Friday, October 10, 2014

A much more satisfying trilogy...

I have a read a few trilogies in the past few years, and this one is by far the best.  Hunger Games, kind of peaked, the Divergent series tanked, and the Dark Materials were ok.  A year later and I can't say that much stuck with me from that one. Now this series, on the other hand, got better as the books progressed.  I remember being far more irritated with Matthew, as a possessive vampire in the first book than the more self-aware version that we see in this book.  Diana, as a witch in denial evolved from being slightly irritating to a fully rounded character.

This was a great book to read entering in to October, and the month of All Hallow's Eve.  Nothing like reading about witches, daemons, and vampires to get you in the mood.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and this book in particular.  Well written, and well researched.  I was a bit sad when I turned the last page.  There were many elements here that I would say that I look for in a good book. I have also noticed that I have been drifting a bit more to these types of books lately... I hope that Harkness bring this cast of characters back for a new series, or even a continuation if only because I enjoyed the story so much.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


This is a great article about 'busyness'. It talks about the 'tyranny of the to-do' list, and I must admit, this strikes pretty close to home in my world.

Allowing time for self reflection is so important in trying to remain spiritually connected to your self.   I do struggle with managing myself, my time, our family, my work, sports for the kids, doctors appointments and other people I have to meet with, in other words, a lot of priorities.  Sometimes I write lists just to recognize how many things I am accomplishing in a day, especially for those days where it feels like all I was doing was effectively spinning my wheels.

I like the idea of bringing back play, even in our adult lives.  I have also taken to small moments to stretch.  Last year when I was jogging I will admit I was terrible for just getting out there and plodding on the pavement, or trail.  I didn't really stretch, and my idea of stretching out after was plunking my ass on the couch with a glass of cold water. I want to start jogging or walking again on the weekends, but I have come to realize I need to build in that stretching time. After starting to build in some stretches to my daily routines, I have come to realize just how "tight" I have become.  The last few years have been quite frenetic and overwhelming at times.  It also feels like one cycle is slowly drawing to a completion and I am moving in to the next cycle.  Things are ending, and new things are beginning and it is exciting to be in this transition stage.

The stretches are just as important as things like keeping up with this blog (even if it is normally just posts about the books I am reading), knitting (I am working on a birthday gift for someone), obviously reading, and then my lunchtime walks at work.  I would really love to get in a walk a weekend, and then to also work in some hatha yoga too.  To see some friends here and there, and to spend more quality time with Ken, and not always with our kids.

The busy is crazy though.

From the article: "So, as much as I wouldn’t wish overwhelm on anyone, I actually see it as a positive thing. For too long, work-life issues were always seen as “women’s issues.” When they’ve really always been about both good work and raising the next generation. What we all need to be talking about is redefining work to be mission-driven and flexible, rather than rewarding long hours of face time. The former enables not only everyone to have time for living an authentic life as well as being a more productive, engaged and efficient worker. The latter just leads to more inequity and burn out.".

I think this is something that I will try to keep in mind.  Being flexible, being more mission driven and to accomplish tasks rather than just grinding parts of it out.

I also think it is important to bring back some play, and I think I would like to seize the little joys more, and to try to do something that scares me a little as often as I can to stretch myself in different ways too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What happened????

Okay.  What happened, too much popularity, too fast?

I really enjoyed Divergent and then Insurgent... and then along comes this book.  I came so close to laying it down and running away and picking up one of the other books that started to beckon to me.  This book really came apart at the seams for me.  If the story and characters moved and were entertaining in the first two books, the shift to a dual narrative (without truly distinctive voices) and a plot that crumbles made this not quite the story that the first two installments were.  About 250 pages in, I started making mental comparisons to reading 50 shades of gray (not a good thing) and how I felt reading that... at a certain point you just start to skim read... Now I just kind of feel relieved that I finished the book and I can move on.  I was disappointed by how this one was written, how the story collapsed, and about the ending - given how it started, it just didn't satisfy.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A fantastic tale...

This was an excellent book.  Almost 500 pages, and I found the story to be compelling from start to finish.  This was a very unique, well written, mystical novel about a golem (jewish creature made from clay) and a fire jinni (a supernatural spirit below the level of angels and devils in Arabia) that meet in New York, somewhere around the turn of the century.  It was hard to  put down this book, and it was also a pleasure beacuse of how it was written and it wasn't a book that I devoured all in one sitting.  In a sense, this novel caught me a bit off guard, and it also reminded me of the kind of books that I do like to read - ones with a bit a magic, or other-worldliness about them.  I enjoyed reading about the Jinni's past, and how the lives of the golem and the jinni intertwine, and then come together, and apart.  If you are looking for an intellectual, almost romantic, supernatural novel, this one is a sure bet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Books, books, and more books (not just mine!)

There is a new meme travelling through Facebook, and I would admit I have been stewing over titles for a few days before I post my own list of 10 books that have had a lasting impact on my life.  Of course I have been over thinking this one… it is also an interesting exercise when I troll my memory through all the books that immediately jump and demand attention.

The 100 Books that Facebook Users love… is a great summary of the list of the top 100 books that people identified in their meme, and it is interesting.  Even checking out how the books are related and mapped out, is also an interesting exercise to check out folk's literary tastes.

In no particular order, I will list my work in progress and call it done for now:

Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
Lamb, Christopher Moore
Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins
The Power of One, Bryce Courtney
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell
Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl
Works of William Shakespeare
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
No Great Mischief, Alistair MacLeod

I don't do well in limiting myself to a list of just 10 books.  I have a hard time not weighing and assessing and fretting over a list like this. I have missed some, ones I would not expect, like The Bees, The Gargoyle, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, My Name is Memory, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Unbroken to name but a few.  I also think about other books that impacted me as a youth - The Outsiders, Charlotte's Web, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, Bill Peet books, The House with a Clock in it's Walls, and of course, Are you there God, it is me, Margaret?. What I can tell you with feeling is that my life would not as rich as it is without books. It feels like each year I have been making better and better choices in what I have been reading - in my own geeky way, this has been really exciting.  My next reads are the Golem and the Jinni, then Jonathon Norrel and Mr. Strange, and then the latest Harkness and Gabaldon books.  I have at least 4-6 weeks of amazing reads to go! That doesn't even count the books I have ordered through the library that I hope don't come in any time soon...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Entertaining series... again, far better than Twilight...

Since it has been a few weeks since I read the first book it took me a while to pick up the threads again in this second book in the trilogy. Is it a guilty pleasure to admit I am really enjoying these books?

I am.  I am looking forward to reading the third, and even to read Four, which is from Tobias/Four's perspective.. which I wasn't all that sure I would want to read. 

These are enjoyable books, there with the Catching Fire series, way better than Twilight, and for me, better than The Giver.  Given the stack of books I have waiting to read, I would assume I won't be reading the next book until closer to Christmas. 

On a related side note, I finally have read more than 41 books in a year! It was a quiet goal to read more than 50 books in a year, and this year, it feels achievable. It has been great to have such a long stretch of great reads, and from all different genres. I have not been bored reading a book for quite a while.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pretty much one a week...

There is more to life than just reading, but blogging the books that I have been reading makes it easy to track where my headspace was.  This was an entertaining and humourous book, but not as funny as a few of the others that I have read by Moore.

The South Pacific is an interesting plcae, and I have enjoyed my literary forays in to the region since I had just thought all the islands were little slices of paradise.  Moore has a great sense of humour, and is very intelligent.  I enjoy how his books are a departure from the every day, and how they can challenge your perceptions.  Worth a read, but not the best one to choose if this is your first time reading him.