Sunday, December 4, 2016

Review: Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree

Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree by Nancy Atherton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a fun cozy set in a small village in Britain. Aunt Dimity talks to Lori through the pages of a magic book and helps her to untangle the mystery facing her. Since the mystery is a very minor one, there are no major police characters, just a cast of colorful village residents and Lori's family.

This book counts toward the What's in a Name Challenge as a book with 'tree' in the title.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Death by Petticoat

Death by Petticoat: American History Myths DebunkedDeath by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked by Mary Miley Theobald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was expecting more from this book. It runs through 63 myths of American history and explains why they aren't true. In a few cases there is a grain of truth to them, but mostly the entries rely on logic rather than historical documentation for the debunking. Some of them reminded me of Encyclopedia Brown cases--you know the answer by spotting the historical anomaly.
On the positive side, the style is straightforward and there is an illustration (which are all sourced, unlike the history) for each myth. I did learn several things: the idea of underground railroad quilts passing messages is false; old window glass is thicker on the bottom because of how it was made, not because it flows over time; and colonial wig making was a weird process.
I am counting this book toward the What's in a Name Challenge for the "item of clothing" title.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: Hag-Seed

Hag-SeedHag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project. It is a retelling of 'The Tempest' and is largely a story about revenge and second chances.
Atwood sets her novel in a prison where a program uses drama, specifically Shakespeare plays, as a tool for teaching literacy skills to inmates. We are seeing the action unfold from the point of view of the teacher who is plotting his own revenge against foes from his past.
The inmates create a production that integrates several very cleverly constructed raps into the play. I thought Atwood integrated the analysis of the play into the story--it is an assignment for the inmates to analyze their characters--was clever.

This book is both set in Canada and by a Canadian so I am counting it toward the 10th Canadian Book Challenge.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

End of the Year Reading Plan

There is about a month left to go on 2016, which means I need to get reading if I am going to complete my challenges for the year. My overall challenge of reading 101 books is on track, I have finished 93 books so far and have 3 in progress which leaves 5 more by the end of the year. The specific challenges are less on track. 
  • I have three letters to go on the Alphabet Soup Challenge: H, Y, and Z. I am currently reading The Year of the Griffin so that will cover Y.
  • I have to read 2 more classics to make the minimum number of books read (6) for Back to the Classics. There are a lot of categories left for me to choose from, the trick is to match one of the books on my Classics Club list to a category.
  • I have 3 more books to read for the What's in a Name Challenge. I still need to read books with these things in the titles: an item of clothing, a month of the year, a title with the word 'tree' in it.
Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing will cover the letter Z and if I read House of Mirth by Edith Wharton that will cover "a classic by a woman author" for Back to the Classics and the letter H for Alphabet Soup. Cakes and Ale is an option for a "20th century classic" and Sense and Sensibility would cover a "19th century classic." These titles  all have the fact that they are short and that I own copies of them in their favor. 

I have a couple of ideas for the What's in a Name books, but this challenge is going to be tough to complete at this point. Death in August looks interesting, and The Guns of August has been on my TBR list for a long time (it is really long though so won't get read in the next 30 days). For the clothing book Death by Petticoat is on my TBR list and may be manageable in the next month. I read an Aunt Dimity mystery several years ago and liked it. There is one called Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree which could be a good option for this challenge. 

This is quite a bit of reading, but not impossible. Will see what the next 30 days brings.

Lisa's Review: Bury Your Dead

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the sixth novel in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the books in this series, but I think this is my favorite one yet.

I enjoyed the complexity of the three distinct (and sometimes intertwining) story lines. One brings us back to Three Pines with Jean-Guy Beauvoir & is a continuation of plot from the previous book. Another has Chief Inspector Gamache investigating a murder in Quebec City. And the other being the unfolding of events of a recent tragic event that involved both Beauvoir & Gamache.

I loved a lot about this book. I was almost blindsided by one big shocker...loved how my jaw dropped as I was about to realize what happened. Also, I'm no history buff, but I really enjoyed the Samuel de Champlain historical slant with the Quebec City story line. And I thought the way the third story line told from both Beauvoir and Gamache's points of view was excellent. There was a lot going on in this book and it was all laid out perfectly.    

This is my fifth book read for the 10th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!
My Urban Quilter blog has a linkup on it asking people to share what they are thankful for and I decided to post my response here.

There are lots of things I am thankful for in 2016. Here are a few:

  • The many wonderful people in my life (past and present) including family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Books, and the public libraries that have let me borrow huge stacks of them whenever I want to since I was little.
  • My beautiful sewing space where I can spread my projects out and leave them spread out as long as I need to.
  • My husband, who cooks the turkey whenever we host Thanksgiving.
What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Master and Margarita

The Master and MargaritaThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Translated by Richard Pevear Larissa Volokhonsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is really two novels intertwined: the story of Pontius Pilot and a tale of what happens when the devil visits Moscow. It is not an easy read, especially the Moscow sections which are full of magic and changing identities, but it is worth the effort. The novel about Pontius Pilot, which is the work of 'the master,' is one of my favorite kinds of fiction, a story you know from a different point of view.
Written in 1940 and first published in 1966 (in a censored version) I am counting this book toward the Back to the Classics Challenge as a 'classic which has been banned or censored.' See Logos Books and Records for an excellent overview of the censorship/publication history of this book.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

View from the Cheap Seats

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected NonfictionThe View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a big book of essays and, as is typical of any large compilation, I thought some of them were better than others. I lack the background knowledge that was needed to get much out of the essays on comic books and graphic novels. The ones on other writers were very interesting (the work of Diana Wynne Jones is now on my TBR list) and the more general ones (about reading and libraries) were great. I love that when Gaiman talks about having been a child roaming unsupervised in the library and how great that was that he points out this is not a legitimate source of daycare. The essays about the development of his own work, including Stardust (which is one of my favorite books) and American Gods (which I didn't like but need to give a second chance) broadened my understanding of these novels.
I am counting this book toward the What's in a Name Challenge for the category 'a piece of furniture.'

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lisa's Review: Descender, Volume 1: Tin Stars

Descender by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Descender is a graphic novel and is the first in a three book series written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. I won this book as part of a mini-challenge in the 10th Annual Canadian Book Challenge (the mini-challenge was to read a Canadian graphic novel).

I'm not a huge fan sci-fi genre books, and I wasn't totally certain about graphic novels, so wasn't sure what to expect for this read. The verdict? I loved it! The synopsis from the cover: Ten years after planet sized robots called Harvesters appeared and wreaked havoc across the galaxy, a young android named TIM-21 wakes to find that all robots have been outlawed.

The writing and illustrations were both excellent. I found myself getting sucked into the story as we find out how TIM-21 came to be and what led to the outlaw of the androids. My first graphic novel experience was so lacking in plot that I thought that might a sign of what other graphic novels would be like. But I was happy to find this is not the case. Even in this short novel, I connected with the characters, felt a wide range of emotion, and wanted to know "what is next?!". I am eager to read the other two books in this series.    

This is my fourth book read for the 10th Annual Canadian Book Challenge and also completes the mini-challenge for November which is to read a book that is a part of a series.
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