Wednesday, January 11, 2017

BOOK: Canada by Mike Myers

Canada by Mike Myers, 304 pages

Thank you Mike Myers.

You have written a wonderful book, a love letter of sorts, to Canada. For its 150th birthday! 

I so enjoyed this book. There are probably a number of reasons for this:

1. Mike Myers is awesome and funny. He is also so quintessentially Canadian - talented, funny, appreciative, humble. This is really what his book is about, what makes Canada, and what made Mike Myers.

2. Mike and I are both of a certain age (50ish) so he hits all my cultural markers of growing up in the seventies/eighties. That's also what the book is about - the era of the 'making of a great nation' from 1967-1976, when Canada came of age as a country, from Expo '67 to the Montreal Olympics.

3. Mike is famous. The section about his making it big drops a lot of names, and I almost forgot how big and funny he was. I mean, Wayne's World? Classic comedy. He also dishes about how Wayne's World, while set in Illinois, is really very Canadian, and he purposefully included all these Canadian references. 

4. Did I say he dishes? Not true. Myers is too nice to dish. He only has wonderful things to say, and if he was less than impressed with someone, he does not name names. This comes down to his innate goodness and wanting to look at the good side of things, and be appreciative of his opportunities. He periodically thanks Canadians as he talks about them in the book.

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I posted some pictures on Facebook as I was reading the book, wanting to share my fun. This Fitness Award badge generated lots of comments and memories. In the seventies, a government department promoted fitness  Participaction commercials and the Canadian Fitness Award. All students across Canada competed in 5 or 6 challenges and got bronze, silver, gold or award of excellence badges. (I never got an award of excellence fitness badge - the bar hang got me everytime down to bronze.)

Mike shared his memories of the Fitness Award in the book. The book is filled with pictures and random memories of growing up in Canada. (25 cent bags of Ketchup chips)

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The first part of the book contains all the cultural notices, things that make Canada Canada. Pictured above, Stompin' Tom Connors, and the Canadian Tire, aka Crappy Tire, logo. True fact: every Canadian has a drawer stuffed with Canadian Tire money. 

I'd be interested to hear what a non-Canadian thinks of this book. I have to say again, I loved this book. It reminded me of a cross between Martin Short's autobiography, I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend, and Douglas Coupland's more visual Souvenir of Canada.  

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Myers covers a lot in the book - his childhood, getting into show business, getting famous. Also, Canada and how the nation grew and evolved, the differences between Canada and US. Some political stuff - he was a huge fan of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and then he ends with Justin Trudeau, which is such a stark contrast to the politics in the States right now. (Sorry, says this Canadian)

Image may contain: textThanks again, Mike.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: 2016 Releases I Meant to Read (But TOTALLY Plan To)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish each week. This week's topic is Ten Books from 2016 Which I Meant to Read (But TOTALLY Plan To). I am taking the titles from some of those 'Best of 2016' lists, and trying to focus a little more on nonfiction for this year.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi (and it is read by Cassandra Campbell!)

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Time Travel: A History by James Glieck

March: A Trilogy by John Lewis

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong

So, have you read any of these? Plan to? 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

BOOK: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert  ( 12 h, 59 min, read by the author)

When you don't read a book when it first comes out and everyone raves about it, then you don't read it when everyone starts criticizes many aspects of it and it gets so much backlash; when you wait that long, and read it, it falls somewhere in the middle of love and backlash.

I think this critique (Spoiled Little Rich Girl or Brave Woman?) sums up my feelings about the book. There are aspects of the book which feel self-indulgent - I don't want kids, I don't want to be married, who am I?, I'll travel the world! (with a book deal). But overall, who wouldn't like that opportunity - move to a country, by yourself and learn something new. And while I imagine it would be cool, I'm not the kind of person who could or would do that. But reading about someone else doing it is kinda cool, cool by association. That is why I like reading about other places and other people - to imagine what it would be like to do that or to be there.

Summary: girl gets divorced, feels crappy. Goes to Italy, and eats pasta, learns Italian. Moves to India, lives in an ashtam, eventually gets her brain to shut up so she can meditate; heads to Bali and makes some great friends and finds love even though she wasn't looking for it. Then Julia Roberts plays her in the movie.

I had bought the book at a book sale, but ended up listening to an audiobook from the library. When I listen to a book really quickly, I know I liked the book quite a bit. The author read it and  I think it helped, hearing how she laughed, and getting her perspective on conversations. It was a great book to start the year off with, and helps me with my informal goal of reading more nonfiction this year.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

CHALLENGE: My List at the Library

Last year I made up a challenge called Once and Again to read that second book by an author whose first book I thoroughly enjoyed. I had great success and read almost all 6 books I picked out. I was going to do it again, but realized I set too particular parameters, leaving out the third or fourth book, or even the first by an author.

What I really want to do is read those books I had placed on my Library List. Does your library have this? I can place books I want to read, or have read a great review of (thanks friends!) on a digital list. Not requested or anything, just my own personal TBR. There are books on that list now that I have no idea where I heard of them!

Libraries! What would I do without my library! I search and check there first, I can List it, or request it. Plus, PEI is so small, that all the branch libraries are part of the whole Provincial Library Services, so the catalog includes all the books in the province. I can see in which library the book I want is located. I can pick it up at that library if it is close, or request it and they mail it to my base library. Actual snail mail! Our book club reads nearly all our books from Book Club Kits available from the library.

So, here are the books that called out to me the most from my library list that I hope to read by the end of 2017. Join me if you want - read books from your library!

Wild Dogs by Helen Humphreys

Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

Slammerkin and/or Landing by Emma Donaghue

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz

Glass Harmonica by Russell Wangersky

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta

Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane

West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten (or so) Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish each week. This week's topic is supposed to be Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To For The First Half of 2017. However, I never did get my Best of 2016 list posted, so here we go:

Number of Books Read = 118
Number of Audiobooks = 56
Number of Female/Male Authors =  73/45
Fiction/Nonfiction =  102/16

Best Mystery
The Trespasser by Tana French

Honourable Mentions Best Mystery (because I read a lot of mysteries)
Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridasson
The Door in the River by Inger Ash Wolfe

Criminal by Karin Slaughter

Best Start to a Series
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Best End to a Series
End of Watch by Stephen King

Best Historical Mystery
Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Best Recommended Book
The Last Policeman by Ben H Winters

Best Childrens
Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge by Monica Kulling

Best Young Adult
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart

Favourite Characters
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Best Science Fiction/Fantasy
The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

Best Book by a New to Me Author
The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami

Best Historical Fiction
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

Best  Book by a Tried and True Author
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
The Wonder by Emma Donaghue
A God in Ruin by Kate Atkinson

Best Epic Apocalyptic
The Fireman by Joe Hill

Best Short Story Collection
Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie

Best Short Story
The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Most Heartbreaking
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Runner up Most Heartbreaking
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Creepiest Novel
Her by Harriet Lane

Most Unique Book
The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys

Best Audiobook
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Best Nonfiction
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steven Sheinkin

Best Debut Book
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Monday, January 2, 2017

ETC: First Book of the Year


Sheila at  is hosting a First Book of the Year event, which seems like a fantastic idea!

Reading: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Listening: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

VIRTUAL ADVENT TOUR: Italian Spumoni Cookies

Welcome to December 15th of the Advent Tour!   I'm so pleased that spritewrites has decided to host and organize the tour again this year. There is still time to join in and add a Holiday post if you want to share some of your traditions. Even if all the days get picked, more than one post per day is even more fun!

Christmas baking is something I enjoy. Sometimes, if I'm lucky and prepared, I might get a storm day in early December. Prepared in that I've picked up the ingredients, like butter or cherries, that I might need for Christmas baking and lucky in that I get a day to do the baking. Part of Christmas baking is making the ole standbys, which for me is Frying-Pan Cookies, Almond Bark, and Gum-Drop Cake. Maybe a shortbread cookie. Maybe fudge. (My dad would be happy if all I gave him for Christmas was fudge, lol)

But it is also fun to try a new fancy treat, and this year, I found this recipe for Italian Spumoni Cookies, at Pinterest. The original recipe comes from The Gold Lining Girl. I remember having Spumoni ice cream when I was young, and my mother making a Spumoni Baked Alaska. Spumoni seems to be like a neopolitan - with cherry, almond, and pistachio flavours. Theses cookies have all three layers, and turned out quite spectacularly! I like making a cookie that has to chill in the fridge, which stretches out the time factor, but makes two easier days - one to mix, and one to bake. 

I think these will go into the regular Christmas rotation. mmm


Italian Spumoni Cookies:

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. chopped maraschino cherries, drained
2-3 drops red food coloring
1/3 c. chopped pistachio nuts
3 tbsp. pistachio pudding mix
2-3 drops green food coloring

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg, and the extracts. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until well-blended. Divide dough into thirds. Add chopped maraschino cherries and red food coloring to one of the thirds. Mix well by hand. Add pistachio nuts, pistachio pudding mix, and green food coloring to another third of the dough. Mix well by hand. 

Shape each third of dough on separate sheets of lightly floured wax paper into logs approximately 1 1/2 inch in diameter and approximately 16 inches long. Flatten each log into a rectangle approximately 3-4 inches wide. You will have 3 rectangles of 4×16. Layer the dough on a single piece of plastic food wrap by lining up the rectangles and flipping them one on top of the other. Start with pistachio as the bottom layer, flip the plain layer on top of pistachio, and flip the maraschino cherry layer on top of the plain layer. Wrap securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.

Cut the rectangle widthwise with a sharp knife into 1/4 inch slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Cool completely.

Yield: Approximately 30 cookies

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I'm Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish each week. This week's topic is Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To For The First Half of 2017

I wonder if this is meant to be about books that are coming out new in 2017. I never am really aware of any of these, except for ongoing series books, and most of those seem to come out in the fall. Instead, I've got old list books I have meant to get to, so these are books that I've been meaning to read for a long time, and hopefully will get to next year.

books in continuing series:
Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear (#12 in Maisie Dobbs)

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (#8 in Royal Spyness, plus #9, #10)
I'm hoping to get this series caught up in 2017

Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason

books I'm waiting in line for:

A Man Called Ove  by Fredrik Backman (audiobook)

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (audiobook)

backlist books by favourite authors:

Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

Slammerkin and/or Landing by Emma Donaghue

How to Start a Fire or The Passenger by Lisa Lutz 

Glass Harmonica by Russell Wangersky

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta

I'm looking forward to everyone elses' lists to see what great new books might be coming out in 2017.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

VIRTUAL ADVENT TOUR: The Lights of My Town

Welcome to December 7th of the Advent Tour, and welcome to PEI! I'm so pleased that spritewrites has decided to host and organize the tour again this year. There is still time to join in and add a Holiday post if you want to share some of your traditions. Even if all the days get picked, more than one post per day is even more fun!

I love driving around and seeing the Christmas lights up and decorating the streets. The pictures do not do justice to how wonderful they look, but I tried!

Downtown Charlottetown has been decorated for a long number of years with large lighted figures. Here is our wonderful Confederation Center of the Arts lit up. Confed Center is home to my library, and also the Anne of Green Gables musical, plus the art gallery and is where we host our high school prom. CCoA is also next door to Province House, the birthplace of Canada. It's a wonderful spot to walk around, inside and out and we are lucky to have such a nationally important structure in our little city. I snapped this picture around 5 pm, and it felt darker outside than this picture suggests.

Next, I took a walk around my neighbourhood. Usually, nearly all the houses are decorated and lit up, but we have already had snow, and it seems like it is sticking around. Some years we don't even have snow for Christmas. The stormy weather has probably put a crimp in the plans of some people. It is still just the first week of December.

It was a lovely night to walk around the block and admire the neighbours' houses. Lots of houses are simply decorated: a wreath, a garland, and nice floodlight to highlight the front.

I am often drawn to houses with a simple white light theme. December gets so dark so early, especially after the time change, so the lights, which come on around 5 or 6 pm, brighten up the dark evenings, giving some hope of brighter days coming.

This is new! I saw two houses on my walk with this overall multi-coloured lighting. The lights are moving which adds an extra dimension. The snowman is a bit droopy, but he picked up his head soon after.

I love this house and how they let the house be the star of the show. Each window, including the side of the house and the garage, have a set of candle-lights. The large Snowman, Carolers, and Santa have been but out for as long as I can remember. Would they have to go around and turn on all the candles individually? Dedicated!

Some houses already have their tree up and lit. These bushes are lit with coloured lights and more window candles. Too much snow for this early in December.

Here is our house! A few bushes, a set of white light branches, and the floodlights.  I think my door is too dark for the pine swag to show up very well.

This is our third Christmas in the house. The first year, my husband got the lights all set up but couldn't figure out how to get them to light up, as the outside front plug/outlet didn't seem to work. It took a while, and my youngest who had investigated all the light switches in the house, to discover the switch in the front closet which controls the outside lights. Genius! We can turn the lights on and off with out going outside.

Thanks for stopping by again this year. Having the Virtual Advent Tour is now a tradition at Christmas for me. Here's my past posts:
In 2015, I shared my Christmas decorations in our new home
In 2014, there was no tour
In 2013, I shared a Christmas series of novellas by Anne Perry that I listened in audio
In 2012, I posted some favourite Christmas mystery  books
In 2011, I posted a 'recipe' for fruitcake that my grandmother had given me.
In 2010, I took a humorous look at some local events on Prince Edward Island.
In 2009, we played 'guess the carol'
In 2008, I played a game of 'guess the movie', and my favorite Christmas picture ever.
In 2007, it was the original 'guess the carol' game, with your vocabulary tested, and my whipped shortbread cookie recipe.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: New to Me Authors I Read for the First Time in 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish each week. This week's topic is Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016. I find it hard to make a list for the year when the year isn't over yet. What if I find my new favourite author in the next few weeks? I guess it is a chance I have to take. I read a good number of new authors this year. (around 45) and it was easy to pick a top ten. These are authors I would definitely read again, and in one case, already read the second book this year.

Kent Haruf 
I read Our Souls at Night, a delightful story of an elderly couple who decide to 'sleep' together to combat the loneliness they experience.

Next up: The Plainsong trilogy, Plainsong, Eventide, Benedition

 Lauren Groff 
I listened to Fates and Furies on audiobook and loved the play on narrative perspective. This is also listed on the  40 New Feminist Classics over at LitHub.

Next Up: The Monsters of Templeton, or Arcadia

Anita Rau Badami  
Badami's book, The Hero's Walk was one of the Canada Reads nominees this year and finished second. I was just getting ready to read it when I heard the author speak at out library and she sold me even before I read it. I ended up loving it, and her take on an ordinary hero.

Next up: Tamarind Mem, Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, or Tell it to the Trees

Jill Alexander Essbaum  
I listened to Hausfrau and also loved it. The main character is a housewife in Switzerland trying to deal with the numbness she feels in her life. You might have a hard time liking her, but if it was a man who was having this crisis, liking him wouldn't be the focus of discussion.

Next up: wait for a second novel. Essbaum has a few books of poetry if you are interested (I'm not)

Robert Galbraith 
I know I am kind of cheating, as I've read all of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books, but Galbraith is named a different author and this series is very different. Rowling can definitely write mysteries and I already have the next book ready to read before the end of the year. I'm not rushing too much as I understand the third book ends in a cliffhanger...

Next up: The Silkworm, and Career of Evil

Melina Marchetta  
I listened to On the Jellicoe Road and while I liked it, I suspect I would have loved the print version. There were many layers, and narratives going on. Excellent young adult book.

Next up: Finnikin on the Rock, or Saving Francesca

Rainbow Rowell - 
Eleanor & Park is worth the hype. I adored Eleanor and Park as two misfit teenagers who find love. I've already read Fangirl, and would definitely look for another. 

Next up: Attachments or Landline 

Graham Moore 
Last Days of Night is based on a true story of a lawyer who fought against Edison, who was fighting everyone. Nikola Tesla plays a big role, but law types would enjoy this as much as scientists for the restructuring of law offices that develops. 

Next up:  The Sherlockian, or watch The Imitation Game (Moore was the screenwriter)

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney  
A bunch of nasty, greedy siblings are fighting over  their inheritance, or Nestegg. Everyone has great plans and secrets hinging on The Nest

Next up: since Sweeney is a debut author, guess we are waiting for a new book

Amy Stewart 
First of all, I adore this cover. Second of all, great story! Three sisters try to get by on their own in 1910s upstate New York but they run afoul of a local mob-wannabe. Girl Waits With Gun is the start of a great new series.

Next up: Lady Cop Makes Trouble

Did you read any of these new to me authors? Any reccs based on these authors?