Friday, August 2, 2019

A Siege of Bitterns

A Siege of Bitterns (Birder Murder Mystery #1)A Siege of Bitterns
by Steve Burrows
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A police procedural set on the Northern Coast of Norfolk, England this novel begins a series. Birdwatchers make up the bulk of the characters and the plot revolves around a marsh renowned for its diversity of birds. The characters were appealing and complex enough to be interesting and I learned a lot about birds. There was also a bit about the collective nouns of various birds (like a siege of Bitterns) which I found fascinating.
The author lives in Ontario, and the main character, Domenic JeJeune, is from Canada so I am counting this toward the 13th Canadian Book Challenge. I am also counting it as a cozy of my choice for the Cruisin' Through the Cozies Challenge.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Murder Under Cover

Murder under Cover (A Bibliophile Mystery, #4)Murder under Cover
by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The latest installment about book-restorer Brooklyn and her hunky security-expert boyfriend. This time they get mixed up in an international spy caper. It doesn't interfere with their romance or with Brooklyn's obsessing over her friend's love-life. Like the others in this series this one was shallow but diverting. I'm counting it as a career-based cozy for the Crusin' through the Cozies Challenge.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Lady Oracle

Lady OracleLady Oracle
by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an early Atwood novel (1976) and it is the same mix of timelines that she uses in later novels. It is the story of Joan, a Canadian woman writer, and the various aspects of her life over the years. Because of the timeline shifting even though you are in Joan's head the whole time there is a good amount of suspense about what is going to happen to her. As in Blind Assassin there is another story, a 'costume gothic' Joan is writing mixed into the novel. The story is compelling and somewhat twisty, there are weird and intriguing characters, and astute observations about the world. A typically wonderful Atwood novel.
I loved this observation. The speaker is Polish and he is talking about English:
"I myself once wished to be a writer, I wished to be like Tolstoy, you understand; but now I am exiled from my own language, and this one is fit for nothing but to make hoardings with. It has no music, it does not sing, it is always trying to sell you something." (p. 147)
This is my first post for the 13th Canadian Book Challenge.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Save Me the Plums

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet MemoirSave Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
by Ruth Reichl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this memoir which was mostly bright and breezy tales about the fabulousness of working at Gourmet. The ending, when the magazine folds, was sad but felt like a brave front. It was like the version of the you would tell an acquaintance about your life falling apart. This probably wouldn't have bothered me (after all I'm not even an acquaintance of Reichl's) except that her earlier book My Kitchen Year was so much deeper and more affecting. Reichl is a great story-teller though and both books are worth reading.
Linking up with Weekend Cooking. This is one of my #10booksofsummer titles.

Tales of the City

Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1)Tales of the City
by Armistead Maupin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“We’re gonna be … I mean people like you and me … we’re gonna be fifty-year-old libertines in a world full of twenty-year-old Calvinists.” 
― Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City

Reading this book was like watching a daytime soap opera in the 1970s except that there are more insightful observations from the characters. There is a group of people, who are all interconnected (thought they don't always know it), and you move around through the events of their daily lives with a third person narrator. The narrator isn't quite omniscient, but close. This structure allows the reader to see what is happening to each person and to anticipate what might be coming because the reader knows more than the characters, but some things aren't made clear (like what is the landlady's secret?) so there is some suspense. It is a very effective way to tell these stories and kept me turning pages. 
There is a lot of drug use and a lot of sex in the book which surprised me given that these stories began as a serial in the San Francisco Chronicle. Perhaps it is a very different newspaper from the ones I am used to. The characters were mostly appealing (I found Mary Ann a bit annoying) and I look forward to reading more about their lives. Luckily there are several more volumes of Tales.
This is one of my Classic's Club titles.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cruisin' Through the Cozies Update

This challenge is hosted at Socrates Book Reviews and I signed up for Level two (Investigator), option B which required 10 cozies of my choice, plus one book for each of the defined sub-genres (20 total). It is now half-way through the year and I have read 20 cozies so far so I decided to switch my goal to Level four (Sleuth Extraordinare) which is double my original level: 2 books in each sub-genre and 20 cozies of my choice. Here is where I am at now:

Monday, July 1, 2019

Lisa's Review: 206 Bones

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the eighth book I've read in the Temperance Brennan series from Kathy Reichs - and when I say 'read', I've listened to them all as audio books, which I have enjoyed with this series. 206 Bones is no exception. It was exactly what I expected - mystery, suspense, entertaining, and a good dose of Detective Ryan.

I will say, that it was a little confusing to me at the beginning portion because there were a lot of different names to keep track of - something I think would not have been a problem if I was reading instead of listening. The names were much easier to keep straight by half way through.

This is my 1st book read for the 13th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge, which runs from July 1st (Canada Day) through July 1st next year. I didn't successfully complete the 12th Annual Challenge, but did make it to 9/13 books read. Had I not missed renewing this audio book on time, I would have finished a few days earlier and made double digits - but I'm also happy to be completing a book on day #1 of this year's challenge!

Happy Canada Day!

It is Canada today and thus time to say goodbye to the 12th Canadian Book Challenge (hosted by The Indextrious Reader) and to sign up for the 13th Canadian Book Challenge hosted by Canadian Bookworm.

I have participated in this challenge seven times so far and over the years have discovered many Canadian authors whose work was new to me and have found some new favorites. This is a great challenge to encourage Americans to expand our reading across the northern border where there are a lot of fabulous books to be found.

In looking back over the 90 books I have read for this challenge (I was one short one year) there are definitely authors I keep going back to.
Among my 'repeats':

  • Margaret Atwood -12 books
  • Louise Penny - 7 books 
  • Kathy Reichs - 7 books
  • Alan Bradley - 6 books
  • Mordecai Richler - 5 books
  • Robertson Davies - 4 books (I had already read most of his books before I started doing this challenge)
  • Emily St. John Mandel - 4 books (all I have been able to get hold of so far)
  • Peter Robinson - 3 books
  • Robert Rotenberg - 2 books
  • Esi Edugyan - 2 books
  • Michael Ondaatje - 2 books (and a bunch pre-challenge)

This is a great challenge and I would encourage everyone to sign up.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Body in the Vestibule

The Body in the Vestibule (Faith Fairchild, #4)The Body in the Vestibule
by Katherine Hall Page
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Food infuses every part of this cozy mystery set in France. New England caterer and minister's wife Faith Fairchild is spending time with her family in Lyon France where she indulges in lots of eating and a bit of sleuthing in amongst her daily chores.
"She struggled up the stairs with her clean was and was glad they were going out for dinner. She'd made reservations at Cafe des Federations--a bouchon, that Lyonnais institution not exactly a bistro and not a restaurant either. A bouchon--literally a cork--where Tom would drink deeply of Monsier Fulchiron's Morgon and they would eat quennelles in Nantua sauce--those delicate, lighter-than-air fish dumplings floating in lobster sauce--or maybe andouillette, the Rolls-Royce of chitterlings." (p. 167)
The food descriptions were delightful and the cast of characters Faith interacts with in France was also interesting. The actual mystery was a bit far-fetched though which is were this book lost points with me. Definitely a series I would read another book in though.
I am counting this toward the Cruisin' Through the Cozies Challenge as a "culinary cozy" and linking up with Weekend Cooking.

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