July 31, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Day Trippin'

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Hello all! It's Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Have any big plans for your day? I'm recuperating from my very short trip which was only a day but felt like a week. I am not a good traveller. It was just a trip to the city for a little shopping and then to Peggy's Cove.

One of the dozens of photos we took.

What is a Peggy's Cove? It's a little town that boasts the 'most photographed lighthouse in Canada.' I had been there before but this was the first time in the summer and it was crazy crowded. There were 8000* tourists wandering around. Fortunately, you can just point yourself toward the sea and pretend you are alone.

There seemed to be concerts all over the place this weekend (U2, Arcade Fire) but this homebody stayed in and watched Julian Smith videos on Youtube. Yes, I am a party animal. I've also been reading The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. It's one of those scandalous books about rich girls doing bad things. It's a good time to read it as I'm also listening to The Oscar Wilde Collection. Since Wilde pokes fun of the people of the class in that time period, it's a nice companion.

The books I've been wanting for came in the mail this week. Yay!! After reading The Yellow Wallpaper, I knew I must read more of Charlotte Perkins Gilman so I ordered Herland. I also bought my first (!) Persephone Books Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple. And finally from NYRB A Month in the Country by J L Carr.

New Books + a tiny hooked rug from Peggy's Cove
In other news, Book Blogger Appreciation Week is accepting nominations now! Please go nominate your favorite book bloggers. Some of the rules have changed since last year so go check it out.

This week expect reviews of Agatha Christie and The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. Hope you come back for those! See you around the internets!

* Not an accurate number. In fact, probably a wild exaggeration.

July 27, 2011

Ink Flamingos by Karen E Olson: Review

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It's been a fun ride solving murders with Brett Kavanaugh but it has come to an end. A great end because Ink Flamingos is my favorite of the Tattoo Shop Mysteries by Karen E Olson.

Brett is just minding her own business when she turns up on the news. Well, it wasn't her actually but someone who looked like her. After her famous client Dee Carmichael is found dead in a skanky hotel surrounded by tattoo paraphernalia, Brett is the number one person of interest. Luckily, she has an air tight alibi, but someone is trying awfully hard to implicate her. First, there was the tall red-head sighted at the scene. Then a tattoo blog accuses her of murdering Dee and posts pictures of Brett as she goes about her business in Vegas. On top of this, another red-head has been spotted impersonating Brett. This gets a bit too creepy for her. Who are all these red-heads and who killed Dee Carmichael?

Like the other books in the series, Ink Flamingos weaves the plot around head scratching clues, red herrings and dead ends. I found myself wondering where it was all going to go. I had a few hunches but just when I thought I had it figured out Karen would throw a monkey wrench into the works. It was fun trying out all my theories until the very end.

Ink Flamingos is quick and fast paced with all the usual quirky characters plus a few more. And romance? Why, yes, a little bit of that too. Not to give too much away but I was happy with how Brett's romantic life turned out.

So that's it. I'm going to miss Brett and the gang. Will Brett ever move out of her brother's house? Will Joel ever keep to a diet? Will Bitsy get fed up and quit? These are questions that will never be answered. I'm sure they're all still busy solving crimes and tattooing anyone who walks into the Painted Lady somewhere in the fictional Vegas.

Recommended.

Thanks to Karen E Olson for the review copy. Can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Ratings:

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July 25, 2011

Don't Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley: Review

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I was anxious to get my hands on Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales of an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley as soon as I found out about it. Having a child with a serious life threatening peanut allergy, I was curious to know how the author, a woman with many food allergies herself, manages to survive in a world where just about everything edible could kill her. Sandra Beasley's allergies are so severe that even coming into contact with milk, eggs or wheat could trigger a reaction. She eats Benadryll like M&Ms.

Sandra peppers anecdotes about birthday parties, vacations, weddings and cocktail parties with the science of food allergies. She discusses a wide variety of topics such as the discovery of allergies, the inventor of peanut butter George Washington Carver, the theories of why food allergies are more prevalent today, travelling with allergies, being a Foodie with allergies, and the people researching a cure for allergies. 

In some ways she reassured me, and in others she gave me more to worry about. Obviously, a person can get to adulthood with food allergies- Sandra did. And she wasn't particularly careful all the time. In fact, she would at times ignore an attack because she was embarrassed and didn't want to cause a scene. She admits that she should have used her Epi Pen more often. This really bothered me! Of all the times to look for attention, that is most definitely one. I hope my child has the sense to get help when she needs it. I wonder how many gray hairs she gave her mother over the years. 

Luckily (I suppose you could say), my daughter has just one allergy. She doesn't have asthma or even the seasonal allergies I suffer from. I often tell her that she is lucky to know what she is allergic to and that she can avoid it. I have a friend who has had anaphylactic reactions and still doesn't know what caused them. Still, she is fearful. I tell her that she can do what everyone else does but she just has to be more cautious. I also try hard to hide my own nervousness whenever she is in a situation beyond my control. We both need to learn that she's at an age where she can speak for herself and learn to listen to her own body. I want her to fully enjoy her life, to be a part of the world. Isn't that what everyone wants for their kids?

Sandra did not reassure me about the teen years. I dread them! Not only do I have to give 'the talk' but also remind her not to kiss anyone who's had peanuts recently. Add to that the fear of drinking leading to careless eating. (My husband thinks we should tell her beer has peanuts in it. ;) ) Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

Though I do not agree with the author on some of her opinions about peanuts (an allergy she does not have), I did agree with her on the portrayal of allergies on TV and movies. Allergies are a sight gag. The guy with the bloated face during a date, the girl who is sabotaged by a peanut. They get the laughs and everything turns out okay. THIS IS NOT THE REALITY, PEOPLE! They'd be in the hospital, or worse. (PS- I'm never reading Mr Peanut. That book would put me in the hospital).

Although food allergy awareness has changed since Sandra was a kid, she still runs into people who don't get it or don't understand that they can't just wipe that parmesan cheese off her plate and hand it back to her. Don't Kill the Birthday Girl adds to the dialogue and is an interesting look at how one person deals with having severe allergies while just trying to be like everyone else. I'm glad I read it. It gave me a lot to think about.

If you'd like to know more about life threatening allergies, check out the Anaphlaxis Canada website.

Visit Sandra Beasley's website as well. 



Thanks to Random House for sending me this review copy.

Highly recommended.

Ratings:

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July 24, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Chains, Books, Crochet and Smurfs (Oh My!)

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Hello Smurflings*! How is your Sunday? I'm listening to the whine of race cars coming from the TV after the silence of a short power outage. Oh well.

If you've been paying attention, you'd have heard that the American chain bookstore Borders is closing its remaining stores. The news sparked a plethora of blog posts, some trying to figure out why it happened, some lamenting the loss, some not. There was a discussion about independent book stores at the same time. Last week, I complained about the news that the Canadian chain (our only bookstore in my area) will be selling fewer books. How long will it be until the only place to buy the books you want will be online? As it is now, I'm buying more books from online stores this year than I ever have before. I'm waiting impatiently for my last order.


This week I received Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley. Since I have a child with a peanut allergy, I ended up reading this right away and I have opinions on it. I'll share them later this week. In the photo, the book is resting on a crochet trivet I made this week. It wasn't a hard project but it's not one I'll make again. 

Speaking of crochet, Margaret Atwood is now a member of Ravelry, though still no project by her is up on the site yet. Makes me wonder if there are other authors on the popular knit and crochet site. There are quite a few "Fans of ...." groups on there. I love it when my 2 favorite hobbies come together. If you knit or crochet, you should join up. It's a great place to find and share new projects.

*I have Smurfs on the brain. I've been complaining about the new Smurf movie. They've put smart-alecky remarks in the mouths of the little blue guys to make them more hip. Smurfs are not supposed to be hip! They've ruined them!

July 21, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Audiobook): Review

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I'd been hearing a lot of chatter about Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. The premise sounds kooky: beauty pageant contestants crash onto a deserted island and have to overcome their differences in order to survive. I was expecting a campy adventure story and that was part of it but it ended up feeling to me like The Book that Tried Too Hard. Beauty Queens is a satire, taking aim at the media, commercialism and the unrealistic expectations put on girls. I do like me some satire but not the kind that beats me over the head and Beauty Queens has all the subtlety of a giant cartoon hammer.
Itchy and Scratchy Pictures, Images and Photos

The major issue I had with Beauty Queens was the girls. Most of them were a stereotype draped in an issue crowned by a message. The one black contestant (stereotype) had a mom who was a former cheerleader and expected her daughter to be a star (issue). She learns to love herself (message). Lather, rinse, repeat many, many times. Their back stories dragged down the narrative and ended up being preachy. I did actually love one of the girls- Taylor, Miss Texas. Sure, she's a bit nuts but she made the story entertaining. I expected a lot more from her character.

But I have a But....

But it was fun when it wasn't trying to be a Degrassi High episode. Crazy Ladybird Hope, Dictator MoMo and wacky Taylor. They were funny. I giggled quite a bit. The girls practiced their runway walks while building huts and weapons. Every time I heard the words "Sparkle Ponies" I laughed. At the commercial breaks too. The crazy bits were really crazy and I was entertained.

So, I'm a bit torn over Beauty Queens. I loved parts of it, but rolled my eyes at others. I am conflicted. I know so many other bloggers loved this like crazy but like Tiara taught me I will not apologize for my opinion or prefix my opinion with a "sorry." (See, I learned something.)

Also *adjusting the Mom hat and tying it with a bow* this is a book for older teens since there is sex and swears. And I guess violence, though the violence is too silly to be taken seriously.

About the Audio: Libba Bray narrated the book and did a fantastic job, especially with Ladybird and Taylor. I think the narration helped add to the entertainment value.

Ratings:

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July 20, 2011

Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy: Review

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Simon Van Booy. I've often read his name on the blogs of my bookish friends. They sing his praises. I'm certain some of them have posters of him on their walls with big hearts drawn in lipstick around his head. He's kind of a big deal and yet I had never read any of his books. When I learned that his new book Everything Beautiful Began After was part of a TLC book tour, I thought it was time to give him a try.

I had trepidations at first. What if I hate this book? Will I be shunned? I admit it wasn't love at first sight. When I first began reading Everything Beautiful Began After, I wasn't wild about it. The writing style takes some getting used to. I had to read several paragraphs more than twice to grasp what he was saying. Soon though, I got the hang of it and I was falling.

Everything Beautiful Began After is about falling too. Three expats living in Athens find themselves falling in love and forming friendships with each other. Both Henry and George fall in love with Rebecca but she only loves one of them. She risks breaking the heart of the other man. They all need the friendship of each other since they are broken people with damaged childhoods.
"For the lost souls of this world, Athens is a place not to find themselves, but to find others like them." 
Things were going along swimmingly, to the point I thought they were obnoxiously happy, when an event occurs that turns everything upside down. That really sealed it for me. I love when something unexpected happens in a book and makes me rethink everything that I've just read. The narration changes at this point to second person which, while a bit disconcerting, fits the tone of the book at this point perfectly. The reader is the protagonist, not just reading what the protagonist feels.

I loved the topsy-turvy plot and the topsy-turvy narration. And the story itself is beautiful. It's a story of loss and grieving and about finding your way out of it. It's also about fate and being at the right place at just the right time. I want to read it again, right now, just to read all that I've missed the first time. Yeah, it's that kind of book.


So, I must join the Simon Van Booy fan club now.

I need his other books soon. Highly recommended!

Ratings: 

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July 19, 2011

The Third Miss Symons by Flora M. Mayor: Review

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The Third Miss Symons by Flora MacDonald Mayor is an odd little book. In 88 pages, it sums up the life of Miss Henrietta Symons, the third daughter of cold, child-hating parents. Not only do her parents not like kids but they especially do not like Etta. She isn't pretty or charming or agreeable like the other children. She's plain and peevish. They make their feelings very obvious. This makes Etta a bit nutty, as you can imagine. She clings to anyone who shows her any affection which only ends up driving them away from her. She feels every emotion more than other people, including anger and jealousy.

Having sisters should be a blessing, right? Ah, no. She's always the third wheel. When she finds a guy who likes her, her sister steals him away just for kicks. Yeah, the siblings are as lovely as the parents. She never gets over it. She turns very bitter. As an old lady spinster, she travels all over Europe but she takes no pleasure in it. She's only killing time. 

So, it doesn't sound like a thrilling story and I admit I had some difficulties with it at times. I wobbled between feeling sorry for Etta and annoyed with her. If only she tried to be more likable, she might have had a better life. She can't get out of her own way. But she is what she is and in a time when a woman had to be charming and adorable, you have to admire her curmudgeonly ways. And... I hate to admit it but I see a bit of myself in Etta. I'm not one of those people who others just gravitate towards and want to be friends with. I also have my curmudgeonly moments. 

I don't think this will be a book for everyone but I thought it was interesting. It is beautifully written. Henrietta is a character I will be thinking about for a long time.

I read this free from Girlebooks.

Ratings:

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July 17, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: That Ball of Flame in the Sky

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The sun! The sun! It came back! Yay! Now the complaints about the heat will begin. Complaining about the weather is the national sport in Canada.

The national book chain in Canada is something I can complain about. I posted a link to a story about Indigo wanting to sell fewer books and more junk. This makes me quite unhappy. In my town, Coles (part of Indigo) is the only bookstore. Right now, it's hard to find the books I want there. A couple of weeks ago I went with a list and came out with nothing. If I wanted the latest releases or best sellers, I could have come out with an armful but that's not what I was looking for. And they plan on selling even fewer books? We don't need another Walmart. No wonder I prefer shopping online for books on Book Depository or Amazon.

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In blogging news, Wallace at Unputdownables made a move toward monetizing her book blog and started a lively discussion about it. Wendy at Caribousmom gave her own thoughts on why she wouldn't be doing the same. I see both sides and I've gone back and forth about it myself. I've tried different things to make a few pennies but it's not easy money. The Mommy bloggers (I wonder if they hate that term) have found a way to do it so that companies actually court them with cash money.The biggest blogs are lucrative. Somehow the book bloggers have either missed or actively avoided this situation. Like Wallace, I don't have an outside income. The idea of doing something I love and getting paid for it is intriguing.

A few book bloggers have turned their skills into businesses and have done it quite well. Then there are those that I stopped following because I feel like I'm being sold something every time I'm there. I don't begrudge them their success but I miss the old days of book blogging when we were just unpolished gems and nobody cared. Now we have to sparkle. I don't want to obsess about stats or move my blogging platform (for all its faults I like Blogger). I've found my voice and I don't wish to change it. I want to make some dough without sacrificing that. I also want a body like J-Lo without the exercise or surgery but that ain't happening either.

What do you think? 

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Finally, I received a couple of books in the mail. It's so nice to get mail again. Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie came from the Agatha Christie Watch-along with Nicole from Linus's Blanket. Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto is a fairy tale for adults that I won from Shelfawareness. I don't know much about it.

This week I'll be reviewing Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy which I want to run away to Europe with (the book not the man, just to be clear). At the moment, I'm listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray which is... interesting. 

What are you reading this week?



July 13, 2011

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Review

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Either this wallpaper goes, or I do. -Oscar Wilde

That's how the protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper feels about the decor of her room. The lady of the story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is stuck in what sounds to me like the ugliest room in the world. The wallpaper eventually drives her insane and I probably would end up right there with her.

I really want to talk about this story and since it's only 15 pages long and free, I think you all can go and read it so I don't spoil it for you. Go now.... No, really... I'm waiting...

Are you ready? Let's go!

Was that a freaky story or what? I just sneaks up on you.

The Yellow Wallpaper is told as a diary of a woman recovering from childbirth but appears to be suffering from postpartum depression. She doesn't even want to be with her baby. Her husband, a physician, thinks he knows what's best for her and prescribes the "rest cure." Basically, she has to stay alone in a room all day "resting." Unsurprisingly, this doesn't work. She becomes fixated on the ugly yellow wallpaper in the room. She sees faces and eventually convinces herself that a woman is trapped behind it. That's really telling isn't it? A woman (her) is trapped in the room. This woman ends up creeping out of the wall at night.

He is very careful and loving and hardly lets me stir without special direction.
Can I just say what a jerk the husband is? He doesn't listen to her when she says she might be fine physically but mentally she is not. He doesn't want to hear it. Is this the Tom Cruise method of dealing with lady problems? Can't she express how she feels and tell the ass guy that his solution isn't working? He just gives her a lecture and pats her on the head. It's striking how little say a woman had over her own health in 1891. At one point he calls her his "little girl" which gave me the creeps. He patronizes her and infantizes her. He hovers over her when he's not ignoring her.

She tamps down her feelings but they end up coming out in strange ways. She tears at the wallpaper trying to let the woman out. A shadowy woman she imagines creeping out of the wall and escaping out the window. Soon there are several women in the wallpaper and she believes she is one of them. By the end, she's gone completely batty and locks herself in the room. Did you notice the references to suicide- the rope, the chair, jumping out the window- and how even at this point she doesn't speak of them directly? She's still trying to be the 'good woman' who wouldn't do something like that.

So how about that wallpaper, huh? I was surprised at how visual the story is. It's almost cinematic. You can almost see those bulging eyes watching you and imagine the shadow women creeping around behind it. It freaked me out. I wondered about that wallpaper though. Would she have been driven mad without it? What had the previous occupants seen that made them tear at it?

From what I've read The Yellow Wallpaper was considered 'lost' until it started showing up in universities in the 1970s. Understandable, considering its heavy feminist theme. I wish I had read it in my university days. I also wonder how I would have reacted to this story if I had read it just after having a baby. I never had any serious issues with postpartum depression (though I did have anxiety) but it was always something that was on my mind. I warned my husband to get me to a doctor if he found me doing anything 'weird.' We're so aware of it now. The rest cure would have made things worse. Charlotte suffered from it herself and was given that prescription. It nearly did her in. What did they know about hormones in 1891? The husband in the story is unable to believe in anything he can't see and since he can't see what is going on within her body the problem doesn't exist.

I loved this story not just for the gothic elements but because of how it made me think and sympathize with the protagonist. The Yellow Wallpaper is also part of a collection of Charlotte Perkins Gilman stories by Penguin titled Herland and Selected Stories. I must get a copy!

Highly recommended.

Ratings:

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July 12, 2011

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran: Review

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For some reason I didn't think Madame Tussaud was a real person. I thought she was like Aunt Jemima or Victoria of Victoria's Secret. Makes me wonder who else I thought was fictional was actually real. Anyway... let's get back to the subject: Madame Tussaud.

Yes, she was a real person, a wax sculptress living in Paris during the French Revolution. In Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, Michelle Moran presents a fictionalized account of Madame Tussaud, then known as Marie Grosholtz, as she struggles to survive the Revolution with her head still attached. 

Marie helps her 'Uncle' Curtius run his museum of wax figures in Paris where they do rather well for themselves. Business really picks up when the Royal Family takes a tour. Soon after this visit, Marie is invited to the palace to teach the King's sister, Princesse Elisabeth, the art of creating wax sculptures. Friends of Marie's uncle and members of his salon, Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins, don't think it's a good idea for her to accept. Marie, on the other hand, believes it would be good for business. 

As the you-know-what hits the fan and the peasants get revolting, Marie finds herself a dangerous spot. She can't be seen as a royal sympathizer yet if she abandons the Princess she could be seen as a traitor by the royal family. Somehow Marie must appease both sides if she wants to outlive the Revolution but as things get even hairier it becomes clear that anyone with any connection to the Royal Family is doomed.

Michelle Moran revealed in the afterword that although Madame Tussaud published her memoirs she was still something of an enigma. She never revealed how she truly felt about the Revolution. Michelle Moran makes her sympathetic to the members of the Royal Family as fellow human beings in pain. If she did feel this way, she must have had quite the poker face. The terrible things she is forced to do, like make death masks of decapitated corpses, would test the strength of anyone. What a force to be reckoned with she must have been.

Just as I was impressed with Michelle Moran's ability to create a feeling of time and place in Cleopatra's Daughter, I was even more so with Madame Tussaud. The fear and terror of people trying to survive in a lawless world, where a mob can tear another human to pieces over a piece of cloth, is palpable. These were not fun times.

The only thing that bothered me about the story was how, after all those years of jerking Henri around, her marriage came about. Something was a bit off for me there.

As this was only a glimpse of Madame Tussaud's life, I suspect there are a lot more stories to tell. This book made me want to find out more.

Highly recommended.

Ratings:

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July 10, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Vacation Brain

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I've been pretty busy this week since my husband's been on vacation. Mostly we've been working on stuff around the house. I enjoy feeling that I've accomplished something but a little lazing around is required too. I snuck a little reading time in while sitting around on the deck.


This week I finished Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran and Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy. They were both really good, the kind of books that keep your interest when you're lolling in the sun. In the mail this week, the only thing that arrived was an audiobook Summer Rental from Devourer of Books Audiobook Week. 

Something a little different happened this week. I had my first book review posted for BlogHer Book Club. The book was The Beach Trees by Karen White. Check it out!

That's about it. I'm not very interesting this week so here's a photo of a lady with a puppy to make you smile.

Puppy


July 7, 2011

Roast Beef, Medium by Edna Ferber: Review

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Emma McChesney is a travelling salesperson. Maybe not such an unusual career choice for a woman now but in 1913 it definitely was. Emma is successful too. She is the best salesperson for T.A. Buck's Featherloom Petticoats. And here's why in her own words:
I've lived petticoats, I've talked petticoats, I've sold petticoats, I've dreamed petticoats- why, I've even worn the darned things! And that's more than any man will do for you.
It's not an easy life for a woman- as the men are quick to remind her- there are long days and nights on the road and in hotels. The salesmen can hang out in the hotel parlors and joke with each other. Emma has to spend her evenings alone in her room. She has to be impeccably dressed or the men size her up instantly as 'that kind of woman.' "Morals don't figure with a man on the road, but when a woman breaks in this game, she's got to be on the level," as one character says. It's not fair but it's how it is.

Emma is one tough cookie. She holds her own whether she's battling it out with the T.A. Buck's son, or her nemesis Ed Meyer, or a hotel manager trying to put her in the shabbiest room. Emma is one of the strongest females I've encountered in literature.

Roast Beef, Medium is a collection of vignettes from the tenth year of Emma's career. Changes are afoot. Her son, 17 and full of himself, is about to start college, her boss is ill, and fashions are making petticoats obsolete. How will Emma face these challenges?

I found reading Roast Beef, Medium a bit challenging myself. I enjoyed it but the dialogue is written in the vernacular of the times. Sometimes I'd read a line and think, "Huh? What the heck are they saying?" Emma is a strong character but she did romanticize homemaking a lot. Sure I like taking care of my home but there are days when I wish I could Tom Sawyer someone into cleaning my bathroom for me. She might say she just wants to bake pies but she loves her job too much. You can tell by the way she takes on any challenges. No one ever gets the better of her, she's too quick for that.

If you're interested in a career woman from the past who wasn't a teacher or governess, I think you'll be impressed by Roast Beef, Medium. It's not a very long book either at only 126 pages. Recommended.

You may not have heard of Roast Beef, Medium but you might know one of Edna Ferber's other novels including Show Boat (turned into musical), So Big (Pulitzer Prize 1924) or Giant. Giant was made into a movie starring Rock Hudson, James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor in 1956.

Roast Beef, Medium is a free ebook from Girlebooks and includes illustrations.

Rating:


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July 6, 2011

Not Here But There...

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Hey all! I have my first ever book review up for the BlogHer Book Club. I gave them my thoughts on The Beach Trees by Karen White. Please drop by and take a look!

Wordless: Fern

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"...then they are fairy as ferns and then they droop, heavy as heartaches." -Emily Carr

July 5, 2011

Bossypants by Tina Fey (audiobook): Review

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Bossypants has been making the rounds of the book blogs the last few months* so what is there left to say? It's pee your pants funny. Tina Fey is hilarious. You know these things. I listened to it once and then listened to all my favorite parts again, like "That's Don Fey" ('cause those carpet cleaners really don't work), "Growing Up and Liking It" ('cause that's how I learned about "womanhood" too), and "Secrets of Mommy's Beauty" ('cause I too have the fabulous brown hair and thick black eyebrows all the girls are jealous of).

Bossypants has a little bit of everything: memories of childhood, funny bits about college and first work experiences, the Sarah Palin thing, motherhood and being the boss of a pile of people. Tina Fey has it all and yet she seems so down to earth. She hasn't gone all Oprah complaining about people whose bathroom linens don't match.

So, obviously, I really enjoyed Bossypants. I hope you will too (if you haven't already). Highly recommended.

About the audio: Tina Fey narrates her own book and no one could have done it better. It's almost like a comedy routine.

And yes, that cover creeps me out too.

Rating:


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*I would have read this earlier but it was a popular one at the library. I was on the waiting list for a couple of months.

July 2, 2011

Oh Canada! Cupcakes

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For Canada Day I wanted to make some cupcakes. Nothing says Canada like maple syrup, so I hit the internet searching for a maple syrup cupcake recipe. Martha Stewart had a recipe using 2 cups pure maple syrup. I thought that was just nuts so I kept looking. I found this recipe for Maple Cupcakes which I adapted to make these ones pictured.

Here's my take.

Whisk these dry ingredients together:
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Set aside.

Mix together:
1/3 cup Greek style yogurt (thinned with milk to buttermilk consistency- think lumpy milk)
1/3 cup maple syrup (I used the table syrup with 15% real maple syrup. I cheat.)
Set this aside, as well.

Cream together in standing mixer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar


Then add to creamed mixture:
2 eggs, one at a time
1 tsp artificial maple flavour


With mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and maple syrup mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until blended.

Preheat oven to 350F. Put liners in cupcake pan. I used a mini-cupcake pan. Scoop a spoon sized blob of the batter into each. Bake for about 14 minutes. Cool completely. Makes about 34 mini-cupcakes.

Icing:
1/2 cup softened butter, cream first then add-
2 cups icing sugar
1 Tablespoon of water
1/2 tsp artificial maple flavour


Mix until combined well. Pipe onto cupcakes. Sprinkle with maple leaf candies.
I took a bit of one right out of the oven and it reminded me of a pancake. Yum!

I hope you give these a try yourself.


nrelate