Happy New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o'thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

-Robbie Burns (1788)

Please Stay Tuned

Since the new year is coming, I'm going to try out some new looks. Don't worry if a link to your blog/challenge/carnival/etc disappears. I will try to have it up and running soon.

BBT: Highlights

Booking Through Thursday

It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?

List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?

If you're looking for my Booking Through Thursday post, I'm linking to my Best of 2007 post of last week. I'm still sick and only a little lazy.

Best of 2007

A Christmas Tradition

I swear, every year it happens. I have the flu. I've had it since Sunday through the holiday parties and Santa's visit. I haven't been much fun to be around for my hubby and child. Poor guys. Hopefully, I'll kick it soon. Usually, I'm getting over being sick during the holidays but this year I had to have the worst flu I've had in years smack dab in the middle of it. Ugh!

I did get some good books from my better half:
Thank goodness for online Wish Lists! I think it makes the husband's life easier too.

The Best of 2007

When Becky announced that she is hosting the Bookworms Carnival in January, theme being the Best of 2007, I wanted to do more than just a list. So I came up with the book-a-rama Awards © 2007. Like that? ;) I'm going to give the best and the worst books of 2007 an award of my own making. Yes, I have too much time on my hands.

The Best

Looking back, I wonder if the highest ratings I've given out were deserving or just given in the afterglow of a good read. Have they stuck with me? Do I feel the same now? Let's take a look.

Best Survival Story Award: The Boleyn Inheritance I know Gregory writes fictional accounts of real events, but if Henry was even remotely the tyrant portrayed in the book, it amazes me that Anne of Cleves survived. Henry was lopping off heads left and right. That she not only survived but thrived (big house in the country!) makes her my #1 survivor of 2007.

Best Love Story Award: The Time Traveler's Wi
fe What an emotional story of two people in love in unusual circumstances. It was an unbelievable story that felt believable.

Best Protagonist & Best Pleasant Surprise: A Two-fer and a tie. O Pioneers! and Dead of the Day. Before you say 'WTF?' Yes, they are two completely two different authors in different genres in different centuries but... I never read anything from either Willa Cather or Karen E Olson before. I had no expectations. By the end of these novels, I was a fan. And pleasantly surprised. Both novels had incredibly str
ong female protagonists who, in their own way, took on big challenges and met them.

Best Scared the Be-Jebus Out of Me Award: The Handmaid's Tale A chilling glimpse of the future. I recommend this for book clubs, especially women's book clubs. So much fodder for discussion is in this book.

Best Girl Power Award: The Birth House Very timely. Women are exploring their options in terms of childbirth today. Whether it's at home or in a hospital, the choices are finally theirs. This book is set in the era when the midwife was about to be replaced by sterile hospitals.

Best Creepy yet Compelling Award: Lolita Humbert Humbert is a pervert, a child molester but so arrogant he had me laughing at him. The writing is perfect and lyrical.

Best Atmosphere Award: The Thirteenth Tale Reading this in October was the perfect time for this gothic tale. I lost myself in this book. I was there in that crumbling mansion with those inbred crazy people. They made Cathy and Heathcliff look like upstanding citizens. Since this was my only 5/5, it wins

BEST BOOK 2007!!!!

Will it be a classic 100 years from now? Probably not, but it was a fun read.

So that's my list. If you'd like to read my reviews of these books, check out the sidebar. What made your list? Leave a comment or a link. I'd love to know.

The Worst of 2007

The Worst

Luckily, there wasn't any real stinkers in the books I read this year. However, I was frustrated with a few. I wasn't impressed with Moll Flanders but I can't fault it since it was a product of it's time. Anyway, here are the awards for the Worst.

Most Annoying Character: Queen
Gwenhwyfar in Mists of Avalon was close to being first but Marla from Died Blonde was the clear winner. She was so self-absorbed ("My neighbour was murdered? How does this affect ME?"). She constantly pointed out people's ethnicity in a way that made me squirm. And finally, I didn't like the way she treated her boyfriend and his daughter.

Most Overrated Novel: A Farewell to Arms I just can't warm up Ernest Hemingway's style.

Most Disappointing Ending: Elements of Style (Audiobook)
Wendy Wasserstein's novel just sort of ends, like she lost interest. She died soon after so it's understandable.

Most Disappointing. Period: A three way tie. I so wanted to love Adam Bede but I just couldn't. Love in the Time of Cholera, loved by many, didn't float my boat. I also expected more from Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning.

So that's my list. If you'd like to read my reviews of these books, check out the sidebar. What made your list? Leave a comment or a link. I'd love to know.

And, the Nominees Are... Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

  1. What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  2. What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?
    (Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’t count.)
  3. And, do “best of” lists influence your reading?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves.

Hmmm. I'm so cheap I hardly ever buy new books. Is that bad to admit? The only books I read this year that were published in 2007 were ARCs. Probably the best was Dead of the Day by Karen E Olson. I really liked that one.

Oh and Lord John & the Brotherhood of the Blade too. Forgot that one- thanks Marg.

I don't often read non-fiction so the second question doesn't apply.

As for lists, I really don't pay attention to them. They're interesting but don't affect what I read. However, I'm making my own Best of 2007 list of the books I read this year. I'll have the post up soon. Hope you'll check that out.

Making Paper Stars

For as long as I can remember, my family had these hanging on the tree. I think they started appearing after my great-Uncle returned from a trip to Denmark.

My Grandmother immigrated to Canada from Denmark in the 1930's. She was just 7 years old. Although the family quickly learned English and became part of the community, they always celebrated their Danish-ness. However, my Grandmother and her siblings were very young and memories fade. As an adult, my great-Uncle returned to the old country and brought back the instructions to making the paper star. A beautiful tradition.

I make these every year with paper ribbon. I've made so many that not only do they hang on the tree but I've connected them together in a chain. I always have to have instructions handy. Here's some online. Have some patience, it takes practice.

For more Christmas ideas, visit Scribbit's Winter Bazaar.

'Tis the Season

For Clementines.

More Wordless Wednesday


One of my New Year's Resolutions is to not take on more than I can handle, especially when it comes to challenges. In 2007, I discovered Reading Challenges and signed up for everything and completed very little. I still have a few books to finish for the TBR Challenge and The Something About Me Challenge. I really hate not finishing things.

Now the new run of challenges is starting and I find myself being drawn in. They're just so tempting. Why is that? Is it the camaraderie of people working towards the same goals? The cute buttons?

Anyway, I'm sticking to a few rules before I join:
  • Try to pick small challenges or large ones spread out over a long time
  • Stick with books I already have
  • Make sure I'm really interested in the theme, or I'll flake out eventually.
That said, I've joined 2 challenges, besides John's Canadian Book Challenge. Hosted by Becky.

Just 2 books for this one. They have to be either by Jane Austen or about her. I have Mansfield Park and whatever I get for Christmas (my husband was given a list ;) )

This one is 6 books over the whole year, books by 19th Century female authors:
  • The Last Man By Mary Shelley (For free from Girlebooks)
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Anne of the Windy Poplars by Lucy Maude Montgomery
  • A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
  • Sonnets from the Portuguese (poetry) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Ok. That's it. Really. I mean it this time.

The Long Stretch: Review

John Gillis finally has his act together, sort of. He's got a good job, a lady friend and his alcoholism under control. Then he runs into his long lost cousin Sextus, the author of a thinly disguised work of fiction about their family. John thinks he knows all there is to know about their ugly family secrets until a night of drinking with Sextus reveals the horrible truth.

First my list of grievances...

I spent the better part of the novel trying to keep everyone straight in my head. Here's the rundown:

Sandy is John's father. Jack is John's Uncle and Sextus's father. Jack was a miner. Angus is Effie and Duncan's father and 'like a brother' to Sandy. Sandy, Angus and a guy named Squint were in WW2 together. Effie marries John, then Sextus. Doesn't seem too complicated but the narrator, John, makes vague references to this person and that person and what they did... Oy.

Linden MacIntyre does 2 things that irk me. 1. Fragmented sentences. OMG. Every page. Every paragraph. Annoying. Follow me? Buy a pronoun. Now I'm not the Grammar Police by any means. I don't mind this little trick in small doses. It adds personality to the narrative, but being barraged by them constantly gave me a migraine. I had to keep reading what I already read to figure out who he was referring to.

2. Flashbacks. Again flashbacks aren't bad, but I found myself suddenly dumped into John's childhood, or adulthood or teen years. I felt out to sea.

Okay, enough complaints. I got over it. The story drew me in. John pussyfoots around this 'big secret' so often I read right to the end just to see how bad it was. I would have been pretty ticked if it turned out to be all a trick by MacIntrye. I was not disappointed.

It's really a story about fathers and sons. Sandy is a hard man who doesn't think John is hard enough. Bitter and resentful, John grows to hate his father. John's mother complains that Sandy went to war one person and came back another. Jack is different. John can talk to Jack, but Sextus is ashamed of his uneducated father. Effie ends up leaving both cousins because of their obsession with what really happened in that barn in Holland where Sandy was shot.

The people of the Long Stretch, an isolated piece of road in Inverness County, Nova Scotia, are a complicated lot, entangled in each other's lives by blood and experiences. Like people in small communities everywhere, everyone thinks they know what your problem is and what you should do about it. They have no idea just how deep the scars are here.

It's not a light happy story but I did enjoy it.


#2 The Canadian Book Challenge (Nova Scotia)

Booking Through Thursday: Catalog

Do you use any of the online book-cataloguing sites, like Library Thing or Shelfari? Why or why not? (Or . . . do you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking to?? (grin))

If not an online catalog, do you use any other method to catalog your book collection? Excel spreadsheets, index cards, a notebook, anything?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I use Library Thing. I was signed up for a while before I actually used it. It's a bit daunting to catalog a library. Once I started, though, I was hooked. It's so easy when you type in the ISBN number. I also like seeing what other friends have on their shelves and who shares my tastes. I'm signed up as Chrisbookarama, if you'd like to add me as a friend.

I've checked out Shelfari. It didn't really appeal to me. I heard they had problems with spam lately as well. I've signed up for Good Reads (haven't used it yet) and Chapters (the book store). I'm not impressed with Chapters. You can't browse their groups. I don't get that. Plus, it's difficult to navigate. I think they need to work on it.

Really, there's a catalog for every book lover. Kimbooktu tested several. Check it out here.

My Grown Up Christmas

The true test of a marriage happens during the Christmas season. My husband and I are just two boring white folks. You’d think combining our traditions wouldn’t be complicated but Christmas emphasizes our differences. It’s funny the things we hang onto from our childhoods. Remember that Friends Thanksgiving episode where Monica has to make different styles of potatoes to please everyone? I know one couple who makes two different batches of cabbage rolls. A cabbage roll is a cabbage roll, right? Not so. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without his Mom’s recipe and the same goes for her.

In our house, my husband takes a whole day to make perogies from scratch. His mom is Polish and perogies are typical Christmas fare. The kitchen looks like a bomb hit. Potato coats every surface. In the end, there is enough perogies to feed the entire Polish-Canadian population of the island. And I don’t eat perogies. Still, it’s sweet that he keeps this tradition. My own family has Danish roots. Every year we’d make Red Cabbage for our traditional Christmas dinner. It’s not Christmas without the smell of cabbage and caraway. I’m the only one who eats it. Here’s the recipe: Small red cabbage (chopped), 2 Tbsp vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp rolled oats, salt & caraway to taste. Cook on low heat, stir often.

I don’t mind his Mom’s Melt-in-Your-Mouth Shortbread recipe though. These are the best!

Mary’s Shortbreads
1 lb butter
1 cup sifted icing sugar
3 cups sifted flour
½ cup cornstarch
Cream butter, add sugar & gradually add flour & cornstarch sifted together. Whip mixture until fluffy & mixture breaks or looks curdled. Drop by teaspoons or put through cookie press onto cookie sheet. Bake at 300F until light golden brown (about 20 minutes).

Today is the 12th, halfway between the 1st and Christmas Eve. Things are pretty crazy in the stores, office Christmas parties are underway. Take some time out to de-stress.
Make yourself a batch of my Mother-in-law’s shortbreads or try these Bittersweet Shortbreads (I use dried cranberries instead of pecans).

While you’re at it, how about a nice adult treat: Bailey’s Coffee
{1: Prepare some fresh coffee in a coffee mug 2: Top up with steaming hot milk 3: Pour in 50ml of Baileys}

Put up your feet and enjoy this free Christmas story from Girlebooks: The Romance of the Christmas Card. Or The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson (another Dane). The illustrations are quite pretty.

I love The Christmas Album from the Barra MacNeils. They're a group of siblings who play traditional Cape Breton and Celtic music. Here’s a sample: O Come Divine Messiah.

Wintersong by Sarah MacLachlan is so mellow. It’s sure to relax you.

Remember to visit these other bloggers during the Advent Blog Tour:
13 December - Jill (The Well-Read Child)/Stephanie (The Written Word)
14 December - Robin (A Fondness for Reading)
15 December - Alyssa (By The Book)
16 December - Rachel (A Fair Substitute for Heaven)
17 December - Literary Feline (Musings of a Bookish Kitty)/ Stephanie (Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic)
18 December - Dev (Good Reads)
19 December - Callista (S.M.S. Book Reviews)
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian (Tiny Little Librarian)
21 December - Carla (Carla Nayland Historical Fiction)/ Susan (Reading, Raving, and Ranting by a Historical Fiction Writer)
22 December - Carolyn Jean (The Trillionth Page)
23 December - Booklogged (A Reader's Journal)
24 December - Kailana (The Written World) / Carl V. (Stainless Steel Droppings)

Thanks to Marg and Kailana for organizing the Blog Tour. I've spent so much time putting this post together. I really enjoyed it. Also check out Scribbit's Winter Carnival today for more Christmas ideas.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

5 Things Meme

Stephanie at Confessions tagged me for a meme. This one requires relying on ones memory. Oh boy, not always reliable.

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago:
1. Getting ready for my first Christmas in my first house!
2. Working at the Dollar Store (Worst Job Ever)
3. Enjoying being engaged
4. Meeting my baby niece-to-be who I ended up being a nanny to
5. Driving an old Bronco (my man won it at a police auction)

5 Things on my T0-Do List today:
1. Start Christmas cards
2. Send some Christmas cash to my bro (he really needs it, poor dude)
3. Bake cookies
4. Take movies back
5. Enjoy Saturday!

5 Things I would do if I were a millionaire:
1. Pay off my house
2. Build a bigger one
3. Share with my friends and family
4. Take lots of vacations all over the world
5. Set up a fund for my local library

5 Things I'll never wear again (or have never worn):
1. Leg warmers
2. Bikinis
3. low, low rise jeans (hello, butt crack!)
4. crop tops
5. Maternity clothes ???

5 Favorite Toys:
1. Laptop
2. New Camera
3. MP3 Player
4. Kitchen Aid Mixer
5. Canon Selphy Printer (for the scrapbooker in me)

Everyone I thought about tagging has been tagged! If you visit and you haven't been tagged, then tag! It is a lot of fun. Send me the link to your answers.

Booking Through Thursday: OOP and a Contest

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question is suggested by Island Editions:

Do you have a favourite book, now out of print, that you would like to see become available again? (I have several…)

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

My answer was going to be these books until I did a Google search and found that they are still being published. Just a couple of years ago, I looked for the Henry the Duck books and couldn't find them. I actually found Henry's Awful Mistake at a library book sale. I just might have to order the others. They were real favorites as a kid. So I guess my answer is no as far as I can remember.

And a contest meme from Book Binge. If you want to enter too, click the link:

Book Binge Christmas Contest

The Christmas Season is upon us and we have one burning question: Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Regardless of your answer, we are inviting our lovely readers a chance to win an eBookwise eReader!

All you have to do is answer a few simple (okay, 10) questions on your blog/journal and leave the link to your Meme in this post. If you don't have a blog or journal, you can email us your answers. The winner will be chosen on January 5th, so you can enter up until 11:59pm on January 4th.

Merry Christmas!

Casee, Holly, Isabel & Rowena

Christmas Meme:

1. What is your favorite Christmas romance to re-read each year? Wuthering Heights (not really a romance)

2. What is your favorite Christmas movie/show? A Christmas Story (Ralphie's Christmas)

3. What is your favorite Christmas cookie? Shortbread (I'm posting the recipe for my Advent post. Stay tuned!)

4. When do you start Christmas shopping? This year, early November. I'm pretty much done.

5. Do you re-gift? No way.

6. What is your favorite Christmas song? So many! But for classic songs Good King Wenceslas

7. When do you get your Christmas tree? If it's a real tree, the week before, but this year we went artifical. We put it up yesterday.

8. Wrapping presents: Love it or hate it? Start out loving, end up hating.

9. Who is the hardest person to buy for? My mother-in-law. No doubt about it!

10. Christmas tree: Real or artificial? I like real but just bought an artificial. It's cleaner.

Tinsel Tree

Scribbit is still hosting the Winter Bazaar. This month's theme is Christmas (of course). Here's my contribution.

This was Martha inspired. I made 4 of these a couple of years ago in 2 different sizes. They look great on a mantel.

Here's what you need:
  • Foam craft triangles
  • 'Fluffy' garland in any colour
  • straight pins
Wrap garland around triangle shape making sure to cover well. Secure with straight pins. Oh and store carefully!

Snow: Wordless Wednesday

Christmas Contests

You like free stuff, right? Here are 2 Christmas related contests:

First, Booklogged is giving away Christine Kringle. All you have to do is leave a comment. Ends on Dec 5th.

And the Bronte Blog has an ambitious contest. It's a bit more work but you have a chance to win BBC's Jane Eyre DVD (I recommend it) plus 1998 Wuthering Heights DVD. Ends on Dec 16.
Good Luck!

Hello December!

Saturday morning, the first day of December, we woke up to snow- real snow, not just flurries but big fluffy flakes. Throughout the day it snowed off and on, hubby put on the snowtires and we went out for the day. We looked at Christmas trees (I'm going to ask a question about this later) then watched Enchanted. That was a cute movie and recommend it to all you romantics out there. By the time we left the theatre, the fluffy flakes had turned into blowing snow. It was a little dicey driving back home. I was glad for those snowtires!

Anyway, now for my tree question:

This is our first Christmas in the new house. For years, we'd get a real tree, but our house was so small we had to find the skinniest tree we could and stick it in the corner. This year I have plenty of room for a big tree. However, my hubby wants a fake tree. No mess, no watering. All this appeals to me too. I told him I didn't want a faky-fake tree. I hate a tree that doesn't look like a real tree. This weekend we found one that I approve of. It's also a bit pricey. I'm torn between my practical side and my sentimental 'smells like Christmas' side.

So do you do real or fake for Christmas? I'm going to make a poll but I'd love to see comments too. What is your thoughts on this important issue? Enquiring minds want to know!

And if you get a chance, visit the latest stop on the Advent Blog Tour.