Happy holidays, everyone!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I came across The Listener by Shira Nayman serendipitously while browsing a book site. It looks really good. The description on the author's website says:

TWO YEARS AFTER THE END OF WORLD WAR II, a mysterious figure, Bertram Reiner, appears at Shadowbrook, a private asylum whose elegant hallways, vaulted ceilings, and magnificent grounds suggest a country estate more than a psychiatric hospital. At first, the chief psychiatrist -- as genteel as his aristocratic surrounds -- considers his charismatic patient to be a classic, though particularly intriguing, case of war neurosis. But as treatment progresses, Dr. Harrison's sense of clarity clouds over, and he is drawn into Bertram's disquieting preoccupations.

Then, late one night, an intruder is sighted on the hospital grounds, the first in a series of uncanny events that appear to the doctor to be strangely linked; clues abound, yet the truth about Bertram seems always to slip away. Meanwhile, Dr. Harrison's own long-buried troubles reemerge with brutal force. As the careful contours of his existence begin to waver, the doctor is plunged into dangerous, compulsive territory.

When Dr. Harrison finds himself spying on his head nurse, Matilda, even following her one midnight through the underground tunnels that join the hospital buildings, he knows there is no turning back. He is desperate to get to the bottom of the intertwining mysteries connecting Bertram, Matilda, and himself, and senses that everything in his life -- and theirs -- is at stake.

Set against the backdrop of the insanity of war, The Listener explores the havoc historical trauma plays with the psyche, and illuminates the uncertain boundary between sanity and insanity. Shira Nayman's storytelling is mesmerizing. The Listener is a riveting tale of madness, mystery, and passion that excavates the dark corners of the human heart and mind. It is a work of rare depth and power.

Publication date: September 29, 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser is from Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (please keep in mind that this is from an ARC and the book will be published January 5, 2010) from page 58:

Straightaway I saw the teeth, just below eye level. They weren't in even rows, but all a jumble between two long dark pieces that must have been the creature's mouth and jaw.

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

This was the first time that I've taken part in the book blogger holiday swap. It was fun and just the thing to kick of the holiday season. I chose to go international and so last week I received a package of goodies from Brussels!

It was a very pleasant surprise when I got home from work to find this box. My daughter encouraged me not to open it until Christmas Day but I knew I wanted to compose a blog post about it so I compromised and took a picture of the contents still wrapped in the paper they came in. I can't tell you how difficult it was (and is) not to rip open that paper! Nevertheless, I didn't (and haven't), but the box, due to customs regulations, lists the contents so I know there is a mouth-watering treat in there too. There is also a very nice note which I did open. It mentions that choosing a book for someone who owns a bookstore proved to be a challenge. I actually hadn't thought of that before now but yes, of course it would be! Whatever the book is though - just the thought that it's come from someone in Brussels is so much fun. So, thank you, thank you to the kind, generous person who sent this gift to Canada!

Next week, I will post another picture with the contents revealed!

We caved....

Yes, we did.

My husband and I brought one of the two abandoned cats to our bookstore. We'll keep the little bruiser there for the winter months. The other cat, Gracie, (we started calling them George and Gracie) is holed up in a large-ish hollowed out piece of foam insulation (actually it looks better than it sounds) and seems to be okay staying there at night. She crawls out in the mornings and runs through the snow to my front door for breakfast.

I'm crossing my fingers that both arrangements will work out for George and Gracie!

ETA: Our landlord at the bookstore has told us we can't have a cat there. So after four days we had to bring him home. It's too bad because the cat had got quickly used to the store and people seemed to like him quite a bit. Well, back to the drawing board.

Review: HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger

Twins Julia and Valentina inherit a London flat from an aunt they’ve never met. To satisfy their aunt’s last will they must live in it for one year before they can sell it. They settle in and discover London, their neighbours and the local cemetery which their flat abuts and which is where their aunt is interred.

Right away I have to say I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and the story of the twins and their forays into London pulled me right in. As a matter of fact I felt that London with its parks, hills and cemetery was a character in and of itself.

I loved the debut novel by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, too, so I was a definitely a bit biased towards liking Her Fearful Symmetry and it didn’t disappoint. Like the first book, Her Fearful Symmetry also has an element of fantasy that is fully fleshed out and is an integral part of the plot.

I thought the story line took some time to evolve but it was done nicely and kept me interested and turning pages. I’ve seen other reviews which are somewhat negative in terms of the plot taking too long to get into but I didn’t have that problem at all. As a matter of fact I enjoyed reading it so much that that’s all I wanted to do – stay home and read this book. I kind of resented having to go into work. Don’t tell my boss.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I'm really looking forward to Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Publication date: December 29, 2009.

From the publisher's website:

An astonishing, hotly anticipated new novel from the great literary fantasist and creator of Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde.

As long as anyone can remember, society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. From the underground feedpipes that keep the municipal park green to the healing hues viewed to cure illness to a social hierarchy based upon one's limited color perception, society is dominated by color. In this world, you are what you can see.

Young Eddie Russett has no ambition to be anything other than a loyal drone of the Collective. With his better-than-average red perception, he could well marry Constance Oxblood and inherit the string works; he may even have enough red perception to make prefect.

For Eddie, life looks colorful. Life looks good.

But everything changes when he moves with his father, a respected swatchman, to East Carmine. There, he falls in love with a Grey named Jane who opens his eyes to the painful truth behind his seemingly perfect, rigidly controlled society.

Curiosity--a dangerous trait to display in a society that demands total conformity--gets the better of Eddie, who beings to wonder:
Why are there not enough spoons to go around?
Why is everything--and everyone--barcoded?
What happened to all the people who never returned from High Saffron?
And why, when you begin to question the world around you, do black-and-white certainties reduce themselves to shades of grey?

Part satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, this is the new world from the creative and comic genius of Jasper Fforde.

Teaser Tuesday!

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser is from page 60 of The Apple by Penelope J. Holt:

Herman took his mother's arm. Isydor helped Uncle Avram and Aunt Hannah, who were struggling to keep up with the press of bodies that flowed like a torrent, driven by shrill, incessant commands, towards the assembly points and railroad siding.

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

Last week I received Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.

The description of Remarkable Creatures on the author's website reads:

In 1810, a sister and brother uncover the fossilized skull of an unknown animal in the cliffs on the south coast of England. With its long snout and prominent teeth, it might be a crocodile – except that it has a huge, bulbous eye.

Remarkable Creatures is the story of Mary Anning, who has a talent for finding fossils, and whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles such as that ichthyosaur shakes the scientific community and leads to new ways of thinking about the creation of the world.

Working in an arena dominated by middle-class men, however, Mary finds herself out of step with her working-class background. In danger of being an outcast in her community, she takes solace in an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, a prickly London spinster with her own passion for fossils.

The strong bond between Mary and Elizabeth sees them through struggles with poverty, rivalry and ostracism, as well as the physical dangers of their chosen obsession. It reminds us that friendship can outlast storms and landslides, anger and and jealousy.

I'm really looking forward to reading this book over the holidays!

And The Winner Is......

My contest for a CSN bookcase ended yesterday. I used to choose a winner and the first number that came up was 22. So, that means the winner of the bookcase is:

Literary Feline!

Please email with your contact information at persianpickle at hotmail dot com.

Thanks to all who entered and congratulations Literary Feline!!

Don't forget!

Don't forget to enter my contest for a chance to win a CSN Bookcase!

The contest closes at the end of today at 10 p.m. I will choose a winner using Good luck!

Books Bought

My friend Cindy hosts this weekly meme profiling books bought recently. You can see her recent purchases here.

I know I shouldn't buy any books with the holidays coming on but I've tempted fate and went and bought one. The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan attracted me at first glance because of its cover and then by the description on the inside flap:

She came into the world in the year 1577, to the howling accompaniment of a ferocious winter storm. As the daughter of starving refugees fleeing violent persecution in Persia, her fateful birth in a roadside tent sparked a miraculous reversal of faimily fortune, culminating in her father's introduction to the court of Emperor Akbar. She is called Mehrunnisa, the Sun of Women. This is her story.

I enjoy historical fiction and I'm looking forward to reading this book!

Abandoned Cats...

These poor cats were abandoned and (against the advice of some) I gave them food. They were starving and ate that food so fast! Now the orange one found a small gap under my enclosed front porch and stays there at night. I don't know where the black one goes. I can't let them in my house - I have a dachshund and two house cats already. But it's getting cold out and I'm afraid they'll freeze. On the bright side though, they both look a bit healthier than they did when I first started feeding them two weeks ago. I just have to figure out something for the cold winter months ahead.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This book, The Private Patient by P.D. James was just released on November 24th. This is the sort of mystery I love and I'm looking forward to getting it!

The description of this book, taken from reads:
With all the qualities that P. D. James’s readers have come to expect: a masterly psychological and emotional richness of characterization, a vivid evocation of place and a credible and exciting mystery.

When the notorious investigative journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, books into Mr. Chandler-Powell’s private clinic in Dorset for the removal of a disfiguring, long-standing facial scar, she has every prospect of a successful operation by a distinguished surgeon, a week’s peaceful convalescence in one of Dorset’s most beautiful manor houses and the beginning of a new life. She will never leave Cheverell Manor alive. When Adam Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate the murder – and a second death occurs – even more complicated problems than the question of innocence or guilt arise.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser is from Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. From page 180:
Marijke put it on her kitchen table and spent some minutes hunting for a Stanley knife as the package was almost completely covered with tape and beseechments to HANDLE WITH CARE. It looks like it's from an insane person.

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