Vivienne's reading in 2019 Part 2

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Vivienne's reading in 2019 Part 2

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Editado: Dez 31, 2019, 9:45am

Toni Onley (1928 - 2004), one of my favourite British Columbian artists who captured the vast spaces, colours, and even the weather patterns of the BC coastal regions.

I can also be found at the Category Challenge here and many of the "oddities" listed were read to fill a challenge.

Editado: Set 1, 2019, 9:55pm

Read in January:
1. Shatter the bones by Stuart MacBride 4★
2. Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie 4★
3. The Professor and the Madman: a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester 4.5★
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama 5★
5. Queenpin by Megan Abbott 4★
6. Black Book by Ian Rankin 4★
7. The Healer by Antti Tuomainen 3.5★
8. Rounding the mark by Andrea Camilleri 4★
9. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje 4★
10. Vivienne - Gently Where She Lay by Alan Hunter 3.5★
11. The Radium Girls: the dark story of America's shining women by Kate Moore 2.5★
12. Best of Women's Short Stories 2 narrated by Harriet Walter 4.5★
13. The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller 4.5★
14. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink 4.5★

Read in February:
15. The Janissary tree by Jason Goodwin 3.5★
16. Mozart's brain and the fighter pilot by Richard M. Restak 4★
17. The Chessmen by Peter May 4.5★
18. Sidetracked by Henning Mankell 4★
19. Flower net by Lisa See 3★
20. The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie 3.5★
21. Thinking like a mountain by Robert Bateman 2★
22. I think I love you by Allison Pearson 3.5★
23. Paris for one and other stories by JoJo Moyes 3.5★
24. On writing by Stephen King 4★
25. Never hit a jellyfish with a spade: how to survive life's smaller challenges by Guy Browning 3.5★
26. A room full of bones by Elly Griffiths 4★
27. The cat who came in from the cold by J. Moussaieff Masson 3★
28. Winter Chill by Jon Cleary 4★
29. The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley 4.5★

Editado: Set 2, 2019, 1:36am

Read in July
84. First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★
85. Starlight by Richard Wagamese 4.5★
86. The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★
87. The Fala Factor by Stuart Kaminsky 3.5★
88. The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri 3.5★
89. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★
90. Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante 3.5★
91. The last days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan 2.5★
92. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★
93. Dead Sea Cipher by Elizabeth Peters 2.5★
94. A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders 3★
95. Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton 3★
96. Sanctuary by Ken Bruen 4★
97. The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★
98. Mah Jongg by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★
99. Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★
100. The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones 4★
101. The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

Read in August
102. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★
103. Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★
104. The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★
105. The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★
106. Slam by Nick Hornby 4★
107. Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★
108. Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★
109. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★
110. Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3,5★
111. Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★
112. The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★
113. The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan 3★
114. Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★
115. Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton 4★

Editado: Dez 31, 2019, 9:46am

Read in September
116. Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson 4★
117. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie 4★
118. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 4★
119. Vi by Kim Thúy translated from the French by Sheila Fischman 4.5★
120. The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters 3.5★
121. The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels 3★
122. The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker 3.5★
123. Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese 4.5★
124. Days by Moonlight by André Alexis 3.5★
125. Trial of Passion by William Deverell 4★
126. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje 3.5★
127. The Tent by Margaret Atwood 4★
128. Running Blind by Lee Child 3★
129. Nothing more comforting: Canada's heritage food by Dorothy Duncan 4★
130. Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay 3.5★

Read in October
131. The 100 year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson 2.5★
132. Gallows Thief by Bernard Cornwell 3.5★
133. Murder on the Lusitania by Conrad Allen 3.5★
134. Devil may care by Sebastian Faulks 3★
135. Still life by Louise Penny 4★
136. The woman in blue by Elly Griffiths 3.5★
137. A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley 3.5★
138. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith 4.5★
139. The Healing by David Park 4★
140. King Mouse by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling 5★
141. Funny Girl by Nick Hornby 3★
142. The bookshop on the corner by Jenny Colgan 3★
143. Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood 4.5★
144. Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin 4★

Read in November
145. The Lost City of Z: a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon by David Grann 4★
146. Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park 5★
147. Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson, translated by Quentin Bates 2.5★
148. After the Mourning by Barbara Nadel 4★
149. The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill 5★
150. Milestones to disaster by Winston S. Churchill, Christian Rodska 5★
151. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese 4.5★
152. Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella 3★
153. The Coroner by M.R. Hall 3.5★
154. Room by Emma Donoghue 3.5★
155. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths 4.5★
156. Phi Beta murder by C.S. Challinor 3★
157. A presumption of death by Jill Paton Walsh & Dorothy L. Sayers 3★

Read in December
158. Nocturne on the life and death of my brother by Helen Humphreys 4★
159. Dead Cold by Louise Penny 4★
160. Suddenly at his residence by Christianna Brand 3★
161. Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline 3.5★
162. Visions of sugar plums by Janet Evanovich 3★
163. White Christmas with a Wobbly Knee by Andrea Frazer 3.5★
164. The right attitude to rain by Alexander McCall Smith 3★
165. A sleeping life by Ruth Rendell 3.5★
166. The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Gilbert Adair 3★
167. It began with a page: How Gyo Fujikawa drew the way by Kyo Maclear 4★
168. The hunting party by Lucy Foley 3.5★
169. Elizabeth and Philip: A Royal Love Story by Town and Country 4★
170. Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn 3.5★
171. McTavish goes wild by Meg Rosoff 4★
172. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo 4★
173. Embers: one Ojibway's meditations by Richard Wagamese 4★
174. The bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett 4.5★

Editado: Jun 3, 2019, 11:23pm

My first book this month was very disappointing - although many on LT enjoyed it a lot.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

This was frustrating rather than gripping. Cass worries about her forgetfulness, that she might be showing the first signs of early onset dementia like her mother, and mystery phone calls when no one speaks. After a while I got fed up every time the bloody phone rang and at every "I forgot". Elementary writing skills laced with stilted dialogue made a monotonous read. The denouement, made through the record of hundreds of texts, was a lazy way to wrap up, to say nothing of the crazy story about how the phone was found. And who would keep such incriminating texts? All led to a predictable conclusion.

Jun 4, 2019, 2:15am

The watercolor in your first post is stunning. All I know of BC artists is Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. I would love to see some of Onley's work in person.

Jun 4, 2019, 3:21am

Nice picture, Vivienne. And an unbelievable amount of books read this year so far!

Jun 4, 2019, 1:27pm

Love the image, wish you a better next book ... wait, looking at your current reading list, a better next couple stacks of books.

Jun 4, 2019, 1:50pm

>8 RidgewayGirl: Glad you like it. I went to a classical music concert (on one extremely hot afternoon) held in an art gallery that was having a Toni Onley exhibition. It was a glorious experience to listen to that beautiful music while surrounded by his work. His method was to fly in his little plane to some out of the way beach and paint. Sadly, the plane came down one afternoon when he was practicing a maneuver over the Fraser River in Vancouver.

>9 AlisonY: Thanks Alison, it seems every year I read more. Retirement and insomnia help!

>10 dchaikin: Two utter duds in a row was unusual. I choose my reading for the month to fill the Category Challenge so it always looks like a lot at the beginning of the month. :)

Jun 5, 2019, 4:58am

>1 VivienneR: I was about to post on the artwork above, but I see Kay has also commented. It's lovely, atmospheric and has a kind of contained activity to it.

Bummer about your first read of June, but more Peter Robinson should help move you away from the disappointment :-)

Jun 5, 2019, 11:58am

The painting at the top is lovely. Despite your disappointing first book, Vivienne, I see some listed in your June plans that I’m pretty sure you will enjoy. :-)

Jun 5, 2019, 4:59pm

>12 avaland: My latest read kept me up to 4am so it made up for the duds!

>13 NanaCC: Thanks, Colleen. Yes, some good reading planned this month.

Jun 5, 2019, 5:00pm

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Tyce's brilliant debut novel offers Alison, a barrister who drinks too much, has sex with a colleague, and is thrilled when she gets her first murder case. Her husband is a self-righteous psychotherapist and house-husband. The story is twisty and dark and utterly compelling. I can't relate to any of the characters, it's even difficult to find them likeable, yet the story grabbed my attention and held it to the last page. Tyce is herself a former barrister and knows her subject well. I fully expect that she is a writer with a glowing future and I'll be on the lookout for more books from her.

Jun 5, 2019, 5:08pm

>15 VivienneR:

I never understood people who always need a likeable (or at least relatable) character in a story... And this book sounds fascinating.

Jun 5, 2019, 9:23pm

>16 AnnieMod: Yes, often the most unlikeable characters are the most memorable, like many created by Dickens, for example.

Jun 6, 2019, 6:08am

>15 VivienneR: noting that one. Murders / legal cases aren't normally my thing, but actually I think it's just because I've not read any novels on that theme for a long time. Probably time I addressed that.

Jun 6, 2019, 3:58pm

>18 AlisonY: Tyce's book is difficult to categorize. There is mystery but it's not a murder mystery, there are legal issues but not the main topic… Appropriately, the library has it in the fiction section. Tyce doesn't get bogged down but keeps the story moving with lots of twists.

Jun 7, 2019, 9:36pm

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I read this for the first time many years ago and thought it would be interesting to read it again even though I know the solution to the mystery - it was impossible to forget. I enjoyed it just as much, maybe even more because I was able to get an idea of how Christie's ideas developed. As well, I've seen David Suchet's documentary about the Orient Express which helped visualize it better and I noticed the small, seemingly inconsequential details, like the watch hook, which really does exist, and which the victim did not use. Considering this was written in 1934 it shows considerably more talent, knowledge and style than others of the same vintage. There is no doubt Ms Christie deserves the full five stars.

Jun 7, 2019, 11:30pm

>20 VivienneR: I love this one, Vivienne. Have you seen the film adaptations?

Jun 7, 2019, 11:41pm

I like rereading good mysteries - knowing where it is going allows you to see the subtle clues and seemingly throwaway actions that lead to a solution. And the better the writer is, the easier it is to see how the mystery is woven - a bit like being told how a magician does a trick. :)

Jun 8, 2019, 1:01am

>21 NanaCC: I've seen a couple. Wasn't Peter Ustinov cast in one as Poirot? He wasn't a good choice for that part.

>22 AnnieMod: Exactly. How well you describe it!

Jun 8, 2019, 9:59am

>23 VivienneR: I’ve seen two. The older from the ‘70’s starred Albert Finney, and the newer one from a year or two ago starred Kenneth Branagh. I preferred the earlier one for the movies. But I think the PBS Masterpiece adaptations with David Suchet are the best for the Poirot character.

Jun 8, 2019, 1:27pm

>24 NanaCC: Ah, I remember. Yes, I've seen the Albert Finney movie. Ustinov must have been in another Christie movie. I didn't see the Branagh movie that was panned by many reviewers who claimed his moustache was all wrong.

I agree, David Suchet is perfect as Poirot. He will never be matched.

Jun 11, 2019, 2:15pm

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

Both Ruth and Nelson go to Blackpool for separate reasons: Nelson on a nostalgic trip to his old hometown, and to meet up with family; Ruth to find out more about a university pal who has been murdered after a significant and mysterious archaeological finding. Griffiths successfully mixed familiar characters with neo-fascists and King Arthur, set against the backdrop of Blackpool's seaside amusements. Characters continue to develop well and it looks like there may be an addition to the Norfolk crew.

One of my favourite mystery series.

Jun 16, 2019, 2:37pm

Priest by Ken Bruen 4.5★

Although I enjoy the long elegant sentences from the likes of P.D. James, Ken Bruen's spare prose fizzes with spirit and fully conveys his ideas with a minimum of words. Jack Taylor is even more tortured than most fictional detectives, but he is one of my top picks, affirmed by Iain Glenn who played Jack on the tv series. Cody, his self-appointed sidekick, is a fitting partner. Bruen descibes Ireland, particularly Galway, in such a way that shows the old country alongside the prosperity and changes that have come about in recent years, all of which provides a clearer picture of the current state. He never shies away from controversial issues and here Jack's case involves a priest who abused altar boys and has been found beheaded in the confessional.

Bruen's frequent references to language, literature, and music add to Taylor's personality as well as the atmosphere of Galway.

"She raised her eyes to heaven, said, 'Once the races are over, we're in quare street.' The Irish pronounce queer as quare and it's not anything to do with Gay issues, it's purely for the sound of the word, to give it a full and resounding flavour. We love to taste the vocabulary, swill it around the mouth, let it blossom out into full bloom."

Jun 16, 2019, 3:24pm

>27 VivienneR: You put this series on my wishlist once before, Vivienne. I had forgotten about it. I’ll have to get the first book so that I don’t forget again.

Jun 20, 2019, 7:54pm

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh 5★

I adore Waugh's sumptuous, gracious writing and all that he expresses. Everything there is to be said about the book has been said many times. This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first time. As an atheist, so much talk about religion and the church would normally put me off, but Waugh can keep me entranced.

Jun 23, 2019, 4:40pm

Finished two over the weekend:

Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill 3★
Two children abandoned at birth were raised together in a Montreal orphanage run by nuns who inflicted appalling abuse and saw the children as evidence of sin. The boy, named Pierrot for his pale skin, and the girl Rose for her red cheeks vow to stay together. The names suggest that the story is based on commedia dell'arte the traditional theatrical style, with artistes who performed for rich patrons, like the two children did. O'Neill conveys the style in many ways: masks or hidden identities, the comic opera, the tirades and abuses reminiscent of Punch and Judy. Although this is an even darker concept than any of The Brothers Grimm characters it is in fact a fairy tale love story. Unsettling, unpleasant, yet clever in a dark bleak way. I appreciated O'Neill's talent but can't say I enjoyed this one.

The Blackwater lightship by Colm Tóibín 4★
After decades of defiant opposition, three generations of women come together in support of a son for his final days before dying of AIDS. Tóibín seems to intend a message that is more than the story conveys on the surface but with a subtlety that makes it difficult to pinpoint. However, this is a quiet, elegant story of family relationships, beautifully written.

Jun 25, 2019, 4:18am

Vivienne, you are hitting me with several 'must get back to that author' bullets.

>29 VivienneR: ah, it's a great read, isn't it? That's a good reminder to me to read some more Waugh sooner rather than later.

>30 VivienneR: sorry that the Heather O'Neill novel didn't wow. I've still only read Lullabies for Little Criminals which really bowled me over, along with a lot of other CRers. Have you read anything else by her that you'd recommend? She's another author I'd like to get back to, but sounds like this isn't the best #2 to go with.

> ditto Colm Toibin. Brooklyn was a great holiday type read, and I've never got back to him again for no good reason. Perhaps he'd be a good author for my next holiday reading pile. Any favourites of his stand out?

Jun 25, 2019, 8:34am

Have you read anything else by Waugh? I loved Brideshead Revisited.

Jun 25, 2019, 1:58pm

>31 AlisonY: I didn't read Lullabies for Little Criminals so I can't compare and I don't think it will feature in my reading plans. What I disliked most about O'Neill's book was the absurdities that clashed with the cruelty. And my last four books have been closely related to the church, which may have been three books too many for this dyed-in-the-wool atheist. :) Give Lonely Hearts Hotel a try and let me know what you think.

I'll definitely read more Colm Tóibín, great writer.

>32 NanaCC: Before LT I read everything I could get my hands on by Waugh. Memories are fading but two favourites were Scoop and Black Mischief, both funny. I also liked A Handful of Dust, which I seem to recall hearing has been published with different endings. Or it may have been that the movie had a different ending. None are anything like Brideshead Revisited, most are filled with quirky, English humour.

Jun 25, 2019, 7:10pm

Cross by Ken Bruen 4.5★

This was the first Jack Taylor book that I read, the one that got me hooked. After this one I went back to the beginning and started with the first one and read the series in order. When I picked up this one from the library I was disappointed at first when I discovered I had already read it. However, I couldn't return a book to the library without reading it, a good decision because I enjoyed it all over again and understood more of the backstory.

I've already put a hold on the next one in the series.

Jun 25, 2019, 8:13pm

Stonehenge: sun moon wandering stars by Michael W. Postins 4★

Last week's summer solstice (which coincides with my son's birthday) sparked a conversation about Stonehenge and my son lent me this slim book on the topic. The state of knowledge of astronomy at the time it was built is astonishing, although as Postins explains, it was just a matter of observation over hundreds of years. This is a basic book that provides astronomical explanations of the structure referred to by Diororus in 44 B.C. as a "spherical temple".

Jun 25, 2019, 10:22pm

I’ll have to try another book by Waugh. And just to let you know I’m listening to the first Jack Taylor book right now and really enjoying it. The reader’s accent is lovely.

Jun 26, 2019, 2:05am

Oh, an audio Jack Taylor would be lovely. Do you know who the narrator is?

Jun 26, 2019, 7:03am

>37 VivienneR: The reader is Gerry O’Brien. I don’t know him, but he has a great voice for this series.

Jun 26, 2019, 2:21pm

>38 NanaCC: I haven't heard that reader. A good narrator can make or break a book. When I read Jack Taylor books I can hear Iain Glen's voice, the actor who played Jack on the tv series.

Jun 26, 2019, 5:29pm

>39 VivienneR: I didn’t know that there was a tv series. Is it called Jack Taylor?

Jun 26, 2019, 9:34pm

>40 NanaCC: Yes, and I just remembered it's on Netflix if you have it. I'm in love with Iain Glen (aka Jack Taylor). :))

Editado: Jul 1, 2019, 1:17pm

Operation Mincemeat: the true spy story that changed the course of World War II by Ben Macintyre 5★

No time for a review (there are lots of good reviews here on LT). I have to say this is a terrific story and I enjoyed it thoroughly. No one can write war stories like Macintyre.

Jul 1, 2019, 3:56pm

>42 VivienneR: I need to move this one up the pile, Vivienne. I’ve enjoyed all of his that I’ve read.

Jul 2, 2019, 3:03pm

First Love by Ivan S. Turgenev 4★

Late evening after dinner, three middle-aged men remember their first love. For two of them the experience had no noteworthy aspects, but the third gave an account of his passion for an "older" woman when he was sixteen. As the daughter of a coarse, impoverished princess she had several admirers when mother and daughter moved next door to Petrovich. He was immediately smitten. Nothing has changed for lovelorn teenagers in the almost two hundred years since this story was written, they are still beyond help or advice, with no choice but to wait and see what happens. Beautifully written with an excellent translation by Isaiah Berlin, this slim book is well worth reading.

Jul 6, 2019, 3:13pm

The book of proper names by Amélie Nothomb 3★

A new-to-me author, this odd little book surprisingly held my interest. Its bizarre characters tell an even more bizarre story of a woman who killed the father of her unborn child because he wanted to give the baby a boring name (Joëlle). As soon as the baptism takes place, naming the child Plectrude, mother commits suicide. And that's just the beginning!

Plectrude doesn't do well at school but is accepted by école des rats to study ballet - not that ballet worked out any better. Nevertheless, Nothomb touches on some profound topics. The ending, where the author appears to have run out of ideas, is fittingly weird.

Anyone who enjoys absurd humour might appreciate this book.

Starlight by Richard Wagamese 4.5★

Wagamese's gentle nature and love of the land radiates from this tenderhearted story. Sadly, he died before Starlight was finished, and it was published as he left it. The publisher provided information from the author's notes as to how he intended to end the story.

Somehow I mistakenly had the idea that this preceded Medicine Walk but that means I can still look forward to the earlier book.

Jul 9, 2019, 10:45pm

The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri

Every time I read one of Camilleri's books I wonder why on earth Montalbano has anything to do with Livia. One of these days her bad cooking or bad attitude will have her sent packing. Apart from the annoying Livia I really enjoy these Italian mystery novels. The translation by Stephen Sartarelli is excellent.

Jul 10, 2019, 8:26am

>46 VivienneR: This is another series that I have on my wishlist, but haven’t started. So many books I’d like to read....

Jul 10, 2019, 2:39pm

>47 NanaCC: It's a terrible problem to have :)

Jul 13, 2019, 12:43am

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths 4★

There was less archaeology in this one, the 6th in the series, but the characters and their relationships were filled out more, which sort of made up for it. This is one of my favourite series.

Jul 13, 2019, 7:07am

>49 VivienneR: I’m two ahead of you in this series, Vivienne. I want to keep going, but I’m trying to pace myself, or there won't be anymore.

Jul 13, 2019, 12:58pm

>50 NanaCC: I expect my name to hit the top of the hold list at the library in October for The Stone Circle. There are four books before that, all of which I own. Reading all four in the next few weeks could cause a Ruth Galloway overload so it looks like I'll have to cancel the hold and go to the bottom of the list.

Jul 14, 2019, 1:48am

Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante

A gritty police procedural by the author of the Prime Suspect series with Jane Tennison. This series features young detective Anna Travis who is investigating the murder of an up-and-coming actress. It was longer than necessary because there was so much interpersonal detail about Travis and her ex-lover who is also her superior officer. It was OK, but La Plante's writing has become formulaic. I'll read more of the series sometime and hope she changes the tune.

Jul 14, 2019, 9:37pm

>30 VivienneR:

I've haven't heard much about The Lonely Hearts Hotel that makes me want to read it, but I adore Heather O'Neill's writing, and your review is intriguing. I was surprised when you said at the end that you didn't really like it, as everything you said up to that point sounded pretty great.

Love the Tony Onley--I'm not familiar with that one.

Editado: Jul 14, 2019, 9:43pm

>31 AlisonY: & >33 VivienneR:

May I step in? Heather O'Neill isn't exactly prolific. I've read her book of short stories -- Daydreams of Angels, which, as with every short story collection I can think of, has stories that are better and some that are not. Overall I liked it a lot. The other one I read was The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, which I didn't like as much as Lullabies For Little Criminals, but still loved.

Jul 15, 2019, 3:31pm

>53 Nickelini: There is no doubt that O'Neill's writing is creative, clever, entertaining, but this book was also grim, too dark for my taste. That might seem odd as I enjoy a good bloody murder mystery, but what made it so off-putting was that it was based on real stories of child abuse.

I can't remember where the Tony Onley was painted, just that it wasn't in BC (maybe the Yukon?). I too love his work.

>54 Nickelini: Good to get your opinion of other Heather O'Neill's books but The Lonely Hearts Hotel will probably be my only one.

Jul 16, 2019, 2:02am

>55 VivienneR:

I can't remember where the Tony Onley was painted, just that it wasn't in BC (maybe the Yukon?). I too love his work.

Oh, so interesting. I'm so immersed in Switzerland right now that my first glance said "Swiss", but then, no, that's not right. It could be lots of places in BC, but it isn't typical BC like Onley usually paints. I've been to the Yukon, and I don't think it's typical there either, but it could be for sure. Maybe Iceland? Tasmania? Newfoundland? Patagonia? Now I'm just being silly.

Good to get your opinion of other Heather O'Neill's books but The Lonely Hearts Hotel will probably be my only one.

Oh no, please consider reading Lullabies For Little Criminals. I know, I'm a shameless book pusher. But you did read the book most consider the author's worst.

Jul 16, 2019, 4:22am

>45 VivienneR:

The ending, where the author appears to have run out of ideas, is fittingly weird.

On your first read of Nothomb you seem to have hit the nail on the head with this description. I've ready most of Nothomb's works and as she progresses in her career her works seem to become less and less finished. She has so many great ideas that she can't spit them out fast enough with the same amount of polish as her earlier works so her stories are clever but the endings are always lackluster or simply non-existent. In one book she even created two possible endings for the reader to choose which although interesting, is not our job to do.

I like Nothomb but I question her sanity sometimes. But I still like her, sometimes. It's all a weird thing.

Jul 16, 2019, 1:47pm

>56 Nickelini: After checking back on my source for the Toni Onley painting, I discovered it was done in the US Virgin Islands. Whew! It was bothering me that I couldn't remember and all your ideas made me more curious.

I'll keep Lullabies for Little Criminals in mind, but it won't surface for a while. Maybe next year.

>57 lilisin: Amélie Nothomb certainly has some unique ideas! And a unique style! Your summary that she "can't spit them out fast enough" made me smlie but it fits the image I have of her. Obviously she is very talented. I enjoyed the book and checked for more titles at the library but sadly there were no others. However, I will keep a lookout for her name.

Jul 17, 2019, 2:08pm

Sad to hear of the death of Andrea Camilleri today. Good reason to read another Montalbano tale.

Editado: Jul 18, 2019, 7:20pm

>58 VivienneR:

US Virgin Islands! I'd never have guessed that. Been there (also British Virgin Islands) and they didn't look like that. But I wasn't there during a storm, so what do I know? Wow, in a million guesses, that wouldn't have come to mind.

Jul 18, 2019, 9:52pm

>58 VivienneR: Yes, The US Virgin Islands would never have been my first - or any other guess!

Editado: Jul 22, 2019, 9:45pm

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 5★

Atkinson has done it again! She has woven multiple plotlines with terrific characters and created a book I just couldn't put down. Jackson Brodie, Crystal Holroyd, her stepson Harry, and drag queen Bunny were outstanding. I just hope she continues with the series.

Jul 23, 2019, 6:31am

>62 VivienneR: I’m looking forward to this one, Vivienne. I’m 4th in line at the library.

Editado: Jul 23, 2019, 2:22pm

>63 NanaCC: I was in a long line at the library too but it was worth the wait. Atkinson's crime might be grim but her telling of it is not. You will enjoy it.

Jul 23, 2019, 2:41pm

>62 VivienneR: I've got my copy and I'm holding on to it for that moment when I need a great book and have the time to read uninterrupted.

Jul 23, 2019, 8:46pm

>65 RidgewayGirl: Good idea, Kay! It's the perfect book for your plan.

As mentioned, mine was a library book but I am thinking of buying my own copy because I know I will want to read it again at some time.

Jul 28, 2019, 1:30am

Sanctuary by Ken Bruen 4★

A sleepless night was filled with this Jack Taylor episode, although the frequent beatings he suffered meant it was less pleasant for him. Taylor just never gets credit for what he does right, only what he does wrong. There is nothing this guy could do that would make me despise him as his one-time boss Clancy, or his mother's priest, Father Malachy does. Written in the first person we get to see what is happening inside Jack's head, which isn't as bad as some believe, and it allows his black humour to shine. Although I know Taylor isn't to everyone's taste I believe this to be the best of Emerald Noir and one of my favourite series.

Editado: Set 2, 2019, 1:24am

The book of Mahjong: the illustrated guide by Amy Lo 4★

Mah Jongg by Ann M. Israel & Gregg Swain 5★

Both of these books were borrowed from my son in an attempt to improve my game. I don't know if I benefited from them but Amy Lo's book was most helpful whle Ann Israel's gorgeous book is perfect for browsing.

Jul 29, 2019, 9:08pm

Strange things: the malevolent north in Canadian literature by Margaret Atwood 4.5★

This is a series of four lectures Atwood delivered at Oxford in 1991. She talks about the draw of the Canadian North and its myths and legends. The very place that fascinated me too, when, as a child I recited Robert Service poems. Later in life, my interest in the North just as strong, I worked in an Arctic research library, so I have a personal interest in these stories. Written in Atwood's inimitable style, I could hear her voice as I read the words.

Thanks go to rabbitprincess for leading me to this gem.

Jul 30, 2019, 3:52am

>69 VivienneR: sounds interesting. At what age did you move to Canada, Vivienne (if you don't mind me asking!)?

Jul 30, 2019, 6:42am

>69 VivienneR: Interesting—I've never seen that book before. I really like the cover thumbnail you posted, rather than the one the touchstone goes to. so odd and enigmatic.

Jul 30, 2019, 2:11pm

>70 AlisonY: I moved to Canada when I was twenty-one with my husband and new baby (who is now probably older than you). We've moved around a bit, from the severe winters in Edmonton (that I liked) eventually to Vancouver Island where the climate is much like yours. When I retired we moved inland. I'll take snow over rain any day.

>71 lisapeet: I have returned the book to the library so can't comment on the source of the cover art, obviously created by someone who has no experience of snowshoes! The black/blue cover looks very mystical too.

Jul 30, 2019, 4:24pm

>72 VivienneR: I've heard that Vancouver is up there in terms of great places to live. Yes, I think I'm with you on snow over rain, although I do hate snow when I'm driving given that our house is on a hill.

Ago 1, 2019, 9:37pm

The Trespasser by Tana French 4.5★

A complex story with great characters, rich Dublin dialogue, and surprising plot twists. While there are long interrogation scenes, the details learned during those scenes help in relating the facts of what appears at first sight to be a simple "domestic". The reader is allowed to share what Conroy and Moran are planning and the direction the investigation is taking. Highly recommended.

Ago 2, 2019, 10:49am

>74 VivienneR: Isn’t Tana French really good?!?! I love her writing. And this series in particular almost always seems to hit the right notes. I enjoyed her newer stand alone, The Witch Elm, but I know a few people really didn’t like it. The length turned some people off, and the fact that there are no likable characters was a deterrent for others. I guess I don’t mind all of that as long as it’s a good story.

Ago 2, 2019, 12:47pm

>75 NanaCC: Yes, really good! I know the length is a problem for some people but I can't think of a word that I'd cut out. I have The Witch Elm on my library list but there are some holds on it so I'll have to cool my heels.

Ago 2, 2019, 2:35pm

>69 VivienneR: That looks very interesting! Noted.

And I thought The Trespasser was French's best book.

Ago 2, 2019, 3:52pm

>77 RidgewayGirl: It must have been a challenge to lecture on "The malevolent north in Canadian literature" to a mainly English audience. I can imagine the eye-rolls!

I should agree but at the end of a book that good, I'm always inclined to think it was the best. However, according to my ratings The Trespasser tied with Faithful Place and Broken Harbour. I'll go back to them someday for a comparison read.

Editado: Ago 8, 2019, 1:32am

I've been out enjoying summer and can't believe we are a week into August and I've only just finished one book!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4.5★

Dystopia, science fiction and the like are not my cup of tea but this is one story from the genre that I loved. The story is believable in a scary way, the characters superb, and the writing is fabulous. I read Brave New World about a hundred years ago (well, maybe not that long but it seems like it) and often think about Huxley's story, but I found this thought-provoking book to be far superior.

Ago 7, 2019, 11:29pm

>79 VivienneR:

I thought that one was good too. I went into it knowing nothing at all about it.

Ago 8, 2019, 1:31am

>80 Nickelini: That's what I did too. It was a big surprise.

Ago 8, 2019, 8:37am

>79 VivienneR: Dystopia is not my cup of tea either. I had no idea what this book was about, but your signaling that I should add this to my list.

Ago 8, 2019, 9:21am

Catching a book bullet here too. It's one of those books I feel like I've skirted around for ages but never picked up.

Ago 8, 2019, 12:41pm

>82 NanaCC: and >83 AlisonY: I loved the writing in Remains of the Day so I was pretty sure I'd enjoy anything by Ishiguro. Other than that I knew nothing about the story and expected it to be more of a quiet domestic drama. My only quibble was that the ending, which could be seen coming so no surprise, happened rather suddenly.

Ago 9, 2019, 12:21am

Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley 3★

One of those books whose reputation precedes it by way of the silver screen. Even though I haven't seen any Frankenstein movies I still know the basic storyline, picked up from references in other reading. Walton, an arctic explore relates Frankenstein's story, and incredible though it is, I enjoyed the flowery, dramatic 19th century prose. Worth reading if only to experience the story that became so famous.

Editado: Ago 10, 2019, 10:25pm

>85 VivienneR: I had somehow managed to not see any Frankenstein movies but I still thought I knew the basic storyline - until I read it and realised I had no idea!

The only thing I didn't really like about it was the theme of 'only bad things can happen when you mess with God's plan' which of course is purely due to my own worldview.

Coincidentally I'm reading a story at the moment that involves a cyborg who compares himself to Frankenstein's monster.

Ago 11, 2019, 1:54pm

>86 rhian_of_oz: That theme is one that annoys me in present times too! When a great scientific breakthrough is made there is sure to be those who claim it is "messing with God's plan".

How does your cyborg story stand up to the comparison?

Ago 12, 2019, 11:39am

>87 VivienneR: I'm really enjoying it, though I'm not sure people will still be reading it in 200 years :-).

Editado: Ago 13, 2019, 1:27am

The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters 4★

The story begins with an ambush in Iraq leaving sole survivor Lieutenant Charles Acland with half his face gone. Post-recovery aggression, with some graphic information from his ex, brings him to the attention of the police who are investigating multiple murders. He seems to have no interest in helping himself but a weightlifting lesbian doctor offers help. With excellent characters and plot, it's a page turner right to the end.

Ago 13, 2019, 7:35pm

The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief by V.S. Naipaul 4★

More than a travel narrative, Naipaul examines religion and mythology in six African countries and compares present practices with those of his last visit in the sixties, and in the time before colonization. His writing is down-earth with short, sometimes acerbic sentences, that might be considered blunt if they were not tinged with humour or describing risible situations, which happen surprisingly often. But Naipaul has a way with words: even a brief description of a dog in the street conjures up a vivid image of the event. Impressively parsimonious, he negotiates keenly with guides, witch doctors, drivers and so on, often backing out of a trip that he thinks might cost more than he has been quoted. Writers who know Africa have strong opinions of this work that has been described as "cliched" and even "toxic". While much of the information is unverified or of mythical origin, it was provided by those who might just be enjoying themselves by recounting an amusing or shocking anecdote. But then, a renowned sceptic himself, Naipaul may have been just along for the yarns too. Recommended for the armchair traveller.

A favourite quotation: "Directly, with no beating about the bush, he {the soothsayer} asked our business. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't say I had come only to have a look."

Read in celebration of Naipaul's birthday August 17, 1932. He died August 2018.

Editado: Ago 15, 2019, 10:15pm

Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg 4★

It must have been so much fun to just jump in a little plane and take off for a day in France and probably with less trouble than driving to the shopping centre nowadays. This book, a British Library Crime Classic, was originally published in 1934. I was delighted by all the buzzing around and aerobatics by the members of an aviation club. An Australian bishop arrived to take flying lessons and at first it appeared that he might become the sleuth and discover who murdered a pilot but police investigations took over. The beautiful cover lived up to its promise and I loved all the aeronautic details, although the solution was less than stellar.

Slam by Nick Hornby 4★

Two teenagers still in school become parents. The way Hornby tells it is full of humour and at the same time poignant. Sam is a keen skateboarder and young enough to be asking a poster of professional skater Tony Hawk for advice. An excellent story intended for an audience of teenage boys, but girls will enjoy it too.

Ago 16, 2019, 3:08am

>90 VivienneR: noting The Masque of Africa. There's something to be said for being an armchair traveller, especially as we're now edging into autumn (or, looking out the window, winter).

Ago 16, 2019, 1:42pm

>92 AlisonY: I'm glad I can read about Naipaul's journeys, I sure wouldn't want to do it myself. I know that feeling at the end of summer when you can almost smell the frost on its way. As well as a lot of snow in winter, we get very hot summers but this year was bearable. I feel I can say that without being jinxed now that it is mid-August.

Ago 18, 2019, 2:27am

Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney 2.5★

If there was a competition for the most twists and turns packed into a suspense story, this book would win. It was a real dog's dinner of lies - too many to keep my interest. And in the end I didn't care what happened to the unreliable narrator. The multiple timeline formula was annoying too, a good writer should be able to tell a complex story without jumping back and forward in time in time every few pages.

Ago 22, 2019, 4:15pm

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny 4★

If a fault exists in Penny's writing it is that the exemplary Gamache is just too good. But what she accomplishes to perfection is an ability to portray offbeat, weird characters with astonishing reality. And she's spot-on when describing a Canadian winter. This is a highly recommended series for good reason.

Ago 22, 2019, 7:43pm

>95 VivienneR: You know that I love the series, Vivienne, and this one was no exception. After the end of the previous book, I wondered what would come next. I loved what she did with it.

Ago 23, 2019, 10:23am

>95 VivienneR: I've requested Still Life from the library. I hope I like it - I like the idea of a series I don't have to wait *ages* for the next book.

Editado: Ago 23, 2019, 1:32pm

>96 NanaCC: I wonder what will happen after this one, Colleen! I enjoy the series so much, especially the Quebec ambiance.

>97 rhian_of_oz: That's one I haven't read, Rhian. I started with the second in the series Dead Cold and at the time it didn't appeal. Later, encouraged by other LTers, I tried the third one The Cruellest Month and was hooked. I'll go back to the first two sometime, probably to fill the time waiting for Penny to publish another one.

Ago 23, 2019, 3:27pm

Dr. No by Ian Fleming 3.5★

I haven't read this since I was a teenager so this month's AlphaCAT was a good excuse to resurrect it. As expected, there are some dated sections and language, and lots of silliness, but still it was an entertaining afternoon's read, although funny more than exciting (I remember the movie with Ursula Andress where there was an audible chuckle from the audience every time Bond used Honey's name). Because of our familiarity with Bond and the knowledge that he survives all challenges, the suspense has evaporated in the intervening decades.

Ago 23, 2019, 6:04pm

Just an FYI, Vivienne, but the next Inspector Gamache book, A Better Man, is due out next week according to Amazon. Yay! I had no idea.

Ago 23, 2019, 8:59pm

>100 NanaCC: Thank you, Colleen! Good news!! I heard that somewhere but my library hasn't even got to the "on order" stage yet. I recommended it, so I'm hoping that will speed things up.

Ago 23, 2019, 9:05pm

>101 VivienneR: My library is the same.

Ago 24, 2019, 7:27pm

Category - Fiction

Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont 4★

This is a progression of stories that form what is essentially a novel about four First Nations young people who are leaving the reservation for the first time. They discover how difficult life is for aboriginal youth as they attempt to get an education and earn a living in a world of white people. These stories could only be told by someone who has been in the position and faced the same cultural difficulties. Although their histories are marked by racism, alcohol, assault, and crime, the four share the same worries as any other young person concerned about looking their best, getting good marks, making friends, yet at no time do we forget that their fears come from a different place, a different culture. But these stories are not about being indigenous, but about four young people becoming adults, albeit in a world where they are in a minority group. Dumont's tempting book spans a couple of decades around the turn of the century. Enlightening and thought-provoking.

The author is a Plains Cree writer for newspapers in Saskatchewan and Alberta, for CBC radio, as well as working as a stand-up comedian across North America.

Ago 25, 2019, 9:17am

>103 VivienneR: This book sounds interesting, Vivienne. Nice review.

Ago 27, 2019, 10:17pm

Thank you, Colleen, it was interesting and insightful.

Ago 27, 2019, 10:18pm

The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 4★

Ruth Galloway is excavating what appears to be a bronze age site while a nearby construction worker uncovers a WWII plane with a body inside. The relationships and families of Ruth and friends continue to be a feature of Griffiths' very enjoyable series. The "Ghost Fields" were mock airfields formed to fool the enemy during WWII. They, as well as the harsh Norfolk weather events described were created from fact, which make the story even more interesting.

Ago 29, 2019, 8:34pm

Indigo: in search of the colour that seduced the world by Catherine McKinley 2.5★

McKinley was awarded a Fulbright grant to research indigo, the source of the exceptional "bluest of blues" dye, in Ghana. This is a personal story of her journey in search of indigo-dyed cloth in several African countries. It is not apparent if she accomplished what she set out to do. As a travel memoir the book succeeds, as the story of indigo, not so much.

Ago 30, 2019, 8:04am

>106 VivienneR: I really enjoyed, Ghost Fields, Vivienne. The series really has me hooked, and I wish there were many more already written. Soon I’ll be at the point I’m at with some of my other series...waiting, waiting, waiting for a new one. ;-)

Ago 30, 2019, 2:06pm

>108 NanaCC: I should really slow down on my reading so that I don't find myself waiting, waiting too. But Ruth is so tempting.

Ago 30, 2019, 2:27pm

>109 VivienneR: I guess we could have worse problems, Vivienne, but I’ve only got two to go before waiting for the new one coming out next year. Thankfully, you and others have added more to my list, so I think I’ll survive.

Set 7, 2019, 3:10pm

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I read this many years ago and have always claimed it to be one of my favourite Christies. I enjoyed the story once again even though I knew the murderer's identity. Christie was outstanding in her ability to create a simple whodunnit and far ahead of her time. Written in 1926, this is one of the best Golden Age mysteries. For the half dozen people who haven't yet read it - do so now!

Set 7, 2019, 4:29pm

>111 VivienneR: I loved that one, Vivienne. Maybe it’s time for a reread or relisten..I have both formats.

Set 8, 2019, 1:17am

>112 NanaCC: When I first read it I would have given it five stars but now only four. I'm pretty sure it was because there was no shock value at the end. Agatha Christie was without equal.

Who is the narrator? That would make the decision for you.

Set 8, 2019, 10:42am

>113 VivienneR: The narrator is Hugh Fraser. But my Audible library doesn’t say I own it. It was a long time ago, so perhaps I listened on CD before I had an Audible subscription. I guess I’ll read it on my kindle. I have that, and the paper version is somewhere. Perhaps at my daughter’s. I have enjoyed Hugh Fraser reading others.

Editado: Set 8, 2019, 7:49pm

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 4★

I have to admit my progress during the first part of this book was slow and then suddenly my attention was captured. It was as if I was reading about real people, neighbours maybe. Atwood deserves her stellar reputation, she is a superb storyteller.

Set 8, 2019, 10:05pm

>115 VivienneR: I remember having a similar impression. Slow, slow, slow... then takes off.

Set 9, 2019, 3:31am

>115 VivienneR:, >116 dchaikin: yep, my thoughts also when I read this. I too gave it 4 stars - this was part of my comments at the time:

I'm confused as to what I think of this book. Part of me loved it - there is no doubt Atwood is a splendid prose writer, and the last 200 pages or so had me gripped as all the loose ends were finally tied up. I just felt it took so long to get to that point, and I'd figured out many of the plot twists long before the end anyway.

I think a couple of hundred pages less in that book would have worked much better.

Set 9, 2019, 10:29am

>117 AlisonY: maybe. I’ve forgotten too much. My brain says it remembers she needed to set the scene, and sort of left things on low heat on the stove to cook a bit. But then my brain can’t name a single character by name, so it may not know what it’s talking about.

Set 9, 2019, 11:22am

I love that picture at the top of your thread! As you can see, I haven’t been around for a while, and you’ve read a lot of books in the meanwhile...several of which I have added to my wishlist (Blood Orange, Ken Bruen, Elly Griffiths). You’ve also reminded me to go back to Tana French.

Set 9, 2019, 11:36am

>115 VivienneR:, >116 dchaikin:, >117 AlisonY: Me four. My notes from six years ago:

I'm not sure how I felt about it. I didn't hate it but I didn't really love it either, and I'm not convinced it was worth the effort

Set 9, 2019, 2:46pm

>116 dchaikin:, >117 AlisonY:, >120 rhian_of_oz: Glad I'm not alone with my opinion. Atwood gets so much admiration it makes me feel like there is something wrong with me when I don't join the club. I enjoyed early novels by Atwood but since The Handmaid's Tale, which I disliked, I haven't read much. I agree with Alison, it was too long.

I noticed when entering the title at the top, it came right after Agatha Christie, with the same four stars. Hmm…

>119 rachbxl: Thank you. Nice to see you dropping by. And glad to have been of assistance in adding to your wishlist.

Set 9, 2019, 3:06pm

>121 VivienneR: Have you read Alias Grace Vivienne? It's the Atwood novel I've liked best (haven't tried The Handmaid's Tale - not really into dystopian fiction).

Set 9, 2019, 4:30pm

>122 AlisonY: According to my catalogue I've read Alias Grace but I remember very little about it apart from the main theme. I read The Handmaid's Tale when it first came out but remember nothing about it. The Edible Woman that I read back in the 80s, stick in my mind much more clearly.

Set 9, 2019, 4:34pm

After the very long book by Margaret Atwood I finished Vi by Kim Thúy translated from the French by Sheila Fischman in a matter of hours.

With so much news about refugees and displaced peoples, this novel, written in 2016, reminds us of what many go through to find a home and what they can bring to their new country. In Thùy's case, a brilliant career as a writer in Canada. In Vi she gives readers a before and after view of Vietnam where we can imagine the scent of frangipani flowers and exotic food more than Agent Orange. Her writing is poetic and exquisitely brief without ever missing the crux of the story. Highly recommended. 4.5★

Set 9, 2019, 5:17pm

My favorite Atwood is The Robber Bride, but it isn't short. And I firmly believe that if you've read three of a prominent author's works and not fallen in love, then you've done your due diligence and don't have to feel the slightest guilt about never picking up another of the author's books.

Set 10, 2019, 12:49am

>125 RidgewayGirl: While I can't say I've fallen in love with Atwood, our parting of the ways is not a done deal or even imminent considering I own 23 of her books, and I've read others not included. I might go back and re-read older books because I remember loving The Edible Woman. My recent favourite was Strange Things: the malevolent North in Canadian literature a series of lectures she gave at Oxford.

Set 11, 2019, 12:47pm

The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters 3.5★

War correspondent Connie Burns suspects a mercenary of murdering women in Sierra Leone and now, by the same methods, in Iraq. After making her suspicions known, she is abducted and tortured for three days and then released without ever seeing her abductor. The story shifts to England where she hopes to recover under an assumed name in a quiet rural house where she encounters a local eccentric and the doctor. Despite her strict precautions, word of the location reaches the suspect who breaks into the house. The main part of the story shows her as an emotional wreck, not eating or sleeping. After the break-in where the culprit escapes she becomes confident, sure of herself and unconcerned about her torturer being at large. During the hideout, she uncovers unsettling information about her landlady providing an accompanying crime to investigate. Some of the dialogue is implausible, such as when she is interviewed by the police, or when she is questioning her landlady, or more accurately, interrogating her. A decent read but not one of Walters' best.

Set 12, 2019, 10:55pm

The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels 3★

This is the story of Jean, a botanist and her husband Avery, an engineer who works on three major engineering projects including the Aswan Dam, the St Lawrence Seaway, and the rebuilding of Warsaw after the war. To build the Aswan Dam in Egypt great temples had to be dismantled and moved, adding complexity to displacing whole villages of people and their homes. By coincidence, I live near a community that was also moved to allow for a dam and flooding. And although the benefit from the dam has been great over the years, it was harrowing for everyone, including the residents of the cemetery.

Winters is a poet first and foremost so naturally her writing is poetic and lyrical, not leaving much for the actual story or characters, so even with beautiful writing, this book was hard work. She is often compared to Michael Ondaatje but I don't see that at all - this reader hangs on every word of Ondaatje's. Adding to the difficulty was that my audiobook had a poor narrator although I believe it would have been a difficult job for anyone to narrate this book.

The title is from the name of the storage vault for the dead in cold climates while waiting for a thaw to allow interment.

Set 13, 2019, 7:46am

>128 VivienneR: sounds fascinating. I've done a couple of trips down the Nile, and it was mind boggling to learn about how they moved the likes of the Abu Simbel temples.

Set 13, 2019, 2:21pm

>129 AlisonY: Must have been wonderful to take a trip down the Nile! And yes, mind-boggling to imagine the enormous job of moving the temples.

Set 13, 2019, 2:43pm

Atwood has written so many books that I can't imagine even her most avid fans connect to all of them. I've read 8 of her books according to my LT library and have rated them from 2.5 - 5 stars. I consider myself a fan of her writing, though, and I'm willing to give most of what she writes a try.

Set 14, 2019, 1:34pm

I have a few of Atwood’s books, but haven’t been inclined to read them. I know I should really try.

Set 15, 2019, 3:24pm

>131 japaul22: I think she deserves a try but her writing is often hard work with references to other literature that I haven't read. She is clever, amazingly creative and entertaining. Like you, my ratings are all over the board.

>132 NanaCC: My advice is to start with a popular one, when you find yourself ready. My husband is a big fan of her poetry, but I'm sorry to say, poetry is not my preferred genre.

Set 15, 2019, 3:25pm

The Dragon Scroll by I.J. Parker 3.5★

I was intrigued by Parker's mysteries set in medieval Japan - a place where my reading has seldom taken me. Sugawara Akitada, a lowly government official was sent on an impossible mission because he was expendable. This had a good plot with lots of action, delightful characters, and unexpected humour.

Set 15, 2019, 9:21pm

>13 NanaCC: I have The Blind Assassin on audio. I tried it once before and there was some music element that threw me off. I’m going to try it again, and if it doesn’t work for me I’ll get the print version.

Set 16, 2019, 2:25am

>135 NanaCC: Music on an audiobook can sometimes seem weird and out of place, other times it enhances the book. I just found it was slow to capture my interest until about the halfway mark.

Set 16, 2019, 7:11pm

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese 4.5★

I read Starlight in July and was immediately drawn in by Wagamese's writing and the appealing character Frank Starlight, who was brought up as a son by "the old man". In this book, his real father, a hopeless alcoholic Frank has only met on a few unpleasant occasions in his life, has requested a visit before he dies. What follows is a pilgrimage of sorts in the mountains of British Columbia to where Eldon wants to die, on a specific mountain ridge, buried in the traditional way for a warrior. Frank is sceptical of Eldon's warrior status but out of loyalty goes along with his father's wishes. Eldon is placed on the horse, becoming sicker with each day of the journey, while Frank walks alongside, preparing a bed of spruce for his father each night and sheltering him with a spruce lean-to. He catches fish and collects berries and plants along the way - a medicine walk, like the old man has taught him, while Eldon recounts the cathartic story of his life and of Frank's birth of which Frank knew nothing. This is a beautiful, moving story of loyalty and of healing for both men. Highly recommended.

I loved the bit where they came across a grizzly. Now I know what to do when I encounter a bear, although I doubt that I would be as brave as Frank. Fortunately I was already in my car when it happened a couple of weeks ago.

Set 16, 2019, 9:09pm

I've been thinking that I need to read another book by Richard Wagamese after reading Indian Horse, which was just so powerful.

Set 16, 2019, 10:05pm

I hope to read Indian Horse soon. I'll be thinking of Medicine Walk for a long time.

Set 17, 2019, 3:32pm

Hi! Just catching up a bit. I loved The Blind Assassin when I read it several years ago. I very much enjoyed both Atwood's writing style and the story-within-story aspect of the tale.

>134 VivienneR: Coincidentally, I just bought the first four books of the Parker series on the advice of a friend. I expect to start in on the series sooner rather than later.

Set 17, 2019, 4:19pm

>140 rocketjk: Writing a story-within-a-story is always clever but Atwood really did it well.

I'm going to look for another Parker because that one was more fun than I expected it would be. I'll watch for your reviews.

Editado: Set 20, 2019, 12:51am

Days by Moonlight by André Alexis 3.5★
Alfred Homer has been asked to accompany a family friend to search southern Ontario for a poet who has not been heard of for some time. They pass through towns with some bizarre customs. The result is a ribald, weird, darkly funny story of their travels. It's to be expected that an Ontarian odyssey featuring someone named Homer will form a highly imaginative work. Not only is Homer quirky but the people they meet are at the top end of the offbeat register.

"Days by Moonlight is not a work of realism. It's not a work that uses the imagination to show the real, but one that uses the real to show the imagination." -- André Alexis

Set 24, 2019, 9:29pm

Trial of Passion by William Deverell 4★

Garibaldi Island is a fictional island in the Gulf Islands, a thirty-minute float plane flight from Vancouver. Like the author, Arthur Beauchamp is a lawyer who is about to retire to the islands. He has been asked to defend a law professor accused of rape by one of his students. The story follows Beauchamp's move to his island home, handling the legal battle, as well as getting to know the eccentric locals with whom he uses his gift of tolerance and patience. After a bad start, the widowed farmer next door becomes more attractive by the day adding a little romance to the story. This is the first in the Arthur Beauchamp series, a great story that is literate and funny and set on the Gulf Islands, one of my favourite places in the world. Highly recommended.

Deverell is a lawyer and founder of the BC Civil Liberties Foundation. He writes a great courtroom drama that is light and highly entertaining.

Set 25, 2019, 10:52pm

>143 VivienneR:
I've never heard of that one -- sounds interesting! Did you find it at a bookshop or ??

Set 26, 2019, 2:23pm

>144 Nickelini: It was an ebook from Overdrive, via the public library. I love the local flavour. He can describe the "eccentricities" of the island population without being disparaging.

Set 26, 2019, 2:25pm

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje 3.5★

Ondaatje's language is beautiful and the dreamy atmospheric story can mesmerize the reader so that it just slips by. But this is a complex novel that demands the reader to pay attention. After setting the book down I found it difficult to pick up the story again without going back a few pages. This is a coming-of-age story that takes place in wartime where teens Nathaniel and his sister Rachel are left in the care of a guardian nicknamed "The Moth". Mysterious and intriguing but not among my favourite books by Ondaatje.

Set 28, 2019, 4:38pm

The Tent by Margaret Atwood 4★

This is Atwood at her best, reflective, with a touch of acerbic humour, and a little cynical in places. Not actually stories, more like ideas, vignettes, all of them clever and thought-provoking. As expected some sparkled, some merely glowed but there are no duds. It's a slim book yet not to be read in one or two sessions, but rather to be dipped into and savoured in individual bites. I started noting favourites but the list got too long. These were at the top of the list: Encouraging the Young; Gateway; Our Cat Enters Heaven; Chicken Little Goes Too Far; and best of all, The Tent.

Set 29, 2019, 2:10pm

Running Blind by Lee Child

This was unbelievable to the point of absurdity. Murder by paint! My least favourite Jack Reacher.

Set 29, 2019, 2:43pm

>148 VivienneR: I haven’t read any of this series. I’ll skip this one if ever I get to it.

Set 30, 2019, 12:31am

>149 NanaCC: I've read a few and enjoyed them but I thought this one was a dud. One good thing about the series is they don't have to be read in order. You can jump in anywhere.

Set 30, 2019, 8:10am

>150 VivienneR:. Good to know, Vivienne!

Out 1, 2019, 10:09pm

Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay 3.5★

Narrator, Anne, sets out to write a book about her mother but finds herself writing about her mother's sister, Connie, while her mother remains a in the background. The story begins around 1930 when Connie becomes a teacher in a small town in Saskatchewan. Michael, a pupil who is obviously dyslexic, a condition unrecognized at the time, is unfortunately regarded as stupid yet he is talented in other areas. Connie provides some extra tuition after classes. His sister, Susan, is a blossoming actor under the direction of head teacher, Parley Burns. Then something terrible happens to Susan with consequences even more horrendous. Hay continues several decades of the charismatic Connie's life of which Michael, who is just as appealing, forms a major part.

Hay's sprawling novel has more to do with memories and how they affect lives than with the characters themselves. As a result the story develops a nebulous focus, that drifts somewhat. Even at the inconclusive end, Anne throws some doubt into what she has written before, which was annoying. The novel may elicit unpleasant memories of school for some readers, while for others, there will be little connection. Hay's writing is beautiful but there was something missing, especially in the second half of the book.

Editado: Out 13, 2019, 1:10am

Still life by Louise Penny 4★

For some reason I missed this one, the first in the Three Pines series, although I have since read all those that followed. It was an excellent introduction to the inhabitants of the Quebec village and Gamache's team. Good to hear the late Ralph Cosham's voice again although I must say I love Robert Bathurst's Gamache.

Out 13, 2019, 9:18am

>153 VivienneR: This really was a good intro to the series, wasn’t it, Vivienne. You get a flavor of all the characters. Even crazy Ruth, who I admit, didn’t appeal to me at all. But she really grew on me in later books. I still “hear” Ralph Cosham’s voice when I read the print versions. He was perfect. Robert Bathurst is very good though. The same thing happened with the Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. The original reader, Katherine Kellgren, was just right. After she died, Jasmine Blackborow took over and she sounded ok, but I missed the original.

Out 13, 2019, 1:24pm

>154 NanaCC: Yes, in this one Ruth hadn't yet emerged as "crazy". After Ralph Cosham died I didn't think I'd take to Robert Bathhurst's narration but in fact he fits my picture of Gamache even better. All the Rhys Bowen books I've read have been print. I just had a look but the local library doesn't have any of her audiobooks.

Out 13, 2019, 1:33pm

>152 VivienneR: I agree with you that the second half of Alone in the Classroom was not as good as the first half, and overly nebulous.

Out 13, 2019, 5:50pm

>156 RidgewayGirl: I believe some pretty ruthless editing would have helped tighten it up.

Out 16, 2019, 4:08pm

The woman in blue by Elly Griffiths 3.5★

Much as I love Ruth Galloway books, this one was less satisfying. First of all the plot and motive for murder was weak, more cannot be explained without giving a spoiler. Parts of the story were implausible to say the least: two characters decided to go for a walk in the middle of the night, one while drunk after a night of serious drinking, and another in nightclothes? Ruth's contribution to solving the crime was almost nil and the one piece of information she uncovered concerning a missing broken glass vial was ignored.

Griffiths' intention for this book was to highlight the shrine at Walsingham as well as to work into the story a real person and dog (the distinction won in a contest at a charity fundraiser) but I believe this stratagem came at the cost of her novel. And there was far too much religion, understandable to a point, given the location, but it began to wear. I couldn't imagine police wearing the robes of the apostles in order to blend in. I still have a soft spot for Ruth, Nelson, Cathbad and Clough and I'm sorry to see Tim leave but I'll expect more from Griffiths in the next episode.

Out 22, 2019, 9:44pm

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith 4.5★

This is a doorstop but I enjoyed every minute of it. It's a complex story but not so much to make it confusing. I've read that Galbraith intends to write more for the series. I certainly hope so because I intend to read every one of them.

Out 23, 2019, 5:05pm

>159 VivienneR: Yes! As many as she’ll write. ;-)

Out 24, 2019, 3:16pm

The Healing by David Park 4★

This beautifully written story zeroes in on the psychological effects of the conflict in Northern Ireland with a young boy witnessing the murder of his father. The move to Belfast from his rural home is intended to heal, but next door the old man's suffering has taken a different course. A disturbing yet tender story.

Out 25, 2019, 10:51am

>161 VivienneR: I've not heard of this title before, Vivienne. Is he from NI?

Out 25, 2019, 1:09pm

>162 AlisonY: Yes, this was his first book published in 1992 (I think). I've only read a couple of his books and enjoyed both. He was a teacher in Belfast and wrote his first story for his class. Here's a good article about him:

Out 27, 2019, 12:50pm

>163 VivienneR: what an interesting article - thanks for that. I love why he wrote his first story. I must keep an eye out for him.

Glenn Patterson has written a new book about NI and Brexit and generally why we're a royal pain in the ass as a country (Backstop Land). It's not published until the end of the month which is why I suspect LT isn't picking up the link to it, but I read a review of it this morning from yesterday's Times and he doesn't seem to hold back in telling it as it is in terms of how idiotic the general situation here is. I strongly suspect that if there was ever a referendum in Great Britain on whether or not to keep NI in the United Kingdom they'd be cutting the ties and saying 'good riddance' quicker than you can say 'backstop'.

Out 27, 2019, 2:46pm

>164 AlisonY: I'll watch out for the Glenn Patterson book. I read all I can on the Brexit/backstop issue but it seems there is always another point of view to consider. I suspect there have been many times when NI was at risk of having the cord cut. Even Churchill was said to have thought of it.

Out 29, 2019, 9:48pm

Penelopiad: The myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood 4.5★

This is the story of The Odyssey from Penelope's angle and the long wait for her husband to return. The story is told with Atwood's typical peppery humour yet remains poetic; a classical story in modern words with feminist spirit. Helen is not the gorgeous siren we expect but "poison on legs". So far, this is my favourite Atwood. I thoroughtly enjoyed this and recommend it highly.

Editado: Out 30, 2019, 4:03pm

Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin 4★

Rebus investigates a brutal murder discovered in the ancient subterranean streets of Edinburgh that mirrors an IRA execution and indicates links with a sectarian group in Northern Ireland. The victim is the son of gangster "Big Ger" Cafferty, Rebus' long-time adversary. An exciting, fast-moving plot with the Edinburgh Festival setting the background scene.

Out 30, 2019, 6:28pm

>167 VivienneR: I really enjoyed this series. I keep hoping that there may be another book next year some time.

Out 31, 2019, 3:45pm

>168 NanaCC: Yes, I hope he keeps writing for many years! I've still got a few on the shelf to keep me going.

Nov 2, 2019, 8:52pm

The Lost City of Z: a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon by David Grann 4★

Fascinating. I can't help wondering just what it was that inspired early explorers to go to such extremes, especially travelling into the jungle. This was well researched with a spellbinding story.

Nov 4, 2019, 3:27pm

This one gets a full five stars. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I finished.

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park 5★

It doesn't matter who you are, becoming a parent is like travelling in a strange land. Tom and Lorna worry about their son Luke, a student at university in England. Luke has been stranded by a snowstorm cancelling travel plans, the only person left in his student digs at Christmas. Tom sets out to bring him home to Northern Ireland for the holidays. This novel records Tom's journey as he reflects on another son, Daniel and where he went wrong. Interrupting his thoughts the satnav voice regularly advises him to stay on the route. At one point he turns off the satnav in case the woman can hear his thoughts.

Park's intriguing, quiet story is beautifully written, where each apparently trivial thought and event has significance.

Nov 4, 2019, 6:49pm

>171 VivienneR: You’ve added this one to my crazily overloaded wishlist, Vivienne.

Nov 4, 2019, 8:55pm

>171 VivienneR: I've added this to the wishlist. Excellent review!

Nov 5, 2019, 3:18am

>171 VivienneR: You're definitely pushing David Park up my wishlist too, Vivienne!

Nov 5, 2019, 6:33am

>171 VivienneR: Yes, that sounds like a really satisfying read. Thanks!

Nov 5, 2019, 1:26pm

Glad to have been able to assist in expanding some wishlists :)

He reminded me of when I became a new parent and every decision branched out into more decisions to be made. Like all parents I wondered if I was making the right choices. Half a century later I still wonder.

Nov 6, 2019, 2:33pm

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson, translated by Quentin Bates 2.5★

My expectations may have been too high for this one. It disappointed.

If Icelander Ari Thor is depressed by winter weather and an avalanche he better not move to my location in British Columbia. Once my town was cut off by avalanches in all three directions. I liked the premise, but there were a lot of problems with this debut. I doubt that I will try another.

Nov 12, 2019, 8:54pm

I've been in hospital and awaiting surgery that has been delayed until the end of the month although my doctor is trying to get it moved up. As a result I haven't been reading much.

After the Mourning by Barbara Nadel

Set during the Blitz in London 1940. Francis Hancock is an undertaker of Indian/British parentage trying to care for his family while dealing with shell-shock from "the first one". When he is asked to handle the funeral for a gypsy girl from Epping Forest he is led into an unexpected twist to a spy hunt. This book was darker than others in the series as it featured Mosley's Blackshirts in the police force, however, Nadel strives for accuracy in her stories. I enjoy Francis Hancock novels for the clearly London east end location and for her departure from the usual.


Milestones to disaster by Winston S. Churchill, Christian Rodska 5★
The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill 5★

I started listening to Milestones to Disaster but when I realized the text was from The Gathering Storm I read and listened simultaneously. Churchill was a brilliant writer, and made everything so easy to understand. I can't praise him enough and plan to read more, but not all, of the 12 volume series.

If anything, I preferred the audio version although statistics and charts were easier to read in the printed version.

Nov 16, 2019, 9:28am

I have many of the books in Churchill’s series on my kindle. I may have all of them. You’ve inspired me to think about picking one up.

Nov 16, 2019, 4:47pm

Sorry to hear you're waiting for surgery. Hope everything goes smoothly and you're back to your old self soon! Be well.

Nov 18, 2019, 7:28am

Hope you get your surgery over with sooner rather than later, Vivienne. All the best for a speedy recovery.

Nov 18, 2019, 10:28am

I hope this interruption due to the upcoming surgery disappears as soon as the surgery is over and done with. Waiting for something unpleasant but necessary is not easy!

Nov 18, 2019, 7:19pm

I’m hoping your doctor is able to move the surgery up for you. Waiting can be very stressful.

Nov 19, 2019, 7:09pm

>179 NanaCC: Churchill was such a terrific writer, never blowing his own horn or downplaying another person's contribution. Highly recommended.

>180 Nickelini:
>181 AlisonY:
>182 RidgewayGirl:
>183 NanaCC:

Thank you all. I'm still feeling under the weather and not looking forward to next week. My husband will be driving me to hospital a few hours from here, returning three days later, not a welcome journey at this time of the year. We've been watching snow levels via highway cams on the mountain passes.

Still reading, but my comments will be short.


Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella 3★
Although this is light entertainment with a high level of predictability, it was still enjoyable.

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese 4.5★
Another outstanding story from Wagamese.

The Coroner by M.R. Hall 3.5★
My first experience of Hall's series featuring coroner Jenny Cooper. Even though Cooper's overuse of medication for panic attacks was a tad annoying, the story was interesting and fast moving. I'm looking forward to another.

Nov 22, 2019, 2:08pm

Room by Emma Donoghue 3.5★

I recently saw the movie, which naturally removed any element of surprise when reading the story and I have to admit I sped through parts of the book knowing how it played out. Inspired by a real life event of the type I usually avoid in the media, it's a disturbing story lifted only by the devotion between mother and child.

Nov 22, 2019, 2:38pm

The wait sounds torturous. I’m sure you’re ready to get it over with. Wish you well, Viv!!

Nov 22, 2019, 4:04pm

>186 dchaikin: "Torturous" describes it exactly! Thank you, Dan.

Nov 24, 2019, 6:32pm

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths 4.5★

An excellent installment in the Ruth Galloway series. Griffiths included some interesting geological information about Norwich as well as a closer look at the personalities of the main characters. I can't wait for the next one.

I read this earlier this month and forgot to enter it on LT.

Dez 1, 2019, 2:52pm

A presumption of death by Jill Paton Walsh & Dorothy L. Sayers 3★

It wasn't Dorothy Sayers, who gave Harriet and Peter sparkling conversation, in fact Peter wasn't around much in this story. However, my copy was an audiobook read by Edward Petherbridge, the actor who played Lord Peter in the tv series, and who gave the entire story a Sayers flavour.

I considered a 3.5 rating but although I finished it just a couple of days ago I can't for the life of me remember how it ended. Blame it on the slow recovery from my illness.

Dez 4, 2019, 1:39am

Nocturne on the life and death of my brother by Helen Humphreys 4★

A beautifully written tribute to her brother who died of pancreatic cancer and whose artistic talent was entwined with hers since childhood. It is a reminder to tell those we love how we feel and to savour every moment spent with them.

Although I'm counting this as read I didn't quite finish this because it is too sad for my unhealthy condition right now. My recovery from surgery wasn't smooth (to say the least) and I'm heading back to hospital again at the weekend.

Dez 4, 2019, 2:17pm

So sorry, Viv. Wishing you well. (I’ve been curious about Humphreys. Her name comes up occasionally, but I don’t have a sense yet on what kind of writer she is. Glad to have your review. )

Dez 5, 2019, 6:56am

>190 VivienneR: Just catching up, Vivienne. Sorry to hear that you're heading back to hospital. I hope that all starts heading in the right direction soon.

Dez 5, 2019, 1:01pm

>191 dchaikin: Thank you, Dan. Humphreys writing is beautiful. Her books are all so different. The first one I read was The Frozen Thames had me hooked, but so far my favourite is Coventry.

>192 AlisonY: Thank you, Alison. Highway conditions at this time of year are the most worrying part.

Dez 5, 2019, 4:45pm

Dead Cold by Louise Penny 4★

This was the first Louise Penny book I read and I didn't take to it much although I loved the Quebec references: the weather, culture, clothing, hockey, Leonard Cohen. I gave it 3 stars back then but after this re-read I'm upping that to four now that I "get" Three Pines. I have only one in the series left to read, the last one published. I hope Penny never tires of writing about Armand Gamache and Three Pines.

Dez 14, 2019, 7:34pm

I’m just catching up on posts, Vivienne. I’m so sorry you are having health issues. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

Dez 15, 2019, 9:14pm

>195 NanaCC: Thank you, Colleen. On the way to hospital I came down with flu so the surgery was cancelled. Then I got food poisoning on top of that. Needless to say I've been too sick to do any reading. I'm looking forward to getting back to books again.

Dez 17, 2019, 4:06pm

Visions of sugar plums by Janet Evanovich

This was my first Evanovich so I have nothing to compare it with, but found it to be a light entertaining Christmas read. There were many laugh-out-loud moments. Perfect for my current - slow - state of recovery.

Dez 17, 2019, 5:54pm

Late to chime in, but I hope you feel better sooner than later, Vivienne, and don't have too much holiday stuff to distract you from taking it easy.

Dez 17, 2019, 8:45pm

Thank you, Lisa. We will be having a very quiet Christmas. Let's hope by Dec 31st I'll be able to cheer for 2020.

Dez 21, 2019, 7:31am

Happy Christmas, Vivienne.

I'm sorry to hear November and December have been a dismal end to 2019 for you. I hope you get decent quiet time over Christmas to build your strength up after your illnesses, and that you get your operation out of the way in early 2020.

Dez 24, 2019, 2:54pm

>200 AlisonY: Thank you, Alison. And my best wishes for a Merry Christmas, with health and prosperity in 2020 to you and your family.

Editado: Dez 24, 2019, 3:34pm

To all my friends at Club Read!

Dez 31, 2019, 9:47am

Jan 1, 2020, 12:34pm

Are you staying in CR in 2020, Vivienne? Hope so!

Jan 1, 2020, 3:34pm

I haven't set up a thread yet, but I probably will do so soon. I found it difficult to keep up with everybody this year, but I would miss you all. I already have your thread starred. Looking forward to sharing your reading in 2020.

Jan 1, 2020, 4:21pm

We will miss you if you don’t join us on our adventures.

Jan 1, 2020, 4:24pm

Indeed we will!

Jan 1, 2020, 7:31pm

Oh, that decides it then! Thank you for the welcome.