25. DeFede, Jim
The Day The World Came To Town

Such an uplifting account blending many voices of the real people (those whose airplanes had been stranded and the residents and institutions throughout Newfoundland) who were thrown together on 9/11, when 38 planes landed in Gander. I was so overcome with emotion, that I reread it before I had to return it.

26. Goldsborough, Robert
Murder In E Minor

My first Nero Wolfe (and sidekick Archie) book. Don't know whether I'll read another one. 'Nuff said.

27. Gaiman, Neil

My first Gaiman novel. It'll be a while before I try another one, though I'd hope if I do I'll find a different sensibility. I had a really hard time with the violence of life "below" – even if it gave the protagonist everything he'd been lacking above in his so-far lacklustre life. But, especially after "Life of Pi", I just couldn't handle the rawness.

28. Truman, Margaret
Murder at the Opera

Yes, I checked. She was the daughter of Harry S. and lived in the White House for a few years. Didn't check for sure, but it seems as if all of her mysteries were set in the D.C. area. This one was weird, involving an al-Qaeda plot, stupid young musicians (from Toronto!), their deceptive musical agents (also from Toronto!), who got involved (the former inadvertently) in a plot to kill as many U.S. politicians on a single day with the pinnacle being the Pres. attending the opera and opera ball. Add loathsome spy handlers, people getting bumped off left and right (including suicide). No, I don't think I'll read any of her other ... mysteries.

29. Mitchell, Gladys
Death at the Opera

This was an odd, quirky story, set in a coeducational day school in England. The eventual victim, one of the schoolmistresses who funds the performance of "The Mikado" by the staff, is someone nobody really liked, even though she was an inoffensive creature. But her performance of Katisha was so unpleasant during the dress rehearsal that the ancient makeup artist (a former performer herself) decided to make things right by drowning her in the restroom between acts, thereby allowing the truly melodious understudy to continue on in the role. Lots of red herrings including a student who'd posed nude on school grounds for a sculpture by the arts master ... and other drownings.

30. Myron, Vicki
Dewey (the library cat)

Oh, my paws and whiskers. How I cried at the end of the book at the death of this cat after having read of all his triumphs and setbacks, his cattish ways and how he affected the lives of so many in one small town, eventually acquiring global renown. Added to this were the autobiographical hardships in the author's life (personal, financial, medical) that left me grateful that she'd had the companionship of this particular cat during his life (except for about eight weeks following his birth).

31. Peters, Ellis
Funeral of Figaro

A fascinating tale of an opera company, whose director (captain) and many of the staff (his former crew) had served on the same vessel during the war. "Marriage of Figaro" is but one of several operas the company is presenting. The singer playing Figaro is a despicable man (and it gets worse as we continue reading to the extent that we're basically glad someone killed him). He is murdered during a performance setting up many alibis. There are many suspects, including the director's daughter who'd been accepting Figaro's attentions and the woman who'd been married to Figaro (he'd used a different name and was willing to have her captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp; yes, a real charmer, NOT). Add to the mix a police inspector who's trying to match the murder weapon (the "ornamental" sword worn by the director's daughter) to the most likely suspect. Lots of twists and turns, including an attempt on the inspector's life, to keep the reader entertained.

32. Siciliano, Sam
The Angel of the Opera
(the further adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

A strange mashup of the familiar Phantom story with touches of Holmesian capacity to solve a problem (actually two) neatly while exhibiting unexpected humanity and compassion for the Phantom. This is the author's response to the "What if" question. Well worth the read, even if you're getting bored by reading about the shallowness of the Viscount and Christine's obsession tinged with a religious fervor.

33. Freed, Alexander
Star Wars: Rogue One

Oh, how I wish I'd read this before or shortly after seeing the movie. There were too many characters so I had trouble telling them apart on screen (okay, so, yes, there were those that couldn't be anyone else: Jyn, K-2, Chirrut) ... but the rest are a blur in my mind. The book is huge because EVERYBODY gets their thoughts dissected.
helenkacan: (Default)
( Jun. 1st, 2017 11:12 am)
13. Christensen, Elizabeth
SGA-07: Casualties of War

I believe this was the only Atlantis book in the system, so thought I should read it (even though I was hoping to find the Legacy series). It was a good read, though terrific fanfic has spoiled me in this !Verse. There was a good mix of team in handling the emergency-du-jour.

14. Weir, Andy
The Martian

I so loved this book and am thrilled for the author's success. I'm always intrigued by the differences between an adapted screenplay following an original work. No kidding where the screenwriter assured us (in the extra features on the movie disc) he'd been diligent in staying as faithful as possible to the book. Actually, there were a few minor points in the book that were changed in the movie for far greater impact! Though I could have done without all the extreme danger (with the looping tether) in the rescue scene. Still, I enjoyed reading the mostly first-person journal so much that I renewed it, so I could read it again.

15. Ondaatje, Michael
In the skin of a lion

Even though I endured his "English Patient", I was still curious to read this book. OMG. It was almost completely unbearable with one rare saving grace. The author is so obsessed with very vivid and precise descriptions, painting with words as it were, but the effect is marred because that's what the entire book was like. Read more... )

16-18. Marsh, Charis
Love You, Hate You
You're So Sweet
I Forgot To Tell You

After the brain-wrenching effort of finishing Ondaatje, I needed a break. I put "ballet" in the search box and got these three easy reads. They're part of a series about students at a ballet academy in Vancouver, B.C. Much of the books revolved around regular teen problems and behaviours (crushes, cattiness despite avowing BFF-ness, skipping classes, dropping out of school, bulimia, deceiving self and parents) overlaid with the intensity of the ballet world, especially with competitive parents added to the mix.

Despite a lot of toxic behaviour and situations, there is one redeeming message where several of the dancers feel sorry for the general population that will never know what it feels like to fully use every single muscle of their bodies.

19. Braun, Lillian Jackson
The Cat Who Had 14 Tales

After the ballet series, I turned to mysteries. It was easy to move to the author of "The Cat Who" series. When I still had my vision, I remember devouring these books on a regular basis. As I wasn't sure where to begin (it would make sense to start where I'd left off), I decided to reread this anthology. Some stories were better than others. An easy read.

20-23. Fletcher, Jessica
Manhattans & Murder
Design for Murder
Murder on the QE2
Murder in a Minor Key

So, obviously, not "written" by the TV detective character. I just thought I'd coast through some mysteries. Felt definitely queasy when reading about crossing the North Atlantic via the QE2. Felt the most emotion when I finished the last one, with a tear rolling down my face. The victim had been a passionate gay man who was obsessed with finding the mythical wax cylinders of recordings by a deceased New Orleans musical legend. But he was the third man to fall prey to the killer. He was honoured with a "Jazz Funeral" at the end. Though I'd once wanted to visit Nola, just reading about how unbearably hot and humid it was made me feel lucky that I'd never been, despite my love of the food and certain types of music (like Zydeco).

24. Martel, Yann
The Life of Pi

Odd book, didn't really grab my attention. But there were some parts that intrigued me. The first was how Pi decided to follow three religions: the expected Hinduism, but also Christianity, and Islam. Why? Well, he was just trying to find God ... to the confusion of his parents and consternation of his spiritual mentors. The second was when his family was deciding to relocate to Canada, Winnipeg to be exact, which Pi described as having "minus-two-hundred-degree winters". Ha! I loved it. The third was when he was in the lifeboat, now only with the tiger as foe/companion and I was informed that "only small cats purr breathing both ways" – inhaling and exhaling.

Read more... )

AAAAAAAAAAAND that wraps up May. I'm really happy about the number of books I got through, using both the iPad or the desktop when the iPad was recharging.
Here we go with a second month of reading for pleasure:

6. Huff, Tanya
Smoke & Ashes
WHY: Last book in the trilogy, so I wanted to finish it.
PET PEEVE: Sloppy editing and rookie errors really shocked me. Example: the hotel is referred to as Sheraton (something or other) but a couple pages later it's now "Sheridan". Seriously? You can't even keep that little amount of continuity. There were petty grammar errors, too. Sigh.

7. Wheatley, Dennis
Uncharted Seas
WHY: It was listed as one of three "lost worlds" novels so I decided to read it.
PET PEEVE: The casual sexism (women being referred to as girls, even when they've been married) and unbelievable misogyny (the Belgian engineer promoted to Captain upon that man's death feels he's being trifled with when he learns the object of his affections has been sleeping with a Venezuelan man, not understanding that the latter has blackmailed her into that situation; the Belgian accuses her, breaks the internal bolt to her cabin, locks her in, then hands the key over to the Venezuelan who's been taking a shift belowdecks after crew and ship troubles, basically condoning the woman's rape).
Add to that the racism and classism of the times. The survivors have to avoid the island populated by the Black Devils (who'd already attacked them on the ship). These men have a reputation for killing white men, capturing white women and enslaving them in the so-called "Marriage House" where, of course, they can rape them at will. Yet, despite the alleged superiority of the ship's Captain and passengers, they exhibit just as much brutality toward women (the Venezuelan demonstrates his obsession constantly over one of the women; the rape-enabling engineer).

8. Wheatley, Dennis
The Man Who Missed The War
WHY: The last of the three "lost world" books. This one may have been the weirdest of the lot.
PET PEEVE: Where do I start? A man associated with the British Navy is a passenger on a ship leaving the U.S. bound for Britain, towing one of his inventions - strings of rafts holding containers meant to use the ocean current to replenish supplies for the British war effort. He finds a woman stowed away on the lead raft after he's intercepted plans by the Nazi collaborator aboard to kill him, setting the rafts and powered tug free. Naturally, there's a lot of arguing with the woman, including each harming the other physically until they declare a truce. They end up close to Britain but cannot get to shore, so end up drifting down to the African coast. After more misadventures, they decide to take off on the rafts again, hoping the current will lead them to South America. Instead they end up in Antarctica where they're caught in a war between the weak valley dwellers and the evil descendants of Atlanteans ::rolls eyes:: who have special powers which, through human sacrifice, allow them to affect the course of history, especially by directing stormy weather. They can also infiltrate anywhere in the world and see what's happening on their magic screens. Even better (worse?), these bad guys have sided with the Nazis. So the protagonist and his female companion have to try to sabotage anything that will hurt the Allies. It's been less than a month since I read this and I can't even remember how it ended. Enough said.

9. Huff, Tanya
Blood Debt
WHY: I wanted to keep reading in the Blood Ties series.
PET PEEVE: I wasn't expecting the book to be set in Vancouver and couldn't remember when Henry had moved there.

10. Huff, Tanya
Blood Path
WHY: Because I couldn't remember things moving to Vancouver, I needed to reread how Vicky got turned into a vampire. I'd totally forgotten about the theft of her mother's corpse being why she had to be in Kingston ... and everything that led to her being turned (with Celucci thinking he'd lost her forever).
PET PEEVE: Not about this book, but I'm irritated to learn that the final book in the series - Blood Bank - is not available for loan, either in print or as an ebook. There is ONE copy for reference use only at our SF library branch. Boo.

11. Tuerff, Kevin
Channel of Peace
WHY: The real-life recollections of one of the passengers diverted to Gander, Nfld on 9/11. Very real, yet very uplifting (especially when he gets back to his company in Texas and begins promoting Pay It Forward projects). He is also a character in the hit Broadway musical based on the events: "Come From Away".

12. Ondaatje, Michael
The English Patient
WHY: Because I hadn't read it yet, even though he includes lots of Canadian references and characters in his writing.
PET PEEVE: Hideously difficult to read. Not linear. Characters just appear out of the blue. Tons of historical references (in Britain, Italy, and Egypt) and mentions of aspects of life in Toronto (and other places in the province) that readers wouldn't necessarily relate to. So, if you get a couple of them, you're ahead of the game. It was very slow reading because there were no "filler" sentences. And the raw, often hateful, emotions were difficult to digest.

And that's a wrap for April. No wonder I'm exhausted. Now on to my SGA novel and ::squees:: "The Martian".
I'm thrilled to be starting a monthly summary of the books I've read (it still gives me chills to know that I'm READING BOOKS once again) - as well as any pertinent comments.

1. Brooklyn
Toibin, Colm
WHY: First book I borrowed based on library recommendation. Story of a young Irish woman moving to Brooklyn after WWII and her convoluted life possibly aggravated by her passive character.

2. Inferno
Brown, Dan
WHY: Because, occasionally, it's fun to read (and read and read; he sure loves to churn out the pages) books with improbable links to be found within religious symbols.

3. Smoke & Shadows
Huff, Tanya
WHY: Because I loved her Blood.... series, especially (royal) vampire police detective Henry Fitzroy, though I have very little familiarity with the new setting in Vancouver (having visited there only once). Also, one of my FB friends had recc'd the series.

4. Smoke & Mirrors
Huff, Tanya
WHY: Second of three books in the series. Oddly, I don't even remember Tony's character from the Blood series but I like his misadventures as a fledgling wizard.

5. They Found Atlantis
Wheatley, Dennis
WHY: I had a thing in the early 1970s for reading everything Wheatley had written. However, even though the paperbacks were very popular, they began disappearing (out of print). When I saw this title, I thought it was one I hadn't read yet; but, when I began reading it, I started remembering certain details (the cousins doing a switcheroo to deter fortune-hunters pursuing the real heiress; the immature American crooner turned movie star not understanding the moral code on Atlantis regarding sexual behaviour, also being greedy enough to steal some golden plates). The final reason? It had "Atlantis" in the title. Yeah, bite me! Oh, the positively, absolutely last reason (I promise) for reading other than seeking Atlantis, a former Naval Officer usually introduced as "the great McKay"!!!
PET PEEVE: I was intrigued to see how much more discerning I'd become over the decades. Upon first reading, I hadn't paid that much attention to the dialogue but, this time, I was horrified to see an illogical syntactical hodgepodge when spoken by the characters: the American cousins, a Romanian prince, a Norwegian count, an American crooner/actor, various bad guys including one who was an Oxford graduate. For my greater sensitivity, I credit reading fanfic ... especially bad fanfic. Who knew? Also, just being more worldly. DADT, okay???


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