Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Children of the Storm

Children of the Storm (Amelia Peabody, #15)Children of the Storm
by Elizabeth Peters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"The Great War has ended at last. No longer must archaeologist Amelia Peabody and her husband, Emerson, the distinguished Egyptologist, fear for the life of their daring son, Ramses, now free from his dangerous wartime obligations to British Intelligence. The advent of a season of joy and peace marks a time of new beginnings in Luxor, with delightful additions to the growing Emerson family and fascinating wonders waiting to be discovered beneath the shifting Egyptian sands."
This is the 15th entry in the Amelia Peabody series and despite the end of the war their lives are as crowded as ever with enemies, crimes, heroics, and puzzles for Amelia to untangle while she admires the fine physique of her domineering husband. Amelia is a wonderfully entertaining character--she has always wanted to board a pirate ship with a cutlas in her teeth but is concerned about the logistics of such a thing and the dental problems that might result--and she is voiced brilliantly by Barbara Rosenblat in the audiobook version.  There is quite a bit in this book about the character of Sethos, which I liked, and Selim has a dramatic part to play as well. 

This book counts towards my Cruisin' Through the Cozies challenge either for the mystery set outside the US--Egypt in this case--or the historical category. I will figure out where I need it when I sum up at the end of the challenge.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Better Dead

Better Dead (A B&B Spirits Mystery #1)Better Dead by Pamela Kopfler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"As the owner of a charming Louisiana bed and breakfast, Holly Davis believes in Southern hospitality--but she draws the line at welcoming the ghost of her cheating husband . . ."
I enjoyed this supernatural cozy, though it focused on drug smuggling rather than murder which wasn't what I expected. There was a handsome man from Holly's past with baggage of his own which provided the romance element typical of modern cozies. The cook at the B&B played the "sidekick" role and was an appealing (and funny) character.
This book counts towards my Cruisin' Through the Cozies challenge (for the paranormal mysteries category) and toward MountTBR2019.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Lisa's Review: Swamp Bones

Swamp Bones by Kathy Reichs

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novella is #16.5 in the Temperance Brennan series. Tempe has  traveled to Florida for a relaxing vacation, but of course those plans are interrupted soon after she arrives. Her friend (who she is staying with) is conducting research on bird species that are being threatened by an increased population of Burmese pythons in the Everglades. Tempe's vacation is cut short when she discovers some of the bones inside a python are human.

As with all of the Kathy Reichs books I have read, this one kept me solidly engaged. Since it was a novella, there isn't a lot of time to get into much other than the crime to be solved - though I was good with that aspect here because there is a lot of talk about snakes, and I have a phobia of snakes. It was comforting to know that Tempe feels the same way. I always say that I can't trust something that doesn't have legs (and can just slither anywhere). So I was somewhat amused by:

"The Everglades has a Burmese python problem."
"Pythons. As in alarmingly large serpents?"
I wouldn't call it a phobia, but I'm not overly fond of snakes. Slithery moves. Cold creepy eyes. You can't trust something that doesn't blink.  

This is my 6th book read for the 12th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Lisa's Review: The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 10th book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. I've definitely been enjoying my run on Louise Penny books lately - though I'm afraid of soon getting to the point where I can't just go get the next one from the library & will instead have to wait for the next one to be published.

The Long Way Home is a bit different from the rest of the series that I have read so far - the biggest difference being that there wasn't a murder to solve. There definitely was a mystery to investigate, but it seemed a more relaxed plot & read - though that doesn't mean that I didn't thoroughly enjoy it, because I did! 

This is my 5th book read for the 12th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Murder at the Vicarage

Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1)Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the final book I finished reading in 2018. It was the first book Christie wrote featuring Miss Marple and it was a delight.
The narrator of the tale is the Vicar of the St. Mary Mead village church and is a wonderful character, good and upstanding as a leader of his community but just wicked enough to be both human and appealing. His young wife is a bit of a mess but he adores her and his insights into the people around him help us untangle the puzzle that is the heart of this mystery. Naturally the victim is someone that no one liked and whose death benefits nearly everyone and a flurry of clues, some important some merely distracting, confuse the police, the vicar, and the reader. Miss Marple of course sees it all clearly well before anyone else does.
"My dear young man, you underestimate the detective instinct of village life. In St. Mary Mead everyone knows your most intimate affairs. There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands." (p. 37)
This title is from my Classics Club list.

Back to the Classics 2019

Back to the Classics is hosted at Books and Chocolate and the idea is to read at least 6 classics (at least 50 years old) that fit different categories. I am hoping to fit some of my Classics Club list titles into this challenge during 2019. Listed below are the categories for 2019 and below each are some options from my Classics Club list that I might choose.

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899. (listed below are titles from my list that don't fit other categories)
She: A History of Adventure, H. Rider Haggard, 1886
The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells, 1898
Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 1854
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1890
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1882

2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1969. (listed below are titles from my list that don't fit other categories)
Crome Yellow, Aldous Huxley, 1921
The Innocence of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton, 1911
The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, G.K. Chesterton, 1908
The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting, 1920
Casino Royale, Ian Fleming, 1953
Lust for Life, Irving Stone, 1934
I, Robot, Isaac Asimov, 1950
The Deep Blue Goodbye, John D. MacDonald, 1964
The Spy who Came in from the Cold, John le Carre, 1963
Rabbit, Run, John Updike, 1960
Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey, 1918
The Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer, 1968
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick, 1968
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler, 1939
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein, 1961
The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant, 1926

3. Classic by a Woman Author.
Some Tame Gazelle, Barbara Pym, 1950
The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers, 1946
My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier, 1951
The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim, 1922
Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty, 1946
The Violent Bear It Away, Flannery O'Connor, 1960
The Grand Sophy, Georgette Heyer, 1950
Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen, 1937
Seven Gothic Tales, Isak Dinesen, 1934
The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith, 1952
Grey Mask, Patricia Wentworth, 1928
Harriet Hume, Rebecca West, 1929
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, 1949
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1969
The Waves, Virginia Woolf, 1931
Shadows on the Rock, Willa Cather, 1931

4. Classic in Translation. Any classic originally written in a language other than your native language. (My native language is English.)
Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, 1957 (Russian)
The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio, 1353 (Italian)
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, 1856 (French)
Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, the Brothers Grimm (German)
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, 1949 (French)
Swann's Way, Marcel Proust, 1913 (French)

5. Classic Comic Novel. Any comedy, satire, or humorous work.
Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis, 1955
A Tale of a Tub, Jonathan Swift, 1704
Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding, 1742

6. Classic Tragic Novel. Tragedies traditionally have a sad ending, but just like the comedies, this is up for the reader to interpret.
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, 1856 
My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier, 1951
Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty, 1946
The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1922
The Violent Bear It Away, Flannery O'Connor, 1960

7. Very Long Classic. Any classic single work 500 pages or longer, not including introductions or end notes.
The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas, 1844 (625 pages)
Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak, 1957 (592 pages)
Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965 (604 pages)
New Grub Street, George Gissing, 1891 (560 pages)
The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, 1868 (528 pages)
A House for Mr Biswas, V. S. Naipaul, 1961 (623 pages)
The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio, 1353 (833 pages)
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, 1949 (746 pages)

8. Classic Novella. Any work of narrative fiction shorter than 250 pages. 
Double Indemnity, James M. Cain, 1936 (115 pages)
A Tale of a Tub, Jonathan Swift, 1704 (144 pages)
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells, 1895 (118 pages)
The Turn of the Screw, Henry James, 1898 (87 pages)
Where Angels Fear to Tread, E. M. Forster, 1905 (148 pages)

9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean). 
There is nothing on my Classics Club list that fits this category and is old enough for this challenge so I would need to go off-list for this one.

10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). 
Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen, 1937
A House for Mr Biswas, V. S. Naipaul, 1961

11. Classic From a Place You've Lived. 
New York City; Washington, DC; Nebraska; and New Hampshire would be my options. I'm not sure which of my Classics Club titles (if any) are set in these places so further research or off-list reading will be needed for this one.

12. Classic Play. Any play written or performed at least 50 years ago. Plays are eligible for this category only.
I don't have any plays on my list, so again I would need to go off-list.

Monday, December 31, 2018

First Lines 2018

Inspired by the Indextrious Reader here is my year in review as revealed by the first line of my first blog post for each month of 2018. 

I have decided on 5 reading challenges for 2018 (in addition to the Canadian Book Challenge which ends on Canada Day)
[from 2018 Reading Challenges]

The latest in this wonderful mystery series focuses on Quebec's Surete and the opioid crisis. [from Glass Houses]

“And yet , the burden of perpetual apprehension that she had carried around for years - of suddenly receiving news of death - had lightened somewhat." [from The Ministry of Utmost Happiness]

This is the first novel about Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, a police officer in the Yorkshire Dales. [from Gallows View]

“I often ask myself, Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?” [from The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning]

This book is a bit of a hodge-podge as it includes essays on how to be an historian as well as essays about various historical issues. [from Practicing History]

"The wind began to rush violently as he moved on, and he became aware of other creatures in the darkness." [from Sword of Shannara]

"He took down the picture, carried it toward the window, related some curious facts about it." [from The Portrait of a Lady]

This was the 50th book I read for my Classics Club list! [from The Scarlet Letter]

This book tells the story of a small group of people who come into the world of Count Dracula and end up fighting for their lives and their eternal souls. [from Dracula]

"Our lives really do seem strange and mysterious when you look back on them." [from Killing Commendatore]

This book was published in 1963 and is the history of Monte Carlo and its famous casino. [from The Big Wheel]

In gathering these lines I realized that I have gotten into the habit of starting my reviews with quotes. Not sure if that's good or bad, but it seems to be. I was also focusing on my various challenges at the beginning of each month as most of these posts relate to one or another of my reading challenges. Generally I would say I had a good reading year. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Mount TBR 2019 Challenge

Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting the Mount TBR challenge again in 2019 and I decided to give it a try. I did a TBR (to be read) pile challenge a few years ago and it did not work for me. I felt a lot of guilt about my lack of progress and developed a loathing for the 12 unread books that I was "supposed" to be reading. I generally read library books, but I do seem to have quite a few books piled up that I bought or was given and haven't gotten read yet. The rules of the Mount TBR challenge are different from the one I tried before and I think it might go better for me. The primary difference is that I don't have to make a list ahead of time, I can tally the books as I "climb" the piles.
There are various levels (mountains) you can commit to for the challenge and after some assessment of my shelves I have decided on Mt. Vancouver (36 books). There are various rules about rereads and such and monthly linkups, all collected at Mount TBR Climbing Headquarters. The rules that seem most relevant for me are that books must be owned as of 1/1/2019, you don't have to blog about the book for it to count, and that if I abandon a book--for me that means I read at least 50 pages and never intend to pick it up again--it counts as done. (I am adding a rule for myself that I need to get rid of the physical book before I can count it as done).
I will be listing my completed books here and if I blog about them I will link to the individual posts.

1. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee (finished 1/5/19)
2. A Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat, #3) by Haruki Murakami (finished 1/6/19)
3.  Better Dead by Pamela Kopfler (finished 1/9/19)
6. ...

Lisa's Review: Sleigh Tracks in New Snow

Sleigh Tracks in New Snow by Wayne Curtis

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sleigh Tracks in New Snow: Maritime Christmas Stories is described best on the back cover as "a collection of Christmas stories set mostly in rural New Brunswick - principally the Miramichi Region - in a bygone day and age. The stories range from the early 1950s to the 21st century, as Wayne Curtis recounts the old Christmases of his boyhood and more modern incarnations of the holiday."

It is also noted at the beginning of the book that some of the people in the stories are from the authors imagination and that some liberties were taken with those that are real. As a personal side note, I'd love to know if a few of the individuals in the stories were real or not - but I can accept that maybe I'm just supposed to not think about that or make my own conclusion.

I admittedly am a person who does not enjoy reading collections of short stories (or maybe I just haven't found the right collection for me yet). My mother gave me this book as a gift last Christmas, so I read about half last year, and finished the other half this year.

After finishing, I can say short stories are still not for me, but that is a personal preference and definitely not an indication of the author. From this collection, Curtis writes in a very descriptive way that made images pop in my head of exactly what was going on - and a lot of times had me thinking back of Christmas time at my Nanny & Grampie's house. I like this description of how things can trigger memories, especially around this time of year:

Like a secret love you carry inside you throughout life, and whose image returns in an old song on the radio. "Mood changers," my mother used to call them. "Voices of the moment that stir up feelings from the past." p 132-133     

This is my 4th book read for the 12th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge.
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