nonfiction

Book Adventures Weekly, Issue 33

This week on the blog (excerpts from Goodreads):

Jaclyn reviews:

Amory Ames and her rakish husband Milo take on a murder at a masked ball in this Christie-esque traditional mystery set in 1930s England.

 

Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Yet Lady Hermione Upperton has never backed down from a challenge. When her spendthrift father offers her at the gaming tables, she is given a difficult choice—wed the Earl of Mainwaring, an infamous gamester with no respect for her skills with the reins, or face charges for the murder of a member of the infamous Lords of Anarchy. Either way she’ll have to clear her name. Can she count on her husband’s help the way she has begun to count on his kisses?

 

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

 

And Stacey reviews:

Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

 


 

Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced tomorrow. Check out some of the nominated books. If you’re into that sort of thing, there’s also a quiz on how many prize winners you’ve read. I haven’t read any of them, but I was in Book History class when The Sentimentalists came out, and there was a big to-do because it was originally published by a small artisan publisher (Gaspereau Press) that couldn’t print copies fast enough after it won.

If I weren’t so busy with life admin – moving, volunteering, working, etc., I’d spend some time planning at least weekend adventures. Not all of these will fit into a weekend, but Mental Floss has another list of unique bookstores to visit around the world.

Read your way across Italy. Enough said.

The authors at Book Riot share the best books they read in September. Will you add any of them to your to-read pile? Sorcerery to the Crown and Serpentine were already on mine, but I’ve just added a few more as well.

CBCNews lists 10 books about residential schools to read with your kids.

The New York Times Sunday Book Review on Sven Birkerts’ Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age.

Advertisements

Book Adventures Weekly, Issues 32

This week on the blog: On Tuesday, Jaclyn will be posting her review of Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey, and at the end of the week, I will review The Deathsniffer’s Assistant by Kate McIntyre.

As war between Alden and Oridia intensifies, King Erik must defend his kingdom from treachery and enemies on all sides—but the greatest danger lurks closer to home…(Goodreads.com)

bloodforged

The Deathsniffer’s Assistant is a fantasy novel with a unique pseudo-Edwardian setting and a murder mystery twist. What’s not to love about floating castles, eccentric lady detectives, and a protagonist who judges everyone by the quality of their shoes! (Goodreads.com)

deathsniffer's assistant

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

This week is Banned Books Week. These books that were challenged in U.S. schools last year. Yes, books are still being challenged and banned. Sherman Alexie’s novel (on this list) is heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and well worth a read.

This year’s theme for BBW is Young Adult books, and bannedbooksweek.org has case studies on their website. One of their case studies is about Persepolis, a book that’s long been in my “to-read” pile. Now might be the best time to finally move that over to the “read” pile.

The National Coalition Against Censorship has compiled five true tales of banned books.

Fantasy Faction describes their “table theory of characterization,” which is awesomely based on Firefly. Would your characters be interesting if they were just sitting around a table?

Tor.com has a funny article on geeks loving the same things for different reasons, and the awkward silences that can introduce into conversation.

Buzzfeed lists 26 nonfiction books it is very important that you read. According to them. Not having read much nonfiction, I can’t agree or argue. I will say The Sex Myth is on my to-read list. And I really want to read Severed, I just didn’t know it until this second. Actually, I just added about half of these to my to-read list.

From the Department of Random, Climate Division: Watch the Earth breathe. 

 

That’s all for this week! Tune in again next Monday for Issue 33.

 

My Currently-Reading List

Full disclosure: Sometimes I don’t finish books. Sometimes I put a book down to pick up another that strikes my fancy more immediately. Sometimes I begin self-improvement or skill-teaching books, with the objective of, well, improving my skills, and then never get further than the first two chapters.

And sometimes, I end up reading six different books at the same time, because my attention span won’t hold for the length of a full novel.

Often, this doesn’t have anything to do with how good I think the book is, or how much I’m enjoying it… I just get distracted by the next shiny cover, scintillating romance, rollicking plot, or magical world.

Does this ever happen to you?

Anyway, that’s where I am today, and that’s why today’s post is not a review, but a reading list. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Fantasy

The Witches of Eileanan has been sitting on my bookshelf for a decade or thereabouts. This year, my goal is to whittle my bookshelves down to three (I’m down to three shelves and 3-5 boxes). In order to get rid of some of them, I need to read them first, to find out if I want to keep them. This one is really interesting, with a headstrong young heroine (The Chosen One), whose destiny is big and troubles many. She’s just started off on her journey across the land to find a new mentor witch and begin further studies in magic.

So far: recommended.

This one could be fantasy, could be urban fantasy. It’s a police procedural (cop drama) in a medieval-ish world that focuses on the heroine’s struggle to fit in in male-dominated profession as she and her new partner investigate a mysterious murder of a mage. It’s good, complex, and the world building is solid.

So far: recommended.

 

Urban Fantasy

Trailer Park Fae, which I just purchased at the bookstore because getting my library to buy books often takes ages. Already in the second chapter, the mundane vs. faery worlds are intriguing, and the main characters have some intense emotions that haven’t really been explained yet. I like that the main character is a hero, instead of the more common heroine.

So far: recommended.

Magic Slays is a re-read, because a little while ago I started feeling the need for comfort reading. I love Kate Daniels, heroine of this series by Ilona Andrews. Curran and Kate have accepted their feelings for each other and are beginning their new cohabiting, domestic life of bliss (yeah, right), when she finally gets a client for her new private investigations firm. Of course, the case is strange and extremely dangerous…

So far: recommended.

 

Gaslamp Fantasy

The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key – another urban fantasy with a male main character. This should be good, but for some reason I’m just not that interested. Playboy Simon and his friend/mentor solve magical crimes in gaslamp London.

So far: not recommended.

 

Historical Fiction/Romance

Without a doubt, my favorite thing about Elizabeth Bennett is her sense of humor. My other re-reading kick comes from watching Pride and Prejudice again (with Colin Firth, obviously). “Sequels” of novels written by different authors are often weird, and can the new authors really do the original characters justice? However, I have really enjoyed Elizabeth Aston’s continuation of P&P. Her books have the same witty vibe, fantastic characters, and strong romances, but with a modern, independent-women twist. Also, Elizabeth and Darcy are always off in Europe, so at least I don’t have to worry about them not fitting the mold. The Darcy Connection is cute, although I’m discovering this time around it has basically the same romantic plot as P&P. Sigh.

So far: recommended with reservations.

 

Nonfiction

One of those self-improving, skill-teaching books I sometimes tell myself to read and never finish: Ask for it. I haven’t gotten very far, and I disagree with the argument that the gender wage gap exists because women don’t ask for things and men do, but it has some interesting tips and it looks like the worksheets at the end will be helpful.

So far: undecided.

We Have Life Off: “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”

18170143An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
Little, Brown & Company: October 29, 2013 (Non-Fiction)

I’d go there again!
vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

This one’s a bit of a departure for me and I would have never picked it up had it not been recommended to me by a coworker. Yes, I’ve gotten more interested in nonfiction since reading more of it as a moderator of my previous job’s non-fiction book club, but An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth was not something that I would have thought to be of interest to me. Science. Yikes!

I was surprised with An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, it wasn’t rife with difficult scientific jargon. It offers a simple story, albeit an unlikely one. (more…)

Snapshot of an age in “The Massey Murder”

18163741The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray
Harper Collins: September 6, 2013 (Nonfiction)

My rating: I’d go there again vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

My latest foray into nonfiction is Charlotte Gray’s fantastic Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country. On the surface, Gray takes a look at a trial, but this book is much more. It’s a snapshot of Toronto during a time of change and turmoil. Women were fighting to be recognized as something more than wives and mothers, and Canadians were shipping off to Europe to fight on the front lines. The trial and the war do not initially make much sense being juxtaposed against one another, but the strength of Gray’s writing is in her ability to combine a seemingly unrelated trial to the larger scope of events that occupied the minds of an entire country.

In February 1915, eighteen year old, Carrie Davies shot and killed her employer, Charles “Bert” Massey. This act captured the attention of the masses for a short time in February, and showcases the divided attitudes and social codes of a city in flux. (more…)

Sink Fangs into Vampire Myths and Legends (Halloween Special Part 1)

vampire forensics Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend by Mark Collins Jenkins
Published: February 2010 by National Geographic

My Rating: The view was nice, but the food was bad (2/5)

I found this exploration into the myths and legends of vampires underwhelming, in a word.

I expected the book to delve into the historical and literary evidence for vampires, and to a certain extent, that is what the author does. However, the exploration jumps around, and at times the author doesn’t explain how one factor/myth/legend/story indicates the existence of, or belief in, vampires.

In the last chapters, the author enumerates (yes, it is essentially a list) of various traditions in distant regions (i.e. not Eurasia, whose legends have the most definitive connection to the modern-day vampire) of the world, even though they are not vampires. It’s as if the author only wants to say that traditions of ghouls, witches, sorcerers, and demons exist all over the world, in many diverse cultures. Their connection to modern-day vampires is never made.

Additionally, the author never draws a firm conclusion. The most compelling evidence provided in this book is that some corpses decompose differently than others – with distinctive characteristics that tend to match the characteristics our Eurasian societies have given to “vampires.” (more…)

Monthly Nonfiction: A “Quiet” Review

8520610Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Crown, January 24, 2012 (Nonfiction)

My rating: Liked the place, but the food was bad (2/5)

So here we are, another month, another nonfiction read. Normally, I’m not a non-fiction reader, but since I do moderate the nonfiction book club and work in the nonfiction department at my library, I try to make an effort. This October, the nonfiction book club took on Susan Cain’s Quiet.

I had heard Cain speak at the Ontario Library Association’s Superconference a couple of years ago and was intrigued. She was a great speaker and highly valued a number of personality traits that I felt I possessed. So when it was suggested that the nonfiction book club read Quiet, I was all for it.

I really wanted to love Quiet. It’s about introverts and much of what Cain points out is really powerful stuff. This book is filled with quotes and facts to back up Cain’s claim of the value of the introvert personality. Unfortunately, I did not find the written format as dynamic as I did when I first saw Cain at that conference. (more…)

Monthly Non-fiction with ‘The Inconvenient Indian’

15797509The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
Doubleday Canada, November 13, 2012 (Nonfiction)

My rating: Outstanding Adventure (5/5)

Fictions are less unruly than histories.

It’s that time again, for my monthly foray into nonfiction all in effort of facilitating my book club at work. Last month I tackled WWI and this month it’s a more complicated and controversial subject, Native relations in North America. This was not my pick for this month’s meeting, and I wasn’t exactly filled with excitement to read this one, but it’s a nominee for this year’s Evergreen Award, and we wanted to support the program at our book club. I should have been excited for this one, was it ever good. And I’m always happy when discussion flows at our meetings, although with this one, discussion got a little heated. (more…)

World War I on the High Seas: “The Wolf”

6810289The Wolf: How One German Raider Terrorized the Allies in the Most Epic Voyage of WWI by Richard Guilliatt and Peter Hohnen
Free Press, April 20, 2010 (Nonfiction; History)

My Rating: Beach Vacation (3/5)

Once again I’ve departed from my usual fiction reading for something for the nonfiction book club that I mediate at work. Due to this year’s WWI Centennial, I decided to pick something WWI related to discuss, and let me tell you, this was an arduous undertaking. It was extremely difficult to find a history book that was under 500 pages long and not dry as dust. Ultimately, I do think that The Wolf was a good choice for book club; not only was this book informative, it also offered some food for thought and discussion.

The Wolf concerns a lesser known aspect of the First World War: war on the high seas. Typically, when you think of the WWI you do not think of oceanic battles or countries like Australia and New Zealand; usually it’s the trenches that come to mind. The Wolf was eye-opening in the fact that it reminds you that WWI had a far reaching impact. This book explores one specific German freighter’s year-long voyage that terrorized the Allies in the hopes that they could help starve the enemy by compromising their supply lines. (more…)

Summer Vacation Itinerary: Nine Adventures

I always wish I had more time to read in the summer, but there are so many other attractions! When I get the chance, though, I’ll be reading these:

Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint of Angry Robot Books, has been discontinued. Which is why I finally purchased actual, new, books: The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke, published by Strange Chemistry. I’ve heard great reviews from Jaclyn and others, so obviously I have to try it. And it wasn’t too hard to rationalize the purchase.

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse #1)

The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2)

I’ve been thinking about Madeleine E. Robin‘s Sarah Tolerance series for ages, and as I haven’t read the third one, The Sleeping Partner, and I can’t find the first two at the library (another sad lack in libraryland), these are next on my to-buy-list. Sarah Tolerance is a swashbuckling, pants-wearing, crime-solving woman in a slightly altered 19th century. Think Sebastian St. Cyr, but female. With a little fantasy, a little mystery, and some serious fighting, this will make corn fields breeze by on your road trip.

The Sleeping Partner (Sarah Tolerance #3)

Alias Hook, by Lisa Jensen. Peter Pan, from Hook’s perspective. Enough said? Hook is not an evil villain, but a misguided, un-self-reflective, childish adult, who has some growing up to do. I’m reading this one now, and it’s the ultimate summer reading, with the top, adventure-story layer and the deeper, growing-up layer readers can choose to digest.

Alias Hook (more…)