Thursday, October 10, 2019


DivisaderoDivisadero by Michael Ondaatje
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved how Ondaatje structured this book. It starts with out as the story of 4 people--a family--and expands and contracts to explore the lives of those people and the people who touch their lives. Ondaatje's sentences are beautiful even when his subject is ugly and the insight into what it is to be human is amazing. The counts toward the Canadian Book Challenge. If you haven't read Ondaatje you need to. He is a master.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Classics Club Spin #21

It is time for another Classics Club Spin. The rules are simple: you list 20 titles from your Classics Club List and when the spin number is drawn (on Monday, 9/23) you have to read that book from your list by the deadline (October 31, 2019 in this case).
Here is my list:
  1. The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
  2. The Deep Blue Goodbye, John D. MacDonald
  3. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
  4. Grey Mask, Patricia Wentworth
  5. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler 
  6. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
  7. Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis
  8. Double Indemnity, James M. Cain
  9. Seven Gothic Tales, Isak Dinesen
  10. Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
  11. New Grub Street, George Gissing
  12. Crome Yellow, Aldous Huxley
  13. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
  14. A House for Mr Biswas, V. S. Naipaul
  15. Where Angels Fear to Tread, E. M. Forster
  16. The Innocence of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton
  17. The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer
  18. The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells
  19. Lust for Life, Irving Stone
  20. I, Robot, Isaac Asimov

Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of CholeraLove in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel García Márquez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was not at all what I expected. It was much better than I expected actually. I listened to the audiobook version which was a good call for me because I think I would have had trouble with the Spanish names had I been reading but the narrator said them all beautifully and it was easy to keep the characters straight.
“Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.”
The writing is often quite beautiful and the shifting perspectives among the three main characters gives Marquez an opportunity to explore a lot of ways of looking at love, and at sex, and at memory, and at what the point of it all might be. It was written in 1985 and is set in Columbia around the turn of the 20th century (it spans the lifetime of Florentino Ariza). An understanding of the history of Columbia (on my part) would have enhanced this story, but I'm glad I read it despite the references I didn't fully understand.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Lisa's Review: Run, Hide, Repeat

Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood by Pauline Dakin

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars (probably more a 3.5)

I first heard about this book when listening to an interview with the author on NPR. Listening to her tell her story about her family on the run from Vancouver to Winnepeg to Saint John, New Brunswick and the reason for doing so had me captivated, so I was interested in reading this book.

Her mother left an abusive relationship when Pauline and her brother were very young, and followed their minister (Stan) & family as they moved. When Pauline was in her early 20's it was revealed to her by her mother & Stan that it was because they were trying to avoid the mob.

I will say that having listened to the NPR interview, I pretty much knew where the book was going. But that was not a disappointment as there were many more details. Having known the basic story, I knew what was coming, but not entirely, there was still a whole lot of 'wow' factor. I've read many negative reviews of this book, but I don't understand why (I'm not sure if those folks realized this is real life, and they shouldn't so easily to judge someone). The writing was interesting & kept me turning the pages. I especially thought how Pauline comes to terms with everything is a testament to being human.   

This is my second book read for the 13th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The English Patient

The English PatientThe English Patient 
by Michael Ondaatje
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The desert could not be claimed or owned--it was a peice of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names long before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East." (p. 138)
This was not my favorite Ondaatje novel, but it was beautifully written and included a lot of thought provoking passages. The perspective of the various characters on the bombing of Hiroshima was especially striking to me. I found the jumping around in time somewhat confusing and found some of the men were also difficult to keep track of who was who. 
I am counting this toward the 13th Canadian Book Challenge.

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.
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