March 31, 2009

Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick: Review

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Lynda Resnick is no stranger to the business world. She has a 40 year career in the marketing field. She started out running her own ad agency and went on to buy such companies as Teleflora, the Franklin Mint and Fiji Water. The Rubies in the Orchard of the title are the pomegranates Lynda and her husband grow to make into POM Wonderful, the pomegranate juice in the funky bottles.

In Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business, Lynda Resnick recounts her own business career, the things she did right and the things she didn't. She offers some advice on marketing and branding your product as well.

When I first started started reading Rubies in the Orchard, I found it interesting and informative. I now know more than I ever imagined I ever would about pomegranates. I liked Resnick's conversational style but I soon found it repetitive. It was the same story over and over: she came, she saw, she conquered.

At times, it read like advertisement for POM Wonderful. It's awesome stuff apparently. I'm sure it is but I was looking for the marketing/branding advice hinted at in the title. I couldn't find the orchard for the pomegranate trees. There are a few nuggets of advice in there: know your product. I mean really know it. Believe in it, even when no one else does. And think inside the box.

If you're looking for an autobiography of a very successful business woman, then this is an interesting read. If you are looking for an in depth marketing advice book, look elsewhere.

March 30, 2009

Blog Awards and a Present

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I have an embarrassment of riches today. First my thanks to Robin who sent me this lovely crochet kit. I won this as part of Dewey's Knit-a-Long. Thanks Robin! It's gorgeous.


Next my thanks to Sheri @ A Novel Menagerie gave me The Sisterhood Award. Thank you so much for thinking of me. The award reminds me of the Traveling Pants.

The rules are as follows:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Here are a few blogging sisters:

Rebecca Reads
Stephanie's Confessions of a Bookaholic
Stephanie's Written World
The Book Lady (Rebecca)
Tripping Through Lucidity (Andi)
Trish's Reading Nook
My Middle Name Is Patience (Carrie)
Reading Room (Gautami)
The Written World (Kelly)
So Many Precious Books,... (Teddy)




Also thanks to Alyce @ At Home With Books gave me the Proximity Award which I did here.







Amy @ My Friend Amy awarded me with The Zombie Chicken Award. This one is hilarious and quite serious as I wouldn't want to aggravate a flock of Zombie Chickens!

The rules:

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...

Watch out you 5 for the zombie chickens:

Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
The Book Mine Set
The Book Zombie
Keep It On the DL
Book Line and Sinker

I hope you all enjoy these awards!

March 28, 2009

Weekly Geeks #12

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I should probably do the Weekly Geeks I posted! lol!

Last year I started and then failed to link to other blogger's reviews of the same books I reviewed. I really should do that again.

If you've read any of the books I reviewed, please feel free to leave a link in the comments section of the review post. I'll add the link to the bottom of the post.

You can find my recent reviews in the sidebar of my blog. Reviews from 2007 and 2008 can be found under the tabs at the top of my blog.

Thanks!

March 26, 2009

Martha Stewart's Encylcopedia of Crafts: Review

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Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts is what it says it is: an encyclopedia. Listed in alphabetical order, from albums to wreaths, the book explains each craft's origins, provides a list of materials and detailed how-to instructions with plenty of photos as a guide. The crafts range from fairly easy and inexpensive (pom-pom animals) to the more complicated kind that require a commitment of time and money (candlemaking). Being an encyclopedia, each section gives you a taste of what's involved. I think if you really wanted to know about a particular craft, you'd have enough to peak your interest but might look into the craft further than the book allows. There is also a glossary of tools in the back complete with pictures and a templates section.

First off, the book is gorgeous to look at and the photography is perfect. But here's the thing- it looks exactly like the magazine, Martha Stewart Living. Now the magazine is wonderful but I've been a subscriber since 1999 so I've seen a lot of these crafts before. I was also surprised that needle crafts of any kind were left out. However, later the day I received the book I watched the Martha show and she mentioned that they'd be making a book next year just for needle craft. That's good. Looking over the book, I can see crafts I've forgotten about, ones I want to try and ones I know I'll never attempt.

If you are in the market for a crafting book, this is good value for your money ($40 CDN), although if you are a longtime subscriber to Living you aren't going to see much new. It does make a great reference book for when you don't feel like pouring through all those old magazines (or maybe it's just me who holds onto that stuff!).

Thanks Random House for the book.

Publication Date March 31, 2009.

March 25, 2009

How to Write a Review from a Very Amateur Book Blogger

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I'm not an expert. It's a good bet that most book bloggers are not professional reviewers. We just love to read. With some recent discussion within the book blogosphere, I started thinking about how a new blogger might feel intimidated by book reviewing. Here are some tips that have helped me:

*Make sure you mention the title and author's name in the title and body of the post. Don't rely on a book cover picture. This is important not only to readers but for Google spiderbots that look for content. You want your review to be found.

*Describe the book briefly. Some bloggers cut and paste from the book jacket. You might choose this route too but I think it's a good writing exercise to do it yourself. I also think it helps me focus before I give my opinion. Avoid spoilers.

*Opinion: Find your voice. Blogs are personal and your readers want a sense of the person behind the blog. When you give your opinion, give it in your own style. Is this hard for you? Here's a trick: pretend your BFF, Mom, spouse, etc has asked, "Why did you like this book?" What would you say? How would you say it? Think of this question and start writing stream-of-conscious style. Don't think too hard and don't worry about grammar. Read what you wrote. Pick your best comments and expand on those ideas.

*Opinion: What's the story, Morning Glory? How did you feel about the plot? The characters? Were they relatable? Believable? How was the pacing? Did the story drag? Or could you not put it down? Is the writer a great storyteller? Or was it so-so?

*The technical details. This is optional but I like it. Tell us about the writing itself. Whose point of view was the told from? What is the writing style? Did it work? Were there a lot of grammatical errors? A lack of punctuation? Did this work as a writing device or was it distracting? How about the atmosphere- dark, funny, etc?

*Balance. Try to balance your reviews with both the good and bad. Most books have something good about them. Someone else might like what you didn't. However, if it just wasn't for you, say so.

*Watch your grammar. I've made many mistakes, believe me, and will continue to but I do try to catch as many grammatical errors as I can. If you have spell check, use it. Mistakes distract the reader. Try to avoid it.

*To thine own self be true. This is kind of like finding you voice but encompasses your whole blog. Be honest in your opinions. Your readers will appreciate it. No one will die if you didn't like Twilight. Be yourself. You have to be able to stand behind what you write. You might like to make an About Me page to clarify your review policies.

*Ratings? I gave up on rating books because I gave everything a 4 star rating. If you choose to have one, give an explanation of your system somewhere on your blog.

*Just write! Not everything you write will be gold. When you look back on your blog there will be some reviews you're really proud of and maybe some you'll wonder if you wrote at all! That's okay. Just do it!

That's all I can think of at the moment. I would love to hear advice from others. What would you tell a beginner book blogger?

March 24, 2009

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy: Review

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The mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel steals aristocrats from the blade of the guillotine and whisks them off to the safety of England. No one knows who he or his men are. It is rumoured that he is an Englishman and a aristocrat himself who enjoys baffling the French revolutionaries.

Beautiful Marguerite Blakeney is in a dilemma. Her brother Armand is in danger of sharing the fate of other French aristocrats and lose his head. Envoy Chauvelin offers her choice: help him find the Scarlet Pimpernel or her brother dies. As the wife of Sir Percy Blakeney, she rubs shoulders with the upper crust every day. She must use her reputation as 'the cleverest woman in Europe' to ferret the Pimpernel out. However, she is about to discover that he is closer than she could have imagined.

Baroness Orczy wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel in five weeks and it shows. The writing is abysmal. She uses 'fox-like', 'cat-like', 'woman-like' as her main adjectives and she uses them often. It's overly dramatic. None of the characters have two clues to rub together and are two dimensional. Is it possible to be one dimensional? Because if it is, they are. They're all a bit keystone cop. If Marguerite is the cleverest woman in Europe, I'd hate to see the dumb ones. Sir Percy is the only character I liked.

Orczy also throws all her prejudices into this book. The aristocrats are near perfect. The revolutionaries are evil. At one point, one of them cackles to himself. She also leans heavily on her anti-Semitic beliefs at the end of the novel. It's over the top. Consider yourself warned.

The Scarlet Pimpernel has been made into countless movies. Why? For all it's problems, the premise is pretty good! A man with everything to lose risks his life to save strangers and he does it with panache. It makes for great television but not a great book. In the hands of someone like Dumas it could have been so much more.

It's a quick read and doesn't require much thought. If you'd like to kill an afternoon with an easy read, you might like this light adventure story.

Read it free from Girl ebooks.


March 23, 2009

Weekly Geeks #11

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This week's Weekly Geek is all about favorite historical periods in books. I have a fondness for the Regency period. Here's a link that explains that period of time. And here is an interesting blog to get an idea of how people dressed.



Besides reading all the Austen novels, I would suggest reading Georgette Heyer. Although I'm not sure if she is considered contemporary, she did write about a time period she never experienced. She's known for her historical accuracy. Here's a list of her Regency novels:

  • The Black Moth
  • Powder and Patch
  • These Old Shades
  • The Masqueraders
  • Devil's Cub
  • The Convenient Marriage
  • Regency Buck
  • The Talisman Ring
  • An Infamous Army
  • The Spanish Bride
  • The Corinthian
  • Faro's Daughter
  • Friday's Child
  • The Reluctant Widow
  • The Foundling
  • Arabella
  • The Grand Sophy
  • The Quiet Gentleman
  • Cotillion
  • The Toll-Gate
  • Bath Tangle
  • Sprig Muslin
  • April Lady
  • Sylvester
  • Venetia
  • The Unknown Ajax
  • A Civil Contract
  • The Nonesuch
  • False Colours
  • Frederica
  • Black Sheep
  • Cousin Kate
  • Charity Girl
  • Lady of Quality
She wrote a lot so I'm excited to read them all.

Another modern Regency writer is Colleen Gleason. It's Regency-with vampires! Here's my review of The Rest Falls Away.



Not a romance or vampire fan? How about a seafaring tale?

While Mrs Bennett was finding husbands for her daughters, the men were at sea. The Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian is full of men at war on the sea. Very intelligent and witty. You can find the list here.

Hope you find something to read.

March 21, 2009

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks: Review

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I first heard of the Plague Village, Eyam in England, on a Secrets of the Dead episode on PBS. Scientists were studying the genes of plague survivor descendants in hopes of finding a mutated gene that not only made humans immune to the Plague but also AIDS. Their story peaked my interest. When I read about Year of Wonders, I knew I had to read it.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks is a fictionalized account of that village. She mixes fact, folklore and fiction into a fascinating read. The Plague arrives in the village in the disguise of a flea infested bolt of cloth. The first victim to succumb to the disease is the tailor and for some time it seems that he might be the only one. Then it spreads to the surrounding houses.

One Sunday, the rector Michael Mompellion makes a startling announcement. If the villagers pledge to remain isolated inside the village, the Earl from the next town will supply them with goods for as long as the plague rages. Reluctantly they agree, with the exception of the local lord who high-tails it out of there.

Anna, a miner's widow, losses her children to the Plague early on. Though her loss seems inconceivable it only gets worse as she watches her friends and neighbours lose their battle with the disease. With the help of the rector's wife, Elinor, Anna uses all the resources she has to help the ill and dying, in hopes of saving some. Slowly the villagers also lose their grip on reality and fall into madness, witchcraft and religious furvor. When the seige is over, Anna finds her life irrevocably changed.

I've been lucky to read some great books lately. Year of Wonders didn't disappoint. I read this for Dewey's Reading Challenge and she felt the same as myself about it. She just loved it. I especially liked what she says here: "I wanted to read it again as soon as I finished, because I missed my new pals." Although I think the ending was rather bizarre and implausible (as did some of Dewey's commenters) that didn't detract from the rest of the story. I flew through it in a couple of days; it was just too engrossing!

Higly, highly recommended!

Now as part of Jill @ Fizzy Thoughts' Mini-Challenge here is my Eyam list of facts:

*In 1665, there were 350 people living in Eyam; by the end of 1666, there were 83.

*The current population (2001) is 926.

*Elizabeth Hancock buried a husband and 6 children but never fell ill.

*George Viccars was a tailor and the first victim of the Plague in Eyam.

*The village of Eyam holds a remembrance service the last Sunday of August every year, known as Plague Sunday.

*The Plague is spread via infected fleas.


Little Bee by Chris Cleave: Review

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After leaving the refugee detention centre in Essex, Little Bee sets out to find two people she met for only one moment on a beach in Nigeria. That one moment changed the lives of three people in terrible ways. Sarah and Andrew have tried to put the event that brought Little Bee into their lives behind them but she has haunted them for 2 years. When Little Bee calls and says, "I am coming," will they be able to face her?

Little Bee by Chris Cleave alternates between the points of view of Little Bee, a 16 year old Nigerian refugee, and Sarah, an English magazine editor and mother to a Batman obsessed 4 year old. It's an engrossing story of survival and loss, guilt and reconciliation. I didn't want to put it down.

Somehow Little Bee comes off as both vulnerable and strong. She's quick to react to any situation, nothing seems to faze her, but inside she is broken. She believes she knows how the English think though she's had little contact with them. All she has learned of them she's learned through the newspaper. She's full of confidence but she does make mistakes (sometimes with funny results).

Sarah is all strength on the outside. Inside she's full of doubts. Her missing finger and her husband's depression are physical reminders of all she wishes she could forget. When Little Bee arrives, her life will change in ways I can't tell you about until you read it.

The writing is lovely, especially Little Bee's chapters, but there is a horrific scene that I still think about, though it is the scene on which the story pivots. Though it's a character driven plot, the pacing is quick. The women are fully fleshed but I do think that the male characters were weak and I couldn't warm up to them.

I was blubbering by the time I got to the ending, not just because it was sad, but because it was also a beautiful scene.

Highly recommended

Thanks to Random House for this copy.

March 19, 2009

Triple Play Meme Day

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Booking Through Thursday seems like a short one so I'm going to do 2 other memes along with it.

btt button

Suggested by Janet:

How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”

That would be Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which I reviewed. I just didn't get why everyone thought it was a wonderful love story. The guy was creepy!


Weekly Geeks 2009-10

Worst movie adaptations: The recent release of Watchmen based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore got me thinking about what I thought were the worst movie adaptations of books. What book or books did a director or directors completely ruin in the adaptation(s) that you wish you could "unsee," and why in your opinion, what made it or them so bad in contrast to the book or books?

For some reason I could only come up with Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. I watched the movie first which had kind of a dopey ending. When I finally read the book, it seemed unrelated to the movie.

Thursday Tunes

This week Swapna discussed Eva Cassidy, a lady who made acoustic covers of songs. Another lady who made an album of covers is Jann Arden. She's a great songwriter herself with hits like Insensitive but in 2007 she released Uncover Me an album of covers. My favorites are Peace Train, and Love Is a Battlefield. My daughter loves Downtown.

March 18, 2009

Wordless: Red Star

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Wordless

March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day

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“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand." -Irish Blessing


Happy St Patrick's Day!

March 16, 2009

Author Interview: Carmela and Steven D'Amico

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Carmela and Steven D'Amico are a husband and wife team who have written a children's book series called Ella the Elegant Elephant. You can find out more about Ella on the official website (it's adorable).

They've been kind enough to answer a few questions about Ella and their work. Enjoy!

Could you tell my readers a bit about Ella?

Carmela: Ella is a small, shy but very determined and courageous little elephant. She loves her friends and her mom a whole lot and is often looking for ways to be helpful. Her friend Belinda is often getting into trouble and Ella is often trying to get her out of trouble.


Ella is described as shy. Is she based on a real person in your lives?

Carmela: I wouldn't say Ella is directly based on anyone. But I was very shy as a child. And it's funny how we tend to block out painful experiences and how, if we're creative, those experiences tend to come out in our work. Shortly after our first book, Ella the Elegant Elephant, was published, my Aunt Judy said to me, "Oh, I remember Belinda." (Belinda bullies Ella pretty ruthlessly in the first book, though they become friends in later stories.) I said, “You do? I don’t.” My Aunt Judy went on to remind me of a little girl named Belinda who picked on me in first grade. But I honestly hadn't consciously recalled her when writing. In fact, I had completely forgotten about her. I also had to start at a new school, like Ella, but several times. Otherwise, she is wholly her own little elephant!



Carmela is a writer and Steven is an artist. What made you decide to collaborate? Did you always plan to or did it just sort of happen?

Carmela: We share a love of children's literature. I kid you not, it was probably our second date when we joked about working on a children's book together. Later on, when we got married, we started talking seriously about it. It seemed like a natural thing for us to try our hands at, given our occupations.

Steve: We both had a feeling that creative collaboration would be our destiny when we met. Once we began actually working together we discovered that not only did we share a creative spark, we ended up balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses well in the development process. I feel very fortunate to have found in Carmela such a perfect compliment for my abilities!

The illustrations are lovely and have a vintage feel to them. They remind me of the books I read as a child. What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Carmela: I loved A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle so very much. I'm presently reading it with my daughter, who is 8, and loving it all over again. Charlotte's Web, The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia and all things Dr. Seuss were all very appealing to me as well when I was a child.

Steve: Thanks for the compliment! As a child I spent a lot of time in the library, partly because my parents kicked the TV out of the house when I was about 8. My siblings and I had a special fondness for Dr. Seuss, we memorized entire sections of stories like The Sneetches and Horton Hears A Who. I remember devouring all of the Peanuts collections I could find, and I got totally lost in the Oz books when I was about 10. I loved Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator. The gothic dreaminess of John Tenniel's illustrations for Alice In Wonderland had a big impact. I know I'm forgetting a lot of other favorites right now, but those are a few...


Are there plans for more of Ella's adventures in the works?

Carmela: We're presently taking a little break from Ella. We had the good fortune of being offered to do a short series about Ella. But as a creative person, I don't want to feel hedged in. I love Ella and want to return to her eventually, but my inspiration is being channeled in other directions just now.

Steve: Ella the Elegant Elephant wasn't originally intended as the beginning of a series, but when our publisher offered to put out more books about her we decided that there were more stories to tell. Carmela has a backlog of other stories that we’d like to get to, so Ella’s on hiatus for now.


I saw on Steven's blog that you had been working on another collaboration involving a bunny named Suki. I have a soft spot for bunnies and the images on the blog are beautiful. How is that project coming along?

Carmela: That project is coming along beautifully. We’re excited to have recently accepted an offer from Dutton. Suki is really fun because she's a bunny but she doesn't really act like one. My daughter, Olivia, drew a picture of a bunny a few years back and titled it "Suki the Very Cute Bunny". She really wanted me to write a story about Suki. So I started thinking, "Okay, what else is Suki besides cute?" And suddenly this image of a little bunny shouting in a happy, excited way hopped through my mind. The story took off from there. I have several other characters I'm dying to explore but at the moment I'm wrapped up in Suki.

Steve: I’m having fun working on Suki and her world. In some ways it’s a departure from the Ella books, but fans of the Ella series will probably see some things that look a little familiar, too.


Are there other projects you're working on individually that you'd like to share?

Carmela: I'm working on a novel that I hope to have finished this year. But it's hard for me to talk about projects until they're very close to finished. Lately, I've been putting a lot of energy into a project called The Green Scouts that I've started with a friend. It's similar to Girl and Boy Scouts except that it's boys and girls working together with an emphasis on the arts as a way of bringing change to our communities and the environment. Our website thegreenscouts.com should be up later this month.

Steve: I’m busy working on finishing a series of trading cards called Alien All-Stars with my friend Derek Munson, author of the children’s book Enemy Pie. It’s a lot different than my book illustration, but I’m having a great time exploring my inner 10-year-old drawing weird aliens from distant planets playing baseball.

My daughter is very creative. She writes and illustrates her own stories. She's also 6 years old. What advice would you give a young writer/artist?

Carmela: Good for her! I love to see children writing and drawing. My advice to her would be to read as much as she can and to write down her best ideas. Also to write even if she doesn't really feel like writing. It's good practice. When it comes to writing, practice might not make perfect but it’s the only thing in the world that can help us to become better writers.

Steve: I think the key is finding the subject matter that truly inspires you first, then immerse yourself in that world and practice, practice, practice. When I was 5 or 6 I was infatuated with Batman, dinosaurs and astronauts. I copied pictures from books and doodled on just about any scrap of paper I could find. Over time I became more and more proficient, adding new details and learning how to communicate with pictures. For budding illustrators I think even tracing can be helpful as part of a discovery process. I eventually went to college to study art, but for me the groundwork was laid back in first grade.


Thank you both for your time. Good luck with Ella and all your other projects.

Carmela: Thank you, Christina.

Steve: Thanks for having us!

Thanks again to Carmela D’Amico/Steve D’Amico for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing, for other stops on the tour please check www.provatoevents.com.

March 15, 2009

The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory: A Review

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Alys doesn't live at the nunnery anymore. She ran when Henry VIII's wreckers came to burn it to the ground- nuns and all. Of course, Alys didn't pause long enough wake anybody else up. She runs all the way back to her foster mother, Morach, a wise woman, hence the title The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory.

Living at the abbey was like living in Beverly Hills compared to the squalor of the hut at the edge of the river. Alys is determined to get herself to another nunnery but before she can hatch a plan the local lord summons her to the castle heal him. Alys uses her skill as a herbalist to cure the old man and catches the eye of Hugo the lord's son. Lo and behold, it's the guy who burned the abbey down and he's hot! Hugo does anything with a pulse, bald and dirty Alys is no exception. Apparently, being rich and good looking makes up for being a rapist, an arsonist and the mass murderer of all your friends because Alys just can't resist him. Well, at first she makes a half assed attempt at it and vows to remain chaste but then he winks at her and she's a puddle of melodramatic goo.

Of course, there's an obstacle (no, not her principles, she dropped them at the first sign of hardship), Lady Catherine, Hugo's wife, and she's not happy that Alys is in the house. It doesn't help that Catherine can't produce an heir. The old lord and Hugo are plotting to get rid of her a la Henry Tudor and wife #1. Things get too hot for Alys when Catherine yells, "Witch!" so she does the sensible thing and casts a spell on Hugo and Catherine using that Old Black Magic and some freaky Action Figures (now with Kung Fu Grip). Things don't really go as planned (Cha!) and creepy boudoir scenes and other horrors ensue.

First things first, Alys has got to be the most self serving heroine I've ever come across. I'm all for bad girl heroines but Alyce makes Scarlett O'Hara look like Mother Superior. She has mad survival skills but she'd toss her Granny under a bus if it would save her skin. One character says to her: "You're a woman of no loyalty, Alys. It's whatever will serve a purpose for you." Hell yeah! Needless to say, I didn't warm up to her. The other characters are equally as awful with one exception. It wasn't a fun time to be alive, especially if you were a woman.

So why did I sit reading this 520 page novel of nastiness? Because of the plot. Gregory wrote this after the Wildacre trilogy and before the Tudor series. She was definitely honing her skills for The Boleyn Girl in The Wise Woman. Just when I thought Alys was doomed she'd panic and whine for a bit then come up with some terrible lie to save her neck. I kept reading just to see what she would do next.

Mostly it was well written, although some of the dialogue was melodramatic and heavy on the exclamation points. Plus, if you have problems with sex and horror then this book is not for you.

March 13, 2009

Quote: Day 7

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“March is the month of expectation, the things we do not know. The persons of Prognostication are coming now.” – Emily Dickinson

March 12, 2009

BTT: Lights, Camera, Action!

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Tami inspired this week’s question:

What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers?

Or, What book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?


These days just about anything can be made into a movie, what with CGI and all. Even books that don't seem like they should be movies are being made, like He's Just Not That Into You. There are limitless possibilities.

One book I've heard rumours of a movie deal is Outlanderby Diana Galbaldon. I think anyone who reads that book has their own image of Jamie Fraser. Who could ever play him? Everyone has their own opinion. I'm not sure how I feel about Outlander becoming a movie. It's a big book as well. It might make a better mini-series.

If you read Outlander, who do you think should play Jamie? Claire? Frank/Black Jack?

Suggestions for producers? Yeah, stop changing the endings of movies. It's very confusing and disappointing, if you've read the book. I hate that.

Quote: Day 6

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"I am never at my best in the early morning, especially a cold morning in the Yorkshire spring with a piercing March wind sweeping down from the fells, finding its way inside my clothing, nipping at my nose and ears." -James Herriot

March 11, 2009

Dewey's Knit-a-Long Mini Challenge Update #3

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Remember this...

It's coming along. So far I have the back done and part of the left front. Much easier than I thought it would be although until it's all put together and I'm wearing it I can't say how easy. Hopefully I can keep it up. There are some tricky parts to the pattern but I'm using my common sense to keep me out of trouble. I felt confident enough to buy the buttons yesterday!

Quote: Day 5

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“The stormy March has come at last,
With wind, and cloud, and changing skies;
I hear the rushing of the blast,
That through the snowy valley flies.”

-William Cullen Bryant

March 10, 2009

Quote: Day 4

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“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” -Charles Dickens

March 9, 2009

Quote: Day 3

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“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and takes the winds of March with beauty.”- Shakespeare

The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson: Review

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I remember when I heard the news. Pluto's not a planet anymore. "Oh no, not Pluto!" I thought for about 5 seconds. Then I got over it. Apparently, some people took it very, very hard. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, recounts how he became the most hated man in America in The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet.

The Pluto Files begins with Pluto's discovery in 1930 and why it was thought to be a planet at the time. It had been discovered by an American which Tyson seems to believe has something to do with why Pluto is such a cultural phenomenon. It also might have something to do with Mickey's dog. Almost from the beginning, scientists questioned Pluto's planet status. Then as technology improved and more discoveries about the solar system were made, planet Pluto was in jeopardy.

When Tyson was put in charge of the new Hayden Planetarium exhibit in New York, he had a dilemma. Where would he put Pluto? After much debate, Pluto was left out of the exhibit. A year went by and only a few children noticed. Then a New York Times journalist wrote Pluto Not a Planet? Only In New York. Tyson's phone rang off the hook and his inbox filled with hate mail. People were pissed! Pluto is a planet, dang-namit!

People went seriously crazy. Some of what he reads and hears is down right silly. Why were people so attached to Pluto? Why should science be dictated by sentiment? Tyson sticks to his guns and doesn't change the exhibit but the museum ads a plaque to explain Pluto disappearance. Eventually people come to terms with Pluto's downgraded status in the solar system.

When I saw The Pluto Files in the new book section of the library, I took it out. I've seen Neil deGrasse Tyson on The Discovery Channel for different things and more recently on Leno discussing this book. He was funny and personable. His personality shines in The Pluto Files. He tries to make astronomy accessible to even people like me and even though I was lost a few times, he always managed to get me back on track. It doesn't hurt that it's short and full of amusing images either.

If you have an interest in what happened to Pluto, then I recommend this book.


March 8, 2009

Search Terms

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From SMS Book Reviews:

Post a list of a few of the search terms used to find your site. Especially any very interesting ones. You can also include a blurb about where to find the item if it is on your site or what you think made the search engine drop them off at your site or any other comments. See mine below.

I'm going to try this today. I don't get really interesting keyword hits every week. Usually people are looking for reviews or book reports (do your own homework, kiddo). I've had 1700+ keyword hits since January when I started Google Analytics. Here are a few interesting ones:

-Edith Wharton got googly eyes- I didn't realize that. Like she didn't have enough problems.
-The funny thing in Wuthering Heights- I'm not aware of one.
-Hard to read Mrs Dalloway?- Yes.
-How does Tess feel in phase ii of Tess of the D'Ubervilles?- Bad, then kinda good, guilty, then bad again.
-shortbread cookie with gardella chocolate- Drool. That sounds good!
-how to be a good liar- I'm a terrible liar. Sorry.
-india fiction about widow who rents to tailor- That would be A Fine Balance.
-pronunciation of antonia- From what I've heard it's Ann-toe-nee-a.

Most people are looking for reviews of Fahrenheit 451 or A Complicated Kindness. Hope I've helped you all out!

Anyway, I'll do this post only when I have something interesting show up.

Quote: Day 2

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Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes, the wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year. -Ogden Nash

March 7, 2009

Weekly Geeks: 2009 #9

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I got lazy and skipped the last couple of Weekly Geeks (for shame).

Anyway. This week's topic is a quote a day. See if you can figure out my theme ;).

Beware the Ides of March- Shakespeare

Come Thou, Tortoise by Jessica Grant: Review

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Audrey Flowers, affectionately known as Oddly, leaves her current home in Oregon for her hometown of St John's, Newfoundland after her father is struck down by a Christmas tree. Flying across the continent, Audrey imagines what she can say to bring him out of his comma (coma) but upon arrival her Uncle Thoby tells her it's too late. After the funeral, Thoby leaves abruptly, leaving distraught Audrey wondering why he left and what has happened to seemingly ageless Wedge, her father's lab mouse/pet.

Audrey recalls fond memories of her father, the sudden arrival of Uncle Thoby in their lives, and her animosity toward her grandmother and Toff, the man from Cambridge. Somewhere in her muddled mind is the answer she is seeking, if she could just ferret it out.

In the meantime, Winnifred, Audrey's pet tortoise, is back in Oregon. She sits in her paper castle watching Audrey's friend Linda and Chuck the pugilist/Shakespearean actor and wonders if Audrey will ever return for her.

Come Thou, Tortoise is an interesting novel. First of all, Audrey is...um...I'm not quite sure how to explain Audrey. She has a low IQ but in some ways she is incredibly smart. She has a unique way of looking at the world that seems to make perfect sense (like disarming the Air Marshall on the plane) but at the same time frustrates the people around her. She's also easily distracted by wordplay. This can be entertaining reading or drive you mad. Some of her word games you'll get right away, some after a couple of minutes and some maybe never. For example, if you aren't familiar with Newfoundland how would you know that Seagull Hill is actually Signal Hill?

Except for Winnifred's chapters (whose voice is awfully similar to Audrey's), the whole novel is told from Audrey's point of view in first person. Audrey has a peculiar tunnel vision and reading it I found myself dragged into her thought process and not my own. Tricky, tricky, Jessica Grant. One thing that annoyed me was the lack of quotation or question marks. Who said that? Did she think that or say that? Punctuation, it's your friend. Of course, this serves to confuse the reader and I think that's the point.

What I loved about the Come Thou, Tortoise though is the characters. I loved everybody (well, maybe not the grandmother). Audrey is what we would call 'a sweeeetheart' (said with a Maritme inflection); she's kind to nearly everyone and even when she's trying to be mean, she's harmless. I loved her relationship with her dad and uncle. They are so protective of her yet at the same time know when to let her go. In fact, Audrey is surrounded by the most benevolent people. Her neighbours are kind hearted: Jim of the cresent driveway, Byrne Doyle the politican. They are colourful without being too quirky or weird.

The story hooked me. I felt as frustrated and abandoned as Audrey was when her uncle left. I wanted to know why too. Poor Audrey, she was having the worst week of her life and I was so sorry for her. It was at times heartbreaking, heartwarming and funny. I felt there were a few flaws that I can't talk about here without giving away all the secrets but overall I really enjoyed this book.

Thanks to Random House for the review copy. Available March 10, 2009.

Recommended

March 5, 2009

Thursday Tunes: Jeff Healey

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Okay, so I don't usually do this meme, but Swapna really inspired me today. She posted about the Across the Universe soundtrack which made me think of other Beatles covers. The best cover I've ever heard was Jeff Healey's version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. I was a teen when it was on the radio so I think it will always be my favorite. Jeff Healey was an amazing guitar player and had a beautiful deep voice. I use the past tense because it was just a year ago (March 2, 2008) that he died at the age of 41. He had battled cancer his whole life and lost his sight to it as a baby.

I'm posting this Youtube video of While My Guitar Gently Weeps although it might be better to just listen to it! Those mullets and the very round 'dos on the band make me chuckle. This was the '80's.



The Very Best of Jeff Healey $11.99.

BTT: Nope. Haven't Read It

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btt button

We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.

What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?


I have quite a few of those on my shelf. It's kind of sad that I haven't read them when I've had them for years.

*Roots by Alex Haley
*Watership Down by Richard Adams
*Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
*The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
*Villette by Charlotte Bronte
*Far From the Madding Crowd, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Ones I want but don't have yet:
*Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
*Avalon by Anya Seton
*March by Geraldine Brooks
*Many, many more

So have you read any of these? Do you recommend me moving any up on the list? Please comment!

March 4, 2009

Wordless: Tulips

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Haven't done Wordless in awhile but today I feel like I need some colour.

March 2, 2009

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley: Review

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The only positive thing about having had the flu is that I had an excuse for lying in bed and reading all afternoon. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley was great company for my fevered mind. Flavia De Luce's problems distracted me from my own.

At eleven years old, Flavia is the youngest daughter of a reclusive English gentleman. She lives in an old manor house where she plots revenge against her two sisters through chemistry. Chemistry is her passion and she's very good at it. Her latest experiment/revenge takes a backseat when she stumbles upon the body of a stranger in the cucumber patch. She trades in her chemistry prowess for detective skills, following the clues-a stamp, a dead bird, and a custard pie- to solve the crime.

I absolutely love Flavia. She's a little wild and slightly dangerous (she has too much knowledge in regards to poison) but she's shrewd and daring as well. She seems perfectly capable of looking after herself that I sometimes forgot that she was eleven. However, it's obvious that she needs attention. Her mother is dead (a tragic mountaineering accident), her sisters are bullies and her father inaccessible. She views them all rather distantly, believing that the family lacks the ability to show affection. It's very sad. The housekeeper and Dogger the handyman try to fill the void but they know their place and have issues of their own.

The writing is very clever. The plot of the novel revolves around stamps (...stamps!) but somehow it's interesting and exciting. The characters are very well written. They have just the right amount of quirkiness without being over the top.

There is some peril at the end that made me antsy. She is only eleven and the situation was worrisome to say the least. It is a darkly humourous book but I felt the tone get much darker at that point and just wanted that part to be over.

I have the feeling we'll be seeing more of Flavia and her odd family. Can't wait!

Highly recommended

Thanks to Random House for this copy.

March 1, 2009

The I Suck At Challenges Challenge Update #2

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The I Suck at Challenges Challenge Update

Hi Challengees!

How goes the challenges? Are you starting off at a good pace? Have you already 'hit the wall'? Tripped over your shoelaces at the starting gate? Wherever you are, tell us how you're feeling at this time.

At the beginning of February some participants had this to say:

Jodie- I'm feeling ok about my challenges at the moment - which is insane as I have not started several of them. I've read 2 books for the YA challenge, 1 for What's in a Name, 1 for the Victorian challenge, 1 for 9 for 09 and 1 for Reading Dnagerously. I think I'm going to tackle Chunkster this month.

Shannon- I feel pretty good about my challenges I have read 10/20 for 20 book for 2009 challenge and 0/2 for the vampire challenge.

Word Freak- I'm a little behind.. but it's because of exams, i have next week off, so i'm looking forward to catch up on my reading.

Bookfool- Still sucking. I'm working on a Canadian book, but I've been hacking away at it (off and on) for a month. I've got to focus. Focus, focus.

That's the spirit! I wonder how they feel now.

For myself, I'm out of the starting gate. I'm keeping a good pace but I'm at the back of the pack. I finished 2 books for my challenges: Getting Over Edgar for The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge and 1984 for both The Love of Reading Challenge and Dewey's Books Challenge.

So, participants, please write a post letting us know how you're doing, what books for what challenges you've completed this month and leave a link to that post in Mr Linky. Take a moment to cheer on your fellow challengees and leave them a comment on their posts.




**The photo at the top is from Run, Fat Boy, Run, a movie that I really loved.**