Saturday, 7 January 2017

Marrow Island

Finished January 4
Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

I enjoyed the previous book I read by this author, Glaciers, and so picked this up when I saw it on the shelf at the library.
The main character here is Lucie Bowen. Lucie is a journalist and as the book begins, returns to the house she grew up in on Orwell Island off the coast of Seattle. This is the first time she has been back since fleeing the island after a devastating earthquake when she was just twelve years old.
Her mother managed to hold on to and repair the cottage they lived in, and has now transferred ownership over to her. Lucie's childhood friend Katie, whom she lost touch with after the tragedy, has recently sent her a letter, letting Lucie know that she is working with a small group of people on a nearby island, Marrow Island. Marrow Island was the center of a second tragedy, caused by the earthquake, of a fire and environmental disaster at an oil refinery. The island was contaminated and all residents were evacuated and not allowed to return. Many of those on Marrow Island at the time died and some bodies were never recovered, among them Lucie's father.
It is hard for Lucie to go back, but at Katie's invitation to see how the colony works, she goes over for a couple of days, as does a parks officer who is looking at the state of the government park on the island to see if work can be done to reopen it.
As we see Lucie learn about the colony that Katie lives with and meet other members, we see her question her observations. She is, after all, a journalist, despite the personal ties she has to the location and people there.
This story alternates with a later narrative, also by Lucie, more than 18 months after this visit to Marrow. We gradually learn something bad happened, and Lucie is now living with her boyfriend, a parks officer, in a remote forest cabin on the mainland. She spends her days wandering the woods, writing, and generally avoiding facing what happened. When something happens to call her back to those events and then a fire threatens her new sanctuary, Lucie responds.
This is a moving book, The reader really gets inside Lucie's head, seeing things as she sees them, but unsure of what importance to place on them.

Friday, 6 January 2017

The Tourist

Finished January 2
The Tourist by Robert Dickinson

This science fiction thriller is set around an incident happening in the 21st century in England. Spens is a young man working for a tourist resort for travellers who have come from the future to visit this time and place. It is apparently an open secret that these visitors are from the future and they exert a certain control, perhaps through threats, that no one interferes with them.
Workers like Spens have some knowledge of what happens in this time period, but not complete knowledge and there is some suspicion that they are purposefully not told everything. Spens is supposed to take a group by bus to a local mall, where they can roam individually for a few hours. On their trip back to the resort, the bus will get in a minor accident. All the tourists know this and have chosen this particular trip for the additional excitement of the accident.
However after everyone gets back on board after the accident, one tourist is missing. This was not something that Spens was told was going to happen, and he does not know what it means.
Spens interacts regularly with a female guide from another resort, Li. They often sit with each other at the mall while waiting for their groups to finish, and sometimes go out after work.
Spens also knows his own future to a certain extent. Knows that he is sent back soon for a breach of protocol and he wonders if this incident is related to that.
As Spens tries to find his missing tourist, with the help of a security officer at his own resort, he also is helped by a relatively new guide from another resort, Edda. Edda seems to have additional skills and knowledge and proves quite helpful
He briefly meets someone he knew at school, but who has obviously taken a different path, and is now much older than Spens. He wonders how much he is supposed to share with authorities about this.
The chapters move back and forth between Spens in the 21st century, an unnamed older man that the reader suspects to be Spens later in life, the missing tourist, and another female voice at an indeterminate time.
I found the chapter changes a bit confusing, as I wasn't always sure who the speaker was and what time they were in. The story is one of shadows and mirrors, no one sure what is real, what is fake, what is manipulated and what is accidental. Is there a conspiracy? Can one change the future by taking an action in the past? What really happened on earth? Lots of questions. Few answers.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Summary of 2016 Reading

Well I set a goal to read 150 books for 2016 and read 153, so that was pretty good. I've decided to set the same goal for 2017.

Here are some numbers on my reading:
Adult books: 128
Teen books:12
Kid's books: 13

Genre (books may fit in more than one genre)
Fiction: 117
Nonfiction: 34
I read one play, 2 books of poetry, 3 books of essays, and 1 book of short stories.
Biography/Memoir: 12
Mystery: 45
Historical Fiction: 31
Fantasy: 11
Science Fiction: 4
Romance: 13
Western: 1

Male: 59
Female: 89
Mixed: 3

I read only 8 books translated from another language into English this year.
The languages translated from were:
French: 4
Spanish: 2
Korean: 1
German: 1
Italian: 1

I read 28 books by Canadian writers, which is definitely a low for me.

Graphic novels: 5
Audiobook: 27
Ebook: 4
31 were ARCs, and 18 were ones I signed up for on Netgalley (although mostly I ended up finding a paper copy rather than reading the netgalley edition)
41 books were parts of series

Where I got them:
Library Books: 56
Books I owned: 90
The rest were either borrowed from friends and family, or Netgalley ebooks.

Wrap-Up Post for TBR Challenge 2016

Well, I definitely did not meet this challenge. I had the goal of 50 books from the ones I already owned before 2016, but only made it to 34. I did read and pass on some of the books I acquired in 2016, but somehow managed to up my total book holdings by more than one hundred volumes despite that. The battle continues.

Here is the hosting page for this challenge. Here is my sign-up page.

This challenge runs the 2016 calendar year. Books have to have been published in 2015 or earlier. All genres, lengths, and formats are allowed.

My previous challenges had you specify which books from your piles you were going to read. This challenge does not require that, instead we are choosing how many books we already have that we are going to read.

There are 6 levels for this challenge. I went for the highest level, Married with Children, which is 50+ books. Because I really have to stop adding to my collection, I made the additional commitment that for every book I brought into the house, 2 had to leave the house. Instead it worked the other way around.

Books I already owned that I read:
1. The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill. Finished January 3 [This book has now been given away]
2. Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff. Finished January 9 [This book has now been given away]
3. Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann. Finished January 11 [This book has now been given away]
4. Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble. Finished January 14 [This book has now been given away]
5. The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill. Finished January 16 [Kept]
6. The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole White. Finished January 19 [This book has now been given away]
7. 13 rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro. Finished January 30. [This book has now been given away]
8. The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft. Finished February 13 [This book has now been given away]
9. Do Not Disturb by Tilly Bagshawe. Finished February 18 [This book has now been given away]
10. Where Secrets Sleep by Marta Perry. Finished February 19 [This book has now been given away]
11. Little Green by Walter Mosley. Finished March 1 [This book has now been given away]
12. Anomaly by Krista McGee. Finished March 12 [This book has now been given away]
13. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang. Finished March 13 [This book has now been given away]
14. Future Crimes by Mark Goodman. Finished March 17 [This book has been given away]
15. Tell Everyone by Alfred Hermida. Finished March 19 [This book has been given away]
16. This Is Why by Leland Spencer. Finished March 27 [This book has been given away]
17. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. Finished April 2 [This book has been given away]
18. The January Dancer by Michael Flynn. Finished April 6 [This book has been given away]
19. The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark. Finished April 7 [This book has been given away]
20. Rings of Passage by Karla Tipton. Finished April 12 [This book has been given away]
21. Satisfying Clicking Sound by Jason Guriel. Finished April 22 [This book has been given away]
22. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Finished April 26 [Kept]
23. The "Natural Inferiority of Women, compiled by Tama Starr. Finished May 23 [This book has been given away]
24. Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Finished June 28.[This book has been given away]
25. Joy Comes in the Morning by Jonathan Rosen. Finished July 8 [This book has been given away]
26. Harriet Beamer Rides the Bus by Joyce Magnin. Finished August 11 [This book has been given away]
27. Lauchlin of the Bad Heart by D.R. MacDonald. Finished August 22 [This book has been given away]
28. The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki. Finished September 15 [This book has been given away]
29. BiblioTech by John Palfrey. Finished September 16 [Kept]
30. An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris. Finished October 18 [This book has been given away]
31. The Undertaker's Wife by Dee Oliver. Finished November 17 [This book has been given away]
32. Read This! Finished November 23 [Kept]
33. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch. Finished December 14 [Kept]
34. Quality of Care by Elizabeth Letts. Finished December 17 [This book has been given away]

Status of book pile.
Books that have left: 54 (read and given away) + 3 (duplicates given away) + 26 (books from my past read shelves given away) + 9 (thrown away [mostly old textbooks]) = 92
Books arrived: 4 (won in contests) + (9+9+14+14+7) bought + 20 (from OLA conference) + 6 from co-worker + 3 sent by author +23 (from subscriptions) + 81 (from PLA Conference) + 2 (giveaway) + 8 (from vendor) + 8 (from mom) = 208
(Definitely in the red here!)

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Wrap-Up Post for the Monthly Motif Reading Challenge 2016

Monthly Motif Reading Challenge 2016

Here is the hosting page for the challenge. Here is my sign-up page.

Each month has a motif or theme that you have to read a book in. I completed all of them except for July.

* Who Dunnit? Crack the case and solve the mystery
The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill. Finished January 3
* New Releases. Read a book released in the last year
Where Secrets Sleep by Marta Perry. Finished February 18
* Take a Trip. Time travel or read a book set in a different country than where you live
A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis. Finished March 28 (time travel)
* Best of the Best. Read a book that has won recognition or a literary award
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Finished April 26
* Story of Survival. Make it out alive, beat the odds, save yourself stories. Think beyond the typical.
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill. Finished May 9
* Girlxoxo Recommends. Check the host site for recommendations
Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Finished June 28
* LOL. Hilarious memoirs, silly chick lit, comedic scifi. Pick a book that is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. [Did not read a book for this category]
* Genre Jumble. Read from a genre you don't normally read from.
You're Not Lost If You Can Still See the Truck by Bill Heavey. Finished August 26
* Steampunk, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. Something from one of these genres.
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard. Finished September 25
* Things that Go Bump in the Night. Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal creeptastic, murder mysteries - it's up to you.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley. Finished October 11
* Fiction Takes a Break. Anything nonfiction
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. Finished November 14
* That's a wrap. Finish a series you've been meaning to finish or read the next book in a series you started by never finished.
The Slow Waltz of Turtles by Katherine Pancol. Finished December 31

The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Finished December 31
The Slow Waltz of Turtles by Katherine Pancol, translated by William Rodarmor

This book is the follow up the The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, which introduced us to Josephine Cortes. Here Josephine has moved to a new apartment in a better neighbourhood, but she doesn't feel at home there, and still goes back to her old neighbourhood to shop. Her younger daughter Zoe lives with her, but Hortense has achieved a place at a fashion school in London and spends most of the year there. Hortense knows what she wants and is driven to achieve it. Josephine's sister has suffered a breakdown and as the book begins is in a mental hospital. Her husband Philippe has taken their son to London and is learning to live a new life there.
Josephine's mother Henriette is obsessed with her estranged husband's new life, refusing to grant him a divorce and working to try and make his lover's life unhappy.
As Josephine learns to be more confident in what she truly wants and to draw lines against those that she begins to understand don't value her as a person, she gains strength and self-awareness slowly. She has always been a woman who puts others before herself, and this is a hard habit to change.
Put off by the snobbishness of her new neighbours, Josephine befriends the concierge Iphigenie, improving her situation as she does.
Early in her new home, Josephine is walking home one evening through the nearby park, only to be attacked by a stranger. Only something she is carrying saves her life, and she grows wary of her new neighbourhood. When a woman she knows is killed, she becomes more fearful. When more murders connected to her new home occur, she begins to eye both her new neighbours and old acquaintances with concern. When she befriends a badly scarred stray dog and names him Du Guesclin, after the Black Dog of Broceliande, one of the greatest warriors of his generation, yet a notoriously ugly man. She takes the dog in, offering love and companionship and enriching her and Zoe's lives.
As we gradually learn the sad story of the deaths, we become aware that what we see of people isn't always the truth, and the secrets people live with are sometimes too much to bear.
The title does have meaning that we only learn toward the end, a bittersweet story of love and cruelty, This book has a bit of fantasy to it as well that adds another layer. A great read.

Wrap-Up Post for Books in Translation Challenge 2016

Books in Translation Challenge 2016

Here is the hosting page for this challenge. Here is my sign-up page.

This challenge ran for the 2016 calendar year.

There are four levels for this challenge. I went for the highest level, Linguist, which means I needed to read 10-12 books translated into English, and I only read nine. So I didn't complete this successfully (despite having many translated books on my shelves waiting to be read!) They did cover 5 languages though, which isn't bad.

1. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang. Translated from Korean. Finished March 13
2. Red Lights by Simenon. Translated from French. Finished April 16
3. The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano. Translated from French. Finished September 8
4. A Climate of Fear by Fred Vargas. Translated from French. Finished October 10
5. Blitz by David Trueba. Translated from Spanish. Finished November 26
6. Schlump by Hans Herbert Grimm. Translated from German. Finished December 1
7. If Venice Dies by Salvatore Settis. Translated from Italian. Finished December 12
8. Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto. Translated from Spanish. Finished December 15
9. The Slow Waltz of Turtles by Katherine Pancol. Translated from French. Finished December 31