it gave a really good insight into how dependent she was on her kidnapper, especially since she was with him during those formative years between the ages of 10 and 18, and why she might have mixed feelings towards him. I feel so badly that she was not always treated well after she escaped due to those mixed feelings towards her former captor.
Something interesting about this book that I’ve not seen before (though I don’t have a Smartphone, so couldn’t take advantage of them) were the QR codes for more information at the end of each chapter. The book was published in 2010, so it’s possible the codes may not work anymore. However, as with many true crime stories I read, I had to look up more information online to find out how she’s been doing since the book was published.
Set after WWII, Elisha had been in a concentration camp, but when he got out, he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. He was then recruited into a terrorist group in Israel. At 18 years old, Elisha is told he is to murder a kidnapped English soldier. The (very short) book (in the intro, Wiesel calls it a novel, but it’s under 100 pages) is the day or two leading up to the murder, as Elisha is coming to terms with what he has been tasked to do.
Boring. The premise doesn’t sound too bad, but ultimately, it was mostly Elisha discussing philosophy with his fellow terrorists. It is billed as book 2 after “Night”, but it was fiction whereas Night was a memoir. I won’t be reading the 3rd book.
This is a Ukrainian folk tale turned into a picture book. A boy asks his grandmother to knit white mittens for him and he promptly loses one of the mittens. In the time it takes him to find it again, various wildlife find their way into the mitten to get warm and cozy.
I’d rate the story 3 stars (ok), but the illustrations (as usual in her books) are gorgeous. There is a main picture on each page, with beautiful borders on either side. She does a very nice job of making it look Ukrainian (the first page describes some of the research she did for the book), and the borders add a bit of a preview as to what might be coming on the next page. So, 3 stars for the story and 4 stars for the illustrations gives it 3.5 stars from me, overall.
John Blake is in his late 20s and is a private investigator. When he sees in the news that his high school girlfriend, now a stripper, has been murdered, he takes it upon himself to find out what happened. Not just the murder, but how did the girl he once knew, who left to go to school to become an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist, he couldn’t remember), end up a murdered stripper ten years later?
I really liked this one. There was a personal element to it, so that might be why I liked this more than most “noir” mysteries that I’ve read. But also, I liked John and I liked one of the other characters who was helping him. It crossed my mind at one point (in part) what might have happened, but I had good reason to doubt that, so it only briefly floated through my mind. So, the end wasn’t a complete surprise, though it did have to be explained how that could even be (and it was explained). There is another book in the series, but only one more, so I’m not sure if there will be more or not, but I will definitely read the 2nd one.
I do have a "Trim the TBR" challenge for myself every year, where I don't really count numbers, but I pick out about 15 of the absolute oldest and list them. I try to fit them into various challenges throughout the year. But, I keep that list handy. I try to get to at least 10 of them, and the rest stay on the list for the following year with new ones added in.
When Morris and a couple of friends break in to an author’s home, Morris really just wants to steal notebooks. His favourite series didn’t end how he wanted and Morris hoped to find a better ending to the series in the author’s notes. They end up murdering the author and they steal the notebooks and money. Morris later goes to jail for raping a girl, but only after he’s hidden the notebooks and money. Decades later, when teenager Pete finds them (his family now lives in what was once Morris’s home), he doesn’t tell his parents, but instead anonymously mails them some of the money every month, in order to try to stop them from breaking up over money. When Morris is released from prison, though, he is looking for that money and those notebooks…
I listened to the audio, and though there were occasional parts where my mind wandered somewhat, there was enough that kept my attention that I liked it. Even better, as it got closer to the end, I was kept wanting to listen to find out what would happen. What I’ve found with some mystery/suspense/thriller books – whether on audio or if I’m actually reading the words – the parts where I’m more likely to lose focus is usually when it’s the POV of the “bad guy”. Though that wasn’t the case all the time for this book, it was for a portion, I think. Overall, though, another really good book by King.
Mishna was a white girl raised in a poor black neighbourhood in Seattle. Her father wanted to think he was black, so that’s the neighbourhood he chose to raise his two daughters. Mishna, in particular, had a hard time fitting in when she was young. Once she finally started making friends in the neighbourhood, though she still lived there, she had tested high on some academic tests, so she had to switch to a school in a rich neighbourhood with smart rich kids, and once again, she didn’t know how to fit in there.
I really liked this book. She wrote it, mostly with a humourous slant, but it was sad to see that her father did not treat her well. His girlfriends varied on how they treated Mishna. She did learn later on that even some of the rich kids, despite their money, had problems, as well. She was born not long after me, so I certainly identified with much of the 80s culture, in general, which is always fun. It was a quick read.
In this third book of the series, Valentine is getting married. While on her honeymoon, she discovers something that could be very bad for her shoe-making business and has to figure out what to do about it.
I didn’t like her husband, Gianluca. I actually agreed with most of her thoughts, actions, etc, except I couldn’t understand why they rushed into their marriage and didn’t talk about many of the things that ended up creating conflict beforehand. I’m not sure why I didn’t like Gianluca, but every time he did something nice, I had this foreboding feeling. Overall, the story kept me interested. I was listening to the audio and I think the narrator did a good job with accents and such. Overall, I’m rating it ok. Not as good as the others in the series, though; the first book was definitely the best one.
In the early to mid-1800s, women “criminals” were transported from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to Tasmania (a small island off Australia) to serve their time. Of course, almost none of them came home when they served their time. Not only that, a large number of these criminals were merely stealing food or clothing because they couldn’t afford it.
This book takes a look at a few of these women throughout their lives – how they grew up and what caused them to steal, which caused them to be sent to Tasmania; it followed them into the horrible gaols of the time; and it followed them to Tasmania – their time imprisoned, as well as a short section on how they lived after they were freed. There was also a Quaker woman who, ahead of her time, realized the horrible conditions these women were living in in the jails, and worked hard to make things better for them, as much as she could.
I found this very interesting. I knew that criminals had been sent to Australia, but I had never before read any of their stories. It’s pretty sad how little it took to be charged and sent away.
Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first to build and fly in their “flying machine” in the very early 1900s. They started out building and selling bicycles. This book includes a bit of biography, and a lot of technology and description of their flying experiments. They travelled from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio to North Carolina (Kitty Hawk), then to France. There seemed to be more interest in what they were doing in France than in the US.
It was ok. I listened to the audio, which was narrated by the author, which may not have been the best choice, but it does make it hard to decide if the parts I wasn’t as interested in was due to the subject in those sections of the book or because I just lost interest due to the narration. I’m going to guess a bit of both. I did find the biographical parts much more interesting than all the information about their experimenting. I also liked reading about their sister, Katharine. I did also have a copy of the print book, which was nice, as it includes photos.
When real estate agent, Lacey, witnesses the murder of a woman she is selling a house for, she is in danger. Not only that, the dying woman tasked Lacey with giving her daughter’s journal to her daughter’s father. Her daughter was killed in a car crash a few months previous. However, the journal is now evidence.
I liked it, but there were a lot of characters that I had a bit of trouble keeping straight. The author jumps to different perspectives, on occasion, and the reader knows who the killer is (as does Lacey) from the start, but how it all ties together is unknown. Overall, it was “good” for me.
Logan and his wife, Heather, decided to leave their jobs and lives in New York City and take their 2-year old to Virginia to buy and live on a farm. Not only that, they were going to renovate the house to make it so that they would be living in the year 1900. They wanted to live this way for a full year.
I find these so interesting! There was a British tv show (which gave Logan and Heather the idea) called The 1900 House. Not long after, in Canada, there was a tv show called Pioneer Quest that took two couples and did pretty much what Logan and Heather did, except they went back a few years earlier to the 1880s, and they had to build their homes from scratch.
That being said, I found this really interesting. At the same time, considering the tv I’ve seen with similar topics, I wasn’t surprised at how difficult it was, as well as a huge reliance on (unpredictable) Mother Nature. It was nice to see the community and neighbours come together to help them out. The only thing is that I would have liked more in the epilogue – how much of hat they did/learned during that year did they continue with when they returned to the current day?
The author is a reporter and, once he got his hands on a test to determine whether or not someone is a psychopath, he tried to figure it out by asking people questions from the test. He looked a little more into psychiatry beyond psychopaths, as well.
Ok, not the greatest summary, but I guess this wasn’t what I thought it would be (should have read summaries closer!). He’s not a psychiatrist, or even a psychologist, so if you want real information on psychopaths/sociopaths, I would recommend “The Sociopath Next Door” as being much better. Some of the history Ronson provided was interesting, though, and particularly a look at current diagnoses of kids today. I listened to the audio, read by the author, and my concentration varied. Overall, I’m rating it ok.
Edouard Beaupre was born in 1881; he was Metis and was the first child born in the small Southern Saskatchwan settlement of Willow Bunch (which happens to be about an hour from where I grew up). He died in 1904 at the age of 23; he was 8’4” and still growing. He spent parts of his adult life as a giant and strongman in travelling sideshows and circuses. Where the story actually starts and ends is with a doctor who is studying his corpse.
I knew of Edouard Beaupre when I was younger, but knew him as the “Willow Bunch Giant”; I don’t remember if I knew his name when I was younger. There is a museum in Willow Bunch that I have been to, once about 15 years ago. I was very interested to find this book about him. I think I initially thought it was a biography, but it’s actually fiction, but it sounds like a lot of research went into it and so it sounds like most of it is probably fairly accurate. I found it very interesting and a little bit sad, for him.
Jude is gay, wears makeup, and likes to dress in his mother’s clothes. He isn’t shy about this, even at school. But, of course, he is bullied because of it. He thinks of himself, though, as a movie star, and his life is like a movie; this allows him to deal with the other kids and the bullying. He does have a best friend, Angela, who sleeps around with many of the boys at school.
It was a bit hard to get into at first, a bit hard to follow. Have to admit, I didn’t like either Jude or Angela. As a warning, there is a lot of sex and drugs, or at least talk of it. It probably shouldn’t have, but the end came as a surprise to me. But, it blew me away! Overall, I’m rating it “good”.
Hope was born in 1930. She was fairly young when she married Roy. They lived in the small Mennonite town of Eden, Manitoba. They had four children, and we follow Hope’s thoughts and feelings throughout her entire adult life, as she marries, becomes a mother to her four children, while Roy is mostly working. She feels lonely and Roy doesn’t understand since she has four kids around. But, Roy loves her; he is a nice man and treats her well. But, sometimes Hope has trouble and needs some help. The story follows Hope through her entire life.
There is not a whole lot to the story, ultimately, and definitely not fast-paced, but it was still really good. The (male!) author does a really good job of bringing us into Hope’s world, I thought.
Myra’s daughter is killed in a hit and run by someone with diplomatic immunity. She sinks into a deep depression and only comes out when she sees, on the news, a woman – whose daughter was killed, but the killer gets off on a technicality – shoot the killer. Myra’s rich, so she pays the woman’s bail and helps her disappear. Myra wishes she would have done something like that to her daughter’s killer. She then recruits her adopted daughter’s help – Nikki is a lawyer – to organize a vigilante group of women who never got justice through proper legal channels. As a group, they’ll plan and hand out that justice, instead.
I’m a bit mixed on this one. The story was entertaining, but I sure didn’t like the women, nor did I agree with what they were doing. I also found it difficult to believe that Nikki would put her career on the line like that. I also found that it was too quick and easy that they were able to find the people they wanted revenge on. I also feel like the cover is quite misleading – it’s a pretty white cover with flowers… hmmmmm. This is the first in a series, so they primarily focused on one of the women and her revenge, though they all have different stories. I’m not sure if I’ll continue or not.
18-year old Caitrin has recently lost her father and distant relatives have come to take over the house and to “take care” of Caitrin in her time of grief. Well, Cillian is abusive and Caitrin’s sister has left to marry a travelling musician, and Caitrin can’t take it anymore. She leaves and finds herself in Whistling Tor. The village seems fine, though they aren’t used to outsiders visiting, but she soon heads up the mountain (despite warnings of the odd goings-on there) to see if she can land herself a job as a scribe, which her father was, and which she, herself, trained as. Once there, she is a bit taken aback by the head of the house (and cheiftan of the area, though most don’t see him as a leader). As she gets to know the people there, she soon learns that things are odder, still.
I may have known this (I likely did!) when I added it to my tbr, but it’s been long enough that I didn’t remember (until looking at tags assigned and perusing a few other reviews after I finished reading it) that this was a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”. I didn’t catch it while reading, though I see traces of it, knowing after the fact.
Anyway, I really enjoyed it. I quite liked the characters. I did – sort of – figure out the twist earlier on. Well, it flitted through my head as a possibility, then disappeared again. But, that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of it, at all.
This story follows three sisters, all ballet dancers. Their father has died and their mother, a laundress, neglects them and doesn’t have enough money to take care of them all. The middle sister, Marie, ends up posing for some of Degas’ paintings. The oldest sister, Antoinette, gives up dancing and falls in love with Emile, who is later accused of murder.
The story follows the viewpoints of Marie and Antoinette and alternates between them. I listened to the audio, and though there were two different narrators for each girl, I still found it difficult to follow who was speaking if I missed the intro to the chapter (which did say). I appreciated the author’s note at the end that tells us that the sisters were real and Marie was one of the ballet dancers who posed for Degas. Emile was also real, as was his story, though in reality, he and Antoinette were not involved. I do think both stories are interesting, but I just wonder if I might have liked it better if I wasn’t listening to the audio. I’m still rating it “good”.
Morgan is the class president, and her boyfriend, Trent, is a football star at school. Morgan’s best friend, Kelli, is a cheerleader and her boyfriend is also a football star. Roth was orphaned young, and lived in foster homes until his uncle returned from military service and took him in. His Uncle Max is now married, so it feels like he has a real home with people who love him, even though Max doesn’t really know how to be a parent. Max runs a tattoo shop and Roth is on the edge of being in trouble, but never anything overly serious. Outsider Liza is Roth’s best friend. They are all seniors when someone sets off a bomb at their school. Some die, and some are injured.
I’d give this 4 stars for the story, but 3.5 stars for going through the story so quickly and leaving out a lot more detail. However, it is a YA book, so maybe the 4 stars is still justified. I really liked the story. I sympathized with most of the characters, but it helped that we see the events from many different characters’ viewpoints. Definitely good YA.
Cora is upset with her children (one daughter and two sons), because they’ve contrived behind her back to get her into an assisted living home. She doesn’t want to be there; she wants to be at home with her dog Lulu. She was given a notebook, so she starts writing in it. Via this notebook, the reader learns about Cora’s life – both currently, and the life she lived to this point. One positive thing to come out of this, though: in the home, she meets a new man. But, she still wants to go home!
This was good. Cora was feisty and I (mostly) liked her. She sure had some troubles, though. I also felt really bad for her, for multiple reasons, past and present. I loved Marcos, who worked in the home and watched over Cora. He was fun!
Miklos Nysizli was a Hungarian Jew taken to Auschwitz with his wife and daughter. He was a doctor and was taken on to work in the crematoriums, primarily doing autopsies. Most of the Jews who worked in the crematoriums were killed, but luckily for Nyiszli, he made it through.
I imagine when this book was originally published, in 1960, it was quite shocking. It still is, but I’ve read so much about the Holocaust, that there wasn’t a lot new, though there was some. I feel badly that I’m not rating it higher. I didn’t feel as much of an emotional connection (usually) as I thought I might. I’m not sure if it was written in a more detached way; both as a doctor and just trying to force himself to get through it all to survive, I’m sure he had to do his best to try to detach. He did say at the start of the book that he is a doctor, not a writer, so maybe that was part of it, as well (though it was definitely “readable”). Still, a worthwhile read, for sure.
Reed Timmer is a meteorologist and storm chaser. (Apparently, though I didn’t know this before I picked up the book), he also hosts a tv show on Discovery Channel called “Storm Chasers”. He grew up in Michigan, but being the weather geek he was, he moved to the middle of “Tornado Alley”, Norman, Oklahoma, to go to college to become a meteorologist. While there, he became fixated on chasing storms, mostly tornadoes, but he also went after a couple of big hurricanes (including Katrina).
I really liked this. He does really stupid things, but hey, I’ll live vicariously through his stories! I love watching storms, and though I’m not even close to being a risk-taker, I think it would be fun to do a tornado chasing holiday one day (but with a more conservative chaser, not Reed Timmer)! The book included some photos, and as part of the footer at the bottom of the page, there were small tornado photos, as well; those stayed the same through a small portion of the book before changing to new photos. I just thought that was a nice extra touch.
This is about Project Market Garden, a battle during WWII in Holland where the Allies were meant to capture some bridges. It didn’t happen.
I feel terrible rating this so low. The only other book I’ve read by this author, I rated 5 stars and have recommended it multiple times (his book on D-Day). I am blaming this on the audio. I think it’s tough subject matter for audio, anyway, so I probably shouldn’t have tried it in this format, but I did. Unfortunately, I found the narrator very monotone, so to be honest, I just missed the majority of what was going on. It didn’t hold my attention, so I wasn’t paying attention. I do not like rating this so low, but given how much of it I “missed”, I just can’t give it a higher rating.
There’s a new inn in town, just about to open up, and bookstore owner, Tricia, and lunch counter owner and Tricia’s sister, Angelica, win tickets to stay one night at the new inn. Unfortunately, no one gets to stay that night, after one of the people running the inn, Piper Comfort, is murdered. She is, of course, found by Tricia. To Tricia’s surprise, it turns out Piper’s husband is someone Tricia used to date, and everyone thought he was dead!
This was good. I enjoyed it. I listened to the audio, and it was done well. For now, at least, I’ll continue on with the series (although I’m not impressed with Tricia’s newest employee!).
This one is told from the point of view of one of the written Thursday Nexts, not the real one. It turns out the real Thursday is missing, and this written Thursday is trying to help find her.
I liked this! I’d been putting this one off, as I don’t remember liking the past couple in the series as much as I started off liking it. I loved how Fforde described the written Thursday when she arrived in the real world, as it was all new to her. Now, I have to admit that sometimes it got a bit confusing trying to follow, but it is a very witty, creative series.
Catherine Grace is the preacher’s daughter in a small town in Georgia in the 1960s and 70s. Her mother died when she was only six, so there’s just her, her sister, Martha Ann, and their father, the town preacher. All her life she’s known she wants out of the town; unlike many others, she does not want to stay and be a farmer’s wife. She plans to leave as soon as she turns 18.
I enjoyed this. There was more God in it than I expected. Growing up in a small town (unless it’s different in the South), I didn’t find that much talk of “the Lord” in casual conversation as there was in this book/town. I have mixed feelings about the ending. Some of it, I liked, but some of it seemed to tie up a bit too nicely in a bow. Overall, though, it was fairly enjoyable.
Jock Hume was a young violinist, playing in the band on the Titanic – the band that famously played bravely on, as the ship sank. Jock, along with the rest of the band, died that night. The author of the book is a descendant of Jock and is looking not only at the aftermath of the Titanic disaster, but is looking closely at Jock’s life and volatile relationship with his musician/violinist and violin-maker father. Ward also looks at, in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster, the woman that Jock left pregnant, Mary, whom he intended to marry. The baby that resulted, Johnann (later called Jackie), is the author’s mother.
I really liked this. The first half of the book was more focused on both Jock and the aftermath of the Titanic. There was also some look (I think for comparison purposes) at millionaire John Jacob Astor and his subsequent recovery and his body’s trip home. The second half really did focus on Jock’s family; his father did not like Mary and there were “squabbles” (to put it mildly) and legal battles. I love reading more about the Titanic and I also love biographies, so this worked really well for me. There are plenty of nice photos included, as well. I read the paperback, which had a few updates that didn’t get into the hardcover edition.
Heather and Edie were friends when they were 16, but there was some kind of falling out. They are now in their 30s. Edie long-since moved away and is now pregnant and on her own. After Edie has her baby, she is unable to function, and Heather shows up to take care of them. But once Edie comes to her senses, she can’t get past what happened when they were younger and asks Heather to leave. But Heather doesn’t want to go…
The story is told in alternating chapters between Edie in her 30s and Heather at 16, so the reader hears the story from both characters’ perspectives and as things happen at each age. I thought this was very suspenseful; it kept me wanting to read to find out what had happened when they were 16, plus what was going on in “current” day and how things were going to turn out. I did prefer Edie’s viewpoint, but I think it really made a difference for the suspense to get into Heather’s head, as well. I was almost going to “up” my rating just a touch near the end, but the end, itself, was a little too open-ended for me. Some things were tied up, but not everything.
Jim (“Billy”) Williams went to live in the jungle in Burma in the 1920s and had such a connection with the elephants there, he stayed for decades. He was English and working for a teak logging company that used elephants as labour. Williams brought a kinder way of working with the animals, a way that seemed to work better for everyone – the company and the elephants alike.
The subtitle of the book talks about WWII, but that was only about the last 1/3 of the book, and not my main interest in the book, though it was a pretty amazing story in itself! I loved learning about the elephants and reading about the incredible things they do. Billy, himself, I found interesting, as well, and loved that he was in favour of training the elephants with positive reinforcement. Hard enough to read of the working animals (not there by their own choice), but Billy’s way with them made it better. He also opened “hospitals” for the elephants. The book had photos interspersed, and the notes at the end were actually really interesting – there were quite a few good tidbits and stories added in there.
When Rose is a child, she is taken to a séance where something happens, but she can’t remember it. As an adult, suddenly there are odd things happening to her. She is scared and doesn’t understand what’s going on, until a friend, Diana, tries to help her understand that Rose seems to be able to leave her body and float around. Rose doesn’t believe it at first, but things soon change.
It was ok. A bit odd at times, but I thought the end (probably the last quarter of the book) was much better than the rest of it, as it sped up as things really came to a head.
I really must try harder this year, :D
Katie’s husband, Nick, was murdered by Jerry, a man with an intellectual disability… a man that Nick worked with and they both loved like a son. But, Jerry is now on trial, and as the trial goes on, we also go back in time to learn what happened.
I quite liked this. No, Katie may not be terribly likeable, and she certainly made plenty of decisions I didn’t agree with, but it’s a compelling story, I thought. Sure felt bad for Jerry. It was easy to be torn on this. There was a small thing at the end I still didn’t quite understand, but still thought the book as a whole was really good.
Granite is a Siberian husky, born in Alaska. When he is about to be sold, he runs away into the wilderness where he comes across a wolf, Snowdrift – a mom who has recently lost all her puppies to humans who have stolen them away. Snowdrift takes on Granite, though the other wolves in the pack mostly don’t like him much. As Granite grows, he learns more and more about how to fit in with the pack.
This is told from Granite’s point of view and I really enjoyed it. There is an author’s note at the start that talks about animal intelligence and emotions and she obviously wanted to show that in this book. It did take some time for Granite to learn how to behave as a wolf, as it didn’t come naturally to the dog. I really liked this children’s story.
When Lily’s husband dies, Lily drives away from the big city in California and finds herself on a small island on the Pacific Coast. She falls in love with a cottage that she buys and decides to turn into a business: she sells vintage clothing. A white cat happens by and makes herself at home with Lily and Lily decides to keep her as a shop cat while she tries to make a go of her new business.
This was good. Simple and quick to read, but enjoyable. No surprise that I loved the cat! Chapters alternated between Lily’s point of view and the cat’s. I have to comment on the well-chosen cover with a cat that actually matches the description of the cat in the book, right down to the two different-coloured eyes: green and blue.
5. The Queen's Lady / Barbara Kyle
Honor is taken in, as a ward, by Sir Thomas More during Henry VIII’s reign in the 16th century. At this time, Henry is trying to find a way to get rid of his first wife Catherine, so he can marry Anne Boleyn. When Honor is old enough, she goes to Catherine and serves her. But, she gets caught up in the religious conflicts going on at the time, and things become dangerous.
It was ok, but I just lost interest at times (this was not an audio!). Some of it held my interest, but there were too many dry patches for my liking. The historical note at the end was nice. Obviously, Honor was fictional, as were her close friends, etc.
Carmen was raised in Canada, where her parents had arrived as refugees after being exiled from their native Chile because they were revolutionaries. When Carmen was 11, she, her mother, her stepfather, and her sister all moved to Bolivia (beside Chile) so they could help with the revolution from there. The book follows Carmen’s life as she grows up to help in the revolution herself, until it comes to an end in 1989 when she’s in her early 20s.
It was shorter and there wasn’t as much politics in it as I was expecting (which, for me, was a good thing!). There was still some; of course, more when Carmen was older. I was surprised that her parents brought Carmen and her sister with them, as it was very dangerous, though Carmen seemed quite happy to be there, so close to her grandparents, as she and her sister were able to travel across the border to visit (though her mother and stepfather were unable to). Certainly, when Carmen was younger, there is not as much mention of the danger, as Carmen herself was not thinking about it at the time.
Beautiful blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are now 27 years old. Something has happened so that Elizabeth is furious with Jessica, and she will not speak to her sister. Elizabeth is now living in New York and working as a writer for a small newspaper, whereas Jess is still in Sweet Valley.
I know the book has had a lot of negative reviews, but I’m still rating it “ok”. It’s been 30+ years since I read about these characters (and even then, I only read some of the original series, Sweet Valley High – I was a bit older and had lost interest by the time the Sweet Valley Twins came out when they were younger and I’m not even sure when Sweet Valley University came out!), and I enjoyed reading about them again and seeing what had happened (even if there was a lot of crap that had happened). I still remembered the majority of the characters.
The story jumps between Elizabeth and Jessica and back and forth in time. This book, I thought was not far off from a lot of chick lit – very soap opera-like. I didn’t like some of the outcomes of the characters I read so much of when I was younger, but I didn’t think the story was really so terrible (again, in comparison to other chick lit). Though some of the characters really didn’t seem to have grown up much, I still found it somewhat entertaining, and it was a fast read.
This is the 2nd book in a trilogy. Sarah has moved from Oregon to Maryland with her family to take over her grandmother’s old house (from book 1). It’s been too long since I read book 1 to remember what led to the current “situation”, and I don’t want to give too much away, but Sarah seems to be seeing things. Her best friend since childhood (and a neighbour), Jackson, also sees things, but different things.
Ok, I was confused through parts of it, and kind of lost interest a bit (mostly in the things Sarah was “seeing”, but not as much in her “here and now”), and I’m sure the losing interest helped with the confusion. Ultimately, I decided on an “ok” rating, simply because I’m still interested enough to find out what happens in the last book. This one isn’t nearly as good as the first book, though.
Hope works at the Metropolitan Museum with the artwork. She regularly brings her pet pug to work. On a day when there is a pug-themed party for a prominent donor – a donor who loves pugs, herself – a valuable painting is stolen and a fake left in its place. Hope discovers it and lets her boss know. One other employee, who was in charge of the night’s party, also discovers it. Between them, they decide not to go to the police, but to hire a private investigator to see if they can figure out what happened themselves.
The book was ok. Hope’s pug, Max, was cute. I did find pretty much all of Hope’s social interactions a bit awkward, especially with the donor, as they became “friends”. I just didn’t see the friendship. Overall, just an ok read.
Lena’s mom and dad died when she was young, so Lena was raised by her aunt. Lena’s 18th birthday is coming up soon, and it will be such a relief to be able to have the surgery done – the cure! – to prevent the sickness “amor deliria nervosa” (aka love). Everyone gets the cure on their 18th birthday. She’ll be matched with someone to marry and her life will be perfect. But, before her birthday (and the surgery) arrives, she meets Alex…
I really liked this. It seems an odd premise, but I went with it, and quite enjoyed it. I liked Lena’s best friend, Hana, and her young cousin(?), Grace, although a bit more interaction with Grace might have been nice. Maybe one of the upcoming books in the series will have more about her? I will definitely be continuing.
Michael and his little brother, 5-year old Patrick, are playing a “game” where they are fighting the “Bellows”. Michael is only hoping he can get himself and Patrick safely to their mother, and he’s hoping she’s safe, too! Really, Michael IS trying to get to the “Safe Zone” he heard about on the radio, but it’s tough.
At the start of the book, I really wasn’t sure if it was a game or not, but once I realized that it wasn’t, it got more interesting. There were certainly some suspenseful moments and I was kept wanting to read. I do think zombies aren’t my favourite thing to read about. Though there were 4-star portions of the book, the majority of it was 3.5 stars for me (good). For some reason, I thought it was the start of a series, and I was all ready and willing to continue the series, but it seems that it is a stand-alone, after all!
This is a continuation of “13 Little Blue Envelopes”. Potential spoilers for the first book:
I really enjoyed this one. It appears I read the first book 6 years ago!! I found it interesting that I commented in that review that I wasn’t a fan of Keith; still not in this book, either. However, I did like the new guy, Oliver, who was the one who found Ginny’s envelopes. Also enjoyed “travelling” around Europe with Ginny and her friends; I particularly enjoyed the B&B in… I think it was Belgium (cats!).
Marie Antoinette was born and grew up in Austria. When she was 10(ish) years old, it was determined that she would wed Louis Auguste of France, Louis XV’s grandson and heir to the French throne. However, Antonia (as she was called then) had a few hoops to jump through before the deal was sealed. When they did marry, Antonia was sent to France where she had to learn a new culture and at the same time be charming and have people love her, as she was to be the future queen. She continued to be pressured and influenced by her mother (from a distance).
This is the first in a trilogy, so we only get as far into Marie Antoinette’s life as Louis XV dying and she and her husband succeeding to the throne when they are 18-years old. I have read a biography of her, but it was a few years ago, so I don’t recall a lot of what I read then. I did like how she was portrayed in this novel, and I appreciated the author’s note at the end, which explains that the majority of people and events in the book did happen. I am really looking forward to reading the next book.
In the 1860s in Lyme Regis, England, we have a love triangle. Ernestina is in love with Charles, but Charles falls for some mysterious woman, Sarah (apparently the “French Lieutenant’s Woman” of the title… though in my skimming I never did “get” that).
Started off badly, just based on the cover – very creepy, in my opinion – a woman’s eyes and top half of her face are whited-out and there are branches growing from her head. Wtf is that!? Anyway, when the first bit appeared to be a lot of description, I almost immediately lost interest. When I lose interest, I skim. I don’t put books aside, as I hope they will get better, but I know that because I’m skimming, it’s hard to notice if it improves. I do try to slow myself down every so often to see if it helps. And I did find, with this one, with about ¼ of the book left, I got more interested (that’s the extra .25 stars) – most of the time. There were odd parts where the actual narrator, who was set in the 1960s commented for a chapter or so. Oh, I did enjoy the couple of mentions of Mary Anning, finder of fossils in Lyme Regis during the time the novel is set. “The Collector” was so much better; however given this book, I don’t know that I’ll read more by this author.
Oliver is a hockey player at an ivy league college. Jenny works in the library. Oliver is rich; Jenny is not. Yet, they still fall in love. However, we know from the first sentence that Jenny will die young.
This was surprisingly short! I thought I’d seen the movie years ago, but now I’m not sure; it’s possible I only saw bits and pieces. I think it would have been nice if things hadn’t moved so quickly in the story, if the reader had more time to get to know Oliver and Jenny. I thought the end would devastate me, even knowing how it ended, but it didn’t. It was still a good story, overall, but I guess I just expected a bit more.
David left his job as a reporter in Boston to come home to Promise Falls with his son. He took a job with the local paper, only to lose it on his first day when the paper shuts down. When he goes to visit his cousin, Marla, he finds her with a baby… that’s not hers! A number of months back, Marla had lost a baby and later tried to take another one from the hospital – this was hushed up by her mother. Marla tells David that an “angel” dropped off the baby to her. He finds some info that gives him a clue to where the baby might belong and manages to convince Marla to go with him and they bring the baby. When they arrive, they find the mother murdered on the floor in the house!
I really enjoyed this. There were a couple of other storylines, as well, but the others weren’t wrapped up by the end. I did know this was a series, so I expect those will be finished up in further books. Barclay’s books are told from different points of view, but we are told at the start of each chapter whose POV we are following (or most chapters, anyway). As usual, there are twists in the book.
1888 in London had more murders than the women Jack the Ripper killed. This book looks at many more of them, though some are manslaughter, and some of the possible/potential murderers are acquitted. . They include bar fights, domestic abuse, infants and newborns, prostitutes, hit and runs (horse and carriage), and more. Of course, the chapter that includes prostitutes does also talk a bit about the Ripper murders.
It was good and interesting as I read it, but fitting so many murders into one book, the descriptions of them have to be fairly short, so it felt a bit like short stories to me. And to me, that means I probably won’t remember much of it in the not-too-distant future. Enjoyable at the time, but maybe not memorable later on. There was some history of London, especially near the start of the book, to help describe the conditions, so that was interesting, too.
19. The Illegal / Lawrence Hill
When Keita’s father is murdered, he flees his country to neighbouring Freedom State, where he is considered an “illegal”. Keita is a (very gifted) runner, so he continues to train and enter marathons. When he hears his sister has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom, the stakes on winning those marathons (and the money) are so much higher.
There is a bit more to this, with secondary characters (a lesbian journalist in a wheelchair, a young prostitute “illegal” sent home and murdered, the madame of the brothel, some high level political figures, a teenaged talented documentary maker).
Overall, I’d rate it ok. I’m not sure if it would be of more interest to people who enjoy sports, with all the running, or maybe to people who enjoy political fiction. Sometimes political stuff is of more interest to me, but I think it depends on how it’s done. I listened to the audio, and the narrator was fine, nothing special, but didn’t detract, either, I didn’t think. The story itself was fine.
The author is a journalist who went to volunteer at an animal shelter in New York state. This tells of some of the behind-the-scenes happenings at the shelter.
I was surprised at how much the author was invited to help with, but maybe they had to her doing more to help with her book? I have volunteered at both “kill” and “no-kill” animal shelters, so much of the book wasn’t a surprise, including reasons people surrender their animals, etc. Although, not a surprise to me, still sad and/or frustrating, and/or sometimes just making me completely angry! Though I’ve read and seen video (see “Animal Cops” on Animal Planet), one of the hardest chapters for me to read was when the author accompanied the director of the shelter on a puppy mill raid. Another tough one was the one discussing euthanasia. Overall, a good look at animal shelters.
In 1939, Ilse is just about to turn 13 when her mother sends her away from Germany to live with her uncle in Morocco. Ilse is half Jewish on her father’s side and her mother is worried for her. Unfortunately, Ilse’s visa is only good for 6 months, and her uncle is going to fight, himself. Uncle Willy’s wife is not interested in looking out for Ilse, so Ilse is sent to France to meet up with her father. The idea is that her mother will join them later. In the meantime, her mother has found good work in Hamburg as a housekeeper, where there are children living. 13 (or 14)-year old Nicolai will soon be part of the Hitler Youth.
The book goes back and forth between Ilse’s and Nicolai’s perspectives. I found Ilse’s story much more interesting, but even that wasn’t as good as many other WWII books I’ve read (in my opinion). Could it be because I’ve read too many? Possibly, or maybe in-part, anyway. I did enjoy some of the secondary characters (at least in Ilse’s story), and I liked the ending (also for Ilse’s part of the story).
Love has only been a precursor to marriage the past couple of hundred years or so. Before that, marriage was mostly for financial or political reasons. Love may or may not have come later. So what many call “traditional marriage” is not really as “traditional” as some might have one believe. What’s often seen as traditional or ideal was really only what marriage was (seen as) in the 1950s for just over a decade. Of course, what went on behind closed doors is not exactly what “Ozzie and Harriet” would have us all believe, either.
The author is a family studies professor. The book takes a look at the history of marriage during different times and cultures in history (though the focus, certainly for modern marriages, is on the Western world). I found this quite interesting. The book has an extensive “Notes” section at the end for those of us who also like to peruse through it for extra tidbits of information. As someone who has never been married, for some reason, I added this to my tbr ages ago!
Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s first wife) and Juana of Castile (often referred to as Juana the Mad) were sisters, both daughters of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain. Katherine went on to become first Arthur’s, then his brother Henry’s, wife and Mary I’s mother. Katherine was divorced by Henry (after he split from the Catholic Church) after she would not give him a son, so he could wed Anne Boleyn. Juana married Philip of Spain and had many children, but was ruled by Philip, although she was a queen in her own right after Isabella died. After Philip died, Ferdinand ruled while indicating to the world that Juana was insane after Philip’s death. When Ferdinand died, Charles (Juana’s son) continued to insist that Juana was crazy, so while she remained locked up, Charles was able to rule instead.
I listened to the audio, which overall, I’ll rate good. I have read so much about the Tudors, there wasn’t a whole lot new to me about Katherine. Though, the author did highlight some of the connections and interactions (few that there were) between Katherine and Juana. I’ve read only a little bit about Juana and it’s been a while, so she was a bit more interesting; however (and the author warns us of this at the start), there are a lot of years where there just isn’t a lot of information about Juana, while she is locked away.
Charlie is a librarian and works with rare books at the local college. While volunteering at the local public library, he meets wealthy James Delacorte. James asks to hire Charlie to go through his personal rare book library to help discover what’s gone missing, as James is certain some items have. Unfortunately, James is found dead on Charlie’s first day of work.
I really enjoyed this! I loved Charlie’s Maine Coon cat, Diesel, who pretty much goes everywhere with Charlie. Charlie’s adult son also moved back him with his dog, so the critters were a lot of fun! There may have been a few things, librarian-related, that I found more interesting or enjoyable than others might (and there were a few things I wasn’t sure a non-librarian would understand, but maybe those things were small enough for most people to gloss over if it didn’t mean anything to them?). Overall, very enjoyable cozy mystery.
Sprout is an egg-laying hen, but is going to be culled. She manages to get free before she dies, but is not welcome in the farm-yard. She has always wanted to lay an egg and be able to sit on it and hatch it and raise the chick, so imagine her happiness when she finds a deserted egg that she is able to hatch!
I really enjoyed this. I love animals, and really felt for Sprout. Even if they weren’t animals, there is a lot of mother-child type interactions going on between Sprout and the little one. And interesting (and sad) interactions between Sprout, the little one, and the other farm animals.
On Dec 6, 1917, there was an explosion in the Halifax Harbour. Around 2000 people were killed and many more injured.
This book is aimed toward younger readers, but I found it a good introduction. There are also plenty of archival photos included. The author decided to tell the stories of a few specific families – to follow what happened to the people in those families, what they were doing at the time, etc. I do think this makes the book more “relatable”.
I did know of the explosion, but this is the first I’ve read about it, to really get more info/details on it. I already have other books on my tbr about the topic, as well. I thought this book was very well done. (Hate to say I “really liked” a book about a disaster, though I’m sure I have before!)
Note that this review is for the abridged audio. Catherine de Medici, in the mid-16th century, went from Italy to France to marry, and she later became queen. Her husband much preferred his mistress, who was old enough to be his mother, to Catherine.
Unfortunately, this book had a double whammy against it – audios don’t always hold my attention (though some, I have no problem with). And, just after I checked it out from the library, I happened to notice it was abridged. Sigh. Why…? Why bother making them abridged! Now, I have read a bit about Catherine de Medici, but not a lot, so it’s sometimes hard to remember the people and how they are related to each other. This can be harder to follow in an audio book, but even worse in an abridged audio where there are huge parts that seem to be skipped over (or, in the case of this historical fiction, huge chunks of time, anyway).
So, this is more a review of the abridged audio (not worthwhile), than of the book itself. Also, one of the “books” I’ve read about her was a trilogy. So, if one author had to write 3 books to cover her life… this is already narrowed down to one book, but not only that, the one book is abridged! I hate abridged. If I’d had another audio book lined up and ready to go, I might have switched.
Laura and her family are heading West. Laura and Pa are excited, though Ma is a bit hesitant, but Pa has promised they will find a homestead and settle down, and the girls can go to school.
This is such a great series! There were some beautiful descriptions of the Prairies (there were also some “extra” descriptions (of the prairie and other things) as Laura was Mary’s eyes, as Mary had recently gone blind after a bout with scarlet fever). I also really enjoyed the building of the town. You just don’t think about what it takes to start from scratch with no one else around and to watch a town be built from nothing!
Robert of Locksley (later Robin of Locksley, then Robin Hood) has been fighting with King Richard (the Lionheart) in the Crusades. Richard has been imprisoned, but Robert makes his way home. There, he comes across Marian, who he knew when they were younger. Marian is the King’s ward since her father passed away, and the Sheriff hopes to marry her. When Will Scarlet, wanted for murder, kidnaps her, though he doesn’t “defile” her, everyone assumes so, so she is ruined. Doesn’t change that the Sheriff still wants to marry her, but she will have none of it.
It’s a long book. It took 200 of the 800 pages for me to get interested, and even then, that was only when they started bringing in characters I already recognized from the Robin Hood story: Little John, Will Scarlett, “Brother” Tuck. I feel like I shouldn’t have to recognize the story to get interested in it. I also sometimes have a hard time when the same person/character is referred to by different names – last name, first name, title – at different points. It took me way too long to realize that Willian deLacey and the Sheriff were one and the same! I really did like the last 100 pages. Overall, though, I’m keeping it at an “ok” rating. I already have the sequel, so I will read it at some point.
In the mid-1800s, Lib is a nurse from England who has come to Ireland to keep watch, for two weeks, over a young girl who has not eaten in four months. Lib and another nurse, a nun, will swap shifts to always watch to see if the girl can really subsist on nothing. Is it a miracle? Lib is doubtful and expects she’ll be able to prove the hoax in short order.
I wondered part-way through if there had been people who really thought they could live without eating, and in fact, there were. Donoghue’s book was not based on one specific person, but on multiple people. Some did have people watch them at all times, as well. Donoghue’s author’s note tells us that each real-life instance had different outcomes.
I might have rated it higher, but the story was pretty slow-going. For the last third of the book or so, I thought it picked up quite a bit, but decided that I’d keep my rating at “ok”, which is where it fell for me for most of the book. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the crazy religious people.
Evelyn heads to a hospital in the East End of London not long before the Jack the Ripper killings begin. She is hoping to find employment as a nurse; instead, she is offered a position is a maid to Joseph Merrick, who resides at the hospital. Merrick is more well-known as “the Elephant Man”. Once the Ripper killings begin, Evelyn must help Mr. Merrick deal with the ghosts that are showing up nightly.
I enjoyed this. It’s YA, and I would have liked to have an author’s note. It seems to me that the information about the Ripper killings and his victims was pretty factual, but this is the first I’ve read about Merrick and would like to know more about him. I expect that him living in the hospital and not going out is probably pretty accurate. But, I don’t really know. I did enjoy this story, though. Evelyn was also coming to terms with her facial disfigurement, from “phossy jaw” at her former workplace and preferred to stay inside the hospital herself.
This is the first in a series by the author focusing on Queen Victoria. This one opens when Victoria is still a child, living with her mother (the Duchess of Kent), older sister, and her mother’s suspected lover (Sir John) in Kensington Palace. Her mother and Sir John are very ambitious, and knowing that Victoria is next in line to the throne once the childless King (no legitimate children), the Duchess is all for using her daughter to her advantage and hoping that her brother, King William, will die before Victoria turns “of age” (18 years), which would mean the Duchess would be Regent.
I’ve not read anything about Queen Victoria until now, nor do I really know anything about her or the Monarchy in England before and leading up to her rule, so this was interesting. Have to admit, because there were so many names/people I didn’t know at the start of the book, I was a bit lost initially, but it didn’t take long before I was able to figure most of it out. The book did get better and better as it went on, as Victoria grew older and was able to (sometimes) stand up to her mother. I definitely want to continue the series, and hope I am able to before too much time passes, so I remember what lead up to everything to this point.
Alex is a private detective and recognizes Joanna when he walks into her club in Kyoto. He recognizes her as Lisa, who went missing 12 years ago and disappeared without a trace. Joanna insists she is not Lisa, but as they look further into it, they are convinced she is, but she really doesn’t remember being Lisa. She has memories of her life (as Joanna) before Kyoto and before 12 years ago. What happened?
I thought this was pretty good. At first, I thought Alex was not a good person, but that turned out to be wrong (it wasn’t long before we figured this out, so it’s not a spoiler). The nightmares that Joanna had were creepy. This was originally written under a pseudonym, as it was a different genre than Koontz usually writes. He rewrote parts of it to update it in 1995 (from the original 1979), though a lot of the subject matter still felt a bit 70s. Overall, though, it was good.
We have become a consumer culture, a society where disposable is all too common. This book looks at trash and all it entails: landfills, recycling, and what else can be done with it, and/or about it, and/or ideally things we can do to reduce it. Plastic is, of course, a big issue - including the “patch” of plastic floating around the Pacific Ocean (which is apparently more of a soup or chowder (smaller chunks all over the place), rather than a patch where it’s all together in the one spot).
I thought this was quite interesting. Some people have actually studied trash (garbologists). There was some history of how landfills got started, and how people traditionally got rid of their trash. Of course, the consumer culture – marketing to promote more and more buying (and also throwing away because we want the new stuff) – came to rise in the 50s, and hasn’t let up.
One idea that was new to me (at least in the detail described in this book) was the waste-to-energy idea, turning trash into energy. I have heard of it, but this book went into more detail than I ever knew about it. Denmark and Germany seem to be the forerunners for this, and it sounds like a great idea. Of course, alongside these kinds of ideas, humans really do need to figure out ways to cut down on the amount of stuff we acquire (and subsequently throw away). There was also some info on things some people are doing to cut down on their consumerism and disposables.
This is meant to be a humourous look at cats. Much of it is set up in a letter “dear Abby” advice-type format, but there are other little snippets, as well. There were a few times I laughed out loud, but really not many. It wasn’t as amusing or enjoyable as I’d hoped, though I am still rating it “ok” (that may be generous). It was a quick read, at least.
Grace and Gene are in an unhappy marriage. They live in Maine and have two young kids. When a wildfire threatens their town and they are forced to evacuate, Grace is waiting at home for Gene to return from helping fight the fire, so they can get out, but it’s too late and she much leave with her kids. She and her best friend/neighbour, Rosie, take their kids and run to the beach. After they are saved from the beach, neither knows where their husbands are, and both of their homes were destroyed.
Apparently, the fire really happened; unfortunately, there was no author’s note to tell me that. It took me quite a while to figure out when the book was set (it was the 1940s). The fire itself was fairly quick in the book, so the bulk of the book was picking up the pieces afterward. It did slow down a bit in the middle for me, but I thought the fire itself was written well, near the start of the book, and it picked up again at the end of the book. Pretty scary, the fire.
I listened to the audio and it kept my attention (this is a good thing, as many don’t!). As I started listening to the book, there were wildfires north of me, and towns were evacuated. The smoke made it to my city. I’m lucky I’ve never had to worry about such a thing, but it is a very real possibility for many people.
Sarah took in Prudence, a brown tabby kitten, when she found her. Sarah’s daughter, Laura, doesn’t visit often, and things seem strained when she does. Prudence knows Sarah’s best friend, Anise, better. But one day (after Prudence has been on her own for a number of days), Laura and Josh come to pack everything up and Prudence has to go with them. Prudence can only hope that Sarah will come back to take her back home again soon.
This was mostly told from Prudence’s point of view, with a few chapters from Laura’s and a couple from Sarah’s. I really enjoyed Prudence’s chapters, in particular. The author knows cats well! I had to laugh at parts of it! I was horrified to find out about an event that really took place in New York City in 1998 that is part of the background in this story – it shows how Sarah and Laura’s relationship became strained. I just don’t want to give it away as a bit of a spoiler. Overall, I really enjoyed this one!
Tristran is in love with Victoria, and when they see a falling star, Tristran vows to go get it and bring it back for her. Unfortunately, this means Tristran has to somehow get to the other side of the Wall. No one goes on the other side, except for a flea market that is held only every nine years.
I listened to the audio, read by Gaiman himself (of course!). He does have a wonderful storytelling voice, but for some reason, it still doesn’t always hold my attention. The other books I’ve listened to him read were short stories, so I had hoped a novel would be better for me. Unfortunately, it was about the same. It was ok. There were plenty of things that I missed, though being an entire novel, I was usually able to catch the gist of where we were in the story, as I listened (which isn’t necessarily the case with short stories, because they end so quickly). I think it was a cute story, at least what I paid attention to!
Definitely recommend the film.
As usual, there were smaller storylines going on at the same time, but the main storyline in this volume is Rose Red trying to recreate the Knights of the Round Table. She has a table built in a field, then spreads the word that she is looking for knights to populate her round table. Many Fables gather to see who she will choose.
I really enjoyed this main storyline, as well as the next biggest storyline in this one, involving Snow White and her children. I so love the illustrations in this, and like the others in the series, the borders are a nice “extra” that also helps you figure out which characters/storyline is happening on that page. It ended on a slow note for me, which is mostly whatbrought down my rating by that ¼ star. Overall, though, I quite liked this volume.
Tiffany Aching is now 15 years old. She is a good witch and helps people when they need help. Unfortunately, an older man, the Baron (also the father of Tiffany’s friend, Roland) passes away under her care. Also a girl, Amber, has been abused by her father and she is found with the Nac Mac Feegles (the tough Scottish fairies) and their “kelda” (female leader). Somehow an evil force has awakened and is coming after Tiffany.
Hard to write a summary, as there were a few different things going on. Overall, I liked the book, though some parts were better than others. I found Amber’s storyline interesting, as well as when Roland’s fiancee, Letitia, appears – I liked her, too. There were parts that I didn’t find quite as interesting, but overall, it was enjoyable.
When Crystal was 14-years old, a modelling scout saw her and told her she needed to lose a lot of weight (she was 5’9’’ and 165 lbs), but if she did, she could make it in the modelling world. Crystal decided this was what she wanted to do, and went down to 95 lbs before heading to New York City to seek out that scout and the Agency he was a part of. She suffered for three years with anorexia before she pulled herself together, only to become bigger, still (no pun intended!), in the plus-size modelling world (at a size 12 once her weight settled).
I thought this was really interesting. Horrifying how skinny she became. She did share photos in the book, as well. After her bout with anorexia, she seemed so much more positive about her body-image as a plus model. I did look her up online after, though, to see that she’s gone down a couple of sizes since. What an awful world that is, though – the fashion industry.
This is a fictional biography of Queen Victoria. She had an unhappy childhood, but she married someone she loved (Albert), they had 9 children, who all lived.
This is a long book. It’s only the second book I’ve read on Queen Victoria, the first was only a month ago, and also written by Plaidy, but that one only included her childhood (there are sequels to that, so I will continue, but with larger gaps in between). Most of what I’ve read about British royalty was from the Tudors and earlier on, so 300+ years earlier. Some differences that happened in between included Royals being able to choose their spouses, and I found it interesting how much travel they did to see each other after Victoria’s children moved away to other countries. England now also had a Prime Minister, so decisions were not made by the monarchy, though they were discussed between the PM and the monarchy.
It was interesting to learn about Queen Victoria, as well as the different world that England had become over 300 years. I’m not sure, historically, how her husband, Albert, is regarded, but I was not a big fan, given how he’s described in this book. Victoria loved him, but I didn’t like him much. I found her family life (both as a child, and as an adult) more interesting than the politics in the book.
This looks at trying to eat locally in various parts of Canada. The first half of the book looks at agriculture and farming (the family farm, young farmers, organics, greenhouses), and the second half of the book moves into cities (urban farming, restaurants serving local, etc.)
Lots of people in lots of places across the country are doing things to try to make the world better by sourcing locally. It was interesting to learn about some of those different things. The author has a section at the end where she tries to help offer suggestions on what people can do/look for/ask if they want to move toward eating locally. She admits that she isn’t perfect about it, but really, every little bit helps. At the same time, once again, I wish I liked to cook or garden or both – would be really useful for my environmental sensibilities.
What happens behind the scenes when someone dies until they “appear” at the funeral? The author looks at this, in addition to the business of being an undertaker, in all the historical changes – from burial to cremation… and still to come, green burials. He works with a family funeral home in Winnipeg where he learns all the different aspects of the business. He also heads to California, where he learns more about green burials (at the time of writing – this was published in 2010 – in Canada, the only place you could have a green burial was in Guelph, Ontario, and somewhere in BC was building someplace for it), then to Las Vegas for an undertaker trade show – see all the new and best in funerial apparel!!
I found this really interesting. Of course, there was a bit of humour thrown in here and there. In such a business, I think there needs to be!
Gander, Newfoundland has about 10,000 people. It was once a hub for airliners to stop to refuel, so it has lots of space for large aircraft. On 9/11, when the terrorists took down the Twin Towers in New York, air space in all of the United States was closed. Flights already in the air were ordered to land as soon as possible. 38 planes chose to, or were ordered to, land in Gander, adding 7,000 people in to the community who ended up staying for a few days before being able to get back on flights to continue on (or go back).
When Gander declared a state of emergency, people were housed at schools, churches, and anywhere else that had room, while flight crews took over all the hotel rooms. The people in Gander donated hours of their time, items from their homes, food, and places to stay for some of the stranded passengers. Friendships (and maybe even at least one romance) were formed.
The book was published in 2002, about a year after the events of the day. Some of the people the book followed included: a husband and wife returning from Kazakhstan with a little girl they’d just adopted; there was the parents of a missing firefighter in New York; there was royalty; there was a couple of higher-up people in well-known companies; there were a few Jewish people, in a town where most of the people had never met a Jewish person before, and more. I hadn’t thought about the animals that were on those planes, in the cargo hold!
I’m Canadian. I grew up in a small town, and can see people reacting as the people of Gander did, doing everything they could do to help. 9/11 itself is an emotional topic, though I have no close personal connections to New York. This was emotional, it made me feel proud to be Canadian, to read about everything the people in Gander had done.
I listened to the audio book, so I missed out on some photos that were included in the book. Overall, a really good (and emotional) account of what some of the people who were flying that day went through when they landed in a small isolated town in Eastern Canada.
Billy has a collection of animals as pets, including gophers, snakes, rats… He and a couple of friends decide they want an owl, so go looking to steal one from a nest, but instead find an injured baby owl and bring him home. They later come across a second injured one, and bring him home for company for Wol, the first owl. The two owls are very different in personality, but they both seem to not realize they are owls who can fly and do other things owls can do.
This was so short; I wish it had been longer. I felt terrible when I thought Billy was going to bring home an owl by stealing it out of a nest! There were plenty of humourous stories about Wol and Weeps. I am curious if Mowat actually had owls as pets.
This is the 2nd book in the series. Kel has completed her first year to learn to become a knight. She is the only girl, and was bullied and picked on in her first year. Now in her second year, she hires a shy, scared girl (by request of the girl’s uncle) to be a servant to her while she continues to train, along with her friends, and some of her tormentors are still around.
I really enjoyed this. I liked Kel and I liked her friends. I also liked her new servant Lalasa. This one went pretty fast, as it sped through all the remaining years of Kel’s training, so it might have been nice to get more detail as we went along, but I guess being a YA book, it was sped up a bit. It’s certainly a great series for young girls, with Kel being such a strong role model, herself. But, of course, I’m enjoying it, too!
Margot is a book conservator and has headed to Florence, Italy to help restore some books after a flood in 1966. She ends up in a convent, helping the nuns with their library, where she finds a rare 17th century book with erotic poems and pictures. The nuns would like to sell the book and be able to use the money, but the books and the library are owned by the bishop and they know he won’t allow it.
This was ok. I found the book conservation parts of it interesting, but I really didn’t like Margot, nor any of the other characters, except for the nuns. It was a bit difficult to figure out right at the start, as it flipped back and forth in time and was a bit hard to tell where we were (in time), but that didn’t last long. It was pretty slow-moving, but it was ok. An author's note would have been nice.
Valancy is turning 29 years old and is constantly reminded by her family that she is an old maid. She has always been a good, obedient daughter, but hates pretty much everything about her life with her family. She even wears only clothes her mother approves of and an old-fashioned hairstyle approved by her mother. When she receives some news, she finally stands up to her family and does things that she wants to do, just for herself.
I really liked this. I liked Valency, though I hated her awful family. I liked some of the other characters, as Valency gets to know them after her rebellion from her family. It’s frustrating, the lack of options for an unmarried woman during this time (the 1920s). It’s slow-moving, but I really enjoyed it.
The title pretty much says it. This book has Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson looking into the Jack the Ripper murders.
I listened to the audio. I’m not sure if it was more the audio I wasn’t a fan of, or if I just don’t like Sherlock Holmes books (written by Conan Doyle OR by others). The audio didn’t help, anyway. I lost interest way too much. There were times here and there that I was paying attention; I think it depended what else I was doing at the time. In any case, I wasn’t a fan, though there were parts that were ok.
Roudette (aka Red Riding Hood) is an assassin who is coming after Talia (Sleeping Beauty), a princess of Arathea who has been exiled and is living in a neighbouring country with Danielle (Cinderella) and Snow (White).
There is a lot of fighting in this series. Yeah, kick-ass princesses are fun, but I have to admit, I tend to skim some of the fighting scenes. I briefly considered giving up on the series, but with only one book left, I think I might as well finish it off. I keep waffling between feeling like I liked it (3.5 stars) and feeling like it was ok (3 stars).
This starts off as a memoir. The author and her husband come across the town of Eastend, Saskatchewan, near Cypress Hills on their travels back home to Saskatoon from the U.S. They initially stayed for 2 weeks on vacation, but were drawn to the town enough to buy a house and live there part-time. While there, the author wrote about the landscape, the dinosaur history and the T-Rex Centre that is there, then started looking into the more recent history of the First Nations people who were there, but were driven off the land in the late 19th century once the white settlers started arriving. The last half of the book looks at the First Nations history of the area.
I probably would have given this 3.5 stars (good), except that I grew up only a couple of hours from Eastend, and have been there a few times. I can picture Eastend, the T-Rex Centre, Cypress Hills, the surrounding land, the ghost towns nearby that were mentioned... I’m sure I also once (though I didn’t remember it) learned the history of Chimney Coulee and the Cypress Hills Massacre. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Chimney Coulee and can also picture that in my head. Good book, sad stuff about the First Nations people and everything that happened, but important to learn about.
Dana’s mother was married to her father, but only after he’d also married someone else. He wasn’t divorced; he was a bigamist. Dana and her mother knew this, as James lived with his other wife and daughter. But James’ other wife and daughter didn’t know about Dana and Gwen. Set mostly during the 1980s, we follow Dana in the first half of the book, as she struggles with why Chaurisse (James’ other daughter) always has first choice for everything, over Dana and his secret family. Dana and Chaurisse are the same age and Dana can’t help but be curious about her sister. The second half of the book is told from Chaurisse’s point of view.
I listened to the audio and it was good; the audio kept my attention. There was a separate narrator for each of the sisters. To be honest, I really don’t have a lot to say about this one, except I can’t say that I liked James much.
I can’t summarize the plot very well, because I missed much of it. I do know that there is some kind of prophecy, something that’s supposed to happen to Percy, or something that Percy’s supposed to do when he’s 16 (maybe both) - I think it’s something dangerous. His 16th birthday is coming real soon.
I wanted to give this 3 stars (ok), but I listened to the audio, and the audios of these books just don’t hold my attention, though I caught some things here and there. From what I gathered there was lots of fighting, but hard to pick out a plot. Or, maybe that’s the idea? I wish I had looked back at my reviews for the other books in the series for that reminder to not listen to the audios. I do (kind of) know how it wrapped up – at least some of the things that happened at the end with Percy’s friends, and an agreement made with the gods.
I see that the series continues with a focus on the Camp for the demi-gods. Might be more interesting; I’m not sure, but I’m thinking it’s just not worthwhile for me to continue. Oh, and I still only ever think of a cute blue Muppet every time I hear the name “Grover”! And shoot, now that I’ve actually read the plot summary, I feel like I should lower my rating to 2 stars because I caught so little of that…
It’s been a few years since I read “Wonder”, but I really liked it. This is one of the shorter spin-offs, told from Julian’s point of view. Julian was the main bully toward Auggie, the boy who came to school with a severely disfigured face. We get to see a bit of Julian’s home life, and his possible motivation for the bullying.
I liked this. Seeing part of Julian’s home life included a visit to his grandmother in Paris, and I loved her story.
Kate is a mom of three, living in the suburbs and feeling like she just doesn’t live up to the other moms, and none of them are interested in being friends with her. She misses her best friend Janie from when they lived in New York City; luckily, “Aunt” Janie comes to visit fairly often. When one of the other local moms (Kitty) invites Kate over to talk about something, Kate instead stumbles upon Kitty’s dead body in the kitchen, with a knife sticking out of her back. Kate and the other moms are worried when the police aren’t finding who did it. Kate, having a reporter background, decides to do some digging herself. While digging, Kate also learns that Kitty was in touch with an old crush of Kate’s in New York, and the digging brings them together.
I really enjoyed this. The ex-flame helping out makes for a slightly more interesting investigation. After taking a peek at some of the other reviews, I had no problem with Kate! I guess I “get” her infatuation with her former crush (though I am not married, so…), and I don’t have kids, so the fact that she wasn’t terribly happy with her current situation didn’t really bother me. In any case, I really enjoyed the story!
Chloe is ½ French and ½ English, and she grew up in Saskatchewan. When her husband heads to Scotland to work on his PhD, she discovers he has been having an affair. Not knowing what to do about her marriage, she travels for a bit with a friend, then heads to her father’s French town in Sask. for a while. While there, she learns about being French in Saskatchewan and comes across her grandmother’s diary.
Unfortunately, there were no likable characters in this book. That almost brought my rating down to 3 stars (ok). However, I got much more interested in the second half of the book when Chloe started reading her grandmother’s diary – about having to move from Quebec to Saskatchewan and starting over in an English province (though in a French town). I am not French, but I grew up in a small, primarily French, town in Saskatchewan, so I found this really interesting: the history of the Fransaskois (French-Saskatchewanians). The town this was set in was not near the town I grew up in, but it was close to Batoche, famous for the battle during the Rebellion where Louis Riel was defeated.
The author was born in Yemen in the 1960s. He was the youngest of 11 siblings and was only 3 years old when the family moved to Beirut (Lebanon), then not long after, they moved to Cairo (Egypt), where he spent his years growing up, and figuring out that he was gay. Most of the family eventually headed back to Yemen, but long before then, Kamal knew he had to get out of the Middle East. He yearned to go to England or the US, where he felt he would be able to be himself and not hide. He managed a scholarship to study in England, and from there, he eventually made his way to Canada.
This covered the 1960s (when the people of Yemen and Egypt were relatively free and not so constrained by religion) up to and including 2011. As Kamal yearned to leave, he hated to leave his mother and sisters behind, the way women were being treated by the time he got out. Some of his brothers had gone fervently religious, too much for Kamal’s liking. He tried to not look back on his life there, and even speaking to his family was difficult, as he was still hiding who he really was and it reminded him of how bad things were in the country he was born in. As things got worse in the Middle East, and in Yemen in particular with a civil war happening in 2011, he did seek out news from home.
This was really good. It was also very interesting, to read the cultural differences between the Middle Eastern countries he lived in and the Western countries. As a Canadian myself, it was really nice to see how accepted he was in Canada (Toronto, though I am from the West), regardless of his nationality and his sexual orientation. Completely not book-related, but as someone who has taken bellydance classes off and on, I had to take a brief break from reading to look up a famous Egyptian bellydancer his father hired to perform at one of his sisters’ weddings.
The author of this book travels to various places around the world – some are the brightest places and some are the darkest places. He is trying to find the best ways to get back to some natural darkness, and not let light pollution take over our world.
There is a scale to measure darkness (from 1-9, 1 being the darkest), and I liked that he numbered his chapters in reverse, as he started at the brighter places (Las Vegas, brightest in the world! And Paris, City of Lights), and made his way to darker places, as he continued on. He not only discussed the light or darkness of each place, and of course, the resulting lack of stars that can be seen, he also talked about crime (some light helps, but more and more light doesn’t make a difference), and also the effect of perpetual light at night on humans’ health, not just due to sleepyness for those who work at night, but also cancer. Of course, there was discussion of other animals, as well, who rely on night and darkness.
I found this very interesting. I love looking at the stars and miss being in a rural area in order to actually see the stars (or more than the very few I can see in the city I now live in). I love to be out at my parents’ cabin in the summers when I visit, and I can see the Milky Way and pick out so many constellations when I’m out there.
Rachel is a black woman who married Isaac, on a deal to get land in South Dakota. Fourteen years later and five kids with one more on the way (and two in the ground), and they are suffering the worst drought, and don’t know how they will survive. It’s 1917, as they struggle, and it’s even more difficult due to being the only black family for miles.
This was good. They may have been the only black family, but there were “Indians” nearby; Isaac hates the Indians, so Rachel took her cue from her husband (though she would need the help of one of the women later on). I especially liked the way it ended, and would love for there to be a sequel, as I’d love to know what happens next!
Sue Klebold was Dylan Klebold’s mother. Dylan was one of the two Columbine High School shooters in April 1999. He and his friend Eric killed 15 people (14 students and 1 teacher) and injured 24 others in their rampage before shooting themselves. Sue has had to figure out how to deal with the fact that, not only did her son kill himself, he killed and hurt others before he did it. She was blindsided. The parents were often blamed; there were lawsuits. I listened to the audio, which she narrated herself.
She starts off the day it happened. She and her husband, Tom, knew there was a shooting at school, but knew nothing else (for sure) until late that evening. They were kept out of their house while the police searched, meanwhile not knowing if Dylan was alive, and only going on rumors that Dylan was involved somehow. Coming to terms with the aftermath took a long time. The son she knew and raised was not someone who could have done such a thing. Obviously, Dylan hid his troubles well. Though the book started off well for me, and most of the book continued that way, the very end lagged a bit. Sue does work now, trying to help people see the signs of suicide and to be able to see the difference between normal teenage behaviour and potential suicidal behaviour – have to admit that that’s where I wasn’t quite as interested.
Cannery Row is a community and this tells the story of the people in that community, including a Chinese grocer, a marine biologist, and others. (Somehow I missed – until I read summaries after – that everyone in this community is poor; I guess, thinking back, there were plenty of opportunities to see that, but it just didn’t completely register for me.)
Much of the first… half?… of the book was introducing characters. It got better once the characters were introduced and there was a bit of a storyline. The boys all seemed to like to party and didn’t seem to care what got broken. It was kind of entertaining for the last half once a few things actually happened.
A young Sherlock Holmes wants to prove himself worthy of one day working for Scotland Yard, so he sets out to solve the kidnapping of a young rich girl. In doing so, he is also in a race to beat his rival for Irene Doyle’s affections, the young criminal, Malefactor, who Irene has also tasked with solving the crime.
This was ok. It’s another series where I think I will not continue with, though. There were interesting parts, but overall not enough to keep my interest throughout, nor enough to make me want to pick up the next book.
It seemed like I was missing something right at the start! I guess this only started with Swamp Thing #21, when Alan Moore took over the writing of it. Oops! Didn’t realize. And didn’t really know the story. It did seem to back up a bit after the opening bit to explain, and I found the explanation of how the Swamp Thing came to be quite interesting. The rest of the book was ok. I don’t think I’ll continue the series.
Anna is a teacher and uses the summers to find work tutoring. She is hired to tutor 16-year old T.J. T.J. has just recovered from a cancer diagnosis and missed a lot of school. He needs to catch up, but his family is whisking them all away to an island for the summer, where the tutoring will happen. Anna and T.J. follow the rest of his family on a later flight, when the pilot suffers a heart attack and they are stranded somewhere amongst the many islands of the Maldives.
I really liked this. The chapters alternated between Anna and T.J., which was a bit confusing at first (even though the start of the chapter tells you whose POV it is), but it didn’t take long before I was ok with it. It was a fast read – read in one day. Short chapters. I could say more, but there are just too many spoilery things – beware of other reviews, as many do include what I would consider to be spoilers.
Anna, a young magician and medium, has just arrived in London from New York. She is hoping to get connected with a society of Sensitives, where she hopes to meet people like her, and to get advice on using her powers. At the same time, she manages to find a job with a group doing a vaudeville-like tour of Europe. Shortly after she arrives, though, a couple of the sensitives turn up murdered.
I really enjoyed this. I was sure frustrated with Anna and Cole and their lack of communication? Understanding of each other? (Sadly, it’s been a few days since I finished, so I’m already forgetting details of how I felt about the book!) I did like the cowboy (part of the touring show Anna becomes a part of) – he was a fun addition. Although, not quite as good as the first book, I still enjoyed the atmosphere of this one. As YA, it was also a fast read.
Millie and her sister were orphans in the early 20th century after their parents died within a short time frame. Although, they were in and out of foster homes, they mostly managed to stay together. When Millie’s older sister Florence, got sick, it was suggested she head for someplace dry. They ended up in New Mexico, with Florence in a sanitorium and Millie needed to find a way to make enough money to pay for Florence’s care. It’s how Millie got into prostitution, and not long after, she started buying and running the whorehouses, herself. She married a number of times, but held on to those whorehouses, and added to them.
Millie was feisty, that’s for sure. She was also well-respected. And had a few brushes with the law. I’m not sure she was someone I would like, but it takes all kinds. She has lots of good stories. The book certainly kept my interest. Overall, it was good.
It’s been five years since the park at Crater Lake had to deal with dinosaurs that appeared and were attacking people. Now, they are back! But, not the same dinosaurs – these are different ones, these ones can fly…
I really enjoyed this one, as well. There was a stretch in the middle where it slowed down a bit and we were dealing with the head park ranger’s (Henry’s) wife’s (Ann’s) illness, but it picked up again soon after that. Speaking of Ann, I still quite liked most of the characters (the only ones I didn’t like were very secondary), and I was interested in how things would go for them. Also loved the kitten. :-) I do hope to continue with the series (though, it’s self-published, so a bit trickier to get my hands on).
The author is a journalist (she is not an anthropologist, though I had to check that). She spent time in various Eastern European countries in the early ‘90s (this was published in 1995), to talk to and get to know the Romani (aka Gypsies) to learn about their lives and culture. She also talks to other local people to find out their views of the local Roma (usually negative).
Overall, the book was ok. I didn’t learn as much as I thought I might. I have read a book by Ian Hancock, who is Romani himself, and I liked it better. Fonseca was a bit all over the place – the chapters didn’t really tie together. I guess each chapter was in a different country. I think I didn’t like her writing style. She included some photos of some of the various people she talked to. I suppose the most interesting to me was the chapter on the Holocaust. I’m not sure any stereotypes were quenched by reading this – she said it early in the book: they lie, they steal… I found it odd. If she was trying to fight stereotypes (as other reviews are saying), I definitely missed that. Oh, one stereotype broken: they don’t travel, nor necessarily want to always be travelling; they are just so unwelcome in so many places, they don’t have a lot of options. I’m still rating it ok. It held my interest, so that’s a good thing. It just wasn’t what I expected, and I didn’t learn as much as I’d hoped.
This was set in the 1910s, I believe on a Native reserve. Not sure what it was supposed to be about. There was a girl, Fleur, who gambled with the men, then slept with and married someone. There was a nun (or maybe that was a different woman, not the nun?), who seemed to have a crush on one of the other women in the story. Other reviews tell me the book was set in North Dakota and about the Native land being taken away. Had no idea.
I was confused. I didn’t “get” it. “I” was used in the book, but part of the time “I” was male and part of the time “I” was female. I wasn’t sure if “I” was switching back and forth somehow or what, but a review I saw said something about there being two narrators, one an old man and one a young woman. Had no idea.
Nanapush was the name(?) of the old man “I”, but I don’t know if it was just a name or if it was meant to represent the native trickster/legend of the same name?
I should probably not bother reading any more of Erdrich’s adult novels, though I have enjoyed a couple of her children’s literature.
The author grew up in Kentucky (Appalachia) and Ohio (where his grandparents moved to get away). They were poor. JD’s mother was not much of a mom – she did drugs and went from man to man. JD and his sister often lived with their grandmother, Mamaw, who took care of them. Even still, their entire home/family life included a lot of yelling and insults. But, apparently, this is how a lot of poor Appalachian kids grow up. JD eventually managed to get away, get a good education, and become a lawyer.
This was interesting. In addition to looking back on his own family life, he looks at statistics and some interesting insights about people in the area, their family dynamics and growing up poor. It is impressive that he worked his way up and out of that kind of life. He does credit that to a few members of his family who were good examples – interesting that they all married outside of the Appalachian culture (to, I think, very understanding people!).
The story is told from Queenie’s point of view. It is the “dirty thirties”. When city-girl, Rita, moves to Harveyville, Kansas, she is quickly taken in and befriended by the local quilting women, the “Persian Pickle Club”. Rita has married Tom, a man from the town and they have moved back to live with Tom’s family. Queenie quickly befriends Rita, but Rita stays a bit distant. As a budding journalist, Rita is all over the story when a body is found in a field – the man had been gone for over a year.
The book was pretty slow, but did pick up about half-way through when the body was found, and as a few other more exciting/interesting things happened. Overall, it’s all about the women’s friendships. The first half, I was about to rate it 3 stars (ok), but upped it just a bit once it got more interesting in the second half.
Blaze and George are best friends and (mostly) small time criminals. Blaze was abused as a child, and is now a bit “slow”. Unfortunately, after beginning to plan their biggest crime, George passed away, but Blaze wants to go it alone (with George in his head, egging him on). Blaze is about to kidnap a baby…
The book actually goes back and forth in time, so we also see how Blaze grew up, first abused by his father, then in a home for orphaned boys. I didn’t find the back story quite as interesting as the current-day kidnapping. Well, I found Blaze more interesting as he was younger and a teen, with his best friend (and his only other friend besides George, ever), Johnny, more interesting, but it was less so once Blaze met George (at least for me). The end of the story was really good, though, and had me eagerly turning pages to find out how things would end. Waffling between 3.5 and 4 stars (good and really good), I did not come to a decision and averaged it out.
This book looks at Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s political policies, mostly in the years leading up to and including the 2ndWorld War. Stalin took over many of the Baltic states, and – via policy – starved many of the peasants in the Ukraine: even as they were growing food for others, they were left to starve. I didn’t know any of this, so this part was particularly interesting to me. Both Stalin and Hitler wanted to take over Poland, and of course, we ended up with the Holocaust and World War II.
I feel like I would have liked this better if I hadn’t listened to the audio. I was afraid right from the start, though, when I heard the voice. Male voice (already a bad sign for me), and I’m sure I recognized it from another audio that didn’t hold my attention. There were parts that did, though, particularly about the starvation of the people in the Ukraine. Overall, I’m considering it ok.
I think everyone knows what the “Chicken Soup” books are – little “feel good” stories on whatever the topic is for that book. Mostly, these were good while I read them, but I’ve also already forgotten most of them. There is one I will definitely remember – the cat (he is ok, and we are told that at the beginning of the story) who got his head stuck in the garburator! While reading, I had planned on 3.5 stars (good), but only a day later, I can only remember the one story. I will stick with how I felt about the book while reading (which is usually how I rate, anyway).
Sheila Watt-Cloutier was born in a Northern Quebec Inuit community and raised by her mother and her grandmother. She was sent away to school in Churchill, and (mostly) enjoyed her time there. She later married, had kids, and went back and forth between her home in Northern Quebec and the southern part of the province.
Eventually, she would become an activist; she is most commonly associated with environmental activism, but really she is an activist for her Inuit culture, for education and health care, and yes, for the environment and climate change, and how it is currently affecting the Inuit culture and lifestyle. They are seeing the effects of climate change now, and they feel that they deserve “the right to be cold” – they need that cold – in order to sustain their traditional culture.
This was good. I expected more of the environmental aspect in the book (and a lot of that did come in the 2nd half), but actually ended up enjoying the biographical part of the book best. Much of the 2nd half of the book included her travels to various conferences and counsels to tell the story of the Inuit to put a “human face” on the environmental crisis in the Arctic. Surprising to me, I just didn’t find that part as interesting. Overall, though, I liked it.
Roz is running a gardening business out of her home and has hired Mitch to help investigate who might be the ghost that has been in her historical home all her life. She suspects one of her ancestors, but wants to find out for sure.
This is the second book in a series (trilogy, I think). Unfortunately, it took me about 2/3 of the book to figure out who most the supporting characters were (though two of them would have been the main characters in the first book; I just remembered nothing about it!). Even after figuring out most of the characters, there were still a few that confounded me until the end. Anyway, I’m rating the book ok. The ghost story is the interesting part of the story. The romance – meh. Roz, I think, was 47 years old (my age), but to me, for some reason, I pictured her in her 60s! I’m not sure if I’ll read the last book or not, although I am curious to find out more about the ghost.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the last Shah (king) of Iran. He ruled for 37 years, starting during the Second World War, and continued until the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In some ways, he was trying to modernize Iran (religious freedom, women’s rights), but he resisted democratizing the country.
I found much of it dry. There was a lot of politics, attempts to oust the Prime Minister and vice versa, foreign negotiations with the USA and Britain. There wasn’t as much biography as I was expecting; it was more political history than anything. It was long; technically, under 500 pages, but the font was very small, so it took longer to read than I’d hoped. There was a lot of information I didn’t know about Iran, so I did learn some things. I do feel like some photos would have been nice to be included in the book, but there were none.
What if the Axis had won World War II? Yael was a little girl and had been one of the medical subjects in one of the concentration camps. What they did was inject her with something to make her appear more Aryan. Turns out she could do more than appear Aryan after a while – she could “skinshift” to look like anyone else. Because of this, she was able to escape, and years later, in 1956 when she is 17-years old, she is part of the resistance and she has a mission – she is impersonating a girl motorcycle racer. Once she wins, she’ll have access to Hitler…
This one took a bit for me to get “into” it, but once it got going, I thought it was good. We go back and forth in time from current day Yael in the resistance to young Yael in the concentration camp and everything leading up to how she got to her current mission. There was a good twist at the end and it is a series (or maybe trilogy?), so I will continue.
Alfred Hitchcock was born in 1899 and died in 1980. He went from Great Britain to Hollywood and over six decades, starting with silent films in the 1920s up to only months before he died, he was working on movies, over 50 in total. He usually had two going at a time.
This is a very long book (over 800 pages). I was expecting more biography, but really, it was a very detailed account of behind-the-scenes of many of his movies, with a bit of biography thrown in here and there. There were definitely some interesting tidbits, though, enough that I’m rating it “good” (I was tempted to go with “ok”, but by the end I realized, I actually did think it was good, despite not being what I expected).
I’m sure real Hitchcock afficionados would love all the detail. Of course, the movies I’ve seen, or at least knew about, held more interest for me, as well as some that starred super-well-known actors (Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly...). It does make me want to go out and watch more (some again, since I don’t really remember); I already looked up some clips of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” intros that he did (also something I’d love to watch some of, again – if only I ever made time to watch movies or tv!).
That's 81 out of (probably) 172, so almost half! I only count books that have been on the tbr for 2+ years, but I feel like I should change that to 3+ years. We'll see! I might do one more year of 2+, and see where I'm at with it, and change it the year after.
I will start a new thread, though, as this one is getting long.
Best Wishes for 2020, ☺️.
Of course, I wasn't focusing on the Century one at all. I think I popped in early on for the group Mystery one, but I wasn't doing one for myself.
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