January 31, 2009

Weekly Geeks: 2009-#4

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I've always been someone who just can't sit still. I have to be doing something. Most of the time I'm reading, but over the years I've tried cross stitch, scrapbooking, and sewing. Recently, I've fallen in love with crochet.

From Wikipedia: Crochet is a process of creating fabric from yarn or thread using a crochet hook. The word is derived from the Middle French word croc or croche, meaning hook. Crocheting, similar to knitting, consists of pulling loops of yarn through other loops. Crochet differs from knitting in that only one loop is active at one time (the sole exception being Tunisian crochet), and that a crochet hook is used instead of knitting needles.

I love that I can make beautiful and cozy things in a relatively short amount of time. There are so many things you can make, not just afghans (though I've made a few of them) and with the variety of yarn available, you can really get creative. The projects I've made have included hats, scarves and gloves for friends, baby booties for a new niece, toys for friends' kids and a variety of items for my Etsy shop. I like trying out new patterns, even if I have no idea what I'm going to do with the finished product. I just finished a scarflette for my Etsy team contest and am working on my first pair of socks for Dewey's Knit-a-Long for myself.



If you're interested in crochet, check out:

*Websites: Crochet Me has a variety of free patterns from members. Ravelry (requires members to sign up and there is a short waiting list) is sort of like LibraryThing. You can catalogue your projects finished and in progress, books and patterns, plus browse other members pages.

*Books: I don't have many crochet books; I find a lot of patterns online but I do love the projects in Essential Crochet: Create 30 Irresistible Projects with a Few Basic Stitches. I also like the projects in Crochet Today magazine.

*Other Crocheters: I admire Nata Jane's talent. She has a real clean and simple style. Fray's scarves are so unique and creative. And of course the members of my Etsy Team are amazingly talented. Check out the team blog.

You can find instructions for crochet on Youtube but this stop motion video is interesting:

January 29, 2009

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman: Review

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In Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman, Ryan has just returned home after spending two weeks in the hospital due to an accident. Alone in his room, he documents the events leading up to his tumble in his journal. He and his film making best friend Sarah, attempted to find out the truth about Skeleton Creek. What are the townspeople hiding? What is the mystery behind the great dredge in the woods? Even after his accident and warnings from his parents, Ryan and Sarah continue to pursue the truth, putting themselves into even more danger.

I don't usually review YA but when I was approached about reading this novel, I felt that I couldn't say no. It's something I've never seen anywhere else. You see, Skeleton Creek isn't just a novel. It's a multi-media experience. After reading a section of Ryan's journal, he prompts the reader to go to Sarah's website where she has uploaded a video for Ryan to view. At first, I thought this would annoy me but it was a lot of fun. It was quite an interesting (and I'll bet expensive) concept. Both the author and publisher have taken quite a risk, but it works.

The book: I'd like to review the book and the video separately, so I'll start with the book. It's written as a journal, in fact it looks like a journal, hand written with emails taped in and all. At first, I was a little thrown at how mature Ryan's writing is, but it turns out that Ryan is considered 'gifted'. That made it more believable. The story hooked me right away. Why is Ryan so scared? As the novel progresses, Ryan starts to piece together the real story of Skeleton Creek and I couldn't put it down. There are a few minors issues but it didn't bother me.

The videos: Patrick Carman included the online videos as a way to catch the interest of that elusive group, boys. And really what boy doesn't love online videos? I also doesn't hurt that the girl cast as Sarah is adorable. I give Carman 2 thumbs up for creating a smart (though reckless) girl as Ryan best friend. The videos are well made and though somewhat Blair Witch-esque, you needn't worry about vertigo. The shaky camera work is limited.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read/watch. If I had read this in my youth, I would have loved it! It was just my thing at that age. It was downright creepy and I'm glad I read it in the afternoon not night. I'm not sure how I feel about the end. I was left with more questions and I hope there will be a sequel.

Skeleton Creek is an interesting experiment. How do I feel about the format? It's an entertaining novelty but I do have some qualms. The book requires the reader to have internet access. While most people have that, there are some who do not. It's not exactly portable (not for me, anyway), I needed to be handy a computer while reading it. I couldn't just throw it in my purse and go. Luckily, it's a quick read. I finished it in under 2 hours. Also, will someone 10 years from now pick it up from the library and be able to access the videos on the website. Will it still be there? We shall see.

For ages 10+
Available Feb 10, 2009

Recommended

Patrick Carman talks about the book here:



Other Reviews:
Kristina

January 27, 2009

The Bookshelf Meme

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Raidergirl from An Adventure in Reading tagged me for Eva's Bookshelf Meme. I'm finally getting to it today.

the book that’s been on your shelves the longest:
I think that's a copy of Heidi that my Grandmother gave me. I had Little Women longer but it spent most of it's time in a box recently.


a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time, etc.):
When I look at my old copy of Wuthering Heights, I always think of how I first took it from my parents shelf and read it in my room at Christmastime. It will always remind me of Christmas for some reason.

a book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used bookstore, prize, etc.):
I have a couple of books from my mother-in-laws house that the family were going to throw out. I think they are interesting. They're very old. One is a book of French short stories (I'll have to work on my French to read it) called Contes Dramatiques (Dramatic Stories). The other is Audels Plumbers and Steam Fitters Guide #1. Yeah, exciting stuff. It has an unique cover and I like the old fashioned drawings inside. I've found it for sale online and it's quite an antique! It's really stinky too from living in a basement for years.


the mo
st recent addition to your shelves:
Just yesterday I picked up Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier and Fifth Business by Robertson Davies at the used book store. I love DuMaurier and thought I'd give Davies a try. The cover on the left is the edition of Jamaica Inn I picked up. Isn't it the cheesiest thing you've ever seen?!

the book whose loss would traumatise you the most:
Um, all of them? Well, I'll narrow it down to my oldest books, like Little Women, Heidi, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights. They would be hard to replace since they are very old and I've had them forever.

a book that’s been with you to the most places:
Other than trips to the beach or summer cottage, my books haven't travelled very far. Mostly, because I haven't travelled far!

The Rules
1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.


3 people, um:
BermudaOnion
skrishna
Trish, heylady

January 26, 2009

Wuthering Heights on PBS: My Thoughts

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The last two Sunday's I've been glued to the tube as I watched the latest version of Wuthering Heights. This edition stars Tom Hardy as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Catherine Earnshaw. When I began two weeks ago, the story started somewhere near the end of the novel. Heathcliff forces Catherine Linton (Cathy & Edgar's child) to marry his son by Edgar's sister Isabella, Linton. Are you following me? Yes, it sounds an episode of Jerry Springer but the story is over 150 years old. Anyway, at first I was confused, and where was Lockwood, the narrator? This film took a totally different route, tossing out Lockwood and demoting Nelly to a minor character.

The story then turns into a flashback. Heathcliff is brought home by Mr Earnshaw. The film takes on the rumours started ages ago by critics head on: was Heathcliff Mr Earnshaw's illegitimate son? (Okay, now that's Jerry Springer!) They seem to look it in the face and dismiss it. Mr Earnshaw grumbles that a man can't do a good deed without him being gosssiped about.

Cathy to my mind just wasn't nasty enough, neither was Heathcliff. He's a real puppy-kicker in the novel, where his cruelty seems to be toned down for the film. Even Cathy Junior was a more of snotty brat in the book. She was terrible to Hareton when she first arrives at Wuthering Heights. You can't blame her, really. What I love about the book is just how awful all the characters are, yet they love passionately. There is plenty of passion in the film, however. I loved the stolen kisses and cavorting in the moors. What else would two wild people with little in the way of morals be doing when alone?

I wasn't quite happy with Heathcliff's end. I prefer his wasting away after spending all his energy on revenge. That was the engine that kept him going, once that was gone his body gave up.

Don't get me wrong. This film is totally worth watching. Tom Hardy was perfect to play the smouldering anti-hero. He looks the part. The chemistry between Tom and Charlotte burned up every scene they had together. Burn Gorman, who I'll always think of as Mr Guppy, made a believable drunken Hindley and Andrew Lincoln played handsome yet useless Edgar well. One of the characters I thought improved greatly over the novel was Isabella (Rosalind Halstead). She had the fire and passion to try and take on Heathcliff, where in the novel she seems more like a Heathcliff groupie.

You can watch Wuthering Heights online on PBS Masterpiece website.

January 25, 2009

The Heretic's Daughter: Review

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The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent has been sitting on my shelf since I won it in Tara's (Books & Cooks) contest a few months ago. I've been wanting to read it for awhile and finally carved out the time for it. It didn't take me long to read it. It's fascinating.

The Heretic's Daughter is actually a letter from Sarah Carrier Chapman to her granddaughter on her wedding day. In it she explains her part in the Salem Witch trials of 1692. Sarah was just 9 years old when the trials begin. Living in the nearby village of Andover, Sarah didn't believe the madness of the trials would touch her life, but like the smallpox the hysteria spreads.

The Puritans had a narrow view of the natural world. Any misfortune was either a punishment from God, or the mischief of the devil- depending on the person's standing in the community. Sarah's family has much going against them. When they arrive in Andover, they inadvertently bring the plague of smallpox with them. A dispute arises over the family's land between Sarah's family and her uncle. Then there is the family themselves. Martha, Sarah's mother, is a hard headed, outspoken woman, and Thomas, her father, is feared by the townspeople because of his dark past. It doesn't take long for rumour to turn nearly everyone against the Carrier's. Martha sees that no one will speak for them so she asks Sarah to tell a lie in order to save the family even if it means a death sentence for Martha.

This isn't just a retelling of the Salem Witch trials. It's a story about mother/daughter relationships and family. Sarah has plenty of pre-teen angst. Her mother is cold and bossy, her dad ignores her, her little sister is a pest, and her brothers are- well, just brothers. When she goes to live with her aunt and uncle, she thinks she's hit the jackpot. They laugh and tell stories. Margaret, her cousin, shares girlish secrets and the two become inseparable. All appears perfect, so when she must return to her family, she finds life unbearable. Mother and daughter butt heads even harder. Things come to a head and Martha warns her, "Loyalty to your family must come first. Loyalty always to your family." When Martha and the children are arrested, Sarah sees what her family is really made of. All they have is each other. Her parents sacrifice everything to save the children's lives.

Kathleen Kent breathes life into people who've been dead for centuries. Even though these are her ancestors, she resists making them into saints. She makes them real, ordinary people, warts and all. The atmosphere of the novel is understandably somber and is sometimes difficult to read. The conditions in the prison are horrendous and the reality is that innocent men, women and children- even pregnant women and babies- had to endure the cramped, filthy conditions because the townspeople believed the ravings of teenaged girls over their own common sense.

The Heretic's Daughter is a must for anyone interested in this time period and the Salem Witch trials.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks Tara!

For the Love of Reading Challenge

Other Reviews:
Nicole @ Linus's Blanket
S. Krishna's Books

January 24, 2009

Weekly Geeks #3: Classics

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This week's Weekly Geek is all about classic literature. This is a great topic for me since I love the classics. Some of my favorites are from the Bronte family: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, as well as the Austen novels, the works of George Eliot, Edith Wharton and Willa Cather. As you can see, I find the words of women of that time period the most interesting.

If you've never read a classic novel, you might want to start out small and dip your toe in the water with Silas Marner by George Eliot. Maybe you prefer "go big or go home" then take on a monster like The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. That's a fun one.

As for modern books with classic appeal, there are many 'sequels' to famous books, especially the Austen books, popping up here and there. Sometimes it's fun to imagine what our favorite characters did after the original author closes the book on them. I'm a big fan of Jane Eyre so I thought Jane Eyre's Daughter wasn't bad. And the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is quite an adventure where classic characters get into all kinds of trouble.

January 21, 2009

Dewey's Knit-a-Long Update

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Alright, I finally started the socks for Dewey's Knit-a-Long using this pattern: Snow Day Socks.
On Saturday, this was how far I had gotten (My hands make me look like I'm 100 years old but they've always looked like that.) This part wasn't hard but it was tedious. The hook is very small.

Then today I took this photo. It's coming along nicely after some minor problems with keeping the seam straight.

So far, so good. I'm also going to make something for my Etsy Team Challenge.

If you're part of the Knit-a-Long, how is it coming?

January 20, 2009

Weekly Geeks: 2009-02

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For those who have been with the group, either from the start or joined within recent months, what does being a member mean to you? What do you enjoy about the group? What are some of your more memorable Weekly Geeks that we might could do again? What could be improved as we continue the legacy that Dewey gave us?

For those just joining us, why did you sign up for Weekly Geeks? What would you like to see here?



I've been a Weekly Geek since the beginning and I found it fun. There is always a variety of topics. If I didn't want to do it one week, there would be something new the next. I think that's one thing I like the most. Some memes can get monotonous after a while, but Weekly Geeks is different. Every Saturday I looked forward to seeing what Dewey would challenge us to do. I hope we can keep that variety as the weeks go by.

The Weekly Geeks I enjoyed the most were:

*What Is It?
*Photos Week
*Book Interview with another Geek
*Author Spotlight

I'd love to do something similar to these.

January 19, 2009

Premios Dardo/Primo Darios Award

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Lovely Kathrin, Rebecca, Fantasy Debut and Bellezza gave me the Primo Dardo/Primo Darios Award. I have no idea what it means but it sure is pretty! (Bellezza has an explanation of where it comes from).

The Dardos Award is in appreciation of the merits - culturally, literary and individually- of every blogger who expresses him/herself on his/her blog. The conditions are to:

  • Be tickled pink,
  • copy and paste the award picture to your blog,
  • write down the regulations,
  • link the blog who bestowed you the award,
  • and finally nominate 15 blogs for the award.
Well, I am tickled pink that you all would think of me for this award. Now onto the nominations:

*Rough Draft
*an adventure in reading
*Blue Archipelago
*Book Zombie
*Musings of a Bookish Kitty
*Bookfoolery and Babble
*Maw Books Blog
*Reading Adventures
*The Book Lady's Blog
*The Book Mine Set
*The Literate Housewife
*The Written World
*BermudaOnion
*Things Mean a Lot
*So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

I don't know if these bloggers received this award yet or not. If you're on the list and did just add me to your admirers ;)

January 16, 2009

Gods Behaving Badly: Review

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In Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips the Greek gods' time in the sun has long since passed. Now they live together in a crumbling house in London as their powers dwindle away. To make ends meet, Artemis walks dogs, Aphrodite takes a job as a sex phone operator and Apollo hosts a low, low budget psychic TV show. A bunch of bored gods with nothing much to do is a recipe for trouble. They squabble constantly amongst themselves and plot elaborate revenge on each other. Unfortunately, for lonely office cleaner Alice and her admirer Neil, gods and goddesses care little about how their shenanigans affect us mortals.

Right away I was hooked by Gods Behaving Badly, in fact I read the whole thing in a day. Knowing a little about the gods might be helpful but not necessary. Phillips explains to the reader who they are and drives the point home by giving them the appropriate personality. One would expect the god of the sun to think the world revolves around him, wouldn't one? So, you can be as ignorant as I am about Greek mythology and still know what's happening.

It must have been such fun to write this book. The rules of the humans do not apply. They are arrogant, vain and self-centred- and it makes them all the more funny and endearing. They play out their parts so dramatically. It's quite entertaining. As for the humans caught in the middle of the feuding gods, Alice and Neil, they are so awkward and shy, they make unlikely heroes, I couldn't help getting attached to them.

The humour in the book is the kind I like most, the dry British kind, very witty, very smart. It's a bit on the raunchy side. Religion is treated irreverently so it's important that you aren't easily offended. I think the key to enjoying this book is to not take it too seriously. Phillips has an important message about belief in there but for the most part it's fun. The ending was a little contrived but I can forgive that when I think of the novel as a whole. It's a nice change from the heavy reading I've been doing lately where life is hard and then we die.
(Reviewed for Random House)

Recommended

Also reviewed by
Anna

January 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Play that Funky Music

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Booking Through Thursday:

But, enough about books … Other things have words, too, right? Like … songs!

If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

  • What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
  • Why?
  • And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?

You don’t have to restrict yourself to modern songsters, either … anyone who wants to pick Gilbert & Sullivan, for example, is just fine with me. Lerner & Loewe? Steven Sondheim? Barenaked Ladies? Fountains of Wayne? The Beatles? Anyone at all…

First, a rant (oh joy, you say), this has been bothering me for some time. There is an ad on the radio for a local station that bugs me. Essentially, it says if you like Air Supply (or some other Easy Listening band), "go read a book" but if you like Led Zeppelin and riding your Harley then listen to them. It's a Class Rock station. It annoys me! It's offensive. Like you can't possibly read and listen to rock. You are stupid if you listen to rock. Way to connect with your audience. Not to mention the guys in Led Zeppelin were big readers and had references to books in their songs. My husband has had to patiently listen to me rant on every time the ad comes on, so now, lucky you, you get to read all about it.

That really has nothing to do with this week's BTT but I needed to get it off my chest. I have pretty eclectic taste and will listen to just about anything (except country and rap). Lyrics are a part of why I like a song (Though there's nothing wrong with, "We've got the beat. We've got the beat, we've got the beat. Yeah! We've got the beat.") There's some great writing in the songs of Heart, U2, Cheryl Crow, K-OS, Sarah McLauchlin and the already mentioned Led Zeppelin.

I like songs that tell a story like The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel:

When I left my home and my family, I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station, runnin scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters, where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know

Or tell a story and make me laugh like The Mermaid by Great Big Sea:

But then one day, she swam away
So I sang to the clams and the whales
"Oh, how I miss her seaweed hair
And the silver shine of her scales
But then her sister, she swam by
And set my heart awhirl
Cause her upper part was an ugly fish
But her bottom part was a girl

Of course, then there are songs that are completely nonsensical. Manfred Mann's Blinded by the Light was on the radio the other day and I said to my husband, "It's just a bunch of nonsense words, isn't it?" "Yep." But it sure is catchy:

Madman drummers bummers,
Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin' kinda older,
I tripped the merry-go-round
With this very unpleasin', sneezin' and wheezin,
the calliope crashed to the ground

I hate Stickwitu by the Pussycat Dolls though because Stickwitu is not a word!!!

Anyway I'll leave you with some lyrics from Born to Run by K-OS, just cause I like it:

We fell from sky and universe
When we fell in love with the sound
Of the birds and all the ocean likes
And the gravity pulling us down

January 13, 2009

What's On TV?

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There's actually something on TV this week

Sunday: Tess of the D'Ubervilles (PBS). A true to the book adaptation of Thomas Hardy's work. Beautifully shot with beautiful people, but it's painful to watch poor Tess suffering.

Monday: Being Erica. This is a new show on the CBC. Erica Strange has a terrible day: she's been fired, stood up, and gone into anaphylactic shock. She meets a supposed therapist who sends her back in time to fix her mistakes in the past while patching up her life in the present. It's cute and funny. I like it!

Tuesday: American Idol (the auditions). Oh my eyes! Oh my ears! Oh my eyes and ears! Why am I still watching this?

Wednesday: Lost. Lost is coming back! This week is just a repeat of last season's finale but next week it's new. Yay! The phone will be off the hook that night.

Are you watching anything good on TV?

January 12, 2009

Royalities and Libraries

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During my post last week on royalties and used books stores, there were a couple of comments about royalties and libraries. I had to confess my ignorance. I'm not a librarian so I had no idea if libraries paid royalties. I planned on looking into it more but didn't get around to it. Today on the Smart Bitches/Trashy Novels blog Sarah brought up the topic by expressing her utter amazement that indeed the UK and Canadian libraries do pay royalties. (She expresses this amazement colourfully, if you're sensitive to that don't go looking.) It sparked a hot discussion. The comments are all very interesting.

Being a Canadian, I was curious to know how all this works. A little digging found the Public Lending Rights Commission website. Some facts: The PLR program has been running since 1986, long before my library was computerized. Canada is one of 23 countries that particpate in such a program. Only Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents qualify. There's also a whole list of works that are exempt (cookbooks, magazines). Authors must register their books for the year before a certain date by filling out forms. So the library isn't going to hunt you down and shove money at you. And there is a sliding scale for older books and cap on amount an author can collect (according to Wikipedia). Still, last year the PLR collected just over $9 million dollars last year for authors! Jeez Louise!

There were a lot of 'dogs and cats living together' comments on the SB blog about a program like this in the US, but it seems we've been doing okay with it, at least for the last 20 years anyway. No, we do not pay for library cards. Libraries are open to all. We have plenty of books on our shelves- and computers too. Yes, Canada has a smaller population. And yes, it's darn big. I suppose my taxes pay for this but I'd rather pay for authors than for gold toilet seats.

January 11, 2009

Anne's House of Dreams: Review

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Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery is the fifth in the Green Gables series.

Anne and Gilbert finally tie the knot and leave their beloved Avonlea for Four Winds Harbour. There they find Anne's house of dreams: a little house near the sea with a brook running through the yard. As the couple settle in, they meet a new collection of kindred spirits to share their lives with. The lighthouse keeper Captain Jim has a gift for spinning yarns and fills their evenings with stories of his adventures on the sea. Miss Cornelia Bryant is a confirmed man hater who tells it like it is. And the tragically beautiful Leslie Moore, whose face has brought her nothing but heartache, reluctantly falls for Anne's charms.

No matter how long it's been since I last left Anne, it's always like greeting an old friend once I open another book in this series. We always take up where we left off like it was just yesterday.

Montgomery's story telling is as entertaining as ever. She creates an eccentric cast of characters who colour every page. The series still has it's down home humour but it has a somber note as well. Anne is an adult now, her problems are much bigger than the small tragedies of her childhood. One episode is especially heartbreaking and affects her deeply. Although it was sad, it was honest and helps to develop her into a character beyond that little freckled girl. Leslie's story also brings more life lessons for Anne. Not everything is black or white and 'the right thing' is sometimes a matter of opinion.

Montgomery adds her flare for the sentimental in Anne's House of Dreams. Maybe it doesn't translate so well to this modern era. When Anne and Gilbert marry, birds suddenly appear (cue The Carpenters). It made me chuckle. Montgomery's prose tends to be a bit purple. Still, it didn't take away from my reading enjoyment. She writes to entertain and succeeds in House of Dreams. This is one of my favorites (so far) in the series.

Highly recommended.

I read this for the 2nd Canadian Reading Challenge.

Read Anne's House of Dreams for free on girlebooks.

Anne's House of Dreams on Amazon

January 10, 2009

Weekly Geeks: 2009-01

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Hurray! Weekly Geeks is back! Dewey's labour of love continues on with the help of the blogging community. Come join in you old and new Geeks!

In the spirit of the amazing community building that Dewey was so good at, tell us about your favorite blogs, the ones you have bookmarked or subscribe to in your Google Reader, that you visit on a regular basis. Tell us what it is about these blogs that you love, that inspire or educate you or make you laugh. Be sure to link to them so we can find them too.


Not an easy task. My Google Reader is full of blogs that I read daily. I'll try to pick just a few of the ones I enjoy, not necessarily all book blogs either for a bit of variety. I hope you drop in and say hello to them.

Nini Makes : This blog is just so pretty.

Pardon My French: Deb is an American living in France. I love reading about her interesting cultural experiences.

Bookfoolery and Babble: Bookfool is, well, a book fool and a great photographer and a Wahooer.

So Many Precious Books...: Teddy is an old pal and one smart cookie. I've read many a book on her recommendation.

Trish's Reading Nook: Trish writes some great reviews.

It's All About Books
: Suey is a stay at home too. She's writes such interesting posts.

My Middle Name is Patience: Carrie is funny! And I love that she's a yarn hoarder too.

The Book Lady's Blog: Rebecca's adventures in book selling are hilarious- mostly because I'm not actually experiencing that frustration!

I could go on forever but I have to go to bed at some time!

January 8, 2009

Delurking & An Award

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Melissa over at Book Nut remembered that it is National Delurking Week. What does that mean? If you lurk here on this blog, please post a comment and say "Hi". Don't be shy!

Melissa asked, "What are you reading?" Seems like a good ice breaker to me. So, how about it?





Amy, the Sleepy Reader, gave me this Butterfly Award. Thanks for choosing me, Amy! You're pretty cool too.

Congrats to you all on the award. Please pass on the butterfly by following these rules.
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

I'm going to pick the cool D-H blogs on my blogroll for this award:

Devourer of Books
Dolce Bellezza
Fluttering Butterflies (blends in well doesn't it)
Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading?

Enjoy cool cats!

January 7, 2009

Living With the Dead: Review

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In Living With the Dead by Kelley Armstrong, Robyn Peltier is PR consultant to young, spoiled celebutante Portia Kane. Robyn has run to LA after the tragic death of her husband Damon. Portia's main purpose in life is to be in the spotlight but her life ends suddenly in the backroom of a nightclub. Robyn flees the scene and ends up becoming the main suspect.

Detective Findlay is on the case. He has a special gift; he speaks to the dead and the dead say Robyn is innocent. If he can find her, he can help her. Robyn's friends, Hope and Karl, keep her hidden while they try to figure out who killed Portia. What they find leads them to believe that secret supernatural groups are involved. If they can find out why, they might be able to save Robyn.

I'm not sure how to review Living With the Dead to be honest. When I started reading it, I didn't realize it was part of a series, #9 in fact. Duh. Not that it was hard to follow but, well, let me try to explain... If you decided to start watching the series Lost, you wouldn't get the love triangle between Kate, Jack and Sawyer, know what the deal is with the hatch or know what the smoke monster is (no one does). You'd be a little, um, lost (sorry).

So I felt a bit lost myself. I had the feeling that I was supposed to care about Hope and the werewolf guy, but I didn't find them all that interesting. Hope's weird fits around 'chaos' were just annoying. I wanted her to get a grip. I'm guessing that this couple had their own story in a previous book. Maybe I might find them more interesting if I had read that first.

Let's stick a pin in Hope and Karl and move on to the other characters, the ones I found interesting. Robyn manages to keep her head when all this unbelievably weird stuff is going on. I just loved Finn. I liked how he just didn't assume Robyn did it. I also liked his relationship with 'the ghost'.

As for the plot, there was a lot of things I couldn't really follow. Things about the Nasts and the council. I skimmed a lot of that, but the story dealing with Adele and the cult were quite good. It was well paced for the most part. One thing that was distracting was the way it was written. The chapter titles tell the reader whose point of view it is. It's written in third person, however, and it feels a little distant. I've since read that this is not how Armstrong usually writes.

How do I feel about this book? It was okay. I'd really have to start at the beginning of the series to see how it compares. I really should check if a book is in a series before I agree to read it.

I get the feeling I'm not much help here. Have you read any of Armstrong's series? How about this one? Please tell me your thoughts on it.

January 6, 2009

Dewey's Knit-a-Long

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I've joined Dewey's Knit-a-long as part of the Dewey Reading Challenge. Actually, I'll be crocheting but it involves yarn so I'm good.



I plan on using the yarn above to crochet socks. I've never crocheted socks before so this is a challenge. Already I hit a road bump. I realized I need more yarn and 2 hooks I don't have. Hubby's response, "These are going to be pricey socks."

I'd also looove to make this cardigan found in January's Crochet Today magazine. It's gorgeous. It's also for advanced hookers; another challenge. That's the yarn I'll be using in the photo.

Anyway this will be fun! Come join us. You can do other things besides knit or take up knitting and challenge yourself.

January 4, 2009

Used Book Hullabaloo

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Oh my, oh my, who would think there would be so much controversy in the book blogging world? In the two years I've been blogging (2 years on January 2), I've seen faked memoirs, angry authors and plagiarism. Next up, used book royalties.

I was planning on writing about this issue after I read a tweet from Anika\Write Black linking to this article from Chris Meadows. Then more recently book blogger Molly was tsked-tsked for her used book bargains. Apparently, there is movement to make used book stores pay royalties. Now in this article it mentions books less than 2 years old but once you get a foot in the door, who knows where that will lead. Also, this is US law, but whither the US goes, so does Canada. An item whether book, CD, painting, basket, car, oven, stroller, etc, should be sold to the consumer directly once. Then it's yours to do as you please. We'll need Garage Sale Police next. Shesh!

This seems bizarre to me. Used book stores have been around since Adam was a little fella. They aren't new. What is new are the online stores on Amazon or ebay selling 'used' books in large quantities. I understand the frustration of authors and publishers on this one. How can a book be used if it hasn't even been released yet? Something's fishy there, but let's deal with that issue instead of painting all used book stores with the same brush.

Take my local book store. It is a hole in the wall filled to the brim with well loved books. It's the last independent book store in town. They also sell new local interest books but everything else is used. Some of these books are older than dirt. I'm sure the majority of them have been in and out of the hands of locals dozens of times but they do have some newish books. I have sent some of my newish books there as well. So, what do you do with these books then? Line the bottoms of bird cages or rotting in landfills? (Not me.) Most likely I'd pass them onto my circle of friends and family (a book can take 2 years just to get back to me!) who are also not paying royalties. That's dozens of non-paying readers right there.

I'm going to be honest here and tell you all I'm cheap. I'm also a stay at home Mom with one income. New books are a luxury. I might buy a new book for full price a couple of times a year and rationalize as I do it: "It's for bookclub, my birthday is coming." It's just the way I've always been. A new hardcover book in Canada can cost upwards of $30. I will wait a year to buy a paperback at a third of the cost, when it hits the sale table or I wait in the library queue for months. Buying used books helps me keep my sanity. I love to own books but just can't keep a library of brand spanking new books.

At one time books were for the wealthy who could afford the luxury. I'd hate to see the thrifty book buyer being chastized for how they buy books. Anyway, I'm not going to feel guilty about it. I'm reading. It's important that the literate keep on reading. Where would the publishing business be without readers afterall?

You all want to weigh in?

My Challenge List

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I'm so glad to see so many joining in The I Suck at Challenges Challenge. I was afraid I'd be alone in this one. A big welcome to you all- regular visitors and newbies alike!

In typical Slacker fashion, I didn't have my challenge list prepared. I'm only signing up for 3 (so far) in hopes I can complete them.


I've been participating in The 2nd Canadian Reading Challenge hosted by John at The Book Mine Set since it started. I'm sad to say I'm only 5 books in for this 13 book challenge. I better get a wiggle on. My list is here.


I just found this one: Just for the Love of It Reading Challenge hosted by Sheri of A Novel Menagerie. It has a nice relaxed feel to it but like Sheri suspect it will be hard to complete. The books on my list are ones I won, bought at the library sale and lent from my mom.
Here's my list:

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory
The Queen's Lady by Barbara Kyle
My Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
1984 by George Orwell

Finally, I'm jumping into (Other) Chris from Stuff As Dreams Are Made On Dewey's Books Reading Challenge. I'm going to do challenge #2: 5 books Dewey reviewed.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
1984 George Orwell
Year of Wonders Geraldine Brooks
Stardust Neil Gaiman
The Uncommon Reader

*****Dewey's Site is down so I couldn't complete my list at this time.********

January 2, 2009

The "I Suck at Challenges" Challenge

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I always wanted to host a reading challenge but never had a topic in mind. Of course, I realized that my track record with challenges is less than stellar. What I really need is a challenge to complete my challenges! So I invented The I Suck at Challenges Challenge. It's rather tongue in cheek but it might keep some of you challengees on the path to actually completing one or two. Lord knows there's enough challenges starting up now to tempt you all.

Categories?

The Slackers
(Aka "I will finish the Canadian Reading Challenge, I swear")

I try not to sign up for too many reading challenges but even when I commit to one or two I can't seem to complete them. Last year, I failed miserably at the 1st Canadian Reading Challenge. It appears I'm heading down the same path. Are you like me? Then you are a Slacker.

Join The Slackers if there are a couple particular challenges you are having trouble completing or you know you'll have trouble completing due to your track record. (Only count ongoing challenges that have deadlines of more than 3 months away, you are waaaaaay behind and you are particularly lazy. There's no shame in admitting it.)

The 12 Steppers
(Aka "I can stop whenever I want.")

There's a challenge. You see it. Your palms start to sweat. Mr Linky mocks you. You try to stop yourself but it's too late. You've committed yourself to Books That Start With Q Challenge and you know you'll do it again when the next challenge comes along. The only thing is, how are you ever going to complete them all? Sound like you? Then you are a 12 Stepper. No program is going to help you though; you're addicted.

Join The 12 Steppers if you've signed up for more reading challenges than you can handle.

When?

Sign up anytime between now and February 1, 2009. The challenge ends July 1, 2009.

How?

Leave a comment on this post with a link to your challenge post. Tell me if you are a Slacker or a 12 Stepper and list your challenges.

Then what?

At the end of the month, starting in February, I'll put up a post calling for your progress. Leave a comment telling us if you've completed a challenge (link to your completed challenge post), if you're struggling with any and what ones, or if the challenge deadline came and went and you never finished.

At the first of every month I'll put up a post to record your progress. I'll encourage everyone to visit each other and cheer you on.

Any incentives?

Sure, why not? If you sign up by February 1st, I'll pick a name in a drawing for a little something, like a cute bookmark or something along that line. On July 1st, I'll once again draw once again from the sign in post for a "Surprise" package (it's a surprise to me too since I'll be collecting things throughout the months) of book related do-dads. No penalties if you don't complete all your challenges but please at least try!

Okay, so procrastinators unite! Together we will finish challenges we commit to. Join and add the button to your blog. Have fun!

January 1, 2009

Boxing Day Book Sales

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Can't pass up a table that says 4 for $10.

Happy New Year!

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I think it will be a quiet day at home today. We're in the middle of a blizzard. Not a great start to a new year but at least it will give me an excuse to read all day.

HAPPY 2009!

nrelate