December 30, 2012

See You In the New Year!!!

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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

December 18, 2012

A Bookish Look Back at 2012

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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!

December 13, 2012

Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan: Review

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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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December 11, 2012

Virtual Advent 2012: A Pinteresting Christmas

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virtual-advent-tour 5

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.

Holiday PinitDoit 2

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.)

reindeer

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

tagsknit tags

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!


star

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!

December 6, 2012

Remembering: The Halifax Explosion, December 6, 1917

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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

December 2, 2012

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Decembering

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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.

nrelate