September 27, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Friendship

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Booking Through Thursday

Suggested by Marsha:

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.
What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?


And, if you’re feeling generous enough–head on over to Amazon and actually send one on its way!

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

Hmmm...This is a tough one. I have bought books as gifts before and I think you have to take into account the tastes of the individual for whom you're buying.

When buying for friends, I usually head for the 'just released' section of the bookstore. That way, it's usually a good bet that they haven't already bought it. I buy paperbacks for portablity (and I can buy more than one that way too), so they can read at the doctor's, beach, etc. Then I consider the person. I have one sister-in-law who is always busy with work and hardly finds time to read. I get her light, fun reads she can breeze through. Another lady is well read and has an interesting world view. I try to get her something different. The last present was a non-fiction book about a lady's travels in Italy. I hope she liked it.

These book aren't always what I would read myself but like any gift, if you take the time to chose from the heart, you can't go wrong.

September 26, 2007

Mmmmm....New Books

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This past couple of weeks have been great book gettin' weeks. A few I've been sent for free. Today I received the ones I ordered from Bookcloseouts as well. Bleak House (on top) is an edition with the lovely Gillian Anderson on the cover. The expression on her face and the colour of her dress make it one of the most beautiful covers I've seen in awhile.

More Wordless Wednesday

September 24, 2007

The House on the Strand: Review

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The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier is a time travel novel of sorts.

Richard Young is on vacation in Cornwall. His friend, Magnus, has lent him his family home of Kilmarth with one request: be part of a secret experiment. Magnus, a professor of biophysics, has created a powerful hallucinogenic drug with the side effect of allowing the user to view scenes from the past as if one was there in the flesh.

Richard finds the drug at first terrifying but exciting. Unseen, he follows a man named Roger, the steward for a hellish woman, the Lady Champernoune. Trip after trip, Richard returns to the 14th century, witnessing murders and brutality. The lure of the drug is too much for Richard even though there are startling after effects and dangers in being 'out of it' in the modern world.

I could understand the appeal of the drug to Richard. His real life is at best dull. He's left his job and his wife is nagging him to move to the States. The couple have little in common. They hate each others' friends and argue constantly. He has nothing in common with his stepsons either. I was as entranced as he was by the medieval intrigues but hoping nothing bad would happen to poor Richard.

At first, I was confused by all the names of the medieval characters. There was so much going on all at once and I was plunked down in the middle of it with Richard. But then I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. Definitely a great story by duMaurier.

For the RIP Challenge.

4/5

Also Reviewed By: Puss Reboots

September 23, 2007

Don't Look Now: Short Story Review

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"Don't look now!" are the first words uttered in this short story by Daphne duMaurier. A couple is on holiday (as they say in Britain) in Venice, having lunch and making up stories about the people they see. It's seems light-hearted but the husband is trying to keep his wife's mind off the death of their 5 year old daughter. John, the husband, spies a pair of elderly ladies and convinces his wife Laura to follow one of them. The lady in turn tells her that the other lady with her, her sister, is psychic and has seen her daughter who has a warning for them both.


What happens next is a series of events that leads them into trouble and had me wondering if there was a way around it or if it was destiny.


I read this fairly long, short story in about an hour for the RIP challenge. This is the self titled story in the collection Don't Look Now and Other Stories. DuMaurier is the mistress of the suspense story with a realistic blend of the supernatural. Her characters are believable and sympathetic not to mention her ability to create a creepy atmosphere. Venice's twisting alley ways were the perfect setting for this tale. I look forward to reading the others.

September 20, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Sunshine and Roses

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Booking Through Thursday

The reverse of last week’s question:


Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .


What is it?

I've never really given this any thought. Hmmm...I'd probably read whatever I happened to be into at the time. But, I suppose you could say that if I wanted that good feeling to continue I'd want to read something happy. George Eliot is a favorite. Silas Marner has got to be one of the most feel good books I've ever read. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is another happy story. But really, I'd be game for anything!

September 19, 2007

Arrrrr, It Be Pirate Talkin' Day

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Yes, believe it or not, it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept 19). Who'd a thunk it?

There is an offical website and everything! And if you happen to be Australian, you might be interested in this.


Who be yer favorite pirate? Captain Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Captain Feathersword?

I like them all but love the Great Big Sea version, from The Hard and the Easy of this traditional song:




Captain Kidd

My name is Captain Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed

My name is Captian Kidd, as I sailed

My name is Captian Kidd, God's laws I did forbid

And most wickedly I did, as I sailed, as I sailed

Oh, my parents taught me well, as I sailed, as I sailed

My parents taught me well, as I sailed

My parents taught me well to shun the gates of Hell

But against them I rebelled, as I sailed, as I sailed

Well, I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed

I murdered William Moore, as I sailed

I murdered William Moore and I left him in his gore

Forty leagues from shore, as I sailed, as I

being cruel still, as I sailed, as I sailed

And being cruel still, as I sailed

And being cruel still the gunner I did kill

And his precious blood did spill, as I sailed, as I sailed

Well, my repentance lasted not, as I sailed, as I sailed

My repentance lasted not, as I sailed

My repentance lasted not, my vows I soon forgot

Damnation was my lot, as I sailed, as I sailed

To execution dock I must go, I must go

To execution dock I must go

To execution dock, lay my head upon the block

And no more the laws I'll mock, as I sail, as I sail

As for Pirate Reading, hmmm...not sure what a pirate would read, but you can read about pirates:

Enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday: Fuzzy Fellow

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This little guy looks to be preparing for the winter. "Mmm...blackberries."

More Wordless Wednesday.

September 17, 2007

By The Way

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Book Nut is hosting the BookWorm Carnival this month, the theme: Classics. I'm very impressed at how she set up the Carnival. You have to check it out!

And Dewey, in an effort towards canonization, is planning a 24-hour Readathon over at The Hidden Side of the Leaf. Get out your Visine, people! There are many ways to participate besides the actual reading. The Big Event is planned for October 20th. Check it out. Seriously, she comes up with the most amazing ideas. When does she sleep?!

Oh My, Oprah

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It all began with Anna Karenina, that wily Russian.


When Oprah announced that the Summer 2004 Oprah Book Club selection was Tolstoy's classic novel, I pulled out my copy and joined in. I had read it years before, but enjoyed it so much I felt it was time for a re-read. A first for me, however, was the Oprah Book Club discussion group. While posting my thoughts on the book, I met other people (mostly women) who loved classic literature as much as I did, and others who wanted to get acquainted with it. Before long, we were a gang: The Classic Club Group.


Oprah's message boards were the preferred meeting place. She provided us with a private place to express our thoughts, without judgement, on some of the most loved, hated, criticized, banned, complicated literature written in English (including translations of The Bridge On the Drina and The Bridal Wreath).


We were regular visitors to the Oprah boards, a classic every month. Other groups came and went, but our group (and ones like The Australian Book Club) stood the test of time. Then, recently, Oprah changed the message board format. We've been waiting patiently for the the kinks to be worked out. For now, no private groups. But then a message from above (well, the Harpo Webmaster) came: our previous discussions cannot be transferred to the new format.


So, just like that all those years of book discussions Gone With the Wind. It's not An American Tradegy. Who really would miss our thoughts on The Count of Monte Cristo or Moll Flanders? Maybe we had Great Expectations from Oprah. We were a devoted little group. A group of Little Women. We have no power. It's not like I'm The Mayor of Casterbridge or something. We can't wage War. And Peace is our Persuasion. We must say A Farewell to Arms. Afterall, Oprah has committed no Crime and Punishment is out of our reach. Oprah's show reaches so many, is enjoyed like the songs of a mockingbird, and it's a sin To Kill a Mockingbird. So, although it often seems that Oprah lives in A House of Mirth, all we can do is cry on the shoulders of our Sons and Lovers and move on.

So, bye-bye The Picture of Dorian Gray, au revoir Madame Bovary, see you later Silas Marner and don't let the door hit you in the ass The Wings of a Dove.


OK, that was a tad melodramatic but I wanted to get in as many of our discussed books in there as possible. I've had issues with Oprah and her club before: the lack of actual book discussion on the show and that James Frey fiasco. So, this is the nail in the coffin. I don't know if I can recover, but I will go wherever the group decides.

September 16, 2007

The Philippa Gregory Web Event

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Just before the Philippa Gregory's web event was to start, I made myself a cup of tea, locked the bedroom door, and settled with my laptop on my bed. When I signed in, only 24 other web attendees were present. By the time the event started, there were just over 100 (About 140 were in attendance for the whole thing). About 90 people were with Philippa in the flesh, including an actual descendant of Mary Boleyn!


Philippa started the event on time (maybe even a bit early) and was lovely in a mauve scoop-neck blouse. She was quite enthusiastic and personable. I had no problem listening to her for the 1 and 1/2 she answered questions. Unfortunately, none of mine were answered (so sad), but a lot of the web audience's questions were.

I was fascinated by her answers to questions on her writing process. She does all her own research and loves it. It takes her six to eight months, plus she continues researching while she's writing. She doesn't change historical fact, that's not honest, but tells her version. I think that really shows in her books.
Not only did she talk about her Tudor books, but a few of her earlier works, like The Wise Woman. I hadn't heard of this one, which she calls her 'gothic novel'.

Her future projects include The Other Queen (2008) about Mary Queen of Scots, plus she's researching for novels on Henry the VII and The Plantagenets. I look forward to them. Not to mention, the movie The Other Boleyn girl with Natalie Portman will be released on February 29, 2008, as well as plans in the works for The Boleyn Inheritance and a 4 part series (US) based on The Queen's Fool.

I had some technical problems (lost sound or screen froze) a couple of times and I couldn't get the actual footage of Philippa speaking to enlarge (it was pretty small). An hour and a half is a bit long, I think, an hour would have been better (the audience was looking a bit sleepy). Overall, it was an interesting afternoon. I was a great way for her to reach people like me who she wouldn't otherwise, since I'm not in a major city.
For more information on the event and Philippa Gregory go to her website.

September 13, 2007

Short Stories for the Wary

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I'm not a short story aficionado. I definitely can't write one myself, though I admire writers who can.

Maybe it's because short stories remind me of a time I sat in a sweltering hot classroom trying to not fall asleep during English class. One would be assigned for homework: "Read. Answer questions one through twenty." It's hard to warm up to a genre after that.

I do remember that those stories themselves could sometimes be entertaining, either for the content (The Lady or the Tiger) or for the adolescent snarkage (On the Sidewalk Bleeding). For the most part, I think the short story can be very subtle and most of the ideas went straight over our heads.

Short stories are hit and miss with me now as an adult. I can't say that I go out of my way to buy a book of short stories, but occasionally I stumble onto some gems. Ones that make me say, "Oh that was so good!" But I sometimes need convincing, so, if you are like me, I'll give you the low down on some of what I think are the best short stories for the wary:



Shirley Jackson: The Lottery and Other Stories

Ms Jackson was an expert at taking the reader on a psychological thrill ride. Things start out fairly ho-hum. Then you feel a tingle down the spine, and then..."I just peed my pants." The best example of her work is "The Lottery."

It's a beautiful June day in a rural American town and all the villagers have gathered in the square for the lottery. It's something they do every year, a tradition. Seems like a nice little gathering, but something's not quite right. As you read, you can feel it in the words. Everyone is uncomfortable, why? And what's with that pile of rocks?

I've read this many times and it never wears out. It's very well done. Just today as I read it for this post, I felt my heart pounding, even though I knew what was coming. I think it's even worse when you know it's coming! Considered controversial when it was published in 1948, it's a statement on conformity and inhumanity. Some rituals should just die.



Great Irish Tales of Horror compiled by Peter Haining


The stories in this "Treasury of Fear" include contributions from such great Irish writers like Bram Stoker and George Bernard Shaw. Not all deal in the supernatural, such as "The Morgan Score" about the IRA and some have elements of humor, like "The Unburied Legs." One of my favorites is "Samhain Feis" by Peter Tremayne.

"Samhain Feis" was originally written in the Irish language. This English translation is a bit jerky but still a great Halloween read. An Irish-American woman has come to Ireland with her seven year old son to escape her awful marriage. She's chosen to vacation in a remote part of the country in order to make some decisions. A local man warns her that the hills she lives near are the home of some nasty creatures who come out on, you guessed it, Samhain Feis or Halloween.

I think it creeped me out because of the kid. Poor little Mikey!


The Collected Stories of Carol Shields


I'm a big Carol Shields fan. She knew how to make the most ordinary event seem extraordinary. She was the mistress of the short story. The Collected Stories includes three of her previous collections: Various Miracles, The Orange Fish and Dressing Up for the Carnival. That's a 3 for 1.

I haven't gotten though the whole book yet. Her words need time to be digested and I just can't hop from one of her stories to the next. I've chosen 2 of my favorites, so far, for this review.

"Mrs Turner Cutting the Grass" is just that, Mrs Turner cutting the grass. The neighbours see her and make commentary about her while she is blissfully unaware.


"The things Mrs. Turner doesn't know would fill the Sachers' new compost pit,
would sink a ship, would set off a tidal wave, would make her want to kill herself."
It's true Mrs. Turner doesn't know she's the object of all this hostility, but they themselves have no idea of the kind of life Mrs. Turner has lived. She has a lifetime of adventures and secrets buried inside her.
I had no idea that cutting grass could be an interesting subject for a short story, but it is. Shields breaks the short story mold here.
"Pardon"
A woman first notices that today is different from other days when she tries to buy an "I'm sorry" card for her father-in-law and finds the corner store out of stock. The cashier gives her some odd stories of the people who bought those cards. As she continues her search, she finds more incidences of people apologizing or asking for forgiveness. Some were for very small things and some serious but all were sincere.
This is a feel-good story that had me asking what if we all apologized for all the wrongs we've done. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place? The woman in this story feels a burden lifting from her. But I can't help thinking if she was just noticing all this because she felt different and maybe it's just an ordinary day.
That was a pretty wordy review for someone who's not a big fan of short stories but these ones I just enjoy so much! For more short stories, Carl's RIP challenge has Short Story Sunday (spooky tales) while John at The Book Mine Set hosts Short Story Monday (literary tales).

Booking Through Thursday: Comfort Food

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Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

(Any bets on how quickly somebody says the Bible or some other religious text? A good choice, to be sure, but to be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of fiction…. Unless I laid it on a little strong in the string of catastrophes? Maybe I should have just stuck to catching a cold on a rainy day….)

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!
Hmm...That's tough one because there have been times when I was really down that I couldn't bring myself to read at all. I usually clean like a crazy woman when I get bad news. But if I just need a comfort read, a little pick me up, I'll go for old favorites like Jane Eyre (Yeah, I'm beating that one to death), Pride and Prejudice or Anne of Green Gables. They're feel good tales to me. There is some strife and sadness, for sure, but it all works out in the end. I don't want to read a depressing story where all the main characters die in some awful way. I don't think I'd ever leave the couch!
A romance is another good choice. The happy ending is practically guaranteed!

September 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Meow

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September 11, 2007

The Book Meme

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I stole this from Stephanie


Christina's Ghost (Apple Chillers) by Betty Ren Wright. I love the kid's face. It's too funny. "Is that a booger on your finger? Get away!" The reviews on Amazon from the readers are priceless. Kids are adorable.

Here are the rules.

Go to the advanced book search on Amazon, type your first name into the Title field, and post the most interesting/amusing cover that shows up.

September 10, 2007

New Stuff

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I had a totally unexpected surprise in the mail. Random House has bi-weekly draws for their latest books. Of course, I send in emails for the draws and then forget about them as soon as I hit 'Send'. I guess I won. I received The Assassin's Song by M.G. Vassanji. It's set partly in India.


That's so interesting because I'm reading A Passage to India. I think I have another favorite author. I love how E.M. Forster gets into the minds of his characters.


LibraryThing, which is the greatest thing in the world, has a blog. A recent post directs readers to a website called BookVideos.tv. Very cool. I loved the segment from Posie Graeme-Evans. Her enthusiasm for writing and her characters is charming. I haven't read any of her work but I'm willing to look into it now. I like this site because of just having a trailer for the book, you get a sense of the author.

September 8, 2007

Foolish Meme

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I'm finally getting around to answering this meme from Dancing Fool. It's too cute!


If you could have super powers what would they be and what would you do with them? (Please feel free to be selfish, you do not have to save the world!) I think sometime or another I answered this question and said I'd like to be able to get anywhere in the world by just thinking about it. I stand by that answer.


Were you to find your self stranded on an island with a CD player...it could happen...what would your top 10 bloggers island discs be?

  1. A compilation disk of Prince
  2. "The Hard and the Easy" Great Big Sea
  3. "Mirrorball" Sarah McLachlan
  4. "Just Like Heaven" Soundtrack
  5. "Road Apples" The Tragically Hip
  6. Ashley MacIsaac
  7. "No Angel" Dido
  8. "Chemical City" Sam Roberts
  9. "We Were Born In a Flame" Sam Roberts
  10. "The Essential Bangles"


If you were a smell what would it be? Pumpkin pie.


What bird would you most like to be? Hummingbird. They're cute, fast and fiesty.


If you were a bird who's head would you poo on? Stephen Harper. 'Nough said.


Are there any foods that your body craves? Chocolate. Seriously.


What's your favourite time of year? Autumn. I love the colours, pumpkins and no blackflies.


What's your favourite time of day? Evening. Time to kick back.


If a rest is as good as a change which would you choose? Rest. I hate change.


If you could have a dinner party and invite any 5 people from the past or present who would they be? (Living or deceased.)

  1. Charlotte Bronte (big surprise there)
  2. Oprah
  3. Margaret Atwood
  4. Stephen Colbert
  5. Paul Bettany (just for fun)

I won't tag anyone specifically, but go ahead and do this one yourself! It's fun.

September 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

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Madeleine L'Engle has passed away. Story here. She was 88. I haven't read her work but I know visitors who are fans. She wrote over 60 books. Amazing.
This is a lovely website for A Wrinkle In Time.
It's very sad when a great writer dies.

Freaky Friday

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Highlights of the Week:
  • The kid started school. She got on the bus and returned from school on the same. Somehow I survived.
  • Estella's Revenge for September is now posted.
  • If you love John's Great Wednesday Compare, let him know. (And say Gaiman, it makes him giggle.)
  • Big thanks to Bookseller Chick. She sent me My Summer of Southern Discomfort (which I had forgot I won!)
  • You still have time (until the 14th) to send a link to Booknut for the Bookworm Carnival.
  • Kimbooktu is compiling a weblog of book blogs. If you have one, send her your link.
  • Get creative and make a book trailer for Marta Acosta's contest (closes the 15th)

That about covers it for today!

September 6, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Goldilocks

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Okay, so the other day, a friend was commenting on my monthly reading list and asked when I found the time to read. In the ensuing discussion, she described herself as a “goldilocks” when it comes to reading–she needs to have everything juuuuuust right to be able to focus. This caught my attention because, first, I thought that was a charming way of describing the condition, but, two, while we’ve talked about our reading habits, this is an interesting wrinkle. I’d never really thought about it that way.

So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?

Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

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!
Goldilocks! That's a riot. Goldilocks and I have little in common. First, I'm not a blonde. And no I'm not very picky about where and how I read. I can read anywhere really. I've been known to walk around while reading. Distractions don't really bother me either. I can read in front of the TV and divide my attention between the two. Considering that I'm a Mom, there are always distractions. If I waited for the perfect moment, I'd never read.
It's funny, I just read The Thirteenth Tale and the narrator had to sit down to read. She had an accident while reading standing up. She was so involved in the book she wasn't paying attention. I could see how that could be a problem. I do get emersed it my reading.

September 5, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Fly Like an Eagle

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Eagles are not the easiest thing to photograph as they wheel around in the sky. There were 3 in the sky at the time of this pic, but try posing them...sheesh!

September 3, 2007

Labour (With a 'U') Day

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Labour Day. The unofficial end of summer. This week my girl starts school. I think I'm more nervous about it than she is. Will she be ok? Get along with the teacher? The kids? I hope so.
For me, that means a few hours to myself. What will I do with it? Well, I hope to read a lot. I have several books in mind. I have a few reviews to do and challenges to catch up on. I'm looking forward to reading a spooky story for Carl's RIP2 Challenge, while watcing the leaves change colour.
The scrapbooking I said I was going to do never happened so I have that too. I did get a new printer, a Canon Selphy CP720. It's awesome and I have no excuses now.
I do want to start some kind of regular exercise. I'm sadly out of shape and since I moved out of my old house I haven't used my treadmill at all. At least I can read while I'm on it. And on lovely fall days I can throw on my music and walk in the fresh air.
I can't wait for the Honey Crisp apples to arrive at the Farmers' Markets. I already bought a bag of beets that have to be pickled. I love homemade beets.
Oh, I can go get a haircut...during the day...without begging for a babysitter. Or a cup of coffee with the hubby or a friend. Wahoo!
I'm a simple girl and you can see that I have simple wishes. It all looks so pretty in my head. I hope I can recreate it in real life!
"Hey hey hey,
Ba de ya - say do you remember
Ba de ya - dancing in September
Ba de ya - never was a cloudy day"

September 1, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale: Review

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Two days.
Suppers were late, a child was neglected for the two days that I lived this book. The first couple of chapters were so-so but once the story within the story started I was hooked and couldn't put it down. This description of Margaret and her father reading about covers it:
"In the background is the hiss of the gas heater; we hear the sound without hearing it for, side by side, together and miles apart, we are deep in our books.

'Shall I make tea?' I ask, surfacing.
No answer.

I make tea all the same, and put the cup next to him on the desk.

An hour later the untouched tea is cold. I make a fresh pot and put another steaming cup beside him on the desk. He is oblivious to my every movement."

There isn't much I can say about this book without giving away all the juicy little bits that make it so worth reading. What I can tell you is that the narrator, Margaret, is invited to write the biography of a popular but reclusive novelist. Her story is an unbelievable tale of a bizarre family in England. It reminded me a lot of Wuthering Heights because of the insanity and the passions of the people involved.
About half way through, I had a nagging little voice whispering, "There is a huge hole in the plot here. I swear I can see the living room wall through it." But the story had me and it wasn't letting go. Then, toward the end, TA-DAH! it all came together and made perfect sense. It was one of those moments as a reader that I live for. Brilliant. All I can tell you is Jane Eyre is the key, but I can't say how. It comes up everywhere and I love when my favorite books turn up in my reading.
Read this book. It's atmospheric and mysterious and a darn good story. I hope I haven't over hyped this book to any of you but I haven't made a 5/5 rating this year, I always find something to nit-pick about, but I'm about to do it...now...