Thursday, September 30, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Series

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Question for September 30, 2010: If you read series, do you ever find a series “jumping the shark?” How do you feel about that? And, do you keep reading anyway?

Answer: Hmmmm...well I have NO IDEA what "jumping the shark" means. My best guess is that it means leaving stuff out...let's go to Google to find out.....according to wikipedia: "Jumping the shark is an idiom used to describe the moment of downturn for a previously successful enterprise... "It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now's all downhill".

Ok so now that I know what "jumping the shark means"  I can answer this question properly.  I do read series, in fact I LOVE to read series (serieses??). A few series that I have read include:The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Earth's Children (Jean Auel), The Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon), The Josephine B. Trilogy (Sandra Gulland), His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman), Twilight, Rashi's Daughters (Maggie Anton), Magic Kingdom of Landover (Terry Brooks), The Foundation Series (Isaac Asimov), The Finovar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay), and I suppose I just started the Millenium Trilogy. Ok so I think that's every series I've ever read...pretty good!

So now to answer the question-the only series that I didn't  LOVE LOVE LOVE was the Twilight series-I enjoyed it, but I don't think I was necessarily the target audience, but I read them so fast it wasn't a problem to finish them. I think that if I am more than one book into a series I would tend to keep reading. I actually can't think of any series that I felt was "jumping the shark"-no wait!! The Diana Gabaldon Outlander series is for sure going downhill, but I will read any all books that come out in the future!!

How about you readers?? Have you read any series that you stopped reading because it was going downhill?

Also did anyone else know about the term "jumping the shark"? Ten points to whoever can tell me which television show inspired this term!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Living life

"It was not a perfect way to live one's life, but it would have to do."

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
p. 191
Alan Bradley

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I just finished Steig Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Finally!! My friend Meghan picked it for us to read together, and if it wasn't for that I would not have finished it. It took me over 250 pages to get into the book. In the end I did like it, I just thought the first 250 or so pages were useless-the events in those pages definitely set the stage for the later half of the novel, but I honestly think they could have been written in like 20 pages!! I was also extremely bothered by typos and grammatical errors that I will hope are related to the fact that this book was translated from Swedish.The worst offender? I borrowed the book from a friend and she kindly left the jacket at home (I can't stand reading hardcovers with the jacket on) and on the spine of the book Larsson's name is written: Larrson. Nice.
I don't think I'll write more than this because I will be discussing it with Meghan-but I will say I do plan on watching the movie (The original version with English subtitles!).

Book Review: The Fourth Queen

I read Debbie Taylor's The Fourth Queen last week-I really liked it! Here is a synopsis:

Helen Gloag runs away from her well-to-do Scottish home early one morning after a fight with her step-mother. She ends up on a ship bound for the Boston. It is 1769. She is pregnant. This is the least of her problems. The ship is captured by Barbary pirates and she is taken as a slave. At the procurer's house she is selected by the Moroccan Emperor's emissary: a dwarf and an old crone. Helen is alone and frightened, for she does not speak Arabic, and seemingly nobody speaks English. The crone quickly recognizes that Helen is pregnant and terminates it immediately, so that she may become part of the Emperor's harem.

Interspersed with Helen's story are journal entries by the dwarf-Microphilus. We learn early on that he has fallen in love with Helen-and will do whatever he can to make her fall in love with him-beginning with the revelation that he is Scottish and also speaks English.

In the Emperor's harem we learn that this whole world revolves around sex. In 1796 Morocco, the Emperor is allowed 4 wives, but countless concubines. A ll the men in the Emperor's harem are eunuch's-with the exception of Microphilus. The king assumes he is a eunuch because of his size, and thus hasn't a clue that Microphilus has been the lover of the first queen Batoom for years. The Emperor selects his women for the week every Thursday-and few are requested more than once. We follow Helen as she is selected immediately, but she does not understand what is expected of her-she does not even realizes that this is the emperor-and is thrown from his chamber. The Emperor is known for his cruelty and Helen's life could have easily been taken for her disobedience.  Microphelius enlists Batoom's help and as translator he ensures Helen is tutored in the ways of a lover in the hopes that she will be given another chance by the emperor-he cannot bear the thought of losing her.

She is in fact given another chance and ends up falling in love with the Emperor, and as we can conclude form the title she does indeed become the Fourth Queen-but at what price.  The Queen she replaces was sent away, another is has a mysterious illness and is wasting away- nobody can figure out why-and Helen quickly joins her in sickness. 

The Fourth Queen is a scandalous tale, a romance, a mystery, and an historical fiction novel, all rolled into one. The book reminded me of The Tenth Gift which also involves a Scottish woman brought into the Moroccan Emperor's harem against her will. It is also comprised of two stories, however in the Tenth Gift the first narrative is in present day England and the second in 1625 Morocco. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beading: Earrings

I haven't posted anything beading related for a while because, well, I hadn't done any beading for a looooong time...until today that is!! Here are some earrings I made while watching the first episode of Mad Men Season 2 on Netflix!

Hope you like them!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: The 19th Wife

My book club's selection for September was David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife. Ebershoff wrote a book about polygamy that is made up of two parallel stories. One is set in present day Utah, the story of Jordan Scott's search to clear his mother's name. His mother you see, is being accused of killing her husband, she is his 19th wife. Jordan grew up as a "First"-with a polygamous father, and was thrown out of the church at 15 because he was holding hands with his stepsister. He is reading the news online one day about 6 years later when he comes across his mother's name and decides to investigate. The other story is of Ann Eliza Young, a young woman in the late 18oos who married, and later divorced the infamous Brigham Young. Through a series of "documents" and a research paper, we learn of Ann Eliza's experience growing up with and becoming involved in polygamous marriage, as well as her campaign to bring an end to it. The documents used in the book are fictional, however they are inspired by real documents.

I enjoyed this book-I though it was well written, and sensitive where it needed to be, and fast-paced and shocking at the right times. I was interested in both stories, but definitely felt more involved and curious about the present day story. I actually think I would have preferred reading each story separately rather than having them all jumbled together.

Book Review: Scapegallows

I read Carol Birch's Scapegallows at Lake of The Woods in the beginning of the month. I enjoyed the book, but it didn't leave me with much of a "lasting impression". I have read 2 1/2 books since then, and I should have written this review sooner.

Scapegallows is the story of Margaret Cathchpole  (a real person I might add), a woman brought up in Suffolk, England in the late 1700s. Her family, while not quite poor, is not well off and have ties to the smuggling world. Margaret's -shall we say beau- Will Laud, is a smuggler, and as such, his is a life of crime. When Will is forced to leave the country, Margaret becomes a servant for the Cobbolds, a very wealthy family, developing an almost friendship with the young mistress of the house. When Will is arrested, Margaret rushes to his aid, but to do so, she steals a horse from the Cobbolds  and attempts to sell it, a crime for which she is sentenced to hang. While she manages to escape, Will is shot dead, and she is yet again sentenced to hang. For a second time, Margaret manages to escape this fate, but in the end is sent to with other convicts to live in Australia.

While it may seem that I have ruined the story for you, this is essentially the same information you get on the back of the book (if like me you are so inclined to read that part). I enjoyed reading this book but I don't have too much more to say about it to be honest with you. Again, I should have written this review sooner! If you like historical fiction, fiction based on an actual person, or stories where people are sentenced to death for stealing a horse, then I recommend this book .

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Current

btt button I haven't done this one in a few weeks, so here we go...

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is:

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

My answer: I am reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Why? friend Meghan and I decided to start our own super mini book club to discuss books together. The first time we read......oh ya...a Fine Balance (sort of my choice), and then I asked her to pick the next book and she picked The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and I immediately agreed because I know so many people who have read it and loved it. So I am on page 131 (of 465) and I'm not loving it!! I am having a hard time getting into the stories and trouble connecting to any of the characters. I hope it gets better!!!

What are you reading? Do tell!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Awesome Podcast - The Next Chapter

I've been listening to CBC's podcast The Next Chapter lately and it's been pretty good. The best one so far was a special interview that Shelagh (the host) did with Alexander McCall Smith at the Writer's at Woody Point Festival this summer. This special podcast is basically their whole interview in front of a live audience and let me tell you, IT WAS FUNNY! I was listening to it on the subway yesterday grinning like an idiot, I stifled a few laughs and I'm pretty sure people thought I was crazy. Check it out  HERE!

Book Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

I read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe on vacation a few weeks ago. It was a really interesting read and I definitely recommend is why:

Connie Goodwin is completing her doctorate at Harvard, and during orals on American Colonial history her advisor asks her a question on witchcraft. She nearly panics as she digs through her mental files,  but is able to find the necessary information and in passing her oral exam she also finds the topic for her dissertation. Her advisor Professor Chilton encourages her to find a new primary source on a topic that is centuries old.

In the midst of her frantic studies Connie's "hippie" mother  insists that she heads out to Marblehead, just outside of Salem Massachusetts to go through her grandmother's old house in order to sell it. Although incredibly busy with trying to discover a new source, Connie finds herself  complying with her mother's poorly timed request. While cleaning out a bookshelf Connie comes across a bible with a key that falls out and slip of paper with the name Deliverance Dane protruding from the tip. On a shelf she finds old empty bottles, herbs, and recipe cards that when she reads them, strange things happen...almost like casting a spell.

Intertwined with Connie's story is that of Deliverence Dane in the mid 1700 and her recipe book for curing ailments-her "physick" book. As a healer and midwife, Deliverance faces scrutiny in her community when a young girl in her care passes away and accusations of witchcraft result in her imprisonment-an accusation which Deliverence accepts readily, because she is a witch. 

Connie searches through the historical archives to find Deliverence and her descendants to find a mention of her physick book...which may turn out to be her much sought after primary source. In her search she meets Sam, a steeplejack in Marblehead, who she begins to have feelings for, who suddenly becomes deathly ill. As Connie delves into her research and her family's history, Professor Chilton  begins acting strange, putting incredible pressure on her to come up with a fresh new source on witchcraft and Connie is beginning to wonder how all these pieces fit together...

Whenever I have read about witchcraft in the US, England, or Europe, the consensus has always been that these women were poor, or widows, outcasts in the community who were scapegoats, not witches. In The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Howe suggests that there were in fact witches, women who were attempting to cure the sick, not putting curses on neighbours or animals. Intriguing concept!!! 

I liked Howe's writing-I found the two different stories complimented each other and helped to move the novel forward, building anticipation and keeping my interest throughout. I definitely recommend this book!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Upcoming reviews

I will be posting reviews of the following books in the next week:

1. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
2. Scapegallows by Carol Birch
3. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Disaster

Question September 9, 2010
You’ve just dropped your favorite, out-of-print book into a bathtub, ruining it completely … What do you do now?

My answer: I don't think I own any out-of-print books....let me think..................nope. BUT! If I did....I guess I would probably whine about to everyone I knew to see if anyone had a copy they wanted to give or sell to me.....then I guess I would post something on craigslist or kijiji or something like that. Oh ya, I would also OBVIOUSLY write a post about it!!!!!!!!!!!!

How about you, my lovely readers!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I haven't posted for a while because I was in Winnipeg last week for a vacation as previously mentioned. I finished one book (which I will review in the next few days) and read a ton of magazines and watched a $900 firework show put on by me and my husband, my sister and her boyfriend, my parents and two of their friends. I didn't get the best pictures because a 100 shot firework tipped over in the bucket and shot back towards us-well over our heads but it was kinda scary, so I was kind of preoccupied!!!
Soooo many fireworks!!   
Part 2 of 3 of the finale!!