Sunday, July 26, 2015

Book Bingo: Second Card, First Row

My first Books on the Nightstand bingo card was so much fun that I'm playing again and I've just completed the top row. (Click here for earlier posts.) I can't seem to help going overboard; several of the categories have more than one title.

A NOVELLA (or three): The Girl of Fire and Thorns: Stories by Rae Carson [Blackstone/Harper Audio: 7 hr: narrated by Jennifer Ikeda]. I thought I was getting the first novel of the trilogy, which is called The Girl of Fire and Thorns. When I discovered that this is actually a collection of three novellas set in the same medieval fantasy world, where princesses come in size large and behave in believable ways, I thought what the hell, I need a novella for bingo anyway. I'll listen to one. Yeah, right. I was hooked, and listened to all three. Now that I'm familiar with the back stories of some side characters, I'm even more interested in the actual trilogy.

ABOUT A DISEASE: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe [Books on Tape: 9 hr 37 min: narrated by Jeff Harding]. A memoir of a son who connects with his mother through books while she undergoes cancer treatments. "Books are how we take part in the human conversation." This is one of my favourite audiobooks of 2015 so far.

I also read On Immunity by Eula Biss, which takes a compassionate look at the unfounded fears parents have about vaccinating their children against diseases like polio, smallpox and measles. Some go so far as to buy lollipops licked by sick children in order to take immunization into their own control. Favourite quote: "We are continuous with everything here on earth. Including, and especially, each other."

THAT YOU SAW SOMEONE ELSE READING: I was about 150th in the holds queue at the library for Go Set a Watchman when the first copies arrived. One of my colleagues had been quicker to place her hold and so I saw her with a copy and felt a pang of envy. Shortly afterwards, I spotted a copy in a stack of Hits to Go (EPL's bestseller collection: 1 at a time, 1 week loan, no holds, no renewals). I gobbled it up in 2 days, live tweeting some of the passages. Stay tuned for an entire blog post about the book. In short: heartbreaking and recommended.

It was also in the library (where else?) that I saw a girl reading Raina Telgemeier's Sisters from start to finish. She left it on a table afterwards and I read it during my lunch break. This charming graphic novel is based on the author's own experience of a summer road trip when she was a kid. I could very much relate, since I have four siblings and my family travelled all over Alberta for my Dad's work. Great for all ages.

BY AN AUTHOR BORN THE SAME YEAR AS YOU [1960]: I kept checking author's birthdays as I made my way through my reading pile. Several were only off by a year or two, but I realized that serendipity wasn't going to cut it and I would have to do some research in order to fill this bingo square. An online list included many that I have previously enjoyed: George Elliott Clarke, Siobhan Dowd, Deborah Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Nicola Griffith, Nalo Hopkinson, Kathe Koja, Margo Lanagan, Jeannette Walls, Kathleen Winter and Tim Winton. (I've linked to my reviews.)

The library has a poetry collection by George Elliott Clarke that I hadn't seen before: Lasso the Wind. It's a picture book with bright illustrations by Susan Tooke, suitable for all ages. Some of the verses are very short: "A snake passes; / The field rumbles. / A cloud masses; / Down rain tumbles." The two-page spread that accompanies this poem is visually arresting, with red trees, a dark red thundercloud and a green garter snake moving through a field of grain. Fun to share with children.

A picture book seemed kind of like cheating for the bingo square, and there were some authors on the aforementioned list that I have been meaning to read, like Hua Yu, Kij Johnson and Wolf Haas. I'm really pleased that I picked up Resurrection, the first in Haas' Inspector Brenner mystery series (translated by Anne Janusch). It opens with two elderly people frozen to death on a ski lift in Austria. I immediately adored the conversational tone of the narrator.

"Now, coincidentally, it turns out that police officer Simon Brenner, Detective Inspector, or whatever his rank was, has quit the police. Now, you should know, he'd been on the force nineteen years. Because he was twenty-five when he started and now he's forty-four. But he never really got anywhere with the police. That wasn't the real reason why he quit, though, because he'd never been especially ambitious. More the quiet type. A nice guy, actually, I've got to admit."

I look forward to more in this entertaining series.

YOUNG ADULT NOVEL: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman [Listening Library audiobook: 18 hr 10 min: narrated by Mandy Williams and W. Morgan Sheppard]. This is the second in the Canadian fantasy series that began with Seraphina. Seraphina is a wonderful character, half-human and half-dragon coming of age in a Renaissance-type setting where humans and dragons mostly hate each other. Xenophobia, identity and gender issues. I loved it.

I've got six squares left on my bingo card. Can anyone recommend a good parody?

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