Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another second book by a writer that just didn't quite hit the same mark…

I will admit to a bit of "revisionist history" as I catch up from the last 5 weeks.  Apparently life got really busy and I stopped blogging and staying current with my emails.  Alas and alack.  Life is like that sometimes.  I am trying to recall parts of this book to my version of a proper recall, and well… I can say that parts of this book were interesting, and parts were quite far fetched and not all that realistic.

What does stick out, and it is a shame, is that within this book, the author had one of her main characters reading her first book.  She doesn't come out and spell out the title, but she describes the cover.  LAME.  I must admit, that was a real turn off for me.  Not really an arrogant thing to do… just… did not sit right for me.

This didn't have the same magic that the Memory Keeper's Daughter did for me.  It is hard when you are outrageously successful in your first novel… where do you go from there?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A bit of the south…

I chose to read this book because one of the author's that I like to read listed it as one of their favourites, and the last one I read by her was a decent read.  This one was pretty good.  A bit melancholic and sad, but a decent story.  A little whimsical and a little mystical.  I am writing this weeks after I finished reading it, so I can't really capture anything that really sticks out for me…

I remember the lushness of the river, and the roses that bloomed when they weren't really expected to.  I remember some of the characters, and the feelings, but overall… it was an okay read.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Does it live up to the hype?

This Spring in our book club we consciously chose books that were currently being made in to movies.  It has actually been a pretty good ride so far, and it will be interesting to see how some of them translate to the silver screen.

This book has had many, many reviews.  Right up there with the Divergent series, 50 shades of something, Twilights, likely Harry Potter series… funny that these are either dubbed 'young adult' or 'well talked about and poorly written erotica'.  I wasn't quite what sure what to expect. Overall, it is a good novel.  There are some times that the story goes off a bit.  The characters don't always act like normal teenagers, but then again, they do not have normal teenage lives.

I liked it.  I didn't all out cry over the ending (Art of Racing in the Rain got me more), but I did leak out a few tears.  You could see how it would end by halfway through, and it did make it a little more poignant to fully grasp this different take on a Romeo and Juliet twist of star crossed lovers that just don't have nearly enough time.

There are some beautifully poetic quotes that you can pull from this story, and I was surprised when I went looking for some pics to attach, how many of them are out there.  I would guess with the movie coming out, and the age that this really appeals to (especially when you hear it is being read in high schools), that really isn't all that surprising.  Star crossed love stories kind of elicit that kind of response from readers.

This was a quick read - three nights and it will be returned to the library by Saturday.  I do feel a bit melancholic now that I am done.  I can't help but think of one of my really dear friends that died nearly a decade ago from AIDS.  They were one of those good ones that died young.  That lived a bit of a charmed life before everything fell apart.  I miss his friendship, his smile, and his quirky songs.  In the last chapters of this book, you can't help but think of those you have lost (we all have), and what it is to be a survivor (I am writing this and you are reading this) of this thing we call life.  There is joy within the sadness, and hope.  There is also a leap of faith to love, and reach for the stars even if it is for but a fleeting moment.  That we should all reach out and take some happiness, no matter how short lived.  I talk about choices all the time - the choices we all make when we face each new day.  The characters in this book reflect this in their own choices in the face of disaster.  There is a place for gallows humour, a little bit of crass talk, and for respect instead of tolerance.

Knee jerk I would give this book many stars.  It does move you, I am sure we are going to have a good discussion when we discuss this at a future book club (I have to stop reading months in advance… I blame my new library membership for the timing of this read, I was on the wait list and my turn came up!).  Is it perfectly crafted, nope.  Does it need to be? Nope.  It is a good read, albeit a wee bit sad.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beauty and a Dwarf

Dunant's books make me glad that I studied a bit of Florence and the Medici family a lifetime ago in my undergraduate degree.  You never know where being well read comes in handy!

I have never read a book told from the perspective of an ugly dwarf before, and this was quite a novelty.  A very entertaining way to spend a few hours reading. 

I enjoyed reading this book for the different portrayal of Italy (Rome, Venice, and a few other cities) and it's citizens.  This book is about a courtesan and her companion dwarf (a beauty and the beast of sorts, and about how appearances can be deceiving in terms of their intelligence and relationships) and follows them from the fall of Rome in 1527 to Venice in the next decade or so.  I like that Dunant celebrates different female roles, without making her women out to be simpering fools.  I really enjoyed Bucino's point of view because it was so different.  I did find myself almost skipping ahead at times to see how the story would unfold, and there are some interesting characters that weave their way through this book and found the turn to focus on 'La Draga' in the last third of the novel to be somewhat rushed and not perfectly connected to the rest of the plot.  A moment in time is captured in the textures of this novel, and it is worth a gander.  I found it totally different from what I have been reading lately.  Not perfect, but crafted well enough with an interesting story to tell.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A frenzy of dishclothes and making baby blankets :)

 For this baby blanket, for a baby girl, I went for somewhat earthy tones.  I am not quite sure if pink, purple, and greens qualify, but this works for me.  This was a really quick knit up, and it feels nice.  It is a heavier weight, and likely a blanket that baby can use for a long time.

I do enjoy knitting baby blankets, and I also enjoy not purchasing baby wool for them.  There is nothing wrong with the pastels, however, I think when Ken traipsed in to my life, he brought colour along with him.   I really have no desire to knit a baby blanket that is as white as snow, or is that pale yellow colour.  I also don't really want to do one in mint green, and full on pink or blue in my mind, is pretty boring.  My goal is to knit three baby blankets this spring.  I am currently working on number 2.  One for a lovely coworker, one for Brandon's physiotherapist, and one for one of the ladies at daycare who has cared for both of our kids.  All I would consider friends.  It is amazing when you consider the people that come in to your life as a result of your kids.

I normally take a basic pattern, eyeball it, adjust it to the wool I picked out, and run with it.  I know there are mistakes in here, and I know there are some of my hairs interwoven in to it.  Likely there are also some of Ripley's as well.  End of the day, it makes a blanket like this pretty unique.  I still have the blankets that were made for my boys.  It is pretty magic when you consider the time that folks took to make something for your child.  In my mind, that is a pretty big deal and I have been happy to make them for our loved ones as well.

And now for something a little sweeter around the edges.

I finally cracked and signed up for a library card at my local.  It was time. I have tried to be much more disciplined about buying books, especially since I tend to go through about one a week.  It is a nasty little habit, right up there with enjoying good coffee.  Perhaps nasty is too strong of a word, but you catch my drift when your pile of books to take and trade in gets to be a few feet high. 

Which is why I am glad that I have a library card, and am learning their system so I can actually order books online from their lending system, and I am totally okay waiting for them to come in, as long as I have a few books at home on the go.  I will openly admit that I feel better when I have a pile of "to read" books.

I am also using 'goodreads' to track some of the books I have read, and to troll for books that may be interesting to read in the near future.  Since I have altered my reading habits, I am way more open to trying out new authors and types of books.  Which seems to be either rewarding, or a bust.

So, after the very dark previous book, it was really nice to turn to one of my favourite authors for a break. Each of SAA's books are easy to read, I like the magical realism, and the characters are easy to warm up to.  I like the blend of food, relationships, and earth magic.  They make for whimsical stories that are a joy to read.  I can't say the whole story sticks out and is life changing in the philosophical revelations that I explore as a result, but it captures more the feeling of her books being a quick, lovely read and a lovely escape to dive in to.

If you want a small taste of SAA's writing style, you can check out a short story that she has crafted as a teaser for her newest book.  Click here for a copy of the PDF version of "Waking Kate."  Alas, I only have one more book of hers to read before I have read them all.  Then I will be waiting anxiously for her to write more.