February 29, 2008

Too Lijit

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If you look in my sidebar, you'll see something new. I added the Lijit search engine, which I've just learned about. Basically, you can search my blog for stuff. For instance, you might say, "Hey, didn't Chris once blog about a piano playing cat?" Now you can search for it on my blog. Believe me, I'm going to use it. My memory sucks.

February 28, 2008

BTT: Heroine

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Booking Through Thursday

Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)


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!


Reader, Jane Eyre is my favorite. At the beginning of the novel, she is an abused and neglected child. She is passionate, lashing out against the cruelty of her aunt and cousins. After she's sent to Lowood, she learns to take care of herself and gains confidence enough to go out into the world alone to make a living. As governess, she's caring to a girl so different than herself but almost as starved for love as she was as a child. While sparring with the master of the house, she doesn't let him get the better of her. Mr Rochester sees that spark of passion. He falls in love with her not because she's beautiful but because she's intelligent, an intellectual match for him. After her wedding day falls to pieces, she makes the difficult decision to leave Mr Rochester. She could have been his mistress. She loved him but she left him because she knew she'd hate herself later. She's moral but not preachy. I'm not even sure what religion she follows. It takes incredible strength to leave Thornfield, the place she sees as her home. Jane is found, half dead, by St John and makes herself useful to his sisters. Jane could have chosen to marry St John but she knows he doesn't love her and she doesn't love him. Somehow she comes back to Rochester, a woman of wealth, and marries a man as broken as he is because she loves him. Aw, so romantic!

Jane's been my favorite since I first read it in my teens. I love her strength of character. I love her unbelievable happy ending. She's unique in her time as a woman who's not out hunting for a husband, although she gets one on her own terms.

Note: I saw Definitely, Maybe last night. The book comes up during the story and becomes a big part of the plot near the end. It was a great movie, funny and smart. A great movie to see with your girlfriends.

February 27, 2008

Wordless: Tulip

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More Wordless Wednesday

February 26, 2008

Birthday Present

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For my birthday, we welcomed a new member to our family. She doesn't have a name yet. Since our other cat has a name but we just call her kitty, I want a name that will stick. Two Kitties would be confusing!

February 24, 2008

Well, at least we had that one day

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Trying to read, Child wiggles in my lap.

Me: Can you be good, please?

Child: I was good one day.

Me: One day? In your whole 5 years on this earth?

Child: Well, maybe two.

Presenting Coco

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Poppet Coco arrived in the mail last week.

The way her head is tilted, it gives me the impression that she's a bit of a diva.

What a cute couple!

Tess of the D'Ubervilles: Review

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Thomas Hardy probably wasn't the life of party, if his writing is any indication. Still, he is one of my favorite authors.

Tess of the D'Ubervilles
is filled with vivid descriptions of the diary lands of England and the melodramas of a few inhabitants. Tess Durbeyfield is a naive 16 year old girl, the only sensible member of a poor family. After an accident which takes their livelihood from them, her parents send her to a wealthy family whom they believe are distant relatives. Instead of the answer to their prayers, they push her into the lecherous arms of Alec D'Uberville. Tess returns home changed and scandalized.

Tess realizes she can't stay with her parents but must go out into the world alone. She finds work as a diarymaid in a nearby town and falls in love with the son of a minister, Angel Clare. Knowing nothing of her past, Angel begs her to marry him. Tess, so close to happiness, avoids telling Angel her secret until it is too late. Things go from bad to worse...

I think the main message of Hardy's novel is that, at this time, it sucks to be a woman, especially a poor woman. Especially telling is the title of Phase 5: The Woman Pays. And she pays, and pays, and pays... What Tess pays for mostly is what nature gives her: a pretty face and a sexy body. At sixteen, Tess is a child with a woman's body. Tess could use her body to get what she needs, but she knows that in this society 'purity' is a big deal. When she loses it anyway, she has little left to which to bargain. No money, no property, and no great family connections. She's damaged goods, no matter how pretty. Women she meets are a little more willing to accept her, it could easily be themselves in her position, but the men who know her story feel inclined to make her feel like dirt. Angel is the worst for withdrawing his love.

I was often frustrated with the guilt Tess carried. She punished herself unnecessarily. After all, there were plenty of other people willing to do that. Towards the end she finally started standing up for herself. However, Hardy just won't let us have a happy ending. I found the melodramatic ending overkill. I don't have a problem with happy or sad endings if they fit the story, but this ending went over the top.

Although I enjoyed the story, the descriptions and the writing, the end takes a full point off my rating:

3.5/5

Oxford Bookworms Library, New Edition: Level 6 (2,500 headwords) Tess of the d'Ubervilles

February 21, 2008

Eclipse on the East Coast

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My hubby took these photos last night during the eclipse. I watched from the window. I wasn't standing around in the cold!


This ones kinda spooky. A cloud was just moving in front of the moon.

BTT: Format

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Booking Through Thursday

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And 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!


Hmm. I don't think I have a preference. I could squeeze more books in with paperbacks, but space doesn't count for this question. Paperbacks are easy to carry around, especially in a purse. Hardcovers look so pretty though. Hardcovers. I'm going with that. Form not function today.

February 20, 2008

Wordless: New Books

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More Wordless Wednesday

February 19, 2008

Found Items

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Ever stumble over something while web surfing and think, "Oh cool! I've never seen anything like this on the internet" only to find out you're the last person on the planet who hasn't heard of it.

Here are some of the things recently discovered by me and of course I have to share with you. Kinda like Columbus 'finding' America, they've already been discovered by thousands of people. It's my blog; I'm planting a flag in these:

My Live Signature
: (Above)I could spend hours making these. (Yes, I'm that vain.) Try experimenting to find your best autograph for when you're rich and famous.

Esty: Drool over what the creative people are making. I wish I had that kind of talent.

sk*rt: Interesting stuff on the internet rated by women. If you have a profile, friend me. I'm, guess what, chrisbookarama.

Blogher: "Community for women who blog." Found this last month. I submitted my blog then, but it's still not on the blog list :(

Design Mom: Scribbit was a Guest Mom recently, which is how I found this amazing blog. Those are some creative moms!

If you've found something you're sure will be 'the next bit thing', how about letting me in on it. It would be nice to say, "What! You haven't heard of that?!" for a change.

February 16, 2008

A Complicated Kindness: Review

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I didn't know much about A Complicated Kindness when I picked it off the shelf a few days ago. I knew it won the 2006 Canada Reads competition but that's about it. If you're like me, I'll enlighten you.

Nomi Nickel is a 16 year old living with her father in a Mennonite community in southern Manitoba. Three years previous, her sister and mother left town, separately, and she's hasn't heard from either since. Her father, a quiet and kind man, raises Nomi in a style he calls benign neglect. Really, he's as shell shocked by this fracture as Nomi is. Although Nomi worries about her father, she lives recklessly, skipping school and getting high.

Nomi sees no future for herself in this strict community and appears to be giving into despair. She wishes she could be living in New York where she could be anyone other than a girl destined for a career as chicken decapitator at Happy Family Farms. Outwardly, the townspeople see her tough, sarcastic and cynical side, but inside she's fragile; a girl trying to make sense of the events that lead up to the disappearance of 'the better looking half' of her family and wondering how to go on.

A Complicated Kindness is both funny and heart breaking. At first, I found Nomi and Ray quirky but by the end I was so sad for them both. Nomi and her family could have done so much if they had been allowed to feel that they could. Instead, they're trapped by rigid and baffling rules, while waiting for the Rapture. Still, the Mennonite community could be any community, while their religious beliefs don't allow anyone different to flourish, in another small town it might be small mindedness or gossip.

I don't think the people of East Village (Nomi's town) realize how much in common she has with their founder Menno Simons:

"Five hundred years ago in Europe a man named Menno Simons set off to do his own peculiar religious thing and he and his followers were beaten up and killed or forced to conform all over Holland, Poland, and Russia until they, at least some of them, finally landed right here where I sit."

Nomi is doing her 'own peculiar religious thing', questioning the rules The Mouth (her uncle) is forcing her to conform to.

At the end of the novel, I felt drained. I wanted to hug this tough kid who desperately needed a mother. I also had more questions than answers: What really happened to her mother? What is wrong with Lids? And what will happen to Nomi? But as Nomi says herself, "I've got a problem with endings."

This is a book I'll definitely read again, but not if I'm feeling really blue.

4/5

Also Reviewed By: Teddy @ So Many Precious Books...

Hey, Poindexter!

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This quiz has been making the blogging world rounds. Sounds about right too.


What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Artistic Nerd

Social Nerd

Drama Nerd

Gamer/Computer Nerd

Science/Math Nerd

Musician

Anime Nerd

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace


Also, Big Thanks to Bonnie at Bonnie's Books for The Best Blogging Buddies Award for Global Communities. I'm not sure what the rules are for this one so I'm just going to polish it and put it in the blog awards case in the sidebar.

February 14, 2008

Dear Reader...

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Happy Valentine's Day!!

BTT: After the Honeymoon

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Booking Through Thursday

I had a post ready for today, but I liked this suggestion from Chris even better, so … thanks, Chris!

Here’s something for Valentine’s Day.

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

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!

Hey, that's me! Thanks Deb for using my question.

Back in high school, my first love was Stephen King. He was the bad boy who smoked, swore and wore a leather jacket. I spent many a late night with him, but like a lot of high school romances that start out hot and heavy, it couldn't last. I outgrew Steve while he stayed the same. I wouldn't mind a fling once in awhile now though. Maybe Duma Key?

Next was Mary Higgins Clark that chatty girl in the cafeteria. I ate up her stories until she started telling me the same ones over and over. I started taking my tray elsewhere.

Finally, I went goth with Anne Rice. Anne, poor misunderstood Anne, hiding in the dark areas of the library picking the black nail polish from her fingers. She opened me up to a whole new type of book: serious, thoughtful and just the right amount of weird. However, as time went on, she started doing odd things, like writing books about minor characters in her better stories and bragging that she didn't need a editor. I stopped reading after Blackwood Farm. Then I heard she had written a long winded response to a bad review on Amazon, kind of like girls who have too much wine and email their exes. I wonder if she regretted that?

February 13, 2008

Wordless: Willow

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February 12, 2008

E for Excellence

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E for Excellence is a blog award for all of you out there who have Excellent Blogs. By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to ten more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least ten.

You like me! You really like me! Okay, I'm no Sally Fields, but Bonnie from Bonnie's Books thought enough of me to give me the E for Excellent Award. Since Bonnie has an excellent blog herself, I'm very flattered. Thanks Bonnie.

Picking 10 blogs for the award is difficult because all the blogs I read are excellent. I wouldn't read them otherwise. Since I can give this award to as many blogs as I want, I'm going to give this to all the blogs in my sidebar, all 50 or so. No, I'm not just being lazy. I really mean it. All of you are plugged into my Google Reader and I read your posts whenever a new one pops up.

So pat yourselves on the back. Congratulations! You are excellent. Pass it on.

February 11, 2008

Snow Day

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Yep. A snow day. School was cancelled so the kid headed for outside. The wind was wicked but, as you can see, she was well covered. It takes more than a couple of inches of snow and howling wind to stop the fun around here.

February 9, 2008

A Meme, an Award and an Earworm

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A Meme:

Both Gautami & Marg tagged me for the 123 Meme.

1). Pick up the nearest book (of at least
123 pages)
2). Open the book to page 123
3). Find the fifth sentence
4). Post the next three sentences
5). Tag five people


From Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie:

"No,"said Poirot. "Two people who saw nothing and heard nothing."
"Shall we see the Italian?"


Intriguing.

I just bought this from the used bookstore and found a small card with 'To Nanny I Love You Holly' inside. Aww. Hope Nanny liked it.

Now who do I tag:

John
Raidergirl
Teddy
Charity
Tammy


An Award:

Kristina from Kristina's Favorites was nice enough to think of me when she was giving her picks for the You Make My Day Award. Thank you Kristina! You made my day too and you have an awesome name ;)

Now to pick 10 bloggers who make my day. This is tough. There are so many that make my day. I don't think anyone has tagged these people.

Pardon My French: Deb's stories of an American Mommy in France are both funny and touching.

Reading Adventures: Marg is a romantic soul. Everyone needs a little romance in their life.

Writing Wrongs: Charity's insights make me laugh.

Aquatique: She knits, reads and takes gorgeous pictures.

Orange Blossom Goddess: I enjoy Heather's quotes and those pinup girl pictures (I wish we wore hats like that again). Plus she's the author of The Library Ladder.

Kimbooktu: Love those book gadgets.

Karen: She shares a blog with other mystery writers: First Offenders. Karen's comments here make my day.

Bookgirl's Nightstand: Pretty blog and great reviews.

So Many Precious Books...: Ditto for Teddy's blog.

Whew one more...

Stephanie's Confessions: Stephanie's reviews make me smile.

Okay. Pay it forward.


An Earworm:

Do you know what an earworm is? It's a song stuck in a person's head. Ever since seeing this commercial (below), I've been driving everyone in my house crazy with my warbling "Rock me gently..." Come join me, won't you?

February 8, 2008

Poetry Friday: Sonnets from the Portuguese

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I'm not a poetry reader, but I wanted to get out of my reading box this year. So when Becky decided to host 19th Century Women Writers Challenge I chose Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Love Poems as one of my picks.

When I was in high school, I was fascinated by the Browning's story. Elizabeth Barrett, sickly and sheltered, runs away with Robert Browning at the age of 40 against her father's wishes. Ah, how romantic, I sighed. Now I'm in my 30's and either my heart turned to a hunk of coal or I've lived with an engineer too long (How do I love thee? Let me draw up a schematic) but I didn't find these poems romantic. In fact, they reek of desperation:

If I lay here dead,
Wouldst thou miss any life in losing mine? (XXIII)

Yikes. Death comes up a lot in these poems, by the way.

I could see why my high school self would enjoy them- breathy, dramatic, and sentimental. Maybe this isn't the poetry for me now; the thees, thous, beloveds and exclamation points drove me nuts.

I'll leave you with one of the poems that I did enjoy (no thous):

Question and Answer

Love you seek for, presupposes
Summer heat and sunny glow.
Tell me, do you find moss roses
Budding, blooming in the snow?
Snow might kill the rose tree's root-
Shake it quickly from your foot,
Lest it harm you as you go.

From the ivy where it dapples
A gray ruin, stone by stone,-
Do you look for grapes or apples,
Or for sad green leaves alone?
Pluck the leaves off, two or three-
Keep them for morality
When you shall be safe and gone.

February 7, 2008

The Winter Rose: Review

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The Winter Rose is the book everyone is buzzing about. I've seen it on several blogs and it even got itself a spot on Estella's Revenge this month. Donnelly's publishers should work for Stephane Dion; they run an aggressive campaign. I'm not complaining though. I wasn't saying no when they offered it to me to review.

In The Winter Rose, India Selwyn-Jones is passionate about one thing: medicine. India turned her back on her wealthy, upper class upbringing to delve into the misery of East End London at the turn of the 20th century. Just out of medical school, she is unprepared for the challenges she faces being a woman in a man's field. Her interests lie in helping women and children but finds little help from her male employer. Her dream of a free clinic seems impossible until help comes in the form of her cousin Wish, Ella the nurse, and her most unlikely ally, Sid Malone.

At first, India only sees Sid as cause of all the problems in the East End. He's a gangster, dealing in drugs and prostitution. As she spends more time with him, she finds out that there is more to Sid than what the newspapers say. He's a gangster with a heart of gold. Of course, they fall for one another.

Ah, but there are obstacles to overcome, namely Freddie Lytton, India's fiance and a moustache twirling villain. He'll do anything to advance his political career...anything.

The Winter Rose
is the second in the Rose series by Jennifer Donnelly. I didn't read the first book, The Tea Rose but I don't think it's necessary. Donnelly weaves bits of The Tea Rose into the book without interfering with the plot. This book is huge, 700+ pages, but it didn't take me long to read it. It clips along at a good pace. In fact, I had to put it down a few times because I just couldn't take another bad thing happening. (But then I picked it up a half hour later, hehe).

Like some other readers, the parts in Africa bothered me. All these people met up in the same place? Africa's a fairly big continent. However, I can see Donnelly's dilemma. How do you get them all together again? I also missed Ella and the Moskowitz clan in the second half of the book. Mama Moskowitz cracked me up.

This is a great book for readers who enjoy a big, romantic epic. I look forward to the next in the series.

4/5

Also Reviewed By: Wendy @ Caribousmom
Marg @ Reading Adventures

BTT: What? Not About BOOKS?!

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Booking Through Thursday

Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?

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!


Wow. A BTT that's not related to books. LOL! I've been reading so much lately that I hardly do anything else. There just aren't enough hours in a day.

I do have other hobbies though. I love photography (see my Wordless Wednesdays), even though I'm still figuring out my camera. What do I do with those pictures I take? I scrapbook. I have several projects on the go. I'm still working on my Halloween layouts. I enjoy being creative.

I used to crochet and cross stitch but haven't done either in a long time. In the spring and summer, I spend my free time in my yard gardening. I love sunflowers. Other than that, I watch movies and TV. Tonight is Lost night. Hurray!

February 6, 2008

Olivia: Children's Book

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Yesterday my girl had a day off from school so we took a trip to the library. I picked up Olivia by Ian Falconer and talked my girl into taking it home. She's a picky reader. I hadn't read it before but I loved the look of that little pig. I think I must have read it to my girl a dozen times yesterday. We both love Olivia!

I think what I love most about Olivia is how much she is like my girl. I kept stopping while I was reading to say, "You do that too!" Olivia is quite energetic; she wears her mother out. I've said that many a time to my girl. She loves to dance, dress up and sing very loud songs as does my darling daughter. It's always dinner and a show at my house.

The illustrations are simple yet beautiful. My favorite is Olivia imagining dancing on stage. It's adorable. Apparently, there is a whole series of Olivia books and a website. I might be buying the book after we return it to the library.

Wordless: Double Duck

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More Wordless Wednesday

February 5, 2008

The February Blues

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I have the February Blues. I tend to get shack happy this time of year. I just want to shake it off! Friends have the flu. It's cold. I'm bored. I'm irritable with the hubby, kid, family. And it's not just me. Everyone else is too cranky to deal with. I think bears have the right idea. You go to sleep when it's cold, wake up and flowers are blooming. I wish I was a bear.

My birthday is this month so I did a little online shopping. Lisa Snellings-Clark has a poppet sale on ebay. A chocolate poppet is on it's way to me. I also ordered some books from Bookcloseouts.com. Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, Coraline and Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box are a few. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and being adventurous. Maybe that will shake off these blues!

February 1, 2008

Quirky

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In a related note to Thursday's BBT (thanks to Jamie)

Your Quirk Factor: 36%

You have a few little quirks, but you generally blend in well with society.
Only those who know you well know how weird you can be.
How Quirky Are You?

That's probably about right.

nrelate