Thursday, July 20, 2017

Readathon this Weekend!

Lots of Reading Options!
This weekend (beginning at midnight Friday) is the 24 in 48 Readathon. I have a huge pile of books ready to go (these are options, I have no illusion that I could read them all in the next few days).
I need to stop at the store tomorrow and stock up on snacks.
I will have to do some driving this weekend (family chauffeuring) and I have an audio-book going in my car so I can read during that time. I will be tracking my reading on a paper log (already printed up) and will post updates here at least a couple of times during the weekend. I will also tweet at least a little bit about the readathon @urbanquilternh.

I have 3 goals for the readathon:

  1. I am currently 2 books behind on my Goodreads goal for the year of reading 101 books and I want to get on track with that
  2. I want to read some short stories for the Deal Me In Challenge which I am way behind on -- the books for that are in the pile
  3. I want to get as close as I can to reading for 24 hours
If you want to share in the insanity you can still sign up at #24in48

Lisa's Review: The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Best Laid Plans is Terry Fallis' first book and winner of the Steven Leacock Award for Humor in 2008.

Daniel Addison, a head speech writer and political aide in Ottawa for the Liberal party, decides he has had enough of the grind working on Parliament Hill. So he resigns to pursue a teaching position at the University of Ottawa.

However, he promises to do one final task. He agrees to find a Liberal candidate to run in the Cumberland-Prescott riding in the upcoming election - a riding that is staunchly Tory, so the Liberals have no chance or hope in winning. The job for Daniel is to find any breathing person willing to enter the race, run the campaign, and then be done with politics. He does find a reluctant soul, and hilarity ensues.

I definitely enjoy Fallis' style of writing - it is humorous and easy reading. I wasn't certain how well I would appreciate the politics part of the story line, but I did!  

This is my second book read for the 11th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lisa's Review: Devil Bones

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Devil Bones is the 11th book in the Temperance Brennan series. When mysterious remains (including chicken bones, a human skull, and cauldrons) are found in a hidden cellar, Tempe is summoned to investigate. When a decapitated body is then found at an area lake, signs begin to point at voodoo or devil worshipers.

I listened to this audio book, and was almost the perfect length for a solo drive from New Hampshire to Nova Scotia and back. As with the other Kathy Reichs books I have listened to, I was thoroughly engaged in the story. I like the attention to detail that is described & I always learn something new - in this instance a lot about Santeria and Wicca which I did not know much about.

This is my first book read for the 11th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Review: Vermont Beer

Vermont Beer: History of a Brewing RevolutionVermont Beer: History of a Brewing Revolution
by Kurt Staudter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vermont had a long period of a very strong temperance movement, which I didn't know about. The beginning parts of this book about the early (ie. pre-prohibition) brewing history of the state were most interesting to me. The last 2/3 were basically a catalog of who started what brewery where. I do have a clear handle on who has bought what in the VT brewing world now.

Linking up with Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Review: Joshua Then and Now

Joshua Then and NowJoshua Then and Now by Mordecai Richler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the way this novel was structured. The first page finds Joshua in the hospital and then the reader follows along as his mind wanders back and forth in time and place telling us all kinds of stories about his family, his friends, his enemies, and his women. What he doesn't tell us--until the end of the novel--is how he ended up in the hospital. Joshua's world is full of colorful characters and in among the tall tales is a lot of info about Canadian history, boxing, and the Spanish Civil War.
This is my first book completed for the 11th Canadian Book Challenge.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

It's Almost Canada Day!

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that Lisa and I have both been reading and posting about Canadian books much more frequently than usual in the past several weeks. That is because it will be Canada Day on July 1 and that is the deadline for completing the 10th Canadian Book Challenge. Lisa has completed her 13 books (Hurray for Lisa!) and I have 1 to go.

Starting on Canada Day we will both be participating in the 11th Canadian Book Challenge which is moving to a new home this year at The Indextrious Reader. This is a fun challenge, I have participated for for several years now and have discovered lots of great Canadian writers I didn't know about before. I encourage you to jump in as well.

If you want to celebrate Canada Day here in New Hampshire, Great North Aleworks is the place to be on July 1. (Neither Lisa nor I will probably get much reading done that day as we will both be there!)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: Stone Mattress

Stone Mattress: Nine TalesStone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"These nine tales owe a debt to tales through the ages. Calling a piece of short fiction a 'tale' removes it at least slightly from the realm of mundane works and days, as it evokes the world of the folk tale, the wonder tale, and the long-ago teller of tales. We may safely assume that all tales are fiction, whereas a 'story' might well be a true story about what we usually agree to call 'real life,' as well as a short story that keeps within the boundaries of social realism. The Ancient Mariner tells a tale. 'Give me a copper coin and I will tell you a golden tale,' the later Robertson Davies was fond of saying." (Acknowledgements, p. 271)
The first three tales in this collection are interconnected as they each focus on a person within a single social circle. I love story cycles like that because you get to see things from multiple angles. I don't usually find short stories very satisfying because it feels like as soon as I get to know the characters the story is over. Cycles like this solve that problem. Another of the tales revisits the women in The Robber Bride, which was like visiting old friends. I loved 'The Freeze-Dried Groom," it was super twisty and odd and I loved the way the narrator kept doing CSI assesments on his day.

I am counting this toward the 10th Canadian Book Challenge.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lisa's Review: Bones on Ice

Bones on Ice by Kathy Reichs

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even though in my last Temperance Brennan review I said I would continue to read the books in random order, I conveniently found the next book in the series available at the library. With the ending of the last book, I was interested to see what might be coming next with Tempe's relationship with Detective Ryan.

Bones on Ice is book #17.5 (.5 because it is a novella) in the Temperance Brennan series. Tempe is requested by a wealthy Charlotte woman to positively identify her daughters' body recovered from Mount Everest. The daughter had perished on Everest three years earlier, but it had taken that long to get her off of the mountain and transported back to the US.

I've always been fascinated with Everest & reading about people who attempt to summit it in reality, so having that be a part of the mystery in this book I found to be interesting. Being a novella, I knew things would wrap up fairly quickly, but I think this one could have gone to a full length novel. There was only a couple of slight mentions of Ryan though, so I will have to wait until the next book to see what develops.

This is my thirteenth book read in the 10th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, which means I have completed the challenge!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Home from the Vinyl Cafe

Home from the Vinyl Cafe: A Year of StoriesHome from the Vinyl Cafe: A Year of Stories 
by Stuart McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a funny collection of stories about everyday life. It happens to be everyday life in Canada, but it seemed pretty applicable to life in any 1st world nation. 
The stories are all about the fictional Dave and Morley, their 2 kids and their various friends and neighbors. All the stories were good, and easy to identify with. Among my favorite bits:

  • Dave's father Charlie singing about an upcoming math test to the tune of Big Spender
  • "Labor Days" which focuses on some of the things about being a Mom that challenge Morley. My sister should read this, or maybe just keep her toothbrush in her own room to be on the safe side.
The best part of the stories for me was the insight about relationships. Especially how easily they can go off the rails, or not, based on whether you recognize a landmine before you step on it.
"When someone you love is upset enough to suggest calling the police over a missing smoke bush, you have two choices. You can, if you don't care how the rest of the day goes, say, 'The plant police? We should phone the plant police? Are you out of your mind?" Or you can muster as much affection as possible and say, as Dave did, 'You stay with the plants. I'll call the police." Then you go inside and stand in the kitchen for what feels like an appropriate amount of time before you come back outside and lie. You say, 'They are sending out a car. and if they see anyone with a smoke bush they are going to stop them. On the spot.' Dave considered adding something about how they were going to check the florists in the area, but the thing about a successful lie is not going too far." (p. 104)

Thy Vinyl Cafe was a program on CBC radio hosted by Stuart McLean who lived in Toronto until his recent death. This book counts toward the Canadian Book challenge.

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