Sunday 17 March 2024

Notes on a bright chilly Sunday morning...

It’s sunny and chilly outside this morning, reminding us that it’s still winter, even though this past week has felt more like late-spring.  It’s perfect weather for drinking a hot cup of chai, then heading out for a brisk walk, which is exactly my plan for the day.  I don’t have a book to tell you about today, as I’ve been reading contenders for Silver Birch nomination, so this is not really a "post", more like notes on my reading plan for the next few days, as I'm trying to get back in the habit of posting on Sunday mornings. 

After a week of power-reading juvenile fiction, I decided to read something just for me, an adult book that will (hopefully!!) immediately suck me in.  I opened a few books from the library but they didn’t work out, then I pulled a few books off my shelf to try and found one that seems to be perfect.  I have very high hopes for All Over Creation by Canadian author Ruth Ozeki.  I’ve read and really, really enjoyed A Tale for the Time Being, but not really enjoyed The Book of Form and Emptiness, both later books by this author, but I think this earlier one will be engaging enough to bridge the gap between now and the next time I start on other juvenile novels.  I’ll tell you more about this next week. 

That’s all for today.  Enjoy the sunny day, but stay warm!  

Bye for now... Julie

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Post on a Tuesday evening...

It’s been a really busy couple of weeks, and the one thing that I’ve let slide to make room for other things is this blog.  So while I’m quite tired right now, I’ll take this cat-free opportunity to write about the books I’ve read over the past two weeks.  WOW, I just checked the list of books that I’ve read (yes, I still keep a paper copy of this list!) and see that I’ve got three books to tell you about.  These will be brief summaries and opinions, as I thought there were only two books. 

The first book was for my March Volunteer Book Club, and it was Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a book about censorship to (hopefully) be read during Freedom to Read Week.  I’m sure most people know what this book is about, so I won’t summarize it at all.  What I will say is that I enjoyed most of it far more than I expected, and found it a quick yet thought-provoking read.  My book club members didn’t necessarily “enjoy” it, but they appreciated the writing and the message.  We agreed that we didn’t understand the role of “the war” in the book, and wondered why it was even included.  We felt that it was not hopeful at all, and marveled at how many things mentioned in the book were actually part of our reality today.  How did Bradbury know what was going to happen 60+ years ago?  I think it’s an important book, one that needs to be read to remind us of the perils of censorship and the need to protect our intellectual freedom, a right that is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but which faces challenges all the time.  I just wish now that I’d chosen a more uplifting book for April, but alas, we’re reading Katherena Vermette’s The Break, which I doubt very much is light or uplifting!! 

The next book I read was What We Buried, the latest book by Robert Rotenberg.  It arrived as a hold from the library and I dove right in and devoured it in a few days.  It features some of the same characters as his other books, but mainly focuses on Daniel Kennicott and his determination to finally investigate the murder of his brother Michael ten years earlier, which he believes is linked to the car accident that left his parents dead two years before that.  Daniel has put off going to Italy to the small town of Gubbio until now.  Michael was murdered the night before his own trip to Italy, and Daniel feels that the clues he needs to solve his murder lie in Gubbio, a town that saw Nazi occupation near the end of WWII.  Back in Toronto, Daniel’s mentor and boss, Ari Green, is conducting his own investigation into the accident that killed Daniel’s parents.  Were the two incidents connected?  And if so, how?  Delving into WWII history and blending fact and fiction, Rotenberg has broadened his scope and proven that he is more than just a crime writer of legal thrillers.  It was an excellent novel that provided details of the ruthlessness of the Nazi regime in even the smallest town in Italy, even as the Nazi defeat was imminent.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys legal thrillers or historical mysteries.  And even though it’s part of the “Old City Hall” series, this one can truly be read as a stand-alone with no background knowledge of any of the previous books.  As an aside, I happened to visit Rotenberg’s website and saw that he was coming to my local library for an author event two days after I finished the book, so of course I went.  And I have to say, he’s such a nice guy!!  He even offered to do a Zoom visit with my book club if we ever read another of his novels.  How awesome is that?! 

Then I read Verity by Colleen Hoover for my upcoming Friends Book Club meeting.  I’m not a Colleen Hoover fan, and had to struggle to get to the end of this book, an “unreliable narrator” sort of novel that has little-known writer Lowen Ashleigh being offered a job ghost-writing for best-selling author Verity Crawford who is unable to finish her series due to “medical issues”.  The offer is tempting, since Lowen’s mother just passed away, leaving her daughter in financial straits, and it doesn’t hurt that Verity's husband Jeremy is hot, hot, hot!  She ends up at the author’s house and tries her best not to get caught up in fantasizing about Jeremy while sifting through Verity’s chaotic office as Verity herself lies upstairs in a state of near-total immobility and speechlessness after a car accident that left her, well,  immobile and speechless.  Lowen stumbles upon a manuscript for an autobiography that she can’t resist reading, one that paints a very negative, very disturbing picture of Verity, and as unexpected events begin to occur, she faces the question of whether she should share this information with Jeremy or keep it to herself.  As things get stranger and stranger still, Lowen must act in order to save herself, Jeremy and Jeremy’s son before it’s too late.  I felt that this book was a bit of soft porn, right up there with 9 ½ Weeks and Fifty Shades of Grey (which I haven’t read).  There were entirely too many “intimate details” shared in this book, which was a surprise to me.  I also was not able to identify or connect with any of the characters, so it was challenging for me to stay engaged to the end.  But finish it I did, and am interested in hearing what the others have to say about it.   

That’s it for tonight.  Enjoy the unusually mild weather and enjoy the rest of the March Break!

Bye for now... Julie