Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

good reader

Just listened to Dear American Airlines, 2009, by Jonathan Miles and really enjoyed it. It supposed to be a letter from a disgruntled passenger Bennie Ford, a fifty-three-year-old failed poet turned translator who is waiting in O'Hare airport forever, trying to get to his daughter's wedding. A grumpy, believable, funny, very flawed characater that you are routing for and it's a well written story. The reader did a great job.

Mark Billingham's latest is good too; From the Dead, 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chet the dog

Listened to the second and third books featuring Chet, the dog; Thereby Hangs a Tail: A Chet and Bernie Mystery and To Fetch a Thief, by Spencer Quinn. Enjoyed them both, Chet is a faithful hound and good dog detective.

I'm about to give up on Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm, 2010. 3/4 of the way through and it is just not holding me. The writing is good but the story is dull, don't care what happens.

But, I am really liking World and Town by Gish Jen, 2010. Really good writing, interesting novel. Hattie is half Chinese, half American and restarting her live in a small town. She's lost her best friend and her husband. A Cambodian family moves in next door, and an ex-lover moves to town.
As the review on Amazon says....
"What Hattie makes of this situation is at the center of a novel that asks deep and absorbing questions about religion, home, America, what neighbors are, what love is, and, in the largest sense, what “worlds” we make of the world."

And I'm half way through and really enjoying Kate Atkinson's latest, Started Early, Took My Dog, 2010. Features the retired cop Jackson Daley as a PI and another retired cop, Tracy and an past-it actor. Interesting characters. There is a dog of course, rescued by Jackson early in the book.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Finished Room by Emma Donoghue, 2010 and it was a good read. I kept riding past my morning biking while reading it, so it was definitely holding my attention. They got out of the room fairly early in the book, thank goodness, so it was possible to keep going. She does a good job of capturing a 5-year-olds perspective on the world.

Listened to Peter Robinson's latest book, Bad Boy, 2010. A good mystery, I like reading about the same characters caught in different dilemmas. His characters are interesting and believable.

The City and the City by China Mieville, 2009. Well this is an interesting mystery, set in two cities that occupy the same land, where everyone learns to see and "unsee" whichever population they belong to. It's a Sci-Fi mystery where the two strangely named Eastern Europeaon cities are superimposed on one another. Good writer and excellent reader - same person who read the Benjamin Black mysteries.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Listened to Pat Barker's book Border Crossing, 2002, and thought it was perceptive. Someone wrote that they thought it was her best non-Ghost-Road book and I agree. I haven't thought her books, other than that great triology, have been so good but this one tackles a child killer and the people around him and is very good. Interesting book.

Reading the The Room by Emma Donoghue, 2010, and it has been hard to make myself read it. It's hard to read about someone in such an abused and cloisted situation. Her kid perspective is great though. I will keep reading.

Really like What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn, 2008. Switching between 1984 and 2003, about a little girl who goes missing after starting up her own detective agency. It's set mostly in a huge mall, with very believable characters you want to get to know.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Listened to Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, 2010. The narrator was a bit grating and the story too long and the characters almost completely unlikable but he can write a good book. And timely, our planet heading into an overpopulated, polluted, navel-staring state - he brings it all in. Thank god my cats are indoor cats.

Per Petterson, I Curse the River of Time , 2010. I liked Out Stealing Horses a lot better, but this is a good book. His characters I like, he's gentle with his flawed people.

Curtains, Adventures in an Undertaker-in-Training, 2010 by Tom Jokinen is very good. It's a revelation, what happens to us in those places, and interesting to read about the state of the business. Good writer, very interesting book.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

scarf I want to make

Lucy Neatby pattern

and my practice attempts so far.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Books - two mysteries, two novels

Murderous Proession by Ariana Franklin, 2010. It's good but I am just not as interested in it as her first books. Seems to be how several series are affecting me these days. There are just too many other books I'd rather be reading. It's a good read, just not great.

I am really enjoying Emma Donoghue's Landing, 2007. Likable, interesting characters, from Dublin or from rural Ontario. She tells a good story. Looking forward to reading Room, up for the Booker, although I often hate those Booker books.

Generosity by Richard Powers, 2009. Interesting book, he keeps switching perspectives. Whose voice are we listening to? An off stage writer, the main character who is a writer teaching a writing class? Is happiness in our genetic code, to be manipulated?

Once a Spy by Keith Thompson, 2010. Charlie finds his father, Drummond, in the thoes of Alzheimer's, but then finds out he was a spy. A mad chase ensues, bodies flying, a wild tale. Not a great book but the humour around Alzheimer's is good.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, 2009. Good, but hard to hear about the medical stuff. Believable characters. Didn't like the ending, needlessly melodramatic, but the book is worth reading.

The Past is a Foreign Country
by Gianrico Carofiglio, 2010. I have really liked his other 3 books, mysteries set in Italy, this one is different. A bit dry, hard to connect with the main character, but it's good.

The Good Parents: A Novel, 2009, by Joan London is good. Nearly finished it, Australian writer. Moves around in time in the lives of a family of characters. She writes well.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

summer books

Tana French, Faithful Place, July 2010. First book read on an iPad. It's good but I think I liked her other two books better. Still, a good mystery, but I get tired of reading about drunks and the fallouts from alcohol.

Listened to Stone's Fall by Iain Pears, June 2010, in the car. Very long book. Would have preferred the print version, needed to go back and check dates and can't do that with the audio book. He's a good story teller though, interesting to move backwards in chunks in time. The prologue is set in 1951 and the first part is set in 1909, the second in 1891, and the last in 1867. Good plot, interesting characters, he keeps the question of Stone's Fall running in the background no matter which tale he is side-tracked on.

I am half way through David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet June 2010, and like it very much. I know nothing of the Dutch East India Company, nothing of Japan's history at all so it's interesting to read about. Good writer. Novel is set in 1799, on the island of Dejima in Nagasaki Bay. The Dutch East India Company is the sole trading point between Europe and the isolationist Japanese and Jacob de Zoet is a clerk given the task of finding corruption.

The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore, 2010, is on the Booker long list and I was inspired to read it because it's the only book on the list that looked interesting, or approachable, and Ian Rankin mentioned in a tweet that he had not read one of the long list Booker books. Me either, until now. This one is good. Set in 1952 in Leningrad, tells the story of the mobster government dominating everyone's lives. Andrei, a young hospital doctor and Anna, a nursery school teacher, are trying to live after nearly starving through the war. Good characters, good book.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Finished a very good book of essays by Zadie Smith, called Changing My Mind, 2009. A real mixed bag of things, literary essays, movie reviews, going to the Oscars...Good book.

And finished Solar by Ian McEwan and really liked it. Have not liked many of his other books but I did really like this one. Such a scathing sense of humour.

Started a couple of new books, one on my iPad - a different kind of reading. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, 2009. It's good. And I'm listening to the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery in the car, The Mapping Of Love And Death by Jacqueline Winspear, 2010. It's enjoyable too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

good book

have yet to get the camera out to photo the latest knitting...
but just finished listening to Solar by Ian McEwan and thought it was a great book. Funny, in a very cutting and smart way. And the main character is so despicable but believable.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Tortoise and a musician

Listening to Nick Hornby's Juliet Naked, 2009, in the car. It's a tale of musicians and messy relationships and it's good - very Nick Hornby - but good. Very well read so it's an enjoyable listen.

Just started Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant, 2009. I think I will like it. Took me awhile to figure out the Tortoise has a voice. The main character, Audrey, flies home to St. John's to deal with family. Not sure where the tortoise is going to end up, she's back in Portland being looked after. Found a good video clip of the author talking about the book.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Finished another pair of socks but no time for photos. In the car I had Benjamin Black's Elegy for April, 2010, playing and enjoyed it. Not sure why, it's as dark as all the others. Dark and cold in 1950's Dublin with alcoholic Quinn crashing his way through another dark inquiry. But like it I did.

Also finished the Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese. I wish he had written more books. He writes very well. This one was hard to read at times, his descriptions of addiction being as raw as his descriptions of surgery are detailed. Good book set in El Paso in the early 90's. Found some good video clips on youtube of Abraham talking

And for a nice light change, I'm now listening to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, Annie Barrows, 2009. Very entertaining. So nice to read about book lovers.

Also reading Douglas Copeland's book on Marshall Mcluhan, in the Extraordinary Canadians series. There's a bit too much Douglas in there but it is interesting. What a strange person MM was.

Monday, May 31, 2010

a couple of abandoned mysteries

Gave up on two, and cannot even remember the name of one of them, popular Swedish author. It was an audiobook and I could not stand the reader so skipped the final 3 CDs. The Laughing Policeman, by Per Wahloo, that's what it was. The other I was reading and it was due at the library. Pretty good but didn't hold me enough to finish it properly. The Last Child by John Hart, 2010.
I am listening to a good one though, the Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. Characters I am interested in, and Quebec, which I am interested in.

And I have other good books on the go: The Imperfectionist​s: A Novel by Tom Rachman . Just started and really like it. Good writer.

Finished My Own Country and really liked it. Such a good writer. I've started his other book, The Tennis Partner and like it too. An interesting man who writes about the people in his interesting life.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

the never ending Northern Clemency

Whew, thought it would never be over. 22 CDs to listen to the Northern Clemency. Not sure why I continued but I was ever hopeful I would start to like a character or be interested in what was happening. It doesn't even end, it just peters out. Very glad it is over.

Reading Love and Summer by William Trevor, 2010, a good writer but the book is odd though. It feels like he's writing about Ireland a century ago but I think it's supposed to be contemporary Ireland. Small town Ireland.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Half way through the Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher, a very long book. It's a good read but not sure I like it. I don't like any of the characters, and there are no animals in it. It's about 2 Sheffield UK families, in the 70s and 80s. Reads like literate coronation street. I doubt I will seek out another book by this author.

On the final pages of Long Time Coming by Robert Goddard, which is a good book. His plots are interesting, his characters likable. It moves between Antwerp in 1939 and London in 1976. A Jewish diamond trader fled Nazi Europe, leaving his priceless collection of Picasso paintings and diamonds with a friend who takes them to London. The boat he fled on sank, leaving no survivors. Where is the proof of forgery and why was Eldritch Swan in prison for 36 years?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good books

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 2009. Very good book, the story told by our friend the grim reaper as he gathers many souls during WW II in Molching, Germany. Liesle is the main character and the thief. Characters you grow to love. Sad, but good.

My Own Country: A Doctor's Story by Abraham Verghese, 1995. I liked Cutting for Stone so much I bought the other two books he wrote. Here he tells the story of his return in the fall 1985 with his wife and newborn son to Johnson City, Tennessee, where he had done his internship and residence. He is the doctor of infectious diseases dealing with AIDS as it infects the small town. This is a well written memoir that reads like a novel.

And a good mystery, Beyond Reach by Graham Hurley. Again we are left wondering where Winter will end up. The doubting detective is good - does police action do more harm than good? Set in Portsmoth UK, DI Faraday seems to be questioning his career.

Friday, April 16, 2010


A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore, 2009. Good novel, but disturbing. Good writer, main character a 20 year old US mid-westerner who meets a troubling boy friend, an aggravating employer. Race and terrorism sneak in. One of the characters puts her kids library books in the oven to kill the germs. What a concept!

Started reading Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training by Tom Jokinen, 2010, and really like it. Had to take it back to the library so I have ordered my own copy. What really happens to our bodies when we die? I will be finding out. The crematorium was an education already.

Also started P.D. James' non-fiction book written this year Talking About Detective Fiction. It's very interesting.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


not for me..

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good reads

I finished Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom, 2009 and really liked it. It was groups of short stories. Think I will check out a novel by her. Also finished the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larson and did so by listening to the whole thing, even though I had read The Girl with the Dragaon Tatoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire before. It really is one big book. So sad that he did not get to finish the series of 10 books that he had planned.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest is the final act. Long but good.

Have almost finished A Pigeon and a Boy: A Novel by Meir Shalev, 2009. Two stories happening throughout the book, the tale of present day Yair Mendelsohn, a middle-aged Israeli tour guide who guides bird watchers. He recalls the story of a homing pigeon handler, nicknamed the Baby and how he was killed in the 1948 Israeli war of independence and, in his final moments, sent off one last pigeon. Good book. Interesting characters.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

new mystery writer, new novelist

The Business of Dying by Simon Kernick, 2002. Writer recommended to me by the owner of the mystery book store in Victoria, Chronicles of Crime. It was good and I want to read more by him. He's a bit brutal - lots of dead bodies. But good plot, good writing.

Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom
, 2009. Really perceptive writer. Just started this book but I like it a lot. Not a novel but groups of connected stories.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

too many mysteries

3 that I have either stopped or skimmed the remainder. They are pretty good mysteries but I get bored with the plots.
The Dying Light by Henry Porter, 2009. Like an episode of Spooks, and well enough written but I sent it back to the library 2/3 of the way through. Never got back to Stardust by Joseph Kanon, leaving it half read.

Listened to The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly, 2009, but pushed the skip button for the last 3 CDs. Plot was too predictable and serial killers don't really interest me.

So am very happy to start two good books:
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, 2009. Good writing, really good writing and interesting characters - twin sons Marion and Shiva Stone, born in a mission hospital in Ethiopia in the 1950s. Verghese is a doctor and writer and he writes very well. I may have to buy this book.

Barbara Kingsolver's latest novel The Lacuna, 2009. Not as appealing as her earlier novels and I've had a harder time getting into it, but it's good now. The main character is a boy - half Mexican - living in the 30's in Mexico with his wayward mother. So far he has been educated in the Three Muskateer's school of literature and is about to enter school for the first time at age 14.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


mitts for Mum, really nice sock wool that shrinks after a few washings so I'm not going to make any more socks of it.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Am enjoying The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre 2009. Good novel, interesting topic. The flawed father tries to deal with the ramifications of spending years burying abuse scandals for his bishop.

Just listened to Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg, 2009. A good legal mystery. Good characters, set in Toronto.

Half way through Stardust by Joseph Kanon, 2009. I have been liking it but am not sure I'll finish it. It is pretty good but other books are calling.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Socks and booties

Colourful sock

purple sock

Booties for Laura

click on photo for bigger image