Sunday 31 May 2009

When the going gets tough, do you shop for books?

The Sunday

When the going gets tough, what do you shop for? Do you shop for books? I do. I shop for books when I'm happy, and when I'm sad, when I'm bored, when I'm celebrating something. Basically any excuse I can find, I celebrate with books and chocolate.

Yesterday my sister called with the alarming news that she is laid up with thrombophlebitis in her leg, a serious case. She's been to emergency once, and is going back in on Monday to see if the blood clot has moved or gotten smaller. The danger is, of course, that part of the clot will break off and travel to her lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. She's far away in New Brunswick so I can't just go on over to her house to help out and care for her family. I had a date with a friend so I continued on, and we were meeting in Chapters, Canada's version of Borders. This is what I bought while I wandered the shelves of fantasy, horror, mystery and science fiction, worrying over my sister and chatting to my friend, who has the only good news so far this year - she's getting married!

The Type 2 Diabetes book I bought a week ago Friday, when I went in for a blood glucose test and the nurse refused to give it to me because my sugar was too high. While I wait for confirmation that I am now diabetic, I ran out to the nearest bookstore (another Chapters location! ) that day, and bought that.

Did I say this month has been a challenge?

So while I wait for news that my sister's clot is dissolving (in the good way!), and wait for my final test result (another week to go), what I wondered as I stared at my pile of books last night and this morning, was if any of you, my Gentle Readers, also find yourselves celebrating - or coping - with life's many challenges and joys by heading to the bookstore? If so, what have you bought?

Much of the pile of books was bought with my birthday gifts, lovely book gift certificates to Chapters. I still have another wonderful gift certificate to Collected Works to use.

Now, I have some Bad Blogger points to hand out:
Not Flesh Nor Feathers by Cherie Priest: Chris
The New Space Opera ed by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan: Carl
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: JS Peyton (Biblioaddict)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- Junot Diaz: ? (why does Kim L come to mind? or perhaps Eva? Please let me know, any of my readers, if you reviewed this sometime in the past 6 months. Someone did and loved it, and it went onto my book list)
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill : ? (again, as above, someone reviewed this last summer for or around Carl's RIP3 challenge, I didn't take the name down, but put the book on my list. Let me know if it was you, please! )
The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley - Becky? Nymeth? Kailana? Chris? Someone very recently named this one of their favourite fantasies.......

The rest of the books were ones I was looking for myself. Oh, I'm so happy! New books to read!
Swan Song - Robert McCammon - I read this 20 + years ago, and time for a reread!! It was very very good when I first read it, even better than The Stand, which I also love.
Blood on the Strand by Susanna Gregory - Thomas Chaloner #2 in the series. Medieval London mystery series.
Hard Row by Margaret Maron - a Deborah Knott mystery. I love her and her huge family of brothers (she's the youngest of 12 and the only girl), and her bootleg swill-keeping tobacco father.
Brother Grimm - Craig Russell - recommended by my friend I was in the store with. She reads mostly horror and true crime, so if she says it's good, it'll be scary. And it involves fairy tales, the Brothers Grimm.
Declare - Tim Powers - a departure of sorts for him, this one blends fantasy with true-life history, the Kim Philby spy affair. I can hardly wait to read this. I like spy fiction, and I really like Tim Powers.
Last Rituals - Yrsa Sigurdardottir - I regard this as the find of the night. I had seen her recently written up on the Guardian Book site as another Icelandic author, to go along with Arnuldur Indridason.
Wizards - ed Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois - on sale! In Hardcover! A real find, and one I'd been waiting to get for a while now. Hmm, a whole three weeks left in Carls' OUaT challenge, for short stories, which I have sadly not done any of yet.....

Chris also gets two points for the John Scalzi books I bought earlier this month. Based on his fabulous review of Old Man's War earlier this year, I have bought these two (word of mouth is that Zoe's Tale is even better, though whether I got this from Locus magazine or somewhere else, I sadly can't tell now. I really must start keeping a journal of where I find books online!!!).

I haven't been able to do nearly as much reading this month as I'd hoped. Gardening finally got done earlier this week, and I have been concentrating on my health and reassuring my family I was fine by spending time with them. I did manage to read two books in the past two weeks: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, and The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. I will be reviewing them in my round-up of the month tomorrow. Looking back, I think I'm happy I was able to read anything. A very challenging month indeed, with a tornado, a trip to Picton, a possible diabetes diagnosis (no chocolate!!!), and my sister. When the going gets tough, I turn to books! Even if I only read 4 books, I bought 21 books, plus two book gifts for other people.

Happy Sunday reading, my Gentle Readers.

Thursday 21 May 2009

I'm back! Happy birthday to me, and a special book treat....

I feel so refreshed and somewhat relaxed now. It was a fabulous weekend away. There was a heron on our dock on the first morning:

There was fishing, cards, a family turkey dinner, shopping in the US - a day trip to Watertown, NY, my first time in that state, and lots of new clothes and even some books: 4 new ones from Borders:
- Curse of Chalion - Lois McMaster Bujold
- Winter Study - Nevada Barr
-Old Man's War - John Scalzi (point to Chris!!)
- The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion (I've long wanted to read this)
and 3 used ones from Picton's only bookstore, Olivia & Company:
- Dragon Fantastic - ed Martin and Rosalind Greenberg
- Tricks - Ed McBain
- The Song of Rhiannon - Evangaline Walton (with the original I need books one and two!)

There were sunny days and a wind storm that - yes, you guessed it, knocked out the power on our part of the island! Not where my sister-in-law's house is, but only where the cottage is on the east side. I think I said something like, "Not again! not so soon after the tornado!" but since the fire was lit (we had very cold nights so the wood stove was on) we could light the candles. I know some people find the city relaxing, and we have friends who go to Toronto or New York to relax. Us, we go to the country. So it was a very welcome break indeed.

Then, it was my birthday yesterday. This is one of my presents (note the big smile, the glow....)

Yes, it is hot today - (son isn't wearing a shirt for a reason!) but I'm glowing because I'm so happy: that's my copy of North and South in my hands, and as soon as I finish here, I'm off to the tv to finally see it on the big screen. As many of you wrote on my last post, you too have this DVD, so you know how excited I am! No small You tube screen on my computer! Richard Armitage up close! And, I also received wonderful book gift certificates !!! Oh yes, it was a lovely day with family, and at work with my co-workers.

I also picked up a real treasure while in Picton, and I thought I would share with you some of the glorious pictures. This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, "Thorn Rose", The Brothers Grimm version, illustrated splendidly by Errol Le Cain. It's a Puffin book, so it's from England, copyright 1975.

I love this picture! All the fairies, the leaves and flowers and dark tree trunks.

I love the evil fairy flying by on the dragon!

My daughter loves this book too, and is showing you her favourite of the fairies.

It's the fairy riding the unicorn. She has just discovered unicorns and dragons, and is fascinated by them.

She asked me what mine was, and I said, "Oh, I love the one flying with the magic wand." My daughter is very creeped out by the wicked fairy who curses Sleeping Beauty. I love how she is painted in the corner, all in black. Holly-Anne asked why, and I said, "It's because she was left out. Only 12 fairies were invited, and there were 13 fairies in all."

I didn't get much reading done on my weekend holiday. So it was only today that I finished reading "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss. What an excellent fantasy! I will do a longer review later, I just wanted to let you know that if you are looking for a new fantasy to read, with magic, and dragons, and creepy mystery killing creatures, then this is one to try.

And I thank you for all the lovely Star Trek comments on my last post! I am so thrilled so many of us have gone to see it! I almost saw it a third time while in Picton, with my niece who can't find any of her friends to go with, but we couldn't get the time.

Meanwhile, I hear North and South calling. I wish my American blogging friends a fabulous Memorial Weekend. I really hope you can get some time away, some time to read, some time to yourselves.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

I do still love my blog! I really do!! and Star Trek thoughts

I know, you've been asking yourself, "Where is she? Why isn't she posting?"

After I was kidnapped by North and South (and I watched it full through once, and after, many times, the final episode because the last scene is one of the very best romantic scenes EVER), I saw Star Trek - not once, but TWICE, at the theatre. Not on the same night! And there was a death in my husband's family, and then it was Mother's Day, and we decided to take a small trip away this long holiday weekend, to Picton, by the Sandbanks National Park. So I am taking a break in between packing clothes and eating Cheesies to say HI. Hi. How are you, my Gentle Readers? I'm sorry I haven't been by to visit. I love my blog. I love all of you.

I think though, that the toll at work has been much harder on me than even I have realized, until this past week. It's finally a bit calmer (ie I am being left alone to do my work), but at a regular check up with my doctor last week my blood pressure was up, way up. Very high. So I've made it a rule that my health has to come first, which means I attempt to get to bed somewhat earlier, and this is leaving me less time on the computer. Less time for anything I love! I think someone wrote a post yesterday about wanting more time....I'm with you there. And since I do love to come to your blogs also, I have to find a way to balance everything again. I've missed visiting so many of you, and I don't like doing it only one day a week. So, I will be back early next week, hopefully feeling replenished.

Meantime, Star Trek. I went to the early preview night, Thursday night, 10:20 showing. And about half-way through, something happened that so totally shocked me, that I thought I wouldn't end up enjoying the film at all. By the end though, it was all made right, and I walked out feeling like I had seen a very good, very emjoyable film. And my Star Trek universe was all right still.

In fact, I loved it so much that it's among my top 3 Star Trek films of all time now. I have to confess, I am not a Next Generation fan, I am an original Star Trekker from my earliest childhood memories of having a tv. Mr Dressup, Jolly Giant and then - Star Trek. I lived and died by that show. I know episodes off by heart. So when this thing happened - and I know some of you haven't seen it, so I won't give it away - I believe I actually said, "No!' out loud in the theatre. "That didn't happen", I thought. But, as I watched and dreaded not being able to believe in the movie any more, suddenly they made it right. It is ok. For those who have already seen the movie, I left a few thoughts at Falling Stack's review, here, because Matthew can't get over the changes. Let me know your thoughts, if you have seen it already, or let me know your post, and next week when we are back I will come visit your blog.

So, I saw it twice. I took my husband on Monday night, and even though he nodded off a few times (we have a joke: he gives snooze ratings for films, the less snoozes the better), he was delighted by it and really enjoyed it also. Me? I was able to relax the second time, and thoroughly enjoyed the performances, the writing, even the script (which still has one or two holes in it, but i will save it for later when anyone who wants to, has seen the movie by then). Excellent direction and the sets are stunning.

I do also confess here that Spock was always my favourite character - I so longed to be able to hide my emotions like he could, to be in control of them, while I was growing up! (and now, if I'm going to be honest....) But the character I was most like? McCoy. And Karl Urban as McCoy is hugely delightful. In fact, he says things in the same way that I secretly think!!!!

So, if you haven't seen it, please go see it - you don't have to know much about the history to enjoy it, it's a good story on it's own. For those of us like myself and my ex-husband who are long-time Star Trek fans, it was very, very good.

I am reading a book - The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which I am really enjoying. I just need some more time to read it!! This weekend, this weekend......we leave tomorrow right after work.....

I hope you all have a happy weekend, my Gentle Readers. Back early next week!

Star Trek: 4.7/5 (me)
1 snooze (my husband. Excellent rating from him, since he is guaranteed to fall asleep at least once every time we go to the movies. Something about the dark space.....)

Oh: I nearly forgot. For Mother's Day, my family gave me the first season of Babylon 5!!! I am so excited! My eldest son and I watched this every week when it was on, and I haven't see it in a while. I love this series. I was so excited when I saw it! Mind you, I did point out a dvd of North and South to my husband while we were in the dvd store, and it's on sale, and my birthday is next week, so my fingers are crossed that it will be waiting for me come the 20th.......

Funny thing is, I've bought so many books this year, that I'm not sure what I'm going to put on my birthday list. which is in itself a sign that work has greatly affected me, because I can always find books I want to buy, and read. That I haven't even got a partial list up yet for my husband, is scary. So here's to relaxing by the lake and being far away from anything to do with work!!! Family and barbecues and shopping across the border!!!! And time to read......

Wednesday 6 May 2009

instead of reading......

Ever since I saw Eva and Marg's posts, I spend part of every evening on You Tube, watching North and South again. On my computer, the You tube screen measures about 9" by 6". Somehow, in spite of this tiny size, Richard Armitage still manages to sizzle and brood and has this most amazing deep voice. He, well, more than gives Colin Firth a run for his money. Possibly the best hero of a Victorian/BBC costume drama, ever. I've cried, I've laughed, I've urged her to 'look back' along with Thornton........

What will it be like when I can see it on our tv? which is much larger than 9X6! and view it continuously, whole, without 10 minute breaks? When will I find a DVD copy? when will I find a copy of the book to read? these are the questions haunting me through the day. At least I am thinking about a book!

Thanks, Marg and Eva!!!!

And I heard something about him being in Robin Hood, too.....I also made a boo-boo in my last post, about the role he played on The Vicar of Dibley. He didn't play Tristan, he played the one the Vicar marries, and I apologize, we've only seen the episode twice, and we haven't been able to get the DVD yet of the wedding, so I can't remember his name. James?. All I remember is he plays an accountant (and his voice) . And what happens to Geraldine on her wedding day....oh yes.

Here he is, discussing how he got the role. An interview with him on the DVD. Not that I have the DVD yet, of course. He's read the book. *sigh*

Courtesy of You Tube:

Monday 4 May 2009

a lovely award and two very bad bloggers........

Zetor is a fairly new blogger from Northern England, who has some lovely photos sprinkled throughout her posts of the countryside around her home. She has awarded me the Tinkerbell award - an award giving because my blog shows caring, here. Well, this has me touched, and I'm very grateful. In a life full of challenges, it's the kindness we show to one another that's so important, that can make or break a day, or a soul. Zetor has a lovely photo of her sheep and the countryside that I've just spent some time gazing at, since she lives near York, my second home in this wide world, here . Thank you, Zetor!

In my turn, in order to not to offend the fairies (and as per yesterday's excerpt from The Blue Girl, in order to not draw their attention......), these are the rules for passing it on: 'The only requirement for this award is that you shared it with whomever you like, sharing the love is always a good thing. The blog has to show only one characteristic, caring. So, start sharing this enchanted award with five other bloggers. Let your bloggers know they have received this enchanted award. (Remember, fairies are fickle wee things, don't incur their displeasure by ignoring their gift). '
At this point I would like to add my own personal feelings about awards: I am always delighted and touched when I get one, because it means my blog has meant something to someone. My personal feeling is that every blogger deserves an award, and indeed, every award out there. I hate feeling like someone is left out. It's like those sides the team captains were forced to choose from the dwindling squad of not so talented people, at school; I was always second to last picked. While I was always glad I wasn't the last person, I also felt so badly that there was someone even more last than me. So while I am awarding Tinkerbell to the five people below, I'd also like to give this to every one of you, my Gentle Readers, because no one should be left out of having a little Tinkerbell fly across their blog. Just because we love books and the wonder of reading, we all deserve this award! Please take it and share it, because I really think being kind is a good way to be on this planet.

I am giving this award to
1. Molly at My Cosy Book Nook
2.Daphne at Somewhere I Have Never Travelled
3. Stephanie at Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
4. Eva at A Striped Armchair, and
5. Marg at Reading Adventures.

Now, the last two are getting this award not only because they are charming and kind and helpful to everyone else, but because last night when I was finally able to come visiting blogs again, upon Eva's site I found this post Oh for a Recency Beau on a Victorian drama, a BBC production of North and South, based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novel of the same name. The reason I am including the link is because she has gotten a You-Tube 2 min video of 'the proposal', which she said was equal to Darcy's first proposal to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. I dare you to go watch it and see if it does compare.
Marg is included because her blog was Eva's inspiration: this post, on Richard Armitage, who is the male star of North and South, and the dvd player that would only play North and South the dvd set.

Now, Richard Armitage was last seen by me on The Vicar of Dibley, as the incomparable BBC producer who the Vicar falls madly in love with, only to be shown up by a beautiful Irish girl. I have long wondered where 'Tristan" ended up, and it's here. And he's even better here than he was in The Vicar.

Eva and Marg are bad bloggers because once I saw 'the proposal', well then I had to see the beginning of the series, all on You Tube. Two and a half hours later, I had to pry myself away to go to bed. I still have another two hours to watch. And it's good. And Richard? Oh yes. He gives Colin Firth a run for his money. Intense, smouldering, passionate.

I know what one of my birthday presents will be: a dvd copy of North and South, so I can wind and rewind to my heart's content, on the large tv. Oh yes, they are two very bad bloggers indeed. If there were a blog award for most tempting post, they would get it!!!

I dare you, Gentle Reader, to go see "The Proposal" on Eva's site, and not want to watch more Armitage and North and South. Me? I'm going back to You Tube now. Armitage was about to bring the Irish workers over the strike line.......

Sunday 3 May 2009

Sunday Salon - Finally, some book reviews!!

The Sunday

Good morning! It's the third day of May, and the leaves are springing out on branches, the geese are flying north, and it's calm here. After last weekend, this is a good way to begin the day! Oh, and it's now officially less than a week until the new Star Trek movie opens!!!!

On top of that, I have been busy reading. I didn't plan on taking a break, it just turned in to one. It has been so stressful at work for me that I would come home and read, and then read some more. This is good for getting to my 100 books read this year goal, bad for socializing in any way with anyone!

So I thought I would give a quick review of some of the books I have read, with my new rating system - 5/5 being the best read, 1/5 being don't bother, etc.

Riddle of St Leonard's - Candace Robb - Book 5 in the series
4/5 - very good historical recreation, characters, setting (York England in 1369), interesting mystery. I think i had the most fun though envisioning my York with the recreated one, and it was so much fun to know I'd been on Stonegate and worked there, and it was a main thoroughfare back then too. It was most interesting to realize that St Leonard's stretched from the Museum Gardens almost to the Minster in 1369 when in 2000 there is only a partial block of some of the hospital - really a partial stone chamber - left to visit. This was the first of her mysteries I read, which are sadly out of print now, so I will now have reason # 430 to haunt used bookstores in the future! Anyone interested in medieval England, enjoyed The Name of the Rose (for the blending of religion and politics), or has been to York, will enjoy this mystery.
****I forgot to mention the plot: Riddle of St Leonard's is set is 1369, during an outbreak of the plague. There is a series of deaths that may or may not be innocent, involving St Leonard's, which has had thefts and debt, and the victims who died were recently at the hospital. Owen Archer is the series main character, a spy for the Archbishop, and also for the King and Queen of England. He does not want to take the job on, as it is not clear there is a link or anything suspicous, and he is trying to protect his family from the plague. There is of course, a link, and the guilty party is as devious and clever as any modern killer. Very well done, very enjoyable mystery.*****

The Reaper
- Peter Lovesey
4/5 - I have to thank the lovely Cath at Read-Warbler for this book. She'd finished it and rather than give it to a charity shop, she asked if I'd like to read it, since I enjoy mysteries so much also. So she sent it over the ocean to me! (Here thanks Cath most gratefully)
I'm not sure I could get this book over here, so this was a double pleasure for me. And it is a very good read. There are plenty of murders, an Anglican priest who is gorgeous, and the feel of a very small village where nothing goes unnoticed......except the unwillingness to and inability to recognize something could be wrong. There is an unexpected twist at the end that is chilling, and in a very fun way, a twisted happy ending. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will be passing it along to my mother who also enjoys mysteries. I am going to look for more of his books also. Second-hand bookstores, here I come!!

Dead Cold and The Cruellest Month - Louise Penny - series catch-up
4/5 for both. Set in the fictional village of Three Pines, Quebec, featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, these mysteries take place a year apart. Dead Cold takes place right after one snowy and very cold Christmas. The victim is so cold (pun intended with her body that is cold, and the weather outside that is so terribly cold) that no one is unhappy she's dead, not even her family. Death at an outdoor curling event - and no one noticed. I love how this series juxtaposes the quiet calm and beauty of the village and the fondness the villagers have with eachother; part of the charm of these books are the main village characters we meet , Gabri and Olivier B&B and bistro owners, Peter and Clara Morrow the artists, Myrna the bookstore owner, Ruth the famous poet. They provide delightful repartee and solid grounding against which the murder in each book is set. Other characters are introduced in each book, among whom are most of the suspects. There is old history of Three Pines in this book, and characters who leave and come again, as in The Cruellest Month. The author refers to past experiences in the previous books, so reading in sequence is recommended. I find this adds to the warmth and realistic setting of the books, that the characters don't suddenly forget previous actions and history. No one in a village ever does!

The Cruellest Month is set in April and features a delightful description of an easter egg hunt, and how Ruth adopts a duck. Of course, there is most hideous murder, and a thrilling seance in a creepy haunted house on top of the hill. Both mysteries have super atmosphere. The weather is also featured - sudden snowstorms in both books, very cold temperatures, spring blossoms and flowers. This is a delightful mystery series with a very strong Canadian atmosphere and setting. Oh - and Inspector Gamache? Picks the detectives who don't fit anywhere else in the Surete of Quebec (provincial police force) and guides them to becoming the best detectives. Throughout both books he is also being betrayed by someone he trusts in the force, and the reason why, and who is involved, make Dead Cold particularly riveting. I felt that The Cruellest Month didn't resolve in quite the dramatic fashion the author envisioned - in fact the whole setting of the denouement didn't fit and the inspector was entirely too calm throughout for my liking - but overall, it was a very good read again. I am a real fan of this series now, and am hoping my mother will pick up book 4, which is in trade paperback, for my upcoming birthday......I'd also like to move to Three Pines. Right Away. If it existed!!

Blood-Bound and Iron-Kissed - Patricia Briggs. Books 2 and 3 of Mercy Thompson series.
*Sigh*. Those wolves, Samuel and Adam. That vampire, Stefan. How can the author make a vampire seem sexy? when he's cold and dead? and charming and intelligent? and slightly heroic? And Samuel and Adam, who could choose? They are gorgeous and protective and masculine and thrilling and love her. What is even better is that it does get resolved, this tension between Adam and Samuel and Mercy, in Iron-Kissed, and that is done in a way that Mercy learns something about wolves and packs, and in a way that the wolf not chosen doesn't hate her.

Oh yes, the mystery. There was one. Two, one in each book. Right. You mean I have to discuss the mystery? I can't think about - ? Never mind.

Blood-Bound: The second book is chilling. The vampire with a demon controlling it is truly scary. I had no idea how Mercy would get out of it. And how she does makes for truly heart-pounding reading. I know that I couldn't put this down, that I was totally involved in the story, and very interested in the creativity Briggs has put into thinking about vampires and how they could function in their own society, or even if they had one. I definitely would only want to meet Stefan the Vampire, no others, but then I shudder at their victims, what an awful way to go. There is no glossing over that vampires to prey on people to eat - but yet Stefan is a very interesting character and I want to know more about him. He's definitely intriguing and those words he mutters to Mercy......I think book 4 features him more......*fans herself* It seems that even being undead doesn't save one from power politics, something I will remember when I go into work tomorrow. I also like how Mercy chooses her own course of action, refusing to abide by most rules others try to impose upon her.

In Iron-Kissed, the third book of the series, this is finally discussed, for as the fae creature (I don't want to name who, but suffice to say a major Goddess of war makes a surprising appearance) comments, Coyote is the unexpected. Iron-Kissed is about fairy tales and myths, the dangerous kind: we have to go into the woods, but I'm not sure I would want to meet any of the fae that feature in Iron-Kissed. Oh, yes, the mystery: Mercy's former boss (who is a fae) is being framed for a murder he didn't commit, Mercy sets out to clear his name, despite being warned by everyone to stay away, except for one key character, mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. Mercy is a Coyote - finally a little something about what her nature is, is revealed - but only in cryptic remarks such as the fae drop from time to time. I thought this enriched the books immensely. I really like how the author has created the supernatural world co-existing with 'people world'. The coyote remarks are about Mercy, but also points out about how the supernatural isn't something to play with - it is dangerous, as fairy tales keep trying to tell us. Mercy herself lives only because of her nature, because of who she is and how she can slide between the rules, as Coyote the Trickster does. This was a smart move on the author's part, to bring in her Coyote nature and the role she plays in these books. She also doesn't belong anywhere, and this is a thoughtful way of showing how Native American myths were displaced by the Europeans, and yet - they survive. This gives Mercy an element of natural power that makes it possible for her to survive all the attacks she does survive. Just as Coyote has survived the near-wipeout of His culture, and yet he's still there, surprising us with tornadoes out of nowhere, the clown who brings the truth, the unexpected - there has to be room for surprise, or things get too rigid, as the Goddess of war murmurs thoughtfully to Mercy.

These are very well-written supernatural books, ones I highly reccommend. They both come in at 5/5. My only problem? I want more!!! More!! I went from reading Book Two straight to Book Three because I just couldn't wait to see what happened with Mercy, Adam and Samuel. The mysteries are well-written and very good, it's the werewolf clan structure, the fae world, the vampire sett, that sets this supernatural series well above any others for me. As well, Mercy herself - she is extremely likeable, independent, and bakes brownies and cookies when she's stressed. She's like one of us! (except she doesn't read as much). Though a book does feature in Book Three....

Briar Rose - Jane Yolen (read for Carl's OUaT3 Challenge) - part of the Fairy Tales Series by Terri Windling.
5/5 Lovely. Despite the horror at the heart of the book, this book is about how fairy tales can be used to transmit the truth in a way that the teller can tell it, and the listener hear it, without having to relive the full horror every time. In Rebecca's family, her grandmother Gemma has a personal recreation of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty that Rebecca, of all the girls, loves to hear. Gemma repeats it over and over. After she dies, Rebecca discovers among her papers that Gemma was in Europe during WW2, and she sets out to find what happened to her grandmother, and who her grandfather could have been. This was a very moving story about survival, love, and courage, and the people who died in Poland in the awful concentration camps, and other small villages where everyone was killed. Who awakened Sleeping Beauty? How did she escape? Why did her Grandmother tell only this story? Rebecca has to go into the heart of Poland to find out. It is as moving and horrific as any story, as every story, about World War Two. As with any story of the Holocaust, be ready to cry.

This is also a story about the power of telling a story, and how a story can give meaning to a life. If you had survived what Gemma had survived, what story would you choose to survive with, to pass on what you had been through in a way that didn't hurt the ones who heard it? It is a story in the end of hope, of survival - just as Sleeping Beauty awakes and goes on to fall in love and have children, so Gemma's life continued on. There is even love for Rebecca, who opens up to possibilities around her as she realizes the real gift- that the story does go on with love and children. "Sometimes living takes more courage than dying," she says to the man she discovers in Poland. And that's what Briar Rose is about, in the end. Both the fairy tale and this superb fairy tale retelling.

The Blue Girl - Charles de Lint (read for Carl's OUaT3 Challenge)
3.5/5 - I wish I could give this a higher rating. I am still surprised that I am disappointed with this one. For the first time that I can remember, I didn't find the two main characters, Imogene and Maxine, entirely believable. Imogene especially bothered me - not her tough nature, but her sudden recreation as she enters a new high school. I know that a teenage girl cannot hide her true character in high school. High school is brutal for the most part, and that's where what a person is made of is revealed. It's like a slice of life. And The Blue Girl fails not in the setting, but because no one guesses that Imogene was ever a tough girl who ran with a gang, despite her attitude and her skipping classes. I do like her for her imagination, her cleverness, and because she faces things head-on. I do like her friendship with Maxine. I know from Charles' afterword that he wanted to explore the friendship between two unlikely girls, and how this would affect both of them. So for trying it, and for telling a really good story, because it is, he gets the 3 stars.

The good points: the dialogue, the other characters, the story - there's ghosts, the dead, fairies, and very scary dark things with teeth in shadows. There's a lot to like in this book. It is a good read. And I like this quote, from Thomas (one of those very interesting secondary characters that Charles does so well that I really want to know more about!): "Oh, sure. It's fairy this and fairy that. We've even got CDs that 'inspired' by the fairies, for god's sake. But it wasn't always like that. The way my grandparents told it, the one thing you didn't ever want was to get their attention. If you did, you made sure you treated them with great respect. And you never show your fear." Now that, I like!

I think I wanted more - less Imogene being saucy, and more explanation of why she is special. Why can she see the dead, when she is not dead herself? where did all her tough manners go when she decided to drop that image? It's not easy to not let attitudes slip. And why isn't she unsure of herself? Most teenagers go back and forth from being secure to being completely insecure, often within the same day. And she's actually mean to Adrian, the dead teenager haunting the school. And I wanted to know more about Pelly, Imogene's imaginary friend who turns out to not be so imaginary, and I wanted to know more about the shadows with fangs. Oh yes, they were very interesting. I think it was the teasing both undergo in the school - the popular crowd and the toughies pick on them both, and other kids, and it is unlike Imogene's character to put up with it. That, and she physically hurts someone, and suffers no emotional repercussions. She says she will have to live with it, but we don't see her suffering from it. That is when the book stopped being realistic for me. Any act of violence scars both the victim and offender, for the offender at the least the first few times, and yet Imogene blithely passes it off and ignores it for the most part. This really upset me, and I thought it was wrong - wrongly handled, and didn't really belong in the book. It ruined her character for me, especially when she says she doesn't want to go to juvenile center if she tells the truth, so she lies. And she has all the answers - for Valerie, the girl she saves, for Brent who she attacks. What 17 year old knows the right thing to say all the time? Still, I liked her, but with reservations by the end.

So this is a solid book, with de Lint's trademark highlights, and wonderful Newford feel and fairies galore of the dangerous kind - they all are.

Well, that's my Sunday round-up. I am reading Possession, and surprisingly, really enjoying it. I tried many years ago when it first came out, and couldn't get past the opening pages. This time, I thought, well, Nymeth likes it, let me try it again, and voilà! So when I get it finished, she will get two points - because she convinced me to try a book I thought I hated!!

I hope you have a delightful day reading and with your family. It's spring, finally!