Sunday, 29 January 2017

Strange Things Done

Finished January 25
Strange Things Done by Elle Wild

This mystery is set in Dawson City in the Yukon. Journalist Jo Silver made the wrong choice when reporting the story of a serial killer in Vancouver, and because she was talked out of warning the public of his methods, a woman died. The blowback was bad, but Jo feels remorse even more strongly than the criticism she's received.
Jo is looking for a new start, and took the job on a small newspaper called the Dawson Daily. She finds once she gets to her new job that the newspaper is even smaller than she thought, and that it isn't daily, but weekly. The outgoing editor gives her some basic orientation, and will be approving any stories until he leaves. But he seems to have a different view on journalism than Jo, and doesn't want to share the information she's sure is important to her new community. Why is that?
After her experience in Vancouver, she doesn't take all the advice she gets on not reporting what she's discovered on the death of a local woman well at all, and this increases her distrust of her new acquaintances.
Jo has been used to drowning her guilt in alcohol lately, and on her first night in town she got drunk, accepted a ride home from a man she barely knew, and doesn't remember much about what happened after that. Bryne seems like a nice guy but Jo is no longer sure who to trust.
Her new housemate Sally, a dancer seems to have secrets and a real attitude too. Jo isn't sure whether she likes her or not. And the local RCMP guy is awful good looking, but Jo's recent experiences haven't made her inclined to trust the police, even though her father is a police officer.
As Jo gradually gets to know the people and issues of Dawson City, she finds her journalistic skills reading true and gets accepted enough to be initiated into the SourToe Cocktail Club.
Jo is a strong character and I hope this is the start of a new mystery series.
I also like the title of the book evoking of my favourite poems The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service, a man who lived for many years in Dawson City.

The One Real Thing

Finished January 22
The One Real Thing by Samantha Young

This novel is the first of a series, but the only one in the series that I've read. The main character here is Dr. Jessica Huntington. Jessica works as a doctor at a women's prison in Wilmington, Delaware. She works hard, and has no real life outside work. One day she comes across some letters hidden in a book in the prison library. They are all from one woman, and when she does some research, she finds the woman died just one day after the last letter was written. Jessica's only personal break is a vacation with her best friend from her childhood and his family. When he unexpectedly has to cancel, she decides to go to a nearby seaside resort town alone for a break. The same town the letters she found were addressed to. She wonders if she can find the recipient and give him the letters that never reached him.
Other than her distant friend, Jessica doesn't really let anyone into her life. Even when she has needs, her partner for sex is a man she doesn't particularly like, but who's agreeable to keeping their relationship strictly on that level.
As she gradually relaxes on her vacation, she finds the people of Hartwell friendly, and accepting of her as she is. There is one man in particular she is attracted to, Cooper Lawson, owner of a bar on the boardwalk, and the attraction appears to be mutual. But Jessica is afraid of letting people get too close, due to an incident from her past that still haunts her, and this secret may keep her from giving herself completely to her new feelings. The lesson from the letters she found is one she doesn't easily recognize.
This story goes back and forth in point of view between Jessica and Cooper as they each experience the time Jessica spends at Hartwell and their feelings and observations.
The town also has an ongoing issue with a local developer who is looking to buy up property along the boardwalk, and isn't afraid to try anything that works to get it.
As the first in this series, the book introduces a number of interesting characters that I'm sure will be developed in later books. From the shy bookstore owner to the gregarious innkeeper, they all look to have interesting stories.

One True Loves

Finished January 21
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The novel opens with an introduction to 31-year-old Emma Blair by herself. Emma is a woman comfortable in her own skin and satisfied with her life. She is engaged to be married to a man she loves, Sam, and happy running a bookstore in her hometown of Acton, Massachusetts. But her world is thrown into a spin when her phone rings and a voice on the other end that she immediately recognizes tells her he is alive. It is her husband Jesse, a man thought to be dead years ago. Now what?
The novel then jumps back to Emma in high school. She is a young woman raised by loving parents in Massachusetts. Her parent's run a bookstore in Acton, and fully expect her and her older sister Marie to take it over one day. Marie is popular, pretty, and smart and intends to be a writer someday. Emma has no interest in the bookstore or reading the books her parents push on her, despite working their after school and on weekends, and her only real aim is to get away. Emma feels that she can never measure up to Marie and that Marie resents her. But when the boy she admires takes a sudden interest in her, she gains the confidence to move forward and make her life what she wants it to be.
We see her life develop into a rich and busy one until the tragedy of Jesse's disappearance and assumed death devastates her entirely.
Then we watch her rebuild her life into one that suits her now, until the sudden reappearance of Jesse makes her question everything once more.
This is a story of love, of the changes that life puts us through, and of the choices we all make along the way.

Eel River Rising

Finished January 14
Eel River Rising by Laura Reasoner Jones

This biography is of the women of an earlier generation in the author's family. It begins in the 1860s with Anne Meranda, nee Stiles, telling a little of her background. It is told in letters and in these reminiscences by the various women in the family, and women they associated with. Anna left her family in southern Indiana when she married and her husband, James Meranda, a doctor, opened a practice in Randolph County, in northern Indiana. They lived in the small town of Chili, near the larger town of Peru. Anna had two daughters, Macy and Flora. Macy enjoyed the typical womanly tasks of sewing, keeping house, and playing piano, while Flora expressed an early interest in her father's profession, and with his encouragement aimed herself toward that career. The last entry in the book is from Macy in 1940, looking back and her and her sister's lives.
The real action begins in 1863, when the first letters appear. The majority of the letters are to Flora from others, The few letters from Flora herself are ones never sent, written to those she has lost, from a beloved kitten, to a detested father-in-law.
The men in the family only appear as viewed by women, which gives an interesting, albeit biased insight.
Flora is a woman with drive and skill, and yet sometimes she seems to give up too easily on her dreams. This book has pleasures and tragedies, and gives a real sense of the life of the times. Two big events of 1913 deeply affected Flora. One of these was her trip to Washington to take part in the Women's Suffrage Parade in March. This experience deflated Flora, by the aggression and violence she experienced. The second was the terrible flooding in Peru at Easter, where many people lost the homes and possessions. Flora offered medical care from one of the shelters, and her actions in the community of South Peru to help families, especially mothers and children became widely known.
This is a book of a women's world in a time when women lacked opportunities, rights, and respect. It is a story of lost opportunities, but also of women who found their own path despite their situation.

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!)