See You In the New Year!!!

Yeah, I know. Radio silence. I haz it. I will be back in the new year. I read, like, three books! I know! Whoa! I have thoughts about them. I will write them down and hopefully you will read them.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Here’s to a great 2013!!

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Image courtesy of idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Bookish Look Back at 2012

I know you're all going to be sick of these "a year in review" posts in about a week so I figured I'd do mine now before the idea jumps the shark.

Overall, my reading year has been meh. I lost my reading mojo somewhere over the summer. I had so many moments of "I don't even know why I'm reading this book" and would either take ages to finish it or toss it aside. I think I'm getting to the point of where I don't even care how I got the book, I'm not going to feel guilty about not finishing it if I'm not feeling it. I haven't been requesting or accepting many review copies because of this. If you've sent me a book to review and I haven't put up a review, I'm sorry. It's not you, it's me. Honestly, you don't want the book blogger equivalent of Grumpy Cat reviewing your book. I'm coming out of this funk but it's taking time.

Where last year I read 100 books, this year I read 64. I'm not even going to try to predict how next year will go. I think my only way out of this is to only read the books I fall in love with. If this works, be prepared for gushing reviews in January. 

Some of the fault lies with Victor Hugo. Reading Les Miserables was like eating a block of cheese, it sort of backed everything else up. 1400 pages in 5 months. Whew. I don't think I could take on another project like that again for a long time. I'm glad I did it but it was my Everest.


So, did I like anything in 2012? Yes. Here's my list of the best read.

  • Love Begins In Winter by Simon Van Booy
  • The Black Count by Tom Reiss
  • Georges by Alexandre Dumas
  • Bedbugs by Ben Winters
  • Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (of course)
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Let's not even talk about the ones I didn't love, okay?

As for what I did when I avoided reading, I was busy. 
  • My daughter has been participating in new things so I'm doing a lot of driving her to and fro. Also doing some volunteering at her school.
  • I started working out seriously in January and try to do something active once a day if I can. I feel great physically and I'm pleased with myself for keeping that up. Once I get a routine going I stick with it, but it's hard to start.
  • I watched a lot of TV, especially shows on ABC, like Revenge, Happy Endings, Don't Trust the B- in Apt 23. Then there is New Girl  and The Mindy Project on Fox and Elementary on CBS. And, of course, Downton Abbey which I discovered I liked after everyone else was already a fan.
  • I contemplated what I want to do with the rest of my life since I'm going to be thirty-something-something-ahem-cough this year. This is a major contributor to my lack of concentration. And, yeah, I haven't come up with a doable plan yet.
  • Blogwise, I helped Tasha with The Project Gutenberg Project (though I've been a terrible contributor lately), contributed to The Estella Society, and helped out with Armchair BEA.
That's about it for 2012. Now I shall drag my butt into 2013 and leave this negative attitude behind me!

Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan: Review

barometerA week late and a dollar short. I wanted to have finished Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan before the anniversary of the Halifax Explosion but that didn’t happen so I better just get over it.

Barometer Rising is a fictional story set during actual events. Neil Macrae sneaks home to Halifax to settle some scores but since he’s Canadian he doesn’t use elaborate schemes or big guns to achieve this. No, he keeps avoiding people while looking for the One Guy who can clear his name. Mostly he’s avoiding his douchey uncle Geoffrey Wain, who has a lot to lose if Neil shows his face in these parts.

Since this is the middle of World War I, there is a lot happening in Halifax, including the building of ships. Neil’s long lost lady love and daughter of his Unclenemy, Penny, is the designer of a Super Ship (yes, that makes them cousins). Penny spends a lot of time looking pensively out of windows and thinking about Neil, who she thinks is dead. She has secrets. They all have secrets, but none of that is going to matter in a couple of days when the Imo and the Mont Blanc collide in the middle of Halifax Harbour.

First of all, I loved Penny. She’s very Dagny Taggart. She’s not just sitting around wringing tears out of her handkerchiefs; she’s building boats. Mind you, she keeps telling people that her Super Ship was all Neil’s idea (barf) but she’s the brains building it. I don’t know how she keeps her eyes from rolling out of her head every time some dude is all, “Omg, you’re a girl! How can you think with those boobs?! Go home and make me a sandwich.” I was meh about Neil; he’s okay. I thought Drunk Doctor Angus Murray much more interesting.

The plot plods along with people thinking about their secrets and trying to get at other people’s secrets until about a two-thirds of the way through the book when the explosion occurs. Nothing like death and destruction to get people together.

There is some heavy handed patriotism near the end, which is forgivable since MacLennan published it in 1941. I think he felt it was necessary considering what we were facing at the time. Barometer Rising is early CanLit and doesn’t have the legacy of “everyone must suffer or die” behind it and considering the events in the novel it has a surprisingly optimistic ending.

The plots a little slow at first but I really liked Barometer Rising and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Not bad for a first novel.

Ratings:

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Virtual Advent 2012: A Pinteresting Christmas

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Yes, that’s right, I’ve been participating in the Virtual Advent every year since the beginning. I don’t always know what I’m going to write about when I sign up, but hope for inspiration before my day comes.

This year I thought I’d combine Virtual Advent with Trish’s Pin It and Do It, which is a challenge where participants actually do the things they’ve pinned to a board on Pinterest. Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board where people pin up ideas they’ve found on the internet with the intention of actually doing those projects.


At Christmastime, I feel pretty crafty. I like making presents for people in my life. I pinned quite a few ideas over the year for this purpose.

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Here are the projects I completed this year. Maybe you could do a few yourself.

All the printables were printed on white card stock purchased at Staples.

Package

Wrapping presents like parcels was inspired by this post by Lolalina. Using postcard printables and reindeer tags from Eat Drink Chic, and vintage postage stamp clip art from Stampin D’Amour, twine from Martha Stewart, and regular brown paper, I made my own version. (PS- Print the stamp clip art on sticker sheets from an office supply store and cut out. Use the extras to decorate your Christmas cards.)

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I used brown paper, Martha Stewart twine, and this printable from Eat Drink Chic- a movable reindeer- to decorate another present.

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A plethora of gift tags from Lemon Squeezy, more reindeer tags and knit-look tags from Eat Drink Chic.


crochet star

These Star Ornaments were inspired by this post from Tea at Weasel’s. She posted a link to the pattern found on Ravelry.

hat

I made this Lattice hat for my Mom. I don’t think she reads my blog. Oh well. Surprise!


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I followed the directions for Origami Wreath on Domesticali. It was a bit tricky to keep it all together. I covered the finished product with Mod Podge (glue) and glitter, and added a string for hanging. Can I just say that glitter is the craft supply from hell?


Finally, here’s a little music to jingle rock out to while wrapping and crafting from Walk Off the Earth.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Remembering: The Halifax Explosion, December 6, 1917

Obviously I wasn’t around during the Halifax Explosion, but it’s a big part of the province’s history. I’m reading Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan in remembrance (for some reason I thought the anniversary was the 10th so I’m behind). I’m about halfway through the book and the explosion hasn’t happened yet.


On December 6, 1917, two ships collided with each other in Halifax Harbour. One of the ships was a munitions ship carrying explosives. The explosion that resulted was the largest manmade explosion up to that point in time (Hiroshima would surpass it). It devastated the city. You can learn more about it on this site dedicated to the disaster.

Barrington Street, Halifax, NS, about 1915

Halifax pre-Explosion around 1915

Damage after the explosion

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Decembering

I could swear it is the middle of December, I’ve done so many holiday related things already and the month just started. I’m going to be so over Christmas by December 24.

By the way, Kelly and Marg’s Virtual Advent is underway. Lots of cool stories and tips from bloggers already. My day is December 11.

The semi-annual library book sale started this week. I didn’t find a lot of books that interested me but I did pick up these four.

  • The Chrystalids by John Wyndham
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  • Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
  • A Whistling Woman by AS Byatt

I have no idea when I’ll get to them, but I’ll be adding them to my shelves this week. I read The Chrystalids when I was a kid. I have no idea what the Byatt book is about (but, hey, it’s Byatt). Revolutionary Road will probably be depressing, oh well. I’m really looking forward to Girlfriend in a Coma.

library sale


So there was another Book Bloggers are ruining everything!!! article, this time on the LA Review of Books site (no linky from me, buddy). It’s not worth getting upset over because --->

BUT, Bonjour Cass was inspired to start Graffiti Reviews on Tumblr and Twitter. It is a laugh and a good way to combat the haters.

A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr: Review

month in the countryTom Birkin, a veteran of World War I, finds himself in Oxgodby, a small English village. His job is to uncover and restore a medieval mural rediscovered in their church. Tom has a good idea of what he’ll find behind the layers of paint and grime- a depiction of the Judgement. He doesn’t know just how good the artist was or how the painting will affect him.

Tom has some issues. He has a tick from “shellshock” and his wife runs around on him. He’s just in Oxgodby to do a job and get paid, not become an object of curiosity. Right from the get-go Tom is adopted by the friendly Ellerbeck family. They get him involved in village life and Tom is good natured enough to go along with it. Over a few weeks, some of Tom’s wounds are healed by goodwill of the people and the quiet solitude he finds in the country church.

A Month in the Country is a quiet story of a man who needs someone to reach out to him, not in a touchy-feely sort of way, but by finding a few people who can bring him back into the world again. The Ellerbecks have just enough pushiness to accomplish this. They’re the sort of friendly country people Tom feels he can’t disappoint. Carr’s characterizations are written in such a way that even though people like Tom rarely reveal much about their personal lives, I still got a strong sense of who they are. I was impressed by that.

The parallels between the painting of the Judgement and Tom’s war experiences are obvious and even one of the characters mentions it. As more of hell and the descent of the people into it is revealed in the painting, the more Tom becomes part of Oxgodby.

A Month in the Country is told as a retrospective, which is interesting. Tom will sometimes say, “I didn’t know this then…” or “I hadn’t met this person yet…” It was a little disconcerting but made me pay attention to that event or person when they appeared. For that reason, I would like to reread it, since I think I’d get more out of it with a second reading. It’s a short book anyway.

It’s a quiet book, not a lot happens. The most thrilling part is an awkward conversation between the Reverend and Tom (which he totally deserved). There’s some unrequited love and a thin thread of a mystery surrounding the painting, but these things are just in the background. It’s really about finding peace within oneself in unexpected places.

If you enjoy quiet British period pieces like I do, then you’ll like A Month in the Country.

Ratings:

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Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Makeup Pin

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Hey all! I’ve been working on a Pinterest post for both Virtual Advent and Trish's Pin It and Do It (Holiday Edition), but I did do a more personal pin this weekend. With the holidays coming, it’s time to spice up my look. There are about eleventy-billion makeup tutorials pinned on the site. I picked a couple to try.

First there was this makeup tutorial for green eyes. Didn’t look too difficult. Also, this pin about false eyelashes. That one I knew would be challenging. Here are the results.

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I don’t think these photos do justice to how much makeup I had on. It was a lot. That green eyeshadow is really green. I might have to tone it down for real life.

Then there were the eyelashes. Oy. I’ve never done false eyelashes before, so this was an experience. This was the “good eye.” The other one had a particular RuPaul-esqueness to it. How do people wear those gigantic ones? These eyelashes were cut down quite a bit too. I admit to cheating a bit and using YouTube to explain to me how to do it. The girl in the video made it look so easy. It’s not easy. I’m not sure if I’ll be attempting this one again. We’ll see.

For comparison, here’s how I look after I took it all off.

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Anyway, it was fun to try.

Anyone else wear false eyelashes? Any tips?

PS- I hope all my eye photos didn’t freak you out. I can seeeeeeeee you!

“Etsy Love” Gift Guide 2012

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Are you one of the brave souls who’ve tackled the crowds for the big sales today? Or are you like me and avoid all that like the plague? Perhaps you’re an online shopper. I know that even here in Canada, Black Friday is becoming A Thing with lots of sales at the mall and online. My inbox is full of flyers for “events”.

But really, do you want to buy what everyone else is buying? How about something unique? Every Friday I link to a interesting bookish item I found on the online marketplace Etsy, where you can find all kinds of handmade or vintage gifts.

I’ve created a Pinterest board of all the bookish items I’ve linked to in 2012. If you are interested in something, just click the “pin” and you’ll be taken to the shop where you can buy it. I hope you have a look at my Book Lover’s Gift Guide.

etsy love 2012

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated by any of these sellers to be featured in the gift guide. I have not done business with any of these shops. Always read the shop policies and feedback before ordering.

Image courtesy of Kittisak/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: Thoughts

les miserablesI don’t think my hands will ever be the same. I have shooting pains in them from holding this sucker open. Recovery will be a long process.

I honestly didn’t know much about Les Miserables before I started reading it. I knew it was about poor French people and that everyone was miserable (it’s not called Les Happypants). Les Miserables is Jean Valjean’s story of redemption and his struggles to stay on the righteous path, no matter how difficult that may be. Jean Valjean is a convict, freed from prison after 19 years for stealing bread. Society is not very forgiving and he’s not too fond of society either. He meets a priest, a saint really, who has such faith in Jean Valjean that he changes his whole worldview. Jean becomes a better man but the police officer Javert only sees a convict and spends the whole novel chasing Jean around.

I don’t know if that sums up a 1400+ book but that’s the gist of it. A lot of people die in this book- A LOT. Don’t get too attached. Again, read the title.

What I loved about the book was how Hugo was able to show the inner struggles of all the characters, especially Jean Valjean. If ever there was a guy with a reason to go on a rampage, it was him. I’m not sure if he ever had a happy moment. Life was always kicking him in the balls. Jean Valjean is such a complicated character and I loved him to pieces. He could not be the man he is without Javert, his nemesis, or Cosette, his ward. Would Jean have kept running if not for Cosette? Probably not. (Click the links for my personal feelings on Jean Valjean and Cosette.)

What I didn’t like was how Hugo would build tension and get the plot really cooking only to go on about Waterloo or Paris sewers for 10 chapters. It was as if he had done this research and just had to jam it in there somewhere. Perhaps he could have just saved that for a dinner party. “Howdy stranger, come sit next to me so that I can tell you all I know about French convents.” Anyway I’m sure some troll will come along and tell me what an idiot I am for not appreciating The Ancient History of the Sewer which, I shit you not, was a chapter in this book. Troll along, troll.

However, Les Miserables is a beautiful story with lots of action and emotion. I can see why it became a musical. When people are overcome with emotion, they just gotta siiiiiiiing!

I feel like I should say more about a book that took me 5 months to read. Really, what else is there to say about it? It’s Les Miserables! You just have to read it.

Lazy Sunday Thoughts Says Au Revoir, Les Miserables!



Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom! I'm done, beaches! Done Les Miserables! All 1463 pages! Okay, it was pretty good and I'm glad I read it but I've been at it since June. I was sure I was going to die before I finished that mother. But I didn't die and now I can see the movie!!!! Woot!

I feel like this right now.


Let's break out the champagne and confetti!!!


PS- My daughter read the cover which read Now a magnificent theater musical and said, "What, is it five hours long?" She gets her sarcasm from me.


Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy: Review

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I bet Simon Van Booy writes fantastic love letters. I’ll never know but I figure reading Love Begins in Winter is as close as I’m going to get to it.

Love Begins in Winter is a collection of five stories about love, not always romantic love. The title story is of a cellist and an stranger he meets in a park. Both are damaged by terrible incidents that happened in their childhood. This actually wasn’t my favorite. I thought the lady might turn out to be like Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. She was a bit off.

My favorite story is The Coming and Going of Strangers. On the surface it seems like a tale of a young gypsy boy’s infatuation with the new girl in the village, but it’s more than that. Mostly it’s about the love within his family: his mother and father’s romance, his uncle’s love for them all. I loved how the story of their lives intertwines with Walter’s trip to the girl’s house. There’s a twist at the end too.

The remaining three stories are just as lovely. Van Booy’s writing is something I just melt right into. He can turn a phase like no one’s business. Take this one:

“It was very cold outside, and each time George exhaled, he passed through a cloud of his own life.”

Whoa! A cloud of his own life. I never thought of it like that but I guess it is true.

There’s a little bit of sadness in every story. Love doesn’t solve all problems and sometimes people get in their own way. Sometimes they get their happily-ever-after, but even if they don’t there is the potential for it.

Love Begins in Winter is a perfect choice for anyone who is tired of the same old thing. Grab this book, a cozy blanket, and settle in for the night.

Lazy Sunday Thoughts Read a Book!

I finished a book! Miracle of miracles! Yes, I started and finished Love Begins in Winter within a week, which is quite miraculous for me these days. Now I just want to read Simon Van Booy books. I don’t think he’s written many so far. Maybe I need to read books just like those for awhile. 19th Century tomes might be too much for now.

Did you hear? Trish is having another Pin It and Do It for the holiday season. Sounds good to me considering I pinned 80 billion Christmas projects. It’s time to get Doing. Did you know that Pinterest has Secret Boards now? Those are boards that can only be seen by you. Do with that information what you will.

Speaking of Pinterest, I made this Red Cowl for myself from this pattern I found on Pinterest. (The photo is a little blurry.)

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So, anyway…that’s all I have to report. This is a lazy post after all.

I’m So Over 19th Century Virgins

Blech! I can’t take anymore of this “sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of” though in this case the “little girls” are full grown women.
Case in point, I’m trying to finish Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (as God as my witness, I will!) and come upon this little scene. Cosette, a young lady, daughter of sometimes prostitute Fantine and adopted daughter of Jean Valjean, wakes in the morning. All in white and in a white room. Hugo then says,
One may, in a case of exigency, introduce the reader into a nuptial chamber, not into a virginal chamber. Verse would hardly venture it, prose must not.
It is the interior of a flower that is not yet unfolded, it is whiteness in the dark, it is the private cell of a closed lily, which must not be gazed upon by man so long as the sun has not gazed upon it. Woman in the bud is sacred. That innocent bud which opens, that adorable half-nudity which is afraid of itself, that white foot which takes refuge in a slipper, that throat which veils itself before a mirror as though a mirror were an eye, that chemise which makes haste to rise up and conceal the shoulder for a creaking bit of furniture or a passing vehicle, those cords tied, those clasps fastened, those laces drawn, those tremors, those shivers of cold and modesty, that exquisite affright in every movement, that almost winged uneasiness where there is no cause for alarm, the successive phases of dressing, as charming as the clouds of dawn,-- it is not fitting that all this should be narrated, and it is too much to have even called attention to it.
First he says, we can’t discuss the virginal chamber and then goes on to describe buds, and half-nudity, and shivers of  modesty. Come on, Hugo, you don’t fool me. You’re talking about sex. I’ve noticed that 19th century dude-writers are obsessed with virgins. Alexandre Dumas, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, and Victor Hugo. They can’t write about a virgin without waxing poetic about her milky white skin (no dark virgins, obvs), her lowered eyelashes, her shy gaze. Blah, blah, blah. And they’re all so good! So good and stupid! (Ugly virgins are old spinsters, like Marian Halcombe. They can be intelligent.) Let’s have a scheming virgin, boys!
Give me a Scarlett O’Hara, a Becky Sharpe. Even poor Fantine was more interesting than her kid.
I need a break from 19th century lit.

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Counts and Stuff

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Happy Turn Your Clocks Back Day! I wish we could get an extra hour every weekend. Wouldn’t that be nice. What do you plan on doing with your extra hour (if you get it)?

Most of my reading this week revolves around Edmund Dantes. I’ve been listening to a free version of The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s a loooooong book but lots of fun. I’m just at the part where Edmund is in prison and meets the Abbe, another prisoner with seeeeeeecrets. It’s so soapy.

The other Count book is Master by Collette Gale. It’s, um, how should I put this, “an erotic retelling.” I figure since everyone and their dog can talk about Fifty Shades of Grey at the playground like it’s War and Peace, I can tell you all I’m reading Master. Not sure if it’s my thing, but I’m sticking with it. It’s weird reading them both at the same time. Weird. Anyway, it’s all Andi’s fault, let’s blame her.

Sooooo…..

On an unrelated note, The Persephone Biannually arrived in the mail. I love getting this in my mailbox twice a year. In a world where the publishing industry is constantly changing, it’s nice to see at least one publisher sticking with tradition. Not only do I find out what new books they are publishing (Patience looks good), but get a couple of free stories, reviews, and learn more about the authors. This month included an article from Shirley Jackson on the bizarre reactions people had to The Lottery. There were people, educated people, who believed the lottery was an actual event. Crazy.

One of the short stories in this issue, Ash Blonde by Sally Benson, was quite relatable to me. Hennie, the protagonist, is fighting the signs of aging. She’s feeling pretty good about herself until the end. You can think that Hennie is a silly lady, but I feel for her. I’m not too happy about the new gray hairs I’ve been finding. We live in a youth obsessed culture and it can get a girl down. I remember the first time someone called me ma’am (I wasn’t nearly ma’am material, thank you very much) I wanted to punch the dude in the neck.

If you’d like to get The Persephone Biannually too, sign up here.

That’s about it. Still watching lots of TV and I’m currently obsessed with Songza on my iPod. What have you been up to?

RIP 7 Roundup

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I didn’t even bother titling this a Challenge Roundup for October. The only books I read were for Carl’s Reader Imbibing Peril 7. That was enough of a success for me!

Here’s a list of what I read this go round.

Books

  • The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viebeck
  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  • The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • Uncle Silas by Joseph S Le Fanu

Short  Stories

  • A Ghost by Guy de Mauspassant
  • The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral by M.R. James
  • Casting the Runes by M.R. James
  • The New Mother by Lucy Clifford

I hope you had as much fun reading your spooky books as I did.

Short Story: The New Mother by Lucy Clifford

anyhowstoriesmor00clifiala_0036I gave The New Mother by Lucy Clifford a whirl after reading about it in this Guardian article. Yikes, is it ever the stuff of childhood nightmares. It’s a surreal story with lots of weird oddities that are twice as creepy by being unexplainable. Like, who is the girl with the pear drum? The devil? And the guy following her with the dogs at the end. Wha? Then there is the new mother herself with her glowing glass eyes and wooden tail. Wooden tail, y’all! (I just turned Southern, apparently.)

This story dates back to the days when parents would scare the beejebus out of their kids in order to keep them in line. Imagine a mother reading this and saying, “The end… Now you know what happens to naughty children. Have sweet dreams, children.” Aw, the good old days.

Anyhow… here’s the run down. Two perfectly nice children encounter a girl with a pear drum (a guitar-like instrument). She tempts them into becoming “naughty” by dangling the chance of seeing the tiny people she has hidden inside the pear drum over them. Only naughty children can see them. So the kids go home and become progressively bad over several days, making their mother crazy. She threatens to leave them, but they wouldn’t be alone for long- the New Mother will come. The kids decide to take their chances and keep misbehaving. I think you can figure out what happens.

The New Mother comes from an 1882 collection called Anyhow Stories (moral and otherwise); the moral being don’t be bad or your parents will leave you in the hands of monsters.

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Lazy Thoughts on Monday: Pins

Obviously I was too lazy for thoughts yesterday.


So, just a couple more pins before Trish's Pin It and Do It is done for October. First up, I made up these boot cuffs. They look nice but I’ll have to see how they perform in real life.

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And file under My Weaknesses... I signed up for The Count of Monte Cristo Readalong hosted by Estella Society. I’m not going to read-read it, but I did get the audio version from Lit2Go on iTunes. I can’t resist Edmund Dantes. 

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So that’s it for now. I will actually write about books soon.

Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Review

silasMaud lives on an estate with her father, the elderly Austin Ruthyn who has a long lost brother Silas that no one talks about. Her Dad sometimes makes references to Silas and some past bad doings. He also keeps talking about a trip he plans on taking in the future (death). Austin talks in riddles all the freaking time, actually. You would think having grown up with someone like this Maud would be a little quicker, but she’s not the brightest bulb on the tree. Instead, she says things like, “Oh, a trip? When will you be back and can I come with you?” He just looks at her like, “Maud, you are so dumb.”

Meanwhile, before death comes to take him, he hires the worst governess ever. She’s old and French, because old French ladies are the worst, right? She spends her time insulting Maud and trying to have her kidnapped. Austin doesn’t believe Maud when she complains about all this, perhaps because she’s proven that she’s too stupid to live? Maud just has to put up and shut up, and avoid areas where she could be disappeared. Somehow the governess is caught stealing and told to hit the road at last (but you know she’s going to show up later).

Finally, after Lord knows how many pages, Austin dies. The will is read and surprise! Maud’s new guardian is Silas. Silas, it turns out, was accused of murdering his bookie in his house. Nothing came of it, but the scandal surrounded him all his life and he lives a pauper on his brother’s land (now Maud’s). Austin’s brilliant idea was that by giving Silas his only child (and an heiress), he’s proving to the world what a great guy Silas must be. He didn’t have any qualms about handing this extremely naive girl over to a possible murderer. Now we know where Maud gets it.

Maud’s older cousin Lady Knollys, and one of the only people who has any sense, is not happy about this arrangement. She tries to talk Maud out of it. Maud is all, *tears* “My father wanted me to do my duty, and for some reason I feel it is necessary to go live with a creepy old dude I don’t know and might have stabbed some other dude to death.” Lady Knollys, if she wasn’t a lady, would have done this:

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But she doesn’t so Maud goes off to Creepyland to meet her uncle. He’s like Mr Burns from the Simpsons, but without all the money. She also meets her cousins Milly (nice but vulgar) and Dudley (douchecanoe). Gradually Silas cuts Maud off from anyone who can help her, so he can plot some nefarious doings. Maud cannot see an evil plan if it jumped up and bit her so she’s helpless and runs about wringing her hands when it happens. I wanted to *see gif above*. The last 50 pages or so actually make some kind of sense.

I like Le Fanu’s writing style, but, yikes, he can wander off like a toddler at Walmart. In Uncle Silas, there are unnecessary details that have nothing to do with anything, like Swedenborgian, the gypsy pin, dudes who want to marry Maud, and some other things. I thought they might be important later but it’s like they melted into the ether. I also can’t stand a stupid heroine and if Maud was any dumber she’d have to be reminded to breathe. I don’t know how she gets up and puts on her clothes in the morning.

Honestly, Uncle Silas isn’t a bad book. It has its gothic moments. I was hoping for a vampire or a witch or something but had to settle for an evil governess. Oh well. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it either. I wanted to know how Maud was going to get herself out of this pickle. Hint: luck has a lot to do with it.

It’s silly but fairly standard gothic literature.

Ratings:

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Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Uncles, Demons, and Pins

Hello, Niblets! How is your Sunday treating you?

I finally finished Uncle Silas by Joseph S LeFanu. Finally. That book was kind of ridiculous. I’ll have more to say about that when I review it. It was not my favorite RIP read.

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As part of Carl’s Readers Imbibing Peril, I watched Night of the Demon last night. Remember on Monday how I reviewed Casting the Runes? Sure you do. I found out that the story was turned into a movie in 1957. It wasn’t nearly as cheesy as I thought it was going to be. Okay, the demon was pretty bad, but it was 1957. It looked like a cross between a fox and a bat. Karswell, the baddy, had an evil beard and Dr Holden was much more the skeptic than in the story. The character of Harrington’s brother was changed a lovely niece, Joanna, instead (of course). My favorite part was when Holden was man-splaining Joanna and she says, “I know. I have a degree in psychology too.” Dr Holden, you’ve just been served! Other than some small changes and filler, the plot wasn’t fiddled with too much. I liked it.

You can watch the whole movie on Youtube. It’s only an hour and a half. Here’s a trailer for it if you’re interested.


Just one more week of Trish's Pin It and Do It left. I did two more pins. Last night, I made a Ward 8 from Tasha’s Tumblr. It was a tad strong for me, so I wussed out and added some ginger ale. I liked it that way, actually. I’m a lightweight.

Anyway… I also made this little vampire from a crochet pattern I bought on Etsy after I pinned it.

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That’s my Sunday. How was yours?

My Bookish Box Set: Things That Bite In the Night (Audio)

Origins of this feature:

Every so often I get emails from a certain big box bookstore that I've purchased from in the past with the declaration, "If You Liked...., Then You'll Like...." The trouble is I often wonder how these books are related. Who made the decision that these books are similar enough that having liked one, I'll like the other? Was it a real person? Or a computer generated list? I've thought about this form of marketing and believe I know a few books that belong together. If there was a box set of related books, like they do those movies at Halloween or Valentine's Day, these are the ones I'd choose to package together.

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Things That Bite In the Night (Special Audio Edition) 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Hide your women, hide your kids! Dracula is coming to town. It’s up to Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker, Mina, and the gang to put a stop to his dastardly deeds before all of England is overrun with vampires.

My review of Dracula

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

What’s scarier than a dude vampire? A lady vampire! Females are so much sneakier with their wiles. Carmilla sets her sights on Laura, Queen of the Stupid, and nothing can stop her from having her.

My review of Carmilla

Vampires have been part of literature for quite some time now. There’s something sexy about a vampire, even though they’re the undead. If you’re going to read about them, you should go way back to the beginning to understand this fascination. These two classic gothic stories go well together and both are excellent audiobook reads. Lots of drama, lots of ghoulishness. You’ll love it!

I can’t for the life of me remember who read Dracula but there is a version read by Simon Vance (always an excellent narrator). Megan Follows reads Carmilla and she’s perfect.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin: Review

the twelveI was lucky. The good people at Random House provided me with a copy of The Twelve. I’ve been waiting for the sequel to The Passage since I read it in 2010. That’s a long wait when you’ve had the experience I did when I read The Passage. I had very high expectations. I didn’t love The Twelve as much as The Passage, but I loved it in a different way. I mean, that was the book, how can lightning strike twice?

The Twelve, at first, jumps around in time between Year Zero, 79 After Virus, and 97 After Virus, before it finally settles in the year 97 AV. Year Zero is, of course, when the shit hits the fan and the Virals are unleashed upon humanity. In this section, the story follows a busload of survivors just trying to avoid getting torn to pieces and also handful of government officials. This all seemed rather random to me until later in the book.

In Year 79 AV, an incident in a field leads to some very important discoveries in Year 97.

Unto Year 97. Our intrepid heroes from California have made it into the Republic of Texas, where a seemingly endless supply of oil and hydro keep the lights on and the Virals away. You can never be too careful though and run ins with the creatures still occur. Alicia and Peter have joined the Expeditionary as soldiers fighting the Virals, but also believe that they can end this scourge by finding The Twelve, the original Virals, and killing them.

Unbeknownst to the Texans, a group of humans in Iowa have found a way to keep a precarious balance between the Virals and humans. They’ve tapped into a source that keeps a select group of humans forever young. This few would do anything to keep things as they are, including the kidnapping and enslavement of their own kind.

Meanwhile, Amy the Girl from Nowhere, still a young girl though nearly 100 years have passed, feels a change coming. Something is up with the Virals. She must take a journey to find out what’s what.

The Twelve still has that same mystical quality that The Passage had, yet I didn’t feel quite the same. While reading The Passage, I would go outside and not understand why everyone was acting so normal. Didn’t they know the Virals were coming? Okay, not really, but that book got right into my head like wow. I also didn’t feel emotionally wrecked at the end of The Twelve. Things are looking up for the human race by the end. That’s not to say that the terrible, awful things don’t happen because they do. Gird your loins, people, it gets rough.

For me, the book dragged a bit in the middle. Our heroes meet up occasionally to hug it out and talk about the dead. It’s a downer. Then things pick up as everyone prepares for battle. It’s not just the Virals they have to worry about but humans too. Humans are awful good at doing nasty things to each other, which is how we all got into this mess in the first place. The last 200 pages or so flew by. And just like that, it’s over. Thank goodness the storyline is concluded by the end and we’re not left hanging. There is still a lot left to do in Book 3 before the human race can go back to making episodes of Honey Boo Boo though. Don’t worry.

Cronin’s post-apocalyptic world is so well created that I forget that it’s not real. It’s North America but not North America. I loved how the characters in the future would come across a McDonald’s or hotel and wonder what it all meant. There are miraculous reunions in The Twelve, much like Jane Eyre’s cousins you just have to go with it. There are no coincidences here, everything has a purpose. It adds to the mysticism of this world.

I appreciated the reader help in the form of the prologue. It reads like scripture, but actually it’s a summing up of what happens in The Passage, in case you forgot. Also, there’s a character list at the back of the book, which I really needed.

If you loved The Passage, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with The Twelve.

Thanks to Random House Canada for the review copy. Thank you!

Ratings:

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