August 2021 Reads

I’m so close to finishing my challenge for the year. I recently found my resolution list and I mentioned I wanted to read all of Jane Austen, so we’ll see if that happens lol.

Fiction

River of Lies (B.C. Blues, #5) (R.M. Greenaway)
This is probably my second favourite in the series. A baby goes missing, and Leith and Dion race against the clock to find her. I really do love this series, even if the artistic license with geography drives me crazy sometimes lol. It’s been refreshing reading something set here and makes me feel more confident that I could really use my own backyard as a setting and have it feel new and fresh. I’ve always felt writing what I knew in this way was a bit boring, but this series proves otherwise.

Five Ways to Disappear (B.C. Blues, #6) (R.M Greenaway)
A man is murdered in his front yard, and Leith and Dion have to see if it’s connected to another murder in a local park. Dion’s secrets are starting to shake loose, and there’s an almost sad feeling throughout because you know when they do, the fun is over. I don’t know if there are any more books to come in the series, but I hope there are.

K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood (La Toya Hankins)
Set at college? Check. In the 90s? Check. Involving sororities and fraternities? Check! Gloria, Donna and Kiara forge a bond of sisterhood through their sorority and share their issues with a lack of dating life, unfaithful boyfriends and sexuality kept under wraps. I really loved how the book showed the positive experiences of membership in traditionally African American sororities. It’s nice to find positive portrayals, especially ones that also highlight some of the negative aspects but don’t go down the hazing road that most do. I loved the characters – I have a soft spot for Donna, a Bible quoting connoisseur of cuss words. Every character has a distinctive personality and stands out.

Non Fiction

That Lonely Section of Hell: A Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer Who Almost Got Away (Lorimer Shenher)
This is a look into the Pickton case from an investigator who handled the missing womens’ files and the bumps (more like massive walls) the investigation hit. It’s an infuriating read in many ways, because it really shows that even if one cop wants to find answers, they can’t when everyone else throws up barriers. Be aware, much of this book is more an autobiography and deals with PTSD and other issues, not just the Pickton case. It will also make your blood pressure go up whenever you see the letters VPD.

45/52 – I’m 11 books ahead of schedule now. I have so many unread books on my shelf and I keep buying more.

Books of my Childhood

I was cleaning my office the other day and came across a ton of books from my childhood. It made me reminisce about what I loved to read when I was younger.

The earliest I can remember is Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. My sister and I scribbled in it, ripped the pages and generally treated the book like crap, but only because we loved it. I still love the cat drawings the best.

We had a huge amount of Little Golden Books – mostly Disney stories, like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. We also had a lot of Read Along Records. They were little books with 33 1/3rd records that narrated the book and you read along. All of them were Disney stories like Peter Pan. I can still hear the little chime that told you to turn the page. My grandma bought us both little Winnie the Pooh record players. Yes, I’m that old.

She also bought me the Charlie Brown ‘Cyclopedia series (my sister got a Sesame Street series). I still have all of the hardcover books and I suspect this series is what lead to my love of the World Book Encyclopedia. I’m still mad I never owned a set.

One year on my birthday (9 or 10 years old?) I got A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. I still remember opening it at my party and seeing a photo of the author on the back and getting embarrassed for some reason and handing it to my mom to finish unwrapping. I still have it though, so the inside made a better impression.

I still remember deciding to read The Secret Garden for the first time after finding it in the bottom of a drawer (probably a gift I never read to that point). I feel like it was probably the first big book I read.

Reading was always something we did. After lunch throughout elementary school we had either SQUIRT (Super Quiet Uninterrupted Individual Reading Time) or USSR (Uninterrupted Super Silent Reading). It was a 15 minute block designed to calm us all down after running around at lunch by reading quietly. I remember how cozy I’d feel on a rainy day reading Little House in the Big Woods and imagining myself in a log cabin.

From age ten and up I read a lot of the Babysitter’s Club (I wanted to start my own group, but I hated babysitting lol) and Sweet Valley High (I’m still obsessed with the #95 to #100 Margo series, culminating in The Evil Twin (#100) and The Return of the Evil Twin (Magna Edition, #6)). I’m pretty sure my interest in both twins and sororities started here, although it never occurred to me it was weird a high school had a sorority.

The New Jessica, Sweet Valley High, #32
The New Jessica was one of my favourite SVH books. These covers are the height of 80s awesomeness.

I read lots of Judy Blume, the Fudge series, but especially Blubber, a book about bullying I think they should give all kids to read. I also loved Barthe DeClements Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade and Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You. That book was refreshing since the main character had a learning disability.

My personal favourite series as a kid was Nancy Drew. I read the original yellow hardcovers in my school library – taking them out so many times the school librarian asked me to stop and read something else lol (cut to me taking out The First Book of Stage and Costume Makeup over and over. Don’t ask, I have no idea why). Weirdly I owned only two Nancy Drew hardcovers. I found Nancy Drew Files around the same time and loved those. I still own False Moves, which involved ballet and a missing diamond. They were modernized and had a case summary at the beginning which I loved.

Some of my other favourites were old books of my mom’s. She had a hardcover of Trixie Belden’s Mystery in Arizona that I remember reading (the book went missing after that and I never found it again). A few years later the Trixie Belden series was reissued in softcover and I read a bunch of them (my favourite was the Mystery of the Headless Horseman, where I learned about grafting fruit trees, believe it or not).

My mom also had Annette books, mystery novels based on Annette Funicello. I didn’t read all of them, but I re-read The Mystery at Medicine Wheel a dozen times, which is why my heroine Ruby in Sin City loves horses and lost her mother to tuberculosis. My mom also owned almost every Donna Parker hardcover. The character of Donna Parker wasn’t out there solving mysteries, really, as the books were a lot more realistic and every day life reads – her best friend’s mom has a serious illness which leads to an awkward rift between the friends. I still love reading Donna Parker at Cherrydale and Donna Parker Mystery at Arawak.

I stole The Headless Cupid from my sister. Literally. It’s still on my bookshelf. I had to have it when I saw it dealt with witchcraft (I was very into wicca as a 13-year-old) and didn’t know until about ten years ago it was a series. I bought all of the other books a few years ago and read them all last year and they completely hold up to the test of time. I still love Janie the most.

I also read Lucy Maud Montgomery. A hardcover Anne of Green Gables was in my house – probably my mom’s. I read Anne of Ingleside (with this horrific cover) next, then went back and read the series in proper order. I still can’t remember how I ended up with my favourite of Montgomery’s books and series – Emily of New Moon. I identified with Emily the writer a lot more than I ever did Anne.

In grade 6 (and probably 7, I had the same teacher), he read The Cay and Mara, Daughter of the Nile to our class. Mr. Tibble (affectionately known as Mr. T) always did great voices for each of the characters. I can still hear his voice as Timothy saying “young boss” in The Cay. Mr. T passed away on Valentine’s Day this year, but he left a lot of us with great memories of reading.

I resisted reading “adult” books until I was well out of high school (and then I just jumped straight into Patricia Cornwell, so it was a bit of a change lol). I read the high school standards like Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby, but was obsessed with The Outsiders (I’m sure the movie had a lot to do with it lol). That particular cover is the only I accept as my true Outsiders cover, since it was the first I owned. I re-read it in 2005 and it lead me to writing fan fiction and making some great friends and eventually led me to publishing.

Since then I’ve “grown up” in my reading, with some favourite authors including Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, Lisa Gardner, Dana Stabenow and Kathy Reichs. But when I’m feeling like I need some familiarity and comfort, I pick up those old books from my childhood. Some may not be great literature (how many times can one girl have a boyfriend die, I’m looking at you Jessica Wakefield), but I loved them then and they are still great fun now. I could literally talk about books of my childhood forever, but I’ll stop now lol.

What books did you love as a kid?

July 2021 Reads

I read a lot of non fiction last month, so I’m going to try more fiction this time around.

I am really, really late posting this up. Blame the sun trying to kill us, forest fire smoke and general lethargy.

Fiction

First Bones (Temperance Brennan, #0.5) (Kathy Reichs)
This novella focuses on how Tempe Brennan ended up in forensic anthropology and working for the police. I love origin stories, and despite the huge number of Brennan books Reichs has released, there wasn’t much info on how the early days and her “first bones” came about. I enjoyed the story for that as well as the 80s feel of everything.

Cold Girl (B.C. Blues Crime, #1) (R.M. Greenaway)
I have amassed a small collection of BC authors to read, and this is my first dip into the BC Blues Crime series. This first book is set in the northwest of BC and deals with the RCMP investigating a missing woman case and if it’s connected to recent serial killings. It was fun reading a BC set book, and I really enjoyed the writing of Cal Dion, a cop who recently recovered from a car accident that put him in a coma. The head injury and the effects were dealt with really well. Dave Leith, impatient with Cal, is headed to North Vancouver at the end, which leads into …

Undertow (B.C. Blues Crime, #2) (R.M. Greenaway)
Leith is now with North Vancouver RCMP and finds Cal Dion there as well. Despite enjoying the local setting, I also realized it’s a little harder to read locally set stuff because you notice every little deviation from reality and it can throw you off lol. Dion is picking at an unsolved homicide from before his accident when a young family is killed. As they’re investigating, a local nightclub owner is found bludgeoned in his home. Dion has decided to quit but ends up getting friendly with the business partner of the dead club owner. Leith has to figure out who is responsible and if they’re connected. We learn more about Dion and what happened pre-accident, which adds a lot of stakes and propels you into the next book.

Creep (B.C. Blues Crime, #3) (R.M. Greenaway)
So far this is my favourite in the series. When a dead body is found at an abandoned house and reports come in about werewolf attacks, Dion and Leith have to figure out what’s really going on. Dion gets involved with witnesses so easily, and it can be frustrating, but it’s also the thing that makes him a good cop. His shady past seems like it’s zooming toward him. I really like the introduction of JD, a female cop. I do have to force myself to sometimes ignore little changes in geography. Most readers wouldn’t be bothered at all, but when you’re in familiar territory and you’re obsessive/weird like me, those things stand out … me and artistic license fight a lot lol).

Flights and Falls (B.C. Blues Crime, #4) (R.M. Greenaway)
A woman drives off a twisty highway. A man is found beaten in the bush an hour away. A cop is shot in his own home. Cal Dion thinks these cases are related and has to figure out how. He’s also getting closer to being found out. I am still hoping there’s going to be something that will prove he didn’t do something bad, because I’ve come to like Dion a lot. JD is also a favourite – I wouldn’t mind a spin off with her as a bush pilot somewhere. There are two more books in the series so far.

Non Fiction

No non fic this month.

41/52 – I’ll definitely hit my goal early!

My Big Word Migration of 2021

I am weird with technology.

In some ways, I am fairly modern. I have a smartphone, stream TV shows, can use TikTok and all of my calendar is online.

In other ways … I am ridiculous.

I have been using Office XP for almost 20 years. Why? The biggest reason was because I had it, and it worked. Every time I’d get a new computer, I’d install it and it would function. Even after Word 2007 when docx became the file norm, I just installed the free Compatibility Pack and kept on using Office XP.

I think there was some reluctance to learn something new by upgrading, which is so ironic since I love learning. But upgrading software for me has always been difficult, especially in regards to writing and creating. I become obsessively dedicated to software. I used Netscape 3.0 until it wouldn’t open most websites.

But, as of late, the Compatibility Pack no longer seems to work, and I can’t open docx with little Word 2002 anymore. I had to go online and use the free version of Word in order to open the files, and I figured it was about time I upgraded my almost 20 year old writing software.

OH MY GOD WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO!?

So that was my first reaction to Office 365. I considered LibreOffice, but friends offered codes on their accounts for 365, so I took them up on it, since I have no idea how Word plays with LibreOffice, and with published books to deal with, I couldn’t justify the risk. I may try and play around with it in the future, since I do love open source software.

After spending some time with Word 365, there were benefits.

  • The subscription model ensures you are automatically updating, and therefore not using 20 year old software.
  • Dictation and Read Aloud features are great for writers.
  • Collaboration is easier.
  • You can back up into the cloud and get 1TB of One Drive space.
  • Docx is a smaller file size.
  • Quick Access Tab is helpful.
  • Built-in Print to PDF, but limited in function (no embedding fonts etc. I still use doPDF for that).
  • When you open a document it asks if you want to go back to where you left off, and it takes you there. So helpful for giant novels with hundreds of pages.
  • I can actually open docx files!

But there were also negatives I discovered pretty much immediately.

  • The Ribbon is huge. The Ribbon is ugly. Things were very inaccessible and hard to find. So much clicking to get places!
  • Text and fonts looked different. Not bad, just … different.
  • Doc to Docx conversion not only shrunk file size (yay!), but actual pages (huh?). I lost 1-2 pages in each book, despite the margins, fonts, spacing, etc. all being the same. It’s a mystery I need to solve. (Might be related to the fonts looking different?)
  • Zoom doesn’t remember the zoom preference per document. It always goes back to last used setting, which is obnoxious since Word 2002 remembered it per document. Why take a step backwards?
  • I reordered things on the Home portion of the Ribbon. It didn’t remember it and changed it back to default constantly. Custom stuff I added stayed, so no idea what’s going on there.
  • The Backstage area is cluttered and it takes so many clicks to find what you want. You can’t have it open to Folders instead of Documents.

I was literally close to tears with how much I hated it … which is why I never upgrade my software. But, thanks to my Google skills, I’ve managed to make Word look a bit more familiar and work better for me thus averting a full meltdown over software. Here are a few tips, if you, like me, are traumatized by the huge leap in upgrade difference.

  1. Use the Quick Access Toolbar instead of the Ribbon.
    The Ribbon is big. The Ribbon is ugly. I customized the Ribbon and it kept resetting itself. Until I found a tip online from some else that seemed to enjoy the compact layout of Word 2002 as much as I did. By customizing the Quick Access Toolbar to add the commands I use most (Bold, Italic, alignments, spacing, word count etc) and hiding the Ribbon, I managed to make it look like this:

    Word 365 header
    I moved the Quick Access Toolbar to below the Ribbon, and it looks very similar to olden Word. So much prettier.
  2. Turn off Backstage.
    One of the biggest turnoffs was what happened when I went to open a file. It would take me back to a start page of sorts, where I’d have to press Folders, then find the folder and search through it for the file to open. Took forever. This area, the start page, is called Backstage. It’s stupid.
    Turn it off under File – Options – Save and then check mark to turn off backstage for file open and save. This will pop up an old-school Open File dialog that is so much faster for finding things.

    This is Backstage. I found it useless and annoying.
  3. Change the way Word opens.
    Word default opens to the Backstage area. I found this highly annoying. In Options, I changed the behaviour to have Word open directly to a new document. Much faster. Go to File – Options – General and under Startup Options uncheck Show the Start screen. Now you get a nice, blank page to start with, perfect if you’re a writer and you need to start writing, stat. If you want to try out a template or something else, just click File and you’re in Backstage. Much nicer.

These simple three things made me much more comfortable with Word 365. I’m still stressing out, but at least there’s a minimum comfort level now. My big issue was how to convert 500+ files.

I downloaded a program called Total Doc Converter to convert my files. It was a free trial, and you have to continually click a button to keep converting unless you pay to upgrade, but since I was using it once for these files it was a small price to pay. The downside was any file with custom margins got changed back to standard, so I did those ones (my book files mostly) myself by opening them in Word 365 and using Save As and choosing docx. This maintained the margins. I also used Total Excel Converter for converting my Excel files (because I forgot new Word meant new Excel. I wasn’t ready for all of this lol).

I am still trying to figure out what has changed to shrink my book files by about 1-2 pages each. Nothing in the margins, font spacing or line spacing seems to be different. It happened with the converter and when I did it myself. I’m wondering if it’s purely a screen rendering issue, as the fonts look slightly different as well. I plan to print out some test pages to get a closer look, but if anyone knows what’s going on (did they change the default line spacing or letter spacing perhaps?) let me know. I have a ton of books I may need to overhaul after this switchover.

June 2021 Reads

I’m on track to read more than the 52 books I’ve set out to read in the year.

Fiction

Loveless (Alice Oseman)
Set at a UK college, we follow Georgia Warr, who is sorting out her sexuality while rooming with a sexually free girl her best friend Pip is crushing on. This was a wonderful book with a great message about asexuality, finding who you are, navigating relationships and the fact that platonic love can be as important as any other kind of love. The UK setting and university environment was great, and I loved all of the characters.

Moxie (Jennifer Mathieu)
Viv creates an anonymous feminist zine at her football crazed Texas high school to fight back against sexism and a multitude of unfair practices. Despite being set in present day, this book manages to bring back so much nostalgia for me of the early to mid 90s. Viv’s mom was a Riot Grrrl and Viv takes her inspiration from old zines from the 90s her mom has kept. I loved this book, and I can’t wait for Mathieu’s next one, a feminist reimagining of The Outsiders, due out in October. Moxie was made into a Netflix movie, and I thought it was a good adaptation, despite a few changes that were made.

Non Fiction

The Mammoth Book of Jack The Ripper (Edited by Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund)
This is a really dense book. Small print and close to 500 pages. It gives an overview of the facts of the case, then many, many takes from other authors and “Ripperologists”. In the end … I honestly don’t care who Jack the Ripper was and it seems pointless to conjecture, so I was bored getting through this.

How to Write a Series (Sara Rosett)
A guide about writing series novels. I picked this up in hopes I could sort out future projects and how the structure of different types of series might fit what I’m planning. I learned a few things I didn’t know about different series types, and some general questions to get me started about planning future series.

Romance Your Brand: Building a Marketable Genre Series (Zoe York)
This was a great overview of putting together a lasting series. The information applies to a series of any genre, but there is a definite lean towards romance. There are lots of exercises to get you thinking about what type of series you want to write, how to maintain it and what will carry you through. As an added bonus, York is Canadian, which appealed to me as a Canadian writer.

Twins Talk: What Twins Tell Us About Person, Self, and Society (Dona Lee Davis)
I had high hopes for this book assuming it was going to be an interview/spotlight on sets of twins and hearing from them how they feel about identity etc. It’s more of an academic paper, and unfortunately the author spent more time talking about other studies and how their study would actually talk to twins, but there was actually very little from the twin sets they interviewed, which was really disappointing. I would rather have had full on interviews and that’s in. 70% of the book is analysis that was really hard to get through.

Embroidery: A Step-by-Step Guide to More Than 200 Stitches (Lucinda Ganderton)
This book was a Christmas gift so I could learn a bit about embroidery. I cross stitch and I’ve done crewel embroidery. It showed a ton of stitches, but I realized after reading and trying that I really, really can’t learn from photos. I need video to get the exact motion, because my brain loses something if it can’t see every step.

The Life of Twins: Insights From Over 120 Twins, Friends and Family (K&E Twinning Store)
I was a bit reluctant to read this, only because the authors’ seemed to want to hide their identity behind a business, which felt weird to me, especially since they feature so many named twins inside the book. But, this book did have a lot more of the personal story vibe I was going for in the previous twin book I read, I just wish it was more in depth than a one or two line quote here and there.

Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High Altitude Mountaineer (Anatoli Boukreev)
Boukreev wrote journals after his various climbs – Everest, Makalu, K2 and more. All of those diaries are preserved here. The book was completed after his death in 1997, and translated from Russian. Because he wrote it in his native language, his personality and beliefs really shine through in a way that helps to expand other books (focusing on the 1996 Everest disaster). The world lost a great mountaineer when he died. I really enjoyed this. The Sovietness of his upbringing and the change the collapse had on him really informed so much of his outlook on the mountains and climbing.

Current Progress:

36/52 – I’m ahead of schedule in my reading. According to Goodreads I’ve read just over 10,000 pages so far this year. Last year my page count was 18K but over 96 books (many of them plays).

May 2021 Reads

At the first of the month I was ahead 4 books and reading a lot more. Nice weather helps.

Fiction

You Should See Me In A Crown (Leah Johnson)
Liz Lighty is a high school senior in the Midwest, whose dreams of attending a prestigious college are in jeopardy when she doesn’t get a scholarship she was counting on. The solution? Win the prize money for being elected Prom Queen at her prom obsessed high school. A F/F romance, anxiety attacks, a great group of friends, and Liz’s experiences being a black girl at her predominantly white school all come together during the competition. I loved the little observances and feelings about her being the “other” at her school, as well as a F/F romance treated so normally.

Tailspin (Sandra Brown)
A cargo pilot crashes while taking a mysterious package to a destination during heavy fog. When he and the recipient meet up, they’re soon followed, and the pilot discovers he’s hauling more than he bargained for. I found this book interesting for the flight stuff. It’s a romance and a thriller, but I wasn’t completely engaged with it.

Roadside Crosses (Kathryn Dance, #2) (Jeffery Deaver)
The second novel of the Kathryn Dance series picks up shortly after the events in book 1. I enjoyed the book more than the first in some ways, mostly because so many of the players were already familiar to me, so it didn’t feel very crowded like the first book did. The primary case is of roadside memorials being left before people are attacked, and how it relates to a local blog that may be prompting the killer to target people.

The Broken Window (Lincoln Rhyme, #8) (Jeffery Deaver)
Another Lincoln Rhyme book that kept me guessing until the end. I also enjoyed that this one is carrying on a bit from the previous book, and Lincoln has a nemesis to worry about. Overall, I enjoy these books so much because of the characters and the intricate plotting.

Non Fiction

Everest The Cruel Way (Joe Tasker)
This book tells the story of the 1981 British expedition to climb the West Ridge of Everest in the winter without oxygen. It was interesting from the perspective of an early climbing expedition without all of the modern technology and extras people have today. Tasker died a year after this expedition on the Northeast Ridge of Everest.

Everest: Alone at the Summit (Stephen Venables)
This recounts the Everest 88 expedition to climb the Kangshung Face of Everest. It was an interesting look at a part of the mountain I didn’t know very much about, and definitely has more of a climbing vibe than other books.

Current Progress:

26/52 – I’m way behind last year, but I’m also not reading Shakespeare which is why I had such a huge number of reads last year. I’m still ahead of schedule. I’m half way through the challenge and not the year, so everything’s on schedule.

April 2021 Reads

I was one book ahead at the end of March. Reading was a bit slow despite all the time I had. I’m finding it hard to concentrate at the moment.

Fiction

The Sleeping Doll (Kathryn Dance, #1) (Jeffery Deaver)
I really went back and forth on this book. I enjoyed Kathryn Dance’s character when she was introduced in the Lincoln Rhyme book The Cold Moon. I found there to be too many characters, especially law enforcement, and too much life outside of the case. But some of the secondary characters (the cult victims) I really enjoyed their interactions and stories.

Smokescreen (Eve Duncan, #25) (Iris Johansen)
I keep reading this series even though it annoys and frustrates me. At least this time the bad guy was a woman, which is at least a change. But, as always, the baddie is a sex crazed loon. I’m really tired of that trope. The baddie is always controlling and sex crazed abusive. Always. And every character is egotistical, bullish, uber-independent to the point of stupidity and controlling beyond belief. I can’t think of anyone who’d want to actually spend time with people like this. I have one more in this series that I got as a gift, and after that I think I’m out.

The Persuasion (Eve Duncan, #26) (Iris Johansen)
Yep, I’m out. It’s another sex-crazed lunatic. It’s more characters being total hypocrites (I can look after and do everything myself!/How dare you think you can do this alone?). Ugh. I found myself skimming so much of it because they grate on me so badly. I almost want to go back and read the first few in the series to see if they were always like this and it took me time to get annoyed with it, or if it actually developed into this.

Non Fiction

Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season (Nick Heil)
During the initial pandemic, I read a lot of books about the 1996 Everest season, so it’s only fitting that a year later, during more pandemic, that I dip into the 2006 season. Heil’s book is a great overview of the different groups and the deaths that took place during the 2006 season on the North side of Everest. I was really unfamiliar with the North side, so it was nice to learn more about the climbing from that side.

Dead Lucky (Lincoln Hall)
Part of the 2006 North side Everest season, Hall was declared dead after summiting Everest, when he developed cerebral edema and could not be helped down the mountain. A day later, climbers going for the summit came across a relatively lucid Lincoln Hall and a huge rescue operation was undertaken. In Hall’s own words, this book covers the climbing season and his extraordinary tale of survival. I really enjoyed this one. Hall is a great writer, and reconstructing his delirious moments on Everest could not have been easy.

The Other Side of Everest (Matt Dickinson)
Still on the North side, but now we go back to 1996. The storm that killed so many on the South side (covered in many other books, see May 2020 for some reviews) is told from the point of view of climbers on the North side in this book. Dickinson didn’t climb during the storm, and this book is more about actually climbing Everest than the events of 1996. I think this book does the best job of illustrating how awful being at altitude is physically and how horrible climbing Everest is.

Legs on Everest: The Full Story of His Most Remarkable Adventure Yet (Mark Inglis)
Back to 2006 North side of Everest and here we follow climber and double leg amputee Mark Inglis. He first recounts his time climbing Cho Oyu, and then climbing the North route of Everest in the 2006 year that Nick Heil also wrote about. This book is written in a diary/conversational style. There’s not a lot of analysis on what the climb is, but more personal experience with a focus on him climbing as an amputee. Inglis’s climb took place during Lincoln Hall’s Everest experience and Nick Heil’s climb, so they are all intertwined – very different experiences of the same time period.

Current Progress:

20/52 – I’m way behind last year, but I’m also not reading Shakespeare which is why I had such a huge number of reads last year. I’m still ahead of schedule.

March 2021 Reads

At the start of the month I was about 2 books ahead of pace and now I’m just one ahead, but I blame that on a very dense non-fic book this month that took a lot of time to get through. I’m much slower than last year, but I read a lot of short Shakespeare last year so I probably won’t be on the same pace this year.

Fiction

Crashing Heat (Richard Castle aka Tom Straw)
This is, I believe, the last book released by TV character Richard Castle – in reality, writer Tom Straw who was contracted to write as Richard Castle during the run of the TV series Castle. The meta commentary is always funny in these books, but the stories are also very engaging. Heat and Rook investigate the death of a college newspaper reporter, and Rook is the prime suspect. Clearing his name sends Heat and Rook into the world of secret societies.

Expedition to the Frozen Lake (Chuck Tingle)
Yes, I have dipped my toe into the Tingleverse. Tingle writes “tinglers”, his own special brand of erotic fiction, along with other books. This is one of them, a “select your own timeline” novel that is not erotic/romantic in nature (Tingle has something for everyone). I honestly marvelled at the construction of the book – the amount of planning so that every storyline converges and has a proper ending must be crazy and I appreciate it from a writer standpoint in so many ways. As a reader, just as you’ve accepted the fact this book features a talking bigfoot named Noro Bibble, a machete-wielding sentient apple and a ghostly woman living at the bottom of the lake, the author hits you with a universal truth on loss, love, and life. People may think Chuck Tingle is writing these books as a joke, but it’s impossible to think that once you read one. His writing is a joyful acceptance of everything different in the world, and it’s sorely needed right now.

The Cold Moon (Lincoln Rhyme, #7) (Jeffery Deaver)
I was so happy to jump back into this world. Lincoln Rhyme is still Morgan Freeman in my head, and Amelia Sachs is still Riann Steele and Dellray is still … Sammy Davis Jr (I KNOW! It’s my imagination and it’s crazy, deal with it). Each book is so good, and I don’t want to spoil this one, but every time you think the case is done it spins you in a new direction and converges things that you completely forgot about. This book also introduces the character of Kathryn Dance, who figures in another series by Deaver. I was worried at first because I hadn’t read any Dance books, but discovered this was her first appearance, so next up I’m going to read the first book in that series, The Sleeping Doll.

Non Fiction

Cults In Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace (Margaret Thaler Singer)
I picked this book up out of a local Little Free Library as I had a germ of an idea for a cult-based thriller. It’s a very dense book that explains the definitions, techniques and recovery of cult members. I wish it had had case studies of specific cults (breaking down what type they are, their history, what happened to/with them etc) and maybe studies of specific people who got out, but it was mostly general information.

Current Read Count – 13/52 (I’m one book ahead of schedule)

February 2021 Reads

I had a really tough reading month in January and only got through 3 books. Here’s hoping for a better February.

Fiction

Covenant (Potomac University, #2) (Rashid Darden)
This is the follow up to Lazarus, Darden’s debut novel. It follows on Adrian and his relationship with star basketball player Isaiah and Isaiah’s reluctance to be fully out and sever ties with his girlfriend.

Push Girl (Chelsie Hill & Jessica Love)
This YA novel is about Kara, a dancer and high school student who is in a car accident that renders her paraplegic. I liked the book, but I really wish it had gone deeper. I felt like a lot was missing in terms of physical recovery and so on. But it was an YA book, so a lot of the focus was on her friends, boyfriend, school etc.

Non Fiction

Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History (Eve Lazarus)
This book focuses on a lot of historical Vancouver places and buildings, their history and what became of them. There’s lots of great photos and I learned a lot about places and people I never knew about before. My dad also contributed to one of the sections in the book.

Mistakes to Run With (Yasuko Thanh)
This memoir is one of those books that makes a writer feel like they aren’t good with words and don’t have the life experience to write anything worthwhile. For real though, the poetic way Thanh recounts her life as a teenage runaway and prostitute in Victoria and Vancouver, her struggles with mental illness and her life as a writer shows why she’s won numerous writing awards.

All God’s Children (Rene Denfeld)
Denfeld is also a fiction author (I have a couple of her books in my TBR pile), but this book is non fiction about the formation and nature of ‘street families’ – connective groups formed by youth living on the streets. It deals with the violent nature of particular families in the Portland area in the early ’90s to 2000s. I really enjoyed this – an episode of ER dealt with the fantastical side of it in an episode years ago, and I liked learning more about it from a sociological point of view. It covers an extremely sad case of a young woman with disabilities, Jessica Kate Williams, and how she was turned against for violating “code” and murdered by her street family. The quotes and interview bits from the murderers is particularly disturbing. Overall, this was a great book.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 9/52 I’m finally on pace! 

January 2021 Reads

New year, new Goodreads challenge. I’ve set my goal at 52 again (1 book per week).

Fiction  

Archangel Fallen (Spectre, #3) (C.W. Lemoine)
Book 3 in the Spectre series, it begins where the last book ended. We follow Cal as he’s pursued by the police and government and trying to uncover why members of his team are being killed. This book doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending, although it does lead into the next book. I’m a little military thriller worn out now, so I found it a good place to pause this series for now.

Lazarus (Potomac University, #1) (Rashid Darden)
This book is a re-read for me, as Darden is hosting a book club to read his works. This is the first book we’re tackling. It follows Adrian, a sophomore at Potomac who is navigating his life as a black gay man on a predominantly white campus. His involvement with a Greek organization is a primary plot point and how it affects his relationship with poet Savion.

Non Fiction

Solutions and Other Problems (Allie Brosh)
I really wish I liked this book more because I loved her previous one. Some stories were hilarious (Richard, Becky and her sister), but most fell flat. I always felt that recounting her childhood was the best of her work. The present day or recent present stuff felt forced, and considering the personal issues Brosh was suffering from (health problems, depression, the suicide of her sister), it makes sense that they didn’t have the same hilarity and joy as her previous work.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 3/52

I’m behind by two books so far.