Monday 31 March 2008

Does your partner share your love of books?

It's late so this will be quick, but I just discovered this marvelous post over at Biblioaddict
about partners and books and relationships, and so my question is: does your partner share your love of books? Did your partner have to, for you to be with them? I'm curious if it is important to have a partner who loves books also, because we all love books so much.

Biblioaddict's blog raises some interesting points. I have a confession to make: I horrified all my friends - who all read - when I married a man who rarely reads anything beyond his footie magazine FourFourTwo (which is the best of all soccer magazines, well-written, smart, and fun besides). Well, how could I, book-a-holic, who can't go anywhere without a book, who spends all her money on books, and whose idea of horror is to go into a house where there are no books at all - how could I marry someone who doesn't read? Easy. My first love is my books, and my husband had to accept that I will always read and always buy them! I ended a relationship long ago because my then fiance made a comment about me buying a book I loved for my mother's birthday (well, it was one of many things, but helped tip the scales to leaving.) He didn't understand that books are my life. Toby does. So, when I arrived in England with some clothes and 4 boxes of books mailed over by ship, and he didn't bat an eyelash, I thought, h-m-m, I do have someone worth keeping. And though he jokes about giving some books away, he is quite happy to see me happy reading, and he's delighted for me when I come home dancing over my book finds. He's even bought me some "airport books" (hee) by John Grisham when he went to England a few years ago for a funeral, because he was thinking of me and couldn't remember what books I had (since I like to read just about anything, bookslut that I am....). Last year he did better when he came home with *Nick Hornby*'s A Long Way Down, whom he accepts I love because *Nick* and I both love Arsenal (and Toby loves Chelsea Football Club, and that is another whole story!!)

There are other things than books in love and marriage that are important, for me at least. So I can agree with the publisher in Biblioaddict's blog who said it didn't matter if her spouse read, because she could go to her book group etc. This is what I do, with my friends and family, and now you, dear book bloggers!! Because I do love talking and sharing about books. In the end, so long as I can read to my heart's content, then it wasn't important that my husband read too. My love affair with books is deeply personal, and I knew it was more important for me that my love for books be accepted as part of any relationship I had.

Saturday 29 March 2008

What's your favourite fairy tale?

In honour of Carl's Once Upon a Time 2 Challenge
I thought I'd throw this random question out on this sunny but very cold (VERY cold) Saturday morning here in Ottawa. What is your favourite fairy tale?

The reason I'm wondering is (other than natural curiosity and wanting to talk about fairy tales!) I recently went to a workshop on fairy tales and myths in our lives, and how to find the meaningful symbols that resonate in both the tales and our lives. What myth do we live by? What fairy tale is your favourite? was the question asked of us. Of a room full of 25 people, only a handful picked an actual written fairy tale. Everyone else picked either Disney or movies (Star Wars, Shrek) or comics. I, of course, was one of the ones who picked a written fairy tale - and if you notice the picture by my header, you'll know which one I'm talking about. The Princess and the Frog, the Talking Frog, The Frog Prince, are some names it goes under, though the central story is the same - the princess is unhappy and needs help, and the frog brings her what she needs to save herself. In return, she has to honour a promise, and in so doing, she frees him from his spell. I have always loved this fairy tale. I love the version with the golden ball she throws up and it lands in the well, and the frog jumps in to save it. I also like that she does not want at first to honour her promise because she is afraid of what people will say, and is eventually forced to because she gave her word. For me, this is a very powerful fairy tale, and very real because it's about change of consciousness and becoming aware of yourself as a person in your own right - and you need help to do it. I love the idea of princes being in disguise. I have a little stone frog with a crown who sits in my garden :-) and I always wanted that golden ball for my own'! -I think now we all have one of our own! We just have to find it.....

So.....I was curious. How many of us in the book-blogging world, love the word fairy tales, and which ones, and how many love a visual (movie or tv) fairy tale? I'm curious because I'd like to know if for readers, our roots are in the fairy tale books, versus the general public whose roots are more general (ie movies everyone experience). I am in no way making a judgement call here, since if I'd thought of applying it, I might have picked Star Wars or Star Trek as my fairy tale, but I'm a literal kind of person, so I thought fairy tale! (Maybe those two are my myths? h-m-m, I'll have to think on this.) I am mostly curious if we came to fairy tales through our childhood and having them read to us, or if we experienced fairy tales through Disney movies. I do confess here that I don't consider Disney as a real fairy tale - I always enjoyed the storybooks and the few Disney movies (CInderella etc) I got to see - but once I knew there were other versions of the fairy tales, I never looked back. Robin McKinley's Beauty is far more powerful for me than Beauty and the Beast Disney version (even if Belle reads and Beast has a great library!) Is this one reason everyone is reading Shannon Hale, because she is reinterpreting the fairy tales again in a modern way? I am so curious to read her now after seeing her books on many of your blogs.

So it's not a question that we need fairy tales and myths (I'll do a later blog on myths, this is supposed to be a lazy Saturday!!) - we do. It's which one appeals to us. So, dear Gentle Reader, please let me know what your favourite was, and how you came to find it. Drop me a line, or if you blog about this, let me know and I'll come see.

Happy reading! Are you turning your lights out for one hour tonight? We are.
I 'm getting my candles ready, and hope to have enough to read by.... Hm-m-m, maybe I could read some fairy tales to them by candlelight, what do you think?

By the way - I'm not dead set against Disney - I can hardly wait for Sleeping Beauty to be released!! I haven't seen it since I was a child, if I even saw it - I know we had the Disney book (you know the ones I mean, with the Disney classics, illustrated with bits of the animated movies).....I can watch Disney, but they don't resonate with me the way printed fairy tales do. I think it's the depth, the texture of the stories - Disney versions have erased a lot of the darkness and blood that the best fairy tales have. Because fairy tales were guides for how to live our lives.

Since I am in the process of reading many versions of fairy tales this year in many of my challenges - Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, the Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Fitcher's Brides by Gregory Frost, to name a few, I can't give a definitive account of my favourite versions of some fairy tales, except to say i love Robin McKinley's Beauty. I know I read Sheri S Tepper's version many years ago, but I have to reread it (given that I own Robin McKinley's, I'd guess it's fair to say which one is the one I prefer). There has been a great number written by Donna Jo Napoli and Shannon Hale recently- YA fantasy writers - and I haven't read any yet, so I can't give an opinion, but certainly many of you out there love them. More books on my wishlist/TBR lists!!!!

By the way, I do love Shrek and the kids have watched all three movies many many many times. I love Gingy (who can resist a gingerbread man who says "Eat me!" in defiance??), Puss in Boots, the whole fairy tale princess/ogre switch, everything. I'm not a snob! but the reason Shrek resonates for us older people is because we know the original stories all these characters come from, their original fairy tales. Do your kids? I know mine don't, which is why I think I will read some fairy tales to them tonight, in the glimmering darkness. My excuse is they are 3 and 5 years old, so some fairy tales they could only just start hearing now! Like the entire Brother's Grimm canon, which I happen to own, and my daughter got an illustrated version from my friend who likes horror!! *sigh*, I'll have to do another blog at a later date on horror and why it's fun to read....meantime, mine and *Nick Hornby's* English Premier League Soccer team is playing on TV, so I'm off to cheer for Arsenal! Have a lazy reading Saturday!!

Thursday 27 March 2008

a hilarious post (not mine, someone else's)

I hurt my back earlier this week, lifting of all things - I am ashamed here and hanging my head guiltily - my little secret is out - lifting Vogue magazine from the counter! Yes, I lifted my bag with the newly-bought magazine and felt a twinge in my lower the end of the day I could barely move. So I've been on Advil for the past two days....thus deep thoughts are not the order of the day. So, in lieu of thinking of anything witty, I am sending you to this hilarious blog at Musings from the Sofa

And why is it worth going to see? the subject heading is 'different kinds of reading', and the subheaders are: the hangover read, the guilt read, comfort reading, the next fix read, the duty read, and the emergency read.

And it is hilarious!!! Go and take a look, and then drop me a line. I left a comment there with my thoughts, since I'm not feeling witty enough to blog about it tonight. This evening is about finding a comfortable way to sit and watch tv - our beloved Ottawa Senators are playing Buffalo tonight, no Lost - on break again - so Veronica Mars Season 3, and then Eli Stone, a new Canadian show starring a British actor as a lawyer who sees things - no, not in a "Medium" kind of way, but in a crazy, funny, singing George Michael and other people kind of way (as only Canadians can do! Sometimes our shows are so ridiculous they work!!!). The Advil is working (no pain) but I can't concentrate for long periods of time enough to read more than a page or two (Advil high, I'm sensitive to medication and Advil is so relaxing I laugh alot!!), and then I realize I don't remember what I've TV it is. You should have seen me at work today, I had to keep checking my work because I couldn't remember if I'd done it!!!

Wednesday 26 March 2008

The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test

Your Score: Rabbit

You scored 15 Ego, 14 Anxiety, and 14 Agency!

IT was going to be one of Rabbit's busy days. As soon as he
woke up he felt important, as if everything depended upon him.
It was just the day for Organizing Something, or for Writing a
Notice Signed Rabbit, or for Seeing What Everybody Else Thought
About It. It was a perfect morning for hurrying round to Pooh,
and saying, "Very well, then, I'll tell Piglet," and then going
to Piglet, and saying, "Pooh thinks--but perhaps I'd better see
Owl first." It was a Captainish sort of day, when everybody
said, "Yes, Rabbit " and "No, Rabbit," and waited until he had
told them.

You scored as Rabbit!

ABOUT RABBIT: Rabbit is generally considered Clever by his many friends and relations. He is actually a much better reader and writer than Owl, but he doesn't consider it worth mentioning. Instead, Rabbit's real talent lies in Organizing Plans. He organizes rescue parties, makes schemes to reduce Tigger's bounciness, and goes on missions to find out what Christopher Robin does when he's not at the Hundred Acre Woods. Sometimes, however, his Plans do not always go as Planned.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are smart, practical and you plan ahead. People sometimes think that you don't stress or worry, but this is not the case. You are the kind of person who worries in a practical way. You think a) What are my anxieties about and b)what can be done about them? No useless fretting for you. You don't see the point in sitting around and waiting for things to work out, when you could actually work them out today and save yourself a lot of time and worry. Your friends tend to rely on you, because they know that they can trust you help them work things out.

You sometimes tend to be impatient with people who are less practical in their ways. You don't have much patience for idiots who moan about things but never actually DO anything about them. You have high expectations of everyone, including yourself. When you don't succeed at something, or when something goes wrong despite your best efforts to prevent it, you can get quite hard on yourself. You need to cut yourself some slack and accept that everyone has their faults, even you, and THAT IS OKAY. Let yourself be faulty, every now and then, for the sake of your own sanity.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I was surprised to be Rabbit! the one character I never pay attention to! but, er, this actually sounds a little bit like me! Cool test, let me know if you do it, I'd love to hear who you are. Oh, and I do know I have faults (plenty), I just ignore them now! And I don't organize everything unless no one else will. I always thought I was like piglet! I have to thank Emily for this one.

2008 TBR Challenge

Another book challenge I joined ages ago, and thought I had signed up for, but somehow......did not. *sigh* so, here is another blog to link me to my books, and to the challenge site!! MizB
at the TBR challenge site is hosting this year's. I can't believe I didn't check before to see that I was listed!!! Here are the rules, for anyone who wants to join a fun challenge that lets us read books we have had for a long time and just never got around to reading:

"For this challenge you should....

** Pick 12 books - one for each month of 2008 - that you've been wanting to read (that have been on your "To Be Read" list) for 6 months or longer, but haven't gotten around to.

** OPTIONAL: Create a list of 12 "Alternates" (books you could substitute for your challenge books, given that a particular one doesn't grab you at the time)

** Then, starting January 1, 2008, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31, 2008. :o)

(for more information, please read the challenge FAQs)

By the end of the year you should've knocked 12 books off of your TBR list! (of course, if you're anything like me, you'll have added *at LEAST* 12 more to the ever-growing pile by then! LOL).

The good news is, though, that you'll be making some progress! ;o) "

My list for the TBR challenge:
  • Tarot For Yourself - Mary K. Greer * (888 Nonfiction)
  • Plant Dreaming Deep - May Sarton - DONE
  • When God Was A Woman - Merlin Stone
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade - William Goldman
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell - DONE
  • The Innkeeper's Song - Peter S. Beagle (Mythopoeic)
  • Over Sea, Under Stone - Susan Cooper * (888 Fantasy) - DONE
  • A History of Reading - Alberto Manguel * (Canadian Book ) DONE
  • Birthday Letters - Ted Hughes (Birthdays)
  • Ulysses - James Joyce * (888 Classics)
  • The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald *(888 Books I've been meaning to read) - DONE
  • Chasing Shakespeares - Sarah Smith * (Shakespeare)
I don't really have any alternates at this time, since I whittled this list down to what I really wanted to read this year, that I had been looking at for a long time on my shelves. As you can see, I've already read three :-) Hurray!! Room for new books now!!!

*****Alternates: added July 2008
Beowulf - Penguin Classics - DONE
Fire and Hemlock - Diana Wynne Jones - DONE
Middlemarch - George Eliot

888 Reading Challenge 2008

This is being hosted by 3M
and I'm putting the blog together again now to make it easier for me to find this year and keep track of my books. If anyone is still interested in joining, here are her rules, which are very easy, and for those of us who like to read alot, it's a fun challenge to join! I made sure most of the sections were of books I WANTED to read, and was going to anyway this year. So.....

Challenge Rules

1. Challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2008.

2. Choose 8 categories of your own that you would like to read 8 books EACH in.

3. You will be allowed 8 overlaps, for a total of 56 unique book titles.

4. You may overlap these 56 titles with any other challenge.

5. You may change your list or your categories at any time.

6. Post a comment here that you are participating, and I will add a link to the sidebar. Request an invite including your e-mail address if you want to post your list to this blog. However, we will NOT be writing reviews here! You may update your lists by providing the link to books read. Please use your name as a label, along with the book categories you're reading from.

7. Check back here to see who is participating and cheer others on.

8. Participants who complete all 56 books will be in the running for in-stock books from (I have mucho credits.) Overseas is okay!

9. Have fun reading!

My list is:


  • By the Time You Read This - Giles Blount * (Canadian Book Challenge) - DONE
  • D.A. - Connie Willis - DONE
  • Exit Music - Ian Rankin *(Mystery) - DONE
  • Kidnapped - Jan Burke - DONE
  • The Remains of an Altar - Phil Rickman * (Mystery) - DONE
  • Piece of My Heart - Peter Robinson * (Canadian Book Challenge) - DONE
  • Widdershins - Charles de Lint ** (Fantasy, Canadian Book Challenge), Chunkster - DONE
  • Ysabel - Guy Gavriel Kay ** (Fantasy, Canadian Book Challenge) - DONE
Selection Two - FAIRY TALES (original, rewritten, short story collections)
  • Fire and Hemlock - Diana Wynne Jones (Mythopoeic ) DONE
  • The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter - DONE
  • Kissing the Witch - Emma Donoghue
  • The Classic Fairy Tales - Iona and Peter Opie - DONE
  • The Door in the Hedge - Robin McKinley (Mythopoeic) - DONE
  • Fitcher's Brides - Gregory Frost
  • Enchantment - Orson Scott Card
  • Black Heart, Ivory Bones - eds Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling
Section Three - CLASSIC LITERATURE*** (modified at end of post)
  • Ulysses - James Joyce * (Birthday)
  • Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf * (From the Stacks, Birthday ) - DONE
  • The Iliad - Homer
  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  • Middlemarch - George Eliot
  • Beowulf (penguin ed)- DONE
  • Beowulf - Seamus Heaney new version
  • O Pioneers - Willa Cather
  • Persuasion - Jane Austen

  • ****Alternate***
    -Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen - DONE

    • Northern Frights 2 - ed Don Hutchison * (Canadian Book Challenge)
    • Year's Best Fantasy and Horror - 6th Annual Collection, eds Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
    • Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang
    • Kissing the Witch - Emma Donoghue * (Fairy Tales 888)
    • Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman - DONE
    • The Door in the Hedge - Robin McKinley * (Fairy Tales Section 888) - DONE
    • Harrowing the Dragon - Patricia McKillip
    • Everything's Eventual - Stephen King - DONE
    Section 5 - FANTASY
    • Ysabel - Guy Gavriel Kay * (Latest Books 888, Canadian Book Challenge) - DONE
    • Widdershins - Charles de Lint * (Latest Books 888, Canadian Book Challenge, Chunkster) - DONE
    • The Weirdstone of Brisingamen - Alan Cooper * (First in a Series Challenge)
    • Over Sea, Under Stone - Susan Cooper * (First in a Series Challenge) - DONE
    • The Oracle Queen - Lynn Flewelling
    • Something Rotten - Jasper Fforde * - DONE (Latest Books 888)
    • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke (Mythopoeic RC) DONE
    • Shaman's Crossing - Robin Hobb DONE *(First in a Series Challenge)
    Section 6 - MYSTERY - COMPLETED
    • The Remains of an Altar - Phil Rickman *(Latest Book 888) - DONE
    • Exit Music - Ian Rankin * (Latest Book 888) - DONE
    • Kidnapped - Jan Burke * (Latest Book 888) - DONE
    • Rituals of the Season - Margaret Maron - DONE
    • Wash This Blood Clean from My Hand - Fred Vargas - DONE
    • Piece of My Heart - Peter Robinson - DONE* (Canadian Book Challenge, Latest Book 888)
    • Still Life - Louise Penny * (Canadian Book Challenge, First in a Series) DONE
    • Fire Sale - Sara Paretsky - DONE
    • Crossing to Avalon - Jean Shinoda Bolen
    • Toast - A Biography - Nigel Slater
    • Journal of a Solitude - May Sarton * (Poetry Reading Challenge)
    • 1599 A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare - James Shapiro * (Shakespeare Reading Challenge)
    • Life of Charlotte Bronte - Mrs Gaskell
    • Canadian Settler's Guide - Catharine Parr Traill * (Canadian Book Challenge) - DONE
    • The Psychic Pathway - Sonia Choquette
    • Tarot for Yourself - Mary K. Greer
    Section 8 - Assorted Fiction I've been Meaning to Read......
  • Obsidian Butterfly - Laurell K. Hamilton
  • The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald - DONE
  • Inkheart - Cornelia Funke - DONE
  • A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby - DONE
  • White Teeth - Zadie Smith
  • She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
  • The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver
  • Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky - DONE
    ****Alternate (added Oct 19 2008)
    - Tamsin - Peter S. Beagle - DONE
    - Birthday Letters - Ted Hughes
    - Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz - DONE

    *****Modified July 7 2008 I am counting each Beowulf as a Classics choice. Not grouping them into one! What was I thinking!!?

    1. The Harrowing - Alexandra Sokoloff - DONE (Awards Challenge)
    2.The Terror - Dan Simmons -DONE
    3. The Woman in Black - Susan Hill - DONE
    4.Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz - DONE
    5. The House of Dr. Dee - Peter Ackroyd (1% challenge)
    6. The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan DONE
    7. Lonely Werewolf Girl - Martin Millar DONE
    8. Wolf Moon - Charles de Lint - DONE (Can Challenge 2)
    (added Oct 19 2008)
    - Everything's Eventual - Stephen King - DONE
  • Tuesday 25 March 2008

    Mythopoeic Award Reading Challenge 2008

    I am still new at this blogging, so I'm realizing the bonus of doing an actual blog on joining a book reading challenge - I can link back to it! And link to the challenge site too....So, although I joined this one a while ago, here is my blog on joining! I was thrilled to join this challenge, since I love fantasy so much. It was fun to go to mythopoeic list site and see how many books I had already read.......and it was surprising how many I hadn't read yet. A tiny voice is whispering that I think I am going to make it my challenge to read all the winners (and possibly the nominees as well,), in an open-ended challenge, like the on-going Pulitzer and Booker Man open-ended challenges to read all the winners. Oh, if only we were paid to read all these books and didn't have to work! I would gladly sit around reading for the rest of my life!!! So long as we kept the same income....of course we could always get paid more than what I currently earn!!!!

    I highly recommend this mythopoeic challenge for those, who like with the Once Upon A time Challenge hosted by Carl, are looking for good fantasy to read. Lenneth at Foxy Writer is hosting this one. Here are her rules:

    "The Mythopoeic Society is dedicated to the study and enjoyment of fantasy and mythic literature, especially the works of the Inklings, an informal literary circle at Oxford that included the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others. Each year the Society awards the best scholarly and literary achievements exemplifying “the spirit of the Inklings” with the Mythopoeic Award.

    The challenge is to read seven books between JANUARY 1ST 2008 to DECEMBER 31ST 2008 from the list of Mythopoeic Award Winners. (See? All kinds of brilliant Fantasy books to choose from!) [EDIT: Becky requested that I broaden the challenge to include the nominees for the fantasy and scholarship, which gives you a lot more choices!]

    Here are the rules:

    1. Choose seven books from the list of Mythopoeic Award Winners (or nominees, here for fantasy or here for scholarship).
    2. Anything on the list is fair game, fiction or non-fiction.
    3. Post a link to your list in the comments of this post (if you don’t have a website, post your list in the comments.)
    4. Somewhere in your post, link back to this challenge post. (permalink)
    5. Read the books between January 1st, 2008 and December 31st, 2008.
    6. You may start anytime in 2008, but you must finish by the end of December 31st, 2008.
    7. You may combine this challenge with other challenges. "
    My seven books are:
    • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke - DONE (888 Fantasy)
    • Inkheart - Cornelia Funke DONE (888 Books TBR, Once Upon a Time, Banned Books) -
    • Coraline - Neil Gaiman DONE
    • The Innkeeper's Song - Peter S. Beagle
    • Briar Rose - Jane Yolen
    • Fire and Hemlock - Diana Wynne Jones - DONE (888 Fairy Tales)
    • The Door in the Hedge - Robin McKinley (888 Fairy Tales) - DONE
    I could have added so many more, and indeed we are free to, but I have to be realistic, and I think if I, after doing this challenge for this year, make it my personal challenge to read ALL the books on the Mythopoeic list - with no set time frame - then that will satisfy my urge to read as much fantasy as I want to! (which I do anyway) AND complete an amazing challenge!

    *********ADDED Oct 5 2008: ALTERNATES*****

    - Forests of the Heart - Charles de Lint
    -Ysabel - Guy Gavriel Kay - DONE
    -In the Forest of Forgetting - Theodora Goss
    - Tamsin - Peter S. Beagle - DONE

    Man Booker Prize Challenge 2008

    I thought I had linked to this, but going to Dewey's site, who is hosting this challenge this year, I see that oops, I hadn't yet. So, here is my list for the Man Booker Prize (maybe I have a previous post to this? I thought I did). Here are the rules:

    "To participate in the Man Booker Challenge, you just choose 6 books that have won the Man Booker Prize, or have been shortlisted or longlisted. They can be from any year. The challenge will run from January to December 2008. When you’ve made your list, please leave the link to your post in the comments."

    My list is:

    - The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald - 1978 - DONE
    - The Famished Road - Ben Okri - Winner 1991
    - Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie - Winner 1981
    - True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey - Winner 2001
    - (Alternate) -Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre - Winner 2003
    - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke (2004) - DONE
    - Black Swan Green - David Mitchell (2006)

    - Possession - A.S. Byatt (winner, 1990)

    I am really curious if I will enjoy these, as I tend to like mysteries and fantasy reading more. I will post as I read these!

    Monday 24 March 2008

    I'm Love in the Time of Cholera!

    When I last did this quiz, I was Lolita. Now, I'm not sure I've progressed:

    You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

    by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by
    sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give
    consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the
    one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
    barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
    could get you killed.

    Take the Book Quiz
    at the Blue Pyramid.

    Not sure what is going on that I would be those two books! why oh why can't I get Anne of Green Gables like Charlotte , where she posted her results (excellent and very funny blog too, I might add). I haven't even read either of my books! *sigh* looks like I might have to now. Maybe I should pick I prefer a 'cold' climate next time! Rereading this, it sounds even worse - Odysseus! when it's Penelope I always felt more respect and wonder for! then again, I do like an adventure.....but maybe as I settle down into owning a house and raising my second family, I find I still need my time alone. There is a part of my nature that I keep for myself, but I always thought of this as my writer self, my secret self. I don't know how to explain this part of my self except to say I have learned I need some solitude, some time apart to keep my center whole. Out of this space I write, I dream, I experience the natural world, which I find beautiful and sometimes terrifying. Does that sound like Love in the Time of Cholera? Darn, now I really have to go read it! Life is fabulous, both dreary and magical.......anyway, go to the Book Quiz
    at Blue Pyramid and try the test, and drop me a line or let me know what book you are.

    Sunday 23 March 2008

    Emma on Masterpiece Theatre

    I really resisted seeing this version of Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong. I was wrong. From the opening scenes, Kate makes the perfect Emma - young, full of pride, with a sweetness and playful spirit that redeems her from the same disdain that Darcy exhibits (or appears to) in Pride and Prejudice. I own the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma, and I have to admit that I much prefer Jeremy Northam as Knightley. Not that Mark Strong is a bad Knightley, but I found his hair distracting! it was odd and lanky, making him appear balding, and I found distracted from the actor's performance, which was really good. Which is too bad, because he did have chemistry with Kate Beckinsale. Now, if Jeremy Northam had played opposite Kate Beckinsale, I think the screen might have burned up! I found I preferred this production than Gwyneth Paltrow's;I'm not sure why. I think it has to do with the refined tone of the production - the Paltrow version in comparison is showy to this one. The casting was perfect except for the men; Samantha Morton as Harriet Smith, and Olivia Williams as Jane Fairfax were really outstanding. I prefer Ewan MacGregor as Frank Churchill (from Paltrow version), than Ray Coulthard in this one, but this I think is because Ray didn't bring the same intensity and charisma that MacGregor did, and Frank Churchill has to have in order to blind everyone to his love for Jane Fairfax. So, the casting of the men wasn't quite up to normal Austen production standards, but otherwise, I was delighted by this version. I found myself laughing and smiling, enjoying the mistakes Emma makes as she tries to play cupid, the quiet scenes at home, and the slow realization that she does love someone after all. I winced when Emma slights Miss Bate so awfully at the picnic, and I really enjoyed seeing Frank's family try to set her and Frank up, and as always, Mr Knightley's reproaches to Emma for her behaviour are both deserved and reveal long before either character does, the depth to which they know, care, and have expectations for one another. This was a very pleasing production. If you haven't seen it, do try if you get a chance. I think I might want to buy this version and prefer it (except for the aforesaid missing Jeremy Northam) to the Gwyneth Paltrow version.

    I have a feeling, from seeing the clips of the upcoming Sense and Sensibility, that I am going to find this production very different from the Emma Thompson one, which I own. I'm not sure which actors I prefer in which version, and I have to confess that I have always liked Colonel Brandon very much, and indeed, in the clips for next week's BBC production on Masterpiece Theatre, I might prefer the actor playing Colonel Brandon....
    Question: So, I thought, I would put out a little question to everyone who has been watching the PBS Masterpiece Theatre Jane Austen series: which actors in which roles do you prefer? They can be any men in any Jane Austen production. Drop me a line and let me know, and I'll post the results when the series of over (next week, I believe, with Sense and Sensibility).
    My choices (most of you can guess who they are already!):

    Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice): Colin Firth

    Mr Knightley (Emma) : Jeremy Northam

    Henry Tillman (Northanger Abbey): JJ Feild

    Captain Wentworth (Persuasion): Rupert Penry-Jones

    I have to confess to a slight problem with Sense and Sensibility: I've always liked both Edward and Colonel Brandon, and in the Emma Thompson production, I like both Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. I've always thought Colonel Brandon deserved better than second choice with Marianne. As I said above, I think from the previews I already like David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon:

    and Dan Stevens as Edward might just do:

    So, I will let you know next week if I prefer Alan Rickman or David Morrissey in the Colonel Brandon role, and Hugh Grant or Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars. *sigh* choices, choices.......and I hope you enjoyed the pictures, just to remind us of why we love these men so much!!! Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed Emma tonight, if you saw it.

    Saturday 22 March 2008

    Choosing Favourites

    I missed this one, but I love the idea: what is your favourite book in your library, and why is it your favourite? what memories does it hold for you? Thanks to Carl at Carl's Steel Droppings
    who brought this up in early March, from a blog at Stuff as Dreams are Made Of
    I love what Dreams says: "I just love reading about the stories behind people’s favorite books in their collections. Even if there’s not much of a story, I love just knowing what they are. So I decided to invite everyone to share just that! What’s your favorite book or books in your library?"
    No one seems to be able to pick just one - neither Carl nor Stuff were - and I can't, either.
    So, at random and after some thought, are my favourite books in my library:

    1. Ginger Tea boxed set - James Barber. Memories: About 1993, my mother had one of the books, Ginger Tea Makes Friends, on her bookshelf forever. I looked through it and saw a recipe for the ginger tea on the title, that I didn't think to write down. It sounded so good though. Several years later I asked about it. Lo and behold, this appeared under the tree for Christmas from her! I have been so delighted ever since, and make recipes regularly from the three books. A side note: James Barber is a Canadian cook, and lived on a sailboat on the west coast at one time. Many of these recipes, especially from the Fear of Frying cookbook in this set, are geared towards people who only have a two-burner stove to live from (students, sailors, etc). He took fancy recipes and made them simple. And, ginger tea is so-o-o good!!

    2. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien I have the paperback Unwin books version, since I can't find the original copy we had, from Faber books. It had a pencil sketch done by Tolkien of Smaug flying over the dale. The book i have has the original watercolor of the Mountain (Smaug's lair) on the cover, the closest I can find. Inside, the book has the same maps as the version I grew up with, as well as the 4 colour sketches and various pen sketches by Tolkien. I love this version; we have since bought a hard cover copy, as the paperback was used and slightly water damaged when I finally found it. Whenever I look at the cover, I am instantly transported to when I first discovered the book. It was in Williams Lake BC, and my sister and I were staying with family friends while our parents took a holiday. Michael read the book out loud in the evenings to us. We finished the Hobbit and moved on to the Fellowship of the Ring, before our visit ended. I was hooked, and promptly read the copy once back at home, and have read almost everything Tolkien has written since. And Smaug is one of the best dragons ever created - smart, and dangerous, but oh so fiery with those eyes no one is allowed to look into.....

    3. The Bluebird - adapted by Jan Vladislav. This is the oldest book I own from my childhood. I don't even know how I still come to have this book, since we have moved all over Canada, lived on a sailboat for two years, and over in England, and I left home at age 18, and I still, somehow, have this wonderful fairy tale with me. It is a French fairy tale translated into English by a Czech writer - Jan Vladislav, and the illustrations are by Mirko Hanak (also guessing Czech, since the copyright is 1969 by Artia, Prague). They are Eastern European in design, with adult faces on watercolour shapes. The story always moved me to tears, and the pictures are haunting, especially the one showing the cypress tree "hung with a thousand knives, daggers, swords and razor blades" below the tower where Rosebud is imprisoned, and I cry every time the blue bird flies into the tree. Even now. It is beautiful, and yes, it does end happily. I got this book for Christmas 1970, so I would have been 7 1/2 years old. The book is inscribed :' To Susan, Love Mommy, Christmas/70'. For a long time, when I lived with one or the other of my parents for the rest of my childhood (they were divorced by the following Christmas), I treasured this book partly because of my mother's rare inscription. My copy lost the dustjacket a long time ago, I only have the original hard cover underneath, and the binding is starting to crack, but it is by far one of the most precious books I own, and might come close to be irreplaceable. (By the way, I just checked on line - no images available on Amazon either Canada or UK; it is at ALibris, used for $83 Canadian! and still no images listed as a traditional French fairy tale, which makes sense since the full title page says "The Bluebird, adapted by Jan Vladislav from the original story by Marie d'Aulnoy, illustrated by Mirko Hanak." Apparently I have a very rare copy, since the ones listed are all second impressions from 1972, and I believe I have a first impression and edition from 1970. Even more precious! And never ever for sale!) *I found a French site with a dustjacket - this is not the dustjacket my copy had, but at least gives an idea of Hanak's illustrations inside the book. Isn't the blue bird (at the bottom of the cover) spectacular?

    4. The Faces of Fantasy - Patti Perret. This book is also a pride and joy! It sounds tame, a collection of photographs of writers of fantasy books. But from the first time I heard about the book several years ago, to finally seeing a copy with the incomparable Neil Gaiman on the cover, I was searching for it. When I finally had enough money for a copy, I was beaming so widely the store didn't need lights on. The photographs are playful, haunting in cases, moody, done in black-and-white photography so light and shadow are part of the photo and help capture a mood. Since fantasy writing is evocative and mythic (the best fantasy writing, anyway) and about good and evil, the black and white photography matches the subject perfectly. The authors range from the aforementioned Neil Gaiman - taken in front of his house, also a perfect home for a fantasy-gothic-horror writer, with its gables and octangular tower (see photo), deliberately blurred so that the window by Neil's head looks like there is a dark shape looking out - is this house haunted? - with Neil himself in focus. Writers featured are among the most important in the fantasy field, including some of my favourite writers: Charles de Lint, Patricia McKillip, Tim Powers, Neil Gaiman, Susan Cooper, Diane Wynne Jones, Delia Sherman, G.R.R. Martin, Peter Straub, Robert Jordan, Caroline Stevermer, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, Terri Windling, LIsa Goldstein, Jane Yolen, and so many more. The incredible thing - besides getting photographs of these authors! - is that Patti tried to capture the essence of the writer - evoke the mood of what they write, within each photograph, so no photograph is alike. The photograph is on side, and words from the author about what they write, why they write, whatever they wanted to say for this book, are on the left side. So I get a glimpse of them, the person, in a setting that captures the fantasy tone they write about, along with some of their own thoughts on why they write what they write. Terry Pratchett, Madeleine L'Engle, Alan Garner, and here is what he had to say: "The job of a storyteller is to speak the truth. But what we feel most deeply can't be spoken in words alone. At this level, only images connect. And here, story becomes symbol; symbol is myth. And myth is truth."
    I read this book to be inspired, to remember why I write, and what I hope at my deepest level to achieve - a connection between what I see and the world, a way to make myth and symbol real again to my readers. We embody myths in our lives, we are each storytellers (whether we write or draw or talk around the kitchen table about our lives), and symbols are how we connect to one another. This book encourages me, the photographs are images that speak to the non-verbal part of my mind, so my 'well' is filled and I can go write, imagining the circle of fantasy writers encouraging me from just beyond the darkness.

    So, a few of my precious books for you to share in. One recent acquisition that is quickly moving up the near and dear to me scale, is This Year You Write Your Novel, by Walter Mosley. Since I got this for Christmas a year ago, it has sat by my bedside, and is the book I flip through at random, reading a passage here or there, final thoughts on writing before I go to sleep. It is a small book and so wise in how he writes about how to succeed in writing - no, he is not talking about succeeding, he talks about completing a novel in one year. Whether it is good or not is dependent upon the writer!! Wise words, indeed.

    So, gentle Reader, what is the most precious book in your library? And the story behind it?

    Friday 21 March 2008

    Non-Fiction Five Challenge (aka THE LAST CHALLENGE)

    Once again, raidergirl3 brought this to my attention on her blog: Raidergirl3
    (look, I'm getting better at the links!!!) It's being hosted over at Thoughts of Joy
    The rules are:

    1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2008 (please link your reviews on Mister Linky)

    2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)

    My five choices are:
    1. The Secret Language of Signs - Denise Linn - DONE
    2. The Life of Charlotte Bronte - Elizabeth Gaskell
    3. The Hero With a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell - DONE June 2008
    4. Cosmos and Psyche - Richard Tarnas
    5. 1599 A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare - James Shapiro

    Four of these books are on other challenges, so again, I have not stressed myself too much by adding more books to read. And that is it. I will be stretched to read all the books on my challenges - but that is partly why I joined so many challenges this year. I want to read more books. I want to read a wider variety of books, and I wanted to challenge myself - how many can I read in one year? How wide a variety can I read? I collect enough books in different categories; it was time to start reading what I did have. Plus, I like challenges. I am a competitive person by nature. What I am remembering though, as I join these reading challenges, is that I am doing this for fun, and I WANT to read all these books. These are all ones I already own (90 % of them), and the other 10% are ones I wanted. So while I have never achieved reading 100 books in a year, that has been my goal for many, many years, and this is a good way to prod myself to read more. How many books can I read this year? And, I think a really important point to make to myself is - if I don't read them all, that's ok. At least I made an effort to read more, and more widely. However, I joined to win - and the competition is myself. So - let's get reading!!

    Happy book reading, everyone. May you find time to read, this Easter Weekend. Maybe the Easter Bunny will bring you a new book? I have two - Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas, and The Dream-maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn, that I bought this week. Not that I can read them yet, I have to get started on the banned book challenge, and the fantasy challenge, and I hear Canadian book challenge calling......If someone hadn't already taken 'So Many Books, So Little Time' for the name of their blog (thanks!), that was my first choice, since I am often heard mumbling this to myself! Then again, I firmly believe you can never have too many books - although that man in the Barnes and Noble clip on my blog a few weeks bag comes close, if only because he has them hidden in shelves on the basement. I definitely have room for more books! I believe I am already looking ahead to next year's book challenges.......

    Once Upon A Time 2 Challenge

    Thanks to raidergirl3 for bringing ANOTHER challenge to my attention.

    Another challenge! My second to last one to join for this year....but as this one covers an area I'm already reading in many other challenges, this is easy to join, and fun! I love fairy tales and myths. Fantasy is one of the main categories of books I read, along with mystery. I write fantasy. So....this was almost a no-brainer for me, as soon as I saw the title I was done for (as my English husband likes to say).

    Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting this challenge at
    Here are the rules:

    "The Journey

    This is really as simple as the name implies and is to Once Upon a Time as the experience was to The Sci~Fi Experience. It means you are participating but not committing yourself to any specific number of books. All reading is a journey, perhaps none more so than reading fantastical fiction. By signing up for The Journey you are agreeing to at least read one book within the four categories during March 21st to June 20th period. Just one book. It has always been of utmost importance to me that the challenges that I host be all about experiencing enjoyable literature and sharing it with others. I want you to participate. Hence, The Journey.

    Quest the First

    Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

    Quest the Second

    Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proved to be one of the more difficult quests last year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I was fascinated watching how folks worked to find books for each category.

    Quest the Third

    Fulfill the requirements for Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Love the story, love the films, love the idea of that magical night of the year and so this is my chance to promote the reading of this farcical love story.

    Three is a magical number, a number of portent in fantastical tales, and so three quests seems about right. "

    See what I mean? It is a fun challenge, and YA books apply, children's fairy tales, mythology books, all kinds of fantasy books.....and, since I have not yet chosen my Shakespeare play for the Shakespeare challenge, I have just found my answer: A Midnight Summer's Dream. Thus, I fulfill another challenge by joining this one! And I like Carl's idea of reading A Midsummer's Night Dream at midsummer - June solstice night. One of the most magical nights of the year, when the sun is up for the longest time, and the night time is the shortest. And right now, as we plow through a very chilly Easter weekend here in Ottawa, June with its scented evenings and warm nights and windows open and NO SNOW and warm air.....*sigh* I am beginning to long for signs of spring!

    My list for the Once Upon A Time Challenge:
    I am joining Quest the Third. Again, this will be easy as I already have books in almost every section, in other challenges. I could quite easily read fantasy for most of the year! And fairy tales! I am combining Quest the Second with Shakespeare:
    Mythology : The Hero With a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell - DONE
    Fairy Tales: The Classic Fairy Tales - Iona and Peter Opie - DONE
    The Fair Folk - ed Marvin Kaye - DONE
    Folktales: British Folktales - Katharine Briggs - not doing
    Fantasy: A Princess of Roumania - Paul Park - DONE
    Inkheart - Cornelia Funke - DONE April 6 2008
    Shakespeare: A Midsummer's Night Dream (tbr June 20) - DONE June 20 2008

    Alternate: Folktales: Goblins - Brian Froud (picture book of goblins) - little folk rhyme on back of book: "Where thorn-trees abound, there Goblins be found." DONE

    I know, this looks like a heavy reading list. Nothing like a challenge to get me going! I had picked up A Princess of Roumania and The Fair Folk in January, and was looking for a way to incorporate them into my challenges! So I am very excited about this list, and this challenge. There were so many more books I could have chosen, but I have to be realistic, especially as I haven't begun reading any books for the Banned Book Challenge which runs in the same time frame. I love this one, and now have to finish May Sarton so I can get going on Inkheart.....or the Folktales....

    Orbis Terrarum Challenge

    *sigh* thanks to
    raidergirl3, I found this challenge on

    exlibrisbb site. It is really interesting, and so, I joined. I commented to raidergirl3 that I must be really competitive! My automatic reaction is "hey, I can do this!". Since I've read 12 books so far this year (compared to many book bloggers reading 30+ already......more on this in a moment) I have to be careful. But, this is a really good challenge to expand where I read from. I was surprised that I had difficulty pulling 9 different country writers from my shelves. So, I am aware I do have a lack of wider reading, which is one of my goals - to read literature from other countries. So this ended up being an easy challenge to join. Here are the rules, as posted on exlibris' site:
    - The Orbis Terrarum Challenge begins April 1 2008( you are welcome to join later) Through December 20th 2008.
    - For the challenge each reader is to choose 9 books (for the 9 months).
    -Each book must be by an author from a different nation in our world.
    The bottom line: choose 9 different books, written by 9 different authors, from 9 different countries.
    This is my list, subject to change, as if I can get a few more to fill some of my other challenges, I will add them to this one.
    1. The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin (Russia, mystery)
    2. The Iliad - Homer (Greece, classical literature)
    3. Firewall - Henning Mankell (Sweden, mystery)
    4. In the Time of the Butterflies - Julia Alvarez (Dominican Republic, fiction)
    5. Dubliners - James Joyce - (Ireland, short stories)
    6. The Shape of Water - Andrea Camilleri (Italy, mystery)
    7. Morality for Beautiful Girls - Alexancer McCall Smith (Botswana, mystery)**** This should have been Tears of the Giraffe,which is Book 2 in the series and I want to read them in order. So Tears of the Giraffe is what I'm reading for the challenge. Added Aug 25, 2008*** Tears of the Giraffe read Aug 26 2008 - DONE
    8. Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky (France, fiction) - DONE
    9. Exit Music - Ian Rankin (Scotland, mystery) - DONE

    The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende (Chile, fiction) - DONE
    The Famished Road - Ben Okri (Nigeria, fiction)
    Don't Look Back - Karin Fossum (Norway, mystery)
    The Broken Shore - Peter Temple (Australia, mystery)
    Tainted Blood - Arnaldur Indridason (Iceland, mystery) - DONE
    Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (India, fiction)
    The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver - USA

    So, you can see I love mysteries from other countries, which I've blogged about in a previous post. 5 are translated, 4 written originally in English. As there are other books I hope to pick up through the year, this might change slightly. Many of these are on my current reading challenges, so I'm not really adding too many more books to read!! Anyway, I love the idea of this challenge. I plan on joining next year's, and the year after's......I notice a distinct lack of Chinese, Japanese and Central and South American literature, and where is Australia? New Zealand? India? South Africa and the rest of the continent? More Europe? hmmmm, definitely I need to expand where I read from.

    Thanks, exlibris, for holding this challenge! and raidergirl3 for picking it up. Both are really good book sites, by the way, that I read regularly (among about 20 that you can find at the bottom of my blog).

    Tuesday 18 March 2008

    What's in Your Handbag?

    I got this from musings from the sofa:

    It's a list of what is currently in her handbag. So, my secret will now be revealed: I am a female freak. I don't wear make-up (I hate the feel of it on my skin, get eye infections easily, hate taking it off ('aaack - that was on my face?'), have few things in my bag, and yet it is heavy: so here, forthwith, is what I carry around, that I deem I can't leave home without:

    1) wallet (new green one. Currently the zipper falls open and leaks coins everywhere, usually when a lineup is behind me). Occasionally has money in it, usually has tons of debit machine receipts detailing how many withdrawals I have sadly made, plus assorted store cards, library cards and health cards for me and the two youngest kids. five coins and the wallet somehow weighs five pounds and is the heaviest thing in my bag.

    2)brand new pair of prescription sunglasses! Every time I put these on I am thrilled. I last had a pair as a teenager....I think. I was getting headaches from the sun on the snow in the winter, and in the summer in general, so when I finally won my position in the government, I decided to treat myself to a pair of real sunglasses. I feel very posh when I put them on, I have finally made it.

    3)keys. contain house keys only, with an Arsenal key chain holder (Nick Hornby's football team! My team!)

    4) my bus pass. My access to transportation anywhere in the city, since I don't drive. This is the thing I check for most frequently to make sure I have, next to the keys, and -

    5) my work pass. Since I work for the federal government, can't say anything more, even the pass only shows my picture, name, and where I work -Passport Office. Anything else and you need a secret clearance to know!

    6)my asthma puffer. I don't use it nearly enough, which means when I do get caught without it, I need it right away.

    7)astrology date book for 2008. I plant by the moon, and watch when the moon is full and new - hey, we are coming up on a full moon this Friday, should make for a fun-filled exciting Easter and Spring equinox!!! I'm an astrologer, so this book is my little guide for when things get crazy - and so I can book dates. The closest I come to a daytimer etc.

    8)blank notebook very small. for when ideas, lines for a poem or story, characters, or stray thoughts come to me. I do use it, too! Just not enough lately.....

    9) 3 tiny crystals - quartz, rose quartz, and citrine. Citrine in the purse is supposed to keep the purse filled with money - ok not filled, but containing money. Rose quartz for love (and I love this crystal), and quartz to remind me to have a clear mind and purpose.

    10) minimum 31 pieces of paper entailing my lists of books I want, past Christmas lists for my husband, lottery tickets, drawings by my daughter, newspaper clippings of books I want. I have so many lists because I have reached the age, sadly, where I cannot remember titles of books I want, any more! If I see the book, touch it, fine, it's in my mind. but on paper, or online, it is ephemeral, and disappears like fog the minute I turn away from it. It's awful, but I need that tactile sensation to plug it into my brain. thus, the endless lists. Someday i will put them all on one master plan. Someday, I will carry a little computer that will do this for me automatically! n the meantime, I am a walking paper file.

    11) feminine hygiene products. Because, you never know ; at my age, mid-40's, it comes whenever it damn well pleases now, and usually when I am least prepared, kind of like when i was a teenager. So I'm always prepared.....

    12) 2 pens, one of which will work at any time.

    and that is the whole of my bag. No tissue, because I can't find any little packs in this city that don't contain moisturizer (eeww! ugh!). No lipstick, no moisturizer, no hand cream, no mints.

    Of course, there is room for a book :-)

    and somehow, this bag weighs at least 10 pounds!!!! But, it has lots of pockets, because I need to find things quickly, especially with a small child who likes to run away - one hand on him, one hand in my bag finding my bus pass etc. Pockets in purses are my best friend. I'm with Emily who wants deeper pockets in clothing, and more pockets, not those stupid fake pockets and or shallow pockets that hold absolutely nothing. Emily also tried to do this meme, you have to read her result which is hilarious:

    And, I do have another bag that I carry to work with my lunch, another notebook, pen, whichever toy Graham takes on the bus with him, small baggie with fish crackers leftover from his snack on the way to daycare in the morning.

    So, what's in your handbag, book bloggers? room for a book?

    Uh oh, digging in my bag, I found another pen, and - a nail file! I am a girl, after all!!!

    Monday 17 March 2008

    The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    This is a deceptively small book, at 156 pages, because each word is chosen carefully and the finish packs a wallop. The Bookshop is the story of Florence Green, who wants to open a bookshop in Hardborough in East Anglia, and what happens when she does. You would think the writing would be sparse, but it isn't. It is writing that is economical - no word is wasted, and yet there is lovely description, though spare. Ms Fitzgeralds' concern is people, and in this tiny book -scarcely a novel size that we are accustomed to - she captures the essence of each character precisely, delightfully. As I long to someday open my own bookstore, I read this novel eagerly, to see what befell the characters. I can't reveal more without revealing the outcome, which i have sworn not to do on this blog! - so while The Bookshop did not turn out as I expected, at the end, it captured something more than just the characters. It ended up being a book about small villages in England, and the way of life in those villages. Having lived for a year in England, and encountered some very eccentric characters from the countryside (as well as in York) - there is nothing like working retail to encounter the best and worst of people! - this book brought back to me the feel of England. The book is set in 1959-1960, before I was born, but the tempo of time in the countryside and small villages moves more slowly than in the rest of England and the world, and this tiny book caught this feeling, this atmosphere perfectly.

    All the characters, as mentioned before, are wonderfully captured, and best of all - because I do love them - the bookshop is in an ancient house that is haunted by a poltergeist. How can anyone resist a story about a bookshop with a ghost? The ghost does not play a key role, by the way, it is part of the scenery in a sense - everyone in the village knows about the ghost, and when various people encounter its results (flung tools, books, etc), they shrug it off. There is one memorable scene of the haunting, but other than Florence and Christine her 11-year-old help sitting through it, nothing much is made of it. No ghost-hunters are called in, nor police nor doctors. It just goes with the house the bookshop is in.

    Since I worked in one of the older buildings in York - in the city centre which houses the oldest buildings - built in the 14th century, we had our own resident ghost, so I can vouch that there are places in England that do have their own residents! though I experienced nothing like the episode in The Bookshop! And yet, it is not a ghost story, it is a story about opening the bookshop. If you are looking for a delightful, quick read, with eccentric characters (and Violet is far more scary than the ghost, and malevolent) and books, then this is the book for you. Oh, and Lolita makes an appearance, in case you thought this was a boring book. I can't say I loved this book, but I did enjoy it. It was well worth reading.

    Sunday 16 March 2008

    Food Meme

    I got this from Emily's blog
    at Telecommuter Talk:

    Food Meme:
    List five food facts about yourself. (Actually this was part of a two-part meme, but since I am making dinner, I only have time for one......I picked the easy one!)

    1. I collect cookbooks. My oldest cookbook recreates recipes from the Medieval Ages. However, I lent it to a friend-who-is-barely-a-friend-because-she-still-has-many-of-my-books SEVEN years ago, and yes, she still hasn't returned it. So I can't quite count it in my library, and I haven't seen it since to replace. It was a fabulous book explaining how and what they cooked in the Middle Ages, what utensils they had, the kitchen set-up, and the different kinds of food you'd find at different levels of society. The next oldest book I have is Take a Buttocke of Beefe by Verity Isitt, which I found in a used book store in Kingston. It has over 80 seventeenth century recipes, again with modern equivalents. These are both for historical research for my writing, and for food cookery and because I love recipes. My sister once asked if I actually read the cookbooks. Yes! I read them from end to end, the first time, and pick out recipes I want to try. Lately, I have learned to write in the cookbooks - it was Nigella Lawson who gave me this idea. She said in one of her cookbooks that she had inherited one from her grandmother, that had notes written by her grandmother in the margins, changing recipes, saying what works and what didn't. She felt like her grandmother was in the kitchen with her, leaving her notes on how to cook, and what she did. Like a conversation. I loved the idea. Since I am always altering recipes anyway, I thought this would be a great gift someday for my daughter (or grandchildren), if any of them end up cooking. Plus, I can remember what I did that worked so well, next time I come to the recipe! It works fabulously (is this a word? can I invent it?) now. I can recreate what I did, and see what recipes I really do use often.

    2. I can't eat onions or eggplant. This is one major reason I ended up tampering with recipes in the first place. Raw onions upset my stomach, and eggplant makes me throw up. So, I substitute leeks for onions (more delicate flavor, and cousin to onion) which I can eat very happily. And I avoid anything with eggplant. This rules out vegetarian lasagna, which otherwise always looks to delicious!

    3. I am not a vegetarian. I tried, seriously, about15 years ago. I ended up missing meat too much. I'm a carnivore! I like the texture and taste! However, I hate the current farming practices of major meat production, so I try to get hormone and antibiotic free meat if not organic meat, whenever possible. I also like that when we eat organic meat, I know the animals have been well-treated and fed properly.

    4. My house has been 70% organic in food and cleaning products for 21 years now. I'm lucky in that Ottawa has several very good organic grocery stores, as well as the major grocery chains are now carrying organic lines of food. I buy as many things organically as we can afford. My house has been cleaned with organic cleaners since then because smells bother my nose - and I don't like chemical cleaners. Most of our vegetables, fruit, and staples are organic, or failing that, locally grown (we have a wonderful farmer's market in the summer) and whole grain. I strongly believe that where I spend my money does count, and I am so against chemicals use, and now the sterile corn and soy crops which are truly frightening. Not to get into a rant here, but why do we think chemicals and hormones in our food won't end up in our bodies (where we store them) and end up in the earth, damaging the soil's recovery, and in the food chain itself? I can't stop the big food chains and mass-farming (and it's not the farmers, its the food industry itself and everyone involved in creating mass food production using little-understood chemicals that is the problem) but I can try to use my money where it counts. I just like the taste, colour, texture of organic food better. And I like knowing that I chose food that was grown with the nurturing of the earth in mind.

    5. I am a chocoholic. I LOVE chocolate. Dark chocolate. If I buy a recipe book, chances are it has a chocolate recipe I want to try! One of my favorite chocolate recipes to make is Gooey Chocolate Puddings from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat cookbook. Made with dark chocolate, it is like a lava cake, and warm from the oven, is so-o-o delicious with cream.......m-m-m......

    I still haven't figured out how to tag yet, so please, do this meme and drop me a line that you did, and I will come read it. Happy eating while reading!!!

    Saturday 15 March 2008

    Storm pictures from last weekend

    So.....some pictures from last weekend's snowstorm. From Friday evening until Sunday morning, we received 51 cm of snow. That's 20 inches of snow. If you look at my pant legs, you can see the snowline. Here, I am trying to shovel out the driveway. It took almost an hour to get from the front door (where the path is curving from) to the road. I did only the one shovel-width, because we don't drive so don't really need the whole driveway cleared, and I was sick of shovelling by then! My neighbor came and used his snowblower to clear our driveway, unexpectedly, so we got him some Canadian Tire gift certificates as a big thank you. My husband couldn't face shovelling either last Sunday, after having shovelled the Wednesday and Friday mornings before.
    Current snow total 407 cm, = 160 inches = 13.3 feet of snow this winter so far.

    We are now 33 cm short of equalling the record, the all-time snow record for Ottawa. We have had the odd flurry this week, but nothing major. Here's hoping that all snow will be worth a record, at least!!!
    Oh, and Gatineau (the city in Quebec that lies right across the Ottawa river from us, we're like Minneapolis and St-Paul except Ottawa is in one province and Gatineau in another, and people work in one province and cross the river to work in the other, like me!) has decided to quit plowing sidewalks, instead pushing the snow over from the streets in an effort to make them wide enough for cars to go down. This means people have to walk on the road, because the sidewalks have more snow than my driveway after it was all over. Anyway, that is how bad the storm was. On Monday, most of Ottawa was slow to get moving as people continued to dig out, and the city had round-the-clock plowing of the main streets and transportation streets for the buses. None of the side streets were done until late Tuesday or even Wednesday. Luckily it was the beginning of March break for the primary schools, so many many people (and cars) stayed home for the day. I was one of them. Thankfully! Trying to get Graham to daycare through the snowbanks the buses would leave us at, just seemed too much that day. Actually, many bus stops are still not plowed, so for the extended buses, I have to keep remembering to get off at the front entrance, or I end up on the street with a narrow gap between the bus and snowbank. It's very dangerous, but the city has said it isn't going to remove the snowbanks beyond being able to board the bus, because the snow dumps are full now. I am so thankful that getting the kids around by stroller are done now, because I'm not sure I would have gotten through this winter (and or how many broken strollers we would have gone through!) otherwise.

    It took until Thursday before Britannia Road's sidewalks were plowed! The main road in the picture is Britannia Road, Sunday afternoon. Barely room for two cars to pass. There is no parking on the streets at the moment. The snow plumes are people using their snowblowers to begin to dig out. And, to the left, the dip in snowbanks is where the sidewalk should be.......

    In the first picture, somewhere to the right lies my garden. It has at least 5 feet of snow - in some places between 7-9 feet, I think - so it will be some time before I will getting into it!

    So, that's my snow diary updated. On the good side, I've seen the male and female cardinal in our neighborhood again, and today - it is almost 0 celsius, so it feels like spring could be creeping in slowly!! I wore a sweater and fleece vest when I went grocery shopping this morning instead of my winter coat, and I feel ten times lighter in heart just because the sun is shining, it hasn't snowed much this week, and spring is now 5 DAYS AWAY!!!! Although, I am aware, it is March 15, must beware the Ides of March.....

    finally, Meme on favorite Male lead.....

    Ok, so I've been avoiding doing this one, I just have to go ahead and name some of my favourite male leads in a novel! Why, you say, am I avoiding this? It's because I wanted 'the one' I would marry if he were alive.....but then when I thought about it I decided, yes, I WOULD marry:
    - Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables series. I think he was the first male lead that I swooned over, and fell in love when he called Anne Carrot on the first day that he met her, and was the only one who could equal her intellect. Plus, he is handsome and charming!
    -Alonzo Wilder - yum, the second male lead I ever encountered that I fell head over heels in love with! A bit unpredictable, but he loves Laura so much........
    - Mr Darcy and Mark Darcy - ok, Mr Darcy is rather frightening at first, but once we see him at home, WOW!! I love this guy, and I love Colin Firth playing him. He is proud, but he does the right thing, and he is honourable, and handsome, and smart - again, smart enough to equal Elizabeth Bennett. I think I see a trend for Mark Darcy, well, (again played by Colin Firth......darn, one of my secret movie star crushes is revealed!), he loves Bridget Jones even though she is a total twit - she has a good heart and is so kind, and he sees that in her - and she can laugh at herself (and his awful sweaters) - and tell the truth, don't we all have a little Bridget in us somewhere too? I know I do. So Mark Darcy because he loves her neurotic self, and I'd like my neurotic self loved too! And, he's smart!
    - Joe Morelli and Ranger from Stephanie Plum series - even my mother admitted that they are hot, and together 'they make the perfect man'. And they both love Stephanie even though she is the worst bounty hunter ever - and gets her car blown up almost every book. I like Stephanie (I think she's hilarious) and I confess, I adore both Morelli and Ranger, they are so gorgeous and hunky and MOrelli has a great sense of humour and they both have sex appeal in spades......oh my. (fans herself)
    -last but NOT least, Henry Tilson and Captain Wentworth from Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, respectively. Henry for having common sense, sincerity and being honest as well as good-looking, and Captain Wentworth because he still loves Anne 8 years after she dumped him. 8 years!!! And he's handsome, and a captain - successful in his Naval career, and mostly because he is quick to recognize Anne's strengths, and has the courage to ask her a second time to marry him. I have read this book it must be close to 10 times now, and still, every time she has to signal him at the end that she loves him, I wait for bated breath until she does.

    These are the men that if they walked off the page, I would run away with instantly, no questions asked.