Monday, 28 December 2009

I think I was a very good girl this year......

.........what do you think?

Book titles are:
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
Little, Big - John Crowley (fantasy classic, how have I not read it yet? thanks to Nymeth who reminded me again that this should be read)
Arctic Chill - Arnaldur Indridason (I'm so happy)
Anathem - Neal Stephenson (look! It's one volume! And supposed to be very very good science fiction. Hmm. Could be good for a challenge I'm about to join again, see below).
The Red Breast - Jo Nesbo (new to me mystery writer, recommended by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise )
Tin Roof Blow Down - James Lee Burke (this was going to be a birthday present, last year!!! lol Mom finally found it on her shelves where she'd put it, and now at last I can read it.)
Book of Lost Things - John Connolly (everyone has liked it on the blogs! And it looks very good)
Blue Shoes and Happiness - Alexander McCall Smith
Morality For Beautiful Girls - " "
The Pure in Heart - Susan Hill (2nd in Simon Serailler series, just discovered by me, thanks to Bride of the Book God and Geraniumcat, I believe, who reading books in the series at the same time early this year. My review of first book still to many things this year.....)
Bone By Bone - Carol O'Connell ( one of my favourite mystery authors, this one is getting excellent reviews)
Doors Open - Ian Rankin (Ann at Table Talk read this and enjoyed it, which convinced me to read a non-John Rebus mystery!!!)
Prepared for Rage - Dana Stabenow (a stand-alone book, not one of the Kate Sugak series which I love. My mother says these are quite good and this is the second one she's given me for Christmas. It does look good!)

I am already 3/4 of the way through The Tin Roof Blowdown, and happily contemplating which one is next. I hope you received books you wanted to read, my Gentle Readers. I hope you've had time to read!!!

Movies: Star Trek, Dr Who Season 3, Pride and Prejudice on dvd ( *Colin Firth*), and Smallville Season 3 (shared with my daughter, from the eldest son) - all favourites, all lovely!

Odds and thoughts:

Dr Who:
Don't you like how the Dr Who covers and removable covers are different? So depending what mood you're in, I can have Martha or the Master with the Doctor on the cover.

42 Challenge completed and signed up for again:
I've already watched Dr Who Season 3 "Blink" (the episode with the killer angels, my favourite) twice. Just as good as ever. *sighs happily* And with this, I finish the 42 Challenge by Becky. I'm so happy! I did it!!! and I am going to take this opportunity to SIGN UP FOR THE 42 Challenge for next year!!! Hurray! It's at the same link. *another happy sigh* This was a fun challenge, which I enjoyed and had fun adding to whenever something unexpected - like discovering Fringe in October - came along. I have the new version of Alice PVR'd, and can borrow Tin Man, the remake of the Wizard Of Oz, which is worth at least 4 already on next year's list. Plus, the Dr Who finale ***David Tennant is no more on the show! sob!*** on Jan 2 falls nicely into the new 2010 42 Sci-Fi Things Challenge. *deep sigh of pleasure* Thanks Becky, for doing this one again!

10 Best Crime Novels compilation at Mysteries in Paradise
Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise has a open question going: what is your list of the 10 best crime novels you read in 2009? Please let her know what your ten are; she combines all our thoughts and comes up with a blogger compilation list of the best crime novels of the year!!! I have to do mine; I'm just waiting to finish The Tin Roof Blowdown to add it to mine - it's that good.

All right, must go feed the hungry hordes, and I'm waiting on one of my sisters who is coming for a lovely visit for a few days. I hope the holidays are continuing fun for all of you, and as ever - I hope you are finding time to read!!

****Edited to add: Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise also had a note on her post today that Martin Edward's first mystery, The Coffin Trail, is being re-released!!!!! I'm so happy! I've been trying to get this for a year now, and my local indie mystery store said it was not available - not quite out of print, but next to it. Now it's coming, according to this link to the author's own blog. I'm so happy, this is like a late Christmas present!!! I have been holding off on the series until I could get the first one, so now I will go ahead and buy the other two (the last one is out in Hardcover, I believe, or will be over here shortly)*******

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Secret Santa Thank You and reading time


My Secret Santa parcel arrived on Dec 23rd, just when I was wondering if something had happened. I was so excited! Above you can see what my dear Secret Santa sent me:
- The Faerie Queen's Deception: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater (I haven't heard of this author and the book looks very interesting), and:
- my heart is so happy! FINALLY: a copy of Looking For Alaska by John Green, which I've been looking for, for a year now!!!! I am so thrilled!
- Two big lollipops (my kids are delighted!) and
- last but not least, a pair of beautiful red bead earrings shaped like a glowing drop, with silver leaf filigree around the top. Perfect!
I couldn't fit the card into the photo, but there is one, with her name and address. So thank you so very much, Vanessa of Today's Adventure.

This is a new blog for me also, and I'm bookmarking it. I love the photos of her angels, though I think my darlings are a little cuter!!! lol
I am so happy I received books for Christmas. Thank you, Vanessa! Best of all, it did arrive before Christmas, so Vanessa, Canada Post worked again!!!

Thank you, Secret Santa. Thank you also to the organizers of this exchange. I had so much fun picking out what my giftee was going to get - and she is another new to me blogger; and I had just as much fun receiving my mystery parcel.

So, I'm full of turkey still, and we are in the middle of another ice storm. We have candles ready, and enough food to feed a (small) army, so I'm going to go do what I need to do to rest (finally) over these holidays: read. I'll post later about how good Santa was to me this year. Right now I'm taking my first chance to just sit with the books I received, hold them, flip through them, and pick which one to read first. The most precious gift of all to me is time to read. So that's what I wish for all of you this ice-rain falling day after Christmas.

Happy holiday reading, Gentle Readers!!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Day 21 - Virtual Advent Tour - Happy Solstice Day!

The Winter Solstice - Light and Dark

It's my turn to post during this lovely virtual advent tour, and I was going to do a post about the meaning of the winter solstice, and some of it's history, but I see that Mariel at Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops already posted about it today! She did a fantastic job, and I've linked you to her post. She has beautiful winter scenes with sun light and sunset posted. But do not fear, I had two or three ideas I was tossing around up until I saw her post, so, I'm moving on to the theme that I love most about the winter Solstice - the darkest day of the year, and the coming of the light.

I know that from a very early age I was aware of nature - of the trees expecially, and the mountains and the sea also, when we lived in British Columbia. We were raised as Catholics, although quite early in my life my mother stopped going (she married a man with a different faith) and so I became free to explore other religions as I became older. I wasn't consciously doing this; I joined a Christian bible study group when I was twelve, with my best friend, and for a year I studied the bible with them. Even at that young age (as I know now it is) it didn't satisfy any questions I had, and I knew that while the Bible held answers for other people, it didn't hold many for me. I no longer celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas, yet I still celebrate this time of year. I don't know when I first heard about the changing of the seasons, and the shortest days and longest days of the year. It has taken me many years to understand what I celebrate exactly - and it's the simple astronomical fact that today is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. I celebrate the coming back of the light.

So this is our tree this year:
I tried to get a photo of the tree lit up in the dark, but this was the best we could get from our camera last night. What I love best are the lights on the tree. We have our favourite decorations on of course, ones that have to be on the tree every year. Sometimes the garland is on, sometimes it isn't. This year we have two colours of garland!

What remains the same is the tree. For us here in Canada, of course, we have pine tree forests all over the country. So it's like bringing in a bit of the forest to celebrate nature at this time of year. And the evergreen is the tree that stays green in the northern hemispheres, year round. Our tree lit up is, for me, a symbol that day will come again, that the light will come back, the sun will return a little bit longer every day, and life will continue. It's a little symbol of eternity brought into our house. And it's some light against the long dark night. I love lights on our Christmas tree! I love looking at the outside decorations at night all along our streets, and going to my friends' houses to see how they have decorated and especially, when they turn the lights on. There is just something about light at this time of year that I really respond to.

(By the way, I do admit that this is a small tree, bought by my English husband who thought it was a wonderful size. I said maybe in England it is, but over here this is small and piddly. After everyone exclaimed over it's size two years ago, he has now promised me a larger tree for next year. He admits that perhaps the star on top could be a little closer to the ceiling. It currently sits two feet below it!!)

Today, being the winter solstice, I will be thinking about light, and how we need it to live, how the planet needs it to support all life. What a wonder it is that we have the sun, and that we have the changing of the seasons, so that we see life unfold before our eyes every day. For me, this is the end of the year, the last day of the old year's light. Tomorrow will dawn a new day, and a new year, for the sun will come back just a little bit more tomorrow. So this is the last day of this year in terms of the sun's light. Once I realized that, I understood that this is what I celebrate instinctively. When we open all our presents on Christmas Day, I see it as celebrating the new year. By then, we know the sun is coming back to us. This time of year is a big long festival of lights and presents to welcome the sun, and the new year. I like the idea that giving gifts - and receiving them - encourages abundance all through the year!

I also know that for you, My Gentle Readers who are in the Southern Hemisphere, that this is the day with the longest sun's light, for you! Isn't this part of the mystery and magic that is the universe all around us? Part of the fun and wonder of this advent tour is seeing how this time of year is celebrated in all its myriad ways around the world, in our lives and in our homes. May you feel the magic and wonder of this time in your lives. Happy Holidays! Happy Solstice Day to you!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Christmas Rush and Dr Who is on in 10 minutes!!!

Well, I didn't expect it, to get so caught up in getting ready for Christmas that I haven't been on here in over a week! I feel so terrible, I have the advent tour to go catch up on. And, in 25 minutes, the premiere of Dr Who The Waters of Mars - which looks seriously scary and creepy and we are all so excited in the house that the kids are asking every few minutes how much longer to go.........

I have very good news to report from the doctor, the health scare I had has turned out to be just that. I think I am still exhaling from this very long period of tests and wondering what lay next. I am so relieved, of course, and I also have begun to do some thinking about what I do in my life, and what I would like to be doing. My life is close to what I've always wanted, except that I have little time for writing, and I haven't seen the way to where I can fit it in. I just know I have to! I thank all of you who have been thinking of me and hoping all would turn out all right, because your support did, and does, mean a lot. This may be cyberspace, but each of us writing is real, and you have all touched me with your concern and love. Thank you!!

We have been busy doing Christmas things, and so, in lieu of words, here is how we spent last Sunday: Dr Who is on! So no commentary, just enjoy the pictures, and hope you are celebrating Christmas preparations too.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Wednesday - after the storm

Well, it's Wednesday, and the storm has just finished dumping about 8 inches over the day. It looks like winter out there! Lovely snow on the ground, making everything white and clean. There is something wonderful about the first snowfall of the year. It's quiet when the snow falls, like the world is hushed, and then the next day the sun glints off the snow and everything is bright. Winter in Canada has begun! The kids had a snow day, which means no school - no buses were running for them. They were so happy, but because it was stormy much of the day, tomorrow our yard will be filled with footprints and attempted snowmen and snowballs.

It can't be two weeks until Christmas! I am so not ready!!!!

Virtual Advent Tour Dec 9

Alexis at The Amazing Adulthood of Alexis has a fun post about the movies she watches every year with her sisters. I agree with two of her choices, which are ones we watch every year at our house. I love A Christmas story, Ralphie and his crazy wonderful family and the BB gun, and Love Actually is a movie my husband and I watch every year at this time. How about you? Any favourite Christmas movies you and your family watch at this time of year? Drop in and let Alexis know, she'd like to know what family movie traditions you have. I enjoyed this post. I'm hoping to find time to watch some over the holidays!

Cindy at Nocturnal Wonderings has a very fun post about how they changed the gift buying habits to get a fun reaction at present opening time. It's something I am thinking of more and more these days; what do we buy when we have enough? Well, other than books, I never have enough of them! Some days I want to just get silly things, or support the World Wildlife Fund in someone's name.....something that doesn't have to be important and 'the gift'. I think Cindy and her family have got it right - it's about the surprise, after all, and what better way to feel like a child again, for a morning?

Lesley at A Life in Books has a post about two of her favourite recipes for this time of year. Once again, I find myself wanting to rush to the stove to try them!! Yummy sausage balls, and Newfoundland Snowballs from our own Newfoundland. I can see the sausage balls becoming a family favourite too here. Yum! I'm getting hungry.

Kim at Page After Page was due to have a post today also. It doesn't appear to be up yet. I'll check tomorrow. Meanwhile, she has lovely pictures of her new granddaughter up, for anyone who needs a quick baby fix!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Before the storm......

I so like the Guardian book site. It is one of my regular reads. Today I discovered that they have a book advent calendar! Go here and see what literary delights they have behind each day, until Christmas. Now that's a calendar that makes my book-lover's heart all happy.

Virtual Advent Tour

Dec 7:

Amanda at The Zen Leaf has the most amazing video featuring Death and Baby Death singing "Silent Night" and a discussion that is perfectly, wonderfully hilarious. It really has to be viewed. It sounds so un-Christmas and still it works! Delightful, and for anyone who wants the absurd. Don't miss it!!!

Kiirsten from A Book A Week (another blogger from Canada! How have I missed these bloggers?) has cookies, socks, treasured family bake-off and a new book to celebrate her Christmas with us. I want a pair of those lovely socks, they are beautiful. And then there are the cookies. I started drooling at reading what they made. It sounds like they had a wonderful day baking - from age 8 to 80! - and I'm really delighted that she shared her family day with us.

Tami, of Dave and Tami at Just One More Thing, has shared her Christmas cookie memories also. They too, have a generational gathering to make cookies that has lasted for 5 generations. I like how she says each time the children have grown up, someone inherits the cookie cutters to use for the next round of children, and now they have some very old cookie cutters. I have copied out the sugar recipe to try myself.

It seems to me that part of the pleasure of reading these posts is getting a glimpse of how the differences in traditions make the fact that we have the same traditions that much stronger. We all make cakes or cookies or Christmas puddings or turkey, it's only in how we do it that makes it a bit different. And part of our Christmas experience that we cherish, is doing things together with our families. My friend, who only has limited family left, has started baking this week, and we her friends are the lucky recipients of her baking. I've already invited her for Christmas dinner, but she has said she's tried before and she always feels like a stranger because she doesn't know the family traditions each household has, and I know she's right. So one of the things I am doing this year is making sure she feels loved and appreciated all through the holidays. And eating all her wonderful generous baked Christmas treats!

Kristen at BookNAround has an absolutely delightful tale of how her father used to chase the elves out of the house Christmas morning before they could steal the stockings and the presents.
That is pure magic! What a lovely way to start Christmas morning, and keep children from getting up too early and peeking!

Dec 8: Now to today's virtual tour:

Darren at Bart's Bookshelf has the most absolutely hilarious rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas read by Frank Kelly. It really is a delight. And what would really happen if your true love did give you all those things......I have to admit I like the subversive, and this is right up there with yesterday's Death and Death's Baby singing O Holy Night. I love the variety in this advent tour, the cherished memories, and the slightly bizarre!!

Bluestocking at The Bluestocking Guide has a lovely post on The Dickens Festival she attended last weekend. She makes me want to go to one! We have nothing like that here in Ottawa. She describes how the main street is shut down for the night, and everything is decorated and dressed Victorian. She has pictures also, so if you need a touch of Victoriana to put you in the mood for this year, her album is perfect. I really enjoyed this post, and it reminded me again that I really must read A Christmas Carol, as well as watch the movies. I have to read a Charles Dickens book this year!

Nan at Letters From a Hill Farm has a delightful post on her husband's fabulous collection of Christmas ties, some from his students as gifts, some inherited. This is quite a collection and I find myself a tad envious and wondering if I can convince my husband that it's cool to wear a Christmas tie. So far he has categorically denied wanting or being able to sport any Christmas clothing at all. The English schoolboy who wore a uniform can be very stubbom when it comes to standing out in the crowd as an adult!!! So I love Nan's husband's collection. I think the ties are beautiful, and how lucky he is to be able to wear a different one every day through the Christmas season!

Last but not most definitely never least, on today's tour, is
Raidergirl3 at An Adventure in Reading, and her post is a brain-teaser! She wants to know if you can guess the songs from the first letters of the title put together - so Deck the Halls becomes DTH. Are you up for it? Need a brain-twister to wake you up? Challenge yourself and see if you can guess all 21 songs without peeking!!! I like this idea. Original indeed, and lots of fun.

What a wide variety of wonderful Christmas posts we have gotten over the first 8 days of this tour! I hope you are enjoying it, and are feeling the seasonal spirit grow now. I am amazed and surprised at how much variety there is, and really enjoying the tour. Happy holidays indeed!

Before the storm......
We have finally had a wee bit of snow, and are expecting our first snow storm tomorrow, so it will feel a LOT like Christmas on Friday!

Monday, 7 December 2009

the 50 Books of the Decade - Guardian list

The Guardian has a post up about the 50 books that best defined this decade. What were you reading over the last 10 years? Do you agree with their assessment of the books that defined our world before and after Sept 11? Do you have a favourite book you read over this past decade that isn't on this list?

It is a wide variety of books that they cover, from Harry Potter to The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, to Zadie Smith and Fingersmith. Please let me know. I am thinking this list over, because I don't agree with everything on it, but it's interesting and certainly lists many of the books that have turned up on our blogs over the past 2 years that I have been on here. I have read several, which I am thrilled and pleased about!

WhileI'm on topic, do you have a book that defines this decade for you? Or an author perhaps? Do you have your own list of books that defined these last 10 years? I'd be interested in what you have to say. I will be doing a post later next week on favourite books read this year. But I don't know that I have a favourite author of this decade. It's an interesting idea, that an author can catch the flavour of a decade, though I wonder if we are too close to the noughties to see which book has the greatest impact.

Litlove at the Reading Room has already begun the end of the year review for books, by posting her list of the Best Books of 2009, for her. Have you done your list? Please let me know, I'll add it to this post. So I suppose I'd better get my list ready for this year. And I'll think about the decade as well. It is that time of year, it's December!

Advent Virtual Tour - I apologize, but I got on late tonight to the computer and I'm falling asleep while I write this post. I will have to catch-up tomorrow, and I'm really disappointed that I can't do more tonight.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows -
For the first time in a very long time, I stayed up late last night to finish this book. I didn't mean to; I went to bed fairly late, and thought I would read just a few pages and I expected to fall right asleep. An hour later, I realized I only had 20 pages left, so I might as well finish the book. 2:30 in the morning I closed the covers with a big sigh, laughing while I wiped away tears.

How is it the very best books make us fall in love with characters? How can we feel we know Elizabeth just through other people's stories about her? But I do. And Dawsey; I liked him from the very start, and even though he doesn't say much, it's not in his nature, everything he says was good and true and how can you not fall in love with a character like that? And this is all done through letters. How powerful our perceptions are of other people. How powerful one story is, and when you put a collection together - all these characters talking about the occupation of Guernsey in the Second World War, the different experiences create a more complete picture of what life was like in general under the Germans. This is quite a clever book. I really enjoyed it, and the very best part is of course, that the main character Juliet Ashton is a writer. It is one of her childhood books ending up on the Island that leads to the story beginning. It wouldn't happen today, of course, no one would look up a previous owner of a book in today's world. But back then in 1946, when you could come across the book of a relatively famous writer (Juliet is an English newspaper humorous writer, so still approachable) you would reach out and say, "I found your book today, and I love this author too." Isn't falling in love over a book or an author, what we all secretly dream of in our little bookish hearts? Even though my husband doesn't read very much, he does read the occasional sports book - I've made sure to buy many over the years!! - and he can live with all my books.

Writing about books here gives me a place and a space to write about reading. I would be writing about what I read even if it were in my journal, if no internet existed! It's what I used to do, back in the day when we didn't have the computer! (Yes, everyone under the age of 20, once upon a time there was NO COMPUTER, NO INTERNET.) So I think if Guernesy Literary were set in today's world, it would have to be set over the internet - someone from the book blog community finally meeting and......

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. It is delightful, funny, romantic, and courageous. It is heartbreaking too, and filled with love. I've already given a copy to my mother for her birthday (today is her birthday, Happy Birthday Mom!). If you are stuck with what book to give someone who enjoys reading and wants something that is fairly light but not fluffy, this is the book for you. It really is good. I think it will become one that I read every other year or so. After all, it isn't every book that can get me to stay up late into the night, reading! ***I don't stay up late reading as much as I used to because I never get enough sleep as it is, not because I wouldn't rather be reading 24 hours a day.....

****I also confess to deeply desiring to see the sea again, and my husband admitted that he would like to find an island and spend the holidays with just us on it, so if you are feeling the world pressing in, this book is also a good get-away in lieu of being on a relatively sparsely populated island for Christmas. I also really want to go to Guernsey now!

Advent Virtual Tour Update

I've missed two days here, so please bear with me as I catch up. I do get to every tour post to read, but I don't always get time to blog here!

Dec 3
Ana at Things Mean Alot has a wonderful post on Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales. I love the cover illustration she has on her post. This is one of those books that everyone including me keeps meaning to read, but hasn't yet. Ana gives some her thoughtful insights on what makes this work a treasure, and asks you for some of your memories of Christmas. No matter how much or in what ways we celebrate this season, everyone has something to say about it! So please give her your thoughts or memories, too.

Chris at Book-a-rama has a fabulous post on having homemade gifts for Christmas. There are so many ideas here!!! Even I, a mostly unhandy crafter at best (and other than small quilting projects and one needlepoint design on a bag, that's IT folks, I suck at making things!!), am tempted to see if I can try my hand at one or two of these ideas. I'm going to bookmark this post so that next year I can start much earlier. After all, I think even I could make a fabric weight for a book so my cookbooks stop closing on me!!! Chris also has some thoughts on what makes Christmas special for her, thoughts that I agree with. Do you?

Karen at SassyMonkey Reads has a post on Christmases past and present, and how much difference there is between having no one to celebrate Christmas with, and someone to spend Christmas with. I could relate to some of her past memories, since I have spent Christmases alone when I was first on my own, as well as very often filled with family and friends. I much prefer having both family time and time alone - for reading, of course! - over the holidays. What do you like? Can you relate to Karen's post? It's moving, in an unexpected way.

Lastly for Dec 3, Mrs Q at Book Addict posted about her Christmas plans. She is rejuvenated by mass at Christmas, and provides a few lovely Christmas quotes. I enjoyed this post and seeing the picture of one of the churches where she will be attending mass. I see there is no snow there!

There seems to be a theme this year so far in the blogs, of enjoying the pleasures of each other's company and not rushing to spend in a frenzy. This is something I have slowly come to appreciate over the years. I love to give, as I've said before, and all of our posts are reminding me that Christmas is a time of receiving too, and not just gifts, but the pleasure of spending time together.

Dec 4

Maree at Just Add Books couldn't think of what to write about, so she wrote a lovely small piece on a small and quiet Christmas. She reminds me that you don't have to have a long post for this tour. Just say hi, post a picture, put up Christmas music, whatever moves you. This is one reason why I like this tour, because I get to see how Christmas (or whatever you do celebrate) is for you, this year. It is a way for us to reach out and create a space for all of us to create some kind of virtual Christmas together! I like it - I can't give you the cookies I bake, or sing carols with you, or watch the snow fall, but I can post about it and we can share each other's experiences. And like reading, it does become part of us.

Aarti at Booklust hasposted beautiful pictures of lanterns in the sky that they saw on their family trip to Thailand last year. They don't celebrate any holidays at this time of year, so her family goes travelling. I think this is a very cool way of enjoying this time of year! They aren't her photos, but they capture the beauty and magic of that moment she experienced. What a lovely tradition the Thais have of introducing the new year!

Lisa at Books, Lists, Life, wrote about how she starts getting ready for Christmas after their Thanksgiving, and how she is looking for new traditions to introduce to her young and growing family. She also wants to know if you prefer homemade gifts to store bought gifts. And to be honest!! I will: I prefer both! Something someone has made I cherish because they cared about me enough to make it, and something someone has bought with me in mind I also appreciate because of the effort they made. I like gifts! The giving and receiving. I get as much pleasure from buying as I do to receiving. Mostly, I love sharing our thoughts, and company. Here on my blog, and every day in my life. And I think most of my Christmas memories are made from when people shared of themselves in time spent together. Although Aarti did make the hilarious point that quite often we can't spend too long in our loved extended family's presence!!!

Robin at A Fondness for Reading has posted a lovely post featuring some art from her schoolchildren and a poem they have memorized. The art - mandalas - is beautiful. It's the theme of light in this time of darkness. Isn't that a lovely way of recognizing how important the sun, and light, is to our world? I love the mandalas the class has made. The poem is for all of us, no matter where we come from or what we celebrate. Thank you, Robin!

I still have to go to today's virtual tour; that will be later tonight, as we have company coming this afternoon, and fun auction to go to for my friend at work who belongs to a choral choir. It's their annual fundraiser and she hooked me when she mentioned the used-book table! Plus she's my friend! So I will post later tonight about today's tour - and whatever books I pick up!

Have a happy Saturday preparing for the holidays (because we all are by now!) in whatever way you choose to celebrate. And if we have to stay up late to get some reading in, well, I consider that a present we give to ourselves!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

"reading keeps me from going gaga"

Mostly odds and ends, as I keep meaning to do so much - including many posts! - , and now the Christmas season is upon me! How did it get to be December already?

I saw this post on the Guardian book site a few weeks ago, and I think it encapsulates just why I read fantasy: "Getting Hooked on George RR Martin". For those of you who have wondered why read a fantasy novel, or what it can offer, this is a good place to understand the lure fantasy has for us. Let me know what you think! And yes, I have read three of the books in the series by George RR Martin that he mentions, I have the fourth on my shelf waiting to be read. I do highly recommend this series, though I warn it is a big story he is telling. And hard to put down. Fantasy, when it's well-written, offers a sense of magic and wonder that only poetry (in my opinion) comes close to equalling.

I have just begun The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I am loving it. If you haven't read it yet, and want something to take you into the holidays with the love of books and delightful characters, this is the book for you. My favorite line so far? "So far my only thought is that reading keeps you from going gaga." I love this line. This is my life! Reading keeps me sane. I can relate!!!! I also love that the heroine discovers the man she is about to marry has boxed up all her books without telling her. What does she do? what is her reaction? Let's just say that I completely agreed with what she did!!

Just because I love the Advent Tour so much:

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise began the advent tour yesterday with a marvelous list of her favourite mysteries she read this year, and favourite mysteries over the last two years. This is an excellent list to begin looking for mysteries for that special crime-reading someone on your Christmas list. I've read several of the books she's mentioned, and have added several authors who are new to me. So if you are looking for new crime books to read (or buy as gifts), this is a very good place to start.

At Dolce Bellezza, it's all about the chocolate orange and keeping memories of what we love alive. Isn't this a lovely way to usher in the holiday season? We usually get the chocolate oranges every year, and I am delighted that she did such a lovely post on why they mean so much to her.

Brenda at Joyful Holidays has a lovely post about the Advent Calendar, how it began and a cookie recipe, a traditional German Christmas cookie. Yum.

Capricious Reader has a post about some of her favourite Christmas songs, in case you are in need of finding the mood for Christmas. She has linked them to Youtube videos, a lovely way to hear the music she loves. I know that with no snow here in Ottawa, and unseasonably warm temperatures, it's hard to think that Christmas will be here in 3 weeks!!!

Once Upon a Bookcase writes about her Christmas dinner and how they spend time as a family at Christmas eve. Yum, I'm hungry now. All that lovely Christmas food.

Bookend Crossing has an Irish poem about the bones of Santa Claus, an "Irish St Nicholas", that I have never come across! Very Irish and delightful.

And lastly on the two days of the virtual tour so far, Linus's Blanket has a wonderful rendition of O Holy Night. This is one of my favourite Christmas songs, and always makes me want to cry when I hear it.

And that's just over two days. 23 wonderful more days to read what you love about the season!

So even though I am not an organizer of the Advent tour, if you haven't joined yet, there is still time - really. I discovered last night that I hadn't been assigned a day yet! So I sent Marg and Kailana and email and am now happily added to Dec 21. If you want to join, there is always room for you.