Our Endless Numbered Days: The Longest Camping Trip

Our Endless Numbered Days Review

 

I read Our Endless Numbered Days for the Socratic Salon discussion a couple of weeks ago. Author Claire Fuller participated in a Twitter chat hosted by the Salon and even answered a couple of my questions.

Seventeen year old Peggy Hillcoat is trying to adjust to a normal life with her mother, and a brother she’s never known, after years of living with her father, the worst survivalist ever. When she was just eight years old, her father kidnapped her and forced her to live in a run-down hut in the middle of a German forest. It was not a fun time.

An amateur survivalist, James Hillcoat was unprepared for what he finds in the forest. Every time he messed up, I rolled my eyes at how over his head he was. Their lives are in constant danger and after years of living this way, James becomes unhinged- not that he wasn’t on the edge to begin with.

Peggy didn’t have a normal childhood. She bares the physical and emotional scars of surviving years in an isolated environment. Her father told her that the world ended and nothing existed outside their forested home. When she steps into a populated German village, she believes that he was somehow mistaken. She has difficulty connecting with her mother, and still feels a loyalty to her father.

The question is how bad of a father was James to begin with? He was extremely immature, but did that make him a terrible parent? His whole plan was ill conceived and he was too stubborn to admit that it was a bad idea. The responsibility of keeping them both alive, which he was bad at, became too much for him, but he always had the option of going home. He knew they weren’t the only people in the world.

The title of the book, Our Endless Numbered Days, comes from the album title by Iron and Wine. Music is an important part of Peggy’s life, in particular, La Campanella, a piece her mother plays.

Our Endless Numbered Days flips back and forth in time, until gradually the timelines meet and Peggy is seventeen. There are some twists, though I saw where a few things were going early on. This didn’t make it less interesting to me, I wanted to see how it would play out. The end left me wondering what was going to happen to Peggy and her family in the future.

A warning: this is definitely a Children In Peril book and some of it is hard to read at times. Take this into consideration if that is in your no-go zone. It’s still a captivating story.

Recommended.

Media Madness Monday: Go Vikings!

media madness monday 1

 

Last Thursday marked the end of Season 3 of Vikings. The adventures of Ragnar and Company were quite exciting this season. There were betrayals, and several deaths of major characters. Ragnar always keeps his eye on the prize. He’s nothing if not persistent, as the final episode shows.

Ragnar had two major goals this season: establish a colony in Wessex, and invade Paris. One of these things was a success, the other a total failure. If Ragnar is ever outsmarted or tricked, he bides his time. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Eventually, he’s going to burn that mo-fo down.

A couple of things I noticed about this show:

A. The ladies aren’t sitting around embroidering pillows. Lagertha, Ragnar’s ex, was a shield maiden and this season became an Earl. Her son’s new wife is training to be a shield maiden herself. Whether or not this is historically accurate is debatable but I’m all for it. Even in Christian territory the women are kicking ass. France’s Princess Gisla doesn’t let Paris go down without a fight, standing next to her soldiers while her dad hides out in church.

 

lagertha insult

 

B. Everybody is all about that old time religion. Whether a pagan or Christian, people are having visions all over the place. Sometimes with the help of shrooms or physical trauma. Stigmata is a popular expression of religious fervour with one character in particular. Even one of the Vikings’ gods come visiting. He literally hangs out with the ladies.

 

vikings-s3e4-floki-belief

 

C. The fashion is like Clan of the Cave Bear had a baby with Burning Man. The Vikings are all animal heads, furs, and leather. No wonder the people of Paris are terrified! I’m so fascinated with the braids. I also want to rock a braided faux-hawk. I never see anyone getting these complicated ‘dos done, but somehow they are punked out for a battle every time.

 

vikings fashion

   Work it!

This was a great season and I can’t wait for Season 4! I’m not sure if you can watch it online but if you can, give it a try.

Wrap Up: A Readathon Interrupted

dewey1

 

Hello, everyone! I did the Readathon yesterday with mixed results. Since I had to interrupt my reading for family obligations, I started 2 hours earlier and today I’m going to keep on reading. This is more of an update than a ending.

 

  • Which hour was most daunting for you? Not applicable.
  • Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? A list? Not really, but I would say read short fiction and graphic novels if you want to feel like you’ve accomplished something.
  • What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I LOVED the Readalong of The Yellow Wallpaper.
  • Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I only stumbled upon the Readalong chat on Twitter because I happened to be on there at the time. I know it was the first Readalong, so I hope there will be more advanced notification of the discussion next time.
  • How many books did you read? Nil. I read a short story, The Yellow Wallpaper and half of The Royal We.

 

the royal we stats

 

  • Which book did you enjoy most? I loved rereading The Yellow Wallpaper.
  • Which did you enjoy least? Not applicable.
  • How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Very Likely! And probably as a reader.

In other news, I won a door prize during hour 20! Woot!

Some Readathon Thoughts:

I’ve been participating in the 24 Hour Readathon since its inception many years ago when there were around 50 participants.  This time there was around 1800. That’s a huge increase! I can’t imagine trying to organize that many people for an online event. It is crazy. I appreciate the organizers so much.

However, much of the intimacy of a smaller group has disappeared. It can feel pretty lonely just updating a blog post. I think this is mostly because of the numbers now. There are cheerleaders, but I heard that they had about 100 blogs to cheer for over the 24 hours. I’ve done cheerleading for other events; it can be overwhelming. I definitely do not get the comments that I used to back in the beginning. I totally understand that, myself. I couldn’t even begin to start commenting on all the other blogs.

This is why I think Twitter (and to some degree Instagram) is the way to do the Readathon. The interaction is instantaneous and by just following the hashtag (#readalong) participants can connect with each other much easier and get timely updates. For all my complaining about Twitter, it is the most useful for events like this. It’s the place to go when you need some encouragement. Everyone needs encouragement sometime during 24 hours of reading! 

I wonder what your experiences interacting with other participants was like this time. Did you use Twitter? Tumblr? Instagram? Or just old fashioned blogging? What are your thoughts?

I hope to see you all on October 17th for the next Readathon! Cheers!

Mini-Challenges Post: Readathon Style!



This is my entry for A Literary Odyssey's Readathon Mini-Challenge.

So, for this challenge, you need to create a post highlighting your favorite "Classic Words of Wisdom" and then explain their meaning to you.

Even though I think D.H. Lawrence had Issues, I do like this quote. Since this quote comes from Lady Chatterley's Lover, I'm going to assume it's rationalizing infidelity. I don't like it for that reason, I like it on its own. As I get older, I believe in the sentiment. You have to live your life, your way, not do things because you think others will approve. In other words, YOLO!



Early Bird Gets the Readathon: Update Hour Six



Good Morning! Time for a Readathon. I'm trying to get the jump on the Readathon by starting early. I won't be able to do the whole 24 hours. Ugh, obligations. I don't want to miss out altogether though, so I'm doing what I can.


1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? As always, my couch here in Nova Scotia, Canada. What I wouldn't give to be blogging from the Caribbean right now. 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Royal We! It looks like a lot of fun. 

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I was looking forward to Lemon Squares, but I had a kitchen disaster worthy of a Gordon Ramsay show. I dumped most of the uncooked lemon filling into my hot oven. I still baked them but they weren't as lemony as they should be. I also spent last night cleaning my oven. Anyway, here's the recipe if you'd like to try it. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I always struggle with this question... How about I talk about my latest TV obsession: Orphan Black. I love this show. I even compared the show to book blogging. Maybe during the Readathon you should take a little break and watch the latest episode. :) 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Maybe not drink alcohol during hour 13. It makes me sleeeeeepy!

I'll be updated this post throughout the day. Happy Readathoning!

*Readathon button by Bart's Books.

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I started the day with The Royal We but I'm switching to The Yellow Wallpaper for the Readathon Readalong. I love this story. I'm trying to look at it from a different angle than the first time I read it.




As for foods, I ate a bagel, and those infamous lemon squares. Happy Reading!

Getting ready: Readathon list, april 2015

It’s getting harder to take photos of my Readathon pile when most of my books are on my tablet now.

I forgot that I have an event on April 25, so my Readathon won’t be 24 hours. I plan on getting up early to read before the Readathon starts to get a jump on it. I might be able to make up some time there.

The books I have in my potential reading pile are :

  • Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
  • Glacial Period by Nicolas De Crecy
  • How to Be Danish by Patrick Kingsley
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  • A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
  • The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
  • Ring by Koji Suzuki
  • Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro

I will have my snacks lined up tomorrow too. I hope you have yours! Will you be at the Readathon?

Something Different: Birchbox Subscription Review

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I subscribed to Birchbox with my own $$$. I just want to discuss my experience so far. If you are curious, read along.*

Birchbox box

Everybody is getting into mail subscriptions. There is a subscription service for everything now. I remember when it was just magazines. I loved getting magazines in the mail. I got over that a few years ago- more ads than articles. The internet fills my magazine related needs these days, but I still like getting stuff in the mail.

I started hearing about Birchbox a few years ago when it was US only. I was curious about it even then. I’m a lady who likes putting chemicals on her face. Getting five tiny concoctions in the mail every month is in my wheelhouse. With a bit more disposable cash in my pocket lately, I decided to give the Canadian version a try. It costs $14.95 (including shipping) a month and according to the website I can cancel whenever I wish.

First, I created an account and filled out a questionnaire. I was asked questions about my complexion, my hair, and my age. Then what concerns I had regarding my beauty routine: got acne? Want to slow the cruel hands of Time? Etc. I then had to decide what beauty “style” I consider myself to have: adventurous, trendy, classic, or low maintenance. I chose classic, seemed pretty safe. There is no opt out for certain products, but I could specify what most interests me (makeup, hair care). I would have liked to opt out of fragrances, since I usually toss those samples when I get them, but I could at least choose to get fewer a year.

Finally, I was good to go! I just had to wait for my box to arrive- during the erratic mail delivery season of a Canadian winter. But arrive they did. Let’s take a peek!

February

February’s theme was Friendship. Okay, sure. Whatever. The box design was super cute.

birchbox

Loved:
  • derma e Anti-Wrinkle Scrub. My favorite sample! This sample went really far and I use it once a day. It’s made a real difference in my complexion. I will be buying this.
  • Cynthia Rowley Lip Stain. The colour is a bit dark but I love this stain.
Okay:
  • Harvey Prince Hello Shampoo and Conditioner. Acceptable. Smells nice.
  • The Balm Cindy-Lou Manizer. I have no idea what to do with luminizer. I just rub it on my face and hope I look ok. I gave this away.

March

March’s theme was Creativity. Mmm hmm. The box was plain on the outside but chevron on the inside.

Birchbox2

Loved:
  • Beauty Blender (and cleanser). Sephora sells these for $$$. This was fun to get. The only thing is the pink dye comes out when I wash it.
  •  Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentre. Everyone is crazy about French Pharmacy stuff and I can see why. This cream did not make me break out. I will use it again in my fight against Time.
Okay:
  • ModelCo Lipstick. A good sized sample. Liked the feel of this, but the Peony colour was too bright. Maybe if I had a darker skin tone or was 20 years younger.
Dislike:
  • Harvey Prince Imperial Gardenia. Perfume. Flowery perfume.
  • Number 4 Hydrating Shampoo. Not hydrating for me. Also, real expensive.

April

April’s theme was Spring! What a pretty, springish box!

birchbox3

Liked:
  • Benefit’s Roller Lash. I love Benefit’s They're Real mascara. This is nice too.
  • Not Soap, Radio Body Wash. Bathing with Sharks is what it says on the bottle. Weird, but smells great.
Okay:
  • Mèreadesso Moisturizer. Smells earthy. Didn’t make me break out.
  • Whish Shave Cream. Doesn’t go very far. Smells interesting.
  • Jelly Pong Pong Highlighter. Again I don’t understand this stuff. Am I supposed to look sweaty?

All in all, I’m having fun with Birchbox. I’m finding new products I might buy. It’s low commitment. I’m not stuck with a lot of something after spending lots of bucks to try it. If I review a sample, I get points I can use towards my future purchases. I do like reviewing stuff!

If you’d like to sign up, you can use this Invite from me (I’ll receive points). I hope you enjoyed this little diversion!

Station Eleven- Get Your Flu Shots!

Station Eleven

 

My decision to listen to the audio version of Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel was based on the fact I needed a book to get me through the work day. Not an inspiring start, but I am glad availability was a determining factor in choosing this most excellent book.

There is quite a lot of time shifting in this novel. In the first chapter, Arthur Leander dies of a heart attack while performing King Lear in a Toronto theatre. For most of the people in that theatre, in Toronto, in the world, it’s their last moments on Earth. The Georgia Flu will take 99% of the planet’s human population. Twenty years later, one of the actors in the theatre, an eight year old girl at the time, is still on the “stage” as a member of the Traveling Symphony. Kirsten Raymonde is part of the troupe of actors and musicians who travel the sparsely populated towns of North American entertaining the survivors of the flu’s brutal aftermath. As a group, their numbers help protect them from vandals, but even that can’t save them from a dangerous man known as “the Prophet.”

The night of the play, the people in the theatre, and loved ones of Arthur Leander become a touchstone for the readers. This seemingly inconsequential event in the grand scheme of things is constantly returned to during the novel. We’re taken back to Arthur’s early days, his love affairs and friendships. Some of these people will change the course of events for the survivors of the flu. Without even knowing it, they are connected.

There isn’t a lot more I can tell you about the plot that would make any sense, you just have to go with it. The style might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It isn’t really about the flu or the end of the world, but about human connections. We rely so much on technology to tell us what is happening in the world, with our friends and families. The survivors lament how they took for granted the ability to pick up a phone and talk to loved ones, how easy it was to get to anywhere in the world to see them. What happens when that all disappears? How will we know what happened to people?

I enjoyed the meandering style of Station Eleven, the shell-shocked survivors, and their connection to the fictional sci-fi graphic novel Station Eleven. There were so many small things I liked that added up to so much. Station Eleven reminded me of Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction, and the literary devices that she uses. The Canadian setting helps too!

I also appreciated that it wasn’t too gloomy. Yes, terrible things happen throughout the novel, but there is hope for humanity by the story’s end. Just like the motto of the Traveling Symphony: “Because survival is insufficient.” Humans aren’t done yet!

About the Audio: Kirsten Potter narrates Station Eleven. She’s an award winning audiobook narrator and does an excellent job here. I can’t complain about her pronunciation. I really wonder if I would have enjoyed the book as much as I did if I had read it instead. 

audiobook review

Media Madness Monday: A New Season For Orphans

media madness monday 1

Hurray! Orphan Black Season 3 began April 18. I’m sure there will be shenanigans this season but the first episode was a slow start. Here are some highlights:

  • We began with Helena’s dream. It looked like Alison’s suburban neighbourhood threw up in Helena’s fantasy backyard. In reality, Helena is trapped in a box.

cosima ukraine

  • The captured Castor clone likes to exercise naked. As you do.
  • Mrs S was beat up by a different Castor clone. Oh no, he didn’t! He’ll find himself forked to a table later in the season for sure.
  • Rachel had a pencil surgically removed from her eyeball. It was nasty.
  • Delphine has straight hair now and is meeeeean. I guess straight hair does that, just look at Rachel.
  • Helena had a conversation with an imaginary talking scorpion.
  • Alison is in a feud with a real estate lady. I guess she’s going to have a tragic accident soon. This plotline seems kinda pointless.
  • Donnie is unemployed. Poor Donnie.
  • No Handsome Paul. No Cal with the dreamy hair. Boo.
  • Ferdinand the Cleaner is one creepy dude. He and Rachel used to get freaky. This does not surprise me.

This first episode wasn’t great, but not terrible either. More of Felix would be nice. Who has Helena trapped in a box? Where are the runaway Proletheans? What is Dyad up to? Why are the Castor clones murdering their Leda counterparts?

I guess we’ll have to keep watching to find out.

Lazy Sunday Thoughts Require Cupcakes

cupcake

Yes, I made them.

So, terrible news. Jonathan Crombie who played Gilbert Blythe in the miniseries died last week. He’ll be forever young Gil to me.

gilbert

Adorable.

What I liked about the character of Gilbert was how he pushed Anne to be her best: first as an antagonist, then as a friend. In the end, they grew and became intellectual equals. How could they not be together? Thank goodness Montgomery didn’t pull any of that Louisa May Alcott bullshit. (Laurie and Jo FOREVER!)

Anyway it’s sad and he should have lived another 50 years. RIP.


I might start working on changing my blog theme next week. There maybe times when my blog is inaccessible. I’ll have it back in business as soon as I’m able.

The Illusion of Separateness–Simon Van Booy Bringing the Tears

illusion of separateness

The Illusion of Separateness is Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, if Kevin Bacon was a disfigured World War II veteran. Every character has a connection to this man known only as Mr Hugo. To the people around him, his life is a complete mystery. He was a man left for dead in the streets of Paris during World War II, now a retired custodian.

Mr Hugo’s life, and the lives of the various characters, are revealed, often through flashbacks or the memories of other people. They all have their own stories: a little boy grows up to be a movie director, a blind girl finds love, an orphaned baby’s adopted parents move the family to California from Paris. In many cases, decades have passed and Mr Hugo’s actions during the war are still affecting people. It’s like the ripples in a pond after throwing a pebble.

Slowly, over the course of the novel, the events of Mr Hugo’s time in the war are divulged. All the goodness and the ugliness. What does his story reveal about humanity? That people are complicated? People are more than what they seem? It left me feeling conflicted about this man and at the same time sympathetic. As always, I’m amazed at the emotion Simon Van Booy is able to pry out of me.

my emotions

I took my time reading The Illusion of Separateness. Every sentence has a purpose. The most throwaway comment has significance. I would read a sentence several times, just to make sure I understood what it meant. Not that rereading was a hardship. Each sentence is a treat to be enjoyed over and over.

The structure of the novel is unique. Each new section begins with one of the characters some place in time. It’s not a linear timeline. The beginning is the end. You wouldn’t know the importance of some of the actions of the characters in the first chapter until you’ve finished the book. It’s a beautiful circle.

If you’re feeling a bit disconnected from the world, The Illusion of Separateness is the cure.  

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Procrastination dot com

The sun is shining! It’s like it’s Spring or something. It’s days like this that make me think of all the stuff I should be doing. Instead, I’ll just sit here drinking coffee and blogging.

What have I been doing? Not writing reviews for three books I read. Three! I cannot believe it. I have read three books in a row within two weeks. Who am I???

One was an audiobook: Station Eleven. So good! The second was Our Endless Numbered Days, which I just bought on Monday. Last week I said I was waiting to get it from the library, but I couldn’t wait. The Socratic Salon will be discussing it this week and I wanted to get in on that. It only took me a couple of days to read it. It was good, but I have some thoughts I need to gather about it.

endless

The third was The Illusion of Separateness which I started to write about, but then decided that it was more important to create a Spotify playlist for night time blogging. So that post didn’t happen.

In other news, I bought a new blog template from Etsy Shop Blogger Templates. These templates are on sale for $2.99 right now. It seemed like a good deal. I haven’t started working on setting that up yet, too busy procrastinating, but I looked at the included instructions which are quite detailed. I hope I don’t vanish my blog or something.

I actually had a busy week. No, really. This is my weekend of doing nothing important. I’m anxious to get back to it so I’ll leave you with this weird story about an author who probably doesn’t exist.

A Readalong During the Readathon

ReadathonReadalong1

I love me a Readalong! During the Dewey’s Readathon? Bonus!

Have you signed up for the 24 Hour Readathon on April 25? Do it! It’s so much fun. Especially the excuse to snack. This time around there will also be a Readalong of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (sign up here). I’ve read the short story before and loved it. I could easily reread it.

If you don’t know, you can get it FOR FREE on Project Gutenberg! You can totally do this.

As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by Alan Bradley (audiobook): Review

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Flavia de Luce is back! And solving crimes…in Canada. If you read the last Alan Bradley novel, you would know that Flavia was sent to a special Spy School for Young Ladies in Toronto, Canada. With mixed results. She’s pretty much the smartest person there, including the teachers.

The usual characters: Dogger, Daphne and Ophelia, her father, Gladys the bicycle, the villagers, aren’t part of the scenery in As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. Instead, Flavia easily outwits the inhabitants of Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy. She takes it upon herself to solve a mystery, when a charred body falls from the chimney into her room on her very first night. There is a killer amongst the young ladies of the Academy. Flavia uses her youth to disarm the authorities, and her usual courage to seek justice for the dead, no matter what the cost.

Some readers might not like Flavia leaving her home of Buckshaw for Toronto, but I found the change of setting to be refreshing. Maybe that’s my Canadian talking. But she never forgets where she came from, or her family and the people of Bishop’s Lacey. Her pangs of homesickness were my own. I did miss Dogger and Gladys, but Flavia keeps the herself busy hiding in gardens and corner stores to find the identity of the corpse and bring a killer to justice. Along the way, she learns more about her mother, the mysterious Harriet, herself a legend in the Academy. The students want to get close to Flavia if only for the reflective glory of her mother.

The students of the Academy are a group of tough but studious girls of various ages. Some are members of the Nide (Pheasant sandwiches anyone?) Why a clandestine government agency would need teenage girls is a mystery to me. Maybe we’ll find that out later. Whatever the reason, Alan Bradley doesn’t seem to have any trouble creating a cast of young female characters with their own individual personalities. I appreciated that about As the Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust.

As usual, I was ten steps behind Flavia. I can never keep up with her. Still, it’s fun to try.

About the Audio: Once again Jayne Entwistle is the voice of Flavia. I’m committed to it now. But, the singing…no.

audiobook review

Bonus:

copper corpseThe Curious Case of the Copper Corpse. This very, very short story places Flavia back home in Bishop’s Lacey where a young male student tasks her with solving the murder of his teacher. The corpse has been copper plated by chemical means. This wasn’t my favorite. It was way too short and I thought the reason for the crime was dopey.

Lazy Easter Sunday Thoughts

Bird nest watercolors

Hello, peeps! Peep, peep! How is your Sunday going? I’m prepping for Easter dinner later. And by prepping I mean drinking coffee and thinking about the housework I have to do.

Bloggingwise, I have a review for the latest Flavia de Luce novel coming up. Watch for that. I finally sat down and read The Illusion of Separateness. There’s a crying book for you. So good, even though I hate crying books.

I’m listening to Station Eleven at the moment. I’ve read anything from Mandel before so I don’t know what to expect.

I’m on the library waiting list for Our Endless Numbered Days because the Socratic Salon will be discussing it this month. I’m not sure if I’ll be ready for it by then. Oh well.

Like I needed another reason to dislike Henry James beyond his crazy run-on sentences. Have a listen to Stuff Mom Never Told You’s podcast A White Marmorean Flock, all about lady sculptors in the 19th century.

Jonathan Franzen continues to make new friends. This time he’s pissed off the Audubon Society enough the they’ve written this long complaint. I guess his crankiness went too far this time.

I better get some stuff done now. Happy Whatever Day You’d Like to Celebrate Today!

bunny