November 30, 2007

Chocolat : A Review

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Vianne Rocher arrives in the small French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes on the first day of Lent in Joanne Harris's novel Chocolat. As the title suggests, chocolate is Vianne's business, or more appropriately, magic. In a matter of days, with the help of her daughter Anouk, she transforms an abandoned bakery into the decadent La Celeste Praline chocolate shop. Vianne watches her potential customers on their way to church, right next door, and slowly entices them into her shop and away from their Lenten fast.

Watching her is the priest Francis Reynaud. He sees Vianne as an usurper of the church, a pagan, and probably a witch. Where Reyaund belittles the problems of his flock, Vianne listens with an open heart. In a short time, Vianne wins over the people with her warmth while Reyaund never really fit in to begin. He disapproves of even the simple pleasure of good chocolate. When Vianne plans a chocolate festival on Easter Sunday, Reynaud views it as a battle for the souls of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes.

Chocolat wasn't a bad little book. The prose was lovely and the thought of all that chocolate...slurp...sorry, drooling. However, it was a little over the top. Reyaund was just so evil, it was almost silly. He is a caricature: Vianne's Black Man brought to life. I guess I should keep in mind that this is a modern fairy tale with Vianne as the Good Witch and that every fairy tale needs a dastardly villain.

Vianne herself was the least interesting character for me. She's nice, she makes chocolate, she had a hard childhood. Josephine, Armande, Guillaume, Roux, although secondary characters were lively, complex characters with odd quirks that made them fun to read about.

Having two narrators, Vianne and Reynaud, was a nice touch. A fun diversion, I did enjoy this book enough to give it...

3.5/5

Also Reviewed By: Naida The Bookworm

November 29, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Rolling

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Booking Through Thursday

Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that… Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors…


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 I thought my answer was a definite no. My tastes are pretty varied, but I do participate in challenges and challenges usually have a theme. I recently completed the RIP challenge, the theme being the macabre. I read a handful of stories by Daphne DuMaurier and a book of ghost stories. It was a lot of fun reading spooky books for Halloween. Now I'm participating in the Canadian Books Challenge, books written by Canadians or about Canada. That said I'm not reading them one after another. I have a list of books TBR I pick from but not in any particular order.

Does that answer the question? lol!

November 28, 2007

Reindeer Moss

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Looks like snow, doesn't it? I found this on a hilltop while hiking. The name makes me think of Santa.

More Wordless Wednesday

November 27, 2007

Forbidden Fruit?

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I just finished listening to CBC Radio's Q found in the "Related" section of this news article on book challenging. If you do not wish to listen to the program, the article pretty much sums it up. Book challenging is in the news here in Canada because the Halton Catholic school board is reviewing whether or not to pull The Golden Compass from their shelves after a complaint. I at least give the school board kudos for reading the book and taking the time to discuss it, rather than just pull it from the shelves.

A Catholic or any religious school is going to be run a little differently than your average public school. The parents of students are looking for a specific type of education geared towards their beliefs and values. However, as Pearce Carefoote, author of Forbidden Fruit, a book on banned books, says, even bad ideas need discussion. Here's a perfect opportunity for the school to say, 'we don't agree with the author and here's why.' During the program, Philip Pullman also makes a good point:

"If you want people to read a book, then make a fuss about it, make it controversial. Tell your children they are not to read this book under any circumstances. What is more likely to make them go to the shelf and take it down and read it from there?"

It's not surprising that The Golden Compass has been challenged. A couple of book friends received emails urging them not to let their children read it because it's anti-religious. Plus, the new movie just brings it to people's minds. The book came out 10 years ago. People are just getting riled up now? I wonder how much of this controversy will actually encourage people to see the movie.

Carefoote points out that book challenging is on the rise but actual banning has decreased. He seems to believe that it's because of more reading material and a more literate society, but he also so says that book challengers are 'disenfranchised'. So, does that mean that more people are feeling disenfranchised or that more authors are writing controversial books?

Forbidden Fruit should be an interesting read for Banned Book week when it comes around again. I found it interesting the the most famous cases of book challenging in Canada were of books written by well known female Canadian authors. We Canadian chicks...what a bunch of trouble makers ;)

November 26, 2007

NaBloPoMo Blo's

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Not really, but...

I was breezing right through this month. Topics were flying at me from every which way- until today. I couldn't think of a thing to post about. I think I've run out of things to say. [Gasp!] So let's see, what can I talk about?

-I've got a good bite out of my Christmas shopping. Of course, I have the hardest ones left to buy for.
-I had the sudden urge to paint something today. Not art, window ledges.
-I'm struggling with Bleak House.
-I'm enjoying Chocloat.
-I'm resisting Christmas decorating but over the weekend we had a smidgen of snow. I got that Christmas feeling. So far, I only brought out the singing penguins and my Willow Tree Nativity set. Oh and a wreath for outside. That's not really much.

If you haven't fallen asleep by now, please offer me some encouragement. Just a couple of days of daily posting to go!

November 25, 2007

Time Wasters

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I'm always looking for new ways to procrastinate. First, there was Solitaire for Windows, then my kid's Webkinz account (addictive). Now my fellow bloggers have lead me into temptation again.
  • Literary Pursuit posted this link to The Goodhue Codex, a mystery library game. I can see it might be addictive. Besides the main mystery, you can play library related games. I ran over a few library patrons with Bobo.
Give it a try but don't blame me if the laundry piles up!

November 24, 2007

Books Worth Sharing

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After standing outside in the cold for 2 hours watching the Santa Claus parade with my daughter, she looked up at me, red nose and all, and said, "I loved the parade. It was fun." I'll forget my frozen fingers and toes but that will stay with me forever. Making memories with my girl is one of the highlights of motherhood for me.

Today is the final day for Children's Book Week. There are so many books I want to share with my daughter as she grows older. I thought I'd share my list with you all. I know it's a girly-girly list but, hey, I'm a girly-girl.
  • The Endless Steppe This story has stuck with me since my parents gave it to me for Christmas in my Pre-teens. Esther's struggles as a young girl in a Russian interment camp revealed to me how lucky I am. I still remember her disastrous attempt at washing her hair.



  • Little Women The first 'real' book I ever read. Another Christmas gift. I didn't have any sisters but if I did I'd want them to be like the March clan- with me as Jo, of course.



  • Heidi I still have the copy my Grandmother gave me. I loved this story of a little girl living with her Grandfather in the Swiss Alps.





  • Charlotte's Web I was never a fan of spiders, still not, but a spider helping a pig is a great story for kids.





  • Anne of Green Gables After reading Anne, I wanted red hair and freckles, or at least be her friend Diana. I can't wait to share this Canadian classic with my daughter.




  • Nancy Drew Yes, they're terribly old fashioned and predictable, but I thought Nancy's adventures were great fun in my younger years.





Whether you have kids or not, what books would you share with a child?

November 22, 2007

Booking Through Thursday & American Thanksgiving

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Although we here in Canada had Thanksgiving in October, I'd like to wish my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving. Love that Macy's parade!

Booking Through Thursday is a little different this week. First, it was posted on Monday and, second, it's hosted by someone else. So here it goes:

Connecting Words

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Okay, today’s question is going to be a little different. First, I’m posting it early because Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I’m going to be busy making and eating turkey as I’m sure some of you will also be, so I want to give everyone time to play. And two, because I’m basically going to link you through to somebody else’s blog with a question that I thought was pretty interesting.

Joanna and Brad are asking about “connecting words,” and they don’t mean conjunctions like “and” or “but.” No, what they’re looking for are unique, or treasured words that we’ve found out and about in our daily travels, words that might not be common usage, or often heard, but which struck a chord for some reason.

This is unorthodox, of course, but here’s the thing: if you link back to Joanna’s post (which is where the rules are written), you’re eligible to win a prize. Not to mention joining in some great conversation about interesting words.

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to leave a comment there or not. She only specifies that you should link to it in your post, but . . . I suppose a comment wouldn’t hurt. But, as always, comment here, too, please so that all of us can play along. I’ve already answered this one here.

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments.

This is an interesting question. Through the internet, I've learned a plethora (haha- saw that in someone else's post) of dirty words and acronyms (LOL). It's difficult to remember the ones I've picked up from other bloggers, but there are a few that stand out.
  • Poppet. The first time I saw this I thought, "What the heck is a poppet?" When I saw those cute little roaming knomes of the internet, I just had to have one.
  • Enbiggen & savvy. Kookiejar is the Pop Culture Queen and some of her words attach themselves to me, like enbiggen (from the Simpsons) "It's a perfectly cromulent word" and savvy (from Captain Jack Sparrow)
  • Bookaholic. As in Stephanie's Confessions of... A good description of myself.
  • ARC. A beautiful word for bookaholics. Advanced Readers Copy (free books!)
My island has an interesting vernacular and I thought I heard it all until my brother-in-law used the phrase "Fill your boots." It's kinda similar to "get 'er done" or "give 'er". Want some more turkey? Fill your boots. (Use that around the table today!) Here are some other local words:
  • Sook. A whiner, cry baby.
  • By'. Usually 'boy' but can be used at the end of every sentence. "You should have seen her face, by'"
  • Puck. To hit someone. "If you don't stop it by', I'm going to puck you in the head."
  • Bun of bread. My husband hates this one. A loaf of bread.
There's a ton of them but that's the ones that stand out.

November 21, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Fall Visitors

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More Wordless Wednesday

November 20, 2007

International Children's Day

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International Children's Day coincides with Children's Book Week. I don't know if this was on purpose or not but it certainly brings to mind children's literacy around the world. I recently read this article about declining reading skills in the US. There was a lot of information in the report sited in the article but one ray of hope appeared regarding 9 year olds:

"I think there's been an enormous investment in teaching kids to read in elementary school," said NEA chairman Dana Gioia.

It's seems that as kids get older they abandon reading. Teachers, librarians are trying hard to encourage reading. It's difficult to keep their attention with the lure of technology.

Recently, my family went to a Robert Munsch show. He's quite a character. He didn't just read his stories, he performed them and got the kids involved. It was loud and chaotic but lots of fun for the kids. The adults enjoyed it as well. The stories can be a little weird and not always about the politest of subjects, but a giant green and purple fart certainly captures a Kindergartner's imagination.

Apparently, it's much harder to capture the imagination of a 15 year old.

November 19, 2007

Name that Short Story!

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Detective investigates suspicious disappearance: man-eating couch.

Inspired by Gentle Reader's contribution, six word stories, for the latest edition of Bookworm's Carnival hosted by The Armenian Odar, I'm attempting to describe a short story I read when I was a teen. It was one in a collection of short stories, possibly horror stories. I remember the details of the story pretty clearly but can't figure out the title or who wrote it. Here's the gist:

A detective questions the wife of a missing man. The woman seems distressed but hasn't a clue about what may have happened to him. The woman leaves the room to make tea or something. The detective sits on the couch, quite a comfortable couch, maybe he'll just have a quick snooze. The couch very slowly folds it's cushions over the man and eats him.

I'm pretty sure I didn't dream this one! If you can tell me the name of this short story, I'd appreciate it.

For more short stories, visit the Carnival (see above) and The Book Mine Set.

November 18, 2007

Knuffle Bunny: Children's Book

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Since this week is TD Canadian Children's Book Week (Nov 17-24) and I have a child, I thought I'd write a review of a book we both enjoy.

If you've read of Don't Let a Pigeon Drive the Bus with your kids then you know who Mo Willems is. In Knuffle Bunny, Mo tells the tale of Trixie and her Dad's trip to the Laundromat, the loss of precious Knuffle Bunny and his rescue by Trixie's Daddy.

It's not a long book but the story is so endearing. What parent hasn't been frustrated by their child's inability to communicate and vice versa? The illustrations feature real photographs of a New York neighbourhood and delightful drawings of people. I thought the expressions on Trixie and her Dad's faces were priceless.

So simple but so enjoyable. This is one I don't mind reading over and over and over and over....

November 17, 2007

Cotillion: Review

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After reading An Infamous Army, I couldn't wait to give Georgette Heyer more of my time. Cotillion is quite a different novel than An Infamous Army. Kitty Charing, the ward of a cantankerous miser, must marry one of the old man's great-nephews or be left penniless upon his death. Kitty's choices are: the stogy Hugh, the simple minded Dolph, the dandified Freddy or the rakish Jack. Kitty can only image marrying Jack whom she's adored since childhood. Jack refuses to be pushed into marriage; it's too much fun being a sought after bachelor in London.

Kitty, desperate to get to London and out from under the thumb of 'Uncle Matthew', devises a scheme. She convinces Freddy to pose as her fiance to make Jack jealous. Sure of her plan, she drags Freddy all over London stumbling into misadventures only Jack, Chrissy and Janet could appreciate. Kitty involves herself in unlikely couples' romances and neglects her own. To know how it all turns out for Kitty, you just have to read it. I don't want to give too much away.

Cotillion is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. Kitty is adorable and warm hearted, but she never thinks through her plans. Freddy somehow manages to pull her out of her messes with a calm practicality that surprises everyone. At times, it reads like a Regency version of "Dumb and Dumber" (without the gross). Their trip to the museums was quite funny. Here is Freddy's reaction to 'treasures of ancient Greece':

"...he was called upon to admire the Three Fates, from the eastern pediment. 'Dash it, they've got no heads!' he protested.
'No but you see, Freddy, they are so very old! They have been damaged' explained Miss Charing.
'Damaged! I should rather think so! They haven't got any arms either!..."

While reading An Infamous Army, I was often overwhelmed by the painstaking detail of the battle of Waterloo. The only battles here were ones fought by ambitious Mamas but I was frustrated with Freddy's vernacular. First, he has an aversion to pronouns and also uses a tremendous amount of slang. It took me awhile to get used to it. A glossary might be helpful. Now I see that it was a device used by Heyer to convince the reader that Freddy isn't very bright.

Although it's comic, it also has a lot of heart. I really loved each of the characters. The book also emphasizes how little control a woman of that time had over her own destiny.

I definitely recommend Cotillion if you are in the mood for something light and fun as well as well written.

4.5/5

November 15, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Preservations

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Today’s question comes from Conspiracy-Girl:
I’m still relatively new to this meme so I’m not sure if this has been asked yet, but I’m curious how many of us write notes in our books. Are you a Footprint Leaver or a Preservationist?


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'm a preservationist. I can't stand the thought of marking up my books, especially if they're new. The only thing I will do is write my name (in pencil) on the first page, but only if it's a book I'm lending out.

November 14, 2007

Wahoo! for Bookfool

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Other Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made On had a great idea. Our blogging friend Bookfool (Nancy) is unable to keep up her blog and her Wahoo Wednesdays because of some health issues within her family. So Chris decided to Wahoo Wednesday himself in her honour.

Gourdie says Wahoo!

Wahoo for Bookfool! Hope she's able to Wahoo soon herself. We all miss her.

Wahoo for Chris! Book bloggers are the nicest people on the planet and Chris just drives that fact home.

Wahoo for unexpected sunny days. Today was a gorgeous day- not too cold- and in November.

Wahoo for great things in the mail! During the 24-hour Readathon, I won a Curious George journal from Dewey. It's so cute.

Mmmm...Seeds.

Wahoo for Chickadees! This little fella was so tame even though he lives on a remote hilltop. What a brave little dude! And yes, that's my arm and my hair.

Wahoo for Christmas music! I dusted off some of my favorite discs for the season. Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong is a favorite from last year. A Song for a Winter's Night makes me tear up- in a good Wahoo way.

Wahoo for Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (December 2007)! It's all about baking for the holidays. I especially love the look of the Cranberry Scones. Mmmmm....scones.

And Wahoo for making it through the first 2 weeks of NaBloPoMo!

Whoopsie Wahoo! Chris informed me that it was CJ's idea to Wahoo Wednesday. So Wahoo to CJ at My Year of Reading Seriously!

Wordless Wednesday: Why Yes, I do have a New Camera

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Still trying to figure out how to use it though.

More Wordless Wednesday.

November 13, 2007

A Lazy Blogger Book Meme

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I'm feeling like a lazy blogger today. I have things I can blog about but can't get into it. So, I'll use this meme from Dewey to inspire me (hopefully).


1. Do you remember learning to read? How old were you?
I can't remember the exact moment, but I seem to remember those "See Jane run" books in Kindergarten. I guess I was about 5 or 6.

2. What do you find most challenging to read? Biographies. I hate dry writing.

3. What are your library habits? I usually request books online and pick them up at the local library. I love the internet!

4. Have your library habits changed since you were younger? Yes. When I was a kid, I would go to the library, once every 2 weeks, with my parents and take out as many as they'd let me. My library wasn't big and I outgrew it fast.

5. How has blogging changed your reading life? To some degree. I've been lucky enough to receive a few books for free, so that's a bonus! I also feel obligated to read them and then blog about them. Lately, I think I've taken on a bit more than I can handle. Something's got to give.

6. What percentage of your books do you get from: New book stores, second hand book stores, the library, online exchange sites, online retailers, other? Interesting question! I haven't really broke it down but I guess 25% library, 25% local book stores, 25% used and 25% online (including a discounted online shop). It's spread out evenly.

7. How often do you read a book and NOT review it in your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about books? I've only missed reviewing "A Passage to India," mostly because I forgot about it. I didn't have much to say about it actually.

8. What are your pet peeves about ways people abuse books? Dogearing pages? Reading in the bath? All of the above!

9. Do you ever read for pleasure at work? I'm a stay-at-home-Mom so I guess I do!

10. When you give people books as gifts, how do you decide what to give them? It really depends on the person and their tastes.

November 12, 2007

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade: Review

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If you’ve read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, then you know who Lord John is. If you need a reminder, he’s a Major in the British Army who was once the jailer of Jamie Fraser. They eventually become friends but it’s a rocky road. For, you see, Lord John is in love with Jamie and the feelings are not mutual.

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade takes place while Jamie is an indentured servant to friends of John. Jamie makes a few brief (but memorable) appearances. Lord John is on the hunt for answers surrounding his father’s death, an apparent suicide. When pages from John’s father’s missing journal start appearing, old wounds are once again opened up. What exactly was his father involved in? What secret is his mother hiding? John makes it his mission to retrieve the honour of his father and his family.

Lord John isn’t really my favorite character in the Outlander series but his situation makes for some interesting reading. A military man with a high sense of honour, he puts a great deal of effort into hiding his homosexuality from friends and family. (Although I suspect his family have an idea). Not only would revealing his secret ruin his career, in this time period, it might end his life. This is only all too apparent towards the end of the novel, when he finds himself in a difficult moral dilemma.

Now, if you are still reading this, then it’s obvious John likes the mens. Diana never shies away from the sex in her books. I’ve read other bloggers refer to her Outlander series as the “Scottish sex books.” Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade is the same, except it’s two dudes. As always, she goes into the..err..gory details that have me thinking ‘TMI.’ But the bigger issue for me was that John would go for a guy like Percy at all. He is, in my opinion, a pretty boy and not really who I would think of with John. I mean, he’s in love with Jamie. Ja-mi-e! Not in quite the same ballpark.

Some of my favorite parts of the book were the interactions between John and his family. Despite the fact that they all are hiding secrets from each other, it’s obvious that they love one another. They don’t have to hold hands and sing Christmas carols but it’s there. They would do what had to be done to protect one another.

Although it lagged a bit in the middle, the last chapters flew by. Always well written and entertaining, Diana Gabaldon’s books don’t disappoint.

4/5

November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day

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Lest We Forget


In November, we remember. Here in Canada it's Remembrance Day. It's a solemn holiday in this country and even more solemn lately for all the families of Canadians killed in Afghanistan.

All around the country, people will recite the famous poem written by John McCrae, In Flanders Fields. Here's "A Part of Our Heritage: In Flanders Fields" a short about the story behind the poem.

November 10, 2007

Say It Right

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Kookiejar started this and then it spread like Chicken Pox in a Daycare. I had to do it too!

Here's what you do:
Set your Mp3 player on shuffle and write the title of the first song that comes up as an answer to each question no matter how stupid it sounds...(savvy? Here we go.)


IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY?" YOU SAY?
1234 (Feist) That's how long you got until the sheet hits the fan, dawg.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
Tom Sawyer (Rush)
Though my mind is not for rent, don't put me down as arrogant.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
My Apology (Great Big Sea) Doesn't being in love mean you never have to say you're sorry?!

HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW?
Should I Stay or Should I Go (The Clash) There are days!!!

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Bring the Boys Home (Jann Arden) Haha! Should I protest on Parliament Hill?

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Solitaire (Jann Arden) Yeah, I'm a loner ;)

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
The Wedding Funeral (Ashley MacIsaac) Is it that bad?

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT OFTEN?
End of the World (Great Big Sea) Oh no! That's not good!

WHAT IS 1+1?
Hung Up (Madonna) Yeah, I was never good at math.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Isamael & Maggie (The Trews) I need friends with better names.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Born to Run (K-Os) That's too funny!

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LOVE?
You're an Original (Sheryl Crow) Now that is dead on!

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Since You've Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson) Kind of appropriate.

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST??
The Park (Feist) Well, I do enjoy long walks in the park.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?
Boholla Medley (The Cottars) I don't know what a Boholla is...I guess I'm afraid of the unknown ;)

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Yearning (The Trews) Don't we all yearn for something?

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
White Trash Wedding (The Dixie Chicks) LOL! That is too funny!!

WHAT IS THE THEME SONG TO YOUR LIFE?
You Don't Know What Love Is (The White Stripes) Aw, how sad :(

WHAT DESCRIBES YOU?
300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues (The White Stripes) I swear, I'm a happy person!

WHAT WILL YOU NAME THIS POST?
Say It Right (Nelly Furtado) Damn Straight!

That was fun! Give it a try yourselves.

November 9, 2007

Guest Blogger: Karen E Olson

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The day is finally here! Karen drops by my blog on her blog tour promoting Dead of the Day. This is very exciting for me. I'm always flattered when Karen drops by my blog and leaves a comment. (She leaves great comments.) So when Karen asked me to be on her blog tour of course I said Yes!

I hope you all get a chance to check out the new book: Dead of the Day and if you haven't already, read Sacred Cows and Secondhand Smoke. You can find out more about Karen and her writing on her website. Enjoy!

One of the best things about the crime genre is the series. It began with
Nancy Drew for me when I was in fourth grade, and then when I started
reading mysteries seriously many, many years later, I discovered I didn’t
have to just read one book by Sara Paretsky or Sue Grafton. There were
several books, with the same characters! Who knew?

I love series books because I truly feel like I know those characters, and
when I’m finished with one book, I can pick up the next and follow them
through another adventure. Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone is the
grandmother of all the modern women protagonists. Muller’s first Sharon
McCone book came out in 1977. Sharon was a private eye working for a
legal aid service at the time. Twenty-five books later, Sharon has her
own company and has just gotten married. JA Jance has been just as
prolific with her JP Beaumont series; Beau has gone from homicide
detective in Seattle to investigator with a special unit set up by the
state prosecutor, he’s gone into AA, and he’s just gotten married, too.

The best series are the ones in which the protagonists grow and evolve,
like Sharon and Beau. Although I will pick up Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie
Plum books just to see if she’s ever going to make a decision between
Ranger and Joe (I doubt it).

One-offs are getting to be more “the thing” with publishers. Mostly every
writer I know is working on a standalone, and even Muller and Jance have
veered off into this territory, too. It’s not easy writing a series,
because as a writer, you really don’t want to let the characters get
stale. I find after writing four Annie Seymour books now, it’s actually
harder to write them even though I do know exactly what Annie’s going to
say and do — at least most of the time.

One of my favorite writers, Laura Lippman, has jumped into the standalone
pool (her latest, WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, is amazing), but she still continues
to write her Tess Monaghan series in between. Michael Connelly has taken
breaks from Harry Bosch, but fortunately has not abandoned the series.
Although Dennis Lehane hit it big with MYSTIC RIVER and has not returned
to his Kenzie/Gennaro books.

Even though standalones are a trend in the crime genre right now, I hope
they don’t push the series out. I like awaiting “the next book,” finally
seeing it’s out, and bringing it home to settle in with the cats and a cup
of tea. It’s like getting together with an old friend and finding out
what’s new after a long absence.

Do you enjoy a good series, too, or are you strictly a standalone reader?

November 8, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Volume

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Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less?
Why?


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!

(Sorry this is late, everyone. I could blame it on getting older, but really, I took Monday and Tuesday off for my birthday and then completely lost track of what day it was. Thankfully, I have questions in queue for just these kinds of emergencies! –Deb)


First of all, Happy Birthday to Deb!

I would say I read less. I would spend hours locked away in my bedroom reading, sometimes until 2 in the morning. Now, being a busy Mom, I squeeze it in when I can. There is so much too do!

There was a time in my late teens, early twenties when I didn't read at all. I was 'too busy'. HA! I wish I could go back and smack myself.

Secondhand Smoke: Review

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It's probably not recommended to read a series last to first, but that's how I'm doing the Annie Seymour series! Secondhand Smoke is the second in Karen Olson's mystery series.

Annie wakes up in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke. A neighbourhood landmark, the Italian restaurant Prego, is in flames with little hope of salvaging. Annie switches into reporter mode and finds out a body was discovered in the rubble. And the owner is missing. Sensing there is a lot more to this story than the tight lipped community is letting on, Annie makes enemies in her own home. When her father, a man with 'connections', returns to New Haven, Annie finds herself under the scrutiny of the police, the FBI and the mob. Still, she can't let a good story slip away. Who's body was in the fire? Where is the owner? And what's the deal with the chickens?

Annie is still quite a character. A tough cookie who can't back down, even when threatened. I thought it was very interesting that Annie is such an outsider in her community. It's not really all that surprising but was interesting to see how she handled it. Things that are common knowledge are news to her. This is very frustrating for a reporter like herself.

I found myself annoyed with all the neighbourhood Mama's that get between Annie and Vinny. Like Vinny could marry a girl like Rosie! Argh! I wanted to give him a kick in the pants too.

I really did enjoy Secondhand Smoke with it's twists and turns but liked Dead of the Day even more. That just shows that the series is getting better and better, as a series should. (Again, a reason to read a series in the correct order).

4/5

Remember, tomorrow Karen E Olson is my guest blogger as she tours her way around the blogging world.

November 7, 2007

Wordless Wednesday 2: Peace

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I nearly forgot... Peace.

Wordless Wednesday: Berries

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I'm not sure what kind of berry this is but it can't be edible because the birds won't touch them.

More Wordless Wednesday

November 6, 2007

Dead of the Day: Review

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When Karen sent her book Dead of the Day to me, I was really excited. Then I had a moment of worry, “What if I don’t like it? What am I going to say?” I mean, I haven’t read her other books. I had no idea what I was getting into. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry. I loved it and I’m not just kissing up to Karen either.

Dead of the Day has everything: murder, car crashes and ….bees? Yes, bees, but we’ll get to that later. Annie Seymour, the protagonist of this series, is a tough as nails reporter for the New Haven Herald. When a body is found floating in the harbour, she rushes to the scene. The peculiar thing is not only does no one know who the Hispanic man is but he shows no signs of injury, except for the bee stings on his body. Annie follows the clues putting the story together, which coincide with the shooting of the new police chief. The puzzle just keeps on getting bigger and bigger. To top it all off, she has sort out her love life. Will it be Vinny or Tom?

Since kookiejar declared that she wants to marry a book and have little baby books with it, I don’t feel weird telling you I have a bit of a girl crush on Annie. Of course, in real life she’d scare the bejebus out of me, but on the page she’s endearing (even though she has a mouth like a trucker). Karen does a great job of making Annie real. I love when characters have funny idiosyncrasies and there is something hilarious about a newspaper reporter who’s too cheap to pay her paperboy. I think that’s what I liked the most, that balance between mystery and humour.

There is a lot of story here. It’s just one thing after another, but it all comes together at the end. The pacing was excellent. I felt like I needed a nap once I was finished. It was well crafted and well done. Although I haven’t read the previous two books, I didn’t feel like I was out to sea. I hope to find those books and look forward to the next one in November 2008.

4.5/5

November 5, 2007

Checking In

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Thanks for all the well wishes. We made it through ok. Today though. ugh. I have the flu. I'm miserable.

November 4, 2007

Wind

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Noel is here. He arrived late last night and woke me up several times. The radio is reporting a few blown off roofs and trees down in the streets. He's trying hard to rip the gutters off the house and my poor little tree is having a hard time. The wind is making me cranky.

There are sections of the province without power but so far we've been lucky. I wouldn't be surprised if we lost ours.

By this afternoon, the winds are supposed to die down. Cross your fingers.

November 3, 2007

Reading Challenge Update

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Since it's the beginning of November, I think it's a good time to see how I'm progressing with my reading challenges.
  • RIP 2 Challenge. 4/4. Done. Hurray!
  • The Something About Me Challenge. 4/10. This challenge ends December 31. Epp! I better get on that.
  • The TBR Challenge. 8/12 (2/5 Alternates). I don't think I'm going to finish this one. It ends December 31 as well.
  • The Canadian Book Challenge. 1/10. It's supposed to be 13. Oh well. I have until July 1 for this one.
I'm trying to go easy on the challenges. Somehow I end up with books I really want to read that aren't on my lists. I wish I could clone myself!

I know a few bloggers who can't say no to any challenge and some who say "no way". Where do you fall?

November 1, 2007

Oh, Horror!

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What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?

I thought about asking you about whether you were participating in NaNoWriMo, but I asked that last year. Although . . . if you want to answer that one, too, please feel free to go ahead and do both, or either, your choice!

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!


Well, since I was involved in the RIP Challenge, I'd have to say Yes. Although I prefer psychological thrillers to blood and gore. There are so many sub-genres within horror. There is the Stephen King/Dean Koontz style horror that's in your face or the subtle style of Shirley Jackson. One book that scared the pants off me was The Handmaid's Tale. Not really horror, more a dystopian novel, but horrifying, at least to me. I think everyone has their own definition of horror. Personally, I liked a good scare every once in a while.

nrelate