Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's All a Game

It's All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of CatanIt's All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


  • Trivial Pursuit was invented in Canada.
  • The planning of the attack on Pearl Harbor involved a D&D Style Dungeon Master.
  • Backgammon was a huge gambling fad in the jet set 1970s. 

These are just a few of the odd facts I learned from this fascinating look as board games. Chess and artificial intelligence technology are recurring themes, but most board games that I can think of (and a few I never heard of before) get a spotlight that shows not only how they developed, but what they influenced and where they affected stuff you wouldn't expect. If you are a fan of table top games this book is for you.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Citizens of London

Citizens of London: The Americans who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest HourCitizens of London: The Americans who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This well written history made the Blitz much more real to me than it had been before. The information about the people and the political maneuvering was fascinating, the military planning parts went into more detail than I was interested in. Reinforced my impression of Roosevelt (not that great) and it was funny to hear the contemporary accounts of how people saw Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Lisa's Review: The Only Child

The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr. Lily Dominick is a forensic psychologist. She was orphaned as a child when her mother was brutally attacked by a bear (though this explanation never did sit well with Lily).

Her most recent patient, Michael, is unlike any she has had before. Not only does he claim to be more than two hundred years old, but he also tells Lily that he knew her mother.

I picked this book up because I was intrigued by the Goodreads synopsis "[Andrew Piper] radically reimagines the origins of  gothic literature's founding masterpieces - Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula." I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but I ended up with a read that hooked me on the first page, and kept the pages turning.

This is my third book read for the 11th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!

Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!: Requiem for a Divided CountryOh Canada! Oh Quebec!: Requiem for a Divided Country
by Mordecai Richler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was published in 1992 at which point the future of Quebec as a province of Canada was in doubt.
"As I write, late in September 1991, Quebec is pledged to definitely, but not necessarily, hold a referendum on sovereignty by next October. Or, on the other hand, the referendum could deal with the rest of Canada's binding offer for renewed federalism. Or, if such an offer were near, the referendum could be delayed. Or, instead of a referendum, there could be an election in 1993 to settle the question once and for all, but only for another decade." (p. 228)
The tone of the whole book is biased, snarky, and highly irreverent. This is what gives it its charm. It was a bit like listening to a very well read, highly informed person on the barstool next to you rant about the sad state of affairs among the idiots elected to govern. The french-language sign vigilantes, anti-semitism, and the folly of the building in Montreal for the 1976 Olympics are among the topics Richler touches on in his survey of Quebec politics in the 1980s. I enjoyed this book, and learned a lot from it as an historical document.
This book counts toward the 11th Canadian Book Challenge.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: The Spy

The SpyThe Spy by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most of this novel takes the form of a letter from Mata Hari about her life that she is writing so it can be given to her daughter. The last part is a letter from the lawyer who was defending her life against charges of treason. The part from Mata Hari's point of view was fascinating and compelling. According to the author's afterword it was also historically factual and he recommends Pat Shipman's
Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari as further reading on the subject. The part from the lawyer's point of view wasn't as good and seemed a bit tacked-on.

Monday, July 24, 2017

24in48 Readathon Final Update

I completed the #24in48 readathon. Here are my answers to the wrap-up questionnaire.
  1. How many books did you read? Pages? (If you didn’t keep track, tell me that too!) 
    I finished 3 books, began a 4th, read parts of 2 that were already in progress, and read several short stories from other books. No idea how many pages that was. 
  2. How many hours did you read?
    I read for a total of 18.5 hours. Not the full 24, but I was happy with my total.
  3. What do you think worked well in this readathon?
    I didn't play along with any of the challenges, but I enjoyed reading them and I visited a little bit among book bloggers who were readathoning. Overall I thought it all went quite smoothly.
  4. What do you think could be done to improve the readathon for next time?
    I have no suggestions for the organizers as their part all went beautifully as far as I could see. Personally I think remembering to sun-screen before reading outside for hours would be a good idea and coordinating schedules better with my husband so I don't have to go anywhere all weekend would also be good. I noticed some people shifted their 48 hours a bit (mostly for time-zones) and that might work better for me as well if I adjusted the 48 hours to start earlier Friday night and end earlier on Sunday evening.
  5. Will you participate in a future 24in48 readathon?
    Definitely! I met two out of my three goals and had fun reading. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

24in48 Readathon: Hour 34 Update

I have read 12 hours out of the first 34 of the #24in48 readathon. 
So far I finished 2 books (Agatha Christie's The Big Four and Paul Coelho's The Spy); read 4 short stories, listened to an audiobook when I was in the car, and made progress on Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!  
Now it is time for coffee and Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

24in48 Readathon: Hour 14 Update

I have read 4.75 hours out of the first 14 of the #24in48 readathon. I finished Agatha Christie's The Big Four and listened to an hour of Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warnings while stuck in traffic.
Next up: either Paul Coelho's The Spy or Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Readathon this Weekend!

Lots of Reading Options!
This weekend (beginning at midnight Friday) is the 24 in 48 Readathon. I have a huge pile of books ready to go (these are options, I have no illusion that I could read them all in the next few days).
I need to stop at the store tomorrow and stock up on snacks.
I will have to do some driving this weekend (family chauffeuring) and I have an audio-book going in my car so I can read during that time. I will be tracking my reading on a paper log (already printed up) and will post updates here at least a couple of times during the weekend. I will also tweet at least a little bit about the readathon @urbanquilternh.

I have 3 goals for the readathon:

  1. I am currently 2 books behind on my Goodreads goal for the year of reading 101 books and I want to get on track with that
  2. I want to read some short stories for the Deal Me In Challenge which I am way behind on -- the books for that are in the pile
  3. I want to get as close as I can to reading for 24 hours
If you want to share in the insanity you can still sign up at #24in48

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