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Showing posts from March, 2016

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

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The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Paperback, 138 pages
Published 1982 by Pan Books
(first published 1915)
Source: used book sale

Richard Hannay series (#1)


I thought this would be fun, having seen the Hitchcock film numerous times but it was an utter disappointment. I had to really force myself to finish the book. It followed a chapter by chapter formula of Hannay on the run, meets with character, gets fed, gets new disguise, talks about case, gets sent off to next person who will help him on the way. Next chapter, repeat. Each chapter title even tells you who he is going to meet: The Adventure of the Literary Innkeeper, Radical Candidate, Spectacled Roadman, and so on. It was very tedious reading and I honestly kept forgetting what the plot was each time I picked up the book. Even though it's such a short book I had to take it in small bites. I'm the last person to judge older books by modern sensibilities, but even I found its flippant empirical ra…

Movies/TV/Concerts Watched 2016

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This is a running list for the year. The list will include the movie and indicate whether it is a re-watch otherwise, it can be assumed it was my first time watched. My family hardly watches any TV and unlike most families who are trying to cut down on television consumption, we've made a decision to try and watch more than the none we do now to engage the family in spending time together, giving us common interests to talk about and be entertained together. Good times, good fun.

Title (the year)(rewatch?)(owned/rental/library/borrowed/theatre/Netflixed)

and a brief review which could be just one word such as good, great, just OK, whatever. If I feel like expounding on the review I will. No rules here just a list with a bit of extra information. I will also probably note who I watched it with.

January: 0

February: 0

March: 6

1-3. Bates Motel Seasons 1-3 (2013-2015) (streamed) - I went to visit my son and we decided to binge watch something for the duration. Neither of us had heard a…

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz & In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

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I've been on vacation for the past week visiting my son in Kitchener/Waterloo. Managed to get lots of reading done while he was at work but not up to writing reviews so will be putting together one post of (mostly) mini-reviews to both of my blogs.



The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Simon & Schuster


I loved this fast-paced thriller. A page-turner and a quick read kept me glued to the pages. I just thought the wrap-up was less than shocking but I certainly enjoyed the ride!










In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 365 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Crown

I honestly don't have much to say about this book. I found it readable but not all that exciting. My exact same opinion as I had for the only other book I've read by Larson, "Dead Wake", is that it was not hard to read but it wasn't hard to put down …

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson

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Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Hogarth
Source: received a review copy from Penguin Random House Canada

Hogarth Shakespeare (#2)


This is the type of book that requires a critical essay rather than a review, but that's not what I do; so some thoughts on how I found the book so readers can determine if it will be for them. I re-read "The Merchant of Venice" before reading this book and highly recommend you be quite familiar with the play or there's not much point in reading Jacobson's retelling. This is a short novel, but not a page turner as it is very heavy and literary. However, I did enjoy it very much; finding myself eager to pick it up each time. The story is also full of satire and black humour which lightens the primary dark theme of antisemitism. There are two storylines running concurrently one involving the Jew Strulovich (Shylock) and his daughter who is running around with…

The Merchant of Venice (No Fear Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare

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The Merchant of Venice (No Fear Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare; edited by John Crowther
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 3rd 2003 by SparkNotes
first published 1596
Source: local library

No Fear Shakespeare


The Merchant of Venice isn't new to me. I read the original in Gr. 9 English class, I've seen the play performed at Stratford, I studied the play with my son when we homeschooled for his Gr. 9 year, and I've watched a filmed British production. Plus I've read several children's retellings and graphic novel adaptations. I chose to read the original again though because the next book I'll be reading is Howard Jacobson's latest novel, "Shylock is My Name", a modern retelling of the play. I really enjoy these "No Fear Shakespeare" volumes from SparksNotes which have the original play on the left and a modern English translation on the right with annotations. I read the modern translation as I'm not fond …

Far From True by Linwood Barclay

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Far From True by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 480 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Doubleday Canada
Source: egalley via netgalley

Promise Falls Trilogy: (#2)


I enjoyed this a lot more than the first book because now I'm aware going in that we are in the midst of a trilogy :-) And as such there is still no answer to the big mystery which started in the first book. We become a little wiser, but there are more questions than answers and during the overall plot there are some mini-arcs going on at the same time which do get resolved. One thing that I didn't really "get" with the first book because it frustrated me so much, and because I read Barclay's earlier books when they were first published which is quite some time ago, is what the author is actually doing with this series! The Promise Falls Trilogy is populated with characters from his previous books! When I started to think about this and pay attention to it, I became way more interested …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #9

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This meme is held over on Book Date's blog and here we talk about what we are Currently Reading, What we read/posted the last week and what we plan on reading next week. I won't be posting what's coming up; you can get an idea by looking in my sidebars.
What I am Currently Reading:
Fiction:
I'm currently reading the play in "plain English" because the next book I'm reading is a modern retelling of the play. I've read "The Merchant of Venice" in the original before and seen it performed at Stratford, plus seen a televised British production of it also but I wanted to refresh my memory before reading the new book.

Non-Fiction:
Still working on this title. The politics have been set up and the Ambassador has got his job so I'm just getting into the start of the "good" stuff.
Graphic Novel/Manga:
Love me some Batman!
 I always have a short story collection going as I read one short story every morning with my cup of coffee. I have put…

Triptych: A Mystery by Margit Liesche

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Triptych by Margit Liesche
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 254 pages
Published September 29th 2013 by Poisoned Pen Press
Source: egalley via netgalley


This is a small unassuming book that packed a huge wallop. The title "Triptych: A Mystery" and the photoshop cover don't really do justice to what I found sprung emotionally upon me from amongst its pages. An overpowering, heartfelt story on a theme I am deeply interested in. The escape and survival of victims of communism the world over but especially from the cold war. I had not ever read about Hungary's "liberation" by the Soviets but have read extensively about Poland's fight for freedom from their Soviet "liberators". Heart-wrenching stuff and Hungary's tale is no less brutal. Imagine waiting for the Nazi's to leave your country and to be freed and liberated from the Fascist rule, concentration camps, etc. only to have the Communist Soviets come in behind them to enslave you…

Russell Williams: The True Crime Case of the Canadian Air Force Colonel Serial Killer by Tyler Crane

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Russell Williams: The True Crime Case of the Canadian Air Force Colonel Serial Killer by Tyler Crane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 74 pages
Published November 5th 2015
Source: Kindle Freebie


A short but well-written, detailed walkthrough of the shocking Russell Williams serial rapist turned killer case. This was a truly staggering crime for Canada when it came to light that such a long-term, decorated career military man could live a double life as a deadly degenerate, the country was astounded. Crane has put the case together chronologically starting with who Crane was and his sudden flip to the dark side. Crane writes well, though not in a narrative style but more journalistic. Factually he's presenting no more information than one could find scouring all the newspapers but here it's put together in a natural cohesive order with asides from Crane. The author wonders about Williams and the victims and through telling the facts of the crimes he shows great respect fo…

New Orleans Noir: The Classics edited by Julie Smith

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New Orleans Noir: The Classics edited by Julie Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 300 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Akashic Books
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Akashic Noir Anthologies


I've long wanted to read one of Akashic's Noir anthologies and was pleased to have my first tour a sampling of southern fiction set in New Orleans. Each story here is set in the city and this being the second collection to be set here has been given a secondary theme of "classics". The stories are presented chronologically from 1843 up through to fairly modern offerings. The definition of "noir" is broad. This can mean classic private eye, gothic, dark, menacing and generally involve murder, but one thing they all have in common is ominous troubled endings. There were a couple of stories that missed the mark with me but generally the rest were good to excellent. I certainly look forward to reading other's in this publisher's series.

1. A Marriage of Conscienc…