Archive for July, 2010

Booker Prize Long List

February by Canadian writer Lisa Moore has been long listed for the Man Booker Prize for 2010.

I told you it was good… it’s one of my favourites so far this year. Read my review I wrote in March.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

This definitely is the strangest recommendation I’ve ever written… to recommend this book seems stupid – everybody already knows about it, and if they don’t, they’re not a reader, so they wouldn’t be reading this anyway. But I have to write my bit about it. First off, it is the adult equivalent of the Harry Potter phenomenon. A God-send to the publishing and booksellers world. 35-40 million books sold as of now world-wide and Amazon Kindle sales have topped one million digital copies. Unfortunately Stieg Larsson died just after having dropped off the manuscripts for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, (published by Penguin) plus his 2 subsequent books (now called The Millennium Trilogy). He never knew just how successful they would be. Talk about sad… and I read something recently that his heirs were bickering over the $$$$ssss amassing in the kitty from the sale of the books. In any case I’ve been remiss in not recommending this book. I’ve been stupid. I bought the book in hard cover almost as soon as it came out. Came home and put it in the pile. And there it sat for ages. This past winter I started it, but for some reason or other, abandoned it midway, and there it sat again. It was only recently that I decided to go back and start all over again.  Sometimes you’re just not in the right frame of mind for certain books, and I know that this past year I’ve been preoccupied by other stuff.  Anyway, it didn’t take me long this time to realize that it is an amazing book, a real page turner, and I have every right to kick myself for not having finished it first-time round. Live & learn! I’m not going to bother going into the storyline – you can get it from the book jacket. It’s now in paperback, available everywhere, and if you want to be part of the “in” book crowd you’d better read it to chat about around the proverbial water cooler. Just imagine how crazy it would be if Stieg were alive today and doing book tours or signings or even midnight launches. #2 and #3 are now on the top of my pile!

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Thought Du Jour

From The Globe and Mail…

A book worth reading is worth buying.”  – John Ruskin

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My Stroke of Insight

This is a really powerful book. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor (published by Penguin Books) is an amazing story. Jill Taylor wakes one morning in 1996 and discovers that she’s having a stroke. She’s 37 years old and is a Harvard trained brain scientist. Within hours she couldn’t walk, talk, read, write or remember any of her life. This is her story. The amazing part is that she fully recovers (but it takes many painful years), and she says the stroke was a blessing and a revelation to her. Not many people would think this, but she tells how she discovered feelings of well-being that she never experienced before. There is a very interesting chapter called “Finding Your Deep Inner Peace”… it well worth studying. She underwent brain surgery, and had to relearn everything. I can’t begin to tell you the obstacles this woman faced… talk about courage and determination! This is also a great book to read if you know someone who has had a stroke. She lists 40 things she needed the most after she had the stroke that everyone should pay attention to, such as “come close, speak slowly, and enunciate clearly”. The book isn’t large (under 200 pages) and it certainly is well worth reading.

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley (published by Random House) is a multiple award winner (4 awards including the Debut Dagger Award for first time writers). It’s a “cute” story about Flavia de Luce, an 11 year old who has a penchant for chemistry, is constantly at battle with her 2 sisters (Daphne and Ophelia aka Feely) who don’t understand her constant need to “experiment”,  and how she discovers a man lying in the garden of her home and hears him utter his last word… “Vale”… before he dies. There’s also the incident of the dead bird on the doorstep with a stamp pinned to it’s body that needs to be explained. And the heated conversation that Flavia overheard between her father and some man she couldn’t identify late the night before she comes upon this dying man. All clues or connections? Of course what else could a budding chemist do but try to solve his murder. Bradley has set his book in 1950’s Britain, it’s quaint, bang-on as far as setting and characters go (the cook is called Mrs. Mullet – how funny is that) and it’s a “jolly good read”. Flavia seems constantly to be on her trusty bike, Gladys, heading hither, thither and yon (just thought I’d continue the British feel here) to search out clues as to why this man, who no one recognizes, took his last breath in their cucumber patch at the back of their decaying English mansion called Buckshaw. Bradley has included just enough chemistry bits to make the book interesting, and Flavia is back in book 2, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, which we’re tempted by an excerpt from at the end of this book. I’m sure you’ll want to read it just as soon as you’ve finished book 1. It’s a great read for summer, either on holiday or lying on the sofa with the air conditioning on to escape the heat.

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