Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bones Never Lie

Bones Never Lie (Temperance Brennan, #17)Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 17th book in the Temperance Brennan series, which I have been listening to as audiobooks in random order based on what was on the shelf at the library. This one revisits an earlier case as the psychopath Pomerleau appears to have resumed her reign of terror. There was a good bit about Tempe's mother in this story, which was interesting, but otherwise the lives of the various characters were not a big part of the book. The mystery itself was disappointing as I (and my husband who was listening with me on a road trip) figured out the solution to the case very early in the book. This was not my favorite of the Reichs novels.
I am counting this toward the 10th Canadian Book Challenge as the author is a part-time Canadian and part of the book takes place in Montreal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: The Nature of the Beast

The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #11)The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was concerned when Gamache left the city to live in Three Pines that the series was going to go off the rails, but so far so good. This tale of obsession and the past coming back to haunt folks was a solid story which I thoroughly enjoyed. I listened to the audiobook which was the first one with the new reader for this series and he did a good job.
This is my first book for the 10th Canadian Book Challenge.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Canada Day!

The 10th Canadian Book Challenge Begins today. The goal is to read 13 Canadian books between now and Canada Day 2017. Details are at The Book Mine Set.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Review: My Kitchen Year

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My LifeMy Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was more like a diary than a cookbook, but it was beautiful and inspirational and filled with a ton of recipes that I want to make. When Gourmet Magazine was suddenly shut down then editor Ruth Reichl was set adrift. This book tells the story of how she cooked her way back to herself. Each entry begins with a tweet (if you don't follow @ruthreichl on twitter you should, her tweets are like little poems often about food) and then talks about what was happening in her world and how it lead to the food she made. Reichl is a New Yorker and the food in this book is as diverse and jumbled as the city itself. Thai noodles, matzo brei, and corn muffins (toasted on the griddle in a NYC coffee shop -- the only thing better is a blueberry muffin done this way).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: 10% Happier

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a cross between a celebrity memoir (including guest appearances by the Dali Lama, Paris Hilton, and many others) and a weird-experiment-on-myself story. It is not a book about meditation so much as a book about someone's journey to realizing meditation isn't ridiculous. It was interesting, and the evidence he sifts through to make his decisions is nicely summarized.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: Swann

SwannSwann by Carol Shields
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"He has a somewhat romantic view of a human life. Sees it as something with an ... aesthetic shape. A wholeness. Whereas--whereas the lives of most people are pretty scrappy affairs. And full of secrets and concealments." (p. 277-8)
This novel looks (quite critically) at the question of biography and literary scholarship. How, and even if,  a poet's life influences their work is a central question. The way Shields does this is very clever, she brings us into the minds of several people who are all connected, some more directly than others, with the deceased poet Mary Swann. After episodes from several points of view all the players come together at a symposium on Swann which Shields presents in the form of a screenplay complete with director's notes. 

I found three of the four main characters appealing and the fourth one was very unpleasant, but very well drawn. The librarian from Swann's hometown has a secret about how she spends her Friday nights which was perfect for her character (and sounded good to me). 
"...I've never been able to see the point of emptying one's mind of thought. Our thoughts are all we have. I love my thoughts, even when they take me up and down sour-smelling byways where I'd rather not venture. Whatever flickers on in my head is mine and I want it, all the blinking impulses and inclinations and connections and weirdness, and especially those bright purple flares that come streaming out of nowhere, announcing that you're at some mystic juncture or turning pint and that you'd better pay attention." (p. 20) 
I like literary biography, but after reading this novel I think I will view it much more skeptically than before. 

This is my thirteenth book for the 9th Canadian Book Challenge. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: Cross Bones

Cross Bones (Temperance Brennan, #8)Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great audiobook (love Barbara Rosenblat as a narrator). There was a ton of biblical archaeology in this novel which I knew nothing about before and which was fascinating. The story starts with a murder in Quebec and leads Tempe and her handsome policeman beau to Israel and a tangle of Biblical scholars and raided tombs. 
I am counting this toward the Canadian Book Challenge. Speaking of which, the 10th Canadian Book Challenge starts on July 1, 2016, so the time to sign up is now. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: The Lola Quartet

The Lola QuartetThe Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"--- had known that night that never again in her lifetime would anyone show up on her doorstep with eleven thousand dollars in cash. She'd known that this was her last chance..." (p. 193)
This is an excellent novel about chances taken and passed by and how those things reverberate through time. Like all Mandel's novels it is beautifully written and full of complex people who are interconnected in unexpected ways. Mandel was born in Canada and now lives in Brooklyn where I hope she is working on her next novel because now I have read all the novels she has published. This counts toward the Canadian Book Challenge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Review: In the Skin of a Lion

In the Skin of a LionIn the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"This is the story a young girl gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning. ... She listens to the man as he picks up and brings together various corners of the story, attempting to carry it all in his arms. ... Driving the four hours to Marmora under six stars and a moon."
Building bridges, digging tunnels, baking bread and creeping through silent rooms this novel ties huge endeavors and tiny moments together into a single life. The writing is clear and descriptive, and beautiful at the same time. 
"They speak quietly, smoking cigarettes. Patrick sees them in the yellow spray of the station lamp. He strolls to the end of the platform where there is darkness. Bush. He feels transparent, minuscule. Civilization now, on this August night, is two men cleaning shoes as they sit on the steps of a train." -- p. 166
Numerous characters wander in and out of the story, but Ondaatje keeps them all straight for the reader and the weaving of one into another gives shape to the story as it moves back and forth in time and space. 
"The houses at this hour beautiful and large, stray lights within them, and he could see the faint interiors, their privacy an character revealed, each room a subplot." -- p. 243
This novel, which I want to reread after I read The English Patient, counts toward the Canadian Book Challenge.  
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