April 29, 2010

Patience My Lovelies

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Intense Debate has been removed from my blog. I'm trying not to go into a rant here since I'm in a very, very bad mood but let's just say Intense Debate has issues. If you are thinking of installing it, consider my experience first.

The trouble is I've lost my comments from the time I installed to when I took it out. Yeah, that was back in February. I'm going to add those comments to the posts, slowly, since I don't want to spend hours at a time copying and pasting. It sucks but I don't want to keep you guys out of those discussions. It was because I love discussions that I installed the damned thing to begin with. Unfortunately, the tags linking your profiles to the comments have been lost.

I want to thank all the people who put up with the kinks and the troubles and stuck it out with me. All the people who've been commenting, thanks and I hope you'll join in the future discussions. If you want to leave comments on old posts, please feel free!


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Reading Together: Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

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There was a run of Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace reviews just after the books were re-issued by Harper Perennial. Everything was Betsy-Tacy, Betsy-Tacy! Me? Who the heck is Betsy-Tacy? I somehow missed this series of books growing up. I decided to remedy that by buying the first book for my daughter.

In the first book, Betsy is five and meets Tacy for the first time when she moves in next door. They soon become known as Betsy-Tacy. The stories are set in Deep Valley, Minnesota in the later part of 19th and into the 20th century. The girls have many adventures in and around their neighbourhood of Hill Street and the "Big Hill" behind Betsy's house. Betsy is more adventurous and has a gift for storytelling while Tacy is bashful and shy.

This was a great introduction to early 20th century living for my daughter. She had a lot of questions. Where were the cars? Did they have electricity? Why won't you let me walk up the street by myself? She absolutely loved Betsy-Tacy and is annoyed that she doesn't have her best friend living next door. She was rather confused when the baby dies. In her world babies just don't die. She wanted to know why and how. I explained that back in those days life was different. Babies often got sick from diseases we either don't get now or have medications to make us better.

We've moved onto the other books in the series. We're on the fourth: Betsy-Tacy and Tib Go Downtown. My daughter isn't pleased that they are 12 years old now. She wanted them to stay her age forever, I think. The stories are getting longer and more complicated. I'll put off reading the next ones until she's older. By then, she'll probably be reading them on her own. I'll just have to sneak them away from her to read them myself.



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April 28, 2010

Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea: Review

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Run Like a Mother, just love saying that title, written by two die-hard running moms, Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea is meant to motivate moms everywhere to run.

Back in January, I decided to get my rear in gear and joined the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge. Gone are the days when I lived off a diet of chocolate bars and Doritos and not gain an ounce. A baby and a decade or two later and I'm much softer in the middle and that's after I traded in sweets for salads. Plus, my Mom has osteoporosis and I know how important it is for me to exercise for my bones' sake.

Something needed to change. It was time to hoist myself off the couch. I wiped the dust off the treadmill and dug out my sneakers. It was slow going at first but eventually I got myself running on that thing. And for all the bitching I do beforehand, I am glad I did it once I get off it.

About a month ago on Twitter, Simon and Schuster Canada offered Run Like a Mother to moms who run. I, very quietly, put up my hand. Am I really a runner yet? Not like these ladies. Dimity and Sarah are Runners with a capital R. I'm a Sitter, capital S.

Really, these two are competitive. Dimity tried out for the Olympic rowing team. Here I am living on an island and I can't even row a dinghy. Sarah went for a run on Christmas Day, while I'm usually passed out from a turkey coma under the tree. These women make me feel like an underachiever. I'm not planning to run a full marathon, although I'd like to run a 5K without collapsing.


Even though they intimidate the hell out of me, they do have buttloads of experience and lots of practical advice. I learned a lot. From little things like what music to listen to when running to how to bounce back from an injury. I also learned that running will not give you rock hard abs (damn!). Run Like a Mother touches every aspect of running.

Run Like a Mother is for the ladies, unless guys want to know about dealing with their periods during a marathon, and just because it says "Mother" the advice is good for all women, not just ones with kids. I admit I skipped the Running while Pregnant section because that's not going to happen. I especially appreciated the advice from the everyday running women in the 'conversation' boxes.

I'd recommend Run Like a Mother to women who want to start running. You might feel like a marshmallow in comparison to these two but if you can get beyond that it's a pretty good resource. They also have a blog. You might want to check that out.


PS- I joined a running class and now run outside where people can see me! Yikes!



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April 27, 2010

Mystery Solved! The Davenport

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Quite a while back, I posted about a short story I had read as a child but couldn't remember the title or author. It was about a man-eating couch. It bothered me that I couldn't remember it.

Then I discovered this group on LibraryThing: Name That Book. The members of this group help people find the titles of books they remember reading but have forgotten that piece of information. I figured I had nothing to lose so why not throw "Couch that Eats Detective" out there and see what happens. Surprisingly, I got several replies in just a few days.

Most of them were not what I was looking for. They were too recent or there was something not right about them. It's amazing how many stories there are about people-eating furniture! Then a member named Tinymouse2 posted a reply that rang all the right bells: The Davenport by Jack Ritchie. It was published in the Young Oxford Book of Nasty Endings in 1997 but, ahem, I was far from a kid that year. It is an old story though so I looked for another earlier collection that might contain it. I found A Chilling Collection by Helen Hoke published in 1979 and my library happened to have it. I put it on hold.

BINGO! That was it. As soon as I started reading it, I knew it was the right story. It was much shorter than I remember it though. Of course, I was a kid, everything was bigger then. I'm so glad I found it. It was fun to read it again.


Do you have a book you'd love to rediscover? If you are a member of LibraryThing, check out Name That Book.


*Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com
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April 26, 2010

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: Review

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Let's get this straight right off the bat; Evelyn is a dude. 'Kay? Did you know that? Cause I didn't.

Anyway... In Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder is in the army in England when his Company takes over an old estate for their headquarters. The place is a wreck now but Charles has been here before. Back when it was a stately home to an aristocratic family...

Cue the Lost-style Flashback soundtrack.

When Charles was in Oxford, he met this strange guy named Sebastian Flyte, a 19 year old who carries around a teddy bear he calls Aloysius and talks to like a person. Weird, right? Well, Charles is charmed by him and they strike up a friendship. After hearing a few stories about Sebastian's family, Charles wants to meet them. Sebastian doesn't like this idea and several other people warn Charles about the family. They're all afraid he will fall for them and get entangled in their drama.

So what's the drama? Lord Marchmain (the Dad) hated his wife so much he ran off to live in Italy with his mistress. Lady Marchmain refuses to divorce him because she's Super Catholic and this is just not done, even though she has a secret boyfriend. This has messed Sebastian up.When Charles does meet them, he falls in love with all of them which does not sit well with Sebastian. He takes to spiteful drinking and making scenes in front of the Christmas guests. This causes many "we need to talk about Sebastian" moments. Charles declares that if they leave him alone, he'd give it up but after a 'little talk' with the Mom, he's sent packing.

Years go by, Charles grows up and has his own life but ends up meeting one of the Clan and gets tangled up in New Drama. It doesn't end well and Flashforward... 

We're back in the army.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh seems like a book about nothing in particular but is packed with nostalgia for a different age. When the Marchmains are introduced, I had the feeling that they were sitting around like they were part of a museum exhibit. The world around them was changing but they were waiting for the eventual end of theirs.

This was a book club selection and the first half of the book caused some discussion about Charles and Sebastian's relationship. Were they or weren't they? There were lots of clues that felt a little like Mr Smithers in the first few seasons of The Simpsons: they spent all their time together, Julia (sister) calls them 'special friends' (wink, wink), and Charles gets a little excited when he meets Julia- not just because she has girl parts but because she looks like Sebastian.

Then there's religion. Religion is a hot button issue for Charles since he doesn't have much of it and the Marchmains have plenty. There is lots of discussions about 'the right thing' and hand wringing about when to call the priest in, etc that cause Charles boatloads of frustration.

This was actually quite an enjoyable book. Waugh brings the reader right into the 1920-30s before the destruction of the war. It feels like you are there. The characters are complex and I'm still unsure about the motivation of some of them. This is definitely a book to get lost in.

Highly recommended

*That's my book up there. The bear threw me until I read the book but wow what a suit! I must get one, I always wanted to look like a giant inverted triangle.

Other reviews:
Michelle's Masterful Musings
books i done read


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April 25, 2010

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Awesome Bloggers and Challenges

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Ah, the internets. You can't Google something without there being thousands of negative posts about it. Even, dear friends, book bloggers. We're not perfect. We complain, say the wrong thing, do dumb stuff. But book bloggers are generous too. Some host contests and give books from their own shelves, paying for postage and schlepping those packages to the mailbox, they don't have to they want to.

I just wanted to give a shout out and a thank you to some bloggers who made my day in the last few months.


A big thank you to BiblioSue for sending me The Brontes Went to Woolworths after I mentioned I wanted to read it on Twitter. She sent me her own copy.

Thanks to Marci at Serendipitous Readings (don't you love her blog header) for The Postmistress. I won that one.


I also won Ash by Malinda Lo from Michelle at See Michelle Read's Literary Love contest. Thanks!

Can't wait to read these great books!

********************************
 I know I'm really late but thanks to Jeanne from A Cup of Tea and Cozy for Me for the Sweet Friends award. Mmmm...cupcakes!


*****************************

Now for two new challenges I'm joining. These 2 are pretty manageable. 



Nymeth is hosting The 1930's Mini-Challenge. I'm reading The Brontes Went to Woolworth's and I'm sure I'll read at least one other.



Then Julie from Booking Mama is hosting the EW Summer Books Challenge. Since I'll be reading The Passage anyway, I thought I'd sign up as a Polliwog.

So that's my thoughts on this Sunday.


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April 24, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: Review

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Yet another review of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Are you bored of them yet? Yes? No? Let's rehash the plot anyway.

Mary (thank you Carrie Ryan for giving her a regular name) lives in a village within the Forest of Hands and Teeth, so called because of the zombies that live in there. The only thing standing between the peoples and the zombies is a chain link fence. And like a typical zombie story, if they bite you then you are zombified. So everyone keeps a respectful distance from the fence. Except for Mary's mom who goes and gets herself bit.

After this cheery business, Mary is tossed into the Sisterhood, who are like a pack of angry nuns. They have secrets and Mary being naturally curious sets out to find out the secrets. She's not too happy to be there anyway, since she is in love with someone she shouldn't. She can't have him though because what's love got to do with a Zombie Apocalypse? It's a second hand emotion. It's not for the good of the village.

Mary gets it into her head that there is a world outside the village beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth, even something called an 'ocean.' She doesn't quite believe that the Sisterhood has the best interests of the people in mind with some of their rules. And then some really bad things happen that prove her suspicions are true.

I love a good post-apocalyptic novel and The Forest of Hands and Teeth fits that description perfectly. There is a general feeling of unease during the first part of the book and plenty of peril in the second. I did have to suspend my disbelief somewhat. All that stands between life and death is some $10 a foot Home Depot fencing? These zombies need to get organized. But that does give one a sense of pending disaster and claustrophobia. The people inside are prisoners, so it seems.

This was a fast paced book with plenty of action. I hung on every word. This is a sophisticated YA book without a run of the mill happy ending and many unanswered questions. When I was finished I wandered around wanting more, just like a zombie. Luckily Dead Tossed Waves, a companion to Forest of Hands and Teeth, is available. Nom, nom, brains! 

Recommended

*Thanks to the Librarian who found this for me.

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April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

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What a beautiful day! Seeing the sun shining inspired me to get out there and enjoy it. I took an early morning walk/jog. Later I'll do some work around the yard.

My town is doing something special this year. There will be 'spies' around town and if they catch you doing something eco-friendly: biking, picking up litter, etc they will give you prizes from local businesses. So being a good citizen of the earth really pays off today.

The buds on the trees are just starting to burst. Here's a pic of one in my back yard.

Happy Earth Day!


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April 21, 2010

The Wolf Leader by Alexandre Dumas: Review

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When I was a kid, my Dad loved the Abbott and  Costello movies, my first introduction to werewolves was in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Lon Chaney Jr played the Wolfman. That was funny, definitely not scary. But as I got older, I found versions of werewolves that were much more creepy. First, there was the teen movie Silver Bullet starring the late Corey Haim as a boy in a wheelchair hunting for a werewolf. Then as an older teen, I watched An American Werewolf in London. By the time I was in my twenties the werewolf was being played by Jack Nicholson as a unhappy middle aged editor in Wolf. Now we have werewolves in Harry Potter and Twilight. But before all these films, there were werewolves. Werewolves have been part of European folklore for hundreds of years. In fact, it was the folklore of France that inspired Alexandre Dumas to write The Wolf Leader.


Dumas apparently wrote The Wolf Leader (Le Meneur de loups, 1857) during a reflective mood when he was thinking about his childhood in Villers-Cotterets. His father's old friend took him out hunting one night and told him the story of Thibault and his pact with the devil.

Thibault is a poor shoemaker living in a hut in the forest. He is a jealous and angry man. When he sees a local baron (a real jerk) out hunting a buck, he feels hatred for the man, interrupts the hunt and goes after the buck himself. For this, he is whipped nearly to death but is saved by a village girl, Agnelette. He falls instantly in love with her.

Still, he returns home full of anger, when a black wolf enters the hut on two legs and starts speaking. If Thibault saves him from the baron, he'll offer him any wish he desires. Thibault knows one wish is good but more is better. The wolf tells him that he can have as many wishes as he has hairs on his head. In fact, he offers him wishes in exchange for those hairs. Thibault, thinking of his thick hair, figures that this ain't such a bad deal.

Then Thibault makes a few requests, with terrible consequences for other people, and not always working out quite like he imagined. Plus, his hair is becoming noticeable to others as it turns an unnatural red. He finds himself shunned by everyone, even sweet Agnelette, except for the local wolves of the forest who now gather around him every night. The more he wants, the more he loses, but the wolf isn't done with him yet.


I loved The Wolf Leader. It's part folklore, part fantasy. Dumas is such a storyteller. He's taken a simple story and embellished it with such detail. I didn't want to put it down. I don't know how this isn't a more popular book. Thibault is both sympathetic and repulsive. I couldn't wait to see what awful thing was about to befall him. The guy is just one of those losers.

Unlike some of Dumas's other novels, The Wolf Leader isn't the hefty tome that say The Count of Monte Cristo is. I actually read this one in a couple of days. It still has the elements you'll find in a Dumas novel: revenge, romance, action, and humour.


I read this for The Classics Circuit tour for Alexandre Dumas. This was free e-book edition I found online. It wasn't always easy to read, as the mistakes were numerous. But as my Dad says, "What do you want for nothing?"


April 20, 2010

It All Goes Away

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It's funny how things stick in your mind. Back in the '90s the local TV stations played a PSA about litter and the ocean.

The memorable catch phrase was "But where does it go?" "Away." It was very clever because even 20 years after the PSA aired if my husband and I see someone littering, one of us will turn to the other and say, "But where does it go?" The other answers: "Away."

I was reminded once again of that PSA while thinking of Earth Day Week and this article on plastic floating islands in the Atlantic. Kinda like that floating island in Life of Pi only grosser and just as dangerous to small marine life. There's an even bigger one in the Pacific and according to wikipedia "80% comes from land based sources." Proof that even if you toss it out the car window it doesn't just 'go away.' (On the other hand, it sounds like a great plot to an post-apocalyptic novel: people living on giant floating garbage islands because the zombies/vampires/werewolves have taken over land!)

Anyway, I was surprised to find that video on Youtube. Here it is in all it's Maritime glory.






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April 19, 2010

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees:Review

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I can't imagine my childhood without Little Women. It was the first 'real' book my parents bought me. I still remember lying around in my pjs reading it and wishing I had a houseful of sisters instead of two stinky brothers.

In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees Louisa's family life isn't the rosy picture she painted in Little Women. Her father Bronson spends his time with his mind on higher things than how to put food on his family's table, while Abba (Marmee) slaves away trying to keep them feed and clothed. The family often relies on the kindness of their neighbours. Living in this situation makes Louisa yearn to break out on her own. All she wants is a room somewhere in Boston where she can write the days away and make a living from her pen. Marriage, as she sees it, is slavery.

Enter Joseph Singer, the young shopkeeper's son. He makes Louisa feel things she's never felt before.Will she give up her dreams for love?

I was quite curious about this book when I heard TLC Book Tours was looking for reviewers. I knew very little about Louisa May Alcott's life. I knew that her father was a Transcendentalist but didn't know how that would have impacted her view of the world. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is fictional but I think there is some truth in it. It would be very difficult to live with someone who believed some of the things Bronson did. He reminded me of a character in Bleak House, Mr Skimpole, who mooches off his friends because he's too much of "a child" to think about money. Meanwhile, Abba is a shell of a woman from all the worries heaped upon her. I'd want out of that house too.

For the most part I thought the book was well written although there was too much eye rolling for me. It pulled me out of the time period. I always think of gum chewing teens sucking Pepsi from straws when I see "she rolled her eyes." However, it was certainly well researched and I enjoyed seeing this side of Alcott even though she wasn't always likable. McNees manages to make an icon a complex character with good and bad qualities. Definitely a solid debut.

Recommended

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the review copy. Please see their site for more stops on the tour. Then hop on over to Hey Lady's blog for a Q&A will Kelly O'Connor McNees.

And now for a little audience participation! Answer my poll please.





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April 18, 2010

Daphne du Maurier Challenge

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Tomorrow is the anniversary of Daphne du Maurier's death. She was 81 when she died in 1989. By that time, she had written numerous novels, short stories and even some non-fiction. Her work had been adapted for film by such legends as Alfred Hitchcock: Rebecca and The Birds, and others.

Although she wrote historical fiction, she is most well known for her macabre stories. She had a way of knowing what would touch a nerve in her readers. Some of her work could be categorized as horror, psychological thriller, apocalyptic, or suspense.

I'm a huge fan of du Maurier. I can't get enough of her work. I decided to host the Daphne du Maurier Challenge. I really think this will be a fun one. If you've never read du Maurier, you're in for a treat. If you have, you probably want to read more of her!

You can definitely overlap this challenge with others. In fact, she can fit into so many other challenges: Short Story, All About the Brontes (Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte), Classic, Apocalyptic (The Birds), Non-Fiction, British, Mystery (My Cousin Rachel), Science Fiction (The House on the Strand), Carl's RIP Challenge. I can't think how many others.

You can find a list of her work on her Wiki page or this list from Fantastic Fiction. I've also reviewed a number of her books and short stories:
This challenge will run from May 13, 2010- April 19, 2011. Why those dates? Daphne du Maurier was born May 13, 1907 and died April 19, 1989. You can of course post reviews before that date.

Now you can decide how you like your du Maurier. I have several categories. You can focus on one form or mix them up. Here are the categories:

Dreaming of Manderley (Novels)
Participants in this category will read 3 of Daphne du Maurier's larger works, her novels or non-fiction. You can also count a collection of her short stories as one book.

Don't Look Now (Short Stories)
Since this are smaller works, readers can choose 6 of her short stories to review.

Daphne du Maurier Presents (Film)
Although the most well known, Hitchcock was only one director to use du Maurier's work in film. Daphne's IMDb page is quite impressive. Besides The Birds and Rebecca, some of the books that made it to film include Frenchman's Creek and Don't Look Now.

Participants in this category will watch 3 films based on du Maurier's work. Often you can rent these for free from your local library. If you happen to have cable or satellite, TCM sometimes plays these films. They post the monthly schedule online.

(Not necessary but would be great: a comparison of book and film.)

Inspired By... (Other works)
This category includes works not written by du Maurier. She used books like Jane Eyre (Rebecca) and Wuthering Heights (Jamaica Inn) to inspire her own writing.

Other writers were inspired by du Maurier:
Mrs Dewinter by Susan Hill (Fiction)
Daphne by Justine Picardie (Fiction)
Daphne du Maurier: A Daughter's Memoir by Flavia Leng (Memoir)

These are just a few books. There are many others.

Participants in this category will read 3 of these works.

Dame Daphne (Combination)
Maybe you can't decide what to read or want to read a bit of everything. Participants in this category will read or view 3 from the categories above (2 short stories count as 1 book).

**********************

I know everyone needs another challenge like they need a hole in the head but I so admire Daphne du Maurier and want everyone to read her. You won't regret joining. 

I chose 3 as the number of books since I thought that was reasonable. Of course, I encourage you to read more and don't be afraid to change your reading list anytime. The time to complete this challenge is almost a year and you can join at anytime.

I've created a blog for posting links for reviews: Daphne du Maurier Challenge blog. Once the challenge starts, you'll be able to post your links there.

If you'd like to sign up,use the Linky Tool to link to your blog. You don't need a list. Hope you'll join in!


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April 17, 2010

National Poetry Month: To A Mouse

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Weekly Geeks is celebrating National Poetry Month this week. While searching for a poem for it, I found Robbie Burns' To A Mouse. I chose it not just because it is beautiful but also it fits into Earth Day Week. To A Mouse is a poem Burns wrote after he overturned a mouse's nest with his plow. He has sympathy for this little creature.

Did you know that Steinbeck got the title for Of Mice and Men from To A Mouse?
"But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men"

Here is the entire poem.


To A Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
-Robbie Burns

I embedded a Youtube video of To A Mouse being recited. You want to hear it! Believe me. If Jamie Fraser and Desmond from Lost had a baby, this is what that baby would sound like.




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April 15, 2010

Ray Bradbury Double Feature: Somewhere a Band is Playing, Fahrenheit 451

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Since both Somewhere a Band Is Playing and Fahrenheit 451 (graphic novel) are short, I thought I'd review them together. Both were originally novellas by Ray Bradbury.

Somewhere a Band Is Playing is one of two novellas from Now and Forever. I didn't read the second one. This one is kinda weird. James Cardiff, a writer, has a dream about a town in the desert and the next day takes a train to see it. The train doesn't stop so he jumps off and finds a sparkling perfect town of middle aged inhabitants. He finds it odd that there are neither children nor hospitals. The town's leader is a beautiful woman with the name of Nefertiti. He's immediately drawn to her. James doesn't want to leave but he is keeping a secret from the townspeople.

Even though the premise is a little odd, that wasn't what I found strange. James and Nefertiti seem to have a previous relationship even though they haven't met. They speak in half thoughts to each other that drove me nuts. It's like not being in on the joke. It wasn't a long book so I stuck it out and in the end I found it enjoyable.

I've already read Fahrenheit 451 and was very impressed by it. I picked up the graphic novel version out of curiosity. How would the book translate into pictures?

The illustrations by Tim Hamilton are stark and grim, like the story, with subdued colours except for the fires. The pages with fire are ablaze in oranges, reds and yellows; a startling contrast to the rest of the book, with great effect. It's one thing to imagine those books on fire, another to see it. The characters are about how I imagined them: Monag ruggedly handsome, Mildred a drugged out mess.

This is "The Authorized Adaptation" and introduced by Bradbury so obviously he approved of it. Still, there's an irony in reading a comic version of Fahrenheit 451, if you know what I mean.

Both were library finds.

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April 14, 2010

Read, Remember, Recommend: Review

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Read, Remember, Recommend is a reading journal created by Rachelle Rogers Knight. It's divided into sections:
  • Awards and Notable Lists
  • To Read
  • Journal Pages
  • Recommendations
  • Loaner Lists
  • Resources
But really, the number one thing about this journal is the award lists. The awards take up a majority of it. I'm not really an awards person. I don't read something because it won an award. I think there should be more room for the reader's own notes. Lots and lots of room.

I do like the recommendations section because I'm forever forgetting books I want to read. Books on loan? Yeah, right. It goes out the door, I might see it in a few years. Better to kiss it goodbye. A borrowed list is good for keeping track of the books I get from family. The resources are a nice touch. I could see me using the literary terms section for reviews.

As for style, I thought it a bit clunky and hard to pick up. It's heavvvy. It is cute though.

If you are a fan of book awards, this would be a great resource. There is every award list you can think of and many, many more in here. I'm surprised at the number of awards there are! There's even a reading challenge based on the journal.

So if you are a list person like Booking Mama, or Anna, it's a must.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for the review copy.

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April 13, 2010

Spring Brings Ants... in My Pants

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April is the cruelest month. It is here anyway. One minute you're blinding people with the glare off your white legs in your shorty-shorts, the next you're wondering where you put your parka. Yep, April is a real SOB that way.

Ever since the snow melted last month, I've had that familiar antsy feeling of wanting to make something grow. I could bang on the garden centre doors with zombie-like persistence ("plaaaants") but they won't open until May. Since April's unpredictability makes it hard to know what to plant outdoors when, it's a gamble to start sowing the outdoor vegetable garden. So instead, I started a little indoor project.

Grow Great Grub gave me the idea to grow windowsill gardens. There's a variety of things you can grow but I went with lettuce and radish sprouts.
lettuce

At first, I had my doubts about the lettuce; it looked rather sad. But after moving it to a different window, it perked up and I've been able to pick a few leaves.

 radish sprouts

The radishes, on the other hand, are idiot proof. Some dirt in a plastic container, radish seeds, water and sun, and you got yourself some tasty radish sprouts in about a week. They're a nice addition to a salad or sandwich.

Got any garden pics to share? I'd love to see them. Springify me!



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April 12, 2010

A Place for Frogs by Melissa Stewart: Review

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The little frogs near my house have started their singing recently so it's the perfect time to review A Place for Frogs by Melissa Stewart. A Place for Frogs is a beautiful picture book which explains some of the obstacles frogs of North and Central America have to children. They learn how the actions of humans affect these little creatures.

I'm a sucker for frogs with their cute bulging eyes so I really enjoyed A Place for Frogs. I read this one to my daughter who liked it as well. The text can be easily understood by school aged children and the illustrations by Higgins Bond are bright and lifelike. My girl was the most excited by the map at the back of the book. She liked seeing where the frogs lived and was happy to see that some of them live in our area.

My only gripe was that some of the text is repetitive but overall it's a fun educational read.

Recommended

Now for a gratuitous frog photo:


I took this one last October when I found him (her?) hanging out on the side of my garage.

Thanks to Peachtree Publishers for the review copy.



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