Category Archives: memoir

Top Ten Tuesday – 2020 New-to-me authors (Jan 26, 2021)

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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 ‘New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020.’ Even though 2020 wasn’t a great reading year for me, there were a few books by people I’d never read anything by before. I usually enjoy trying different authors/writers and almost half the books I read last year fell into this category. These are the ten in print form that I own that I enjoyed the most. There were others that I borrowed from the library or read in ebook form. I’ll probably go on to look for more by some of these and already have read another Matt Haig book, with another on my TBR. Although I realise that Alex Trebek was not an author as such, his book was one of my favourites of the year and I couldn’t really leave him out of this list.

Ellie seems to approve, but is not sure why these are on top of her castle!
  1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson. I had heard so much about this one and it didn’t disappoint.
  2. The Way of Tea and Justice – Becca Stevens. This one was both informative and inspirational.
  3. TornJustin Lee. A very helpful look at the dialogue between gays and Christians, from the perspective of a high-profile gay Christian.
  4. The Humans – Matt Haig. I’m not sure why I waited so long to read anything by Haig. This was a great read, both funny and sad, and everything in between.
  5. The Answer Is… – Alex Trebek. This was one of my favourites of 2020. Trebek was a very inspirational person and it’s sad that he is no longer with us.
  6. The Fire Never Goes OutNoelle Stevenson. An enjoyable memoir in picture form.
  7. The Gown – Jennifer Robson. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. The style and structure made it a fairly engaging read.
  8. Five Little Indians – Michelle Good. This is a very powerful novel – sad at times, but also had moments of triumph.
  9. Imagine Wanting Only This – Kristen Radtke. This was another memoir in pictures. It was fairly enjoyable, but left me wanting a bit more.
  10. A Stranger’s TaleNatasa Xerri and Adam Oehlers. I got in on the crowdfunding of this debut book by someone from Australia that I follow on Instagram. As part of this I received an autographed first edition. It is a beautifully illustrated folklore tale that is worth checking out.

Although I’m hoping that 2021 will be a better reading year for me, I’m always on the lookout for books by people I haven’t read before. As always, I’m open to suggestions.

Top Ten Tuesday – Fall TBR (September 22)

I’m actually managing to post one of these lists for the second week in a row. Maybe I’ll manage something different before next Tuesday comes around. I’ll just have to wait and see how I get on.

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 On My Fall 2020 TBR.’ I’m not always good at getting through my TBR piles, but I’ll see how this one goes. Some of these are ones that I’ve had a long time, some are recent acquisitions, while others are ones I’ve started before, but not finished. Hopefully I’ll manage to get most of these read by Christmas, although I’m sure others will come across my path to distract me from these. On a brighter note, though, I have managed three of the six books I put on my TBR list for September, so there is hope for me yet!

Here are the ten in no particular order:

  1. Letters from an Astrophysicist – Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is a fairly recent purchase and it is one that I already started. It’s a light read that you can dip in and out of, so I’m slowly enjoying it and getting through it.
  2. Finding Chika – Mitch Albom. I started this one earlier this year, but accidentally packed it for the m ove before finishing it. I’ll get back to it soon.
  3. If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis – Alister McGrath. I’ve had this for a few years, so it’s time to get it read. I started it last weekend and so far so good.
  4. Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Stories. It’s been a while since I read any of the Sagas and they’re always fun reads, so I’m looking forward to this one.
  5. How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People – Pete Greig. I just got this one in the mail today. I joined the Renovaré Book Club this year and this is the first of the four books for this. I’m looking forward to being a part of this again, as it’s been three or four years since the last time I joined.
  6. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero. I recently started listening to Pete’s podcast and remembered that this book has been on my shelf for too long, so I decided it is time to give it a read.
  7. The Toynbee Convector – Ray Bradbury. You can never go wrong with a collection of Bradbury short stories, so this should be an enjoyable read.
  8. The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan. The author was a promising young writer with a bright future ahead of her, but her life was cut short by a tragic accident. This collection of short fiction and non-fiction was published posthumously by one of her professors, with the help of her parents.
  9. The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man – Jonas Jonasson. I have no idea why this has sat on my shelf unread for so long, because I’ve enjoyed all of Jonasson’s other books, especially the one that this one is a sequel to. His books are always smart and funny, so I’m hoping for more of the same here.
  10. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road – Neil Peart. I started this memoir, by the late Rush drummer, a couple of years ago, got halfway through it and never got back to it. I really need to finish it now, as it is a very engaging read.

That’s my ten, and I really hope to get all of them read, because I think they all have something different to offer.

Top Ten Tuesday – Covers (September 15)

It has been a long time since I posted anything here and I would hate to see this blog fizzle out completely, so I thought I would try again to resurrect things here. I am hoping to post more often and this is a start.

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 ‘Cover Freebie.’ Although a book is obviously more than what is on the cover, appearances can be important. An eye-catching cover may encourage one to pick up a book, but if the words inside do not keep one’s interest then it could be seen as just a pretty package. For this week’s top ten I have chosen ten of my favourite covers from ten books that I also really enjoyed. There is no theme here, other than they are all covers that have caught my eye in one way or another.

  1. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess. I like the simplicity of this cover and the vibrant colours. All I know about the picture is that it was designed by David Pelham. I have another copy of this book, the cover of which is simply white with an orange circle on it. I like it, too, for its simplicity, but I like this one slightly more.
  2. The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson. This cover was designed by Laura Klynstra, with the illustration by Eric Thunfors. This is one where the cover actually drew me in. I saw it in Costco and had to have it.
  3. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard. I saw this for the first time in a used bookstore and the picture reminded me of Orkney, where I grew up. I read the back cover and figured it might be one I’d enjoy, and it was. The picture is by the author herself.
  4. Book Love – Debbie Tung. A book with lots of books on the cover, what more could you ask for! This is a fun little read and the cover is an illustration by the author, who is a cartoonist and illustrator.
  5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick. All of Selznick’s books have great art on them like this, but I like this one the most. It is also an illustration by the author. The book itself is filled with his art as well, as it is part graphic novel.
  6. Porcelain: A Memoir – Moby. This cover is a picture of the ‘little idiot’,  a character drawn by Moby, that appears as artwork on a number of his releases and projects. Moby is an interesting person and this is a fascinating read.
  7. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell. There are so many different covers available for this book, but the simplicity of this one and what the image evokes make this one of my favourites. It was designed by Carroll & Dempsey Limited.
  8. The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis. This is a book that you never seem to hear much about, but it’s in my top 5 of Lewis’ books. There’s something about this cover that always draws me back in. It’s a photo of a painting in St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, called ‘The Ladder of Judgement’.
  9. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve written about this a lot, but this is my favourite book. I have a few different versions of it, all with (mostly) great covers, but this is my favourite, because this is the first copy I owned. It’s an illustration by Tolkien himself and also contains a number of his other illustrations inside. Unfortunately, this copy is now falling apart, so whenever I reread this story I use one of my newer copies.
  10. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. This is another one of my favourite reads. Again, what I like is the simplicity of it. The art was by Joseph Mugnaini.

On another day, I may have picked some different covers, but these are the ones I was thinking about today.

Top Ten Tuesday – Fall 2019 TBR (Sept 24)

I haven’t posted anything here forever, so I thought it was about time to get going again.

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 on My Fall 2019 TBR List.’ The ones I’ve chosen are a variety of books. Some I’ve had for too long, others are ones that are fairly new to me, but are ones I really want to read soon. I’m not always the best at getting through my TBR piles, but hopefully I’ll get through more than half of these in the next few months.

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  1. The Way of Tea and Justice (Becca Stevens) – I got this one for Christmas last year and it looks like a really interesting read.
  2. Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black (Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick, Alexis Deacon) – this is a review copy I got free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers, so it’s about time I got it read. I am about 60 pages into it and enjoying it so far.
  3. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons (Sam Kean) – I got this one for Christmas last year as well. Sam Kean writes interesting and engaging non-fiction books, mainly of a scientific nature. This one on the history of the human brain really piqued my interest. I need to get to it soon.
  4. This is How it Always Is (Laurie Frankel) – I received this novel for Christmas last year and it looks lie one I’ll really enjoy when I get around to it.
  5. Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy (Anne Lamott) – yet another Christmas gift from last year and it’s Anne Lamott, so it needs to be read!
  6. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
     (Rachel Held Evans) – it was so sad when Rachel Held Evans died earlier this year at such a young age. This was her last book and I’ve wanted to read it for a while. I will soon.
  7. The Humans (Matt Haig) – I haven’t read anything by Matthew Haig yet, so I need to remedy that. Plus I’ve heard lots of good things about this one.
  8. Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God (Lauren F. Winner) – I’ve had this one unread on my shelf for too long. I always enjoy reading Lauren Winner, so I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten to this one yet.
  9. There and Back Again: JRR Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit (Mark Atherton) – this is yet another of last year’s Christmas gifts. The Hobbit is my favourite book, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one.
  10. Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me (Janet Mock) – I got this last month and started reading it right away, but then I got distracted by other book. I’ll get back to it soon for sure.

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.

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.

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