Friday 27 February 2015


Finished February 26
Remembrance: a story by Alistair MacLeod

This is MacLeod's last published story, and was produced as a commissioned work for the Vancouver Writers Fest.
This story is told in four chapters, the first three in third person and the last one in first person. The first person in the last chapter is the narrator throughout. The story is about three generations of men, and particularly of the older generation. The oldest of these men is a man who went to war to try to support his growing family. Marriage had been a bit of a surprise to him and he recognized that he wasn't able to support his wife and children as he wanted, so he signed up so that she would receive his pay. The results of that action, his war activities, her actions while he was away, what they did when he returned and how everything came from that is their story.
Simply told, poignant yet straightforward, this story is a prime example of the great skill at storytelling that Alistair MacLeod had.


Finished February 26
Chase by Dean Koontz, performed by Nick Podehl

This short novel is set in 1971, and was originally published by Koontz in 1972 under the pen name K.R. Dwyer.
Benjamin Chase is a veteran of Vietnam, caught up in guilt over his actions in wartime, but recently awards a medal for his actions. Ben feels out of touch with those around him, going through a set routine every day. The gift of a vehicle by the local merchants' association, a result of his medal, throws him out of his routine and takes him up to the top of the hill near town, a local spot for young lovers. When he sees a man creeping up on a vehicle he takes notice and while unable to prevent the murder of one of the car's occupants, he does keep things from going further.
As a result of this action, he gets even more media attention, and also, it would seem, notice by the murderer, who now looks to Ben as a new target.
As Ben reacts to this, first in retreat and denial and then in action, he tracks the man down, and eliminates the threat in a way that feels right to him.
The psychology that runs through both Ben's and the killer's actions here is interesting, although this is a rather odd novel. I found the calmness of the woman that Ben finds solace in different, and likely a product of the time this novella was originally written.

Thursday 26 February 2015

March Take Control of Your TBR Pile challenge

This is the third year for this challenge, but my first year participating. The rules are simple. For the month of March you ditch the ARC’s and read books in your TBR pile released before March 1, 2015. They can be eBooks, physical books or audiobooks. The aim is to clean off those shelves, finish those series and trilogies and have some fun doing it. Once again the host will provide motivation with a grand prize of a new book release of the winner's choice and full details are available at their site.
Take Control 2015Since I have many TBR piles around the house, I'm planning to finish 11 books from my TBR pile, plus the four in my Reading Assignment list for March, for a total of 15. I will add them below as I complete them.
1. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce. Finished March 6
2. The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello. Finished March 7
3. Frameshift by Robert J. Sawyer. Finished March 14
4. The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham. Finished March 15
5. How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall. Finished March 15
6. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. Finished March 16
7. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Finished March 17
8. The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. Finished March 19
9. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. Finished March 27
10. Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews. Finished March 28
11. A Bride for the Season by Jennifer Delamere. Finished March 30
12. The Wild Things by Dave Eggers. Finished March 31

Well, I only finished 12, but that is still 12 books less on by TBR shelf, so a good thing. 

Domestic Violets

Finished February 25
Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

This humorous novel follows copywriter Tom Violet as he goes through a difficult stage in his life. Tom works for a large company writing copy for letters, brochures, press releases and other material. He isn't passionate about his job and has fun sparring with a co-worker he can't stand Greg (who wants to be known as Gregory, which Tom refuses to do). He has an assistant, Katie, who he encourages, but is also attracted to. Tom has been writing a novel for years, and has recently finished it.
Tom and his wife Anna and their daughter Allie live in a nice house in a great neighbourhood in Washington, D.C. thanks to Tom's dad, Curtis Violet. Curtis is a famous novelist and owns the house that Tom and his family live in. He drops in occasionally and the two have an unusual, but good relationship. Tom and Anna have been having problems lately, one of them being Tom's issues with potency. Tom doesn't understand what is behind this failure. The family also has a dog Hank, who is lovable and needy, and a great addition to the book.
As the book begins, Curtis has dropped in on Tom's family once again, announcing his win of the Pulitzer Prize, Tom has had another failure in the bedroom, another round of layoffs seem to be imminent at work, and Tom's mother seems to undergoing marital issues as well.
There are a lot of great characters here, and the plot is relatable to what we see going on around us. The writing is good, and the humour great. I really enjoyed this novel.

Left Neglected

Finished February 23
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Sarah Nickerman is vice-president of HR for a global consulting company, juggling three kids, a husband with a busy job as well, a commute into Boston from the suburbs and all the things that come with such a busy life. Then one day on her commute in, she is distracted by her cell phone and crashes her car.
She is lucky to have as little injuries as she does. Her main injury is one to her brain. The result is condition known as left neglect, unilateral neglect, or hemispatial neglect. People with this condition have brains that ignore the left side of the world. So they only see the left side of they are looking at, they don't recognize their own left side, such as left arm, left leg of left side of the face. If they look at themselves they only see the right half and their brain makes up the rest. It might fill in an image of their face with a mirror of what they see on the right. It might just miss it entirely. There is nothing wrong with their vision, it is all in the brain.
Therapy can improve the condition in some patients, but not all, and science still has a lot to learn about this condition.
Sarah has a hard time adjusting, and then a hard time facing what others expect of her. The forced downtime of her recovery lets her look at her life and lifestyle closely and think about what is important to her. She connects with new people and reconnects with others. This is a moving, and well written story about a recovery that leads to a new start.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Heir of the Dog

Finished February 22
Heir of the Dog by Judi McCoy

This is the second book in a series featuring dog walker Ellie Engleman. Ellie is a divorced woman who has a special relationship with dogs, able to "hear" what they are thinking. Her dog Rudy has led her to the body of a homeless man they had befriended, and the detective on the case seems to think of Ellie as a suspect. Lucky for her that Detective Sam Ryder, whom she had a brief relationship with, steps in to give her support.
It has turned out the the man who died, while living the life of a homeless man, was actually quite rich, and he has left everything to Ellie's dog Rudy, with Ellie as the executor. He also left a note all but accusing his brother if something happens to him, and asking Ellie to find the truth. So while Sam tries to protect her, assist her, and convince her to let the police handle things, Ellie finds herself following all clues to get to the heart of the man who cared so much about Rudy and her friendship.
An interesting, light-hearted mystery with a touch of romance.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Going Bovine

Finished February 22
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

This prize-winning teen novel has the read following sixteen-year-old Cameron Smith. Cameron is not in the popular crowd at school, although his twin sister Jenna is. He is a bit of a loner, but has an interest in music, often hanging out at a local vinyl shop, Eubie's. This is where he discovered a little-known Portuguese love song singer known as The Great Tremolo and became hooked on his stuff for reasons he finds hard to put into words. Eubie is trying to turn him onto jazz, specifically Junior Webster, but Cameron isn't convinced.
Cameron's mom teaches English at the local community college and has trouble completing projects. Cameron's dad is a physicist at the local university, a strong believer in old-school physics. Cameron sometimes hangs out with the stoners in the fourth floor men's room, but he isn't as reliant on the substance as most of them, This is where he first meets Gonzo, a fellow student, a dwarf, and a big gamer. When Gonzo moves into his room in the hospital, he finds out Gonzo also has an over-protective mother and a lot of fears.
Cameron starts to have odd visions involving fire, giants, feathers, angels and other things that don't fit into his normal experiences. One outburst causes him to lose his job at Buddha Burger. When his parents take him in for medical evaluation following a try at therapy, medication and an episode, he is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, otherwise known as mad cow disease. There is no cure to this progressive neurological disease, but Cameron is admitted to the hospital to undergo some experimental treatments in hope that something might work for him.
It is here that Cameron is approached directly by the angel he has been seeing occasionally, Dulcie, and instructed to go on a quest for a missing scientist that may be able to provide a cure for his disease. He is given vague instructions and told to take Gonzo with him, and the two boys go off on an adventure like no other. Leading them from their home in Texas to the clubs and cemeteries of New Orleans to a cult in Georgia to Florida student parties, Cameron follows the signs as he sees them, dragging Gonzo along with him, finding an additional companion in a Balder, the Norse god confined in the guise of a yard gnome, and with occasional assistance from Dulcie. The fire giants continue to pursue Cameron and there is an interesting development in the growing presence of a snow globe company.
Looking at what Cameron experienced prior to his hospitalization, the reader can see the roots of his adventure. This is an interesting look into the mind, the power of suggestion and the angst of being a teenager. An amazing read.

Monday 23 February 2015

Once Upon a Lie

Finished February 20
Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri

This thriller begins with Maeve Conlon taking her father to the wake for her cousin Sean. Maeve's father Jack is in a care home, due to his growing dementia. Maeve tries to take time for him, but it isn't always easy as she juggles her bakery, which is growing well, and her two teenage daughters. Rebecca is studious and well on her way to a good college, but she worries over her younger daughter Heather who seems to be involved in harmful behaviour.
Maeve is divorced, after her husband became involved with another woman, one she had considered a friend. She still has a friendly relationship with Cal, but can only be civil with his wife Gabriela.
Maeve is close to her father, having lost her mother to a hit and run accident when she was only a young child. Her father was a cop and relied on extended family to help raise Maeve.
Maeve's good friend Jo works for her at the bakery, and for now the two of them can run the business, but Maeve is looking for opportunities to grow there, so she can better support herself and the girls.
Sean was murdered, found in his car with his pants down and bullet in his head. So far the police haven't arrested anyone, but they are showing interest in Maeve's dad. Jack went for a wander the night Sean was killed and doesn't seem to remember where he was during that time. Maeve is sure that Jack wouldn't have been capable of murdering Sean, even if he had a reason to, but the police keep coming back with questions.
There is a lot going on here, with situations of domestic abuse, even possible child abuse, and Maeve is a complex character. This book is the first in a series that looks promising. I also liked the connection she made with one of the detectives investigating Sean's murder.

Sunday 22 February 2015


Finished February 20
Sabriel by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry

This is the first book in a series, and quite gripping.
Sabriel is in her final year of boarding school at a school just outside the walls of the Old Kingdom. Her mother died when she was very young and her father, Abhorsen, visits her in person twice a year and also comes to her in other ways much more often, training her in the knowledge of the Old Kingdom.
When she receives a message from him through Death, she can tell that he is in great danger perhaps even in Death himself, and she must seek him to find out how to save him.
She prepares for the journey back into the Old Kingdom, heading for her father's home. The journey is much more difficult than she expects, and she finds that the Old Kingdom is fraught with danger. As she travels to her father's house, and beyond, she finds allies in a Free Magic creature in the guise of a white cat, Mogget, and a young Charter Mage she rescues from imprisonment, Touchstone. As she learns more about the Old Kingdom, her enemies and the nature of her quest, she also finds her own destiny, one larger than she dreamed.
A good character, Sabriel is just coming of age, and circumstances thrust her into her new role much earlier than she feels prepared for. As she learns to navigate this world, and gains knowledge and skill, she must also take on a most powerful opponent.

The Girl on the Train

Finished February 16
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This thriller is worthy of its hype. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down and read it all in one day. Rachel is recently and unhappily divorced. She is living in a spare room at a friend's place, and she takes the train into London every morning and back in the evening, going past the house she used to live in with her husband Tom, and where he now lives with his new wife and infant daughter. A few houses down, another young couple lives, a couple that seems happy, and Rachel watches them, taking happiness from their seemed happiness, until one day she sees something that puts a lie to that happiness. When she sees a newspaper story a few days later indicating that the woman has been missing since the evening of the morning Rachel saw the scene that disturbed her, she feels she must find out what happened. She goes to the police, but they don't seem to take her information seriously, and so she approaches those involved.
Her renewed presence in the street upsets her ex-husband's new wife Anna, but Tom seems to want to handle it himself, asking Rachel a lot of questions that she isn't prepared to answer. As Rachel digs deeper, she begins to look at how others view her, and the unreliability of her observations and memories in their eyes. What truth is there in what they say she has wrong?
Rachel is an interesting character, damaged deeply by her failed marriage and still not recovered from that experience. As the book unfolds, we see what brought her to where she is now, and what inner strength she has to keep her questioning what is happening.
I can't recommend it highly enough.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

I Curse the River of Time

Finished February 16
I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson

This novel is in 1989. The barriers are falling between Eastern and Western Europe, and Arvid Jansen, in his late thirties is in the early stages of a divorce. His mother has just been diagnosed with stomach cancer and has gone back to the land of her youth, Jutland in Denmark, before facing treatment. Arvid chases after her, looking to reconnect with the mother he once had a special relationship with, but has lost over the years.
The story takes place over only a few days, but Arvid's recollections keep taking him into the past. As a child, he was differentiated from his siblings by his physical appearance, looking more like his father than any of his brothers. As a young man with a promising university degree ahead of him, he chose a different route that estranged him from his mother. His idealogical loyalty to the working class led him to reject the opportunities his parents' hard work offered him. The relationship he began shortly after this is a problematic one right from the start.
Arvid is a young man struggling with his life, still looking for approval from the parent he feels closer to, but not showing the maturity that would gain him the approval he wants.
A difficult book, with lots of emotion, but also lots of compassion for human weakness. The relationship between this mother and son is a complex one still.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Girl Runner

Finished January 14
Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

This novel is centered around Aganetha Smart, a woman now in her second century and living in a long term care home. When she was young, she won gold for Canada in the 800 metre race in the 1928 Olympics.
The novel was inspired by real events. It was a German woman who won the race in that year's Olympics and the officials determined that women were not physically suited for races beyond 200 metres and it wasn't until 1960 that women could again compete in the 800.
Aganetha grew up with her sisters on a farm, the youngest in a family of sisters as well as older step-sisters and step-brothers. Aganetha's mother was a midwife, a woman that also took pity on young women caught in difficult circumstances and offered them an alternative.
Once she finishes school, Aganetha joined her sister Olive and half-brother George in Toronto, finding work in a factory. She gets notices by a sponsor of women's athletics and gets the opportunity to train with other promising young women athletes and a more pleasant factory job.
Aganetha is befriended by a young woman already showing promise in this area, and with the advantages of a wealthy background and the two become very close.
In this novel, Aganetha is taken out of the long term care home where she now lives by two young people and spirited back to her past, As the present day events take Aganetha back, we find the story spun out in both times, what the young people are asking of her, and what she remembers from her youth.
This is a story of determination, of a life chosen, and of a young girl influenced by others more worldly than her. Fascinating and engrossing, I cared for Aganetha and felt for her as she struggled through her life.

Saturday 14 February 2015

The Death of Santini

Finished February 14
The Death of Santini: the Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy

This memoir focuses on the relationship between Pat Conroy and his father, but goes beyond that to include his mother, his maternal grandmother, his siblings, and his writing.
Conroy used his father as the model for his book The Great Santini, exposing his father's abuse in a very public way, but it would seem that his father was too hooked on the fame that came along with it to distance himself from the author.
From this book, most of the family seems damaged, highly emotional, and hooked on the limelight. They all make up stories about their lives to suit the circumstances and the audience, downplay their own responsibility for their behaviour and general seem unbelievable.
I've read a couple of other books by him that seemed much more grounded in reality, without the over-the-top emotions of this book. At times the prose is so florid that I had to put it down and take a break. While a memoir should obviously reflect the writer's view of his life, this one just read like a bad novel. I found it a disappointing read from an otherwise good writer.

The Secret Life of Squirrels

Finished February 12
The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose

This enchanting book came out of the website by the same name, and is such fun. Mr. Peanuts leads and active life,  barbecuing, playing piano, and reading, but sometimes gets lonely. In this book he invites his cousin to come for a visit, sending him a letter.
When he knows his cousin will be coming he prepares by cleaning house, doing laundry and making a cake.
Once his cousin arrives the two enjoy a meal to start, then tour around, play some games, go on a picnic, and enjoy a campfire evening. Mr. Peanuts determines that having a friend is a good thing.
The author also includes a useful section on photographing wildlife, explaining in simple terms photography techniques, safety tips, and thoughts about respecting animals. There is also a short interview with the author about how she came to write this book.
Unique and interesting.


Finished February 10
Tragic by Robert K. Tanenbaum

This thriller takes place around New York City. There is trouble within a longshoreman's union, with the recent death of the long term leader resulting in a divisive election of a new union leader. There are some suspicions of the legitimacy of the union elections, and the new union leader is worried about his role and about the financial fraud he is hiding.
When three young men become involved in a hit on the challenger, the impact on many lives stretches wider.
This book is one in the series featuring D.A. Butch Karp and his wife Marlene Ciampi. While Karp is on the case of the murder, Marlene's involvement in a local women's shelter leads her to the girlfriend of one of the suspects, and a possible break in the case. Karp's family link to a powerful criminal gang also comes in handy when looking for motives and suspects.
A theme running through this novel is that of guilty minds and the aftereffects of murder on the psyches of those involved. This is laid out through references to the Shakespeare play Macbeth. A gripping, action-filled plot that I read in one sitting.


Finished February 8
Matterhorn: a novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

This novel was written over many years, with the author drawing from his own Vietnam War experiences in the inspiration. This shows in the writing.
Matterhorn tells the story of a young lieutenant, Waino Mellas, a man who, unlike many of his fellow college grads, takes his commitment to the reserves seriously and didn't try to get out of his service. As the book begins, Mellas sees his time in the service as something that can be useful to him later, but he is nervous about being involved in real action and the responsibility of of being in charge of other men.
As the action of his unit, Bravo Company, First Battalion of the Twenty-Fourth Regiment of the Fifth Marine Division is played out over the course of a few months, Mellas find himself changed irrevocably. We see his feelings, decision processes, and thoughts as he moves through his time around the hill near the front that is known here as Matterhorn. But it isn't only his story. We also see into the minds of some of the other men, other young men in the same Battalion. We see the fear, the desperation, and the anger. We see the racial struggle that was also going on during this time and how it influenced relationships between the men.
We also see the decisions made higher up, the decisions that affect these men's lives. Good decisions and bad decisions. Decisions made for good reasons and for bad ones.
The fighting scenes are graphic, but not in a way that feels celebratory like some war books. We get a glimpse into the real feelings of the men involved, the quick decisions that must be made, and the differences between the action on the ground and how it is viewed even from a short distance away.
We also see the impact of waiting, of moving through this difficult landscape. The brotherhood of the marines is shown in how they handle their dead and injured, how they fight together.
The writing is amazing and this book gave me a real sense of the immediacy of war from inside.

Sunday 8 February 2015

The Full Ridiculous

Finished February 8
The Full Ridiculous by Mark Lamprell

This humorous and touching novel follows Michael O'Dell a middle-aged man who is hit by a car while out doing his morning jog. He survives, but he begins to lose control of his life around the same time.
Michael has left his newspaper job in order to write a book, but his agent is having difficult selling it and this is putting financial pressure on the family. His daughter Rosie has a disagreement with a fellow student that slides into physical aggression. This causes both academic and legal troubles. His son Declan is struggling at school, and appears to have friends that exert the wrong kind of peer pressure, although he is taking a promising interest in film. A policeman with his own agenda seems to keep popping up their lives in a threatening way. Rosie's boyfriend Juan is living in their basement after being kicked out of his own home. And Michael's wife Wendy is trying to hold everything together while Michael gets himself back together.
This is a tale of an ordinary family that has a series of events overtake their lives. There is worry, grief, humour, and love. This is a family that cares about each other and that looks out for each other. His writing reminded me of Mark Haddon, whom I also love. A great read.

Global Reading Challenge 2015

I keep not quite making this challenge and wasn't sure whether I'd try again. But eventually, I've decided to go for it. I will be doing the Expert Challenge again. Here is where it is hosted.

You may read any genre so long as the books are fiction.

The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it). 
Your reading will take place in the calendar year 2015.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Easy Challenge
Read one novel from each of these continents in the course of 2014:

The Medium Challenge
Read two novels from each of these continents in the course of 2014:

The Expert Challenge
Read three novels from each of these continents in the course of 2014:
Africa, Asia, Australasia/Oceania, Europe, North America, South America (please include Central America where it is most convenient for you)
The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it). 

Select novels from twenty-one different countries or states if possible. (For Australasia, selecting a different state for your last book will be acceptable)

Saturday 7 February 2015

Shoot the Lawyer Twice

Finished February 7
Shoot the Lawyer Twice by Michael A Bowen

This mystery is a complex scenario, Central to the plot is an accusation of attempted rape by a young woman of a man who was on her boat on the Fourth of July. The young woman is wealthy, studying engineering at college, a knowledgeable machinist and still mourning the loss of her father a couple of years after his death. Other tangential stories are a university professor looking to write a corporate history about a local business, a novelist looking for a leak of information and a supposed find of a historic document involving a pope.
Melissa is an English professor at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and her husband Rep is a copyright lawyer. They both get drawn into the story. Rep is renting an office in the law firm defending the young man accused of rape. Melissa has had dealings with the professor.
As the story progresses, other people turn up dead, there are several threats, a robbery, lots of accusations, and a re-examining of the Catholic Church by Melissa.
A very interesting plot that was nicely built up. Interesting characters both major and minor. A good read.

Friday 6 February 2015

Monthly Key Word Challenge 2015

Monthly Key Word Challenge, hosted by Bookmark to Blog

2015 Monthly Key Word Image
Your task is to read one book each month whose title includes one or more of the key words for that month.
* The title you choose can be a variation on one of the key words. For example- your title could include the word 'snowing' or 'snowflake' even though the key word is 'snow.'
* Key words can be tweaked. For example- You could read "Cinder" or "Ashes" for the key word 'Fire' and that would be just fine. If the key word is 'family' then your title could include the word 'sister' or 'mother.'If the key word is 'food' then your title could include the word 'cake.'


JAN- Bird, Girl, Ever, Silence, Bad, Truth, End    
FEB- Key, Water, Lie, Chase, Heir, Once      
MAR- Kind, Face, Power, City, Blue, Night, To
APR- Dream, Prince, Long, Wind, Rose, The, Rock
MAY- Ash, Road, Thief, Bend, In, Far
JUN- My, Together, Whisper, Win, Soul, Sleep
JUL- Sun, Unto, Energy, Fate, High, Look
AUG- Fall, Boy, Glass, Heart, Lost, Now
SEP- Color, Touch, Life, Day, How, Sweet
OCT- Ghost, Home, Beach, Away, Test, Number
NOV- Rise, Holiday, And, Little, Call, Dark
DEC- Space, Mirror, Over, Flower, Trap, Cold

Gentle Spectrums 2015 Reading Challenge

I am again entering the challenge for Gentle Spectrums which runs from February 2015 to February 2016

Gentle Spectrums 2015
 There are two parts to this challenge. 
For the first time in any circle:  choose a colour level!  Accepted now:  Colourful, colour, bright, light, iridescent, iridescence, dark, shade, hue, spectrum, rainbow, prism.
Limitless Pallet Levels
 I am going for the Colourful level this year. 
**** (B)  GENTLE SUBJECTS ****
Please complete 1 each, of these 10 subjects.  Keep on adding anything that fits for extra points.
~ (1)  STONES  ~
Variations of the word, gems, jewellery, ruins, geological formations.
~  (2)  CHEERFUL  ~
Uplifting, positive messages;  conveys pleasant thoughts, images.
~  (3)  NATIONS  ~
Cultures, locations:  lakes, towns, even well-known places;  fictional included.
~  (4)  PLANTS  ~
Trees, flowers, lawns, fields, grasses, grains, and gardening paraphernalia.
~  (5)  WATER  ~
Water bodies, proper names, closely-connected components:  taps, sinks, pools.
~  (6)  SPACE  ~
The sky, its contents, spatial matter, concepts, tools.  Star Trek / Star Wars-related.
~  (7)  DAUNTING  ~
Any title that has you thinking:  “Oooo!  That does not sound good”!
~  (8)  STRUCTURES  ~
A building, its rooms, proper names, any of a structure’s parts.
~  (9)  TIME  ~
Any signifiers of time, like seasons.  Any unit-measurers, like watches and calendars.
~  (10 HUMOROUS  ~
Odd, or anything that gives you a grin.  I’ll accept a ‘pun laid on too thick’ grimace too!

Gentle Spectrums Feb 2014-2015 Wrap-up

Gentle Spectrums, hosted by Riedel Fascination, has two parts. Ran Feb 2014 to Feb 2015. I didn't do very well on the first part, despite having several likely candidates on my shelves. I completed all but one category in the second part.

Pencil Crayon Notepaper

Share any 10 books entitled with a colour.
You may repeat the colour spectrums;  even exact hues.
A different book title is a different book title!
Funky lipstick or paint shades might be a stretch.
Well-established hues are at your leisure:  maroon, jade, emerald…

Books Read

1. The Blue Fox by Sjon. Finished May 9
2. The Golden Egg by Donna Leon. Finished June 22

Sparkling Tree & Daisies
Fit one book title into each category.
Here are abundant subjects to peruse together!

(1)  PLANTS Trees, flowers, grass, gardening & crop-sowing references.
(2)  STRUCTURES A building, rooms, a room or building’s parts.
(3)  NATIONS Culture names, locations ~ lakes, towns, famous spots.
(4)  STONES Synonyms, gems, ruins, geological formations.
(5)  FAMILIES Types of relatives, last names, full names.
(6)  QUINTUPLED A title of 5+ words (articles are fine).
(7)  CHEESY Lame puns or quotations, outrageous, silly;  actual cheeses!
(8)  ENCHANTING Mystical, eerie (enchanting content fulfills title;  no debunked ending).
(9)  WEATHER Any words approximating weather or seasons.
(10)  CHEERFUL Positive messages, conveys pleasant images!

Wednesday 4 February 2015

If Only You People Could Follow Directions

Finished February 4
If Only You People Could Follow Directions: a memoir by Jessica Hendry Nelson

This memoir is set out in a series of essays, each around a particular theme or set of interactions with others. The writing isn't linear, even within a single essay, but it is clear when things happen. Jessica is very open with her life, not hiding the intimacies, the joys, or the sorrows. When she struggles you see the struggle, understand it, and see how she deals with it.
Her life has seen its share of difficulties, encountering addiction, violence, and loss. She doesn't excuse it, explain it, or apologize for it. She just describes it, telling us what happened, how she felt about it when it happened, and often how she feels about it now.
She's still young and has issues described here that are still ongoing, and she doesn't entirely know where she is heading, which is as it should be at her stage in life.
The writing here is very good, and each essay has its own style and form. I found once I started reading, I had trouble putting it down. An interesting writer to watch.

Culture Without Accountability

Finished February 3
Culture Without Accountability by Julie Miller and Brian Bedford

This book looks at accountability starting with a well-written definition of accountability that applies to both business and personal interactions. The authors give real-life examples of what accountability done well looks like, and what the lack of accountability can lead to.
They show the connection between accountability and culture, and outline the 4 necessary elements to create a culture with true accountability.
As they clearly show, it is even more likely in today's world of constant monitoring and instant communication that denials of the truth will come out eventually. But while this is a good reason to follow the course to accountability, it isn't the only one. The benefits of a culture of accountability on an organization are shown, and the personal reasons why accountability would be a goal are laid out.
All in all, a good, easy-to-understand guide to gaining accountability for yourself and your organization are here. The hard part is doing it, at least at first. But it becomes more and more natural as it becomes a true part of your character and your organization's culture.
The cover acronym WTF stands for What's The Fix, and this acronym is used to stand for a variety of phrases in this book. While it may draw your attention, I really found it the one jarring element of the book, tasteless and unnecessary.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Sitt Marie Rose

Finished February 1
Sitt Marie Rose by Etel Adnan, translated from the French by Georgina Kleege

This novel was first published in 1978, and received the France-Pays Arabes Award. The book is split into three parts. All take place in Beirut.
The first part is told from the point of view of an unnamed female writer who has been asked by a film-maker Mounir to write the script for a film he envisions about Syrian workers in Lebanon. His view of what the film should be and her investigations into Syrian workers don't fit together well, and shortly after their discussions the civil war in Lebanon breaks out. Mounir's friends Tony and Fouad and Pierre have often gone hunting in Syria and think of themselves in a certain way as being superior to the Syrians. As the fighting escalates, Mounir and his friends support the Phalangists, the Lebanese right. The war influences the writer's views further and she finds herself unable to work with Mounir.
The second part introduces us to Sitt Marie Rose. She is a Christian Lebanese middle-class woman, who, following a divorce, finds herself drawn to helping the Palestinians. She works for a social service agency giving the refugees assistance. She also runs a school in the Christian district for deaf mute children. When, during a truce, she makes the trek from her home in the Muslim part of the city to the school, she is captured by the Phalangists, and threatened with death. We see her views as well as the thoughts of the men who have captured her, and the children of the school who watch her interrogation by the men.
The third part is the end to Sitt Marie Rose's kidnapping at the hands of men who refer to themselves as the Chabab.
This is a book that examines the interactions, the fear and distrust between the different groups of Arabs here. It brings a wider look to the situation in the Middle East, and sadly, nothing has improved since this book was written, nearly forty years ago. She also brings the role of women into the story, looking at how women view themselves and how men view them. Sadly, this has not improved either in the Middle East. This story reads as prescient now.

A House on the Heights

Finished January 31
A House on the Heights by Truman Capote

This small volume contains the essay "A House on the Heights" that Capote wrote for the magazine Holiday in the late 1950s. There is also an introduction by George Plimpton that explains how the essay came to be written and other background information that places this essay in context.
The essay itself shows Capote's affection for the Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood he lived in and gives a glimpse of the other inhabitants of the neighbourhood that he was acquainted with.
This volume was released in the format in 2002, the third in a series of book-length essays on New York published by The Little Bookroom. The others were by E.B. White and Harpo Marx.