Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rumbling....

Earthquake!

After all the years of living here and having trains shake our house... we had an earthquake last night about 11:40... So much for an almost early night after watching a few Vikings episodes...  (more knitting and watching a season of TV in the span of a week.. at  least there are only 10 episodes per season!!).

I was reading my book, and all of a sudden, everything shook in our room, and then stopped.  Everyone slept through it until I woke up poor K.. .a couple of neighbours came out... so I knew I wasn't nuts... rushed back in and you could see on the internet everyone's reactions.

A bit of a thrill!

Weird, especially given a few weeks ago, Ken talked in his sleep.. his only word.. Earthquake.  Very coincidental.

I guess 2015 shook a few things up - there is a bit of symbolism that could be read there.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Old school style suspenseful romance

This felt a bit like an Agatha Christie - a novel that harkens from a different time.  Perhaps a little simpler, little less over the top drama, and definitely for entertainment.

Who would want to read Shakespeare's Tempest and visit Corfu after reading a book like this?  It felt like I should be on my beach blanket, sun bathing, watching the kids and reading this book.

This is a decent suspense, sprinkled with a bit of romance.  It feels a bit far fetched, however it is well crafted ... maybe a little like a modern day Janet Evankovitch?

I don't really think that I am going to wax poetic about this read.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

One foot in front of the other...

We watched Santa Clause is Comin to Town tonight... really and truly a Christmas classic that totally stands the test of time.  When I hear this song, I think of Brandon learning how to walk.  I also think about Change.  I think about making the decision to change, and how it really truly begins with a simple step.  Like many things in life, change is practise. It gets easier with practise, much like this whole business in the living of life. 

Put One Foot in Front of the Other 

Jules Bass and Maury Laws, 1970
[Speech]
Winter: I really am a mean and despicable creature at heart, you know. It's so difficult to... [sighs] really change.
Kris: Difficult? [chuckles] Why, why look here. Changing from bad to good's as easy as...taking your first step.
[Chorus]
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walking 'cross the floor.
You put one foot in front of the other
And soon you'll be walking out the door.
You never will get where you're going
If ya never get up on your feet.
Come on, there's a good tail wind blowin'
A fast walking man is hard to beat.
[Chorus]
If you want to change your direction,
If your time of life is at hand,
Well, don't be the rule, be the exception
A good way to start is to stand.
[Chorus]
Winter: If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn...
Kris: Oh, you do.
Winter: You mean that it's just my election?
Kris: Just that.
Winter: To vote for a chance to be reborn? Woo-hoo!
[slowly]
You put one foot in front of the other, and
Soon you are walking
'Cross the floor
You put one foot in front of the other, and
[a tempo]
Soon you are walking out the door
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you are walking 'cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon...
You'll be walking...
Out the door!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Exceeded reading goal for 2015

#51!!! With almost two weeks to go!!

This was a solid, good book and reminded me of the books I used to read when I was younger (historical romances).  Granted, it was far better written than most of what I used to read.

I can see a familiar pattern after reading a few books, however, Kearsley delivers a satisfying read that gives you a hint of romance with historical details.  I like how a bit of earth magic is woven in to weave together the past and the present.  It seems to match my overall impression that life is not always what it seems to be and that there can be unexplained connections between people.

I want to travel to Scotland and Ireland again.  It may take a long time, but it is a place I would like to return to.  I enjoy reading books about the ancient spaces of both countries, and including England.  I do feel a connection to coastal areas, including our own. I think the one thing I could say about Kearsley's books is that sometimes the historical storyline dominates the overall stories, and I would almost like more of the  modern thread than what is given. Both stories pull me along and one seems to get less attention than the other.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Christmas Boys - 2015


My Christmas Boys 2014

Ten days before Christmas, and where is the spirit?

This whole year has been different. Some amazing highs and lows, and I think, lots of personal growth.  I have learned a few things this year, whether or not I wanted to, both personally and professionally. I truly look forward to a new year, and kick starting a new cycle.  I have been teasing the kids about doing a polar bear swim again this year... it seems fitting to wash away the old symbolically and starting out a new year.

It is hard to believe that Christmas is in 10 days.  I think I will even have Christmas Eve off and I will have an 11 day break from work. In this moment, that is  more exciting than the big event. I am hopeful to get off some Christmas cards in the next few days.  I want to print out the kids school pictures. I need to make a list of what we need to pick up, and we need to get the tree up.  I would really like to get some baking done, and maybe have the kids make a few crafts on Christmas Eve. We aren't doing as many gifts this year, and it feels right.  I would like to move more towards experiences we can do for each other for me and my DH, and even as a family.  The kids have lots.  It is a strange year shopping for them because they have a lot of toys. We are shifting in to more lego, more books, and video games.

I am not cooking either Christmas dinner this year - it feels strange, and liberating all at the same time.  I enjoy the craziness, but it is truly intense.  The last few years with work, and wrapping, and baking, and then the cleaning, and then two big dinners, and then fall down flat on my face.  Should make it a calmer year for all of us, and maybe even less expensive too! Typically, I can't wait for our tax return to get caught up on a few expenses... LOL

I think I will make a special meal for us for Christmas Eve. Then roll with it. Feels like a bit of a reboot.  We will also need to see Star Wars. Who knows what else we will get up to, but it seems to be coming mighty quickly. In this  moment, it feels like I have a bunch of stuff I would like to do, and the stuff I should be doing (like making cookies for the kids Christmas parties)... and I feel the urge to make some lists coming on...


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Far more interesting than zombies...

The year of reading differently continues.  This was another one that the fabulous Jen recommended an eon ago.  Another great read. The premise behind this novel is definitely unsettling. So what happens if robots are completely integrated in to human lives, and artificial intelligence gets smart, and decides that humans need to go?  This is a teaser of what this novel is about.

It is smart, it is told through a series of vignettes by a group of characters over the span of about three years.  Event leading up to a war between humans and robots, and the events leading up to a climatic battle between the lead machine and surviving humans.  It is well told, and very provocative.  As a result of the structure, I wouldn't say that the book is most amazing literary novel I have ever read, however, it is a great book to read for the fact it isn't truly to be a lofty piece of literature and what it is... it is compelling, and it leaves you with a few different thoughts about AI and human spirit by the end of it all.

I think the more we can teach our kids to think on their own and not always need to be connected to an electronic device the better.  The flip side of that is that they will still need to know how to navigate through the machines...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Science Fiction meets a bit of the X-Files...

This has been a year of some great reads.  Also some truly unexpected reads as well.  I can't remember the last time that I read so much science fiction.. and frankly.. I am enjoying it!

After the last book, this was a breath of fresh air and I devoured it in four days tops.  How to tell when you are engaged with a book.

This was great.  Some really interesting characters, some unexpected twists, it goes a bit Lee Child towards the end, and then provides a strangely satisfying, almost X-files type ending.

I enjoyed it.  More so because it was a book I found purely because it was listed under recommendations for those that liked The Martian...

Friday, December 4, 2015

A great and terrible......

I am struggling to not be harsh and say "a waste of my time".  There are some moments of brilliance in this book.. but they were fleeting.  I really struggled with this one.  It is considered to be YA.. and this one felt like a YA novel.  Although it deals with fantasy/magical themes... it didn't capture my imagination and it was all I could do to finish it. Alas, this will not be a trilogy I complete.

Now my big decision is whether or not to read The Fold by Peter Clines or Robopocalyse by Daniel H Wilson.  Actually I think I will go Fold and then Robots... and that will be 50 books this year!! This will be an ongoing goal for me each year to hit the 50 book reading milestone.  It is achievable and rewarding.

I have already starting thinking what are realistic goals to set for 2016... the last few years the goals I have actually achieved or come close to ... well... that is a mighty slim list!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Great book. This is a movie I look forward to watching.

This one surprised me.

I loved it.  This was fun, just about the right length.  Just about technical enough.  The narrator is great.  He isn't perfect.  He isn't arrogant.  He has pity parties, and then movies on.

This is book about resilience,  hope, and how humanity will strive to help humanity.

I have read some great different genres this year.  I look forward to compiling my top five books for the year when we get closer to the end of December.  This was a book where it lived up to it's hype.  I will read more books by Weir as they come out.

That being said, I have waited a while to watch San Andreas.  Not as much of a waste of time as Spy... but truly, a disaster flick, with the layer of cheese spread out really thick. This was a movie that didn't live up to my expectations.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Blackfish .. worth seeing



I had never heard of this one.  Ken brought it to my attention and we grabbed it for the weekend.  We have two extremely different movies to watch... this one, and San Andreas tomorrow.  A movie I expect to be moved by, and hopefully one that will entertain us.

This is a powerful movie.

Truly, it is a privilege to be able to see whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, turtles in their natural environment.  I feel a bit shameful for my 11 or 12 year old self that would have seen Tilikum in 84 or 85 at the Sealand of the Pacific.  I can say with meaning - I didn't know any better and at the time, I was just so impressed to see the whales, I didn't what else to think. I went to Sea World in 91, and then again in 2001.  I remember going in 2001, and feeling somewhat uncomfortable with it.  My attitude was already changing by then, and how we saw the Orcas perform didn't sit well with either of us at the time.  Most people didn't question these things back then, and I think many still don't.

I appreciate what places like the Vancouver Aquarium strive to do, and the teaching and educational components of their business, as well as their outreach and rescue programs.

I remember being enthralled by my Jacques Cousteau book, and with a desire to be a marine biologist (until genetics convinced me that this was not my life calling). I am grateful to have my diver's ticket, and I have had some amazing experiences in nature.  It is on my bucket list to get to Stubb's Island on Vancouver Island and do one of their orca trips.  I don't need to see them in an unnatural environment where their lives are a shadow of what they could be.

Watch this.  Think some big thoughts.  Change some of your behaviour about entertainment and these amazingly sentient creatures.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Decent thriller...

For some reason, it is never truly easy starting a new series, and trying to figure out if you actually like the writing style, and the main characters.

As I may have mentioned in reviews, Gillian Flynn is a good writer, however, I think she has a pretty dim view of humanity overall. I will admit to my rose coloured glasses, and I guess I like my stories realistic, but my view of humanity is a little more hopeful. In a nutshell, I am happy to report that the writing combination of Nicci French is not nearly so dark.

Enter this novel - this is a solid, good read.  It took me a while to warm up to the main character, but as the plot started to thicken, I enjoyed it more.  I was a bit worried about how the ends would get tied up.  There are some  great twists, and the end is satisfying.  I would read more from this series.  Reminded me a little bit of the Alex Delaware novels by Johnathon Kellerman that I used to read eons ago because of the psychotherapist elements to the story.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Downside of being a working mom, volume #1

When your kids get sick, and are miserable, it sucks when you have to go to work.

We were lucky today that my DH had the day off, so he could stay home with our son.

It is hard hugging them when they are crying because they feel like crap, and you know you have to leave and you have rubbed them with Vicks vapour rub and applied all home treatments that you can but your magic wand is out of juice. You still have to go to work and you know they are in the best hands they can be. They frankly don't understand or care you have to go to that work place.  They don't have to care at their age, but it is a kind of hurt when you have to hug them, and love them, and put on your professional face and leave.

Leaving isn't easy.  We don't always talk about that, except in the sense of 'leaving' someone in a relationship.  What about all those little moments, every day when we are in an act of leaving? Those moments you drop them off at daycare, and their faces crumble.  Those moments they really just want to stay home, and you tell them they have to go to school, "it is good for them".  All the while knowing you would just love to play hookey as well and just have a fun day.

It is equally tough when you have very little vacation time to use to cover your kids' sick days, and then when they happen, the shuffle that has to take place, and the work you know that is waiting for you. Sometimes know you not being there is going to cause issues for your coworkers. It is nice to have vacation days for a vacation and not to cover daycare, sick days, and appointments.

It is a tricky balance - multiple responsibilities, being present both as a mom, and as an employee, then as a spouse, a friend, a daughter, a coworker.  Maybe even being present for ourselves.

Now this is a strange ramble.  Moments like this build character for all of us (in the rose coloured glasses sense of the world) and it makes me appreciate that sometimes the best thing that you can do is get off of the routine, no matter how important it is most of the time. It is also important when your kids are truly sick to not be at work (which we do, no questions ask when it is serious). This almost sounds like whining, but it is also the way it is. Sometimes it helps to acknowledge those moments, and then you ultimately move on.  Usually with a hug and kiss and you do the best you can.

Monday, November 16, 2015

When to let things go...

"You gotta know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away, know when to run... " I love this song.  It reminds me of being a kid, and my folks liking country music, and I love that it is one of the few songs (outside of Christmas songs) that I know all the words to and was one of the few songs I sang to my kids as babies.

My mom and I went to the Little White Tea House in Fort Langley yesterday, and for the most part, it was lovely.  Maybe the conversation could have been easier at times, but the food was good, and it was good to spend time together, for the most part.  I also said the things I needed to say, and I also gained some really important insights along the way.  Hence the song.  I think we are in a better place as us, and I am in a better place for me.  I needed yesterday, even if I didn't think it would be as it was. Reflecting, I feel a few different emotions about it all, but mostly, just moving on.  It is high time, and I choose different.

The truth doesn't always set us free, but it does bring a release, and it hopefully can also bring awareness of what is our mess, and what is someone else's mess, and what is your responsibility to deal with.  I feel good about where I am at, what I have said, and where my family unit is at as well. It feels good being able to move forward, and I think this will be a turning point to mark things differently.  I know my head space is different, and if nothing else, that is the real gift.

This also comes around to other 'gifts'.  We are going to do Christmas gifts for the kids, and for us adults, gifts of time.  Movies, or fishing, or going to plays.  We have enough stuff, but it is the time you spend together that is truly a gift.  That or homemade things that are chosen and crafted with love.  A little more simple, and less extravagant, and way more flush with meaning.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Totally tubular!

I am on a mission to learn a new knitting trick.

This is where youtube rocks.

I am learning how to do a tubular cast on for a hat I want to make myself.  With the weather turning... I want a nice hat for me.  Then if the boys want a new hat - so be it.  Then maybe some socks, and some dishcloths again. I haven't knitted since I finished my last baby blanket... I think I am now starting to miss it again.  The hat is called "Columbia Gorge" and I found the pattern on www.whiletheyplaydesigns.com.

Maybe 2016 will be the year that I actually knit myself the St. Brigid sweater that I have been coveting for fifteen years. I think it will be an epic project that will likely take me at least a year to knit.. but I suspect that once done, this will be one that I will wear forever.  Literally.  I am still wearing the Irish sweater that I bought in Blarney in 1995... so I really don't rule this out.

I think I am distracting myself from learning this new task. I am blogging, cruising through sweater patterns, and patting the cat instead of learning how to do this cast on technique. The joys of teaching this old dog new tricks.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Time I can't get back

Damn. I really should check some of the comments on IMDB before I watch *some* movies.

I remember reviews of the movie Spy saying it was funny.

Liars. Maybe a few cheap laughs, but all in all, the time spent watching this movie is like watching Slap Shot 3, time you CANNOT get back.

It was cruel, and unusual punishment. I think I cringed more than a few times at the script, the acting, and the impression I had that this movie was funny. It really wasn't.

Give me the likes of Arctic Air, The Vikings, Game of Thrones, Furious 7 even... not this.  Hell, we see so few movies, it is a shame that this was one I figured might be good.  We watched Rise of the Guardians with the boys earlier, and it is an unexpected lovely show.  The opposite of this show.

I am more Hot Fuzz and Star Trek than this crap. Not funny.  Bridesmaids was vulgar with cheap laughs.  It will take a lot to get me to watch another movie with Melissa McArthy in it.  Just because you are plus sized, doesn't mean you can't be beautiful or be in the starring role without being crass and demeaning yourself.

/rantover

Friday, November 13, 2015

Things are starting to get even more interesting...

I am enjoying this series. Definitely fantasy, definitely intriguing.

Outside of fiction, how do people really and truly learn about things esoteric? It seems that I have learned what I have through conversations with like minded people, and through reading.  However, to delve in to some of these topics,  you really have to wonder about what are the most reliable sources and how to find them.

It is amazing how many words are written, and how it can be to find the ones that are meaningful.  I could ramble on in this vein for a while, and wax poetic, but it is something that niggles at my thoughts at times.  I think there is more out there than meets the eye, and I do believe in 'mysteries' and that we can't explain everything logically away, and I do believe in leaps of faith.

This is book 2 in a series of 4.. and with the 4th book not due out until February 2016, I was half hoping to not really want to order book 3 right away so there is less time to wait before the next book comes out. Alas. I am really enjoying this series, so the book has been ordered and will likely arrive at the library way too quickly.  If I was lumbering through some books there for a while, I have been setting a blistering pace lately. I see that 50 books this is a reasonable goal.  It is interesting how the four main characters play out - and the characteristics they all seem to be embody. As a reader, to also see who are the more appealing characters, at what time.  This is an entertaining series if you enjoy paranormal fantasy.  There is a bit of this book that is a bit farfetched, in the sense that there are two characters (almost the good/evil split of one quality) that can bring items out of dreams, the 'greywaren' ... but in this world, it works.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nablopo - almost??

An idea occurred to me.  It was the 2007.. I had just returned to work with a one year old, and I attempted and completed NABLOPOMO.  The challenge that gets you to make 30 posts for the month of November.  I had no idea it had been 8 years since I did this until I started looking through my old blog posts until I reached all the way back to 2007.

Driving home, it occurred to me with how fast I was reading books this month, I was blogging more than normal.  I was almost thinking that I would likely blog about 65 posts, 50 of which would likely be book posts.  Judging from the past few years, this is pretty typical for me.  It dawned on me, I could very likely challenge myself to crafting 30 posts in the coming weeks, almost within the November timeframe.  Then again, maybe not in the 30 day time limit within November (since that would involve some creative time shifting and I don't really feel the need to do that as much as I likely did back in 2008) and the fact that I am now having this idea on November 12... ok, I will admit that I time shifted this post to November 12 just because this was when the idea hit, and it hasn't been until now that I have actually had the time to sit down and actually get the words, and the thought out there.

I am somewhat rusty with this stream of conscious approach to articulating my ideas.  It may be a good idea to throw some stuff out there in the next 4ish weeks, and see what sticks, if nothing else.

Therefore for the next 4ish weeks, I will attempt to get 30 posts accomplished.  Not all books.  Not all knitting.  Not all complaining about my mother.  I think I am over that. Although that could be a different post, that isn't time shifted.

This is a year of new beginnings.  Speaking of which - I think it is time to do the Polar Bear Swim out in White Rock.  What a novel concept.  I am putting it out there.. January 1, 2016... time to hit White Rock for the annual crazy, cold, cleanse to start the year out right.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Do you see me?

November rain.  I can hear the wind blowing what leaves are left around our yard, and the rain hitting the windows.  It seems like November snuck up this year.  I am almost startled that it is November. I want to murmur that time should slow down, and please let us have a chance to catch our breath.  This has been a year of character.  I can think of no other way to describe this in the way that I feel like I have learned a lot, had a clenched stomach a few times, worried about money a lot, and worried over aging cars, homes, and our loved ones.

I have thought some about women's work lately.  The quiet chores that make up motherhood, especially when you add in the extra workload of working full-time.  So much of women's work is stuff that gets done in the background.  It isn't flashy.  It isn't sexy.  It has to get done.  Like clean sheets, a clean bathroom, and the dirt swept up off of the kitchen floor.  It doesn't always get done daily or weekly, and maybe some chores monthly.  Some times it is like I am waking up and realizing that I haven't done some chore for months.  Or organized bills when I realize that I have them squirrelled all over the place and our filing cabinet in two years out of date. It is amazing how much time being organized can take.  The energy it takes to pick up after yourself, and put things away, and then to find a little bit of time somewhere for something that you love too.  I love my family, however, I think this listing of the books I have been reading also serves to remind me of the time I have taken for myself, in one of the greatest joys I think there is - reading.  If I was better at it, I would catalog the items I knit as well - it is so rewarding to see a piece of string turn in to something beautiful, serviceable, or both.

These kind of chores aren't really missed when they aren't done.  They make life a lot easier when they are done though. Some days I struggle to get them done.  Like the dishes.  Not a fan. Yet a clean kitchen is a big deal, but it doesn't come naturally to me, even if I love to cook and bake.  Speaking of which, we made an amazing chocolate peanut butter cheesecake today.. K's traditional birthday cake. Hot damn, it was good.  Way, way too decadent, but since it is once a year... bloody brilliant.

Years ago I figured if I write my own book, it would be called relentless.  Now, I think I would call it practise.  I have come to appreciate how important practise is in every element of life.  I think this is hysterical. It is so simple, and yet at times, we seem to forget this simple lesson.  That, coupled with routine.  Both are so important.  Routines, and practise, and the little things.  Three pretty important things in my overall, emerging life philosophy.

I think we all struggle with being noticed for who we are, and what we bring to the table.  Especially when your kids are young and so much of yourself it given to others, freely and with love.  I think this is the part of growing up that changes you.  A decade ago I can remember loving getting gifts, now it is truly better to be the giver, and even then, what I want to give, and to whom, has changed.  What I want to receive has also changed.  

Things are not as important.  

I remember when my dear friend PWB was slipping and fading, all I had for him was time.  It was't about money, it was about love, and acceptance, and time.  The stuff that money can't buy. Now that it is out there, you would have been 43 this year and it still moves me to remember your smile, and how much you taught me.  You were an amazing friend, and I see and feel your influence in my life still.  You are remembered. 

When I think about my true friends - they are scattered around all over the place, not all of them physically close.  There is a space in my heart that they have, and words aren't always needed, and time apart doesn't drive us away.  It makes the time we have so much more special.

I think about our families, and what they choose to share.  

I think of the communities we belong to, and what generosity of spirit means to me now.

This last decade has been quite the journey.  It appears I still wax poetic as I am trying to sort out how I feel, and to track some of it here in words, and thoughts, so I have something to look back on and say, hey, look, I was here. I loved, and was loved.  I made some marks, even if they were in the sand, and a wave came and moved them.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Look up, way up, can you see Magonian ships?

I love surprises like this.  Then again, when J recommends a book highly, I tend to take notice.

What a lovely, fantasy novel that embraced me for a few days.  As I started getting to within 50 pages of the end, I really starting hoping that this is not a stand alone novel, and it appears that it should be the start of a new series.

What a huge leap - from the romance novels of my youth, to literature as a degree, to not really reading anything all that interesting, to reconnecting with an old, dear friend and calling it book club to take some literary risks, and crime thrillers, and now to be a in a full-fledged fantasy kick, some YA to boot.  I love books.
This is one of those books that captures your imagination right away.  I love that there are elements of this book that you could actually research.  I love that in life, when you have the luxury of time to think and reflect, there are so many more things that we don't know, that it is truly an adventure that never ends if you remain curious, and open, and questing for something more.

I am pondering how much to gush, summarize and type out here.  I like books like this because they are more than just an escape. You can't really be sure of where you are going to end up.  This is the story of a girl, Aza Ray, who doesn't really seem all that suited to life on earth.  Her life seems to be a miracle, and every day is a fight to stay alive since her lungs don't really seem to work and no one knows why.  This is the story of her core unit, and her best friend, Jason, and of her untimely end, which isn't an ending, but rather a beginning or a remembering as she is brought back to her homeland, Magonia, a land in the sky which we humans barely get to glimpse.

Isn't it amazing to be filled with a sense of wonder at the miracles and complexity of life?  Books like this are a true joy, and in pushing your own boundaries and thinking new thoughts, you don't know what new doors are going to open.

Yes. Dammit. I do like my rose coloured glasses. They have kept me sane and grounded on more than one occasion.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

A classic for a reason

Is this the point in the year where I actually start to feel like I will fully, completely, with no scrolling through the list of books that I have posted about reach 50 books read in a year? It tickles the cockles of my heart that this is a possibility.  I told B tonight I will likely read 50 books this year.  His response.  "When have you read all those books???!!"  I told him every night before bed.  I feel proud being able to read about a book a week.  Actually using my library makes it easier.   I know this is something that I return to frequently, however, I am so grateful to have made this connection again.  I like having access to so many different books, and to new DVDs.  I miss having DVD rental shops... strolling through the titles, browsing for whatever catches your attention.  Sitting on your couch and live streaming anything is not the same.

In a way, you can say it is only fair since I have challenged both kids to reading 50 books for B and 100 books for C by the end of their school year.  B is blitzing a path through books, and will have no issues at all making it.  In fact, I have to pull him back a bit since he half cheat and includes Geronimo Stilton books which he chews up and spits out for dessert,  For C, it is such a bigger deal because this is the year he is truly making the inroads to reading.  Reading for C is B's learning how to walk. Slow progression, but moving in the right direction.

For me, it is all about their letters and their numbers.  To have numeracy and literacy... and the rest will fall in to place.

I start with a picture of the book, and then I go on a tangent. However disparate, I think these different trains of thought are somewhat linked.  If I think all teens should have to read Frey's book A Million Little Pieces and hopefully scare them off of drugs (or take your kids on a road trip down to the Vancouver East Side for a dose of the dark side of drugs)... this is a book about humanity. It is truly timeless, and a classic, and I was entranced. What a book.  Thank you, Cher for recommending this one for us to read. I loved it.  I may even be a better person having read this book.  Well, that may be a stretch, but this book deserves it's title of being a classic and it too should also be required reading for teens for an entirely different reasons - this is a book about the human condition and it doesn't get old.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Moody, period piece

If I was rating this one... I would have hovered between a 3 and a 4.

I think I am very stingy with my 5 out of 5 stars.. a 4 is really rock solid entertaining read, and a 3 is a good read.  2s are very average, and 1 I likely flung across the room and refused to finish.

Another different take on WWI.  Life is about stories, and the more you read, the more you appreciate how many different sides there, especially when you think about sweeping historical movements.

This has a bit of a gothic feel in the sense it is very well written, and there are unhappy ghosts.  It feels a bit like a Kate Morton book, however, the pages do turn a bit more quickly. I enjoyed it, but I can't say that I thoroughly loved it.  This is a glimpse in to the lives of the broken men after the war(s) and the people who made a business out of taking care of them.  It raises interesting thoughts about what society was like after each war, and how the men that survived were changed a result.  We all know our grandparents didn't want to talk about those years, however, books like this help you appreciate the horrors a little more, even if this book isn't about the war per say.  This also describes a time of flux - where the rules were changing, just before the depression, and during a time where good help was truly hard to find, and not everyone could deal with the realities of caring for people how had seen truly the depths of human depravity.  Interesting.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

YA kick

I had to ask one of my fabulous local librarians, what makes a book "young adult".  It seems that many of the so called YA books that I have read, really and truly aren't about young kids.  In fact, some of them tackle some pretty big issues.  The answer I got is that books are YA because they deal with teenagers (for the most part) and have to deal with young adult issues - like high school, reaching maturity, etc. Put this way, it does make some sense. Ready Player One, although the main character is 18, isn't a YA novel because it does not deal with young adult themes.

This is an easy reading, fantasy novel with a bit of the mystical thrown in for good measure.  A good read for around Hallowe'en.  I enjoyed it.  I liked getting to know the characters, and I like the idea of exploring the "ley lines".  It is amazing that with so many words out there written, that it can be pretty hard to read about energy paths, different kinds of power, ghosts, and the occult.  It is much like religion - it comes down to a leap of faith, and what feels right in your overall set of beliefs.




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Yup. I am a fan...

No hesitation. I loved this.  What a sweet, coming of age novel. Although as I learned, there is an alternate universe of fanfiction out there in which the fictional worlds we love carry on, and that this is not truly a novel about fanfiction, rather about finding ourselves.

Left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, and trying to remember a younger version of myself when I first started at university.  It is nice to try to remember a younger, more carefree version of me.  Although I think about 18 or 19 year old self.. working 28-32 hours a week, commuting hours a day, going to classes, playing hockey, going out to the bar too many days a week, putting hundreds of kilometers on my car every weekend.  It was awesome.  It also felt like a delayed high school experience for the first few years.  It was exciting meeting new people, and thinking different thoughts, shedding some of my younger self. I am not sure if I was running away from myself as much as I was running towards myself.

This was a great book to read in a quick sprint. Not quite light and fluffy, but really engaging and very hopeful.  I think more of what I needed in this moment than Wool.  I am not sure if I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning, and it has been a quiet day at work.  It has felt like what I needed today.

I was all geared up to write this post, and I will admit to a certain reluctance to summarizing the plot. I enjoyed this book because it felt raw, and vulnerable, and the characters weren't perfect.  Well maybe our lead male character was a bit idealized, but truly, it felt accessible in the sense that people weren't too idealized, and their problems cliched. It is about moving out when you are 18 to university, and having your world shaken up.  Sometimes I wonder how things may have been different if I would have been able to afford to live on campus, how I would be different.  I think thoughts like that and  my inner voice is thankful I lived at home (no matter if you pay a different price) and had a car so I could get around.  I loved the freedom that my car represented.  I still do.  I still prefer trucks to cars.  Thanks, Dad.  It was hard the few years I didn't have a car.  It was something that bothered me but I didn't think about it because it wasn't a possibility at the time to have two, nor did we need two cars.  I think I prefer this blend of bits about the book I just read and the path that my mind goes on as a result. Isn't that what it is all about? Experience, how we shift as a result, what we remember, what we think is worth remembering, what floats up from our unconscious mind.

Then I think about time.  How fleeting it is.  How unexpected some moments can be.  How you need to hold on to time, and  how it can slip through your fingers.  I still love the poem by Frost, "and miles to go before I sleep".. totally about time. Now how is that for a spoken circle that wandered through the woods?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I didn't know it was another trilogy....

I learned that this is part of a trilogy when I looked up pictures to include with this post.  I am not sure how I feel about this in the sense I don't know if I would continue to read the books... but for no real reason other than I kind of moved on by the end of the book...

This is a well crafted, futuristic science fiction novel.  I enjoyed most of it, and I found that towards the end, I was ready to move on.  You could blame this on Ready Player One because it was such a great read IMHO... this one just didn't catch me the same and I found that although I cared about what was happening, I found the end of the book almost less engaging than the beginning of the book.

It  is good book, if I was rating it, I would give a solid 4 stars... however, I don't think I care enough to read the next two books.  This could also be my head space, and this could change at any given time. It is really cool that this started off as a self-published serial that gathered speed and became a self-published success story.  There are some big themes and ideas at play here.  This is set in a distant future, after humanity has all but destroyed itself, and has attempted to provide the "seeds" for the future in silos built in to the earth where people could survive until the earth's atmosphere is no longer toxic.  Of course questions can arise about how toxic the folks in the silo(s) become, as people slowly begin to grasp that their silos are not the only ones. It would be cool to sit down and discuss this with someone, but as I think you may have come to understand, I enjoy blogging about what I have read and whether or not it really grabbed me, but I am not all that in to providing a summary of the novel worthy of plastering on a book sellers website.  Frankly, I enjoy more putting my opinion out there, if it left an impression, and helping track my own mindset as it is influenced by what I read.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interesting tale of survival

This is a completely different survival story.  It feels contemporary, and it does recognize previous similar experiences (Alive, the story of the Uruguayan rugby team who were involved in the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972 in which survivors had to resort to consuming some of their dead) although this survival story does not devolve to this point.

There are several poignant moments, and the characters are portrayed in all their flawed glory.  I like this - definitely not my normal book - but worth a foray nonetheless.  


The story of the protagonist's experiences on a mountain in the desert near Palm Springs with three women speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, and also to the mistakes we may make along the way.  Again, there is a thread of redemption, making errors in judgement, and of choosing different paths.  There is also an element of the spiritual, and there were some passages that really struck home.  If you are looking for a different kind of read, this is a fairly quick, well written choice.  You are told pretty early on that not everyone makes it, and there is a real twist at the end of the book.  I found it was just "long enough" that by the time I was finishing the story, it was time (if that makes sense).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Very quick ramble

It seems that a few times every year, I can steal a moment and truly update my blog.  I like being able to look back at least see the books that I was reading to see  how they shape my current awareness. I love being able to look back at this part of my history and the covers of the books to see what ones truly stick out, and which ones are totally unremarkable.

This has not been an easy year.  It has been a year of transformation.  I wonder if this is my midlife crisis year... a little more than 40, kids are still young, pushing hard in  my career, trying to figure out who this middle-aged version of myself is.

In this last year I discovered Game of Thrones. I still need to watch Season 5, and I loved it, even if I cringed at times, cried, looked out from the corner of my eye, sat with a gaping mouth and knitting needles in my hands.  I also loved watching Outlander, and have recently gotten in to watching The Vikings and Arctic Air.  I have discovered the joy of borrowing each season from the library and just blitzing on them ... it takes me about 6 weeks to watch a season of 10-12 episodes... which seems pretty fair.  I spend most of this time knitting - I have made a few pairs of socks, baby blankets, and I see a few more hats in my future since we have some friends coming out from the UK in a few weeks and they are something nice we can give them that are from us.

I find it hard to believe we are already in September.  It really feels like there was Summer, and there are some moments that stick out, and then all of a sudden I am staring down October.

*watching the meteor shower out near the lake, beside the road with a sleeping bag
*seeing grey whales from our campsite a Salt Creek Recreation Area
*watching the sunsets from our campsite and having campfires
*Ruby Beach and Beach 4 in Washington - exploring tide pools with our reference book
*Hurricane Ridge and Olympic Game Farm, still awesome
*Next Door Gastropub in Port Angeles with the boys, it was great
*the knitted Octopus and missing starfish - we hope they come back soon, just not the same
*watching the blood super moon a few nights ago
*big family birthday party for the boys with everyone there
*spending the afternoon out at Manning Park to see Jen and her boys
*camping for a night in Hope and going to Manning Park (including the amazing viewpoints)
*night we watched the sunset in White Rock
*going out with my dad to see a movie and go to a pub for a beer and a conversation

There have been lots of changes this year too, of course our kids are getting older, our parents are getting older.  My MIL has aged a lot this year, and it may be a part of life, but it does move you. She is no longer living independently, and as a family we went through her things and made some decisions.  I was fine, up until I was unpacking a box at home the other day, and putting away some beautiful teacups from her.  I could feel the tears slide down my face as I thought about her, and my grandmothers, and the pulling apart of a life, and the part of them that is a part of us, whether or not they are still physically present. There is a time for everything. This is time passing.

It has been a year of spending a lot of time thinking about mothers, and even for me, what it means to be a mother. I don't feel like this is something that I am practicing anymore, I think I own this role now. If I am worrying about the quality of my MIL's life.. I am also working at redefining my relationship with my mom.  It reached a breaking point this summer. It is truly terrible to realize that something has to change, that your relationship with your mom is impacting those that you love, and that you can't hide from it anymore. It is raw, and ugly, and honest too. It has helped having some space and not talking as much, or seeing her. It has helped thinking harder thoughts, questioning things and not just accepting because I should and I am a loyal person, and voicing them, and talking to my dad differently so he has a more rounded impression of what has happened.  It is good to realize we can do things differently, and if we don't meet somewhere in the middle, it isn't going to look like it did.  Well, even if we do meet somewhere in the middle in a healthier place, it isn't going to look like it did.  I want, and I guess I demand something different with my mom moving forward. It feels strange saying we need to be in an honest place with ourselves, and with each other. Cut through the BS, and accept each other's faults. This time has helped (in some moments - it is almost like a cycle of grief - waves of anger, sadness, grief, desire for it to be different, knowing all I can change is how I move and think).  I don't feel like in so much of a rush. Time helps, it does heal, it also allows for other emotions to move in, and move past, and move through. I don't want we had. I don't want to be worrying about what my mom has done, and didn't do, and the words she said, rather enjoy what we do have, and feel joy, and laugh, and then cry in the moments we need to and not pretend it is anything different than life.

I do want different when it comes to my mom, and for that matter my brother as an extension of my mom. This time has created the space for different. I look forward to reflecting on how this has changed in the months to come.

I also feel very grateful - to unexpected folks.  Like the folks that have come in to our life through sledge hockey. Amazing, humbling people.  I think I may get involved with the Cerebal Palsy association.. it feels like the right time.  How things have come together with riding, again.  The shifts are amazing it seems this fall.  The rewards within the trials.

Not everything in a year, or a cycle is great, nor it is all terrible.  Funny how life finds it's balances along the way... lifting you up when you need it, and bursting bubbles (even when you don't need it). Life can suck.  Life is also amazing.

I am so grateful for my personality - I can feel that through this stream of consciousness it helps - I can also feel my positive nature asserting itself even through this superficial reflection of the last few months. I am pleased with how the boys are right now - for my little guy, grade 1 is so much better than kindergarten.  For my bigger guy, I am so glad for the things we can bring in to his life now. For me, I believe that the trials of this summer will make me, and us (my family) stronger. It is crazy that sometimes people have to change significantly (and insignificantly) to create new paths, or new thoughts, or new choices that they didn't see already. I appreciate my flexible brain that sees more than one path and that can evaluate and then make decisions upon.

Reminded me of the books I used to read...

This is a nice read.  It reminded me of the romance novels that I read when I was younger with better prose.  I think just what I needed this September.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Caught me off guard, great read.

I totally loved this book and couldn't read it fast enough.

If you like science fiction/fantasy/quests... this is a great choice.

LOVED THIS, especially because I didn't expect to. I was hooked from the first chapter.

Monday, September 14, 2015

And all the popularity for this one... not quite as right... IMHO

Another novel about WWII.. considering how many five star reviews this book has received, I expected more.  It was definitely a good book, but isn't one that I will rave from the roof tops about.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A truly different kind of book...

Obviously I am trying to catch up on at least blogging the books that I have read over the last few months.

This one I kind of had to struggle to recall whether or not I had truly read it.  It did, and really didn't leave a huge impression on me.

I think there are other Hoffman novels that I have enjoyed more.

Some interesting interwoven tales around a garden in which only red things grow and about a small town in the woods, that just kind of happens, and how lives intersect.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

All the reviews for this one are right...

This was an enchanting novel (can you say that about a book about WWII???).  Lots of truly significant things happen in this novel, but it doesn't really reach huge climaxes.

Well written, well crafted, and an overall very satisfying read.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A different voice for WWI literature...

I have had this book sitting on my shelf for YEARS.  Truly.  I have almost given it away a few times, thinking I wasn't going to read it.. then I found that I was out of library books to read, and I didn't want to get back in to Norrell and Strange.. and well, this one seemed like a good idea.

This is a bit of a haunting look at WWI through the eyes of a first nations man from Ontario.  It was brutal, with some raw edges, and about loss, love in many different forms, hope, and ultimately redemption.

Well worth the time to read, but certainly not a happy go lucky feel good book.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A lovely surprise in YA fiction...

Another book that I fell in love with.

Remember being 16, your first crush?  This will remind you of that angst and your younger self.

This is a great book.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Another series in which the second book really doesn't live up to the first or third in a trilogy

I enjoyed book 1, book 2 lost me a bit along the way, and this one was more of a page turner again that kept me entertained for the few days that it took me to read it.

This final chapter of the trilogy was fast-paced, and I enjoyed our three female lead characters much more (Charlotte, Melanie, and Dale).  The gloves were off a little more, more vulnerability, and more growth.  Different folks had learning circles close, and the female relationships were back again at front and center.

I think what I liked best about this series (besides women in leadership roles), was how it was peppered with how hard it is to balance any career with motherhood, and the prices that women pay in this precarious existence. This was fine summer reading for me. With the US presidential candidate nomination races going on - an interesting snapshot in to the political lives of the insiders, especially as a woman could be running for president next year, and given the impact terrorist actions have had in the last decade.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Great recommendation

I love Summer reading. I am not quite sure how it is truly different than Winter reading. Ah yes, curling up on a blanket outside rather than on the couch with a big glass of cold water rather than a coffee. A friend from work recommended this author, and when I checked out more info, folks said that if you liked Diana Gabaldon's type of writing (check), you would likely also enjoy Kearsley (check).

I love finding new authors. I really enjoyed this book.  Well researched, and two time period story lines that were well woven together.  I would have almost liked more of the present day story, but it was a good read.  I apparently like books with a bit of magic tossed in, as well as good, well researched plot and interesting characters. I will be reading more from this author!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A welcome respite

I read the first installment of the "Irish Country" series a year ago, and I am surprised it took me so long to come back to it again.

These are truly lovely reads.  It is truly easy to get lost in the fictional town of Ballybucklebo, Northern Ireland of the 1950s'ish.

This novel finds us following O'Reilly in both modern times and reflections from his experiences as a Naval Surgeon during WWII.  I find the prose easy to read, the characters engaging, and I like learning about past lives and how the 'present' weaves in and out of past events. There are many things to like about these books, and if you are looking for an escape in to another time, where the drama is on a local scale, this is your series.  You finish the book wanting more, and also feeling good.  These aren't dark novels, they are about relationships and the role of your country GP that looks at their patients holistically and how small towns evolve in ways different than that of the city.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Provocative title...

This is an autobiographical work the follows two American college grads as they set out to experience the world.  First stop, China in the mid 1980s.

I was 13 in 1986 when Susie and Claire graduated and departed as they tried to locate their next selves with around the world tickets in their hands, a backpack, and big dreams.  There are parts of this book that strike a chord with me - and easier to engage with than having recently read Wild, by Cheryl Strange. I remember envying my friends that had a copy of Linda Goodman's Love Signs...and all that angst growing up, and not having a clue what I was going to do after I went to university.

This novel covers about three months of an ill-fated trip that was many things.  I think I laughed a few times, I know that I cringed a few times, it was quite the story, and it didn't always reflect Susie and her friend, and North Americans in all that great of a light.  It is well written, but there are passages that are downright offensive about how they both behaved, and also how truly naive they were.  They don't always treat the locals all that well, and they definitely come off as self-centered at times.  Isn't that what growing up is all about? I remember my own month long backpacking trip back in 1995, and the experiences that I had, and the people I met along the way - it is far different when you go Ireland and the UK rather than to Asia. When the travelers end up back in the US after Claire's mental breakdown, you never do learn what happens to Susan's travelling partner, and likely, that is for the best. I appreciate that this was Susan's story - there are times I think about writing about our experiences - and I think about whose 'voice' and whose 'story' would it truly be - for me, although I may write about my kids or my husband, or the people I care about, but it would be my 'story' that is told and it would be my evolution I struggle with.

At the end of the day, and interesting snapshot of China in 1986 as it slowly opened to the West, a coming of age story, and an intriguing travel read.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I do like the cover, but I am not sure if the title truly fits but I can't imagine another one....

Truly, this book has helped with my slump.  Very interesting, very compelling, totally different.

The soundtrack running through my head is Vance Joy's "Riptide"... it keeps looping in my mind and playing it a few times hasn't really helped.

Again, it is interesting how certain books seem to come along at certain times.  Sometimes there is a message, or a reason why it has come along at this certain moment of time.  I suspect this could be one of those kind of books - especially since it delves so much in to family history, and breaking free and creating a new history. The whimsical part of my really liked this book - it fits with the theme perhaps of the 'other' worldly a lot of  my reading has taken me in the past year.  I get the feeling this is another polarizing book that will either draw you in or you will never become a part of it.

I like the idea of being practical from this novel - that it brings strength, and a clear head, and an ability to weather a storm.  This is a book about family, and choices, and how our paths can intersect until a circle is closed (for lack of a better analogy) to break free from the past.  It is about circuses, and oddities, family, and love. It is about appearances that can be deceiving, and about life on the margins, and creating family out of nothing. Very interesting.

I like this booked in ways that I can't always articulate.

This is a quote from one of the last pages, as the crisis passes, it strikes a chord with me as I am working on figuring out how to move forward with my mom, and my family, and how do we carve a different path from the one we have walked for almost the  last decade.  It is time to start a new cycle, and a different kind of caring within our family love:

"I am not used to being carried, but there are obligations  that come with family, letting them care for you when they need to...We carry our families like anchors, rooting us in storms, making sure we never drift from where and who we are.  We carry our families within us the way we carry our breath underwater, keeping us afloat, keeping us alive.  I've been lifting anchors since I was eighteen.  I've been holding my breath since I was born." (p330).

It is funny, I rushed to the last dozen pages, and then I stumbled my way through them - breaking to distract myself that it was almost done.  At least I have a book waiting for me at the library - tonight I will need to take this one back, and fetch myself a new one.

And turning to the last page, we reach the point of where the title comes in to it's own for this book... especially about family and personal histories... "'sometimes we'll make it up.  The first secret about history is how much of it is conjecture.' He shrugs. 'And we'll fill in spaces.  They were good at inventing themselves.'... she knows that her name will find its way in to his speculations.  So will his. Because there are things you do for people you've known your whole life.  You let them save you, you put them in your books, and you let each other begin again, clean." (p339).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fell.

It has been a while since I have read a Lescroart.  I think I would have enjoyed this book a WHOLE LOT more if it wasn't a large print novel. I must remember, do not order the large print novels, they are really distracting to read.  I think this is also part of the reason why I don't want an e-reader. I like turning the page, I like the feel of the pages until my fingers.

It was a decent read.  It was nice to read about some familiar characters again, and see glimpses of San Francisco.  It felt like this was a story line where too many things were happening, and that there were a lot of strings that needed to be pulled together before the story came together.  Not completely satisfying.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The girl who wouldn't stop riding the train... even though she should...

For me, this is a solid, average book. I enjoyed it more than Flynn's books (not nearly as dark of a worldview), but this is not quite how I like my crime novels.

It is an interesting novel - but not truly page turning or really compelling.  I can't even say that I passionately cared about the characters, and it felt like there were holes in the how the police investigation took place.  This is where my bias reveals itself, I have loved several series of police procedurals and how the stories and characters are crafted, and the mystery is solved.

I am struggling a bit trying to describe how I reacted to this book in a snappy, quick review.  Did I mention I would give it 2.5 stars out of 5?? I guess what got me that there really wasn't a lot of character growth. The twist that is revealed isn't all that surprising, and it is more just sad how things work themselves out,

I can't quite say that I am going through a reading slump, but I can't say that I have been books that have been knocking my socks off or rocking my perspective either.  Next up, I am playing it safe and reading a book by John Lesrcoart and returning to the world of San Fran.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The post Harry Potter reading world according to an 8 year old

B and I turned the last page of Harry Potter's The Deathly Hallows two nights ago. I am making a point of blogging this to help me remember when I am older, and grayer.

We started reading the HP series at the start of Grade 2, and B's reading skills were pretty average. Book 1 took us almost until Christmas to complete.  Book 2 was a little faster, you get the picture. Now, we are a moments away from Grade 3 being a thing of the past, and we have completed the whole series.  To say I am proud of where he has gotten to as a reader is an understatement. I think back over the last two years, and all the changes, and through HP, B learned how to read.  What a gift.

My favourite time of the day with both of my boys are those moments before sleep, when we read and snuggle together.  This is the golden time.  I will cherish this time forever and HP is a part of it.  With C, we are reading the Chronicles of Narnia and the time is just as rich.

I think of all the hours we spent reading HP together, whether it was my voice or his, and I am filled with joy.  It has been an amazing journey.  If I loved HP before, I appreciate it more now.  What a crowning accomplishment to create this series.  Thank you JK Rowling.  Love it.  That Universal Studios is going to create an HP land out on the west coast... AWESOME.  Great timing!

I am a little sad the series is done.  Like coming home from an amazing vacation, there is a bit of a let down.  I have tried to entice B to read a few other books, and he reads the first page and tosses them away.  "Too boring" he says with a droll voice.  He is tainted forever by a great story.  The true disadvantage of HP is that it sets the bar really high and makes the journey for the next series not all that easy.  I am going to head in to the mall today (say it isn't so) and I will pick him up a copy of Percy Jackson, the Lightning Thief which will hopefully be just as enduring.

If you want your kids to read, especially boys, find what they love and cater to it.  I wholeheartedly endorse this.  I was trying to find my old Black Stallion novels.. but couldn't find them.  I suspect I will need to go through some books.  I tried to entice B with some old Nancy Drew's... for some reason.. he had no interest.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mirror, mirror, what do you see?

I am really not sure whether or not I truly liked this book.  It was a book that would catch my attention and I would read a bunch of pages, and then I would stall out, and feel lost, and wonder whether or not I should finish it.

I have read some book reviews that consider this a modern fairy tale adaption of Snow White, and of her mirror, mirror on the wall that declares her to the fairest of them all.  Even as I type this, I think that this would be an amazing book to discuss and dissect in a literature class. It will be interesting to see what my bookclub friends thought of this, or what they got out of it.

It is interesting to note Boy, Snow, and Bird as different elements of Woman (in an interview Oyeyemi discusses her affection for Hecate and the symbolism/transitions of women as maiden, mother, and crone which I also find fascinating).  How each doesn't see parts of themselves, and what they choose to reveal to others and sometimes miss.  It is interesting how the male characters fade in this book, as does colour, and ultimately even gender in some regards.  It is a fascinating book, and one that would like get richer with further lively discussion.  As I mentioned, at times, I felt like this was a good to "get through" and at times I was utterly fascinated.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Does this count as a guilty pleasure?

This has been the year that I have joined the masses for some big name TV series that have nothing to do with reality TV.

In March, I finally caved in to my curiosity and I started watching Game of Thrones.. first episode, bloody and confusing with all the characters, second episode, things are starting to come together.. by the end of that first season, I was hooked.

Again, thank you local library for having all of the DVDs. It takes me about 5-6 weeks to watch a season (10 episodes).  I am currently just starting Season 4.  They are awesome. I  have been shocked, awed, appalled, thrilled, fist pumping, jaw hanging open, and scrambling to check the clock to see if I can watch another episode before bed. They have been great. Game of Thrones has made up for some of the average books I have read this year and have lead the creation of a few pairs of socks while I sit on the couch and be entertained.

The other great series I have enjoyed is Outlander.  They are doing a good job of it, and I admire the courage of the actors for some of the scenes that they have had to portray.  I hope this also becomes a series on TV that continues on and one... there are at least 8 books to go from... and this is also truly entertaining.  Again, these led to my knitting habit and some beautiful works.

These have been good for my soul.  Very entertaining.  My DH calls it sex and violence.. which it can be... but the stories have been good to.  A bit unreal at times the body counts...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Poetic musings....

I have been trying to find books to read through non-traditional sources for me.  This was one that I found intriguing from the Canada Reads 2015 competition.  In future years, this may be a decent want to find some book club reads as well.

This was an easy, poetic read.  Books like this underscore why reading is so important to me.  Reading can offer a lens to understand different lives, and different experiences.  Reading can help bring people together, and help build empathy.  This is a story I don't know much about - what it would be like to grow up Vietnamese, and then to survive being a boat person and to land in the province of Quebec, Canada.  You can't ask for a greater difference.

This books narrative is more like memory, and I wouldn't say that it is entirely cohesive all the time, but it was enjoyable. This is a good library book for me because it was such a short read. There were lots of passages in which I paused to reflect the deeper meaning. Here are a few of them:

"He was still a hero, a true hero, because he couldn't help being one, because he is a hero without knowing it, without wanting it."

"When I meet young girls in Montreal or elsewhere who injure their bodies intentionally, deliberately, who want permanent scars to be drawn on their skin, I can't help secretly wishing they could meet other young girls whose permanent scars are so deep they're invisible to naked eye. I would like to seat them face to face and hear them make comparisons between a wanted scar and an inflicted scar, one that's paid for, the other that pays off, one visible, the other impenetrable, one inordinately sensitive, the other unfathomable, one drawn, the other misshapen."

It's funny, I don't really want to read any really LONG books right now.  About 400 pages is about perfect in my mind.  Just long enough to sink my teeth in to it, long enough that I get through it quickly and can start looking around to see what else is there.

I was checking through some of the books that I have read this year... and although Shantaram and the Magician's trilogy were both good... I don't really feel like there have been that many books that have blown me away this year.  I feel like my reading has been average... not spectacular.  Interesting how that goes sometimes.

Friday, June 5, 2015

It's okay.

These feel like summer reads.  They are somewhat entertaining (this one felt like what may have happened if Palin had been elected), and they move along pretty quickly.  Eventually I will crack and finish out this trilogy.

I found I had somewhat less patience with this novel, I wasn't all that keen on the unraveling of the female vice president, and how it dealt with depression and somewhat controlling marriage.  It felt like there were a few loose strings in this one.

One of the themes that is interesting throughout these books is about female leadership - not only what we can bring to the table, but how hard it can be as a woman to manage different responsibilities and priorities.  I think of that saying, woman CAN have it all, just not at the same time.  This kind of rings true when you look at the female characters in this novel, and how they all pay a price for their intense careers in their family lives.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A political twist

This was a book recommended by one of our local librarians when I asked for something different.  For me, this is a different read as it deals with U.S. politics and what would happen if a woman was the president.

It is a fairly fast-paced book, and follows the stories of three woman, Charlotte (the prez), Dale (reporter and woman having affair with the prez' husband), and Melanie (Chief of Staff).  This follows a political crisis leading up to the path to Charlotte's potential re-election for a second term.

This is a decent read, with some insights in to how life on the "eighteen acres" of the White House is, and how many players are involved.  I enjoyed it well enough, and have picked up the second book in the series.  While I am not about to start shouting from the rooftops about this book, it is an interesting diversion from what I have been reading. We shall see.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The author that stole some of my time..

This book had it's moments.

When I went to blog about the books that I have been reading... it took me a few minutes to remember reading this book, and what triggered it's existence was checking out what books needed to go back to the library.  Not really a good endorsement for this book.

It is light fluff, and although there were some amusing parts, it kind of lost me towards the end and I couldn't really get through it fast enough.  I would almost say that I am going through a bit of a reading slump.  There have been some amazing books that I have read over the last six months... but there have also been a few that have been real slogs too.

Looking back on this book, although it starts off with a lot of promise, it dwindles for me as the story goes on and character development gets shallower.  Moving along.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reflections from "things I have learned in my 40s"

When you borrow an idea, it is important to give credit.  This article resonated for me - 47 Things I've Learned in my 40s.

Here are a few of the highlights that truly struck a chord with me:

2. Don't waste time worrying and moaning about stuff you have no control over. Let it go.
Working on this one.  
5. Listening to someone -- really listening -- is one of the most important, respectful and rewarding things you can do.
6. It's awesome to collect people throughout life, but you're truly blessed if you have a handful of besties who will always, always have your back. Even if you don't speak to them all that often, you know they're there.
7. The morning after is rarely -- if ever -- worth the night before.
9. Experiences are infinitely more memorable than stuff.
YESSSSSSS.
10. Confidence is beautiful and powerful.
11. Laugh lines are worth it.
12. It will always boggle your mind how some people will exceed the lowest imaginable depth of stupidity, incompetence and nastiness, while others will exceed the highest imaginable pinnacle of kindness, compassion and helpfulness.
I learn this more and more every day.
13. Don't live your life by anyone else's expectations, taste, hopes or dreams.
Stop.  Think about this.
14. If you rely on others for joy, you will never be joyful yourself.
Another lightbulb moment.
15. Grudges aren't worth it.
Life is too damn short.
18. Tell the little self-sabotaging voice in your head to bug off.
Not always in so nice of words either.
20. Being super-busy is not a badge of honor, importance, popularity or success. It's perfectly OK -- and actually healthier and preferable -- to be not so busy.
Work in progress.
22. Most bad behavior and bitterness is rooted in jealousy.
23. What makes you happy isn't the elixir that will make someone else happy.
24. It's not always someone else's fault. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror.
25. You can disagree with someone's opinions and beliefs, but it doesn't make them wrong. And it's probably best just not to go there when it has to do with religion, politics or love.
26. Friendships change over time. Sometimes they have an expiration date and they dissolve into fuzziness. And that's OK.
28. Stop waxing poetic about how good it used to be. Stop fantasizing about how good it might be in the future. Savor how good it is right now. Make your moments matter.
Right here. Right now.
29. It's nice to be thought of and remembered.
30. Sometimes you've gotta do stuff just because it's the right thing to do. Often it's uncomfortable. Usually it's inconvenient. But it's almost always worth it.
Truth.  
31. Elephants don't belong in the room. Having the tough conversation is ultimately better than living with the energy-sapping misery of resentment or misunderstanding.
32. Some stuff just isn't meant to be. The sooner you accept it and stop trying to force it to happen, the better off you'll be.
34. A good night's sleep is a gift from the heavens and can change everything.
Sleep. Truly a gift.
35. People will make time for you if you're important to them. And they pretty much won't if you're not.
This one has really stayed with me since I first read this list. This is so true.
36. Sometimes you need to suck it up hard in the name of love, peace and harmony.
38. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Stop wasting energy on stuff that isn't your business. You just do you.
39. Accept, embrace and celebrate change.
40. Being polite and smiling genuinely can make a big difference.
41. Stillness is restorative and healing.
Still learning how to do this.
42. Take one day at a time, one step at a time. Break down challenges into small, do-able chunks. It will all get done.
43. Life is what happens while you're waiting expectantly for the next big thing on the horizon to come to fruition. Savor the everyday.
Again. Yes. Here I thought I would pare this list down significantly.  Obviously this list really and truly resonated with me.
44. If you push yourself and focus on what's good rather than wallowing selfishly in the negative, things will almost always improve.
45. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it isn't immediately apparent, but in time, and with reflection, the reason usually becomes clear. And often it's so extraordinary and breathtaking, it'll blow you away.
46. No matter how much you wish, you can't will things to happen. But often, there's a better and "righter" path that reveals itself if you keep your eyes and mind open.
47. Take a risk and have the guts to seize the opportunity, because it may not present itself again.
I haven't had the moments I thought I would have to sit down and do some yearly reflection around my birthday. I have to say, 42 was memorable, but not for all the right reasons.  I think this years' birthday will help me move a little differently and hopefully help adjust a few relationships I have in my life for the better.