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.
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.
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.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fabulous trilogy.

The best way to discover a trilogy is just after the final book is written.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series.  Well, except for about twenty pages written in italics. My older self now cringes when I think about how I used to use italics in the papers I used to write in  my undergrad degree.  Italics drive me buggy now, and I have to really work at not skim reading through them.

Especially as someone in the middle of the Narnia series with one child, and the end of the Potter series with the other, this is the perfect truly adult companion to them both. You can see how HP and Narnia influenced the world of Grossman, and I love the character and story arcs that took place throughout the three novels.  It wasn't a journey that I expected to go on, but isn't that the joys of reading? Taken together, these are great books that captured my imagination.  I could see myself re-reading them in a few years, and maybe seeing different layers that I didn't grasp this time.  The worlds are well crafted, and things aren't always clean and perfect.  Give this series a chance.  You won't regret it.

I tried to follow this one up with another recommended fantasy novel, and I couldn't.  I think I need to take a wee break from magical fantasy.  I feel like I have worked my way through some amazing literature from this genre in the last few months and a diversion would be good. I continue to love my library card, and our amazing librarians. In another life I am sure I would have been one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Almost forty and two.

Even if this blog has evolved in to tracking knitting projects and the books that I have been reading, it is nice to have some kind of personal record as to where my head space was at a particular moment in time.  I have always made a point of trying to do a few entries around New Years, and of course, around my birthday.  I am hoping that this weekend we can at least make it out to White Rock.  The beach is calling my name, and I would love a plate of greasy fish and chips with my toes in the sand. Fingers crossed that this is what comes to be.

Another year has slipped by.  I look at runkeeper (an app where I track my walks) and you can tell where work, and therefore my life took a turn last year and got stupid busy. I pretty much stopped walking, and if I step on our Wii Fit board.. you can watch my weight slowly creep up during that period as well.  This April was a bit of a turning point - our trip to the island was amazing, and good for all of us. It was also a good mental reboot for me. Work is still demanding, but it isn't the brutal place I was in a year ago. We have transitioned to our new schools and daycares, and both boys seem to be doing better every day.  Kindergarten is such a transition year - a relief for the break in daycare fees from full-time care, but lots of learning and adjustments.  Not easy. At least the scale this morning finally went in the right direction. Proper portion sizes and getting enough exercise for me is tricky.I hope to continue on a slightly healthier path moving forwards.  Having both kids in so many sports helps to motivate me too - I need to catch up and I don't want to be looked upon as that mom that has let herself go while her kids are doing amazing physical things.

I will likely return and add more to this, when I have another moment.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Very quick read, indeed.

Reason why I love my library #50715

This counts as a book, right?

What to say about a book like this? I am glad to have read it, although it took me about 20 minutes, since it is a well thought speech.  Which is why I was able to get it from my library rather than having spent money on buying it.  That being said, the funds go to a worthwhile charity, so it is a positive thing... having read it in 20 minutes, you catch my drift.

There are some great quotes here, and some stuff she really nails on the head.  I can't remember any of the speeches from my university graduations, but I do remember watching the one at work when Sarah McLaughlin played the piano... that was magical.

Reading this, I like Rowling more. Reading this as B and I approach the last 300 pages of the Deadly Hallows makes me wish there were more HP books to read.  When I am back on a crime fiction kick, I will go back to her other books.. I am just not currently in that head space.  For some crazy reason, fantasy seems to be the alley I have found myself in.  A little Narnia, a little HP, a lot of the Magicians trilogy, and will be trying a book called "The Name of the Wind".  Add in Outlander and Game of Thrones, and crime fiction is not where I am at by any stretch of the imagination. For a quick read that you can chew on, definitely worth the time, especially if you have a borrowed copy.

Some random quotes from the book:

Rowling - Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two.  Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Rowling - Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the found of all invention and innovation; it is arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

Plutarch - What we achieve inwardly will change outward reality

Rowling - We touch other people's loves simply by existing

Rowling - We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry al the power we need inside ourselves already:  we have the power to imagine better

Seneca - As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Page after page, and then left

I really wanted to like this book. I really enjoyed Aktinson's Case Histories novels...

Think a literary version of the movie Ground Hog Day with Bill Murray... you know then one where he gets to do one day over and over again until he gets it right?

Funny, I almost started this review piece with the first birth you recognize of Ursula, our heroine, and I completely overlooked the first chapter, when she dies assassinating Hitler and Eva Braun in a coffee shop... This is the story of Ursula, and her family outside of London just before WWI.  Her father is a banker, and the family is fairly well to do.  It could have been a family novel, but Atkinson delves in to the idea of multiple lives, and if you change just one thing, what will happen next?! Many, many times "darkness falls" in this novel as Ursula succumbs to death's embrace - whether it be in birth, childhood accidents, the flu, war... each life is a little bit different with a different outcome.  Characters are a little different each time, and Ursula experiences echoes of her past lives.  This book has some good things going for it, it is interesting, and I enjoyed parts of the stories.  It does get a bit repetitive, and the stopping and starting (even if you don't always start back in 1910) got to be a bit much for me.  Likely for the same reason most short stories do not work for me.

After I got 300 pages in to this one, the story line shifted to Nazi Germany, and the next series of lives, and I lost the will to continue.  I tried to skim read through to the end, but knowing I had more exciting books from the library on my bedside table and the book had to go back in the morning, the desire to complete the book was gone.  After peeking at the last page, any last burning embers to know the whole book vanished in a puff of smoke.

This seems to be another polarizing novel - folks to tend to fall in to one camp or the other.  Yes, it is a great idea, yes, Atkinson is a good author, but really truly, somewhere along the line I stopped caring, and that is when I stopped turning the page.  Her next novel is about Ursula's brother Teddy, and although he was an interesting character and I am sure he has quite the story, I think I will be skipping this one.