Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bones of the Lost

Bones of the Lost (Temperance Brennan, #16)Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have not been reading these in order which doesn't make a difference for the cases, but is a bit confusing as far as Tempe's romantic entanglements. There was very little of Ryan in this novel (which is unfortunate as he is my favorite character), but now I understand what was up with him in one of the later books. This one focused on a hit and run and a military case that takes Tempe to a military base in Afghanistan. There is also a lot of not-at-all-subtle soap-boxing about a terrible world situation (I won't say what as it would give away a key point of the mystery). Reichs puts the lectures in the mouth of a character who is pedantic anyway, but it was still a bit more lecture than the novel could support.
I am counting this toward the Canadian Book Challenge as Reichs is a part-time resident of Montreal.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers
The Sisters Brothers 

by Patrick deWitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“I lay in the dark thinking about the difficulties of family, how crazy and crooked the stories of a bloodline can be.” 
“Here is another miserable mental image I will have to catalog and make room for.” 

This was an odd book. Charlie and Eli Sisters are hired guns in the American west of the gold-rush era and their very name strikes fear into everyone (seemed patterned on the James brothers). Through the novel we follow them on a particular job through the eyes of Eli Sisters who is having an identity crisis. The tone is very spare and noir-ish and the characters of old Westerns are all there. The relationship of the men and their horses is a big part of the story as well. 
Patrick deWitt was born in British Columbia so I am counting this toward the Canadian Book Challenge

Friday, March 16, 2018


Beartown (Björnstad, #1)Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“There are few words that are harder to explain than "loyalty." It's always regarded as a positive characteristic, because a lot of people would say that many of the best things people do for each other occur precisely because of loyalty. The only problem is that many of the very worst things we do to each other occur because of the same thing.”
I had to read this for work (yes, this is a benefit of being a librarian) and didn't expect to like it. It is, according to the blurb, about people in a small town in the middle of nowhere that is obsessed with hockey. It is much more than that though and I was impressed. The writing is great, the characters were complex and interesting (though I found many of them unlikable), and the structure of the novel was brilliant. The first page tells you that someone (it doesn't say who) is going to hold a gun to someone else's head and pull the trigger. You spend the rest of the book headed for that moment, still not knowing who the people are.
I am counting this book toward the European Reading Challenge because it is set in Sweden and the author is Swedish. Oddly I didn't realize this until well into the book when someone gives somebody a kronor. Initially I thought the book was set in a tiny Canadian community (it reminds me in some ways of the town in Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World) but when someone mentioned having moved back from Canada I figured it must be set in Minnesota until I got to the kronor thing. Clearly this novel speaks to a broader truth about small town life. I loved the jokes about the people from the next town over and the reality that no matter how lame the place you are from there is somewhere else you will look down on. It is sad, but it is so human.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


GritGrit by Angela Duckworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“as much as talent counts, effort counts twice.” 

I heard Angela Duckworth on the TED Radio podcast and was intrigued by the idea of grit, a combination of passion and perseverance that high achievers exhibit. Duckworth is a psychologist and developed a grit scale to measure this quality. The book is full of stories about people in a wide variety of fields who she thinks are especially "gritty" and how they came to be that way. Grit is a combination of research, interviews, and how-to-apply-this info. The chapter on practice--how the quality of the practice and focusing on your weaknesses is more important to the value of the practice than quantity of time spent--was particularly interesting. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Lisa' Review: Modern Selvage Quilting

Modern Selvage Quilting by Riel Nason

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was reading a work of fiction by Riel Nason a while ago, I was curious to see what other books she had written and pleasantly discovered that she is a quilter and had authored a book on selvage quilting. I had never heard of selvage quilting, but was intrigued by the idea, so the book went on my wish list.

What a great book! Nason's instructions for how to work with selvages, the three methods for how to sew with selvages, and the 17 projects were very well organized and described, making them very easy to follow. The supporting illustrations are helpful, and the pictures are definitely a quilters 'eye candy' - or at least they are for me as I am a sucker for bright fabrics. I also really enjoyed looking at all of the various interesting selvages featured in the projects.

I would love to make a project from selvages, but not sure if I will ever get to it. If I find myself with fabrics that have interesting selvages, I may start to save some, and someday might have enough to make a project, but will need to remember to cut the selvages with 1/4 - 1 inch into the fabric to make and end result that is interesting - that is not always feasible.

On my list of projects I'd be interested in making from this book are the Make Every Scrap Count Pincushion, Pick a Color Pillow, Sewing Room Valance (super cute!), and You're a Selvage Superstar Wall Quilt. 

I now also want to check out Nason's Sew a Modern Halloween book (I love her 'Mummy Wants Fabric' mummy selvage quilt on her blog quilt gallery).

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

Lisa's Review: Bellevue Square

Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bellevue Square is the winner of the 2017 Giller Prize. My mother-in-law gave me a gift card to Chapters when I was in Canada for Christmas, and this was one of the books I picked up.

Jean Mason has a seemingly normal life - she is married, has two children and runs a bookstore in downtown Toronto. But as customers tell Jean they've seen her twin (or think they have actually seen her in places she has not been), Jean soon becomes obsessed with finding her doppelganger, and spends much of her time hanging around Kensington Market & the park of Bellevue Square to see if she can find her. From there, strange things happen.

I really enjoyed Redhill's writing...easy reading and I especially liked getting to know the different characters Jean meets in her 'stake-outs' in the park. I have to say when I got to the end, I was left with a confused 'did I love it or did I hate it?' feeling. The fact that I was having that debate with myself leans me towards a 'strong like'. A part of me wants to go back and read it again right away to see if there are other things I would pick up on now that I've finished it. It's a short enough book, that I think I will.

In the closing Acknowledgements, Redhill mentions this is a part one of a triptych of novels. I will give the next one a read when it comes out.

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

Monday, March 5, 2018


CelineCeline by Peter Heller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked the main character and her husband. And she is totally right about GPS.
“I think its a terrible invention. Nobody knows how to read a map anymore. You chase down a blue line but you have no idea where you are in the world. Like a rat in a maze. How do I ever know where I am in relation to Pikes Peak, or the South Platte? Or God?” (p. 76)
I thought the story wandered back and forth in time a bit too much though and the ending wasn't entirely satisfactory. If Heller writes them I would definitely read more Celine mysteries.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost HappinessThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness 
by Arundhati Roy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“And yet , the burden of perpetual apprehension that she had carried around for years - of suddenly receiving news of death - had lightened somewhat. Not because she loved him any less, but because the battered angels in the graveyard that kept watch over their battered charges held open the doors between worlds (illegally, just a crack), so that the souls of the present and the departed could mingle, like guests at the same party. It made life less determinate and death less conclusive. Somehow everything became a little easier to bear.” ― Arundhati RoyThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Roy braids together the stories of many people (mostly in India and Kashmir) into a stunning novel filled with horror and love and the intimate struggles of facing each day as it comes. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce, #9)The Grave's a Fine and Private Place
by Alan Bradley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“There are, in fact, no halos in the Bible—just as there are no cats or accordions.” 
Flavia is as indomitable as always in this latest adventure. We learn a bit about Dogger which was good, and Ms. De Luce considers what her future may bring as she untangles a mystery in a small town the family visits on holiday.
I don't think I had listened to one of these before, but this was an excellent audiobook, especially when Flavia decides that the only possible solution to a problem is to sing God Save the Queen as loudly as she can.
Set in England this is the creation of Canadian Alan Bradley and counts toward the Canadian Book Challenge
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