What Are We Reading Now (July-Sept. 2019)?
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I'll be indulging in a re-read of Linwood Barclay's memoir, Last Resort.
The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland / Jim DeFede
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.
Slight change of pace for me-my latest read was a true crime book by former FBI behavioral analyst John Douglas and documentary filmmaker Mark Olshaker, called The Killer Across the Table. I readily confess I find the question of why serial killers do the things they do quite interesting, but I did find this book full of unnecessary digressions, etc. and often it didn't flow well.
Getting some Canadian content in: Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, by Margaret Atwood.
Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell
Brian is a boy growing up in Saskatchewan in the 1930s. He lives with his parents, a younger brother, and his grandmother, whom he hates! The book starts when Brian is (I think) 4-years old and continues until he is 11 (I think).
It was ok. Pretty slow-moving, as nothing big really happens. It was just things that happened in his life as he was growing up. I grew up in Southern Sask (though in the 70s and 80s!), but “recognized” some of the small town prairie happenings (i.e. (sadly) kids trying to get gopher tails; luckily, I never saw it, just heard about it). Overall, it was ok.
I read a lot of crime fiction, but generally prefer British writers - I think they tend to be more subtle and "clever" in their storylines. However my latest read We Were Killers Once by American writer Becky Masterman really got me caught up in it, probably because of the story's historical twist and I remember being fascinated by Truman Capote's In Cold Blood many, many years ago.
I'm doing super secret review reading for short lists! Often there's some Canadian stuff in here but haven't looked too closely yet. Three books to look at right now.
Also, just finishing The Case of the Perilous Palace from the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series. Not 100% accurate but pretty cute. Mary Godwin (later Shelley) and Ada Byron (aka Ada Lovelace, I believe) team up to solve mysteries, sometimes with the help of their friend Charles (Dickens). This is the first one I've read, solely because it had a little King Charles Spaniel on the cover, who I believe is supposed to be Dash (except Dash was tri-colour). ;)
Continuing the CanCon theme with Scotchman's Return, an essay collection by Hugh MacLennan.
I don't know why I bothered finishing this book-thought I would like it being as it was supposedly a psychological thriller, plus it featured an unreliable narrator-an aspect I usually really enjoy in a novel, but...boring, and definitely not thrilling in the least. The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda
Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat
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.
>16 ted74ca: Oooooh, I listened to the audio of that one (narrated by Cumming himself) - really enjoyed that one!
>18 LibraryCin:. I bet that was great! I love listening to Alan Cumming speak!
The Blue Castle / L.M. Montgomery
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.
>26 LibraryCin: Her family was so awful! The dinner-party scene was GREAT, though. I was literally punching the air in triumph when she finally asserted herself.
I'm favouring lighter reads at the moment. Today I plowed through a good chunk of Denise Mina's latest novel, Conviction.
Started a short story collection on my breaks today: Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales, edited by Stephen King and Bev Vincent.
My favourites of GG Kay's are the Summer Tree trilogy, Tigana, and The Lion of Al Rassan. Once I got into the trilogy, it was really hard to put it down, and even worse to wait for the publication of the 3rd one!
(I hope all of these words are the right ones, something likes to change things while I am typing.)
I finally finished my Serial Reader read of Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding. That took me a while!
>38 rabbitprincess:, I read that this spring, took me a while too. Decent story, although what did the Man on the Hill have to do with anything?
>40 Cecrow: I have to admit I skimmed a fair bit of that part! It didn't seem relevant to me either.
Changing gears a bit more today. Visiting with Vera Stanhope in Telling Tales, by Ann Cleeves.
A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage
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.
I've just started Tales From a Midwife: True Stories of the East End in the 1950s by Jennifer Worth
Planning to start An Acre of Time, by Phil Jenkins, which I borrowed from my BF's parents recently.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (an achievement)
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott (not my favourite)
Rob Roy by Walter Scott (film ruined it for me, skewed expectations)
(after a break, next will hopefully be Waverley and The Antiquary and a few shorter ones like St.Ronan's Well, etc. since they're all available for free online)
Green Shadows, White Whale by Ray Bradbury (comic relief for the other heavy themes) I am glad to have found the paperback because this will be reread on many future occasions... the writing of Moby Dick screenplay in Ireland for John Huston!
>52 frahealee: I think I made it as far as the introduction in Ivanhoe. Wishbone made it look okay but alas, wasn't about to stick to it. I still remember the two peasants' discussion about the words for a pig.
I finished the (possibly surprisingly) enthralling The Map of My Dead Pilots, by Colleen Mondor. Wasn't feeling up to continuing An Acre of Time on the bus home, so I decided to start Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters, by Malcolm Hulke. One thing I cannot be accused of is reading the same sort of thing too often ;)
I've been trying to work my way through the Diana Gabaldon Outlander novels, after reading (and thoroughly enjoying) the first two in the series when they were first published in the 1990's. The TV series spurred my renewed interest. However, it took me several months to finish An Echo In the Bone, Book 7, I believe. Just can't get enthused about the story after they leave Scotland for America. It'll be a while till I buy the next one for my e-reader-might wait for the long, rainy, dreary months of fall/winter for that.
Another good summer read, another psychological thriller: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
ted, that's on my TBR shelf. It's been recommended by someone in my book club.
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