June 29, 2007

Finally... I'm a Bad-Ass!

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After years of carrying the title of Goody-Two-Shoes, I'm now officially a bad-ass! Wahoo! Take that 8th Grade Homeroom!


Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Thanks to Kristy, Stephanie and Kailana for the link.

June 28, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Desperation

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Today’s question is suggested by Carrie.

What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?
If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Going to squeeze this in!

Man, I can't stop reading. I've thought of this before. If it's in front of my face, I read it. As an experiment, I tried not to read once. It wasn't possible. I was thinking to myself about how the illiterate see the world. I couldn't imagine it. I've been reading for so long I feel like I've been born reading. How bewildering it must be for those who can't read.

So, I've read cereal boxes, brochures, flyers, dictionaries anything. If it's there, I'm going to read it.

June 27, 2007

Down to the Wire

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I haven't posted in a couple of days because I'm running around like a nut. I've been cleaning the new house and I had to take my cat to the vet. The kid graduates from Preschool tomorrow and I meet with lawyers to take possession of the new house. Whew! I'm exhausted. So, no Wordless Wednesday this week.


I'm not sure when I'll get internet access at the new place either, so Happy Canada Day in advance!

June 23, 2007

Crazy Fun With Madlibs

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I found this at 50 books, who found it here. If you want to do your own, Stop Here.... and come back later.


The Mizzen Mast


Bob was a harbour cleanup crew member. But Lenora, his wife, was a perfume sprayer. This made Bob feel jealous. One night after picking strawberries, he decided to marry a teenager.
After putting out his toke and finishing his beer, Bob felt chilly. He said to his wife, "Do you think I’m fat?"

Lenora said, "Do you think you’re fat?" This made Bob feel angry.
So he left her and went under a dock. While he was there, he saw a woman. She looked like a red two-door Ford. He decided to try to drink with her.
"Hey baby," he said.
"Go blank yourself," she said.
"Who pissed in your cornflakes?" he said
"Go to the bottom of a shoe," she said.
I’m already there, he thought. But he said, "Catch you on the flip side."
After that, he left. He walked to jail. On the way, he stopped to buy a cosmo. But instead he saw something he hadn’t expected. It was a mizzen mast. He surprised himself by stealing the mizzen mast. The shop owner didn’t notice. He was too busy climbing Mt St Helena’s to notice.
He took the mizzen mast home and showed it to Lenora, who was just putting out her cigar and finishing her screwdriver.
"What the sh*t is that?"she said.
"That’s just my ortishy."
"What the bitch is an ortishy?" she said.
"This," he said. And with that he used the mizzen mast to sing.

June 22, 2007

Vanity Fair: Quickie Review

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Vanity Fair
William Thackeray
1848
797 pgs

I'm going to make this one quick.

Becky Sharp, an orphaned child of an opera singer and a reprobate painter, schemes her way into British society before, during and after the Napoleonic Wars. Meanwhile, her kinda-sorta friend Amelia Sedley pines for the love of the arrogant George Osbourne. Good times.

Vanity Fair was once one of my all time favorites, but somehow it lost it's luster. I don't know why. There is a lot of unnecessary 'stuff' in the book. Thackeray uses many references to events and people only known to the readers in the 1800's. I was lost. Still, Becky is such an enjoyable bad girl. I could read about her exploits all day long.
3/5

June 21, 2007

Tulip Fever

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Tulip Fever
Deborah Moggach
Vintage, 2000
Paperback (Illustrated)
259 pgs

In the seventeenth century, Amsterdam is a prosperous city known for it's trade, cleanliness and tolerance. Cornelis is a 61 year old man of wealth with a beautiful young wife, Sophia, living in the best city in the world. He is a vain man and wants to immortalize himself and the beauty of Sophia on canvas. Jan is the painter he hires who falls in love with Sophia at first sight. Although Sophia feels gratitude towards Cornelis, she has no passion for the old man. Jan stirs in her feelings she's never had. Jan and Sophia carry on a reckless affair, taking risks that could ruin theirs and the lives of others.



Moggach writes every scene like she wants us to imagine a painting. We see the characters posed, the room filled with props. It is a still life, like the Dutch paintings in the book. For example,

"She stands there, motionless. She is suspended, caught between past and present. She is colour waiting to be mixed; a painting, ready to be brushed into life. She is a moment, waiting to be fixed for ever under a shiny varnish. Is this the moment of decision?"



Moggach had an interesting way of writing Tulip Fever. Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character. Sophia is the only character in first person. It was a little strange but I got used to it. It is very rich and descriptive, but it's a quick read. The book flows well and there are a few twists at the end.



All in all, not a bad little book.

3/5

Booking Through Thursday: School's Out

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Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:

1.Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?

2.How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


I have a few college books: accounting and communication textbooks from the accounting course I took, not that it did me any good. I also kept The Canterbury Tales and Hamlet from my Introduction to English Literature. I wish I had kept my Norton Anthology though.

But I'm not the keeper of old textbooks. My husband, the non-reader, has shelves and shelves of heavy, old engineering textbooks. I packed each and everyone when we moved, grumbling, "Do you really need all of these?" He tells me he does because you never know when you're going to need one. He's been an engineer for 15 years. I've never seen him open one yet. He cannot complain about the hundred or so books I have. At least, I read mine.

As for #2, I did have a few reports that meant a lot to me. Ones that I thought were brillant (lol) or ones I worked really hard on, but then a pipe burst in the basement. And guess where they were? In a box, on the floor, in the basement. Gone. Let that be a lesson to you!

June 20, 2007

The Impotence of Proofreading

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You must watch this! This guy, Taylor Mali, is hilarious. I laughed until I cried. It's also writing related. Remember folks, the red penis is you friend.

Wordless Wednesday: Peony

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Which version do you prefer?


Original


Pastel



Charcoal


Photo editing fun

June 18, 2007

Spring Reading Thing Wrap Up

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Katrina at Callapider Days had a few questions to wrap up her Spring Reading Thing Challenge.
  • What was the best book you read this spring? I read a lot of good books, not all from the challenge. Lolita, The Time Traveler's Wife, Fall On Your Knees.
  • What book could you have done without? An audiobook: The Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein.
  • Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again? The second day of spring, I finished Saving Fish from Drowning, I hadn't read anything by her before. Although I wasn't impressed with this book, I will read her again.
  • If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it? Nope.
  • Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones? I can't think of anything off the top of my head but I will be checking out the reviews on Callapider Days.
  • What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share! I tried some new things. A non-fiction read, The Seven Daughters of Eve, and an audiobook for the first time. I guess I learned to expand my horizons!
  • What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing? Seeing what others are reading and challenging myself.
  • Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall? Sure!

June 16, 2007

Fall on Your Knees: A Review

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I don’t know why I avoided reading this book for so long. I think it’s because Ann-Marie MacDonald is technically ‘from away'. I’ve read that some Newfoundlanders don’t care for The Shipping News and the people of Ironbound practically revolted over Rockbound, both written by outsiders. But there was no need for me to feel that she would do the island a disservice. MacDonald writes lovingly but honestly of the island of Cape Breton and it's turbulent history. She also has the vernacular down. Her use of ‘b’y’ and her "Who’s your father?" are dead on.


When Oprah picked this as a book club read, she said that Cape Breton was ‘an exotic island’ and I nearly laughed my head off. Exotic doesn’t spring into my mind. MacDonald did indeed make the island a mystical and magical place. Just as the moors are just right for the Brontes’ tales, Cape Breton becomes a gothic setting for this story of a family haunted by secret longings and sins. Like Wuthering Heights, Fall On Your Knees has a similar tone. It is surreal, like a Grimm’s Fairy Tale.


The story begins at the beginning of the 20th century, James Piper takes a child bride, a wealthy Lebanese girl, Materia. He soon comes to regret this hasty decision as he has nothing in common with the girl. Materia regrets being outcast from her family and becomes depressed. They do manage to have three daughters: Kathleen, Mercedes and Frances. James throws his energies into making Kathleen an opera singer. His pride is his downfall. There is not much more I can say without giving away a lot of the story. What I can say is that by the end of the book, I had changed my opinion of every one of the Pipers a dozen times.


The book is full of lyrical passages like this:


"The night is bright with the moon. Look down over Water Street. On the lonely stretch between where the houses end and where the sea bites the land, a tree casts a network of shadow that stirs and bloats in one spot, as though putting forth dark fruit that droops, then drops from the bough."


MacDonald switches point-of-view often, at one point changes into the present tense, which was perfect for the urgency in the scene. She also uses letters and diaries to tell the story of the people no longer present. Food, music and religion play major roles in the plot.

At times, I thought I was going to lose my mind, the story takes bizarre turns (Frances) but at the end I felt like I had an answer to some of the insanity. Although the story is dark, I didn’t feel that it was depressing. There is an undercurrent of Hope and Forgiveness. The ending gave me chills and called to mind the end of Wuthering Heights. MacDonald must be a fan of the Brontes; Jane Eyre is mentioned often.


Although probably not for everyone, I think this book will become a favorite for me. I'd read it again for the writing. I also have theories about the end, maybe I'd find more clues with a reread.


4.5/5

Also Reviewed By: Wendy @ Caribousmom

June 15, 2007

The End of Week Wrap Up

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Thanks to all the bloggers who commented on the What's In a Name! post. I found it so interesting. I've often wondered, "Where did they come up with that name?" Great discussion!


For more litblog vs the 'Pros,' check out the Smart Bitches take here and Imani's here. If you find more, you're welcome to link them in the comments.


I went to the bookstore- again. I controlled myself. I bought a book on scrapbooking and Monday's Child by Louise Bagshawe. That's it.


Have a good weekend all!

June 14, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Dessert First

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Booking Through Thursday

Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?
And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted?


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Yes, yes, I do, ok! Happy now? hehe! Yes, I occasionally peek. Why? I don't know. Probably for the same reason I shake wrapped Christmas presents.

Sometimes if I think the book is going down a road I don't want it to, I'll peek. "They better get together at the end!" If it looks good, it keeps me going. Most of the time the last page tells me nothing anyway.

There, now you know my deep dark secret.

June 13, 2007

Hell Hath No Fury

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Oh Stephanie, Stephanie, you had to go there. You made me do it. You got me started.

Stephanie wrote a long response on her blog to an article in the New York Sun: 'The Scorn of the Literary Blogger' by Adam Kirsch. I won't even link to it, I don't want literary cooties. Google if you must.

At first he made some points. It's not ethical to review books you haven't read (Duh!), but then he went into his own version of "Conspiracy Theory."

"...book bloggers have also brought another, less salutary influence to bear on literary culture: a powerful resentment. Often isolated and inexperienced, usually longing to break into print themselves, bloggers — even the influential bloggers who are courted by publishers — tend to consider themselves disenfranchised." Like I'm sitting in the cellar, blogging with one hand and making pipe bombs with the other and plotting to take over the world.

The blogs I read have one thing in common, a passion for reading. The last I've heard writers want people to read their books. Who reads book blogs? Raise your hands boys and girls. READERS. Word of mouth is so important for selling books. Recently, I filled out a survey for a publishing house. One question was: Do you have a blog? Dollars to donuts publishers are taking notice of bloggers. It's free advertising. What's better than that?

Stephanie isn't the only one hopping mad. The Smart Bitches wrote a post on another professional reviewer in the LA Times. Interestingly enough, just today they bewailed the lack of reviews for the romance genre. Where is the romance reader going to find reviews for 'Good Shit vs Bad Shit,' as the Bitches themselves call it? Do you think Alfred P. Higginbottom III from Hoidy-Toity University is going to review The Naked Duke? (Oh yeah, it's real!) I don't think so. The genre fan, whether it's Sci-Fi, romance, whatever, will seek out like minded people on the internet to find what's new, what's good and what to avoid. Book bloggers are a community, a global bookclub. Opinions are as varied as the people who blog.

What these critics fail to understand is that I've never considered myself a 'literary critic.' I'm a reader. I know what I like. I'm not reading a book to tear it apart. I spend my money the way I want to and if I have an opinion I'm going to express it.

Wordless Wednesday: Beulach Ban Falls

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A little photo editing with Picasa. More Wordless Wednesday

June 11, 2007

What's in a Name!

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No, I didn't disappear. Decisions over light fixtures must be made! But now I'm back.
Scribbit recently wrote an interesting post on Blog Housekeeping. In #9 she writes about setting yourself from the crowd by having a memorable name. That had me thinking about Blog Names in general. Scribbit is a good one. It's short. It sticks in your head. Scribbit: could be Scribe it or Scribble it or maybe that's the sound a frog makes if you step on it. I like it. It brings to mind writing and gives her a broad range of topics to ponder.


Most of the blogs I read are Book Blogs and require a bookish title. The E-zine Estella's Revenge has a great name. It's a reference to Dickens and that cold chick Estella. Very literary and Revenge gives it an edge.



Birth of a Blog
I have to be honest. I didn't give my blog a lot of thought starting out. I really didn't know a lot about blogging. I knew I wanted it to be about my thoughts on books and very little else. I had a few rules: no pics of my family and keep the details of my life vague. I've stuck to the books-only formula fairly well, although I do Wordless Wednesday. If you really believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, then Wednesdays are a thousand word posts!


When it came to picking my name, I did that in about 30 seconds. Book-a-rama isn't a particularly inspired name. "It's about books. Ok, do something with book in it." The 'a-rama' part just jumped into my head, probably from too much Furturama and episodes of The Simpsons where they 'o-rama' everything. And yes, it should be Book-o-rama. Word.com says that 'o-rama' signifies "a large or comprehensive event, display, etc." I wanted this blog to be about different genres not just the bestsellers, so I guess it fits.

Whether it suits the blog or not Book-a-rama is what I am. I've become Chris@bookarama, everywhere I go on the web.

So, do any of you have a great reason why you named your blog what you did? Or are you like me and just stumbled into it? Inquiring minds want to know!

June 7, 2007

Done!

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It's official! I've finished the Spring Reading Thing Challenge.


Lolita
Oryx and Crake
My Antonia
Unless

This is my first completed reading challenge.

Booking Through Thursday: Encore

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Almost everyone can name at least one author that you would love just ONE more book from. Either because they’re dead, not being published any more, not writing more, not producing new work for whatever reason . . . or they’ve aged and aren’t writing to their old standards any more . . . For whatever reason, there just hasn’t been anything new (or worth reading) of theirs and isn’t likely to be.

If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . . a book that would be as good any of their best (while we’re dreaming) . . . something that would round out a series, or finish their last work, or just be something NEW . . . Who would the author be, and why? Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Laurie Colwin? Kurt Vonnegut?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
It's funny this should be today's theme, after my post yesterday about Carol Shields. Shields died from cancer shortly after Unless was published. It seems to me that she still had a lot of good stories to tell. Luckily for me, I just recently discovered her writing and have quite a few books of hers to read.
Jane Austen is one writer I wish had written more. She was fairly young when she died. I'm sure she could have written much more than four books. There is a lot of fan fic out there, like Mr Darcy's Diary, but it's just not the same. I just love her take on the her own little world. She was a romantic writer but knew how frivolous her society was.

June 6, 2007

Unless: A Novel

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Unless, Carol Shields
Random House, 2002
Hardcover, 321 pgs
Spring Reading Thing Challenge


If you're looking for a fast paced read with lots of sex, violence and car chases, go read something else. You're not going to find it in Carol Shields novel Unless. Unless is a slow thoughtful tale of a woman's inner musings after her daughter decides to live on the streets of Toronto.

Reta is the mother of three teen aged daughters. She is in a happy long term relationship with their father. She has a satisfying career as a translator for a French author of feminist books. She even has moderate success as a writer herself, but it all seems unimportant when her daughter Norah starts living on the street. Norah isn't a drug addict or mentally ill; she's just decided to check out of her life and sit on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst with a sign that reads "Goodness."

Like everyone else, Reta is perplexed by her daughter's behaviour. She questions her own definition of happiness and wonders about the lives of the people around her. She fixates on her mentor Danielle Westerman's childhood and the life of Mrs McGinn, the woman who once lived in her home fifty years before she did. She continues to live her day to day life, but Norah is never out of her thoughts.

In the end Norah's reasons are revealed and Reta realizes that we can't know the answers "unless we ask questions."

I wasn't sure when I started Unless if I was going to like it. It's a slowly told tale and I wondered if it was going anywhere, but Shields's writing is like a comfortable, warm blanket. It surrounds you and you feel at home. The most simple sentences are filled with meaning.

I wondered about the titles of the chapters: Not Yet, Hence, Therefore, etc. They seemed to me like unfinished thoughts. There is an explanation of sorts at the end:


"A life is full of isolated events, but these events, if they are to form a coherent narrative, require odd pieces of language to cement them together, little chips of grammar (mostly adverbs or prepositions) that are hard to define, since they are abstractions of location or relative position, words like therefore, else, other, also..."

Feminism is a major theme. Reta has a career as a second banana to Danielle who looks upon her novel My Thyme is Up as frivolous fiction. Reta wears her hair in the same style as her mentor. It's hardly a sign of her own independence. She's not married to the father of her children because he didn't want to get married, even though they live the life of married people. It seems as though Reta is on the fence.

Language and the writing life is a theme as well. Reta plots her next novel and tries to appease her new editor. A typo in an e-mail changes the meaning of the sender's message. Reta is always trying to find just the right word in English to translate into Danielle's books. Words are Reta's life.

It wasn't a rocket ride but I read it quite quickly. Reta is easy to relate to and I enjoyed being in her head. It's not an overly sad novel and I think the ending came to a satisfying conclusion. This was Shields's last novel, as she died in 2003. That's such a shame. She's a writer who will be missed.

3.5/5

Peace: Two for One

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I don't think there is anything more peaceful than staring up into the blossoms of a cherry tree in spring.

June 5, 2007

Tidbits

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I finished reading Unless today. I'll review it later. Check back.
Kailana mentioned a giveaway at Twisted Kingdom. They're giving away a very new Colleen Gleason novel.
Patricia Cornwell is suing another author, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Scribbit gives good advice for cleaning up your blog. She has some good ideas, but I don't know if I can follow them all.
And the latest edition of Estella's Revenge is now out and about on the web.
Yann Martel continues his quest to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper to read a book, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept this time.

I'm annoyed that the cost of books and magazines in this country are still way too high even though the loonie is almost equal to the American dollar now. They tried to explain THAT on the news last night and I still don't buy it.

That's all for now. I'll be back!

June 4, 2007

Painting...painting

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I didn't get very much in the way of reading done this weekend. I painted all the first floor rooms in the new house. Whew, what a job!

nrelate