Sunday 26 November 2023

Quick post on a rainy evening...

I’ve got a kitty in my arms as I write this post (typing with one hand… sorry for any typos!).  It was quite lovely out earlier so I got out and did a few things, then went for a medium walk before heading home to get ready for the new work week.  But now the forecasted rain/snow has begun, and it may be time to start wearing boots.I finished reading Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry last week, but I think I’ll wait until after our book club meeting to tell you about it.  I also finished the latest book by Lisa Jewell, None of This is True, and it was a real page-turner.  This book focuses on Alix and Josie, two women who meet at a pub on the night of their 45th birthdays.  Realizing that they are birthday twins creates the beginnings of a bond that grows stronger and stronger throughout the novel.  Alix is a podcaster whose series about strong women has reached its end.  When Josie approaches her with a new idea, a podcast not about women who have succeeded but one about a woman on the verge of leaving her old life behind in search of something new, she is intrigued and they begin recording sessions.  What emerges is a story of grooming and pedophilia, of decades of abuse and denial.  But what, if any, of this is true?  And why would Josie be telling Alix these stories?  What could her end game be?  As much as I'd love to discuss it in more depth, I don't want to spoil it by revealing too many details. Jewell’s novels usually have a darker underside, and the stories are often not what they seem, but this one is by far her darkest novel yet.  Who and what can we believe in a novel with a title like this?  Is the author forewarning us that none of this is, in fact, true, or are we expected to determine which parts are true and which are not?  And are there really only cut-and-dried truths or are there shades of truth?  Does everyone have their own truth, even if they experience the same event as others around them?  If you enjoy domestic thrillers, then this could be a great choice for you.  The story’s bleakness is especially suited to the shorter, darker days of November, although it takes place mostly during a hot London summer.  I always enjoy Jewell’s books, and this one did not disappoint.  That’s all for tonight.  Time to curl up with another good book for yet another book club meeting!  Take care and stay dry! 

Bye for now... Julie

Sunday 19 November 2023

Mid-November post...

I know that this is not everyone’s favourite month, with gloomier weather and the sudden darkness that falls so early now that we’ve changed the clocks back, but I quite like November, with its sinister-looking bare tree branches in sharp contrast to the lightness of the sky, the browns, greys and fading greens of the landscape and the crunchiness of the leaves and twigs on the ground.  And it also marks the beginning of the best time to curl up with a steaming cup of chai and a good book!

I’ve been sick recently, and just realized that I completely forgot to write a post last weekend, so I’m catching up now.  I had a book fair this past week at school and stayed late three nights, so I haven’t finished my book for this week yet, but I did finish one last weekend, Reykjavík by Ragnar Jónasson and Katrín Jacobsdóttir.  This is the latest crime novel by this Icelandic author, and it’s co-written by the Prime Minister of Iceland, which I think is pretty cool.  (Maybe Justin Trudeau should co-write a mystery with Linwood Barclay or Robert Rotenberg!!)  In 1956, fifteen-year-old Lára takes a summer job keeping house for a wealthy couple on the small island of Videy, but one weekend near the end of summer, she goes missing and is never found.  The main detective continues to revisit the case every ten years or so, but by 1986, it remains unsolved until a young reporter, Valur Róbertsson, runs a series of articles in the local paper about Lára, hoping to uncover new leads.  When he’s contacted by an anonymous caller who provides cryptic clues regarding the whereabouts of Lára’s body, Valur begins to feel hopeful that this case may finally be solved.  But when tragedy strikes, someone must step in to take up this new investigation and follow the clues, wherever they may lead, in order to solve this mystery and finally lay Lára to rest.  This was certainly a page-turner, one of only a couple of Icelandic mysteries I’ve read, and I just read that it was based on a real unsolved case.  It was especially interesting because it was set in the 1980s, before Iceland became a popular travel destination and before Icelandic thrillers also became popular.  There were no cell phones or internet searches, just a basic investigation by a reporter/amateur detective, which was fun for this reader who grew up in that era.  It was also inspired by Agatha Christie mysteries, as Jónasson also works as a translator of her books.  It was a fun, gripping page-turner, not especially creepy or scary, but interesting and sure to keep you guessing until the final “big reveal”.  

That’s all for today.  Get outside and enjoy the sunshine!

Bye for now…

Sunday 5 November 2023

Strange book on a long-ish weekend...

We turned the clocks back this morning, so today is an extra hour longer, which is wonderful - I wish I could figure out how to manage this every weekend!!

I spent part of that extra hour finishing a very strange book by Canadian author Iain Reid called We Spread, which is a finalist for this year’s Governor General’s Award.  This story, set in Six Cedars, a small long-term-care residence in the midst of a forest, follows Penny, an elderly woman and artist who, after a fall in her apartment, is moved to Six Cedars, which she supposedly picked out with her recently deceased partner years before in case of such a crisis situation.  She doesn’t want to be there, but finds that, although she hasn’t painted in years, she suddenly feels inspired to start working again.  This, along with her increased appetite and her restful sleeps, lulls her into believing that this place really is good for her, that she’s benefiting from it in more ways than one.  She also enjoys the company of the other three residents, particularly Hilbert, a mathematician with whom she forms a bond, as well as that of Jack, a handyman and aide, a jack-of-all-trades who seems to like her and to want to help.  But when she starts experiencing confusion and loses track of time, she begins to suspect that all is not what it seems at this supposedly safe place, and she must do everything in her power to find out what’s really going on and try to save herself and the others before it’s too late.  This was a very short, very strange book, but I’ve read I’m Thinking of Ending Things by this same author (which has recently been made into a Netflix movie!) and thinking back, that, too, was quite creepy.  I think what Reid was addressing in this novel was the ways in which the elderly are marginalized in today’s society, stripped of their unique personalities, life experiences, skills and desires - he just goes about it in an interesting way.  It was certainly worth reading, and definitely sucked me in so that I wanted to find out what happened next and how it would all end.  I took out my Scrabble tiles to see if there was a hidden puzzle based on what I thought might be a clue at the end, but I gave up after only a few minutes, as I wanted to write this post before it got too late (I always forget that it gets dark so early when we change the clocks).  

That’s all for tonight.  Take care and keep reading!

Bye for now…