April 29, 2008

Wordless: Tuesday Morning

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Just a view of around my house this Tuesday morning.
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April 28, 2008

Weekly Geeks #1, Visit Someone New

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Since I started blogging over a year ago, I've met a lot of great bloggers: book bloggers and otherwise. I enjoy reading their new posts but after awhile I stopped visiting new-to-me blogs. This is pure laziness, of course. After finding so many blogs and plugging them into Google Reader, I just sort of forgot about visiting new blogs. So, this week's Weekly Geeks is a perfect opportunity to remedy that.

This week's assignment was discover 5 new-to-me blogs. Check out what I found:

*Mrs S visited me and I returned the favour. What a good looking blog!

*I love the name of Samantha's blog Bookworms and tea lovers. She's reading a lot of Agatha Christie novels.

*Sally from Oz's blog Book and other Games has a great list of quotes for one of her posts.

*The Biblio Brat has a well written negative review of The Interpretation of Murder. Very interesting.

*Reader Rabbit is 2 sisters (Reader Rabbit1 and Reader Rabbit2) who do book reviews. Love the name.

So there you go. 5 new bloggers visited and there are more I'll be checking out. Thanks to all the new 'faces' who've commented. Nice to have you here!

April 24, 2008

Daphne: Review

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Daphne by Justine Picardie is a little hard to describe. It's about a college grad researching Daphne duMaurier while she was researching Branwell Bronte. Are you following me? The narrator (who remains nameless until the end of her story), let's call her Nar, is married to a douche a professor much older than herself. Oh, he thinks he's right smart, he does. Nar loves all things Daphne and is working on a paper about her obsession with the Brontes. Paul, the professor, poo-poos the idea. Daphne is, afterall, just a writer of bestsellers, a romance writer. Paul and Nar grow colder towards one another and Nar suspects Paul's attitude has more to do with his mysterious ex-wife Rachel than anything else.

At the same time, Daphne's own story runs parallel to the narrator's. Daphne's husband, Tommy, has just had a nervous breakdown and her own mental health is questionable. To distract herself she throws herself into writing a biography of the short life of Branwell Bronte. She starts a correspondence with a disgraced currator, a gollum-like hoarder ("my precious") of Bronte documents, J.A. Symington. He's an odd character with delusions of grandeur mixed with periods of extreme self-doubt.

Not a lot happens during the book, no car chases or running from museum to museum a la Dan Brown. The story is told through the letters of Daphne and Symington as well as their own thoughts. The letters hide more than they tell. Daphne's crumbling marriage and her paranoid thoughts aren't revealed to Symington. Symington wants Daphne to feel he's superior to her a mere novelist, when he's actually a thief. I found Daphne so fascinating. She had a family connection to J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. Her family also had a history of depression and mental illness. At times, I wondered how much of what Daphne perceived was real or a figment of her imagination. Echoes of her books and stories are sprinkled throughout the book; some subtle, some obvious. I found myself thinking, "Oh, that's where she got Don't Look Now."

There were echoes of Daphne's stories in the narrator's tale as well. She's almost like the second Mrs DeWinter only with more balls. Her husband's ex is named Rachel. She's much like Rebecca only without the evil. She's a charismatic woman. She was very well written by Picardie. Daphne and 'Nar's ' story isn't exactly circular. It's more like Picardie shoved them and the Brontes in a blender and poured them onto the page. And it works.

Even though, I was left with some questions, I really enjoyed this quiet novel that's not quite a biography. I'm definitely going to read more of DuMaurier's work including The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte.

Big thanks to Cristina and the Bronte Blog for giving me this book. Recommended.

Order from Amazon: Daphne

Booking Through Thursday: Spring Reading

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A local park. Taken during a walk this past Sunday.

Booking Through Thursday


Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?


Spring has really just begun here. As you can see from the picture above, the grass is just beginning to green and the leaves aren't out on the trees. I'm actually surprised that it's as nice as it is for April. The days have been sunny. It's so nice to feel the sun on my face after this winter. The pack ice is in the harbour but luckily the wind hasn't been blowing much so the air temperature is mild.

As you can see from my blog, I haven't been reading as much as I was in winter. I've been taking walks and cleaning up my yard. We've also been doing a few things to our house in the past few weeks. Spring fever, I guess.

It's a little too soon for the gardening books but I'm sure I will be dusting them off. I don't think my reading changes in any other way in the Spring.

How about you?

April 23, 2008

Giveaways on the Net

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Just a couple of interesting things:

*Andi is saving the environment, well trying to, and giving away The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming.

*New to me blogger Kim on Bold.Blue.Adventure is giving away some books for her 100th post. Congrats!

* Finally, I must mention, for the chocolate monkey, Dewey's Blog Challenging idea: working title, Weekly Geeks.

April 22, 2008

Wordless: Awakenings

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Happy Earth Day! Get out there and appreciate our planet.
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April 21, 2008

Victoria Usova: Chest of Fairytales

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One thing about Etsy that I love is finding art that I've never seen anywhere else before. I'm amazed by the talented people selling online. Recently, I made up a Treasury (a catalogue of some of my favorite things) and included the work of Victoria Usova. I'm happy to show more of her work here. Anyone participating in Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge might enjoy these.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Not So Bad Wolf is one of my favorites.
The red just pops out at me.

There's a childlike quality to her work but it's not childish. I could see these not only hanging in a kid's room but in other parts of the home as well.

These are illustrations for a Russian folktale. Makes me wonder what it's all about!

I love the colours in 'Singing with the Birds', the gold and pink hues.

I hope you've enjoyed looking at these magical pictures. If you'd like to see more of Victoria Usova's work or even buy some, check out her shop Chest of Fairytales.

Birthday: Charlotte Bronte

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One of my favorite authors, Charlotte Bronte was born on this day in 1816 in Yorkshire. She's been on my mind lately, as I am reading Daphne by Justine Picardie, which is about Daphne duMaurier's fascination with the Brontes. Lately, the Brontes are on many minds with upcoming movies and a recent fictional (and fantastical) thriller The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte.

Charlotte's probably best known for Jane Eyre but she also wrote The Professor, Villette and Shirley, plus quite a bit of poetry. Much of her work revolves around teaching. She herself was a governess. Her novels have stood the test of time, not only because of her talent, but because she wrote about women and their struggles for happiness. Women in Charlotte's time had very little choice and happiness was a dream.

Charlotte died while pregnant in 1855.

From Life:

Rapidly, merrily,
Life's sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily

Enjoy them as they fly!


Happy Birthday, Charlotte Bronte!

April 17, 2008

BTT: Pardon my Vocabulary

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Booking Through Thursday

Suggested by Nithin:

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?


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 think I'm a skipper. Often I'm too involved in a book to stop to look it up. I'm pretty good at figuring it out through context. I still remember that lesson in school. "Read the words around it to figure it out." It's a very useful lesson.

A common problem in classic books is the use of foreign phrases with no footnotes. A little French I can hammer out but anything else is a lost cause. I suppose the writers of these books believed at the time that any literate person was educated in other languages. That's not really the case now.

I have looked up words I don't know when I remember them later. I love the Online Dictionary and have it bookmarked.

I have a few words, I think of as book jewelry. They just look so pretty on the page:

Verdant
Ephemera

come to mind, although I'm sure I have more. How about you?

April 16, 2008

Look What I Made!

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A few fun favorites:

A Little Girl's Fairy Tale

April 15, 2008

Wordless: Spring?

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April 14, 2008

Mansfield Park: Review

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I remember trying to read Mansfield Park years ago and not finishing it. I wondered why. I wonder no more.

Fanny Price's mother made an 'unfortunate' marriage to a sailor to annoy her family and lives to regret it when she has a bunch of children they can't provide for. Mrs Price's sisters, Lady Bertram and Mrs Norris, in a sudden act of charity invite Fanny to live with the Bertram's. For eight years, Fanny lives with the Bertram's but not as one of them. Lady Bertram, ignores her, but she ignores all her children. Mrs Norris harasses Fanny day and night, reminding her of her place. Sir Thomas is too busy to notice any of his family and the children are all spoilt. The only friend she has is cousin Edmund who's the bees knees to Fanny. For the most part, she isn't ill treated, except for Aunt Norris's constant badgering. She's fairly content until two things happen to shake up her world: Sir Thomas leaves for Antigua and the Crawford's arrive in the neighbourhood.

Good gravy, Fanny is the most frustrating Austen heroine. She doesn't have the spunk or the vivaciousness of Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse. In fact, Mansfield Park lacks the spark of the other Austen novels. It's not surprising, since this is a later work after the death of Jane's father and a grim future of spinsterhood spread out before her. I can imagine she was depressed. Fanny doesn't light up the scenes. For most of the novel, she's little more than a chair or a table. In the scene taking up space but not participating.

Fanny is such a fuddy-duddy for an eighteen year old. I can see her wringing her hands and tsking to herself. A play! Boys and girls fraternizing! Dogs and cats living together! Oh noes! Her attachment to Edmund is creepy. He's a substitute for her brother William. She can't clear her throat without wondering if it's okay with him. Edmund is hardly a hero. He's completely clueless. When he remembers Fanny, he's very kind but he's easily distracted especially by a much more interesting woman- Miss Crawford.

The novel drags on until about the last 40 pages when action and scandal occurs only to level off into ho-hum again. I can only recommend Mansfield Park if you want the full Jane Austen Experience.

April 11, 2008

Check It...

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This is sooo cute:

Reading is Sexy.

It was in an Etsy Treasury {BOOK IT!}.

Guestblogger: Linda Wisdom

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Hey, folks! Today I have something a little different, a guest post from Linda Wisdom, author of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover. You can find my review here. Anyway, here she is, Linda Wisdom.

I’ve been told that Jazz, the witchy heroine in 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and I are very much alike. So let’s look at the similarities.

Jazz and I both speak our minds at times, but she can says what I’d love to say and have magic if she needs it.

She’s snarky. I’m snarky. She has red hair. I have red hair. She’s tall. I’m short. She’s gorgeous. I’m short.

I think many of us would say we echo at least one of our characters. I know that’s happened to me, but never more than with Jazz. She’s lived with me for quite awhile as I worked on the book and then had no choice but to work on the second book, Hex Appeal, which comes out this November.

She also gives me the chance to stick bits of history in the book. After all, she and her witch friends have been around for 700 years.

She’s lived history, had passionate ups and downs with Nikolai Gregorivich, a vampire enforcer from The Protectorate who’s now a private investigator. She’s dealing with a cranky ghost haunting her beloved 1956 T-Bird convertible and having to keep a tight rein on Fluff and Puff, the bunny slippers from hell and considering their background, it’s not far from the truth.

Throw it all together and you have a fun book. At least, I had a lot of fun writing it and I hope you all have just as much reading it.

Linda

www.myspace.com/lindawisdombooks
www.myspace.com/magickbunnyslippers



What do you do when a witch named Jazz pops up and says “have I got a story for you?”

Easy, you write it.

About 2 ½ years ago Jazz showed up and told me she was one of 13 witches expelled from the Witches Academy in 1313 because one of them cast an illegal spell and no one would own up to being the wrongdoer and no one else turned them in. Punishment was they were banished to the outside world for 100 years and as long as they behaved they would be returned to the academy after the 100 years. Which is why 700 years later they’re still in the outside world.

I started thinking, what would a banished witch be like? What would she get mixed up in? After that, it all just sort of rolled over me.

Jazz would believe in dressing cute witch and sometimes goth witch along with scary witch when needed, she’d drive a hot car and nothing like a 1956 T-Bird convertible to add to the cute factor. Even if cranky Irma is there. Seems she’s haunted the car since 1956 (an interesting story behind that) and while Jazz would like nothing more than to have the ghost gone from the car, and you’d think since she’s a curse eliminator she should be able to do it. But nope, for all Irma claims she wants out of the car, she’s not budging no matter how much magick is thrown at her.

But there’s still got to be more than witch and ghost, so hmm, what next? A guy. We need a hot sexy guy, so let’s go for vampire. And make him Jazz’s on and off lover. Nikolai Gregorivich, now Nick Gregory, former enforcer for the Vampire Protectorate and determined to keep Jazz from getting into trouble by having her tossed into mortal jail. No wonder there’s times she’d prefer tossing witchflame at him rather than kiss. Still, he’s a really good kisser.

Jazz lives in a Victorian house in Santa Monica with friend and web designer for the undead, Krebs, near enough to the boardwalk she can satisfy her need for cotton candy, funnel cake and Ferris wheel rides and work as a curse eliminator by day and driver for All Creatures Car Service by night.

Life couldn’t be better for her. Then Nick shows up in her life after several decades apart and he’s looking to take down a serial killer of vampires. Except he needs Jazz’s magickal help.

Along the way Jazz shows a television executive it’s not nice to mess with a witch’s payment, deals with her toothy magickal bunny slippers, Fluff and Puff, who are convinced anything in the house is theirs, even when it’s not and try to stay out of trouble since the Witches Council tends to add time on to a misbehaving witch’s time of banishment.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? But it’s not when olive-green Dweezil, her boss, does his best to make Jazz’s life miserable. A Barbie-like elf named Mindy is more than she appears. Totally gross creature Tyge Foulshadow has the hots for her and we’re talking major euww there! A sheriff’s detective who may know there’s creatures in town, we’re talking LA here!, but that doesn’t mean he wants to believe in them.

And then there’s Nick. Nick, who needs more than some sweet talking to get Jazz to agree to help him bring down the big bad from their past.

Jazz is soooo not ready for this, but hey, she’s over 700 year old, her power has been growing over the centuries and well, it does mean spending time with Nick as long as he doesn’t try to have her thrown in jail.

So that’s Jazz. A witch with snark and attitude. A witch who loves roller coasters and Ferris wheels. A witch who will be there for you and if you betray her, well, duck. Otherwise, you could end up looking like a Fourth of July Roman candle.

Now do you see why I listened when Jazz spoke? And let me tell you, that witch didn’t shut up! She had so much to say that I ended up writing a second book set a few months later.

I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun writing a book. The road was bumpy at times, but also very fast. There were times I was frustrated, but I had precious friends and family who refused to let me stop. And out of that process was Jazz and the other witches who will have stories of their own.

Because I listened to a snarky witch a book that I consider the book of my heart is on the shelves, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and you’ll enjoy reading it. And if you do enjoy it, please blackmail friends and family to pick it up too. Jazz and I would appreciate it.

Linda

Thank you so much, Linda, for visiting book-a-rama today.

April 10, 2008

Ask Again Later: Review

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Hurray! I finished a book! I had to take a break from Mansfield Park. I'm finding this Austen tough. I have a theory, but I'll save it for when I finish it. Anyway, I read Ask Again Later by Jill A. Davis in two days. A nice change of pace and an easy read.

Emily is a lawyer on her way up. She has a great guy who's crazy about her. So why does she want to run? The opportunity to drop out announces itself in the form of her mother's proclamation that 'she's dying'. Actually, she has stage one breast cancer, but her mother believes in preparing for the future, even interviewing caterers for the funeral. Emily quits her job and leaves her man hanging to hide from life in her mother's apartment while she undergoes treatment. Unexpectedly, her Dad comes back into her life after leaving them when she was five. He offers her a job and a chance to get to know him and possibly herself. Slowly, Emily starts pulling herself together.

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this. It's not fluffy. It's serious but also down right funny. There were times Emily's procrastination drove me crazy but her dry sense of humour won me over. Emily is a kooky character. Davis wrote for David Letterman and there's definitely that type of comedy in this book:

"Funny, we're both named after Bronte sisters," I say.

"Do they work in the building?" Charlotte asks, while unpacking seven framed photographs of her Yorkie, Lady.

"No, they're...yeah. Yeah. They work in the coffee shop," I say.

I loved Emily's dysfunctionally ordinary family. Her mother's a drama queen who can only dwell on the bad news and never the good. Her Dad is a sweet, awkward guy who is a lot like Emily. And Marjorie, the sister, is a trainwreck waiting to happen. Emily's trips to the shrink, Paul with the wicker daybed, are entertaining. She can't pull the wool over his eyes, no matter how she tries.

I'd recommend anyone who's ever wondered about the role their parents have in their lives as adults to read Ask Again Later. It'll make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Also Reviewed By: 3R's

Booking Through Thursday: I Challenge You

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Booking Through Thursday

  • Pick up the nearest book. (I’m sure you must have one nearby.)
  • Turn to page 123.
  • What is the first sentence on the page?
  • The last sentence on the page?
  • Now . . . connect them together….
    (And no, you may not transcribe the entire page of the book–that’s cheating!)
Aha! An easy one:

"I am," I say. Mankind has veered off course in terms of lifelong mating.

There it is. I'm wondering how I'm going to comment on the other posters. Hmm. That's from Ask Again Later by Jill A Davis. I'll be writing a review of this book later today. Stay tuned.

What else can I say? I made some bookmarks for my Etsy shop, if you're interested. And tune in tomorrow for guest blogger Linda Wisdom, author of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover.

Hurray for shameless self-promotion!

EDIT: I totally missed the point of this question! Here we go:

"I am," (I say) she said. "I never said I wouldn't"

"Well then why don't you come over here and prove it." He glared at her reflection in the mirror.

"You're not the boss of me!"

He took two giant steps toward her, lifted her from her feet and tossed her onto the bed. Ha ha, she thought. Men are so gullible.

Rick sighed to himself. Mankind has veered off course in terms of lifelong mating.

I don't know where that came from!

April 8, 2008

Wordless: Steinbeck

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You can look at this two different ways depending on how you feel about Steinbeck.

Wordless on Tuesday?! Yes, I'm switching to Tuesday. Wordless Wednesdays have hundreds of participants. I'd get so overwhelmed, I wouldn't visit anyone and they must feel the same because no one visits me!

April 7, 2008

Back from Away

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I was away over the weekend. It was a trip that was both fun and aggravating. Five year olds don't like to shop unless it's at Toys-R-Us.

Dana asked:

My question is, is there anything you wouldn't be able to stand your significant other reading? Or are you ok with anything? Let me know

...after reading this NY Times article. Aquatique, a single lady, had an interesting discussion about it in this post.

For myself, my husband doesn't read anything unless it's a manual for some electronic thing-a-ma-jig. This is in no way a reflection of his intelligence. Actually, it might be, because I can never understand manuals. I usually end up tossing them and using trial and error. Hubby never liked reading. Math and science is his thing. He's probably the smartest person I know (don't tell him that). I've always found intelligence attractive.

Reading is a hobby. Some people have knitting, baking, stamps, model trains. I have reading. Hubby has other hobbies. He loves racing (watching not doing, thank goodness) and tinkering. He does admit to reading Tom Clancy many, many years ago. I've thrown out reading suggestions and offered him books but he doesn't bite. Maybe this one?:

Just kidding!


I would love to see him reading. Anything. It would make my little heart happy but I don't need him to read. I love him the way he is.

April 3, 2008

BTT: Lit-Ra-Chur

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Booking Through Thursday
  • When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
  • Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?


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!


Lit-Ra-Chur. I can just imagine a gray haired man writing 'literature' on a chalkboard when I read that. It's funny the first thing I think of isn't Tolstoy or Dickens but the CBC. I think of on-air interviews with Margaret Atwood or someone of that type. Books written by Tolstoy or Dickens don't make me think 'literature'. They make me think 'classic'. Dickens wrote most of his stuff as a serial for the newspaper. He needed the money. At the same time, he brought to the public an awareness of important societal problems, like poverty. I don't know if he was aware he was creating literature.

In my bookclub, The Classics Club, we read just that: classics. We've read 2 Tolstoy, 2 Dickens, Lolita, Jane Eyre and only one Austen. That's just the tip of the iceberg. We take a pretty light hearted approach to discussing the books, although we do get into the deeper meanings. These are books we read for enjoyment and because we want to learn why these books are so important.

I don't really care for categories anyway. There seems to be a lot of snobbery in the book world. People judge others on what they read or write. Margaret Atwood got in a huff over being called a Sci-Fi writer. Then there are rebel websites like Smart Bitches Who Read Trashy Novels. They defend the romance genre and the people who read them. They fight the idea of the romance reader as being unintelligent. But that's not really what this question is about...

So, yes, I read 'literature' whatever way YOU choose to define it. I'll read just about anything, so long as it's well written.

April 2, 2008

Wordless: Fiddling Around

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April 1, 2008

Happy April Fools Day

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Happy April Fool's Day!!!!!!!!!