July 31, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

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I had a couple of people (Readerville and Nithin) leave me suggestions in response to last week’s post on Beginnings, but this one was already on its way! I mean, it was the obvious next question….

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?


Homer : But I am confused. Is this a happy ending or a sad ending?
Marge : It's an ending. That's enough.


I feel the same way, Marge. I don't really remember any last lines of books except:

"After all tomorrow is another day." -Gone With the Wind. Scarlett was always putting off thinking about the bad stuff until tomorrow, right up to the end.

I don't know what else there is to say. I don't even remember endings, let alone last lines. It's the stuff in the middle that I remember most. I do know this: romances have happy endings, Thomas Hardy endings are always depressing, Margaret Attwood makes you wonder about the cruelty of the human race and Charles Dickens wraps it all up in a neat little package.

What about you?

July 29, 2008

Wordless: Do the Watusi

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That's what this guy is: a Watusi. We saw him during our visit to the zoo. The horns are impressive.

July 26, 2008

Mister Pip: A Review

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In Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, fourteen year old Matilda lives on an island wrought with political unrest. Years before, the 'redskin' soldiers came, the young men of the village ran into the hills to become rebels and all the white people left. All except one- Mr Watts, 'Pop Eye' who pulls his wife along in a trolley in some sort of bizarre tradition only they understand. He's an object of fascination to the local children.

Mr Watts decides to open the school for the remaining children. Since there are no books, he uses Mr Dickens' Great Expectations as a teaching tool. Immediately, Matilda is drawn to Pip. She thinks of him as a friend, one who she can tell anything to even though he can't talk back. Her mother, however, is suspicious of her new found knowledge. How will it help her in her every day life? Tension develops between Mr Watts and Matilda's pious mother when she learns he's an atheist. Matilda finds her loyalties divided between them both.

Matilda's village soon has bigger problems when the red skins turn their attention to them. Things turn dangerous when they discover that a Mister Pip is hiding somewhere in the village. He must be a rebel or why would the villagers be so tight lipped about him?

This is a beautifully written novel. It's by no means a happy novel. A shocking event happens so suddenly that it completely caught me off guard. Yet things like this happen all over the world everyday. I found the idea of a single book changing the life of a young person appealing to my book loving self. It opened up a whole new world for Matilda. Not only is the story compelling, the characters are as well. Mr Watts is a complicated man with many secrets. Matilda's mother is larger than life. When she enters a room, people take notice. Matilda's relationship with her is typical of teenagers. While she still needs her, she pushes her away. It makes what happens even more heartbreaking.

I'd recommend it to everyone.

Now for some Weekly Geeks Q&A

Andi and Andi want to know if Mister Pip is worth reading: Definitely! Even if you find it slow at the start it will pick up. I read it in 2 days.

Katrina: The school teacher creates a divide between the children and the parents, do you feel that this divide is necessary? Also how do you feel about the ending? I don't think he set out to cause a divide. I think it's just a natural result of the children's learning. They now have knowledge their parents' don't have. I was fairly satisfied with the ending. I knew there was more to Mr Watts' story than he was telling. And I was glad that at least someone survived that whole ordeal.

A couple from Dewey: How do you feel about the idea that one could educate children just drawing from one text? Some homeschooled children are educated in a very similar way, using the Bible as a jumping off point for math, history, everything. Do you think the author was drawing comparisons? I hadn't thought of it that way. I'm not sure if he is drawing comparisons, although he could. Mr Watts had other books. He just seemed to love that book. I'm sure there is a lot to be learned from one book, especially one that's about a totally different time and place from our own. We're spoiled where we can read a book and then move on to the next one. The children didn't have that option.

Maree: I love Mister Pip, but hate Great Expectations. If you've read Great Expectations, did Mister Pip change your opinion of it, or make you want to read it again? I have read Great Expectations a couple of times. I think I'll look at it in a different way if I ever read it again.

Joy Renee: How was Point-of-View handled? The book is told through the point of view of Matilda. She's looking back on a few months in her fourteenth year. How was language used to set tone and mood? It was obvious to me that this was a very educated person telling a story of a turbulent time in her life where she was quite young and not as educated. How was metaphor used? Were associations fresh or did they tend toward cliche? Did they add to your understanding of the theme? Colour was a big metaphor: black and white, the redskins, the colour blue. Different people's ideas on colour were very important to each character. Mr Watts is very aware of his whiteness as it sets him apart from everyone else and is also burdened with it it as was the white people who brought the redskins to the island. I think he suffers for it emotionally.

Other Reviews:
DreamyBee

July 24, 2008

BTT: Famous First Lines

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Booking Through Thursday

Suggested by: Nithin

Here’s another idea about memorable first lines from books.

What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?


A good opening line can make or break a book. I once was part of a writing group where writers obsessed over their first lines. An agent or a publisher could be swayed by that first line or bored to death. Whether you became a famous novelist depended on that opening. That's a lot of pressure!

Of course, some writer's make it look easy. There are quite a few that stick in my mind:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

Lolita is a disturbing novel but the beauty of the words is revealed in the first line. The whole novel plays with the English language in this way.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Daphne DuMaurier's first line in Rebecca already sets us up for a gothic tale. She dreams of a mysterious place called Manderley. What is this place and why does she dream of it? It's short but makes you want to read more.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Universally acknowledged as the most recognizable first line of Jane Austen's novels (Pride and Prejudice), it gives us an idea of what a single man in possession of a good fortune has to face when he enters the novel. He's toast, Baby!

First lines must make an impression on me, because not only are these my favorite first lines but also some of my favorite books.

July 23, 2008

Brilliant!

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Carrie from Books and Movies and Literarily both nominated me for:

Thanks so much! It's nice to hear someone likes my blog and thinks it's brilliant ;)

So here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

Sounds pretty painless.

I read so many brilliant blogs but I will narrow it down to seven:

Teddy from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
. Teddy's reviews put my own to shame. She knows how to put her thoughts and feelings into words that I wouldn't have thought of.

John from A Book Mine Set. John knows poetry. I don't know nuttin' bout poetry. He also has great reviews and an author showdown every Wednesday.

Wendy from Musings of a Bookish Kitty
. She's pretty darn smart and her reviews reflect that.

Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? A funny gal and I love that pinup girl reading pic.

Samantha from Bookworms and Tea Lovers. A recent addition to my Google Reader subscription but it's quite brilliant.

Bonnie from Bonnie's Books. I love Nucat! Oh yeah and Bonnie's pretty cool too ;)

Finally, Rob from Rough Draft. Another poet and he loves Carol Shields so he must be brilliant.

There you go. My 7 picks. Be sure to check their blogs out if you haven't already.

PS- I've added a poll to my blog. Please vote. Thanks!

July 22, 2008

Wordless: Peony

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July 21, 2008

False Colours: Review and Q&A

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In False Colours, Kit Fancot returns to England from Vienna to find that his twin, Evelyn, has disappeared at an inopportune time. Evelyn is supposed to meet his future in-laws for dinner and if he doesn't show it will be a terrible social faux pas. Their mother, Lady Denville, needs this marriage to take place more than anyone; she's over her head in debt. With Evelyn married to a respectable lady, he'll finally receive his inheritance and get his mother out of the hole she's dug herself into. But if he doesn't show up for dinner...

Lady Denville gets a brilliant idea. Kit should impersonate his brother for one night. No one will know. But soon Kit has more than he bargained for when his mother invites the clever Cressy Stavely and her dragon of a grandmother to Evelyn's estate for a holiday. Kit finds it harder and harder to keep up the charade as he falls for the lady herself. And what's going to happen when his absent twin finally returns?

Although I enjoyed False Colours, I did want there to be a more developed romance between Kit and Cressy. He seemed to discover that he was in love with her rather fast. However, it was a lot of fun. The female character are some of the strongest in romance. The Dowager Stavely was a force to be reckoned with and Lady Denville makes Shopaholic's Becky Bloomwood look like a amateur. Cressy and Elizabeth Bennett could take over the world if they got together. She's no dummy.

Sourcebooks has been re-releasing many of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances. False Colours is one of the latest. It was originally published in 1963.

Now some questions from the Weekly Geeks:

Carrie K: I love Georgette Heyer. Do you think she accurately portrays the era? What are you the happiest about that is taken for granted in the time period of the book that is no longer?

Heyer must have put a huge amount of research into her books. She mentions names of famous people, details the fashion and uses the slang of the period. The slang drives me crazy though! It seems pretty accurate to me. In this book, there was a lot of discussion about the men's mistresses, some of the men having many mistresses at one time. The wives knew about them and had a 'oh well, boys will be boys' attitude about it. I'm glad that this is no longer acceptable.

Becky: What is your favorite Georgette Heyer? What is your favorite thing about her writing?

I've only read 3 so far but I really loved Cotillion. Not only do I find her writing to be well researched but it's fun as well. They're entertaining and well written. I feel as if I was there.

Bybee: I've never read any Georgette Heyer. What's her speciality? What's the big attraction? Which one should I start with?

Georgette Heyer is known as the Queen of Regency Romance. They are well written and well researched. Her most respected book is probably An Infamous Army which has a detailed account of the Battle of Waterloo. The romance is usually quite innocent but has unusual plot twists. Just my opinion, but Cotillion is my favorite. I'd start with that one.

Suey: Ah... a Regency romance. So if I love Pride and Prejudice, will I love this book/author?

No one can hold a candle to Pride and Prejudice but Heyer is certainly in second place behind Austen. I think any fan of Austen would enjoy Heyer's books. Plus, there are over 50 of them. That's a lot of Regency!

July 20, 2008

Weekly Geeks #12

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I did intend to do Weekly Geeks last week but it slipped my mind. I will do the Geek thing this week though. Here are the rules:

1. In your blog, list any books you’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet. If you’re all caught up on reviews, maybe you could try this with whatever book(s) you finish this week.

2. Ask your readers to ask you questions about any of the books they want. In your comments, not in their blogs. Most likely, people who will ask you questions will be people who have read one of the books or know something about it because they want to read it.

3. Later, take whichever questions you like from your comments and use them in a post about each book. I’ll probably turn mine into a sort of interview-review. Link to each blogger next to that blogger’s question(s).

4. Visit other Weekly Geeks and ask them some questions!


I usually keep up with my reviews fairly well so I don't have a lot to choose from:

-False Colours by Georgette Heyer. I'm about to finish this one. It's a Regency romance.
-Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. I haven't started this one but plan to have it finished by the end of the week.

Ask away!

***Note*** I've answered False Colours questions here.

July 17, 2008

BTT: Vacation Buying

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Booking Through Thursday

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?

Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?

What/Where are they?



Funny, I missed last BTT because I was on vacation. I didn't buy any books though.

I don't go on vacation all that often, so I don't have any shops in particular where I buy books. I do like to buy books as a souvenir. I'll usually pick those up at local gift shops. I like to buy books on the local folklore- usually a book of ghost stories. I've bought books in New Brunswick, and Alberta. While in PEI, I bought a set of Anne of Green Gables books. You just have to when your in the land of Anne. When I was on my honeymoon in the Rockies, I picked up a book of nice black and white photography of the mountains. That's my favorite vacation buy.

How about you?

July 16, 2008

Loyalists and Layabouts: Review

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Another non-fiction for me. I'm pretty picky about my non-fiction reads. I don't want to be bored. I admit that I like to be entertained. Loyalists and Layabouts, The Rapid Rise and Faster Fall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia by Stephen Kimber did a good job of doing just that.

I picked this book to read for 2 reasons: 1) it's about my home province and 2) I have Loyalists roots. I wanted to learn more about the lives of Loyalists after becoming exiled from their homes in the new United States. I don't think my hard working farmer ancestors would have much in common with the group of people who tried to settle Shelburne. These 'pioneers' were a group of elitist middle class Americans who dreamed of a new New York in the wilderness. They were completely delusional. When fleeing their homes, they made ridiculous demands of the British government and expected to live the life of luxury to which they were accustomed. They landed in Shelburne (named Port Roseway at the time) and started building fantastic homes before they even had a road. They threw parties and good money after bad into their wardrobes, determined to outshine New York. Of course, New York had a proper infrastructure, Shelburne had trees.

At the same time, the black Loyalists (freed slaves who came to Nova Scotia because the alternative was horrific) fared off terribly. The white Loyalists, previous slave owners themselves, refused to except them. The blacks built their own settlement, Birchtown, just outside Shelburne but found that living even this close to the whites was impossible. The whites paid them small wages and resented any of the blacks finding religion for fear it would give them 'ideas'. It didn't help that everyone was in debt and starving. Everyone was looking for someone else to blame rather than look to themselves.

Kimber writes Loyalists and Layabouts in a way that kept me interested. He picked a few central characters and wrote Shelburne's story from their point of view. He also picked the most likeable people to tell the story. Guy Carleton, the man who managed to get all the Loyalists- black and white- out of the United States while George Washington was giving him the stink eye, Benjamin Marston, the much harassed surveyor of Shelburne, David George, ex-slave turned preacher searching for souls to save and Boston King, another ex-slave on a mission to save souls including his own.

While I felt sorry for these Loyalists at first, they were just people who picked the losing side and lost everything, I grew frustrated with their stubborn blindness. If they could have gotten it together, they would have realized a more modest version of their dream, instead they managed to fail spectacularly in less than 10 years. There's a good lesson for us all: live within your means.

Recommended for history lovers

I'm choosing this one for The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

July 15, 2008

Wordless: Hopewell Rocks

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Here's a pic from my trip to New Brunswick. The rocks were carved from the force of the highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy.

July 12, 2008

Vote For Me!

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I'm about the shamelessly plug myself. Hold on tight!

I entered this item: My Sunshine Headband for my Etsy team (EtsyHookers)'s Creative Challenge. I would love some votes. Please visit EtsyHookers Blog Vote in the sidebar by clicking the entry. Mine is 15. My Sunshine Headband


Thanks! Now you may return to regularly scheduled blogging.

July 11, 2008

Bonjour! Did Ya's Miss Me?

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Yes, I said ya's.

I'm back from Moncton, New Brunswick, which was fun. I'll have to post some pics. Just about everyone there is bilingual so when I had the 'deer in headlights' look when someone parle-vous francais at me, I'd have that person exclaim, "oh you speak English!" I'm a little jealous of that duality. That ability to converse beautifully in 2 languages and never bat an eye at switching in mid-sentence. I listened to 3 people at a table near me in a restaurant have a conversation in English. One of them left and the remaining 2 continued in French. Tres cool! And everyone was so nice about it too!

Anyway, although I like to blog, it was a nice little break. But now I'm back and ready to blog again.

July 8, 2008

Vacation

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Hi all! I'm going on vacation. I'll post all your comments and reply to them when I get back. Now onto the family fun!

Wordless: Inverness Beach

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A perfect day at the beach. It wasn't too crowded.

It's hard to see here, but there were lots of whales feeding off shore.

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July 7, 2008

Weekly Geeks: Magazines

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This week’s Weekly Geeks theme is to talk about the magazines we read. In order to get you started, I prepared a little magazines meme, but feel free to take it further if you want. I also think it’d be great if you displayed images of the covers of your favorite magazines.

For each magazine you want to talk about, here are a few questions. Answer as many or as few as you want.

1. Name of magazine.
2. Do you subscribe or just buy it now and then?
3. What’s your favorite regular feature in the magazine?
4. What do you think your interest in this magazine says about you?
5. How long have you been reading this magazine?
6. Is there any unique or quirky aspect to the magazine that keeps you reading?


Scrapbooks, Etc. I've started getting this one in the mail again after my brief hissy-fit. They later emailed me that their website wasn't working. At least, they did get back to me. I used to scrapbook much more than I do now but I still love getting this one. The layouts are so inspiring and I love the cut out section in the back. I've been a subscriber for about 3 years now. What does it say about me? I love to document my family's life. The majority of what I scrapbook is my girl. She's so photogenic ;)


Martha Stewart Living I'm a big Martha fan. However, I let this magazine subscription lapse. I just wasn't getting as much out of it as I used to and it's 60% ads, I'm sure. I'll still pick it up once in awhile from the store though. The photography is awesome and I've always enjoyed the 'Good Things'. I was a subscriber since 2000 until recently. What does it say about me? I'm a perfectionist and a neat-freak so Martha's fussiness appeals to me.

Everyday Food I usually pick this one up at the supermarket if a few recipes catch my attention. Compared to Living the recipes are fairly straight forward and have few ingredients. I love the shopping lists, the One Bag= One Week feature and the "Have you tried....". What does this say about me? I live under the dream that someday I will become a good cook. This magazine gives hope.

I'll also pick up the occasional craft or women's magazine (not Cosmo though. How many orgasm articles can they write?) It really depends on how much the magazine is.

Literary Couples

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Literary Feline from Musings of a Bookish Kitty is having a giveaway to celebrate her and her husband's 10th anniversary. All together now: Awwwww! In honour of all that smushy, gushy love she asks her readers to name their favorite literary couple. Here's my answer:

Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester:
I have a lot of favorite couples: Jamie and Claire and their hot love thing, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy and their 'I hate/love him/her' but I had to go with Jane and Mr R. They have some big obstacles in the way of their love and any reader of romance knows it's all about the obstacles. She's poor, no not just poor, poooooooor. Orphaned and hated by her relatives, Jane has to make it on her own. Edward is super rich and has the hotest chick in the county after him (well, his bank account anyway). A huge class difference there. Oh and yeah, there's the tiny problem of the lady in the attic too.

Now Jane isn't a lotto winner in the looks department and if Mr R didn't have a dime, Miss Ingram wouldn't give him a second look- unless it was to peer down her perfect nose in disgust, but that doesn't matter. They have a soul connection, a mind connection. Mr R might antagonize Jane but she can see through all his bologna and sees the soul underneath the grouchy facade.

Of course the road to the Happy Ending is a rocky one. After a shocking revelation at the altar, Jane packs her bags to leave. Part of me shouts at Jane to stay with Mr R when he throws himself at her bedroom door crying for her. My heart just breaks for them both. Jane knows herself too well to give in to his and my pleading. She knows she could never live with herself and would only end up hating him. She has to go out on her own once again, only this time she's leaving behind all the love she's ever known.

But never fear! A Happy Ending is on the way and just at the moment all hope seems lost and Jane is about to sail to Africa, Mr R calls out to her over the moors. Through their supernatural connection Jane hears and makes her way back to him. True Love conquers!

So Happy Anniversary Literary Feline and Anjin and a love as timeless as Jane and Edward's!!

July 6, 2008

The Amnesiac: A Review

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I received The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor as an ARC for review so I feel a bit bad writing that I didn't care for it that much. I also feel that I have to be honest.

James falls on the stairs and breaks his leg at the same time he remembers that he's forgotten three years of his life. This prompts James to leave his Dutch girlfriend in search of his missing past. James returns to England and, in a series of events that I don't quite understand, finds himself in the house connected with the missing years of his life. Somehow he's wrapped up in a mystery surrounding the suicide of a college student. The key to this mystery may lie in the pages of a manuscript of an 1893 murder story he finds hidden in various places around the house.

The premise is pretty good and I was excited to start reading this book but I found myself wishing that James would pick up the pace and figure things out. For one thing, James writes an account of his life, the parts that he can remember, and some of it is dull. During all of this, bizarre incidents happen to him. I'd think, "Great, now we're getting somewhere" but then James would choose to forget the incident.

The manuscript is the most interesting part of the story. I was more interested in Martin and Angelina than James. I did find some of the ideas about memory interesting:
*How strange and confusing it would be to have 3 years missing from your life.
*What you believe has happened to you affects your perception of reality now.
I found myself thinking of these things as I read the book.

I was really wanting the story to go in another direction so maybe that's why I found myself disappointed with the ending.

I'd recommend this book if you have a degree in psychology.

July 4, 2008

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing: Review

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The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing is a series of vignettes in the life of Jane Rosenal, mostly about her struggles with relationships. Jane is smart, funny and has a great family (no Mama Drama). She's on the way up in the publishing business but she still can't figure out men. The major relationship she has is with a man 20 years older than herself. A man who she admires, he's a famous editor, but who is incredibly flawed.

There were times when I enjoyed the humour and the situations but I also had to scratch my head at some things. The whole book is told from Jane's point of view except for two parts. In one, Jane's cousin introduces his girlfriend to his mother and sisters. It was very bizarre and I wondered who these people were and what was the point. Then the second last section is told in second person ("you") about a woman who gets breast cancer. I assumed this was Jane but the illness never comes up again. It left me out to sea. Very strange.

It's not the worst thing I've ever read but not the best either.

July 3, 2008

BTT: Whatchareading?

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It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

At the moment, I'm reading an ARC: The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor. Later in July, I'll be reading The Far Pavilions with my reading club. We usually pick a nice fat book for summer. One year it was War & Peace, another it was The Count of Monte Cristo. That was a great summer read I'd recommend to anyone.

What are you reading?

Happy Summer!

July 1, 2008

Wordless: Oh Canada!

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Happy Canada Day!


Something red for Canada Day. More Wordless.