Category Archives: books

Stacking the Shelves (July 21)

Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! More details and about how you can participate can be found HERE.

I added the following seven books to my shelves this past week:

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  1. Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I picked this up at the library stall during Heritage Day in St Marys last Saturday.
  2. The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton – I also picked this one up at the library stall.
  3. Lost Boy by Shelley Hrdlitschka – I received this ARC copy from Early Reviewers at LibraryThing. It’s due for publication in October.
  4. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson – this is another one I got from the library stall.
  5. Ironclads at War: The Monitor vs the Merrimac by Dan Abnett, Ron Wagner (Cover Artist), Dheeraj Verma (Illustrator) – this little graphic novel was being given away by a friend, so I grabbed it.
  6. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Dan Rafter (Adapter), Bhupendra Singh Ahluwalia (Illustrator), Jules Verne – another small graphic novel my friend was giving away. Sometimes these little adaptations aren’t too bad, so I’ll have to see how this one is.
  7. Three Men in a Boat: The Graphic Novel by Nidi Verma, Jerome K. Jerome, K.L. Jones – this was also being given away by my friend.

I’ll probably get Lost Boy started soon, as I need to review it. The three graphic novels should be fairly quick reads, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to the others.

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WWW Wednesday (July 18)

I haven’t been posting much here lately and it’s been over a year since I did a WWW post, but I’d like to get back to regular posting again. So here goes…

www-wednesdayWWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

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These are two of the books I’m currently reading:

  1. My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation – Molly Haskell. This one is interesting enough, but probably not as good as I thought it might be. I’ll struggle on through to the end and see how it goes.
  2. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road – Neil Peart. I’m really enjoying this one, but it’s taking me longer than I thought it would.

Recently Finished:

My reading has been very sporadic this year, but I’m hoping it will pick up or the rest of the year. I only finished one book in the past couple of weeks:

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson. I really enjoyed this one and I’d like to find some more books in a similar vein. It was a very informative read and what I really liked was that the author’s enthusiasm came through a lot, plus he never spoke down to the reader.

Up Next:

I’ll be on vacation soon, so I’ll need to sort out some books for reading then. I have a couple of review books from LibraryThing to read, but I’d also like to take something that has been on my TBR list for far too long:

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  1. The Fashion Committee – Susan Juby. This is a review copy of a Canadian YA book I received from LibraryThing.
  2. Lost Boy – Shelley Hrdlitschka. This is another Canadian YA book I received from Early Reviewers at LibraryThing.
  3. In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is a book that has been on my TBR list for far too long. I started reading it when I got it about 8 or 9 years ago, but got distracted by other things. I’m determined to read it this year, even though it seems like quite a daunting read.

Top Ten Tuesday – Short Stories/Essays (July 17)

TTT-Big2It’s been a long time, but it’s time to take part in Top Ten Tuesday again.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Favourite Novellas/Short Stories’. I kind of adapted it a bit and decided to do my top ten favourite short story or essay collections.

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  1. Night Shift – Stephen King. Of all the Stephen King story collections I’ve read this is probably my favourite, although it doesn’t contain my favourite short story of his, The Monkey. It’s hard to pick a favourite from this book, but it is probably between Graveyard Shift and Night Surf.
  2. Five by Endo – Shusaku Endo. This is a collection of five short stories by one of the most under-rated writers of the 20th century. They are all great, but Unzen stood out for me.
  3. Gristle: from Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat) – Moby (Editor), Miyun Park (Editor). I read this book not long after I became a vegetarian and it helped solidify my view that I hd made the right decision.
  4. Winter Tales – George Mackay Brown. An excellent collection of wintry-themed stories from Orkney’s most prominent writer.
  5. The Penguin Book of Russian Short Stories – David Richards (editor). It’s been a few years since I read this collection. I used to keep it in the car, so that I had something to read whenever I was going somewhere or had to wait for something/someone. One of my favourite Russian short stories, The Nose by Nikolay Gogol, is included in this one.
  6. Love Your Crooked Neighbour: Thoughts on Breath, Bread, Breasts and Brokenness – Ron Ferguson. I really enjoyed this collection of sermons, articles, and a short story. It also has an Orkney connection, as the author was the minister of St Magnus Cathedral at the tie of its publication. He also wrote a great biography on George Mackay Brown, which is worth checking out.
  7. The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup – Matt Weiland (Editor), Sean Wilsey (Editor). This collection came out just before the 2006 World Cup and included 32 stories – one on each of the nations who participated that year. Each story has a different writer. Among them are Nick Hornby (England) and the USA (Dave Eggers).
  8. The Cat’s Pajamas – Ray Bradbury. I think that Ray Bradbury was one of the best short story writers of all time. I could’ve half-filled this list with collections of his that I’ve read, but I include this one as my favourite. Highlights of this collection include The House and A Careful Man Dies.
  9. Things As They Are – Guy Vanderhaeghe. I discovered this author, who is from Saskatchewan, when I lived in there about 20 years ago. My favourites here were King Walsh and Teacher.
  10. In from the Cuithes – Howie Firth (Editor). This is a great anthology of writing from Orkney. There are too many favourites in this one to single any out.

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Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (May 2)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week or so. Share a link there if you want to participate.

It’s hard to believe it’s May already, but not so hard to believe that I haven’t posted very much here in recent months. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I hope that I can do better at this in the months to come.

1. The above picture is the view from my mum’s house in Orkney. I spent a large part of April there due to the fact that my dad passed away in the first week of the month. He had been dealing with cancer for a number of years, but in late March was told that it was terminal. Thankfully his passing was very peaceful. I was just sorry that I didn’t make it there in time to see him one more time. I did have a great conversation with him on the phone about a week before his passing, talking about a number of things, including the state of Scottish football (soccer), Easter, along with a number of other things. He also, along with my mum, my sister and her husband, had a great visit with us here last October and was able to share in our daughter’s high school graduation. My visit to Orkney last month was one of mixed emotions, with plenty of tears, as well as laughter and memories shared. I was also able to catch up with many family members and friends whom I hadn’t seen for a while.

2. My reading has not been that great lately. I just haven’t really felt much like it. I never finished any books in April, so I’m well behind with my reading goals for this year. I have managed to get back to some reading again this week and I’m looking forward to finishing a few books this month.

3. One book I will definitely try to read soon is The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom. When my dad visited in October he started reading my copy, but didn’t get it finished, so I bought him a copy to take home with him. We shared an enjoyment of reading Albom’s books. We came across his copy whenI visited last month. Unfortunately he didn’t get it finished, so I will read it and finish it for him now.

4. Last week was a bad week for a couple of my favourite Toronto sports teams. The Leafs lost game 7 of their first round match-up against the Bruins, and TFC heartbreakingly lost the final of the CONCACAF Champions League on penalties. On brighter note, Liverpool finished off Roma today, 7-6 on aggregate, to reach the final of the European Champions League. Their opponents there will be Real Madrid.

5. The fifth season of Father Brown is finally on Netflix, so I started binge-watching it this week. I’m still waiting for the third season of Better Call Saul to appear, as well as the third season of Fargo. I watched the first two seasons of Santa Clarita Diet, which was pretty good, but different. It certainly wouldn’t be for everyone.

6. It looks like this year is going to be a good year for movies. We already saw Black Panther, which was excellent and are now trying to work out seeing the Infinity War movie. Hopefully we’ll manage to work out something for this weekend. Other movies we’re looking forward to are Ant-Man and the Wasp, Solo, and the next Fantastic Beasts movie.

7. Or daughter also spent some time Scotland with me, once she hd completed her first year of university. This week she started a job at a local factory for the summer to make some money for her return to university in the fall. She seemed to have a good first year and is enjoying the break from studies, even though her summer job will be demanding physically.

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Never Have Your Dog Stuffed (March 23)

never have your dog stuffedIt’s almost been a couple of months since I did one of these Friday posts, so my determination to post more often isn’t really working, I guess! The book I’ve chosen for this week is Alan Alda’s memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned. I’ve had this book unread on my shelf for far too long, so it’s probably about time I read it. Added to this, we are big fans of M*A*S*H and have all 11 seasons on DVD, which we have just started watching again, but this time with our son for the first time. He, surprisingly, seems to be really enjoying it. One night recently we were watching the episode where Alan Alda’s dad was a guest star and I remembered having this book, so I thought it would be a good one to read as I don’t really know much about either Alan Alda or his father. I’m about half-way through at this point and finding it both entertaining and informative.

Goodreads has the following description:

He’s one of America’s most recognizable and acclaimed actors–a star on Broadway, an Oscar nominee for The Aviator, and the only person to ever win Emmys for acting, writing, and directing, during his eleven years on M*A*S*H. Now Alan Alda has written a memoir as elegant, funny, and affecting as his greatest performances.

“My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six,” begins Alda’s irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.

Yet Never Have Your Dog Stuffedis not a memoir of show-business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only just begun to grow.

It is the story of turning points in Alda’s life, events that would make him what he is–if only he could survive them.

From the moment as a boy when his dead dog is returned from the taxidermist’s shop with a hideous expression on his face, and he learns that death can’t be undone, to the decades-long effort to find compassion for the mother he lived with but never knew, to his acceptance of his father, both personally and professionally, Alda learns the hard way that change, uncertainty, and transformation are what life is made of, and true happiness is found in embracing them.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, filled with curiosity about nature, good humor, and honesty, is the crowning achievement of an actor, author, and director, but surprisingly, it is the story of a life more filled with turbulence and laughter than any Alda has ever played on the stage or screen.

Now for this week’s excerpts:

bb-buttonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed:

My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six, but she must have shown signs of oddness before that. Her detached gaze, the secret smile. Something.

This may seem at first read to be a funny beginning, but the reality is that it’s not, although I guess it is Alda trying to make light of things. Saying any more would just be spoilers, so I won’t!

friday-562.jpgThe Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed:

I really scared her one day while she was out of town for a couple of weeks with my father. I wrote them a long, rambling, adolescent letter in which I talked about my obsession with books.

Coincidentally, Alda is talking here about his mother again. However, there is a lot more to this book than stories about his mother, thankfully. The unusual title of the book also makes sense when he describes something early on in the book that happened to him when he was a child. Anyway, I’m really enjoying this one and will probably get it finished this weekend.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on My Spring TBR (March 20)

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Book on My Spring TBR’. The following are all books that I would like to read eventually. By putting them on my Spring TBR I’m hoping that I’ll get to them sooner rather than later.

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  1. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer – Richard Rohr
  2. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom
  3. Rosie – Anne Lamott
  4. Where’s My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived – Daniel H. Wilson
  5. The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem – Marcus J. Borg & John Dominic Crossan
  6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  7. Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit – Henri J.M. Nouwen
  8. Monster (The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim #2) – Shane Peacock
  9. In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  10. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Some of these have been on previous TBR lists, others are ones I picked up fairly recently, but really want to read soon. Monster is a review copy from LibraryThing, so I should read it soon. The Last Week is one I’m going to read next week for Holy Week. The rest I’ll do my best to get to soon, although I may be distracted by other shiny books instead!

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Feb 28)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week or so. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. It’s been over a month since I posted anything here. Although February is the shortest month, this year it seems to have just dragged on. A very close friend of ours – the Godfather of our children – passed away at the end of January. Although he had been ill for quite a while, it still came as a shock to us. He was one of my first Canadian friends and was also born in the UK. Because he had also immigrated to Canada from there, he was able to help me a lot as I transitioned to Canadian life 24 years ago. He will be sadly missed by us all.

2. Although I bought a fair number of books this month, for a number of reasons my reading was pretty poor. I only managed to finish three books. Hopefully I’ll get back on track soon, as my TBR pile just continues to grow. Some of my reading challenges for the year should help me to get going again.

3. Last weekend saw my ninth anniversary of becoming vegetarian. I can honestly say that it was one of the best things I did and I often wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.

4. I binge-watched the first two seasons of Fargo during the last moth or so and am hoping that season three will appear on Netflix soon. Meanwhile, I’m looking for something else to binge-watch. I managed to watch a few movies during the month, the best being Black Panther, which we saw in the theatre last weekend.

5. We’re into the third week of Lent and for the first time in a few years I didn’t write a post about how I intend to follow it this year. I was away on Ash Wednesday and I just couldn’t get my mind around it. I’m keeping it fairly low key this year, but the things I’m doing have been quite helpful so far.

6. I still have a $50 Indigo/Chapters card from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket. Each time I’ve been to Chapters lately there have been too many choices and I have come away empty-handed. There are a couple of books I’m waiting to be released, as well as a couple of others that I’m waiting to come down in price. It’s not like I don’t have enough books to keep me going anyway!

7. I’m hoping that Spring is just around the corner. Winter seems to have dragged on this year. It hasn’t been particularly bad, although there were a few vicious storms, but it just seems to have felt so long. We have no big plans for Summer this year, although we will be having some family visiting, which is something to look forward to. Also, our daughter will be home for the summer after finishing her first year at university, which will be something else to look forward to.

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – The Hate U Give (Jan 26)

the hate u giveFor this week’s combo post I have chosen The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I received a free copy of this earlier this week (I won it as part of a 2017 reading challenge). I haven’t started it yet, but plan to do that tomorrow, as long as I get my current read, Rowan & Eris, finished. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, so I’m looking forward to getting it started. GoodReads has the following description:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Now for this week’s excerpts:

bb-buttonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of The Hate U Give:

I shouldn’t have come to this party.

An interesting start. I wonder why not?

friday-562.jpgThe Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of The Hate U Give:

Momma gets up and hugs him. “Thank you.” She walks him down the hall, toward the front door. “Be safe, okay? And text me when you get home.”

“Yes, ma’am. Sounding like our momma,” he teases.

“Whatever. You just better text me—”

“Okay, okay. Good night.”

Sounds like someone better not forget to text! Hopefully I’ll get into this one tomorrow. It sounds like it’ll be a great one anyway.

Top Ten Tuesday – Great Books I Read…But Can’t Really Remember (Jan 23)

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About.’ I read a lot of books, but after a while I sometimes forget a lot about them. Some are probably forgettable anyway, but others are great reads. It’s a little frustrating not remembering the ones that I really liked. I’d love to reread some of them at some point, but with an ever-growing TBR pile this is not always possible. Anyway, here are ten books that I know I really enjoyed at the time, but sad to say can’t remember enough about:

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  1. London: The Novel – Edward Rutherfurd
  2. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
  3. The Man Who Was Thursday – G.K. Chesterton
  4. The Samurai – Shusaku Endo
  5. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization – Franklin Foer
  6. How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It
    – Arthur Herman
  7. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
  8. Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess – Will Samson
  9. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
  10. Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer Is Awakening a Generation – Pete Greig & Dave Roberts

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Rowan & Eris (Jan 19)

Rowan & ErisIt’s about time I did one of these combo posts, so to get going again I’ve chosen ‘Rowan & Eris’ by Campbell Jefferys. I received a review copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I’m almost half-way through it and it’s quite enjoyable so far. GoodReads hs the following description:

It’s a simple story, a journey, a search, a pursuit. There is a man from Perth, an American woman, their daughter. The woman is intent on creating chaos wherever she goes, through urban art, and her work extends to creating chaos in her own life by having a daughter. The man is intent on finding his daughter and in doing so finds himself and the songs inside him. It’s a road trip novel, starting in Perth, Australia, and traversing America, Canada and Europe. It is also a meditation on art, creativity, success, growing up and taking responsibility.

On to this week’s excerpts:

bb-buttonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of Rowan & Eris:

It’s early in the morning, and a slither of winter sun is coming through the curtains, painting a thin yellow streak on the wall that stays the same width, but gradually grows brighter.

I like this very descriptive beginning, although it gives very little away.

friday-562.jpgThe Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of Rowan & Eris:

“How tall are you?” he asked, turning another page.

I remembered how Nola had said it: “Six-six.”

“You play basketball?”

“No.”

“Volleyball?”

“I’m all height and no coordination.”

This little conversation made me chuckle. Not all tall people are good at sports, I guess. I have very little planned for tomorrow, so I’m hoping to get the rest of this one read then. I have quite a pile of other books that I need to get into soon as well. The TBR pile never gets smaller!

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