Friday, September 20, 2019

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley


Book 7 in the Flavia de Luce books, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust has Flavia attending a boarding school in Canada.  This is the first of the books to be set in Canada despite Alan Bradley being a Canadian author. (Alan Bradley is originally from Ontario, although he has lived in Malta - Gozo - and apparently currently lives on the Isle of Man.)  I wasn't sure how the change in location would influence the story.  What happened is Flavia spent less time solving the crime in a lab (which she has scarce access to) and more time trying to navigate (both location, people, and social structure) while nosing out information to solve the murder. 

Jayne Entwistle did her usual excellent job of narration.  Flavia spoke less, and except for rare glimpses of other characters like Dogger and Mrs. Mullet, most voices are Canadian.  This seems obvious (duh, the book is set in Canada), but it was most apparent when the long loved characters had their brief voiced moments.  Just as Flavia was homesick, I missed them too.

I enjoyed the story overall, but I'm looking forward to the change the next book will bring.  I won't say more, lest there be spoilers.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 08/26/2019


Hosted by: Book Date

In life:

I didn't have anything exciting or interesting happen during the week itself.  However, Friday I spent 5 hours hiking with friends (we may have gotten a tad lost on the trails), and Saturday I went with my sister and BIL to Wizard World Comic Con for my first time.  Both events were fun, but there was a LOT of walking involved.  Probably something I should be doing more often. ūüėä

My nephew (the one with autism) has been struggling lately.  He's been running (which is scary) and is on an emotional see-saw.  This became an issue while we were at the comic con and my mother had the kids.  Hopefully things will level out soon.

This week, I finished:

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Read by Ann Marie Lee, Will Patton, and Danny Campbell.  This was a book discussion selection.  Very sad, very interesting.  In audio, it was a bit dry at first, but picks up as you go.  That may be partially as it was very descriptive setting the background, and I'm not really one for much description.)

Super Team by Bill Willingham et al. (Part of the Fables series.  The Fables are all in Haven, and will - maybe - be taking on Super Hero identities to fight the Dark Man.)

Bye-Bye, Black Sheep by Ayelet Waldman (Book 7 - and final - in the Mommy-Track Mystery series.  I really loved this series when I read the bulk of the books many years ago.  I had this one sitting on my shelves - obtained through PaperBackSwap.com - for many years, but never seemed to get to it.  I did enjoy it, but I think I would enjoyed it more without the huge gap in time between readings.  This author moved out of the cozy mystery genre after this book - she wrote a couple women's fiction, a historical fiction, and a couple nonfiction books - and I just never moved with her.)

Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar: Family Spies, Bk 2... This wasn't my favorite Mercedes Lackey or Valdemar book.  It was kind of like multiple short stories in one, and did not have nearly the emotional impact and connection that I look for.  It was still a quick read, though and I will continue with the series.)

Sparkle Witch by Helen Harper (A novella following books 1-3 of the Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic series.  I purchased this ebook.)






Currently reading/listening:

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley (Read by Jayne Entwistle; Book 7 of the Flavia de Luce series)

The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean (This should have been on my "started but indefinite hold list", but I'm hoping to actually get back into it and maybe finish it this week.  I started it some time ago for a book discussion, but after the discussion happened, I never finished the book.)

Started but on indefinite hold:

I have three audiobooks that I started over the past  1 1/2 years but haven't finished.  Two of them were digital (a problematic format for me to do audio) and one of them is a hunkster:  

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, and Moby Dick.

I'll get to these eventually, but I can't say when.

Upcoming:
  • More Fables Books (I should be starting the Fairest spin-off next)
  • I still really need to read Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns (an ebook I got through NetGalley AGES ago). 
  • I have a personal library full of books that I haven't read yet, an extensive list of library books that I'm behind on, and I've been growing my Kindle library with freebie ebooks.  I'd be doing well to read any of these...

Sunday, August 18, 2019

It's Monday! What are you reading? 08/19/2019

Hosted by: Book Date

Ah, life.  I haven't participated in this since last October, and so much has happened, some bad, some good.
  • My father is in a nursing home now.  
  • We lost my 23-yo cousin to suicide at the end of July.  He had the same mental diagnosis as my father (who has made multiple attempts, but so far has only managed to compromise his health).  
  • And we've lost one dog and a bearded dragon.  
  • But a new beast - er, puppy - joined the family.  (She's a toy poodle, but she's LOUD and FEISTY.)
  • I started a new position (with the same library) in March (It is technically a promotion, but doesn't feel that way, just different.)
  • I took an online grad school biology class this summer.  I haven't taken any courses in 10 years, and I've never done so while working full time.  But I survived and even managed an A!  
  • Also, I finally (FINALLY!) got the helicopter ride that I won last summer. It was awesome.  We flew over my hometown and I loved it.
  • My work has occasional health challenges, and for the current challenge, we had to not watch TV for two days. I had no idea how difficult that would be! I very rarely watched TV as a child, even when my siblings did.  But I used this as an opportunity to re-discover my love of reading and got in 2.5 books during those two days.

This past few weeks, I've finished:

Star Witch
and Spirit Witch by Helen Harper (These are books 2 & 3 in the Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic.  I borrowed both of these through InterLibrary Loan at the Library.  I just saw that there is a novella following; I went ahead and purchased it on Amazon, which I rarely do.)

Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman (The first Gus Murphy book, I started reading this for a book discussion in June and only just recently finished it.  I'm not opposed to following up with book 2, but don't know when that is likely to happen.)

Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham et al. (Part of the Fables series, with a ridiculous amount of nudity - especially this issue - but a world and story line(s) I've been enjoying.)

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Read by Ralph Cosham; Book 10 in the Chief Inspector Gamache series) - My post for this can be found at: https://ponderingthelibrary.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-long-way-home.html


Currently reading/listening:

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Read by Ann Marie Lee, Will Patton, and Danny Campbell.  This is for a book discussion taking place Tuesday.)

Started but on indefinite hold:

I have three audiobooks that I started over the past  1 1/2 years but haven't finished.  Two of them were digital (a problematic format for me to do audio) and one of them is a hunkster:  

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, and Moby Dick.

I'll get to these eventually, but I can't say when.

Upcoming:

  • More Fables Books
  • and the Sparkle Witch eNovella I just bought,.
  • I really need to read Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns (an ebook I got through NetGalley AGES ago), and 
  • I just received the Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey from the library.  
  • Oh, and I should be starting As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley in audio shortly.

13th Canadian Book Challenge

I am joining the 13th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.  I did not quite make the 13 books last challenge (I have no excuse... er, I have many excuses, but no good ones).  Anyway, I have from July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020 to read 13+ Canadian books AND review them.  Usually, there are some mini-challenges along the way as well (I especially haven't been good at that portion).  If you are interested in signing up, visit here.  This year's challenge is being hosted by Canadian Bookworm.

Here we go...

  1. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Read by Ralph Cosham).  Louise Penny is a Canadian (Qu√©bec) Author.
  2. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Read by Jayne Entwistle).  Alan Bradley is a Canadian (Ontario) Author.
  3. ...
  4. ...
  5. ...
  6. ...
  7. ...
  8. ...
  9. ...
  10. ...
  11. ...
  12. ...
  13. ...

The Long Way Home

It was time for me to revisit Gamache and the people of Three Pines.  I had halted in part because the storyline had become so difficult to process emotionally (a sign of good writing, I suppose), and in part when I learned that the narrator Ralph Cosham had passed.

But it was time to move on, and time to listen to the last of the Gamache books that Cosham did narrate, The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Gamache, Bk 10).

This story is all about where Clara's husband Peter has gone to, and along the way, how everyone is living within their new positions and life roles after great turmoil, upheaval, and change of the past several books - Gamache, Beauvoir, and the several of the residents of Three Pines have adjustments to work through.  Which brings us back to Peter.  Clara and Peter had a trial separation of 1 year, and Peter was supposed to return to figure out where they go for now.  But he hasn't, and something must be wrong - but what?

There is a lot of symbolism in this story - in the title, the book cover, and the "clues" Peter has left behind.  

I do really enjoy this series.  During this particular book, I laughed throughout and cried once (I cannot say more without spoilers).  I will miss Ralph Cosham, but he did a beautiful job with this last book (and all those proceeding it). 

Going forward, I will be quicker to listen to The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Gamache, Bk 11) and the other books in the series.  I hope narrator Robert Bathurst is a good fit (Louise Penny says he is), and I look forward to my next visit with Gamache and the residents of Three Pines.

Monday, May 27, 2019

City of Secrets

Title: City of Secrets

Author: Victoria Thompson

Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime

Series: Counterfeit Lady, Bk 2

ISBN: 9780451491619

Length: 307 + "Author's Note"

Obtained: Library copy

Comments:

I wanted to read this from the time I finished the first book in the series, City of Lies.  During the year I waited, I binged on Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mystery series.  More recently, I've been on something of a reading slump.  I would read some, and even enjoy what I was reading, but I haven't had the same passion that I had in days gone by.  Yesterday (11/23/2018), I had gone Black Friday shopping and was home alone with the dogs, and I thought, "I should read that book that I've been waiting so long for and finally have checked out."  So I did.  I read straight through it, with only small pauses to nap (I was exhausted), let the dogs out, catch the dogs when they unlatched the gate and escaped the yard, take pictures of the dogs, or break up occasional dog-spats (those dogs are more than a handful). Finally.

The story jumps right in from the start.  Too bad I didn't remember the first book quite as well as I would have liked, but I picked up fairly quickly.  I think I needed the quick pacing of this story...

I wrote the above in November 2018 and never finished or published, so here it is...Since I didn't finish my thoughts, and don't remember what I intended to say now, we'll just say I'm a fan.

Illustrated by Kim Smith




















I read E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The X Files: Earth Children are Weird (illustrated by Kim Smith) in March, and never got around to finishing my post...   

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is very much like the movie in book form, and even more so because the primary characters are already children.  On the other hand, The X Files: Earth Children are Weird is more of its own story.

I've always been more of an X Files fan than an E.T. fan, but beyond that, I enjoyed the X Files book more.  Fox and Dana are children and friends, exploring the outdoors and having extraterrestrial experiences before going home.  The book was fun.

As for the E.T. book, if you liked the movie, you are likely to enjoy the book with its charming illustrations.  And of course, you can always root for E.T. making his way home.

Both of these qualify for the Canadian Book Challenge as Kim Smith is from Alberta.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia

The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Redro Covo

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author (British Columbia), qualifying this read for the 12th annual Canadian Book Challenge.

I have a fondness for books about conservation and animal rescue, and this book is a double whammy.  Aaron helps with the rescue and care of a young orphaned elephant.  In the process he discovers a passion for helping these beautiful animals that are not the terrifying and horrible beasts he grew up hearing about.

The story is moving with some lovely illustrations.  In a couple places the book breaks to interject some facts and figures about elephants.  The content was interesting and important, but my involvement in the story was broken up in the process of reading these details.  I can see where it might be useful to help connect with the real deal, but I feel it might have done more harm than good.  Personally, I ended up skipping over these parts to finish the story and easily could have not missed them altogether.  I feel they might have been better at the end of the book, when, having finished tehstory, a reader would want to learn more.

In the end you learn that Aaron is a real person who really is one of the elephant keepers at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery.  Overall, I enjoyed and appreciated the book and story.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday 3/20/2019

First - Wow! I haven't done a "waiting on" post in nearly 10 years!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
Also, there is Can't-Wait Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released.




This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:



Keara’s Raven: Betrayal (Book 2 of the Keara’s Raven Series)... 




Written by: Mindy Klasky — www.mindyklasky.com

Cover art by: Elisabeth Alba — https://www.albaillustration.com/

Published by: Snowy Wings Publishing — www.snowywingspublishing.com 


Publication Date: April 16, 2019

I also can't wait to read book 1, Keara's Raven: Escape which is available in print as of today.  I read Mindy Klasky's Girl's Guide to Witchcraft many years ago and really enjoyed it.  Plus, I love fantasy and MG books.  So the combination makes for much anticipation.

From the author:
Rebellion always comes with a cost.
Keara is running for her life. On her twelfth birthday, she was supposed to sacrifice her magical darkbeast raven on a holy altar. Instead, she rebelled and spared Caw's life.
Now, Keara and Caw travel the Great Road with two other rebels. They flee terrifying Inquisitor priests while they search for the Darkers—other people who’ve saved their beloved darkbeasts.

Winter winds blow hard. Keara and her companions, near-frozen and close to starvation, discover an underground community of strangers. They offer food and shelter, and darkbeasts are welcome.

But are these folk truly the Darkers? Or will they betray Keara and Caw to the authorities who want to enslave them—or worse?
Amazon: http://bookl.ink/BetrayalKindle

What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Anna at the Art Museum


Title: Anna at the Art Museum

Author: Hazel Hutchins & Gail Herbert; Illustrated by Lil Crump

Publisher: Annick Press

A quick book about Anna as she explores an art museum by pushing boundaries.  She touches what she ought not touch, she is noisy when she ought to be quiet, and she thinks a roped-off sculpture looks like a great place to climb.

Anna is bored, and every time she tries to find some entertainment she is shushed, scolded, and held back.  But with a little kindness shown and a backside look at some of the inner workings, Anna finds an appreciation for art and its beauty that she never held before.

The end includes a listing of all the real art pieces Anna encounters along with where they are currently held.  The majority can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but there are others.

After completing the book I realized that it qualifies for the Canadian Book Challenge.  Hazel Hutchins is from Alberta, Gail Herbert is from Ontario, and illustrator Lil Crump is from Nova Scotia.