Tuesday, January 9, 2018

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2017

For the last week of Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish, our topic is Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn't Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!) I'm going to list books that were from 2017 to be able to limit this. I believe this was the same topic from last year and I only did okay getting them all read last year. Oh well, try try again!

Thanks for all the great weeks of Top Ten Tuesday.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine 
Gail Honeyman

Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng

 Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan

Word by Word 
Kory Stamper

Roxane Gay

The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas

Bellevue Square 
Michael Redhill

A Gentleman in Moscow
Amor Towles

The Animators
Kayla Rae Whitaker

Sing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

LIST: Best of 2017

Here's my recap of my top books for 2017. It's really hard to pick when you have read a lot of books! I changed a lot of how I read by increasing my nonfiction incredibly.

total books 152
92 fiction
60 nonfiction

65 audiobooks,  42 library books(+ all the audiobooks)

77 female, (+2 by Robert Galbraith who I'm not sure where to put)
75 male
1 both

Best Mystery
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Honourable Mentions Best Mystery (because I read a lot of mysteries)
Icarus by Deon Meyer
The Silkworm AND Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Best Start to a Series
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrente

Best End to a Series
Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

Best Historical Mystery
Dark Fire by CJ Sansom

Best Recommended Book
Field Notes by Sara Jewell as recc'd by lavenderlines and Debbie at ex-urbanis

 Best Childrens
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook)

Best Young Adult
The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez  

Favourite Characters
the Lumberjanes! from the graphic novel series

Best Science Fiction/Fantasy
Redshirts by John Scalzi

Best Book by a New to Me Author
Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

Best Historical Fiction
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Best  Book by a Tried and True Author
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry 

Best Apocalyptic
World of Trouble by Ben H Winters
(The Last Policeman trilogy) 

Best Short Story Collection
Although I read a few SS collections, none stood out. 
Goal for next year is to find one that does!

Best Short Story
To Everything There is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas story by Alistair MacLeod
Based on a True Story by Norm MacDonald

Most Heartbreaking
March graphic novels by John Lewis 

Creepiest Novel
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich 

Best Debut Book
Girl at War by Sara Novic 

Most Unique Book
Finding Wonder by Jeanne Atkins
a novel in blank verse, that contains biographies of female scientists from across the world and the ages 

Best Audiobook
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and A Grander View of Life by Ed Yong  (nonfiction)
An Irish Country Courtship by Patrick Taylor (fiction)

Best Nonfiction (since I read so many nonfiction this year, I have broken this down a little more)
Best Nonfiction: science
The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker

Best Nonfiction: history
Sisters in Two Worlds: A Visual Biography of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Paar
Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood  Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez
Best Nonfiction: memoir/autobiography
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Best Nonfiction: feminist essays 
Shrill by Lindy West 

Best Nonfiction: self-help 
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Best Nonfiction: contemporary/social
Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

A few books I loved by couldn't find a category for!
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
The Pluto Files by Neil Degrasse Tyson
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert    

And the Three Books I Rated a Perfect 5 Stars as soon as I read them (which is very rare for me)
Finding Wonder: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeanne Atkins

Canada by Mike Myers

March: Book Three by John Lewis   


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Favourite New Authors from 2017

This week's theme from The Broke and the Bookish people is Favourite New Authors from 2017. I like these end of year type lists, especially when they are in January so I can include the full year. Lots of great new authors this year, some I read more than one after starting, some I will definitely read more of. Any of your favourites here?

Daphne duMaurier   
The House on the Strand 

Candace Savage      
Crows: Encounters With the Wise Guys of the Avian World - 

Jeanne Birdsall
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and One Very Interesting Boy

Elena Ferrante   
My Brilliant Friend

Ed Yong    
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life 
Caitlin Moran   
How to Be a Woman

Atul Gawande   
Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

Hope Jahren    
Lab Girl

Jess Walter     
Citizen Vince and Beautiful Ruins

Al Franken    
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

VIRTUAL ADVENT TOUR: Decking the Halls with #PhysicsHaikus

This one is a little different! A few weeks ago, Perimeter Institute, a reknowned research center in Canada, posted some #PhysicsHaikus on their tweeter feed. I always like when the arts and sciences can be combined, and I took note. I decided I'd get my grade twelve physics students to write a haiku.

Now, students who take physics are not usually fans of English, and especially poetry. They like our formulas and numbers and rules in physics - that's why they take physics. However, I figured if there was ever poetry designed for scientists, it's the haiku. I mean really, it has rules with numbers in it! How perfect is that?

Saying that physics students are not fans of English is not quite right. A good number fit that category, but I have had over the years, a fair number of music/band students who take physics as the only science course they take, and just because they like it. I'm pretty sure there is a great connection between physics and music; I know there is with math and music. We actually have two math teachers on staff who are also music majors.

If you don't remember, here's a haiku on how to write a haiku. The haiku is a Japanese based poem, with specific number of syllables in each line - five syllables, then seven syllables, then five again. They are pretty easy to write.

So I found some glitter tree decorations and stuck them on the wall, making a tree shape. A bow for the top and voila! The big space on the hall outside my classroom was now ready for some haikus.

Our recent topics were electric fields and forces, and the last chapter was planetary motion. The inspiration for many was clearly the ideas we've been studying.

One aspect that was particularly tough for some of my students was just the language. We have a large number of EAL students (English as an Acquired Language) and while they are pretty good at physics, having to create in English was very hard. I was super impressed with the effort they put in to figuring out what a syllable was and then trying to make a haiku that made sense. I have students who have only been in Canada for less than a year who found this task challenging.

Some students are into modern physics, not a topic we cover, but Schrodinger's cat is pretty famous even for people who aren't into physics.
And then one fella took it pretty literal about writing a haiku about physics. He wrote about physics - the high school course. Surprisingly, he is a student who does pretty well, and I don't think he works a lot to stay on top of things, but he summarized the over all feeling of probably a lot of students, lol.

So Happy Haiku
from  outside Room 203!
and the Advent Tour

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

This week's theme from The Broke and the Bookish people is Top Ten Favourite Books of 2017. Nope, not nearly ready to think about favourite books of the year. I read a ton of books this year, and I can easily make a genre top ten list of mysteries from this year, in no particular order. 

Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
I thought maybe I liked the first in this series, The Cuckoo's Calling, because it was a new detective and I was surprised how much I liked it. Nope, the series is top-notch and the second book was just as strong as the first. Ms Rowling can write and plot and create characters you feel like you know. 

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Usually when I find a series I like, individual books are rated four star out of five, but I think of the series as a 4.5 or 5 star series. The sum of the parts are greater than the parts. But every time I finish a Cormoran Strike book, it's a 4.5. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

Icarus by Deon Meyers
Bennie Griessel, the South African detective, must have nearly hit rock bottom. Man he has a hard time with life. He's fallen off the wagon in Icarus and trying to solve a high profile murder. Again, it's the plotting and the characters that stand out in these books. If you haven't read any Deon Meyer mysteries yet, what are you waiting for? 

Countdown City/World of Trouble by Ben H Winters
I read The Last Policeman last year and it was fabulous. Combining two of my favourite genres - cop mysteries and dystopian/apocalypsic fiction was definitely going to catch my eye. This trilogy of life as a known asteroid is heading to Earth on a known date means life if a little upside down. Add in a police detective who doesn't know how to do anything else, and he's fighting against the anarchy around him. Another series where each book got rated 4.5 and the individual books had stand alone mysteries but the over arching story was tragic.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
I've raved about this one already. Different from my police detectives, this one is an homage to village mysteries in England and Agatha Christie. I think part of the appeal was that it was just last year I read all the Miss Marple mysteries for the first time, and appreciated the style. 
Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason
Just like my favourite TV show, This is Us, Indridason has realized that a dead character doesn't limit the stories you can tell. While present day Erlendur can't solve any more mysteries, he was a police detective for many years and the new books look back at old cases. One case is set in the 70s, while Erlendur is also looking into a cold case from the 60s. The conflicted history of American army bases in Iceland is explored as well.
In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear
I was getting ready to give up on Maisie Dobbs after the last two books but Winspear has returned Maisie to all the parts I like best. She's in London, working with Billy and Inspector Stratten, and her father is around again. A new war has begun, but the first war is still having repercussions, as it has in all the good Maisie books. 
Queen of Hearts/Malice in the Palace/On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen
I'm really not a fan of cozy mysteries but I make an exception for Georgie, 35th in line to the throne in 1930s England. The mix of historical information, high society hob-nobbing, and silly romance just works for me. None of the books actually stand out, but here's an example of the whole is greater than the parts. Plus, I've been watching The Crown and David and Wallace Simpson are in both, and they are so much fun when they appear.
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
I've been listening to this series and Penny's latest addition is a stellar read. She plays with the structure a bit here, having the unknown trial happening at the same time as the story is being revealed. The opioid crisis is a major plot point. Some books have had other settings, but this one is in Three Pines, so all the great characters are around. I am enjoying retired Gamauche. 
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
First in a series, The Coroner's Lunch is set in 1970s Laos. A former Communist, 72 year old Siri Paibourn has been appointed to be the medical examiner. I really liked this first book in the series. Siri is cynical, and cranky and the setting is so different. I got the second book, Thirty-Three Teeth but didn't find it as similar or as good as it headed off into more supernatural territory. I'll still keep The Coroner's Lunch on my 'Best of Mysteries' list for the year.

Friday, December 8, 2017

#AMonthofFaves: 3 Popular Books Worth the Hype

Fri. | Dec. 8 – 3 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves– and/or Not Worth the Hype

Join hosts  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge for the 4th annual #AMonthofFaves blog event – a fun way to recap the year that was.

Three books I read this year that I picked up because I've heard about them and read rave reviews and that lived up to expectations? That can be tricky, because sometimes beginning something based on great expectations (copywrite Dickens) can backfire. You are expecting to enjoy it so much, that you can't help but be let down. This is not the story with these three books.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (12h 38min)
I listened to this first in a quartet originally wondering what all the hype was about. I quite enjoyed it, got very much into the story of two friends in Naples, Italy in the 1950s. I wish my library had more on audio, but I will be reading the next installation, The Story of a New Name next year for sure, wanting to find out what happens next for these poor yet ambitious frenemies.

Redshirts by John Scalzi, 320 pages
I loved this crazy science fiction romp through the galaxy! So funny, so meta for fans of Star Trek. Not that I am even a fan, I've seen the original series episodes. But the series is very much a part of our cultural knowledge. Each time I realized what was happening and how it all connected, I'd just think, wow. So much fun.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, 496 pages
I can't decide whether to consider this a book worth the hype, or an underrated book. It certainly was a fantastic read, an homage to golden age mysteries. I saw it around in the spring/summer and then loved it when I read it. It is actually two books in one - a manuscript for a mystery, whose author then disappears , sending the editor on a wild goose hunt for the second mystery. So well done. If you are any kind of an Agatha Christie fan, you must read this!