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Vivienne's reading in 2019 Part 2

This is a continuation of the topic Vivienne's reading in 2019.

Club Read 2019

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Edited: Yesterday, 9:38pm Top

Toni Onley (1928 - 2004), one of my favourite British Columbian artists who captured the vast spaces, colours, and even the weather patterns of the BC coastal regions.

I can also be found at the Category Challenge here and many of the "oddities" listed were read to fill a challenge.

Current reading plans:

The Healing by David Park
Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin
Another part of the wood by Denis Mackail

Edited: Sep 1, 9:55pm Top

Read in January:
1. Shatter the bones by Stuart MacBride 4★
2. Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie 4★
3. The Professor and the Madman: a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester 4.5★
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama 5★
5. Queenpin by Megan Abbott 4★
6. Black Book by Ian Rankin 4★
7. The Healer by Antti Tuomainen 3.5★
8. Rounding the mark by Andrea Camilleri 4★
9. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje 4★
10. Vivienne - Gently Where She Lay by Alan Hunter 3.5★
11. The Radium Girls: the dark story of America's shining women by Kate Moore 2.5★
12. Best of Women's Short Stories 2 narrated by Harriet Walter 4.5★
13. The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller 4.5★
14. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink 4.5★

Read in February:
15. The Janissary tree by Jason Goodwin 3.5★
16. Mozart's brain and the fighter pilot by Richard M. Restak 4★
17. The Chessmen by Peter May 4.5★
18. Sidetracked by Henning Mankell 4★
19. Flower net by Lisa See 3★
20. The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie 3.5★
21. Thinking like a mountain by Robert Bateman 2★
22. I think I love you by Allison Pearson 3.5★
23. Paris for one and other stories by JoJo Moyes 3.5★
24. On writing by Stephen King 4★
25. Never hit a jellyfish with a spade: how to survive life's smaller challenges by Guy Browning 3.5★
26. A room full of bones by Elly Griffiths 4★
27. The cat who came in from the cold by J. Moussaieff Masson 3★
28. Winter Chill by Jon Cleary 4★
29. The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley 4.5★

Edited: Sep 2, 1:36am Top

Read in July
84. First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★
85. Starlight by Richard Wagamese 4.5★
86. The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★
87. The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky 3.5★
88. The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri 3.5★
89. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★
90. Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante 3.5★
91. The last days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan 2.5★
92. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★
93. Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters 2.5★
94. A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders 3★
95. Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton 3★
96. Sanctuary by Ken Bruen 4★
97. The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★
98. Mah Jongg by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★
99. Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★
100. The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones 4★
101. The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

Read in August
102. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★
103. Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★
104. The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★
105. The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★
106. Slam by Nick Hornby 4★
107. Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★
108. Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★
109. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★
110. Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3,5★
111. Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★
112. The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★
113. The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan 3★
114. Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★
115. Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton 4★

Edited: Jun 3, 11:23pm Top

My first book this month was very disappointing - although many on LT enjoyed it a lot.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

This was frustrating rather than gripping. Cass worries about her forgetfulness, that she might be showing the first signs of early onset dementia like her mother, and mystery phone calls when no one speaks. After a while I got fed up every time the bloody phone rang and at every "I forgot". Elementary writing skills laced with stilted dialogue made a monotonous read. The denouement, made through the record of hundreds of texts, was a lazy way to wrap up, to say nothing of the crazy story about how the phone was found. And who would keep such incriminating texts? All led to a predictable conclusion.

Jun 4, 2:15am Top

The watercolor in your first post is stunning. All I know of BC artists is Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. I would love to see some of Onley's work in person.

Jun 4, 3:21am Top

Nice picture, Vivienne. And an unbelievable amount of books read this year so far!

Jun 4, 1:27pm Top

Love the image, wish you a better next book ... wait, looking at your current reading list, a better next couple stacks of books.

Jun 4, 1:50pm Top

>8 RidgewayGirl: Glad you like it. I went to a classical music concert (on one extremely hot afternoon) held in an art gallery that was having a Toni Onley exhibition. It was a glorious experience to listen to that beautiful music while surrounded by his work. His method was to fly in his little plane to some out of the way beach and paint. Sadly, the plane came down one afternoon when he was practicing a maneuver over the Fraser River in Vancouver.

>9 AlisonY: Thanks Alison, it seems every year I read more. Retirement and insomnia help!

>10 dchaikin: Two utter duds in a row was unusual. I choose my reading for the month to fill the Category Challenge so it always looks like a lot at the beginning of the month. :)

Jun 5, 4:58am Top

>1 VivienneR: I was about to post on the artwork above, but I see Kay has also commented. It's lovely, atmospheric and has a kind of contained activity to it.

Bummer about your first read of June, but more Peter Robinson should help move you away from the disappointment :-)

Jun 5, 11:58am Top

The painting at the top is lovely. Despite your disappointing first book, Vivienne, I see some listed in your June plans that I’m pretty sure you will enjoy. :-)

Jun 5, 4:59pm Top

>12 avaland: My latest read kept me up to 4am so it made up for the duds!

>13 NanaCC: Thanks, Colleen. Yes, some good reading planned this month.

Jun 5, 5:00pm Top

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Tyce's brilliant debut novel offers Alison, a barrister who drinks too much, has sex with a colleague, and is thrilled when she gets her first murder case. Her husband is a self-righteous psychotherapist and house-husband. The story is twisty and dark and utterly compelling. I can't relate to any of the characters, it's even difficult to find them likeable, yet the story grabbed my attention and held it to the last page. Tyce is herself a former barrister and knows her subject well. I fully expect that she is a writer with a glowing future and I'll be on the lookout for more books from her.

Jun 5, 5:08pm Top

>15 VivienneR:

I never understood people who always need a likeable (or at least relatable) character in a story... And this book sounds fascinating.

Jun 5, 9:23pm Top

>16 AnnieMod: Yes, often the most unlikeable characters are the most memorable, like many created by Dickens, for example.

Jun 6, 6:08am Top

>15 VivienneR: noting that one. Murders / legal cases aren't normally my thing, but actually I think it's just because I've not read any novels on that theme for a long time. Probably time I addressed that.

Jun 6, 3:58pm Top

>18 AlisonY: Tyce's book is difficult to categorize. There is mystery but it's not a murder mystery, there are legal issues but not the main topic… Appropriately, the library has it in the fiction section. Tyce doesn't get bogged down but keeps the story moving with lots of twists.

Jun 7, 9:36pm Top

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I read this for the first time many years ago and thought it would be interesting to read it again even though I know the solution to the mystery - it was impossible to forget. I enjoyed it just as much, maybe even more because I was able to get an idea of how Christie's ideas developed. As well, I've seen David Suchet's documentary about the Orient Express which helped visualize it better and I noticed the small, seemingly inconsequential details, like the watch hook, which really does exist, and which the victim did not use. Considering this was written in 1934 it shows considerably more talent, knowledge and style than others of the same vintage. There is no doubt Ms Christie deserves the full five stars.

Jun 7, 11:30pm Top

>20 VivienneR: I love this one, Vivienne. Have you seen the film adaptations?

Jun 7, 11:41pm Top

I like rereading good mysteries - knowing where it is going allows you to see the subtle clues and seemingly throwaway actions that lead to a solution. And the better the writer is, the easier it is to see how the mystery is woven - a bit like being told how a magician does a trick. :)

Jun 8, 1:01am Top

>21 NanaCC: I've seen a couple. Wasn't Peter Ustinov cast in one as Poirot? He wasn't a good choice for that part.

>22 AnnieMod: Exactly. How well you describe it!

Jun 8, 9:59am Top

>23 VivienneR: I’ve seen two. The older from the ‘70’s starred Albert Finney, and the newer one from a year or two ago starred Kenneth Branagh. I preferred the earlier one for the movies. But I think the PBS Masterpiece adaptations with David Suchet are the best for the Poirot character.

Jun 8, 1:27pm Top

>24 NanaCC: Ah, I remember. Yes, I've seen the Albert Finney movie. Ustinov must have been in another Christie movie. I didn't see the Branagh movie that was panned by many reviewers who claimed his moustache was all wrong.

I agree, David Suchet is perfect as Poirot. He will never be matched.

Jun 11, 2:15pm Top

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

Both Ruth and Nelson go to Blackpool for separate reasons: Nelson on a nostalgic trip to his old hometown, and to meet up with family; Ruth to find out more about a university pal who has been murdered after a significant and mysterious archaeological finding. Griffiths successfully mixed familiar characters with neo-fascists and King Arthur, set against the backdrop of Blackpool's seaside amusements. Characters continue to develop well and it looks like there may be an addition to the Norfolk crew.

One of my favourite mystery series.

Jun 16, 2:37pm Top

Priest by Ken Bruen 4.5★

Although I enjoy the long elegant sentences from the likes of P.D. James, Ken Bruen's spare prose fizzes with spirit and fully conveys his ideas with a minimum of words. Jack Taylor is even more tortured than most fictional detectives, but he is one of my top picks, affirmed by Iain Glenn who played Jack on the tv series. Cody, his self-appointed sidekick, is a fitting partner. Bruen descibes Ireland, particularly Galway, in such a way that shows the old country alongside the prosperity and changes that have come about in recent years, all of which provides a clearer picture of the current state. He never shies away from controversial issues and here Jack's case involves a priest who abused altar boys and has been found beheaded in the confessional.

Bruen's frequent references to language, literature, and music add to Taylor's personality as well as the atmosphere of Galway.

"She raised her eyes to heaven, said, 'Once the races are over, we're in quare street.' The Irish pronounce queer as quare and it's not anything to do with Gay issues, it's purely for the sound of the word, to give it a full and resounding flavour. We love to taste the vocabulary, swill it around the mouth, let it blossom out into full bloom."

Jun 16, 3:24pm Top

>27 VivienneR: You put this series on my wishlist once before, Vivienne. I had forgotten about it. I’ll have to get the first book so that I don’t forget again.

Jun 20, 7:54pm Top

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh 5★

I adore Waugh's sumptuous, gracious writing and all that he expresses. Everything there is to be said about the book has been said many times. This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first time. As an atheist, so much talk about religion and the church would normally put me off, but Waugh can keep me entranced.

Jun 23, 4:40pm Top

Finished two over the weekend:

Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill 3★
Two children abandoned at birth were raised together in a Montreal orphanage run by nuns who inflicted appalling abuse and saw the children as evidence of sin. The boy, named Pierrot for his pale skin, and the girl Rose for her red cheeks vow to stay together. The names suggest that the story is based on commedia dell'arte the traditional theatrical style, with artistes who performed for rich patrons, like the two children did. O'Neill conveys the style in many ways: masks or hidden identities, the comic opera, the tirades and abuses reminiscent of Punch and Judy. Although this is an even darker concept than any of The Brothers Grimm characters it is in fact a fairy tale love story. Unsettling, unpleasant, yet clever in a dark bleak way. I appreciated O'Neill's talent but can't say I enjoyed this one.

The Blackwater lightship by Colm Tóibín 4★
After decades of defiant opposition, three generations of women come together in support of a son for his final days before dying of AIDS. Tóibín seems to intend a message that is more than the story conveys on the surface but with a subtlety that makes it difficult to pinpoint. However, this is a quiet, elegant story of family relationships, beautifully written.

Jun 25, 4:18am Top

Vivienne, you are hitting me with several 'must get back to that author' bullets.

>29 VivienneR: ah, it's a great read, isn't it? That's a good reminder to me to read some more Waugh sooner rather than later.

>30 VivienneR: sorry that the Heather O'Neill novel didn't wow. I've still only read Lullabies for Little Criminals which really bowled me over, along with a lot of other CRers. Have you read anything else by her that you'd recommend? She's another author I'd like to get back to, but sounds like this isn't the best #2 to go with.

> ditto Colm Toibin. Brooklyn was a great holiday type read, and I've never got back to him again for no good reason. Perhaps he'd be a good author for my next holiday reading pile. Any favourites of his stand out?

Jun 25, 8:34am Top

Have you read anything else by Waugh? I loved Brideshead Revisited.

Jun 25, 1:58pm Top

>31 AlisonY: I didn't read Lullabies for Little Criminals so I can't compare and I don't think it will feature in my reading plans. What I disliked most about O'Neill's book was the absurdities that clashed with the cruelty. And my last four books have been closely related to the church, which may have been three books too many for this dyed-in-the-wool atheist. :) Give Lonely Hearts Hotel a try and let me know what you think.

I'll definitely read more Colm Tóibín, great writer.

>32 NanaCC: Before LT I read everything I could get my hands on by Waugh. Memories are fading but two favourites were Scoop and Black Mischief, both funny. I also liked A Handful of Dust, which I seem to recall hearing has been published with different endings. Or it may have been that the movie had a different ending. None are anything like Brideshead Revisited, most are filled with quirky, English humour.

Jun 25, 7:10pm Top

Cross by Ken Bruen 4.5★

This was the first Jack Taylor book that I read, the one that got me hooked. After this one I went back to the beginning and started with the first one and read the series in order. When I picked up this one from the library I was disappointed at first when I discovered I had already read it. However, I couldn't return a book to the library without reading it, a good decision because I enjoyed it all over again and understood more of the backstory.

I've already put a hold on the next one in the series.

Jun 25, 8:13pm Top

Stonehenge: sun moon wandering stars by Michael W. Postins 4★

Last week's summer solstice (which coincides with my son's birthday) sparked a conversation about Stonehenge and my son lent me this slim book on the topic. The state of knowledge of astronomy at the time it was built is astonishing, although as Postins explains, it was just a matter of observation over hundreds of years. This is a basic book that provides astronomical explanations of the structure referred to by Diororus in 44 B.C. as a "spherical temple".

Jun 25, 10:22pm Top

I’ll have to try another book by Waugh. And just to let you know I’m listening to the first Jack Taylor book right now and really enjoying it. The reader’s accent is lovely.

Jun 26, 2:05am Top

Oh, an audio Jack Taylor would be lovely. Do you know who the narrator is?

Jun 26, 7:03am Top

>37 VivienneR: The reader is Gerry O’Brien. I don’t know him, but he has a great voice for this series.

Jun 26, 2:21pm Top

>38 NanaCC: I haven't heard that reader. A good narrator can make or break a book. When I read Jack Taylor books I can hear Iain Glen's voice, the actor who played Jack on the tv series.

Jun 26, 5:29pm Top

>39 VivienneR: I didn’t know that there was a tv series. Is it called Jack Taylor?

Jun 26, 9:34pm Top

>40 NanaCC: Yes, and I just remembered it's on Netflix if you have it. I'm in love with Iain Glen (aka Jack Taylor). :))

Edited: Jul 1, 1:17pm Top

Operation Mincemeat: the true spy story that changed the course of World War II by Ben Macintyre 5★

No time for a review (there are lots of good reviews here on LT). I have to say this is a terrific story and I enjoyed it thoroughly. No one can write war stories like Macintyre.

Jul 1, 3:56pm Top

>42 VivienneR: I need to move this one up the pile, Vivienne. I’ve enjoyed all of his that I’ve read.

Jul 2, 3:03pm Top

First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★

Late evening after dinner, three middle-aged men remember their first love. For two of them the experience had no noteworthy aspects, but the third gave an account of his passion for an "older" woman when he was sixteen. As the daughter of a coarse, impoverished princess she had several admirers when mother and daughter moved next door to Petrovich. He was immediately smitten. Nothing has changed for lovelorn teenagers in the almost two hundred years since this story was written, they are still beyond help or advice, with no choice but to wait and see what happens. Beautifully written with an excellent translation by Isaiah Berlin, this slim book is well worth reading.

Jul 6, 3:13pm Top

The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★

A new-to-me author, this odd little book surprisingly held my interest. Its bizarre characters tell an even more bizarre story of a woman who killed the father of her unborn child because he wanted to give the baby a boring name (Joëlle). As soon as the baptism takes place, naming the child Plectrude, mother commits suicide. And that's just the beginning!

Plectrude doesn't do well at school but is accepted by école des rats to study ballet - not that ballet worked out any better. Nevertheless, Nothomb touches on some profound topics. The ending, where the author appears to have run out of ideas, is fittingly weird.

Anyone who enjoys absurd humour might appreciate this book.

Starlight by Richard Wagamese 4.5★

Wagamese's gentle nature and love of the land radiates from this tenderhearted story. Sadly, he died before Starlight was finished, and it was published as he left it. The publisher provided information from the author's notes as to how he intended to end the story.

Somehow I mistakenly had the idea that this preceded Medicine Walk but that means I can still look forward to the earlier book.

Jul 9, 10:45pm Top

The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri

Every time I read one of Camilleri's books I wonder why on earth Montalbano has anything to do with Livia. One of these days her bad cooking or bad attitude will have her sent packing. Apart from the annoying Livia I really enjoy these Italian mystery novels. The translation by Stephen Sartarelli is excellent.

Jul 10, 8:26am Top

>46 VivienneR: This is another series that I have on my wishlist, but haven’t started. So many books I’d like to read....

Jul 10, 2:39pm Top

>47 NanaCC: It's a terrible problem to have :)

Jul 13, 12:43am Top

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★

There was less archaeology in this one, the 6th in the series, but the characters and their relationships were filled out more, which sort of made up for it. This is one of my favourite series.

Jul 13, 7:07am Top

>49 VivienneR: I’m two ahead of you in this series, Vivienne. I want to keep going, but I’m trying to pace myself, or there won't be anymore.

Jul 13, 12:58pm Top

>50 NanaCC: I expect my name to hit the top of the hold list at the library in October for The Stone Circle. There are four books before that, all of which I own. Reading all four in the next few weeks could cause a Ruth Galloway overload so it looks like I'll have to cancel the hold and go to the bottom of the list.

Jul 14, 1:48am Top

Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante

A gritty police procedural by the author of the Prime Suspect series with Jane Tennison. This series features young detective Anna Travis who is investigating the murder of an up-and-coming actress. It was longer than necessary because there was so much interpersonal detail about Travis and her ex-lover who is also her superior officer. It was OK, but La Plante's writing has become formulaic. I'll read more of the series sometime and hope she changes the tune.

Jul 14, 9:37pm Top

>30 VivienneR:

I've haven't heard much about The Lonely Hearts Hotel that makes me want to read it, but I adore Heather O'Neill's writing, and your review is intriguing. I was surprised when you said at the end that you didn't really like it, as everything you said up to that point sounded pretty great.

Love the Tony Onley--I'm not familiar with that one.

Edited: Jul 14, 9:43pm Top

>31 AlisonY: & >33 VivienneR:

May I step in? Heather O'Neill isn't exactly prolific. I've read her book of short stories -- Daydreams of Angels, which, as with every short story collection I can think of, has stories that are better and some that are not. Overall I liked it a lot. The other one I read was The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, which I didn't like as much as Lullabies For Little Criminals, but still loved.

Jul 15, 3:31pm Top

>53 Nickelini: There is no doubt that O'Neill's writing is creative, clever, entertaining, but this book was also grim, too dark for my taste. That might seem odd as I enjoy a good bloody murder mystery, but what made it so off-putting was that it was based on real stories of child abuse.

I can't remember where the Tony Onley was painted, just that it wasn't in BC (maybe the Yukon?). I too love his work.

>54 Nickelini: Good to get your opinion of other Heather O'Neill's books but The Lonely Hearts Hotel will probably be my only one.

Jul 16, 2:02am Top

>55 VivienneR:

I can't remember where the Tony Onley was painted, just that it wasn't in BC (maybe the Yukon?). I too love his work.

Oh, so interesting. I'm so immersed in Switzerland right now that my first glance said "Swiss", but then, no, that's not right. It could be lots of places in BC, but it isn't typical BC like Onley usually paints. I've been to the Yukon, and I don't think it's typical there either, but it could be for sure. Maybe Iceland? Tasmania? Newfoundland? Patagonia? Now I'm just being silly.

Good to get your opinion of other Heather O'Neill's books but The Lonely Hearts Hotel will probably be my only one.

Oh no, please consider reading Lullabies For Little Criminals. I know, I'm a shameless book pusher. But you did read the book most consider the author's worst.

Jul 16, 4:22am Top

>45 VivienneR:

The ending, where the author appears to have run out of ideas, is fittingly weird.

On your first read of Nothomb you seem to have hit the nail on the head with this description. I've ready most of Nothomb's works and as she progresses in her career her works seem to become less and less finished. She has so many great ideas that she can't spit them out fast enough with the same amount of polish as her earlier works so her stories are clever but the endings are always lackluster or simply non-existent. In one book she even created two possible endings for the reader to choose which although interesting, is not our job to do.

I like Nothomb but I question her sanity sometimes. But I still like her, sometimes. It's all a weird thing.

Jul 16, 1:47pm Top

>56 Nickelini: After checking back on my source for the Toni Onley painting, I discovered it was done in the US Virgin Islands. Whew! It was bothering me that I couldn't remember and all your ideas made me more curious.

I'll keep Lullabies for Little Criminals in mind, but it won't surface for a while. Maybe next year.

>57 lilisin: Amélie Nothomb certainly has some unique ideas! And a unique style! Your summary that she "can't spit them out fast enough" made me smlie but it fits the image I have of her. Obviously she is very talented. I enjoyed the book and checked for more titles at the library but sadly there were no others. However, I will keep a lookout for her name.

Jul 17, 2:08pm Top

Sad to hear of the death of Andrea Camilleri today. Good reason to read another Montalbano tale.


Edited: Jul 18, 7:20pm Top

>58 VivienneR:

US Virgin Islands! I'd never have guessed that. Been there (also British Virgin Islands) and they didn't look like that. But I wasn't there during a storm, so what do I know? Wow, in a million guesses, that wouldn't have come to mind.

Jul 18, 9:52pm Top

>58 VivienneR: Yes, The US Virgin Islands would never have been my first - or any other guess!

Edited: Jul 22, 9:45pm Top

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★

Atkinson has done it again! She has woven multiple plotlines with terrific characters and created a book I just couldn't put down. Jackson Brodie, Crystal Holroyd, her stepson Harry, and drag queen Bunny were outstanding. I just hope she continues with the series.

Jul 23, 6:31am Top

>62 VivienneR: I’m looking forward to this one, Vivienne. I’m 4th in line at the library.

Edited: Jul 23, 2:22pm Top

>63 NanaCC: I was in a long line at the library too but it was worth the wait. Atkinson's crime might be grim but her telling of it is not. You will enjoy it.

Jul 23, 2:41pm Top

>62 VivienneR: I've got my copy and I'm holding on to it for that moment when I need a great book and have the time to read uninterrupted.

Jul 23, 8:46pm Top

>65 RidgewayGirl: Good idea, Kay! It's the perfect book for your plan.

As mentioned, mine was a library book but I am thinking of buying my own copy because I know I will want to read it again at some time.

Jul 28, 1:30am Top

Sanctuary by Ken Bruen 4★

A sleepless night was filled with this Jack Taylor episode, although the frequent beatings he suffered meant it was less pleasant for him. Taylor just never gets credit for what he does right, only what he does wrong. There is nothing this guy could do that would make me despise him as his one-time boss Clancy, or his mother's priest, Father Malachy does. Written in the first person we get to see what is happening inside Jack's head, which isn't as bad as some believe, and it allows his black humour to shine. Although I know Taylor isn't to everyone's taste I believe this to be the best of Emerald Noir and one of my favourite series.

Edited: Sep 2, 1:24am Top

The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★

Mah Jongg by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★

Both of these books were borrowed from my son in an attempt to improve my game. I don't know if I benefited from them but Amy Lo's book was most helpful whle Ann Israel's gorgeous book is perfect for browsing.

Jul 29, 9:08pm Top

Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★

This is a series of four lectures Atwood delivered at Oxford in 1991. She talks about the draw of the Canadian North and its myths and legends. The very place that fascinated me too, when, as a child I recited Robert Service poems. Later in life, my interest in the North just as strong, I worked in an Arctic research library, so I have a personal interest in these stories. Written in Atwood's inimitable style, I could hear her voice as I read the words.

Thanks go to rabbitprincess for leading me to this gem.

Jul 30, 3:52am Top

>69 VivienneR: sounds interesting. At what age did you move to Canada, Vivienne (if you don't mind me asking!)?

Jul 30, 6:42am Top

>69 VivienneR: Interesting—I've never seen that book before. I really like the cover thumbnail you posted, rather than the one the touchstone goes to. so odd and enigmatic.

Jul 30, 2:11pm Top

>70 AlisonY: I moved to Canada when I was twenty-one with my husband and new baby (who is now probably older than you). We've moved around a bit, from the severe winters in Edmonton (that I liked) eventually to Vancouver Island where the climate is much like yours. When I retired we moved inland. I'll take snow over rain any day.

>71 lisapeet: I have returned the book to the library so can't comment on the source of the cover art, obviously created by someone who has no experience of snowshoes! The black/blue cover looks very mystical too.

Jul 30, 4:24pm Top

>72 VivienneR: I've heard that Vancouver is up there in terms of great places to live. Yes, I think I'm with you on snow over rain, although I do hate snow when I'm driving given that our house is on a hill.

Aug 1, 9:37pm Top

The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

A complex story with great characters, rich Dublin dialogue, and surprising plot twists. While there are long interrogation scenes, the details learned during those scenes help in relating the facts of what appears at first sight to be a simple "domestic". The reader is allowed to share what Conroy and Moran are planning and the direction the investigation is taking. Highly recommended.

Aug 2, 10:49am Top

>74 VivienneR: Isn’t Tana French really good?!?! I love her writing. And this series in particular almost always seems to hit the right notes. I enjoyed her newer stand alone, The Witch Elm, but I know a few people really didn’t like it. The length turned some people off, and the fact that there are no likable characters was a deterrent for others. I guess I don’t mind all of that as long as it’s a good story.

Aug 2, 12:47pm Top

>75 NanaCC: Yes, really good! I know the length is a problem for some people but I can't think of a word that I'd cut out. I have The Witch Elm on my library list but there are some holds on it so I'll have to cool my heels.

Aug 2, 2:35pm Top

>69 VivienneR: That looks very interesting! Noted.

And I thought The Trespasser was French's best book.

Aug 2, 3:52pm Top

>77 RidgewayGirl: It must have been a challenge to lecture on "The malevolent north in Canadian literature" to a mainly English audience. I can imagine the eye-rolls!

I should agree but at the end of a book that good, I'm always inclined to think it was the best. However, according to my ratings The Trespasser tied with Faithful Place and Broken Harbour. I'll go back to them someday for a comparison read.

Edited: Aug 8, 1:32am Top

I've been out enjoying summer and can't believe we are a week into August and I've only just finished one book!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★

Dystopia, science fiction and the like are not my cup of tea but this is one story from the genre that I loved. The story is believable in a scary way, the characters superb, and the writing is fabulous. I read Brave New World about a hundred years ago (well, maybe not that long but it seems like it) and often think about Huxley's story, but I found this thought-provoking book to be far superior.

Aug 7, 11:29pm Top

>79 VivienneR:

I thought that one was good too. I went into it knowing nothing at all about it.

Aug 8, 1:31am Top

>80 Nickelini: That's what I did too. It was a big surprise.

Aug 8, 8:37am Top

>79 VivienneR: Dystopia is not my cup of tea either. I had no idea what this book was about, but your signaling that I should add this to my list.

Aug 8, 9:21am Top

Catching a book bullet here too. It's one of those books I feel like I've skirted around for ages but never picked up.

Aug 8, 12:41pm Top

>82 NanaCC: and >83 AlisonY: I loved the writing in Remains of the Day so I was pretty sure I'd enjoy anything by Ishiguro. Other than that I knew nothing about the story and expected it to be more of a quiet domestic drama. My only quibble was that the ending, which could be seen coming so no surprise, happened rather suddenly.

Aug 9, 12:21am Top

Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★

One of those books whose reputation precedes it by way of the silver screen. Even though I haven't seen any Frankenstein movies I still know the basic storyline, picked up from references in other reading. Walton, an arctic explore relates Frankenstein's story, and incredible though it is, I enjoyed the flowery, dramatic 19th century prose. Worth reading if only to experience the story that became so famous.

Edited: Aug 10, 10:25pm Top

>85 VivienneR: I had somehow managed to not see any Frankenstein movies but I still thought I knew the basic storyline - until I read it and realised I had no idea!

The only thing I didn't really like about it was the theme of 'only bad things can happen when you mess with God's plan' which of course is purely due to my own worldview.

Coincidentally I'm reading a story at the moment that involves a cyborg who compares himself to Frankenstein's monster.

Aug 11, 1:54pm Top

>86 rhian_of_oz: That theme is one that annoys me in present times too! When a great scientific breakthrough is made there is sure to be those who claim it is "messing with God's plan".

How does your cyborg story stand up to the comparison?

Aug 12, 11:39am Top

>87 VivienneR: I'm really enjoying it, though I'm not sure people will still be reading it in 200 years :-).

Edited: Aug 13, 1:27am Top

The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★

The story begins with an ambush in Iraq leaving sole survivor Lieutenant Charles Acland with half his face gone. Post-recovery aggression, with some graphic information from his ex, brings him to the attention of the police who are investigating multiple murders. He seems to have no interest in helping himself but a weightlifting lesbian doctor offers help. With excellent characters and plot, it's a page turner right to the end.

Aug 13, 7:35pm Top

The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★

More than a travel narrative, Naipaul examines religion and mythology in six African countries and compares present practices with those of his last visit in the sixties, and in the time before colonization. His writing is down-earth with short, sometimes acerbic sentences, that might be considered blunt if they were not tinged with humour or describing risible situations, which happen surprisingly often. But Naipaul has a way with words: even a brief description of a dog in the street conjures up a vivid image of the event. Impressively parsimonious, he negotiates keenly with guides, witch doctors, drivers and so on, often backing out of a trip that he thinks might cost more than he has been quoted. Writers who know Africa have strong opinions of this work that has been described as "cliched" and even "toxic". While much of the information is unverified or of mythical origin, it was provided by those who might just be enjoying themselves by recounting an amusing or shocking anecdote. But then, a renowned sceptic himself, Naipaul may have been just along for the yarns too. Recommended for the armchair traveller.

A favourite quotation: "Directly, with no beating about the bush, he {the soothsayer} asked our business. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't say I had come only to have a look."

Read in celebration of Naipaul's birthday August 17, 1932. He died August 2018.

Edited: Aug 15, 10:15pm Top

Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★

It must have been so much fun to just jump in a little plane and take off for a day in France and probably with less trouble than driving to the shopping centre nowadays. This book, a British Library Crime Classic, was originally published in 1934. I was delighted by all the buzzing around and aerobatics by the members of an aviation club. An Australian bishop arrived to take flying lessons and at first it appeared that he might become the sleuth and discover who murdered a pilot but police investigations took over. The beautiful cover lived up to its promise and I loved all the aeronautic details, although the solution was less than stellar.

Slam by Nick Hornby 4★

Two teenagers still in school become parents. The way Hornby tells it is full of humour and at the same time poignant. Sam is a keen skateboarder and young enough to be asking a poster of professional skater Tony Hawk for advice. An excellent story intended for an audience of teenage boys, but girls will enjoy it too.

Aug 16, 3:08am Top

>90 VivienneR: noting The Masque of Africa. There's something to be said for being an armchair traveller, especially as we're now edging into autumn (or, looking out the window, winter).

Aug 16, 1:42pm Top

>92 AlisonY: I'm glad I can read about Naipaul's journeys, I sure wouldn't want to do it myself. I know that feeling at the end of summer when you can almost smell the frost on its way. As well as a lot of snow in winter, we get very hot summers but this year was bearable. I feel I can say that without being jinxed now that it is mid-August.

Aug 18, 2:27am Top

Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★

If there was a competition for the most twists and turns packed into a suspense story, this book would win. It was a real dog's dinner of lies - too many to keep my interest. And in the end I didn't care what happened to the unreliable narrator. The multiple timeline formula was annoying too, a good writer should be able to tell a complex story without jumping back and forward in time in time every few pages.

Aug 22, 4:15pm Top

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★

If a fault exists in Penny's writing it is that the exemplary Gamache is just too good. But what she accomplishes to perfection is an ability to portray offbeat, weird characters with astonishing reality. And she's spot-on when describing a Canadian winter. This is a highly recommended series for good reason.

Aug 22, 7:43pm Top

>95 VivienneR: You know that I love the series, Vivienne, and this one was no exception. After the end of the previous book, I wondered what would come next. I loved what she did with it.

Aug 23, 10:23am Top

>95 VivienneR: I've requested Still Life from the library. I hope I like it - I like the idea of a series I don't have to wait *ages* for the next book.

Edited: Aug 23, 1:32pm Top

>96 NanaCC: I wonder what will happen after this one, Colleen! I enjoy the series so much, especially the Quebec ambiance.

>97 rhian_of_oz: That's one I haven't read, Rhian. I started with the second in the series Dead Cold and at the time it didn't appeal. Later, encouraged by other LTers, I tried the third one The Cruellest Month and was hooked. I'll go back to the first two sometime, probably to fill the time waiting for Penny to publish another one.

Aug 23, 3:27pm Top

Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3.5★

I haven't read this since I was a teenager so this month's AlphaCAT was a good excuse to resurrect it. As expected, there are some dated sections and language, and lots of silliness, but still it was an entertaining afternoon's read, although funny more than exciting (I remember the movie with Ursula Andress where there was an audible chuckle from the audience every time Bond used Honey's name). Because of our familiarity with Bond and the knowledge that he survives all challenges, the suspense has evaporated in the intervening decades.

Aug 23, 6:04pm Top

Just an FYI, Vivienne, but the next Inspector Gamache book, A Better Man, is due out next week according to Amazon. Yay! I had no idea.

Aug 23, 8:59pm Top

>100 NanaCC: Thank you, Colleen! Good news!! I heard that somewhere but my library hasn't even got to the "on order" stage yet. I recommended it, so I'm hoping that will speed things up.

Aug 23, 9:05pm Top

>101 VivienneR: My library is the same.

Aug 24, 7:27pm Top

Category - Fiction

Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★

This is a progression of stories that form what is essentially a novel about four First Nations young people who are leaving the reservation for the first time. They discover how difficult life is for aboriginal youth as they attempt to get an education and earn a living in a world of white people. These stories could only be told by someone who has been in the position and faced the same cultural difficulties. Although their histories are marked by racism, alcohol, assault, and crime, the four share the same worries as any other young person concerned about looking their best, getting good marks, making friends, yet at no time do we forget that their fears come from a different place, a different culture. But these stories are not about being indigenous, but about four young people becoming adults, albeit in a world where they are in a minority group. Dumont's tempting book spans a couple of decades around the turn of the century. Enlightening and thought-provoking.

The author is a Plains Cree writer for newspapers in Saskatchewan and Alberta, for CBC radio, as well as working as a stand-up comedian across North America.

Aug 25, 9:17am Top

>103 VivienneR: This book sounds interesting, Vivienne. Nice review.

Aug 27, 10:17pm Top

Thank you, Colleen, it was interesting and insightful.

Aug 27, 10:18pm Top

The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★

Ruth Galloway is excavating what appears to be a bronze age site while a nearby construction worker uncovers a WWII plane with a body inside. The relationships and families of Ruth and friends continue to be a feature of Griffiths' very enjoyable series. The "Ghost Fields" were mock airfields formed to fool the enemy during WWII. They, as well as the harsh Norfolk weather events described were created from fact, which make the story even more interesting.

Aug 29, 8:34pm Top

Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★

McKinley was awarded a Fulbright grant to research indigo, the source of the exceptional "bluest of blues" dye, in Ghana. This is a personal story of her journey in search of indigo-dyed cloth in several African countries. It is not apparent if she accomplished what she set out to do. As a travel memoir the book succeeds, as the story of indigo, not so much.

Aug 30, 8:04am Top

>106 VivienneR: I really enjoyed, Ghost Fields, Vivienne. The series really has me hooked, and I wish there were many more already written. Soon I’ll be at the point I’m at with some of my other series...waiting, waiting, waiting for a new one. ;-)

Aug 30, 2:06pm Top

>108 NanaCC: I should really slow down on my reading so that I don't find myself waiting, waiting too. But Ruth is so tempting.

Aug 30, 2:27pm Top

>109 VivienneR: I guess we could have worse problems, Vivienne, but I’ve only got two to go before waiting for the new one coming out next year. Thankfully, you and others have added more to my list, so I think I’ll survive.

Sep 7, 3:10pm Top

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I read this many years ago and have always claimed it to be one of my favourite Christies. I enjoyed the story once again even though I knew the murderer's identity. Christie was outstanding in her ability to create a simple whodunnit and far ahead of her time. Written in 1926, this is one of the best Golden Age mysteries. For the half dozen people who haven't yet read it - do so now!

Sep 7, 4:29pm Top

>111 VivienneR: I loved that one, Vivienne. Maybe it’s time for a reread or relisten..I have both formats.

Sep 8, 1:17am Top

>112 NanaCC: When I first read it I would have given it five stars but now only four. I'm pretty sure it was because there was no shock value at the end. Agatha Christie was without equal.

Who is the narrator? That would make the decision for you.

Sep 8, 10:42am Top

>113 VivienneR: The narrator is Hugh Fraser. But my Audible library doesn’t say I own it. It was a long time ago, so perhaps I listened on CD before I had an Audible subscription. I guess I’ll read it on my kindle. I have that, and the paper version is somewhere. Perhaps at my daughter’s. I have enjoyed Hugh Fraser reading others.

Edited: Sep 8, 7:49pm Top

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 4★

I have to admit my progress during the first part of this book was slow and then suddenly my attention was captured. It was as if I was reading about real people, neighbours maybe. Atwood deserves her stellar reputation, she is a superb storyteller.

Sep 8, 10:05pm Top

>115 VivienneR: I remember having a similar impression. Slow, slow, slow... then takes off.

Sep 9, 3:31am Top

>115 VivienneR:, >116 dchaikin: yep, my thoughts also when I read this. I too gave it 4 stars - this was part of my comments at the time:

I'm confused as to what I think of this book. Part of me loved it - there is no doubt Atwood is a splendid prose writer, and the last 200 pages or so had me gripped as all the loose ends were finally tied up. I just felt it took so long to get to that point, and I'd figured out many of the plot twists long before the end anyway.

I think a couple of hundred pages less in that book would have worked much better.

Sep 9, 10:29am Top

>117 AlisonY: maybe. I’ve forgotten too much. My brain says it remembers she needed to set the scene, and sort of left things on low heat on the stove to cook a bit. But then my brain can’t name a single character by name, so it may not know what it’s talking about.

Sep 9, 11:22am Top

I love that picture at the top of your thread! As you can see, I haven’t been around for a while, and you’ve read a lot of books in the meanwhile...several of which I have added to my wishlist (Blood Orange, Ken Bruen, Elly Griffiths). You’ve also reminded me to go back to Tana French.

Sep 9, 11:36am Top

>115 VivienneR:, >116 dchaikin:, >117 AlisonY: Me four. My notes from six years ago:

I'm not sure how I felt about it. I didn't hate it but I didn't really love it either, and I'm not convinced it was worth the effort

Sep 9, 2:46pm Top

>116 dchaikin:, >117 AlisonY:, >120 rhian_of_oz: Glad I'm not alone with my opinion. Atwood gets so much admiration it makes me feel like there is something wrong with me when I don't join the club. I enjoyed early novels by Atwood but since The Handmaid's Tale, which I disliked, I haven't read much. I agree with Alison, it was too long.

I noticed when entering the title at the top, it came right after Agatha Christie, with the same four stars. Hmm…

>119 rachbxl: Thank you. Nice to see you dropping by. And glad to have been of assistance in adding to your wishlist.

Sep 9, 3:06pm Top

>121 VivienneR: Have you read Alias Grace Vivienne? It's the Atwood novel I've liked best (haven't tried The Handmaid's Tale - not really into dystopian fiction).

Sep 9, 4:30pm Top

>122 AlisonY: According to my catalogue I've read Alias Grace but I remember very little about it apart from the main theme. I read The Handmaid's Tale when it first came out but remember nothing about it. The Edible Woman that I read back in the 80s, stick in my mind much more clearly.

Sep 9, 4:34pm Top

After the very long book by Margaret Atwood I finished Vi by Kim Thúy translated from the French by Sheila Fischman in a matter of hours.

With so much news about refugees and displaced peoples, this novel, written in 2016, reminds us of what many go through to find a home and what they can bring to their new country. In Thùy's case, a brilliant career as a writer in Canada. In Vi she gives readers a before and after view of Vietnam where we can imagine the scent of frangipani flowers and exotic food more than Agent Orange. Her writing is poetic and exquisitely brief without ever missing the crux of the story. Highly recommended. 4.5★

Sep 9, 5:17pm Top

My favorite Atwood is The Robber Bride, but it isn't short. And I firmly believe that if you've read three of a prominent author's works and not fallen in love, then you've done your due diligence and don't have to feel the slightest guilt about never picking up another of the author's books.

Sep 10, 12:49am Top

>125 RidgewayGirl: While I can't say I've fallen in love with Atwood, our parting of the ways is not a done deal or even imminent considering I own 23 of her books, and I've read others not included. I might go back and re-read older books because I remember loving The Edible Woman. My recent favourite was Strange Things: the malevolent North in Canadian literature a series of lectures she gave at Oxford.

Sep 11, 12:47pm Top

The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters 3.5★

War correspondent Connie Burns suspects a mercenary of murdering women in Sierra Leone and now, by the same methods, in Iraq. After making her suspicions known, she is abducted and tortured for three days and then released without ever seeing her abductor. The story shifts to England where she hopes to recover under an assumed name in a quiet rural house where she encounters a local eccentric and the doctor. Despite her strict precautions, word of the location reaches the suspect who breaks into the house. The main part of the story shows her as an emotional wreck, not eating or sleeping. After the break-in where the culprit escapes she becomes confident, sure of herself and unconcerned about her torturer being at large. During the hideout, she uncovers unsettling information about her landlady providing an accompanying crime to investigate. Some of the dialogue is implausible, such as when she is interviewed by the police, or when she is questioning her landlady, or more accurately, interrogating her. A decent read but not one of Walters' best.

Sep 12, 10:55pm Top

The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels 3★

This is the story of Jean, a botanist and her husband Avery, an engineer who works on three major engineering projects including the Aswan Dam, the St Lawrence Seaway, and the rebuilding of Warsaw after the war. To build the Aswan Dam in Egypt great temples had to be dismantled and moved, adding complexity to displacing whole villages of people and their homes. By coincidence, I live near a community that was also moved to allow for a dam and flooding. And although the benefit from the dam has been great over the years, it was harrowing for everyone, including the residents of the cemetery.

Winters is a poet first and foremost so naturally her writing is poetic and lyrical, not leaving much for the actual story or characters, so even with beautiful writing, this book was hard work. She is often compared to Michael Ondaatje but I don't see that at all - this reader hangs on every word of Ondaatje's. Adding to the difficulty was that my audiobook had a poor narrator although I believe it would have been a difficult job for anyone to narrate this book.

The title is from the name of the storage vault for the dead in cold climates while waiting for a thaw to allow interment.

Sep 13, 7:46am Top

>128 VivienneR: sounds fascinating. I've done a couple of trips down the Nile, and it was mind boggling to learn about how they moved the likes of the Abu Simbel temples.

Sep 13, 2:21pm Top

>129 AlisonY: Must have been wonderful to take a trip down the Nile! And yes, mind-boggling to imagine the enormous job of moving the temples.

Sep 13, 2:43pm Top

Atwood has written so many books that I can't imagine even her most avid fans connect to all of them. I've read 8 of her books according to my LT library and have rated them from 2.5 - 5 stars. I consider myself a fan of her writing, though, and I'm willing to give most of what she writes a try.

Sep 14, 1:34pm Top

I have a few of Atwood’s books, but haven’t been inclined to read them. I know I should really try.

Sep 15, 3:24pm Top

>131 japaul22: I think she deserves a try but her writing is often hard work with references to other literature that I haven't read. She is clever, amazingly creative and entertaining. Like you, my ratings are all over the board.

>132 NanaCC: My advice is to start with a popular one, when you find yourself ready. My husband is a big fan of her poetry, but I'm sorry to say, poetry is not my preferred genre.

Sep 15, 3:25pm Top

The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker 3.5★

I was intrigued by Parker's mysteries set in medieval Japan - a place where my reading has seldom taken me. Sugawara Akitada, a lowly government official was sent on an impossible mission because he was expendable. This had a good plot with lots of action, delightful characters, and unexpected humour.

Sep 15, 9:21pm Top

>13 NanaCC: I have The Blind Assassin on audio. I tried it once before and there was some music element that threw me off. I’m going to try it again, and if it doesn’t work for me I’ll get the print version.

Sep 16, 2:25am Top

>135 NanaCC: Music on an audiobook can sometimes seem weird and out of place, other times it enhances the book. I just found it was slow to capture my interest until about the halfway mark.

Sep 16, 7:11pm Top

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese 4.5★

I read Starlight in July and was immediately drawn in by Wagamese's writing and the appealing character Frank Starlight, who was brought up as a son by "the old man". In this book, his real father, a hopeless alcoholic Frank has only met on a few unpleasant occasions in his life, has requested a visit before he dies. What follows is a pilgrimage of sorts in the mountains of British Columbia to where Eldon wants to die, on a specific mountain ridge, buried in the traditional way for a warrior. Frank is sceptical of Eldon's warrior status but out of loyalty goes along with his father's wishes. Eldon is placed on the horse, becoming sicker with each day of the journey, while Frank walks alongside, preparing a bed of spruce for his father each night and sheltering him with a spruce lean-to. He catches fish and collects berries and plants along the way - a medicine walk, like the old man has taught him, while Eldon recounts the cathartic story of his life and of Frank's birth of which Frank knew nothing. This is a beautiful, moving story of loyalty and of healing for both men. Highly recommended.

I loved the bit where they came across a grizzly. Now I know what to do when I encounter a bear, although I doubt that I would be as brave as Frank. Fortunately I was already in my car when it happened a couple of weeks ago.

Sep 16, 9:09pm Top

I've been thinking that I need to read another book by Richard Wagamese after reading Indian Horse, which was just so powerful.

Sep 16, 10:05pm Top

I hope to read Indian Horse soon. I'll be thinking of Medicine Walk for a long time.

Sep 17, 3:32pm Top

Hi! Just catching up a bit. I loved The Blind Assassin when I read it several years ago. I very much enjoyed both Atwood's writing style and the story-within-story aspect of the tale.

>134 VivienneR: Coincidentally, I just bought the first four books of the Parker series on the advice of a friend. I expect to start in on the series sooner rather than later.

Sep 17, 4:19pm Top

>140 rocketjk: Writing a story-within-a-story is always clever but Atwood really did it well.

I'm going to look for another Parker because that one was more fun than I expected it would be. I'll watch for your reviews.

Edited: Sep 20, 12:51am Top

Days by Moonlight by André Alexis 3.5★
Alfred Homer has been asked to accompany a family friend to search southern Ontario for a poet who has not been heard of for some time. They pass through towns with some bizarre customs. The result is a ribald, weird, darkly funny story of their travels. It's to be expected that an Ontarian odyssey featuring someone named Homer will form a highly imaginative work. Not only is Homer quirky but the people they meet are at the top end of the offbeat register.

"Days by Moonlight is not a work of realism. It's not a work that uses the imagination to show the real, but one that uses the real to show the imagination." -- André Alexis

Sep 24, 9:29pm Top

Trial of Passion by William Deverell 4★

Garibaldi Island is a fictional island in the Gulf Islands, a thirty-minute float plane flight from Vancouver. Like the author, Arthur Beauchamp is a lawyer who is about to retire to the islands. He has been asked to defend a law professor accused of rape by one of his students. The story follows Beauchamp's move to his island home, handling the legal battle, as well as getting to know the eccentric locals with whom he uses his gift of tolerance and patience. After a bad start, the widowed farmer next door becomes more attractive by the day adding a little romance to the story. This is the first in the Arthur Beauchamp series, a great story that is literate and funny and set on the Gulf Islands, one of my favourite places in the world. Highly recommended.

Deverell is a lawyer and founder of the BC Civil Liberties Foundation. He writes a great courtroom drama that is light and highly entertaining.

Sep 25, 10:52pm Top

>143 VivienneR:
I've never heard of that one -- sounds interesting! Did you find it at a bookshop or ??

Sep 26, 2:23pm Top

>144 Nickelini: It was an ebook from Overdrive, via the public library. I love the local flavour. He can describe the "eccentricities" of the island population without being disparaging.

Sep 26, 2:25pm Top

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje 3.5★

Ondaatje's language is beautiful and the dreamy atmospheric story can mesmerize the reader so that it just slips by. But this is a complex novel that demands the reader to pay attention. After setting the book down I found it difficult to pick up the story again without going back a few pages. This is a coming-of-age story that takes place in wartime where teens Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are left in the care of a guardian nicknamed "The Moth". Mysterious and intriguing but not among my favourite books by Ondaatje.

Sep 28, 4:38pm Top

The Tent by Margaret Atwood 4★

This is Atwood at her best, reflective, with a touch of acerbic humour, and a little cynical in places. Not actually stories, more like ideas, vignettes, all of them clever and thought-provoking. As expected some sparkled, some merely glowed but there are no duds. It's a slim book yet not to be read in one or two sessions, but rather to be dipped into and savoured in individual bites. I started noting favourites but the list got too long. These were at the top of the list: Encouraging the Young; Gateway; Our Cat Enters Heaven; Chicken Little Goes Too Far; and best of all, The Tent.

Sep 29, 2:10pm Top

Running Blind by Lee Child

This was unbelievable to the point of absurdity. Murder by paint! My least favourite Jack Reacher.

Sep 29, 2:43pm Top

>148 VivienneR: I haven’t read any of this series. I’ll skip this one if ever I get to it.

Sep 30, 12:31am Top

>149 NanaCC: I've read a few and enjoyed them but I thought this one was a dud. One good thing about the series is they don't have to be read in order. You can jump in anywhere.

Sep 30, 8:10am Top

>150 VivienneR:. Good to know, Vivienne!

Oct 1, 10:09pm Top

Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay 3.5★

Narrator, Anne, sets out to write a book about her mother but finds herself writing about her mother's sister, Connie, while her mother remains a in the background. The story begins around 1930 when Connie becomes a teacher in a small town in Saskatchewan. Michael, a pupil who is obviously dyslexic, a condition unrecognized at the time, is unfortunately regarded as stupid yet he is talented in other areas. Connie provides some extra tuition after classes. His sister, Susan, is a blossoming actor under the direction of head teacher, Parley Burns. Then something terrible happens to Susan with consequences even more horrendous. Hay continues several decades of the charismatic Connie's life of which Michael, who is just as appealing, forms a major part.

Hay's sprawling novel has more to do with memories and how they affect lives than with the characters themselves. As a result the story develops a nebulous focus, that drifts somewhat. Even at the inconclusive end, Anne throws some doubt into what she has written before, which was annoying. The novel may elicit unpleasant memories of school for some readers, while for others, there will be little connection. Hay's writing is beautiful but there was something missing, especially in the second half of the book.

Edited: Oct 13, 1:10am Top

Still life by Louise Penny 4★

For some reason I missed this one, the first in the Three Pines series, although I have since read all those that followed. It was an excellent introduction to the inhabitants of the Quebec village and Gamache's team. Good to hear the late Ralph Cosham's voice again although I must say I love Robert Bathurst's Gamache.

Oct 13, 9:18am Top

>153 VivienneR: This really was a good intro to the series, wasn’t it, Vivienne. You get a flavor of all the characters. Even crazy Ruth, who I admit, didn’t appeal to me at all. But she really grew on me in later books. I still “hear” Ralph Cosham’s voice when I read the print versions. He was perfect. Robert Bathurst is very good though. The same thing happened with the Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. The original reader, Katherine Kellgren, was just right. After she died, Jasmine Blackborow took over and she sounded ok, but I missed the original.

Oct 13, 1:24pm Top

>154 NanaCC: Yes, in this one Ruth hadn't yet emerged as "crazy". After Ralph Cosham died I didn't think I'd take to Robert Bathhurst's narration but in fact he fits my picture of Gamache even better. All the Rhys Bowen books I've read have been print. I just had a look but the local library doesn't have any of her audiobooks.

Oct 13, 1:33pm Top

>152 VivienneR: I agree with you that the second half of Alone in the Classroom was not as good as the first half, and overly nebulous.

Oct 13, 5:50pm Top

>156 RidgewayGirl: I believe some pretty ruthless editing would have helped tighten it up.

Oct 16, 4:08pm Top

The woman in blue by Elly Griffiths 3.5★

Much as I love Ruth Galloway books, this one was less satisfying. First of all the plot and motive for murder was weak, more cannot be explained without giving a spoiler. Parts of the story were implausible to say the least: two characters decided to go for a walk in the middle of the night, one while drunk after a night of serious drinking, and another in nightclothes? Ruth's contribution to solving the crime was almost nil and the one piece of information she uncovered concerning a missing broken glass vial was ignored.

Griffiths' intention for this book was to highlight the shrine at Walsingham as well as to work into the story a real person and dog (the distinction won in a contest at a charity fundraiser) but I believe this stratagem came at the cost of her novel. And there was far too much religion, understandable to a point, given the location, but it began to wear. I couldn't imagine police wearing the robes of the apostles in order to blend in. I still have a soft spot for Ruth, Nelson, Cathbad and Clough and I'm sorry to see Tim leave but I'll expect more from Griffiths in the next episode.

Yesterday, 9:44pm Top

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith 4.5★

This is a doorstop but I enjoyed every minute of it. It's a complex story but not so much to make it confusing. I've read that Galbraith intends to write more for the series. I certainly hope so because I intend to read every one of them.

Today, 5:05pm Top

>159 VivienneR: Yes! As many as she’ll write. ;-)

Group: Club Read 2019

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