Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Quick housekeeping:

Today is the last day of January and I'm on pace to read 60 books this year. Looking back to the last two years where I kept very close track of my reading and the three or so years prior to that where I kept loose track, I am confident that I won't read 60 books (there are months when reading drops off...December, May), but I'm still aiming for 52 books. I didn't read finish any non-fiction this month, but I'm not going to force myself to do that (see the RULES)...but if you have any good non-fiction suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

the sweetness at the bottom of the pie

Okay, so do you know why I picked this book up? Because of the cover. And the fact that it was the only non-fantasy/vampire/wizard/weird futuristic novel in the turning bookcase right beside the picture books. I know: don't judge books by their covers, but the stamp drew me in. Good thing I missed the scary dead bird. But I really did enjoy this book. I also need to get out of the kids' side of the library...or not. I have a pile of non-kidlit beside my bed to read.


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. That's what I'm supposed to be talking about.

It was really good. So good that when I discovered, by turning  the last page, that there are at least two more novels featuring detective Flavia de Luce, I knew I'd try to track them down.

Just another momentary aside. It drives me bananas that paperbacks aren't catalogued by title and author at our library. So if I find something I want that either the library only bought in soft cover or was only printed in soft cover, I just have to keep searching the (unalphabetized) turning shelves for the titles I want and hope that maybe someone got the book at another branch but returned it to one of the two we visit.

Back to the book. Flavia is an eleven year old English girl, living in a crumbling manor house in the English countryside in 1950. She has no mother (although maybe her deceased mother isn't actually dead?), an eccentric father and two horrid older sisters (aren't all older sisters horrid from an eleven year old's perspective?). She is also a chemistry prodigy and has a wild imagination. She's smart and she's nosy curious, which makes for a good detective.

I quite liked this book. It had enough twists and turns to keep me on my toes and was very well written (and is a Canadian novel...I wrongly assumed it had a British author). I was particularly impressed that a retired man could capture the essence of an eleven year old girl so well!

I just discovered there are six Falvia de Luce books, four released with the fifth to come in 2013...guess what will be gracing my bedside table next! (oh wait, one more update. An additional four have been added...that make ten [ahem, yay math skills])

Oh, and bonus points. Alan Bradley lives(d) in Kelowna.

If you hadn't already figured it out, I highly recommend this book. And I'm a geek.

Septimus Heap: Queste


Book four. Not my favourite. This book took so long to get to the actual Queste and then I felt like the Queste was rushed and, quite frankly, a little bit too easy. The House of Foryx confused me. And maybe it was supposed to confuse me because the House of Foryx was confusing.


I don't know. I'm into book five now and I'm already enjoying it more than Queste, so it's all good...

PS The horrible picture is a cell phone shot...sorry. I really should know by now that my real camera takes far better pictures!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Septimus Heap: Physik


I'm on track for 52 books this year...so far...but January was one of my better months last year too!

Physik is the third Septimus Heap book and so far I think it was my favourite. It introduced new characters like Snorri, the Northern Trader and Marcellus, the Alchemist and there was time travel (hmmm...there was time travel in the Prisoner of Azkaban too).

I quite liked the way the book ended with a bit of a surprise, especially from Marcellus. My favourite part of this book? Even though there is an evil Wizard that Septimus probably needs to focus on, he didn't really feature in this book. He was there and acknowledged, but the excitement and action and danger came from some else, just as evil. As much as I love Harry Potter and I understand why battles with Voldemort (or because of Voldemort) are so important to the story, it's too bad every year for seven years was focused on escaping one villain. I haven't quite figured out the time line of the first three books...I think maybe it's about two years (can anyone help me out?) but I know that the third simultaneously covered just a few days of present time and a few months of other time, so that might have something to do with it too.

I already started Queste and I'm having trouble keeping the two books apart in my brain, so that's all for now!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Septimus Heap: Flyte


After leaving this at work two nights in a row, I finally brought it home with me last night. And finished it. I enjoyed it, but, as with the first book, the foreshadowing was a little too obvious for me (I'm still chalking it up to being a grown up reading a books written for 9-12 year olds)...

I have started the third book, Physik, and I'm already enjoying it. I'm looking forward to when J is old enough to read these books with me. Chapter books are fun!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Septimus Heap: Magyk


A few years ago we gave Magyk and possibly Flyte to our nephew. I wanted to read them then, but I never got around to it. Last winter, J took gymnastics at the Community Centre and the gym happens to be right next to the library. So we would go to the library after gymnastics and this library is a lot bigger than our library. I kept finding Flyte and Physik, but I could never find Magyk. Well, I lucked in last weekend. I found the first five hanging out in the racks and I scooped them up. Fiona was over tonight and told me it was a good thing I read quickly - I think they all have over 500 pages in them...


I finished Magyk tonight and have already started on Flyte. I really liked it. I had figured out some of the twists pretty early on, but it is classified as ages 9 and up, so that is probably more to do with me being an adult than the plot devices being too obvious.

The book started with Silas Heap's seventh son, Septimus, dying not long after birth. Silas and his wife raise a baby girl born the same day who turns out to be the princess. On her tenth birthday, the Supreme Custodian tries to take her from her family, but the ExtraOrdinary Wizard saves her. And then everyone is on the run. And there are ghosts. And yucky Magogs and Brownies. And Boggarts. Although these boggarts are different from Harry Potter's boggarts. Somehow in my multiple readings of Harry Potter, I never looked up boggart. Apparently I should have!

I'm ready for book two...two chapters in and there are already twists and turns. Probably a good choice for my first book of the year!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fifty-two books in 2012?

What was I thinking...I must be INSANE. Fifty-two books in 2012 is a book a week and it's 18 more books than I read in 2011.

I think it's possible. Look over there to left at my stats. I came flying out of the gate in 2011 - I read twelve books in the first three months of 2011. That was half of my 2011 goal and if I had managed to maintain that pace, I would have devoured 48 books last year. That's just 4 short of my goal. I guess I better get moving and finish my first book for 2012 before I go back to work on Tuesday.

There are no restrictions on where I get my books this year (the book diet ended in the summer). I have to read at least 26 NEW books. I can read more, but at least 26 should be new reads. That's to get me to move away from my old favourites (hello Harry Potter series). And I'm going to try to read more non-fiction. I don't know what that will look like, but I'm going to try.

I'm hoping to make it through the six shelves of books in my bedroom that are either new, borrowed or I read so long ago I can't remember if I want to keep them or not...

As always, I'd love your recommendations. Heck, I need your recommendations. See number 56 of my 101 in 1001 challenge. I need 5 recommendations and no matter what they are, I will read them.

What are your reading goals for 2012?

Wrapping up 2011's reads

How many books read in 2011? 34 + 2 that I gave up on

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio? 28:6

Male/Female authors? 5 male, 18 female, 1 unknown

Favourite book read? Room

Least favourite? Crazy Love (didn't finish it)/Goddess For Hire (did finish it)

Oldest book read? The Courilof Affair (even though the translation wasn't published until 2008, the original was written before 1942)

Newest book read? When We Were Strangers

Longest book title? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Shortest book title? 29

How many re-reads? 12

Books in translation? 1

Most books read by one author this year? 7

How many books were borrowed from the library? 13 (+ 1 reject)

Name a book you've read this year which was recommended by a blogger? Clutter Rehab

So 2011 was a success for me in terms of my reading habits. I made my goals. I read a few more non-fiction books than I thought I would, although I seemed to stay within my comfort zone of memoirs. I read a few horrible books. I skipped a couple of hideous books (those aren't included in my totals, but they were a victory for me since I tend to have trouble putting a book down even when I hate it). I found some new authors.

What fun!

The Woman's Book of Simple Delights


Santa left this in my stocking. It's one of those miniature books. I'm going to stick it in my bag because it has some great suggestions. I love that each page has two sort of related suggestions:

Spend an afternoon at an art gallery


Go to a small neighborhood branch library and browse all afternoon (don't you love that old book smell?)

I guess Santa is trying to tell me to slow down and smell the flowers a bit...probably something I need to be reminded of a little more often.

And with that, step two of my challenge is complete. I'll recap in the morning. Or on Monday. We'll see.

Happy New Year!

Memoirs Are Made Of This


Okay, I enjoyed this. It was kind of fluffy and light, but it was what my brain needed before bed this month (Yay, I'm into December and even though it's now barely January, I'm still in December). I liked Venus. I liked the story. It reminded me of a cross between The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries. It reminded me of my life when I worked for the downtown corporate office. I had just come back to Vancouver and was figuring out my life - my job, my friends, what exactly it was I was doing...

It hasn't been donated yet, so if you're in Vancouver and you want it, I'll give it to you. Or if you're heading this way sometime in the next few months, I'll keep it. It's hard cover, I'm not mailing it. I hate how expensive postage is.

Our Iceberg Is Melting


Um. Yeah. This is a bathtub book that my boss gave us all to read. It's a fable about change and the obstacles and personalities that a group faces when moving forward (or not) with change. I need to read it again because I've already forgotten most of it, but I know that when I read it, I was struck by how well the author illustrated change and our reactions to it.



My grandma gave Mafiaboy to Alex for his birthday, but I ended up reading it first. I really enjoyed it - the technical aspects of how and why mafiaboy hacked a bunch of big name companies like Yahoo! and eBay in 2000 where easy enough for my non-computer brain to understand. There was a human element to it - we'll never know what was actually going on in Michael Calce's head the day he launched the attacks, but I'm happy to believe he was a teenaged computer geek who just went a little too far. I know a bunch of people who hack for fun...one particular group of people claims to do it for fun but leave messages in the systems they hack so that the security people at the hacked website/computer system can improve security...

I vaguely remember the mafiaboy attacks...I was living in a Swiss-Italian bubble at the time of the attacks and had very little access to the internet (and when I did have access, I used it primarily to check hotmail). What I likely remember is the arrest and ensuing fall out and probably only because Calce is Canadian...who knows...

Anyway, I liked it.

My Great Book Challenge resolution for 2012: post books right after reading them so I don't forget what I want to say...