August 31, 2010

RIP V: It Begins!

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Wahoo! I look forward to Carl (Stainless Steel Droppings) hosting the RIP Challenge every year. I'm a Halloween'er! I'm doing Peril the First again since I save books for the challenge all year. I have lots of books to choose from so here is my pool.

  • Dracula (graphic novel)
  • Dracula the Undead by Dacre Stoker*
  • Bitten by Kelly Armstrong
  • Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  • Tales of Men and Ghosts by Edith Wharton (short stories)
  • Witchcraft: Tales, Beliefs and Superstitions from the Maritimes by Clary Croft**

What's on your list?

*Some people really hated Dracula the Undead. I'm a bit scared. 
**Hasn't been released yet. I hope I can get it. I really want it!

And just for fun: Ghosts and Ghostbusters at the New York Public Library.

August 30, 2010

Where She Be?

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I'm over here at Austenprose for Celebrating Georgette Heyer month. Go give that post some love!

August 29, 2010

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Day Tripping & Pod People

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I'm trying to squeeze as much as I can out of this weekend before school starts for the girl. Yesterday I was in a no good very bad mood where I didn't want to talk to humans- that included blogging, emails, even Twitter. At the same time, I knew I couldn't stay at home stewing in my thoughts, so I dragged the family into the car and headed to the Highland Village in Iona. It was quiet there and yes there were humans but mostly they were animators who just wanted to talk about the harrowing voyage across the sea from Scotland or discuss wool carding in the 19th century. Thinking about the hardships of the settlers put my own whiny problems into perspective.

Today we headed To the Lighthouse! -not with Virginia Wolf though. We took a trip into Louisbourg to walk the Lighthouse Trail. It was a beautiful day for it. The swells were very rough and the waves crashed onto the rocks with a roar. The girl really enjoyed that part. We spent hours walking around the lighthouse and the walking trail into the wilderness there. We made sure we picked up a walking stick just in case we encountered coyotes (we didn't, thankfully) and took lots of photos.

Reading wise, I've finished listening to the audio version of This Book is Overdue! I've also started reading Her Mother's Daughter by Lesley Crewe and The Rebecca Notebooks and Other Memories by Daphne du Maurier. The latter contains several short stories that Daphne wrote in her youth. Some are just meh but others are quite good. My book club is about to start Dracula and since I read it just last year, I thought I'd try some other books for the discussion. I picked up a graphic version (a children's version) and Dracula the Undead and a Bram Stoker bio.

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

I continue to find new and interesting things to listen to on my ipod besides books yet still book related.

This interview on CBC's Q with Jian Ghomeshi talks with Sarah Polley, director of Away From Her, a film adaptation of Alice Munro's story.(Sarah is filming a new movie in Louisbourg.)

Book bloggers Amy and Nicole continue their interesting discussions with authors.

Halifax librarians pick their favorite August reads.

Bookrageous podcast is also discussing books and bookish things.

I'd love to hear if you've found a podcast series that you like. Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

August 28, 2010

Saturday Farmer's Market: August 28

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It's actually been a good week fresh food wise. On Wednesday, my family and I went to a local farm to buy some veggies. We got quite a haul: peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, cukes, string beans and onions. Then we had to do something with all that stuff. My husband made pickles. He's been searching for the perfect Polish pickle recipe. We'll see how these ones fare after a couple of weeks. I made delicious potato leek soup. I froze some and ate the rest. We've been eating the other veggies at supper all week.

Today I picked up organic beets and blueberries at the Farmers' Market. I've grown some of my own beets but needed more to make pickled beets. I just finished jarring them. Whew! I love to eat them but they are so much work. My husband just made blueberry scones. I'm off to have some now!

Enjoy some flowers from my garden while you're here.

Sunflower

Black-Eyed Suzies

August 25, 2010

Giveaway: The Art of Racing in the Rain

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I was approached recently about the new Canadian cover for The Art of Racing in the Rain. I want that dog! He's so cute! But Terra Communications is not giving away adorable dogs. You have to settle for the book instead. Even though I've seen the book on other blogs, I never paid too much attention to it. I'm assuming it's about a dog.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life...as only a dog could tell it. -Garth Stein website
Gulp! Sounds like a tear jerker.

I really like the new cover. It's very eye catching. What do you think? How does it compare to the other covers you've seen?

So onto the giveaway for The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Please fill out the form below. Do not leave entries in the comments section.
  • Open to residents of Canada & US
  • One entry per person
  • Contest deadline September 8th, 2010
  • Contest winner will be chosen randomly. Your address will be sent to directly to the publicist.
Thanks to Sarah for providing a giveaway copy.

*Disclaimer: Other than a review copy, I have not been compensated for this post.

Closed.

August 24, 2010

Folly by Marthe Jocelyn: Review

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15 year old Mary Finn is mature beyond her years. Her mother died after having her last baby two years ago. She's had to be a mother to her younger siblings while her father works hard to provide for them. Now he's found a new wife and she wants Mary out of the picture.

Mary first works in a tavern and suffers her step-mother's sister's abuse. When an opportunity to work in London comes along, she takes it. Things aren't much better in the house on Neville Street. Mary is very much alone in the world until she meets Caden Tucker...

Years later, six year old James must leave the only home he's ever known, his foster parents' the Peeveys. He must return to the Foundling home, the place his birth mother left him as an infant. Missing his family, he uses his charm and his cleverness to make a place for himself in the foundling home.

Folly by Marthe Jocelyn is told through four alternating points of view: Mary, Eliza another housemaid in the Neville House, James and Oliver a teacher at the Foundling school. At first, I thought I would be overwhelmed by the number of voices in this fairly short work. However, seeing both Mary and James through another pair of eyes added much to the story.

I enjoyed the strong and distinctive voices of the characters. Mary is sympathetic as a friendless girl with no mother to give her advice. It's easy to see how made her folly with Caden Tucker. Eliza is so blinded by jealously she completely misses the truth staring her in the face. Oliver is probably the most enigmatic. But the character I loved the most was James. He's a little fighter.

Marthe Jocelyn wrote Folly as an homage to her ancestors. I liked that the most about the book. These events were happening to real people. For a poor young girl with no family or friends, life was terribly hard. It felt authentic. The only problem I had was what happened to Mary in the time between. Jocelyn just kind of skims over that but I would have liked to know how she got to where she was at the end.

It's a quick read. I finished it in about a day. It's an enjoyable read for lovers of historical fiction.

Folly is published by Tundra Books. I won it on Twitter.

Highly recommended.

August 23, 2010

Book Crazed

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If you've been on any book blogs you know what's being released tomorrow, Baby, We were Meant For Each Other. Nah, I'm just kidding. Mockingjay. The third and final book in the Hunger Games series. And it's getting scary out there.

Just this past year, I read both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I enjoyed them both, don't get me wrong, but I wasn't foaming at the mouth for the third. I have this thing about reading hyped up books. I tend to avoid them for awhile. I just read the other 2 books this year, after seeing countless posts yelling, "READ IT!!" and ignoring them. I don't know why that is. Maybe I'm afraid of disappointment. Or I'm just cheap.

Anyway while the crowds were pre-ordering Mockingjay, I was standing back like the high school kid in the leather jacket with the 3 pack a day habit. "Yeah, I'll get to it...drag, whoosh...when I get to it." But now I'm wondering about my too cool for school attitude.

I hang out on Twitter and the mood is tense bordering on panic. People are posting "Amazon sent me an order shipped email!" Those smug over-achievers. Or the "Psst! I saw it at the bookstore already and bought one!" followed by the cries of "Embargo!!!!" Then the whispers "My cousin's friend's uncle read it 2 weeks ago." (Just speculating, but I wonder if Scholastic is releasing copies here and there to build that tension. If so, bravo, ladies and gentlemen, bravo!) People are freaking out about spoilers already and when they get the book, a total Twitter ban.


ohnoes


It's been creeping upon me. The whispers. "Maybe you should read it now." Why? Because now I'm afraid of spoilers. Not that people will mean to but if I find Amy crying giant tears on Twitter, I'll know that Peeta died and then I might as well dig a hole for myself. Maybe I should bite the bullet and pay full price (gasp!) for the book before I end up with a vendetta for half the internet.

So tomorrow is the big day. Will I have been taken over by this virus? Will I find myself dragging my carcass to the bookstore tomorrow morning, pounding on the soon to be opened door groaning "Mock-ing-jay!!!!"



(You Hunger Games die-hards, you know I love you right?)

August 21, 2010

Inconceivable! The Princess Bride Readalong

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Ahoy maties! Get ready for The Princess Bride Readalong starting October 2nd. This gives you all over a month to dig out your old copies, or beg, borrow or steal* copies (well, not steal. We're not real pirates.) from various sources for the official start of the readalong.

This is the copy I'll be reading. Tada!

We'll start discussions here on October 2. No need to sign up or anything, just show up and comment. I'll post about the readalong to remind everyone before it starts. And now for our reading schedule:

Week One: Introduction and Part One, Two, Three and Four (they're short)
Week Two: Part Five
Week Three: Part Six
Week Four: Part Seven & Eight
Week Five: Buttercup's Baby (some later editions may have this addition, some may not)


Feel free to grab the button at the top and post on your blog to let others know about the readalong. Tell your friends, family, fellow pirates, six fingered men and Rodents of Unusual Size. Link back to this post and see you here in October for the readalong.


*Chris does not endorse theft of any kind. Go to your local bookstore, find a copy, take to cash register, get out wallet, pay the clerk, feel good about contributing to local economy.

August 19, 2010

The Razor's Edge by W Somerset Maugham: Review

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Sit right down, my children, and let me tell you a tale. Well, actually Maugham will tell you a tale, a tale of this guy he once knew. The guy is Larry Darrell who saw some bad stuff in The Great War and it changed him. What hasn't changed are the people he grew up with, the nouveau riche of the Midwest US, especially his fiance Isabel.

Larry decides he needs to go off to France to find God. Isabel, under the impression that he'll come back fixed, sends him off with her blessing. Two years later, she goes off to drag him back home but Larry still hasn't found the meaning of life. He suggests they get married anyway. His idea of a nice life is a rented room with cheap furniture; Isabel's is fancy dresses and dinner parties every evening. Isabel does the math and the sum is negative Larry. She says au revoir and the two shake hands as friends. The problem is Isabel never really let's Larry go and that's where the trouble lies.

The Razor's Edge by W Somerset Maugham is an odd little book where nothing much happens. It's a thoughtful look at a man trying to make sense of the world and the consequences of that search. Larry could go along with what his peers wish: get a good job, marry Isabel, live in a nice house and host nice parties. Larry instead chooses to go his own way. I imagine Larry as a hippie even though the book was written decades before the whole peace and love, man revolution. He's easy going, just soaking up the knowledge from the people he meets along the way. Cool, man.

Isabel, on the other hand, is tightly wound. She's got a steely edged determination. She wants her life to be a certain way but she's still able to cope with whatever bumps in the road appear. At least she has the sense to see that she and Larry are incompatible. What a mess they would have made of things. She continues to carry a torch for him and it leads to her meddling ways. She performs a nasty bit of trickier under the guise that she is looking out for him.

The writing style is very interesting. Maugham sets up the story as if he's chatting with the reader over coffee. The writer is a character in his own novel. Is any of it real? I found it hard to believe that Maugham just happened to bump into so-and-so at a cafe in France or 10 years later at a party. Plus, everyone just unburdens themselves in his presence, some of the things the characters tell him are very personal.

The Razor's Edge is worth reading. It's a fairly easy read but still makes you think. Maugham's approach to religious and social issues is wrapped up in an engaging story. It's a thoughtful burrito of literature.

Recommended

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August 18, 2010

Wordless: On the Beach

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August 17, 2010

Damaged by Pamela Callow: Review

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Kate Lange is a woman with something to prove. She's the newbie associate at a prestigious law firm in Halifax, Nova Scotia. So far she's just been handed the family law cases, including one for a  woman anxious to gain custody of her teenaged granddaughter. When that girl turns up murdered and dismembered, Kate has pangs of guilt. Did she give the right advice to the grandmother?

While digging deeper into the girl's past, Kate is handed the biggest case of her life. What she doesn't expect is how the two cases will collide and push her into the path of a brutal killer.

Damaged by Pamela Callow is the first in a three part series. The thing about the first book in a series is there is a lot of setting up the relationships and character of the protagonist. It was a rocky start for me but once the plot got cooking I found myself not wanting to put it down. I was wondering how the separate storylines were going to connect.

Damaged is a gritty thriller with Halifax's seedier side a perfect backdrop for murder and conspiracy. There is some nasty business between these pages and it had me feeling a bit queasy! It's definitely not a book to read alone at night if you're the nervous type.

Kate has a couple of potential love interests and I have to say I'm not to impressed with either of them. Her ex-boyfriend the cop expects perfection while her boss gets annoyed with her for making him think sexy thoughts. I really hope both of these guys smarten up in the next book.

The reviews for this are all over the place but I enjoyed it and recommend Damaged if you're up for a thrilling mystery. I'll be looking forward to reading the next book, Indefensible.

This review copy was sent to me by book publicist Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.

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August 15, 2010

To the Book Depository!

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Every time I see The Book Depository*, I think of Homer Simpson saying those words. About 2 weeks ago I placed my first order to The Book Depository and just this week it came. I was so excited! They had me at Free Shipping. Seriously. When I want to order books online from certain sites, I must spend $39 to get free shipping. Sometimes I just want a $10 book and not pay more than $10 for shipping, you know? So The Book Depository is a good solution if my local bookstore doesn't have what I want. They were really fast too. I opened the envelopes and gave them a good shake because I kept thinking there must be a catch somewhere but nope, straight forward.

So what did I buy? For the chicklet, Clementine, Friend of the Week because she has the other 3 in the series already and this one just came out.

And for moi? The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I loved, loved the movie and after asking around on Twitter if it was worth reading I ordered it. I really hope it lives up to my expectations.

I would really love to read The Princess Bride with someone else because I think it would be so much fun. If anyone is up for it, I'd like to read it in September or October. Anyone? Anyone?

Maybe this will entice you.


It is a kissing book.

* And yes I'm not just a customer, I'm also an affiliate!


Obviously some people had issues with Book Depository from a couple of comments. This was a post about my own experience which was fine. I'm closing the comments since this post is very old. Contact Book Depository with your complaints.

August 14, 2010

Don't Look Now: DVD

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I watched Don't Look Now on DVD last year but since I'm hosting the Daphne du Maurier Challenge I decided to watch it again.

John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) are together in Venice after the drowning death of their daughter. John is restoring a church in the city and he takes Laura because 'she's not well.' One day they are having lunch when a blind psychic and her sister tell Laura her daughter Christine is happy and with them still. Laura wigs out but is comforted by this info. Christine has more to say; she has a warning for John. John wants nothing to do with all this "mumbo jumbo" and well, bad stuff happens.

Don't Look Now is based on du Maurier's short story of the same name which is much more subtle than the film. Movies from the 1970s always have a weird vibe. I don't know if it's the freaky music or strange cinematography but it just screams "this is a 70s movie!" the year I was born actually. It's artsy-fartsy. Another weird thing about the movie is a long awkward love scene. They're all elbows and knees. It's like watching a couple of praying mantes. Also don't wear your watch to bed; it's almost as sexy as wearing socks.

The movie keeps fairly close to the story with the exception of John's job. I think that just gives them a reason to hang out in creepy churches.

I loved Julie Christie's hair in the movie and she wears this pair of red boots that I want so bad. So yay for the costume and hair, nay on the weirdness.

This isn't a movie for everyone and it's definitely not a family film but I picked it up for $5 at Walmart so it is worth a look or two. Read the story first though.


August 11, 2010

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (audiobook): Review

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I was under the misguided impression that Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez must be about barmaids or pirates or something. When I finally started paying attention to the reviews, I realized just how wrong I was.

Wench is actually a reference to slave women in the 1800s, in this case the wenches of the story are the "mistresses" of southern plantation owners. I put quotes around mistresses because to me the idea of a mistress is a woman who has a financial agreement with her lover. These women are not mistresses but the mistreated sexual slaves of despicable, depraved men. They have no choice in their partners. They are the personal property of these men.

The story is told from the point of view of Lizzie. Lizzie is one of four slave women taken every year to a summer resort in the north visited by their masters. Each woman has her own horrors to endure and her own outlook on the slavery situation. Reenie, Mawu, and Sweet wish to be free and plot their own escapes. Lizzie has convinced herself that she loves her master.

She is practically a child when her owner decides to take her for his own pleasure. At first, he is coaxing and gentle, like he is with his horses, but once Lizzie has a couple of his children he is less so. Lizzie hopes to have those children freed by their father but as the years pass she starts to lose hope.

Lizzie builds friendships with the three other women and looks forward to meeting them every year. She also starts a tentative relationship with a Quaker woman who supplies Lizzie with abolitionist pamphlets. She is intrigued by the idea of freedom but thoughts of abandoning her children leave her torn.

Wench is often a difficult book because of the subject matter. Perkins-Valdez doesn't shy away from the ugliness of these women's situations. As I listened to the story, I was struck time and again at how dehumanizing slavery was. For the black slaves, they are reduced to property, no more valued than a piece of furniture. For the white masters, it reduces them to monsters. I could only believe that they behave this way because they know it is wrong and are overcompensating by acting especially horrific to the slaves; any act of compassion would remind them that these are people and how can you treat a person this way?

Lizzie can be a frustrating narrator since she believes she loves this man. However, I can see why she convinces herself of this. It's a kind of coping mechanism, otherwise she'd give into despair. Despair is something that the slaves rarely give into. Seeing that freedom is possible, it is always there in the back of their minds. If one way closes to them, there is always another. And in that way Wench is a hopeful story.

Highly recommended.

About the Audio: Wench is read by Quincy Tyler Bernstine. She has a lovely melodious voice. I was impressed by how she could make each character distinctive by a slight change in accent. Very well done. One of the best audio recordings I've heard yet.

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August 10, 2010

Nostalgia On Film: You Got Mail

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Remember the movie You Got Mail? You do? Good for you. I've never seen it until this weekend. I'm a bit behind the times. By, like, a lot. I don't know why I never watched it before. Maybe it was the title.

You Got Mail is Pride and Prejudice only in New York...and with bookstores. Meg owns a little bookshop called The Shop Around the Corner (aw!) and Tom Hanks's family are the big mean book box store Fox Books opening a store in Meg's neighbourhood. But they are unknowingly having an internet romance. They have pride and prejudice every time they meet IRL. I wonder if they knew what IRL meant in 1998?

Yes, 1998. This discussion is going to get spoilery now, but you, like me, should have seen this movie in 1998, so why should I warn you about SPOILERS? Really. Oh and the boat sank at the end of Titanic. Next week I'll ruin the ending of Sixth Sense for you.

So, they end up together in the end. Or at least it was heading that way right before I feel asleep. I assume that happened because this is a Meg/Tom movie. But for all I know they were incinerated by aliens at the end. What I found funny about the movie was how it was both dated and relevant at the same time.

The More Things Change...

Meg and Tom have a romance through long email messages. So modern 12 years ago, now it seems so quaint. They did not text each other nonsensical messages like r u there? and brb on their Blackberries. Tom was not Meg's facebook friend. Meg wasn't a follower of Tom's Twitter stream. Both Meg and Tom are in the book selling business and yet neither mentions internet book sales. And ebooks? Yeah, right. Both Meg and Tom would be shaking in their boots over Amazon in 2010. In 1998, not so much.


...The More Things Stay the Same

Meg's shop is a independent children's book store. She has 3 employees who all work there at the same time. Unsurprisingly, she is in big financial trouble when Fox Books opens up. Maybe it's those 3 employees working in her tiny shop at the same time all day. And you know Meg is the type to pay for health benefits. Meg calls Fox Books a soulless corporation and Tom admits that they lure customers with discounts. Sounds very familiar. Just check out Trish (Hey Lady)'s post about Amazon. The comments vary but the things said about Amazon are said about Fox Books in the movie.

Meg puts up a good fight. She enlists the media, including her technology hating boyfriend, but it's too late. Meg's knowledge and good taste are no match for Fox's discounts and cappuccinos, even though the service is terrible. Meg goes out of business.

Now Tom is conflicted about this because Meg is smart, good with kids and his Secret Internet Girlfriend, even though she doesn't know it.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Toms fell in love with all the Megs and wanted them to be successful too? Sure. But I doubt it.

I wonder how many other movies about bookstores I missed? Do you know of any?

August 7, 2010

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister: Review

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Lillian teaches cooking classes in the kitchen of her restaurant one Monday night a month. Every student who joins the class has his or her own reason for coming to Lillian's kitchen. Some, like new mom Claire, want time for themselves, some are lonely, like Antonia or hurt like Tom. As the class progresses, new relationships are formed and discoveries about each student are revealed.

That's not much of a description, I know, but that's all I can come up with for The School of Essential Ingredients. This book has gotten some good reviews but it left me feeling underwhelmed. It might have been the way the book is written: each section reveals just a portion of each student's life. I never really connected to anyone.

At times I found it overly sentimental and felt like I was being manipulated emotionally by the writing. And dear Lillian is just too good to be true with fairy godmother-like powers.

Just to be nit-picky, during one class they made a cake. I thought about this- a half hour to prepare, an hour to bake, an hour to cool, then half an hour to decorate. Then they ate it. What were they doing during this marathon cooking class? My suspension of disbelief just can't stretch that far.

On the other hand, I loved the passion the author seems to have for food. This book made me hungry. It's too hot to cook like this at the moment but I really want to make Beef Bourguignon! Plus this is a super quick read.

If you want to read something light and quick while contemplating the contents of your pantry, I recommend it.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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August 5, 2010

This Old Thing: The Blue Castle

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L M Montgomery's most famous stories involve Anne Shirley but she did write other books with other characters. One of her more mature works is The Blue Castle. No, I did not buy this book in PEI, although it did travel with me there. My local used book store has a ton of Montgomery's books, which is where I bought this. I've also seen a buttload of her books at the thrift store too. I'm guessing because she's a popular Maritime author that everyone around here has gotten a book or two of hers over the years.

Anyway Ana mentioned The Blue Castle as a favorite Montgomery book so when I saw this one at the store a few months ago for $4, I picked it up. The cover is so 1980s romance, don't you think?

I'm looking forward to reading it if I ever get around to it.

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August 3, 2010

The Children's Book by A S Byatt: Review

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I thought this would be my last book. That I would be 100 years old, in a nursing home, clutching this book to my bosom, sighing "Just...one...more...chapter." But I prevailed! Not that this isn't an amazing book (it is) but I can only describe reading it like walking through knee deep molasses. It's slow going.

The Children's Book by A S Byatt is definitely not for children. It's about a group of quasi-Bohemian Brits writing children's stories, making pottery and numerous children. The book is massive partly because it covers a period of time from the end of the Victorian era to the end of World War I. There are numerous characters as well, I can't even begin to describe them all. The adults at the beginning of the novel have issues involving sex and infidelity. Who's the Baby Daddy? is the a question all the children end up having to deal with later on. These parents really know how to eff up their kids.

The Children's Book reminded me of George Eliot's Middlemarch, not just it's sheer size but how it meanders in and out of the lives of the various characters. One minute we're seeing what Dorothy is up to, the next finding out what Olive is thinking. There is a lot of thinking in this book but I never found that it dragged. I loved the characterization. They became so real to me. I keep thinking that they were!

Where Eliot might be overly descriptive of rural scenery, Byatt details the political atmosphere and historical events of the era. It can be overwhelming at times but envelopes the reader in that charged atmosphere, one that fueled art and radical thinking. The characters often just happen to bump into people like Oscar Wilde and JM Barrie. That might be annoying in any other book but considering who these characters are supposed to be, it fits. Besides the real Europe of the time, Byatt creates a world on the edge of a British wood. A place where a writer imagines sinister plots for fairy tales and a mad potter designs disturbing images in clay. Where everyone has secrets hidden away.

A lot of bad things happen during the book and lots of people die but by the end I felt that the characters who deserved happiness found it. It was a satisfying ending and after 600+ pages, I was glad of it.

I highly recommend it but be warned it will suck up a lot of time.

Thanks to Random House for the review copy.

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August 2, 2010

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (Audiobook): Review

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Gabry lives in Vista, a town on the outskirts of the area governed by the Protectorate, with her mother the lighthouse keeper Mary, the character formerly known as protagonist of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Gabry is a girl who just wants to have fun in a post-apocalyptic zombie world and heads out past the boundaries of the town to the ruins of an amusement park with her friends. One of those friends is a boy named Catcher who she desperately wants to make out with.

It's all fun and games until someone gets bit by a zombie, or mudo as they call them, which happens when teens even think about sex. (Warning to teens: Making Out* = Death by Zombie) A bunch of her friends are now dead or infected or in jail while she is smart enough to run away. But as punishment for running away, all these friends hate her which considering they're all dead, infected or in jail shouldn't be such a big deal. It's a big deal to Gabry who is in agony over the situation. To add a cherry on top of things, Mary drops a bomb. KA-BOOM!

Gabry does the sensible thing and runs off into zombie territory in search of her bitten boyfriend. If zombies only wanted brains, she'd be perfectly safe.


About 5 minutes after entering zombieland, she's nearly eaten but saved by a mysterious stranger. Who is this boy? A possible love interest? You bet your booty! After a series of events, Gabry is on the run searching for the village in the middle of the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Okay, I really enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It was a compelling and suspenseful story so I looked forward to more of the same from Carrie Ryan. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The biggest problem I had with The Dead-Tossed Waves was Gabry. Dear Lord, make the whining stop! There is line after line of her internal dialogue, "I wish I could go back to last night..." "I wish I could go back to last week..." Well, you can't so suck it up. Half way through I wanted someone to push her in front of a zombie and run.

I did enjoy seeing Mary again. She is a much more interesting character than Gabry but since she is a few decades older she can't be a big part in a teen series. The boys seem like stock YA boys; there for romantic tension and occasionally do something heroic for the girl. Nice boys, really, but not ones I end up caring about.

I wanted very much to like The Dead-Tossed Waves more than I did. There were parts that were entertaining, glimpses into the world created by the author, and I kept reading for that reason even while rolling my eyes at Gabry's melodrama. I imagine that there will be a third book and since I want to know what happens to the remaining characters and this zombie filled land I will read it. Hopefully it can recapture that certain something The Forest of Hands and Teeth had.

About the Audiobook: Read by Tara Sands.

*Do they still call it "making out"?

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August 1, 2010

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Challenge Roundup & Other Stuff

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Challenge Roundup for July is going to be pretty short because I read 0 books for challenges this month. Yep, 0. It's been a slow month reading wise.

However, the participants for the Daphne DuMaurier Challenge have been busy bees. Both The Reading Life and Every Book and Cranny read the suspenseful Rebecca and enjoyed it. Booksploring read Rule Britannia and admitted it didn't seem like duMaurier's best work while Terri B enjoyed the gothic elements of Jamaica Inn. Great job guys!

I hope I do a little better next month. I can't do much worse.

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Last week I went on a literary holiday of sorts. The family and I took a little trip to Prince Edward Island. It was such a nice trip. The weather was perfect. We spent time on the sandy red beaches and visited Anne's house, Anne of Green Gables that is.


There I am, making myself at home in Green Gables. What you don't see are the hundreds of other people wandering around.


A very Anne-ish bedroom, complete with puffy sleeved dress.

I haven't been to PEI in well over a decade and I'd forgotten how pastoral it is. I love all the old farm houses and admit I got very excited when I saw a field of sheep. They were so cute! I wish I took a picture.

I'll post some more photos another time. Anyway, how did you spend your reading time this week?

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