Sunday, December 30, 2012

Inspiring read

This is one of those books that has been on the shelf a few years.  Do you have any books that you know you will enjoy, but somehow know it isn't the time to pick it up and delve in to it yet?  This was one of those for me.  I was skimming through titles, and thought - why not.  I am glad that I did.  This was a great novel, and I think the lead character, Kimberly, is one that will stay with me for a while. 

How to capture a book like this in a few sentences?  Well worth a read, and for me, I managed to finish it in a day or two.  This Christmas break has been good for me - I have totally avoided thinking big thoughts about work and the board, and it is has been great.  I think I needed to chance to just catch up with me, our life.  Outside of Christmas, our plans were pretty slim and it was nice. 

Back to the book, this is a book about a mother and daughter team that immigrates from Hong Kong to America (NY) just before British rule ends.  They are sponsored by the mom's older sister, whose husband owns a sweatshop factory.  This is a story of courage, survival, focus, young love, and shifting dreams.  Makes you stop to appreciate "stories".  We all have one.  Especially when you consider in Canada/North America most of us were immigrants at some point, strangers in an even stranger land struggling to eke out a living and create a "better" life than the one that was left behind.  Spend a few hours lost in this story, I was glad I did.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Time to read!

Merry Christmas!  The chaos has come and gone.  These are magic years with the kids, because they really truly do believe in the magic of Christmas.  Every now and then B makes comments about the kids at school, and then I ask him, "Isn't it better to believe, just in case?"  I am not entirely sure what he believes about it all, but I can see it in his eyes that it is magic. 

I took a leap and brined the turkey. It was amazing.  Best turkey ever, hands down.  We also had a local ham, and everything came together well for the meal.  A smaller Christmas, only 15 this year! Ken and I both worked on Christmas Eve, and my folks had the boys for the day.  I had a window of time where I wrapped like a fiend... I never got to my cards, and I never did get ANY baking done.  I have grandiose ideas about how to be better organized next year.  Although I think all told, things came together pretty well.

I am also going through my shelves and reading some books that have been kicking around for a while.  You know those books, the ones you buy for one of those days and then other more interesting books come along?  This isn't quite one of those - it was one I borrowed from a coworker after the yearly book sale.  It was good - reminded me a bit of Crightons books.  Big scientific ideas, the lure of big bucks, and some protectionism thrown in to the adventure.  A good vacation read.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Maybe in series would have been a better way to go

Brilliant novel.  Time and time again, Robinson continues to be one of my favourite novelists and I enjoy the mysterious yarns he weaves.  Very rich characterization, the stories have depth, and again, it is a great way to escape the day to day.  Although you don't have to read the Inspector Banks series in order, I almost wish I hadn't skipped around so much in the series just to have appreciated a bit of how the relationships between characters developed.  In a way I have been playing catch up, or plugging gaps in what I knew.  Definitely another great addition to the series.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I prefer my crankypants

I am not sure what I expected, so I can't really say that the book fell short of my expectations, but I think I expected more.  More what, I am not totally sure, but I think more autobiography.  Fey drops some great notes about leadership, however, I thought it would be a little more personal.  Yes, there are stories, but not really all that many personal details.  I think Fey succeeds in creating a somewhat humourous novel, with some real gems, and some really important notes about women in comedy... yet, for me, the cover still sticks in my mind the most.  Those forearms.  The justaposition.  I think I would have liked to have seen more of her story related with more details, to make it feel more personal rather than at an arm's length.  That being said, as a person in the public eye, Fey does a decent job at keeping a certain amount of her privacy intact, so likely a success on a few fronts.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Catching something

I start years off with such promise for my blog, and since I decided to start blogging (or rather listing and then making a few random comments) about the books I read, it seems that I have been posting more about the books I read, and then occasionally, when I have a moment, throwing a few thoughts out for good measure.  Well, we survived the first year in our house.  I am glad that going in to this Christmas season, it doesn't feel as totally hectic as last year's did.  Moving, and setting up house, and figuring out all new routines... glad that is starting to move in to the past. 

Our community seems to suit us - we are getting out for more walks, and experiencing more of the local flavours (blueberries, Christmas trees, little festivals) than we really did in our previous community.  Our lights are up (I suspect we will never have enough lights.  I foresee a future in which my DH buys a few extra strings every year until we get a computer program to have the lights dance to music).  Our tree is up, and the lights are on.  My pop would be proud - it isn't a bushy, trimmed up Douglas Fir.  Rather, we have a Nordman Fir.  I must say, I like it.  It doesn't quite smell as much as some trees, and it hasn't dropped as many needles either.  We already have hundreds of lights on the tree, and tomorrow night we will finish decorating our masterpiece.  Our tree is tall, and you can see through it, and the branches are strong.  Totally different tree experience. 

We are having our first Christmas dinner next weekend, so we are getting ready a few weeks earlier than normal.  It's strange though - we are pretty much set.  Maybe a few more gifts to get, and all in all, pretty close to done.  I have no idea when I will get to my baking.  I have moved almost completely to spelt (a wheat post will be a different post when I actually sit down to talk about it) so it has been enlightening to see how it cooks up in recipes.  All in all, not that much different than whole wheat! I also want to get cards done again this year, although somehow December 3rd is already upon us and time is marching forward!  Weekends are too short.  Nights too short.  Work days too long!

At three, our wee guy seems to be craving attention in all the wrong ways.  He also hasn't quite grasped the concept of the advent calendar.  B, is overall doing well, but seems to be in a classroom that I wouldn't call the perfect fit.  We get to meet tomorrow to discuss strategies to help him engage in different ways with his classmates.  Interesting comment from the teacher - they want him to be resilient when it comes to kids, because there are some kids that aren't big fans of his in the class.  I am tempted to give a piece of mind of how I view resilience, and what he brings to the table.  Then again, our experience is not the usual one, and I am going to challenge the team about the environment they are also creating, in which some behaviours are unique to the setting since I am not getting complaints from daycare!  Some behaviours present opportunities for B to grow, and figure out how he wants to present himself.  Ah yes, the ongoing struggle for self.  I am still a work in progress myself!

Another odd book coincidence

This was a book I stumbled across a few weeks ago when I was looking for books to recommend for my book club.  It looked intriguing.  If the Fall started out with books with ties to the circus, it is ending with books with ties to WWII and the war in the Pacific.

This is truly a bitter and sweet book, and I read it in less than four days.  It has been months since I have managed to make it through a book that quickly!  I really enjoyed this book.  A completely different coming of age novel set against 1942 and 1986 Seattle.  The time structure works, and coming after a book like Unbroken, was another slice of what life during WWII was like on the west coast.  It is amazing what history can gloss over, and what isn't taught in school, and what is revealed because you love to read.  This is a great story, I was thoroughly caught up in the love story between Henry, a first generation American Chinese, and Keiko, a second generation American Japanese, caught up between several old and new worlds, during wartime.  I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed seeing a different side of Seattle, and I enjoyed the historical lesson.  I certainly look at parts of the Pacific Northwest slightly differently now, and this is another book that will likely make my most memorable reads of the year list.  Dive in!