August 30, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Stats

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There was a widely bruited-about statistic reported last week, stating that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Clearly, we don’t fall into that category, but . . . how many of our friends do? Do you have friends/family who read as much as you do? Or are you the only person you know who has a serious reading habit?

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 know lots of people who fall into that category! I'm sure some of my friends and family haven't picked up a book in years. My own husband never reads a book, no matter what I try. The last time, he read the first 20 pgs of Master and Commander, that was about a year ago. He enjoyed it, but he has difficulties reading even though he's a university educated professional. He also says he's too busy, which is what I hear from other non-readers.
And if I'm really honest, I went through a dry period where I didn't read at all in my 20's. I was one of the 'too busy' crowd. I'm making up for it now.
My mom and a few of my in-laws are big readers, but I don't think they are quite as insane about it as I am. Still, I think that the amount that my family and I read makes up for that 25% who don't.

I'd love to have more readers around me, but I'm not a person who forces her beliefs on others. So I don't try to make my non-reading friends read but my books are always there for anyone considering converting.

August 29, 2007

Book Trailer Contest

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Author Marta Acosta is hosting a contest on her blog. Create a worst/best book trailer for a classic book then upload it to Youtube. Send the link to Marta and good luck! Contest ends Sept 15.

Here's my contribution:

Jane Eyre


Wordless Wednesday: Public Gardens, Halifax, NS

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I took this picture last summer. Beautiful place.

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August 28, 2007

The Joy of Language Meme

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I stole this interesting meme from Andi. It was concocted by LitLove at Tales from the Reading Room.

List some of your favourite words: verdant, ambidextrous, portage (with a French accent), toile
What’s your favourite maxim or proverb? Keep your head up and your stick on the ice.
What’s your favourite quotation: "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water." -Eleanor Roosevelt
What’s your favourite first line of a novel? "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." from Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier.
Give an example of a piece of description that’s really pleased you in your reading lately: The only thing that comes to mind is a passage from My Antonia by Willa Cather: "Just as the lower edge of the red disc rested on the high fields against the horizon, a great black figure suddenly appeared on the face of the sun. We sprang to our feet, straining our eyes toward it. In a moment we realized what it was. On some upland farm, a plough had been left standing in the field. The sun was sinking just behind it. Magnified across the distance by the horizontal light, it stood out against the sun, was exactly contained within the circle of the disk; the handles, the tongue, the share—black against the molten red. There it was, heroic in size, a picture writing on the sun."

Which five writers do you particularly admire for their use of language? Vladimir Nabokov (#1!), Thomas Hardy, Edith Wharton, Carol Shields and Margaret Atwood
And are there writers whose style you really dislike? Henry James, Ernest Hemmingway. While James is too wordy, I find Hemmingway is too sparse.
What’s the key to really fine writing, in your opinion? An author's ability to create a visual picture with the simplest language and turn of phrase without being cliché.
Go ahead and try it yourselves!

August 27, 2007

Book News

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Today is the Grand Opening for The Long and the Short of It. There's lots of giveaways and other fun stuff. Go check it out.

This was sent to me via a book friend (thanks Teddy):

"Philippa invites her fans around the worldto join her for an unprecedented live web event onSunday, September 16, 2007 at 2:00 pm EDT.

Philippa Gregory Live will feature a live simulcast streamed throughthe Internet of the author speaking to an audience in London. She will discuss her historical research; writing process; her latest novel, The Boleyn Inheritance; the upcoming major motion picturebased on The Other Boleyn Girl; her next novel, The Other Queen; andmuch more.Throughout the one-and-a-half-hour long event, online attendees will have the opportunity to ask Philippa their own questions and interactwith other fans and book clubs.

Never before has an author participated in an interactive web event of this magnitude.

Register now at www.PhilippaGregoryLive.com "

I already did.

Margaret Atwood discusses her invention, the Long Pen, a pen that allows writers or celebrities to sign books from long distances, say across the ocean. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing.

August 26, 2007

Crime & Punishment: Review

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In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's great Russian novel, Raskolnikov, a student fallen on hard times, commits a heinous murder of an old pawnbroker. No spoilers here, right from the get go Raskolnikov contemplates this crime that he believes is not a crime and by the end of Part 1, the deed is done. After the murder, the majority of the novel is spent in Raskolnikov's head, as he falls ill from the mental strain of not only trying to hide what he has done but philosophizing whether or not the murder was a crime.


Although not a difficult novel to read, I found that being in the mind of a man who is a nearly loony strenuous and I had no trouble putting it down for days at a time. Raskolnikov's erratic behaviour and bizarre ramblings were hard to follow. Fortunately, Raskol has a lot more going on in his life to keep us from going over the deep end with him. He has a poor mother and sister who's marrying a despicable man, a new friend with a consumptive wife and prostitute daughter, plus a crew of ne'er-do-wells living around him in the seedy side of St Petersburg. It's never a dull moment, and very inconvenient for a man who would just like to lose his mind in peace.


There were times that Raskolnikov seemed almost redeemable, but sometimes I wondered why his friends and family cared so much for a man who seemed like he hated them. It's quite a melodramatic book, full of violent outbursts and fainting ladies, but it's also full of the philosophical and political issues of the Russia of the times. Some of which is outdated and almost laughable now.
I didn't love it. It's hard to love such a dark book but it was very interesting. I'm quite glad I read it.
3/5

A Contest! A Contest!

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***This is a Sticky Post. Please Scroll Down for New Posts!***


A new blog for Romance reviews is about to begin, The Long and the Short of It. To celebrate they're giving away a big bag o' books. Want to get in on that. Click here!

August 23, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Indoctrination

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Using a suggestion from Erin today:


When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)


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 can't remember a time when my Mom was without a book in her hand. I remember her reading during the day while her Soaps were on. When I first starting reading, I wanted to read as fast as she could and it seemed like she flew through them. As I got older, I borrowed books from her. Lots of romance novels. I found an old copy of Wuthering Heights on her bookshelf as well. The first time I read it, I didn't appreciate it at all (now it's a favorite). My Dad isn't much of a reader though and neither are my brothers.


We went to the library quite often, probably so my Mom could get new books. My brothers and I also belonged to a kids' book-of-the-month club. I looked forward to get that package in the mail. I still love getting books in the mail.

August 22, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Rudbeckia

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August 21, 2007

R.I.P. Challenge: BOO!

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OK, I thought 'no more challenges'. I've been bad at keeping up lately, but I love a scary story for Halloween. Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is starting R.I.P. 2 (Readers Imbibing Peril) The thing is I've read so many of the older Gothic tales (Dracula, Frankenstein) that I have lying around the house. I managed to find a couple though. I'm doing Peril #1. Here's the list:
  • Don't Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne duMaurier
  • Great Irish Tales of Horror (an anthology)
  • The House on the Strand by Daphne duMaurier
  • (And if I get the First Look selection for Sept) 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

I'm not counting on the last one but if I'm lucky enough to get it, I'll be reading it for this challenge.

Alternatively:

  • The Thirteenth Tale
  • Bluenose Ghosts (re-read)

This one sounds fun. I love the Fall and Halloween so even though I tried to talk myself out of it, I know I'll enjoy reading them on those blustery days. Join me won't you, MOO-HA-HA-HA!

August 20, 2007

Lauchlin of the Bad Heart

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Lauchlin of the Bad Heart
D.R MacDonald
Harper Collins, 2007 (Uncorrected proof)
361 pgs

Lauchlin MacLean was once a boxer, a darn good one, until he had to quit due to a heart condition. That was decades ago, now he lives with his mother and works in the gas station and corner store his father ran until his death in the remote town of St Aubin, Cape Breton Island. Lauchlin spends his time mulling over in fine detail the glory days of boxing when Nova Scotia had some of the best in the world, as well as, drinking and chasing married women. He has a odd relationship with an old sweetheart, Morag, who shows up every summer. It's the same old, same old. Then Tena walks in his store and changes everything.

Tena is the blind wife of his friend Clement. Tena is worried about the relationship Clement has with his business partner, Ged Cooper. Ged is an angry man, with a axe to grind. When Clement parts with him, Ged starts a dangerous game of intimidation. Lauchlin finds himself caught up in their lives, feeling sympathy for Clement and adoration for Tena.

Lauchlin of the Bad Heart is at times monotonous, all the boxing reminisces nearly bored me to tears (not a sports fan), but the suspense part of the story was enjoyable. Lauchlin was a likable character, but he is a man trapped in the past. As one woman tells him, he lives in 'used-to-bes'. I felt for him at times but his choices in women were destructive and selfish. He's not an angry man though, he's more disappointed with himself than anything.

MacDonald writes lyrically of the beauty of Cape Breton Island and of the old Scottish settlers. He gives an accurate description of the nosy townspeople. Everyone in a small town thinks they know your business. However, I found the drinking to be an annoying stereotype. Yes, islanders like to drink but I think it was overkill.

All in all, it was difficult to get into, but by the end I was eager to keep reading.

Note: A minor detail pulled me right out of the story. A card game is mentioned Tarbash. It's Tarbish, not Tarbash. A little nit, but it bugged me.

3/5

August 17, 2007

The Mists of Avalon: Review

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The Mists of Avalon is the Arthurian legend told from the point of view of the women. The men are there, of course, but we only get to see into the minds of the most important ladies of the legend. Mostly, we see the world of Avalon and Camelot through Morgaine, sister of Arthur and priestess of Avalon. She often speaks directly to the reader, unlike the others. Morgaine goes through many changes throughout the story.


When the story begins, Morgaine is only a toddler. Women and the Isle of Avalon still hold power over Britian but it's time is waning. Christianity is becoming a powerful lure to the inhabitants, particularly the men. Morgaine's mother, Ingraine, is the unhappy Queen of Cornwall, given in marriage by her sister, the Lady of Avalon, Viviane, to the old man Gorlois. Viviane informs her that she will have a child by Uther Pendragon, the future king she hopes will defend the old religion. She is resentful of Viviane's meddling but still finds herself falling passionately in love with Uther.


After marrying Uther, Ingraine renounces the old religion in favour of Christianity, to spite Viviane. Viviane asks Ingraine to let Morgaine come with her to Avalon, there to become priestess and her successor. Morgaine is happy there until she feels herself used by Viviane in the name of the Goddess. Morgaine leaves but never renounces the old religion. She finds herself defending the old ways as the new king, her brother Arthur, forgets his promises to Avalon.


In Bradley's novel, the picture she paints of Arthur is a man too diplomatic to be king. He wants to make everyone happy, including his wife Gwenhwyfar, who is a fanatical Christian. Their arguments were one part of the book I found tedious and annoying. It was always the same old arguments. I suppose Bradley was trying to show how Gwenhwyfar gradually chipped away at Arthur's resolve to defend Avalon, but I found it tiresome. Gwenhwyfar was not easy to sympathize with, even with all her heartbreak. She's bitter and angry.


The religious struggle between the old ways and Christianity is a major theme in Mists. It seems to me it came down to a power struggle and not really about the spiritual well-being of Britons. The old religion wanted women to hold the power, and Christianity wanted them not only to have none, but be ashamed of being women. (I've always had a problem with that.) Morgaine at some point comes to this realization:

"I came to see that my quarrel was never with the Christ, but with his foolish and narrow priests who mistook their narrowness for his."

But as time goes on, more and more of the old pagan ways become absorbed by the new religion. I think the Epilogue was a nice touch and Morgaine was finally satisfied.

There were parts I thought too long and ones I didn't think long enough but it was a great read and a different way of looking at the old story.
This was a TBR Challenge read.
4/5

August 16, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Monogamy

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Booking Through Thursday

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?
(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)


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!
And, of course, you can answer any time you want–it doesn’t have to be on Thursday!


I almost forgot it was Thursday!

Recently, I have been reading more than one book. Just this past week I finally finished Mists of Avalon while still struggling with Crime & Punishment. Now I have Lauchlin of the Bad Heart to read and review for First Look by the end of the month! Phew! Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself, but I am a book addict.

I think the book clubs and challenges often dictate what I read and how much I read. I have my Classics Club, so I end up reading a classic a month. Plus, the TBR Challenge and others. And since signing up for First Look, I can't let a month go by without trying to get one of those. C'mon, Free Books!

Sometimes keeping to a schedule can be challenging but there are many books I know I would have given up on and in the end they were worth reading. There are so many books I want to read. It's just trying to find the time.

August 15, 2007

Oh, How Thoughtful!

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Stephanie, my old pal, at Confessions of a Bookaholic nominated me for the Thoughtful Blogger Award.




This could mean two things: I think before I blog. I think carefully and write with great thought. Or I'm a considerate blogger, taking the feelings of you, the reader, into consideration. Either one of these is a great compliment and I hardly think I deserve it. Thank you, Stephanie for thinking (O thoughtful one) of me!!

Now to pass this on to 5 other thoughtful people:

Andi at Tripping Through Lucidity (I always think of her as Estella though)
John at The Book Mine Set
Athena at aquatique.net
Kristy Just Another Blogger
Kookiejar At a Fraternity of Dreamers

These people all qualify for both the criteria. I hope you all don't mind me sending this along to you. This is a nice one.

Wordless Wednesday: White Petal

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Can't remember the name of this flower. It was a bulb though.

More Wordless Wednesday.

August 14, 2007

No, not gonna read it!

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John made a list of classic books he hasn't read yet. Raidergirl made her list, a list of books she's never going to read. Never is a strong word. I'll read just about anything, but there are a few I'm pretty sure I won't be reading. I won't say never because, you never know, I might be stuck in an underground bunker with only one of these titles handy.


  • Anything else by Hemmingway. I read a couple. That's enough.
  • Ulysses by James Joyce. It's reputation proceeds it.
  • The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. A haiku by me:

The Portrait mocks
Run on sentences
Unreadable James

  • DH Lawrence. Ditto.

There may be more, but that's all I can think of. That's classics. Here's a couple of newer ones:

  • Paris Hilton's 'autobiography' Confessions of an Heiress. Like, whatever, no way. In the same vein, Don't Hassle the Hoff.
  • Anything else by Nicholas Sparks. I read a couple. Sappy, and don't get attached to the characters.
  • Anne Rice's Jesus book. I'd be picturing vampire Tom Cruise the whole time.

What's on your list?

Summer's not over: Carnival Time

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It's time again for the Bookworm's Carnival. They've packed up the tents and loaded everything on a train headed to Reading is my Superpower. The theme for August is the Dog Days of Summer. Lots of interesting stuff there, including Harry Potter reviews. Go check it out!

August 13, 2007

Monday Musings

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I found this on booklogged's blog In Season. It's eerily accurate.

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)

North Central

What people call the "Minnesota accent." Sounds almost Canadian. You may have even been asked if you were from Canada before.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

I took the quiz, not being American, just to see what 'American' accent I had. This was too funny. Of course, I think I don't have an accent, it's everyone else who does.

Speaking of accents... this is a cool site. Go to North America, Canada, Nova Scotia, #4. Closest to my own.

Over the weekend, my baby had a birthday. She turned 5! I can hardly believe it. This cake went over well. There wasn't enough and everyone wanted more. It was easy to make too. I'll be making it again!

Not much in book news. Still reading Mists of Avalon and I'm way behind with Crime & Punishment.

August 9, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Multiples

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Booking Through Thursday

Do you have multiple copies of any of your books?If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read? If not, why not? Not enough space? Not enough money? Too sensible to do something so foolish?

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!
And–you can play any time; it doesn’t have to be Thursday!


I don't think I do. If I do it's by accident, I try to only buy books I know I don't have. I have borrowed books from the library I've already read because of absentmindedness though. I've even gotten halfway through before I realized it.

I have been tempted by shiny new version of the ancient ones I already have and love, like Wuthering Heights. But books can be expensive and if I want to keep reading new books, I can't be rebuying the old ones.

August 8, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Misty Meadows

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I thought I had nothing for Wordless Wednesday, but then I woke up this morning and found a mist had settled over us. I took a few pics and about 5 minutes later it was gone.

August 7, 2007

Just Plain Lazy

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I've got nothing. I haven't got a book to review or anything particularly important to say. A few other people do though:

  • Matt at A Variety of Words wrote a post about why he doesn't read at his local library. It seems to have touched a few nerves.
  • Doppelganger was informed of yet another writer who hates bloggers. This one had to sprend the word that bloggers are evil with a book. I guess an angry letter to the editor just isn't enough these days.
  • Yann Martel is still on a mission to get Stephen Harper to read. This time it's Chronicle of a Death Fortold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I think it's a losing battle. And in lolcat spirit, the I can has cheezburger people found this link. I liked the 'cold dead stare' comment.

Nothing much new in the book department, except that I took a trip to the local used book store on the weekend. I don't think I was in the mood to buy anything. Not much jumped out at me, but I did pick up some books for the kid: 4 Curious George books. One of them was the first written by H.A Rey and I couldn't help thinking as I read it how it wouldn't have been published these days. First, the man with the yellow hat kidnaps George from the jungle, puts him in a bag even. There is a monkey smoking scene. And finally George is happily sent to the zoo. It has PETA written all over it.

August 2, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Letters!

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Booking Through Thursday


Have you ever written an author a fan letter?
Did you get an answer?
Did it spark a conversation? A meeting?


(And, sure, I suppose that e-mails DO count . . . but I’d say no to something like a message board on which the author happens to participate.)


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!

Reading other BTT participants responses is making me feel so left out! No, I have never written a letter. I've commented on authors' message boards, most recently Ami McKay, but I guess that doesn't count. Wow, this is such a boring answer!
I think I was always too shy to write a letter. Now, with the internet, it's so much easier to drop a line to an author and say how much I've enjoyed their book. Some authors even have their own Facebook page. Still, I don't do it, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I should start.

August 1, 2007

The Light in August

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This morning, while eating my cereal, I heard a blue jay squawking outside my window. It's a sound that reminds me of autumn for some reason. It came to me that it's August 1st, and only about a month of summer is left. When I was a kid, August was a sad month. Change was a'coming. The light in August is different. It has a golden hue to it and the shadows are longer. The trees look shabbier, since they're now covered in a layer of dust. By the end of the month, the wind will have changed and the nights will be cooler. August meant shopping for school supplies and ads on tv for fall clothes. No more staying up late, no more sleeping in. I still feel a little maudlin about August. This year I'll be shopping for school supplies for someone else for the first time. That's a little sad, but exciting too.



Still, it's only the beginning of August. There's still lots of time for picnics, swimming, bonfires on the beach and melty marshmallows. I look forward to picking blueberries and the start of the harvest: corn, tomatoes, and other good stuff.




Besides a birthday, a wedding and a long weekend to look forward to, I have a lot of things I'd like to accomplish in August:

  • Catch up on my reading, I'm way behind.
  • Catch up with my reading challenges.
  • Do a little writing.
  • Review my First Look pick, Lauchlin of the Bad Heart by D.R. MacDonald. I'm a bit nervous about this because I hated the main character in Cape Breton Road and it ruined the great writing for me. But I'm going to be open minded.
  • Organize my photos for scrapbooking.
  • Finish painting trim and touch up dented paint on walls.

What are your plans for August?

Wordless Wednesday: Jammin' Mon

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Yep, I picked them, cooked them, and jarred them myself! It was hot work but worth it. Mmmm, strawberry jam.

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