Monday, January 30, 2012

Censorship and how the times change

Since I have been reading many suspense and thriller novels, I figured I should read one of the classics by the grand dame of them all - Agatha Christie.

I am not sure what is more interesting - this book, or the evolutions that this book has gone through in print. I didn't know it started out life as "Ten Little N-". Deemed politically incorrect, the title and associated poem turned in to "Ten Little Indians". Again, times changed, and the title turned in to "And then there were None" with the poem that novel is framed around changed to "Ten Little Soldiers" on Soldier Island to be even more inoffensive. This tells a tale of the times - how opinions have shifted, and how much more culturally sensitive we can be at this time.

The story itself is a fast-paced read in which ten strangers are brought to an island to face a form of justice for crimes that were beyond the law when committed, and each individual has a different feeling of guilt associated with the murder(s) they are attributed to. As a novel, it is quick and lively, and the the postscript from the killer is an interesting piece. I think it is folly many of us fall in to, thinking that we must be smarter than the people that came before us because we live in the present, and they lived in the past. This is a smart novel, that hits upon some behavioural and criminal psychology that is still being explored and investigated today. Was it the best written crime novel ever written? No, but it is important for it's historical notes, and it is a decent read. Did I also mention, FAST? I think I will read a few more Christie's along the way... they are a decent diversion.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Going back to the beginning of a series

This is a mystery/suspense/legal thriller series that I have truly enjoyed since I started reading him. One of things that I have enjoyed about the series is the character development as well as the author's ability to write. Unlike some authors that hit their stride early and start to decline, Lescroart's ability to tell a story well has progressed and I seem to enjoy book more than the last.

Last year I read his first book, and frankly, that was cruel and unusual punishment. Although this is one of his earlier novels, and the first Hardy/Glitsky novel, it was great. At times it felt like I had read this one before, and I checked to see if it has been published under a different title, but it seems that after you have read so many books in a particular genre there has got to be some overlap because parts of the book also felt entirely new. Who knows, maybe I read it shortly after the birth of one of my kids when I was getting a lot of sleep - but I doubt it. I think I would have remembered the title, and the character development. It is interesting when you start later on in a series to then return to pick it up from the beginning. Especially in series where life actually happens to characters and they age, and have life events happen to them. All in all, a good book. Not one of the best, but great in terms of early characterizations and events that colour later developments in the series. Now I want to pick up the rest of the earlier novels and fill in the rest of the gaps!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lets talk about it

B and I were invited to tell a bit of his story last night, and I am thankful that I have done enough public speaking that I wasn't too nervous. It is a strange thing when you realize that other people might want to hear about your life experiences, and how things have developed and that it could have an impact on other folks lives that you never imagined.

Summarizing fives years of experiences as a parent with a child that has had challenges is a strange experience. The telling is okay, but trying to reach a balance where you say enough to let people understand a little of your journey versus protecting your own privacy and the integrity of your experiences is a bit tricky. This is our story after all. We were really well received, and this last year has been quite the growing experience.

The shift to the kindergarten before and after school program, and to kindergarten itself, and new support people, and teachers, and our own changes as well. It has been really something else, moving beyond just us, and what we do every day and moving it outwards. I am aware of how I have changed (or at least I know I am a little further along my own journey of enlightenment, ha ha), but I don't think B is aware of how much he changed and grown, and how his confidence has bloomed. All told, he is a really cool kid that has a good grip on reality. Something else that has been cool - we were asked to provide input how the school's playground would be further developed, and they took our feedback in to consideration and integrated some suggestions. That is pretty amazing from a parent's point of view.

I can't say enough how important it is to use your voice, to get out of your comfort zone, and push when you need to, or pull back as well. Even if it isn't always easy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Deep Freeze

It has been damn cold these last days. Watching the mercury dip close to -10 c brings back memories of other winter events. Although it has been a bit anticlimatic... truthfully, I was hoping for a snow day sometime this week, and although it could happen tomorrow, it hasn't happened yet.

Seattle got hit with the blizzard, the Island, and then the Valley. We have some snow on the ground, and it is a real novelty. Outside of the first snowfall, it hasn't been good snowball or snowman weather though. Yes, I am glad my man doesn't have to work in, and dig his truck out of it... but a day from work with pay that doesn't impact my vacation would have been a wonderful thing. ONLY IN SOUTHERN BC!

It is hard to believe that January is already marching by, and it is that time of the year again that I am worrying about childcare for the fall. BAH. I am bringing out the advokating hat again to keep my kid in our centre. I find it all a bit surreal.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A refreshing change

If I found the last novel anti-climatic, this book was a welcome change. This is one of those books I picked because I was intrigued by the cover. I wasn't really sure what to expect, and this was a really refreshing, lighthearted read.

In a snapshot, this novel is a departure from other traditional mystery/detective novels in that it takes place in Botswana, and the lead character, Mma Precious Ramotswe, is not your traditional detective with a police background/career. This novel follows some of her early history, and weaves different threads in to a pleasurable whole. A bit of African flavour is mixed in, and McCall Smith relays a sense of place quite successfully.

I found this book to be charming, and I will read more in the series if I can get them at a used book store. Even for me, I read this over the weekend and it made me smile - a gentle sense of humour, characters that were engaging, and some nice resolutions. Not earth shattering literature that is going to change your perception of life as we know it, but well worth a dive between the covers.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Push this one back down!!!

I used to love reading Tami Hoag... but I have found that the I was losing that loving feeling with some of more recent reads. I wonder if it is me that has changed, the writing style that has changed, or if the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

I sometimes wonder if how my literary tastes have evolved over time, has something to do with the length of time since I have been in university. I seemed to really love truly escapist literature there for a few years, and now, I am really craving a much more intellectual kind of satisfaction from the books that I read. At least, for my escapist novels, I just want something different than what I got out of this book.

The start was promising, interesting precept, but then this book just went off of the rails for me. There have been quite a few popular books that I have read in the last year that have tried to do too many things in the span of 350 some pages. This is where I can't help but think that I have done more of the changing over time, I want a good bang for my buck and a scattered story that tries to be a love story, and then more or less reveals a killer part-way through, but then adds another random body and potential murderer, and then other linked violent acts, and ends up like a Hollywood Summer Blockbuster movie where things explode and people are running around everywhere! Okay, that isn't really how this book unraveled, but this is how it felt. I finished this because it was an easy read, but I will happily sell it back to a used book store rather than pay if forward to someone else. Give me a character driven mystery any day. Maybe that is truly it - after so many good suspense novels that aren't all about unrealistic plotlines, where characters evolve, and stories take place over "months", this just didn't ring true or do it for me.


Friday, January 6, 2012


My first project of the year - I am going to learn how to make socks. I have done dishcloths, scarves, hats, and sweaters. Time to tackle the sock. Tuesday morning, first day back at work I landed in a conversation that found me a new friend that likes to knit whom is more than happy to show me the ropes on socks. I have started a pair for Brandon and have discovered that I am a "thrower" and there are people that do "picking" and others that use a "continental" stitch. Who knew! A few days in to the year and I am rookie again, reteaching my fingers some knitting skills.

All in all, not a terrible week. Some extremes from work, some incredibly endearing behaviour, and some incredibly alienating behaviours. Interesting is all I can say.

A few moments ago I had something profound to say, but it seems to have slipped away for the moment... Well maybe this isn't profound, or speaks to the life of a married working mom with two kids, but the best time to shop at Costco is on a Friday night on the way home from work. No line for gas, fairly well stocked, and no lines! S W E E T !!!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cooking, cleaning, laundry, repeat.

I figured I would try to start the year off with good intentions with my blog since my posts started to peter out throughout the last months of last year. Blame it on the move, blame it on the rain, blame it on transition.

The Christmas break could not have come soon enough. When I walked out the door on the 23rd, I was so glad to get away from work, and from many of my coworkers as well. The last few days at work got weird, and I am glad that we all have had a break from each other. It was a sprint to Christmas between shopping, cleaning, cooking, wrapping, putting all the magic together. In our new house, it is just so much sweeter. I love our new place. The lights, our tree, having more space... We certainly don't have a lot of decorations beyond our tree, but what we do have is nice (read not over the top). I am still in love with having a "real" tree... I should have taken it down yesterday... but I just wasn't in to it. We bought a noble fir this year, and I can't see another douglas fir when nobles and frasers are cheaper and easy to find and look so much better!

The holidays were good, we hosted Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Years Eve and we have had positive reviews about our new place (good for the ego if nothing else) and for the meals we put on. Our ham on Boxing Day was bigger than our turkey! I successfully cooked for 28, and it didn't seem like the chaos got too out of control. The kids got spoiled, we ate lots of good food, and now I am glad to settle back down and ease in to the month of January.

I finally got to watch the last Harry Potter movie. It was awesome. I am sad to see the series end, but glad that I can watch them all again... at some point. I also watched the Dolphin's Tale.. that was a sweet movie... about what I had expected.... Hmmm... I also had some work that I did from home, and then lots of prep, baking, wrapping, recycling (thankfully they TOOK IT ALL, YAY!!!)... found a good park to take the kids to, and discovered that they have developed a stretch along the Fraser River that is just incredible to go walking down. To say I am thrilled is an understatement. I am starting to get the urge to start jogging again - it is time to try to get this body moving again now that life is settling down again.

New Years was good - louder neighourhood (more house parties), and I had every intention of doing the plunge again, but it seemed really selfish when I had all our family out from the island, they had a ferry to catch, and the timing was all wrong. Doesn't really make sense to drag 12 people to Port Moody to have them watch you... especially when one is nursing a wicked hangover (not us)... another year!

Today, by luck of a great conversation with a coworker, I discovered another knitting NUT! YAY! I am going to learn how to make socks. I am thrilled.

The beautiful song

I am waiting a shipment of Christmas books from a book giant, and they show delivered to my box, and yet somehow, there is no key to open that box and retrieve my books. My fingers are crossed that key appears before the end of the day as I have just finished my latest book.

This was a good book, one that I think my bookclub could sink their teeth in to! I enjoy Patchett's writing style, and yet as much as I enjoy the characterization of her books, it seems like they take a long time to read. There are moments where I think that she has really captured something, and then I reach the end, and it seems that the endings of her novels are a bit problematic. I am not sure if I would label them rushed, or tacked on, but in both Bel Canto and then in The Magician's Assistant, I can't say that I found either ending satisfying.

This was a totally different kind of read, apparently it was inspired by the Lima Crisis a few years back. It centres around a nameless southern country and a group of people that are held hostage to leverage the release of prisoners. The lines blur between the hostages and the captives as the event is drawn out over several months. It is an interesting book that delves in to love, and to rediscovering self-hood, elements of the Stockholm syndrome... a good read, and again, the epilogue wasn't all that satisfying - it felt rushed. This is very much a character novel, and worth some time between the covers.