Monday, September 21, 2020

The Forest Lover

The Forest LoverThe Forest Lover 
by Susan Vreeland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This fictionalized life of the Canadian painter Emily Carr was a fascinating look into the world of First Nations people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Vreeland's portrait of Carr was complex and sympathetic and I found her a very likable character. The stories of some of her friends, especially Harold Cook, were heartbreaking. This was my second Susan Vreeland book and I will seek out more of her work. I am counting this book toward the Canadian Book Challenge.

Sunday, September 13, 2020


I participated in this challenge several years ago and when I saw the announcement for it today I realized that I have been reading quite a few books that qualify recently. The rules are pretty simple: in October (and September this year) read in the categories of mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror, and supernatural; post about your reading on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #RIPXV. I will be posting on my Instagram

 My #RIPXV reading so far:

  • A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters -- the first of the Brother Cadfael mysteries. I watched the TV show years ago but had never read the books. I enjoyed this one and will continue with the series.
  • A Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh -- #30 in the Roderick Alleyn series. It was classic Marsh which I love. 
  • Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman -- the first in this series which I remember my Mom reading when I was a kid. I liked it. I didn't figure out who done it, but when I got to the end I realized that it was all laid out and I should have known. Will be moving on directly to the next in the series. 
  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is my current Classics Club Spin title and I am about half-way through it. 
There are several more mysteries in my current TBR library pile and both a Wilkie Collins and Seven Gothic Tales are on my shelf so I should have plenty of options for the next month.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

A Necessary End

A Necessary End (Inspector Banks, #3)

A Necessary End by Peter Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is number three in the Inspector Banks series (though it is the 4th I have read). These are British police procedurals set in a small Yorkshire village. They are pretty standard to the form, but quite well done with interesting characters an appealing but not-perfect detective, and a solid mystery. 

I am counting this toward the Canadian Book Challenge because Robinson (according to the jacket copy) lives in Toronto.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

The Spy Who Came In from the ColdThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold 
by John le Carré
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a dark book and it maintains a constant feel of tension and danger (sometimes lurking, sometimes very active). It is very well done, however, and despite the pervasive sense of dread I had to keep turning pages (so to speak--I listened to it) to see what would happen. The story takes place during the Cold War, shortly after the Berlin Wall was built, and the action is mostly in Berlin and London. The opening scene is very cinematic and sets the tone of the book immediately. 
Le Carre's first novel, Call for the Dead, includes Hans-Dieter Mundt, an assassin working for the East German Secret Service. In this novel Alec Leamus, head of the British intelligence office in West Berlin, has just been recalled to London after the death of his last double-agent. He is ready to "come in from the cold" (get out of the spy business) but he is sent out on a final assignment to take down Mundt. This novel is the story of that job. 
This is one of the titles from my Classics Club list

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Glass Hotel

The Glass HotelThe Glass Hotel 
by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once again Mandel has crafted a complex and compelling novel that tells several interconnected stories. This one revolves around a hotel on a remote Canadian island. I don't really want to say anything else about it because I think part of the wonder of Mandel's novels is the way you discover the connections as it all unfolds.
"She'd never believed in love at first sight but she did believe in recognition at first sight, she believed in understanding upon meeting someone for the first time that they were going to be important in her life, a sensation like recognizing a familiar face in an old photograph: in a sea of faces that mean nothing, one comes into focus. You." (p. 123)
This is a perfect description of NYC: "He felt such love for this city tonight, for its grandeur and indifference." (p. 187)
I am counting this toward the Canadian Book Challenge.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Testaments

The Testaments (The Handmaid's Tale, #2)The Testaments 
by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This sequel to The Handmaid's Tale was a page-turner. I didn't think it was as beautifully written as some of Atwood's novels, but the story was absolutely compelling. 
There were some good lines though.
"The flame of my life is subsiding, more slowly than some of those around me might like, but faster than they may realize." (p. 31)
"You'd be surprised how quickly the mind goes soggy in the absence of other people. One person alone is not a full person: we exist in relation to others. I was one person: I risked becoming no person." (p. 148)
This book counts toward the Canadian Book Challenge as Atwood is a Canadian author and much of this novel is set in Canada. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Reverse Readathon

Starting at 8pm tomorrow (at least where I live) and running until 8pm on Saturday is the Dewey Reverse Readathon  and I am ready to indulge in a super-bookish weekend. I have my bingo card ready, my bookstack selected, and snacks and beverages on hand. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Spinning the Classics #24

Classics Club is hosting another spin. I participated in the last one and succeeded in removing a book from my list that I realized I have no desire to ever finish. 
Hopefully this time I will actually read the book (by 9/30) that is chosen on August 9th. 
Here is my list:
  1. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, 1860
  2. The Spy who Came in from the Cold, John le Carre, 1963
  3. Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens, 1844
  4. The Deep Blue Goodbye, John D. MacDonald, 1964
  5. Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens, 1839
  6. New Grub Street, George Gissing, 1891
  7. Where Angels Fear to Tread, E. M. Forster, 1905
  8. The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer, 1950
  9. The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio, 1353
  10. Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, the Brothers Grimm
  11. Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 1854
  12. Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen, 1937
  13. Double Indemnity, James M. Cain, 1936
  14. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1969
  15. Rabbit, Run, John Updike, 1960
  16. Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis, 1955
  17. The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, 1949
  18. The Turn of the Screw, Henry James, 1898
  19. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, 1868
  20. The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant, 1926

Monday, July 6, 2020

Canadian Book Challenge

I have completed the Canadian Reading Challenge each year since #6. This past year I only managed to read 7 books for the challenge. In my defense it was a very challenging year for me and I am running out of Margaret Atwood novels that I haven't read yet.

I am going to try again with the 14th challenge, which is being hosted at Canadian Bookworm and has levels identified by Canadian provincial flowers. Getting hold of books may be a problem this year, but my public library has reopened for curbside service so I am hopeful that I will manage.

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