Sunday, 21 June 2015

Three Years Later

Here it is, three years later.  I'm still reading, but I'm not writing.  Just like in the picture from my recent stay in Banff, Alberta, there's a little darkness but lots of light, there's a bit of cloud & mist, but the sun is shining through.  Overall, it's a beautiful existence.  I'm enjoying the single life.  I am now the undoubtedly the mistress of the remote control, in more ways that just the tv. 

Recent travels in books have taken me to Midworld in search of The Dark Tower.  I have finally embarked on this quest with Stephen King and I'm wondering what took me so long.  I've finished The Wolves of The Calla and have two more books to read to finish the quest. 

I've been to Mars with the Martian, written by Andy  Weir.  I saw the trailer at the theatre last night and I will definitely go to see it.

Let's see, where else have I been?  I'm no longer doing the Around The World in 52 books challenge.  I did eventually finish it, but it took longer than 1 year.  This year, I've become a serial killer.  Janice's Serial Slasher Challenge.  I'm currently reading The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearn.  In fact, today I start book 5, Trapped.  I love Oberon.  In fact, if it wasn't for Oberon, I don't think I would have continued this series.

I've been to Wales recently with Among Others by Jo Walton.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.  It was mystical, enchanting, and magical.  This book won the 2012 Hugo Award for Science Fiction.

Okay, we all know I get all twisted about genre definitions.  I have my own connotations and heaven help you if you disagree.  I hang onto them zealously.  I'm entitled to my opinions and my OCD proclivities.  To me, science fiction is... well, science.  Yes, fantasy is a sub-genre of science fiction, I will give you that.  But fantasy is.... well, fantasy.  There's not much science in this book hence I discard the notion that it's science fiction.  Still, I'm thrilled it won such a prestigious award.

But one can't pigeon hole this book in with some of the paranormal or urban fantasy pulp fiction crap that's threatening the minds of our young readers and ever present on the top favourite lists everywhere.  This book is mature, sophisticated, and actually has a strong message for our young women.  It's okay to be different, it's desirable even.  Be okay with that difference, embrace it.  Seek out like-minded people and find your community.  We all want to belong, but maintain your individuality and don't sacrifice your integrity by seeking the shallowness that is popularity.

And blessed be - this is not a series book.  It's so refreshing to read a book that is finite in it's own.  Leave something to my own imagination and creation.

Enough of waxing eloquent (or maybe not so eloquent).  I'm going shopping.  I found a colouring book that I have to have.  I need pencil crayons too. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Snowman

Around the World in 52 Books - 8/52 (Norway)

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Click here for my Goodreads Review.

4 out of 5 stars


I like a good mystery.  And this was a good mystery.  I couldn't wait to get into my car and head to work each morning to listen to Harry Hole's adventure with the Snowman.

I don't know what to write my commentary on.  It's easier when there is something controversial in a book, or when I dislike a book.  But it seems that the more I like a book, the harder it is for me to write anything more than, "Wow!  I loved this story!"

Maybe I'm just a critical person by nature.  So maybe I'll write more about the elements of the story that kept it from being a 5 star for me.  Snowmen are not scary, and as a serial killer's calling card, they are not efficient.  The murders happen during the first snowfall and likely there isn't enough snow to build a snowman.  Plus, it's time consuming to make a snowman.  There would be a lot of footie-prints left for forensic analysis.  I understand the reasons why the killer chose this as part of his MO, but I didn't think it was realistic.

I think that's the best I can come with.  I'm too stressed and unfocused right now.  I have little energy for anything but to park my rear in my chair and play mindless computer games (Mine sweep) and read.

I've been reading other books than just this challenge.  According to Goodreads I'm 3 books ahead on my 2012 goal and 1 book behind on the Around the World challenge.  Maybe by tonight, I'll have book 9 out of 52 done.  And that one will likely generate a bit more of a commentary.

Monday, 20 February 2012

People of the Book

Around the World in 52 Books - 7/52 (Bosnia)

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

Click for my Goodread's Review

3 out of 5 stars

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It occurs to me that I should include the description of these books since I don't do a review of the book.  So here goes (from Goodreads):

  In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding - an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair - she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation.

I liked the premise of this novel - tracing back the stories that make up the history of an artifact.  It made me think about other objects that have a history.  We see them in a museum, and admire them, but don't really consider what their stories are. 

I recall going to a display of Titanic artifacts when we were in Vegas a few years back.  We already knew part of each item's history.  They had been recovered from the ocean floor from the wreckage of the horrific sinking of the Titanic.   In James Cameron's "Titanic", we were told the story of two items.   One was the sketches of Rose done by Jack.  The other was the necklace. 

What great fodder for authors!  Take an artifact, any artifact, and create a story about its past.  The Indian headdress, replete in colourful feathers and beads, could have an amazing story of the coming of the white man and the subsequent destruction of a culture.  A white christening gown could tell the story of the settlers crossing the prairies. 

It piques my imagination.  When my son was younger, and we were travelling, we created stories around names on sign posts.  How could you not when you encounter a sign that reads, "Pickle jar Creek" or "Bent Pipe Creek"?

One of the things that irked me in "People of the Book" was that the reader was privy to the stories of the people who handled it and the main protagonist was not.  In the end of the story, the protagonist did discover the name of the illustrator, but did not know the depth of their involvement.  I would have liked it to be a shared journey.  I know, it's a weird preference.

Even though I only gave the book 3 stars (part of that was the confusion I felt because of the timeline), I'm still thinking about it and looking up information on the Sarajevo Haggadah.  Maybe I need to rethink the star rating and bump it up to a 4.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Long Interlude

It's been a while.  I've been reading, just not for the Around the World in 52 Books Challenge.  I've read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Woman in Black (the classic, not the one in theatres), Contempt, and The World's Most Haunted Places since I posted last.

I should be finished one of the books for the challenge soon.  I've been listening to People of the Book for the last few weeks.  Since I only listen for an hour a day on my commute, finishing a book can take a long time.  Stephen King's book The Stand just came out in audiobook, all 47 hours of it.  That would be 47 days of driving.  At 5 days a week, I'd be looking at 9+ weeks.  That would seem like living the novel.

When am I going to listen when I don't have that commute any more?  I'll have to listen at home.  I do have some quilts that I can bind while I listen.  That means I'll have to cut back on my internet time.

I think that's going to happen on its own anyway.  Right now, the amount of time I spend on the internet is largely diversion.  When I no longer need that diversion, who knows what I may get up to.  Maybe I'll start baking again.

I've been so very tired lately.  Not only is work keeping me busy, but this other is all consuming.  I think about it all day long.  I dream about it at night.  I'm getting impatient with the process.

My therapist wants me to take the high road.  My friends all tell me screw the high road.  "You've taken the high road for so many years.  Now it's time to just take the road."

I so excited!  And yet, I'm terrified.  It's a strange mix of emotions.  But for the rest of the evening, I'll try to shovel my thinking to the background and get on with my diversions.  Anne Rice's new book, The Wolf Gift" has its teeth into me and I shall go and indulge.

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Last Nude

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge:  6/52 (France)

The Last Nude, by Ellis Avery

My Goodread's Review

3 out of 5 stars


This book was not my original choice for France.  It was a book I chose for my personal challenge to read a new release each month in 2012. When I started reading this book, I realized that it could also count for the Around the World in 52 Books Challenge.  I'm all about double dipping and making one book count for more than one challenge, so I broke my own rules and swapped out the original selection.  Now that I've clarified that - onwards and upwards.

I'm stumped.  I don't know what kind of a commentary I can write about this book.  I am not an art intellectual, for lack of a better word.  I  know what I like, but I don't understand a lot of it.  I went to  Tamara de Lempicka's website and looked at her paintings.  There are some that I really like.  But ask me about composition or any of that stuff and I'll give you the deer-in-the-headlights stare.  Give me a quilt, on the other hand, and I could happily and obsessively discuss the techniques involved. 

So much for discussing art as a commentary.

I could discuss the total irrelevance of the publisher's write up to the actual story.  Ahh - nah! 

Have I ever told you how much I hate writing book reviews and commentaries?  I remember having to write the dreaded book review in school.  I never did get great marks on them.  If the teacher taught us how to dissect a story and observe the inner machinations of it, I was probably daydreaming during it. 

The only thing I remember being dissected in school was a badger and the boys dragging its entrails around the ball diamond where they had dissected it.  It was in health class.  We had segregated health classes back in those days.  The girls talked about menstruation while the boys went out to the ball diamond and did fun things, like dissecting critters.

But I have digressed.  I was talking about writing book reviews.  The teacher would ask us to write our opinion of the book.  Often my opinion was marked as incorrect.  How can my opinion be incorrect?   Maybe my opinion doesn't agree with what is commonly accepted.  That doesn't make it wrong.  It makes me an individual.

Perhaps that's why I never did like poetry, except for my own.  I recall a teacher asking, "What does green symbolize in this poem?"  Sheesh!  Green could symbolize almost anything.  Let's try a few of them on for size. 
  • Inexperienced as in a green rookie on his first day at work. 
  • Money
  • Colour
  • Alive or fresh, as in a green branch of a tree
  • Envy
Are those the usual connotations of green? Did I get them all? I have always believed that symbolism is as personal as the person interpretting the symbol.  Green, to me could conjour up the memories of the grass stains on my jeans from the first time I got drunk.  The culprit was Lamb's Dark Navy Rum.  Needless to say, I don't drink rum anymore.  If I was to write a poem and reference "green knees", who would get the connection?  It certainly wouldn't be my grade 10 English teacher.

Okay, so maybe I didn't get good marks based on my writing skills and not my opinion.  And maybe the symbolism of green could be determined in the context of the poem.  I'll concede those points.  But I still don't like writing book reviews.

It's midnight and time to think about going to bed.  I think I've blathered on enough tonight.  Perhaps I should change my blog name to "She Blathers".   I'll sleep on it.

One of my blogging friends always ends his entries with "Thanks for reading." I think that's a nice sentiment.  If you've gotten this far and haven't given up on me being a lost cause, thanks for reading!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Book Thief

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge:  5/52 (Germany)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My Goodreads Review

5/5 stars


I'm going to be late for work, even though I am my own boss and don't have to be at the office by any per-ordained time.  It's just that it's JANUARY!  I have five more payrolls to do, and two more GST reports to file (three more if I count my own) by the end of the month and time is running out!  I hope my blathering doesn't sound rushed or incoherent.  Okay, sometimes it's incoherent when I'm not in a rush.  I don't need anyone pointing that out.

So, commentary on the book.  Did I tell you that I loved it? 

Do you peek ahead when you are reading a book?  Or do you like to savour the suspense to the very end?

I peek.  Not at the very end of the book, but at various spots throughout.  It relieves the tension and allows me to slow my reading down so that I can enjoy it instead of rushing through like a crazed woman on speed.  I miss things that way, and I don't like to miss anything. Don't leave me out of the loop or I'll come running over and ask, "What did you say?"  Yes, I'm one of those annoying people.

If you believe that peeking will destroy the story, you may not want to read this book.  AND, you may not want to read any further in this entry.  We'll wave goodbye to each other right here.  Bye!

Zusak writes with spoilers!  Shocking!  You learn fairly early on that Rudy dies.  Zusak explains why he reveals that tidbit.  The audience for whom he writes is children.  He tells them up front what is going to happen so that they can prepare themselves.  He also tells them to create suspense.  I know you are asking how giving away a spoiler like that can build suspense instead of desroying it.  Because you don't know when or how it's going to happen.

It's pretty hard to flip pages on an audiobook so his style suited me perfectly. 

I've run out of things to say.  I had better get a move on and get to work.  I don't want a bunch of  grimacing employees flooding up my email, or cursing me on the phone.  I have finished the 6th book out of the challenge as well and I will likely write about that tonight, or tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


I was recently interviewed by one of my fav's, Kat who writes as The Auzzie Zombie Blogger.. mmmm brains!  She may even get me reading the odd zombie story.  Here is the interview here.

Thanks for interviewing me, Kat.  It was fun!