Saturday Farmer's Market: July 31

Going away hasn't slowed my vegetable garden down any. Things are still growing in there. The earwigs are awful though. They've made a mess of my greens.

What's that? It's a purple bean! My first one! They turn green when you cook them though. I wish they didn't.

The carrot tops are looking good. Hopefully the roots are just as nice. Nice greenery though.

Possibly the most expensive pepper ever grown. One pepper on a $3 plant. Good thing I'm not looking to sell it.

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For Your Viewing Pleasure

Hey all! No Friday Bookish Buzz this week but I had to share this video with you. I first saw it on Austenprose. It is HIL-AR-IOUS!

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"Catching Fire" Beret

I just can't listen to audiobooks without doing something else. It's too weird sitting there and not doing anything. While I listened to Catching Fire last week, I thought it was a good opportunity to get out my crochet hook and catch up on some projects. I managed to start and finish a beret I wanted to make for myself.

This pattern is Phannie from Berroco. It's free if you want to try it too. I used Red Heart Collage in Rust as my yarn. It's really soft and I loved how the colour variation turned out. When I finished it, I thought how appropriate it was for Catching Fire because of the flame colour of the yarn. So I'm calling it my Catching Fire Beret!

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Audiobook): Review

The Hunger Games series. Have you read it? All the cool kids are. I avoided it for a long time. Now the third book Mockingjay is about to be released and I've just finished the second one, Catching Fire.

Just in case you haven't read The Hunger Games, you might want to avert your eyes for this review.

So my dearies, Katniss and Peeta are back at home after their experience with the Hunger Games. But they still have to play along with the love birds story so they won't wake up dead. This requires Katniss to make out with Peeta in front of the cameras. Making out with a brave, smart, charismatic and hot guy. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it. Of course, Katniss has to make this a chore... But wait! There is another hot, brave guy vying for her heart: Gale. Oh noes! What's a girl to do?!

Meanwhile, Katniss gets a visit from The President. He wants to make out with her too? No. He threatens her and her family. And if you think this isn't ominous enough, he smells like blood. What? How is this possible? Eats kittens for breakfast? Bathes in the blood of young boys to keep him young? I thought this was overkill since he could be wearing a fuzzy sweater, smell like vanilla and still be scary because he just threatened to kill her family. Anyway he doesn't believe she and Peeta are in love and that it's all a plot to start an uprising. He wants her to calm people down while they're on their Victory Tour.

The tour commences and instead of preventing chaos, they inadvertently cause more of it. Once the tour is over, the next Hunger Games is announced, this time with a twist, the past victors will compete to the death. That means Katniss and Peeta are back in the arena.

Since I loved The Hunger Games so much my expectations were pretty high for Catching Fire. At first, I was unimpressed but then stuff starts happening and it gets good. Hurray! I was not disappointed. After the slow pace of Part One, things pick up and it's just as suspenseful as The Hunger Games.

We have a good handle on the characters from The Hunger Games. We know their quirks and personalities. So we get thrown some new ones. Is there a Team Finnick? I think I might start one. More age appropriate for me. I wish Katniss would develop more as a character. She's brave and all but she still can't make up her mind between the two guys. It's been a year. How much time does she need? If you like one of them, let him know and let the other one off the hook. Also she still thinks everyone around her just can't handle things the way she can. She keeps secrets and makes deals behind their backs. It's very irritating. She can't stand it when it happens to her either! Trust issues, people.

I'm still Team Peeta. Help me out here Team Gale folks, why? Really! Peeta is all that and a bag of chips. And that little talk he has with Katniss near the end...C'mon! I don't get the attraction to Gale. Plus he calls her Catnip. Gag.

After a slow start, Catching Fire is an exciting sequel. I can't wait to read how it all turns out in Mockingjay.

About the Audiobook: I borrowed the audiobook, narrated by Carolyn McCormick, from the library. At first, I found it odd since I had an idea of how Katniss sounded after reading the first book. The voice of Katniss threw me, she had a kind of 'wide-eyed innocent' voice that didn't suit. But later, either the narrator lost much of that or I got used to it and didn't mind it so much.

Highly recommended for readers of The Hunger Games.

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Celebrating Georgette Heyer

If you're not feeling "quite the thing" this August, grab your pelisse or Hessian boots and join the readers of Austenprose for a Season of celebration for Georgette Heyer.
‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ at Austenprose – August 1st - 31st, 2010

Stylish, witty and historically accurate, novelist Georgette Heyer has been delighting readers with her romantic comedies for eighty-nine years. In honor of her birthday on August 16th, will feature a month long event ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ featuring thirty-four book reviews of her romance novels, guest blogs, interviews of Heyer enthusiast from the blog-o-sphere, academia and publishing and tons of great giveaways.

Our very special guests will be Heyer expert Vic Sanborn of Jane Austen’s World and Deb Werksman, acquiring editor of Sourcebook Casablanca and the catalyst in re-introducing Heyer to a new generation of readers.

The festivities start August first with a review of the newly re-issued Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester. Don’t be a wet goose. Chase away that fit of the blue-devils by attending this bon ton affair.
I'm very excited to have been asked to contribute to this extravaganza. Whether you're a dandy, rake, bit o-muslin or member of the ton, I hope to see you there!

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Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Award Season & Vacation Reading

Throughout the week I read all the registration posts for my category for BBAW before voting. There were a lot, let me tell you. It took me quite awhile but I didn't want to vote until I had a look at every one. I found more blogs to add to my Google Reader. Is that a good thing?!

Speaking of awards...

I want to thank Melanie from Read It In 7 Days for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you very much Melanie!

I was also contacted by Emma Lee from Awarding the Web this week. My blog was voted one of the 2010 Top 50 Book Blogs on their site. I'm very flattered! I'm not sure how it works but thanks to all who voted.


We're going on a little trip this week. Not quite as long a drive as last year's trip (thank God) but I'll still be driving for a few hours. I'm hoping to spend time on the beach too. So while I must make sure we all have enough clean underwear and sunscreen, a more important decision must be made: what books to bring. I'm definitely bringing the audio version of Dead Tossed Waves for the car.

What about the beach? Something light and easy but able to keep me interested. I'm taking School of Essential Ingredients and Folly. Will that be enough? Not sure. I might need a couple more.

Anyway I hope no one freaks out like Clark Griswald on this trip. Warning: F-bombs abound!

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Strawberry Jam 2010

Remember those strawberries from last week? One of the things I made with them was jam. Lots of jam. I usually make regular cooked jam but I wasn't looking forward to making it in the heat we've been having. Instead, I bought No Cook Freezer Jam Gel  (I used these gels from Bernardin and Club House ). So easy to make! And a lot less sugar compared to regular jam recipes. I like the taste of this jam better- it's more strawberryish. I have plenty of jars in the freezer for the days when picking strawberries in the sun is a faded memory.

In the garden, my daisies have bloomed. This double petaled variety reminds me of fried eggs!

I thought I'd share these photos for both the Weekend Cooking and Saturday Farmer's Market.

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CSN Stores: Reviewing Other Stuff

Okay, so I was offered a chance to review something from CSN I've seen other bloggers reviewing items from the site and they seem to be well received so I thought I'd give it a go.

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from cookware to cribs to dining room sets not sure what I'll review but I got my eye on a cat bed. I know, crazy cat lady. I'm sure my husband will think I'm nuts but he doesn't have a blog. Nener-nener!

 Insert kitty here.

Anyway stay tuned for a future post about my experience.

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Pocketful of Names by Joe Coomer: Review

Once again Spotlight Series is featuring a small publishing press. This month it's Graywolf Press, which has been in business since 1974.

I chose to review Pocketful of Names by Joe Coomer. Hannah Bryant is an artist living in solitude on an island, a former granite quarry, off the coast of Maine she inherited from her great-uncle. Hannah is as much of a hermit as you can get but one summer company starts to arrive. First, it's a half-drowned dog that's washed up with the tide. Next, a teenaged boy is sent to her by her half-sister; Will is on the run from his abusive father. With two living things dependent on her for survival, Hannah finds that she must put her work aside and deal with the outside world. Just beyond the barrier of the sea is the truth of her life and it isn't always pretty.

I have a bias. I had to review Pocketful of Names because it involved an island and lobster fishing. You had me at 'island and lobster fishing.' But even disregarding that I fell into the lyrical rhythm of the prose and the lovely storytelling. I ended up staying up late to finish it.

The characters are well developed and I couldn't help falling in love with them. I didn't always like Hannah. She was bitchy at times and her "my work is too important for you silly humans to understand" attitude often drove me nuts. Still, Hannah has a soft heart under the paint and stone. I particularly loved her relationship with her great-uncle. There was mutual love and respect between them.

The setting steals the show though. The island of Ten Acre No Nine has a personality of its own and its own secrets. I loved that I could see it in my mind's eye. I could see the pink granite, the few trees, the little house. You can imagine a person living completely cut off from the world in a place like that.

Pocketful of Names is not without its flaws. It's quite a long book and drags in places. I also found some parts of the ending a bit tidy. A little mystery never hurt anyone. My overall opinion is that's a very well written and intriguing story about losing faith and finding love.

Highly recommended.

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Lazy Sunday Thoughts: It's Getting Hot in Here

Remember that Nelly song? Whatever happened to old Nelly anyway? I think of it every time I complain about the heat. That was one catchy tune. I shouldn't complain because it will be snowing before we know it. It's time to enjoy the sun and the beach and forget about everything else. Unfortunately that means ignoring the blog somewhat. Oh well.

I did finish Pocketful of Names for the Spotlight Series on Graywolf tour. I enjoyed it but I'm still thinking about what I'm going to say about it. Stay tuned.

Two new books came in the mail this week: Damaged by Pamela Callow and The Bells by Richard Harvell. They both look interesting.

I'm also listening to Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins on audiobook. I'm not enjoying it as much as Hunger Games and I suspect it's because it is an audiobook. What I mean is, I read Hunger Games and had a definite idea of how Katniss sounds. Listening to Catching Fire is a strange experience because the narrator doesn't make her sound like I imagined. It throws me off every time she speaks.

I wonder if listening to a sequel after reading the first book is a good idea. What do you think? Have you had this experience?

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Saturday Farmer's Market: July 17

Heather from Tales of a Capricious Reader has started a new feature, Saturday's Farmer's Market. Since I guess you could call me a mini-urban farmer, I thought I'd show you how my garden grows.

I've been waging a War on Slugs, unfortunately they have new allies, the earwigs. Still, I keep calm and carry on.

The 2 peppers I have are about half an inch long. I hope they get bigger. The snow peas are almost finished but the tomatoes are just starting.

And yesterday I went to a strawberry U-Pick at picked tons of strawberries. I have lots of plans for them!

You get anything yummy this week?

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Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers: Review

Thank you free audiobooks! So I was painting again (I swear I do other things besides painting) and picked out Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers from the audiobook library for a listen.

Lord Peter is a nobleman whose hobby is solving crimes. His mother the Dowager Duchess of Denver calls him up with the details of a peculiar crime. A naked body has been found in the bathtub of her vicar's architect. Well, he's not quite naked, he's wearing a pair of glasses.

The appearance of this body coincides with the disappearance of a prominent financier, Sir Reuben Levy. The police, headed by Inspector Sugg, arrest the mousy architect for murder and conclude that the body is that of Sir Levy. Lord Peter has his doubts and starts his own investigation which lead into some interesting places.

Whose Body? seemed to take awhile to come to a conclusion but it is very well written. The characterizations are excellent. At first, Peter seems like a flake but he turns out to be a lot deeper than he seems.

Something I noticed that I thought was peculiar was how much Lord Peter could get away with. He tampered with evidence and used his status to do things other people couldn't. The well-dressed folks on CSI Miami would be appalled!

I figured out who did it about halfway through, just not why he did it. It was a decent mystery. I'll give Sayers another go some other time.

About the audiobook: This was a LibriVox recording and ran 6 1/2 hours. Unfortunately, it had 2 narrators who alternated chapters. Both ladies (Kristin Hughes and Kara Shallenberg) were very good but each had  differing American accents. Each lady also had a different tone when they read. Ms Hughes was subdued while Ms Shallenberg was quite perky. It tended to pull me out of the story when a new chapter started. I wish one person had read the entire book.

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Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Dis, Dat and Udder Tings

I've had a busy week this first official week of summer. My girl started tennis and had day camp, so I was running all week. It was also screaming hot outside. As a result, I didn't get much reading done.

I did manage to finish reading Bespelling Jane Austen, an anthology from Harlequin Romance. The four authors, including Colleen Gleason, rewrote four of Austen's novels with a paranormal twist. It was fun but since it won't be released until September I'm going to hold off on my review.

I just found out that my library is now lending ebooks and audiobooks through their website. What a nice surprise! I put audiobooks Catching Fire and Dead Tossed Waves on hold. I can see me using this service a lot.

Finally today is the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird. I first read the book back in high school and it was one of my favorite books that they made us read. Just a couple of years ago, I read it again and loved it just as much, although it had a different effect on me. I reviewed it here and it's one of the most searched for reviews on my blog, right up there with The Scarlet Letter. It's such an important book, not just in the United States but all over the world. There are universal messages in the story: kindness, understanding and tolerance. Even though it's often challenged for the racist content, I think it's a book that must be read. Sometimes a beautiful message has to be wrapped in up in ugliness to be truly understood.

Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? What are your thoughts on it?

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Reading Together: Beezus and Ramona

The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary was one of my favorites growing up. I took out every book I could out of the library. I always identified with Ramona which now I think is strange because I should have had more sympathy for Beezus, being an older sister myself.

I just happened to pick up Beezus and Ramona at a yard sale a while ago. Now that my daughter is past the picture book stage and the movie Ramona and Beezus is coming out, I thought it was a good time to introduce her to Ramona.

Beezus and Ramona is told from ten year old Beezus's point of view. Beezus often feels resentful of the attention Ramona gets- not always good attention either. The sisters have differing personalities: Beezus is quiet and obedient, Ramona is loud and wild. Ramona is often in trouble, writing in library books and inviting a bunch of kids to her house for a "party" without permission. All this leads up to Beezus's birthday where Beezus realizes that she just doesn't like Ramona all that much and she feels guilty over it.

My girl enjoyed Beezus and Ramona very much. She's at an age where she realizes that the things Ramona does are not good things. There were a lot of hands-over-eyes "oh no, oh no" moments for her. I mean, really, who wouldn't do that over writing in library books. Shocking! But mostly she laughed and felt sorry for Beezus who just wanted to have a civilized birthday. Poor Beezus.

This is a great book for any child but especially for ones with siblings (even though my girl has none). It's nice for them to know that they don't always have to like their siblings and that's okay.

So Ramona and Beezus is in theatres July 23. We'll see it I'm sure even though I'm not a huge Selena Gomez fan. I will suspend any opinions on that until I see it.

Ramona And Beezus Trailer

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You Have Questions, I Have Some Answers

If you have a blog and use Google Analytics, take a look at the "Keywords" section. There are some interesting search terms that come up. But anyway... Sometimes there are questions that people are looking for answers to and I wish I could reply to them! The only way to do that is answer them here.

First of all, if you are looking for free ebooks, unless they are in the public domain, you ain't going to find them here. If you really want new releases for free, check your library. Many libraries are now lending ebooks to patrons.

Ever since I did a review of my Aluratek Libre Pro ebook reader, I get a lot of people looking for Aluratek answers. Here's a couple:

*Where do you buy ebooks in Canada?

Okay, I haven't actually bought anything for mine yet since I've only downloaded a couple of free books so far. I did look at the Kobo (Chapters-Indigo) site. I would try there first. They also have free ebooks to download. Another one I thought about is Book Depository.

*Does Aluratek support newspapers?

No. Aluratek has no wi-fi, like the Kindle, so you can't get the paper sent to it.

*How do I download (free) ebooks to my Aluratek Libre?

Refer to diagram.

First, download Adobe Digital Editions free software. It's the easiest way to save your books. Download the book in the format you prefer (remember where you saved it- I never do). Open Adobe, and open "Library" (circled in blue) at the top. Click "add item to library" and find your file. Open. It should be saved to library now. Plug in Libre with your USB cable and turn it on. You'll find Libre under "Bookshelves" (circled in red). Drag your book to the Libre (yellow arrow). It will save it to the device. Now you can unplug it. This works for all ebooks- free or not.

And I love the person who asked this next question:

*Would Rory Gilmore use a Kindle?

Oh, good question! I asked people on Twitter what they thought and they think Rory loves paper books too much to use a Kindle. I'm inclined to agree. She seems like a paper book girl. And a book sniffer! However, she did carry a lot of books around in her backpack. Maybe she would like the convenience of having all her books in a more portable format. It's a little easier on the back.

What do you think? Would Rory use a Kindle? Maybe this video will help you decide.

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Look What I Got!

I ordered myself a little something from Antique Fashionista and it arrived this week. There are some gorgeous items in the shop but guess what I picked?

First, here's how it came wrapped. Isn't that a hoot! It's like getting a package from another century. I need to find more people to send me mail like this.

Look! It's Jane Eyre! Ain't she sweet? I put this cute little bookmark right in my pretty copy of Jane Eyre. The next time I read it, it will be twice as fun.

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