Sunday, February 28, 2010

6 books in February!

I just finished my 6th book this month: Shan Sa's The Girl Who Played Go. I found the story hard to get into because the chapters (all 2 pages of them for the most part) jumped between two characters. There wasn't enough meat in such short chapters to get drawn into either character. Until the end. I mean the VERY end. Last page the end. BAM! Did not see that coming! I have her book Empress: A Novel on hold at the library but I think I will probably cancel it.

Speaking of Go (the game), I can't wait to see my sister in FIVE DAYS!! We are going on vacation and will definitely be bringing a few games with us! Any suggestions of games to bring to play on the beach and/or while drinking?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review: The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

THANKS JESSE!! I read The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz based on a recommendation from a friend, who encouraged me to read it when he heard I planning a trip to the Dominican Republic.

I really enjoyed this book-with the exception of too many LENGTHY footnotes. If a footnote is longer than 3 sentences I don't understand why it isn't just part of the book. I found that most of the footnotes didn't add much to the story but did provide more historical information about the Dominican Republic. I think the only reason I did sort of enjoy the historical aspects of these footnotes was because of my upcoming trip-if I didn't have the trip planned I probably would have skipped past them. I likes how often the writer used Spanish phrases-even if I wasn't 100% sure of what they meant-it felt authentic.

There were a few quotes that struck me enough to write them down, or at least jot down the page number. This rarely happens, so I thought I would share them:

"If you didn't grow up like I did then you don't know and if you don't know it's probably better you don't judge." (p.55) I think this is so UNIVERSAL! Love it!

"You don't know what it's like to grow up with a mother who never said a positive thing in her life, not about her children or the world, who was always suspicious, always tearing you down and splitting your dreams straight down the seams." (p.56) No I definitely don't know what that's like-my mom is AWESOME!

"And I wonder: What hurt him more? That i was never really his friend, or that I pretended to be?" (p.181) Sad.

My last comment on the book: there is a recurring minor character of a faceless man-think what you want about what he represents-literally and figuratively a faceless man is pretty creepy.

Nine more days until I'm in the Dominican Republic-I am almost ready to start counting down the hours!! Any traveling tips?

Monday, February 22, 2010

BBC booklist

This one's for you Alishia!

BBC's The Big Read published a list of the country's favorite books back in 2003. This was also sent around on facebook last year.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien YEP
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen YEP (audiobook I think)
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman YEP loved it
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams YEP hated it
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling YEP LOVED it
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee YEP
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne YEP
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell YEP
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis YEP LOVED THEM ALL
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller YEP
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë tried to read it
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger YEP
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame YEP
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens YEP
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott YEP a looooooong time ago
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres tried to read it
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell YEP
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling YEP
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling YEP
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling YEP
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien YEP many many times
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll YEP
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez YEP -didn't quite finish
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett YEP
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl YEP
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen YEP
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen YEP
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery YEP my favorite series of all time
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald YEP
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas YEP audiobook!
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett YEP want to reread it
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck YEP
53. The Stand, Stephen King YEP
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy tried to read it
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl YEP
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden YEP
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding YEP
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl YEP
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl YEP
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley YEP
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac YEP hated it
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel YEP great series i came across last year
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho YEP
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez YEP
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

3 I started but couldn't get past the first few pages.

41 books read! How about you?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Canada Reads Review: The Jade Peony

This was by far the most disappointing of the Canada Reads books for me.

I read Wayson Choy's All That Matters a few months ago just after reading Lisa See's Shanghai Girls. Both of those books are set during the same time period (1930-40s) as The Jade Peony-and I liked All That Matters because it was from a Chinese-Canadian perspective rather than Chinese-American.

My problem with the Jade Peony is that it is too similar to All that Matters. The Jade Peony is told from the perspective of the three youngest siblings in the family, while All That Matters-which came out after-is from the eldest sibling's perspective. I usually enjoy reading books that have the same or some of the same characters, but I felt like I already knew all of the stories in the Jade Peony, and whose perspective it came from in large part didn't matter. I realize that this isn't exactly the book's fault that I read it's sequel first-but since that is what happened, I was disappointed.

The only character that really struck a chord with me, was Sek-Lung or Sekky. I found it really interesting to read about how badly he wanted to go to school, how difficult he found learning Chinese, and how he seemed to be the most "caught in the middle" of all his siblings between the new and the old ways because of his relationship with Grandmama/Poh-Poh. I also found it particularly interesting that he referred to her as Grandmama and not Poh-Poh, considering she was so intent on "the old ways".

Well this was the last of the books I needed to read of the Canada Reads books!! Hurray I did it!!

So what was my favorite book? Good to a Fault 100%.
My least favorite book? Nikolski
My pick for the winner ....hmmm... probably Good to a Fault but I'll have to think about that one a little bit more.

Now I get to join in the discussions on the Roughing It In The Books: Canada Reads Challenge!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book club :)

I love my book club! We had a meet-up today at a YUMMY restaurant called Harlem. We were discussing The Known World by Edward P. Jones-a Pulitzer Prize winner. For those of you that are unaware (as I and a majority of the group were), the Pulitzer Prize is actually the Pulitzer Prizes. They honor excellence in journalism and the arts AND musical composition according to wikipedia, in 21 categories. It is my understanding that it is solely American.

So what did we think of the book-not so great. Probably the LOWEST average rating BY FAR!! There were some great themes, but in general people felt that there were too many characters and it was really hard to get into. I agree. I don't have too much more to say about it-it's certainly no Book of Negroes!

Looking forward to our March meetup!

Now off to finish my final book for Canada Reads: The Jade Peony!

What are you reading??

Monday, February 15, 2010

My favorite poem

I received an awesome early birthday present from my aunt and uncle (and cousins) that included a book (Sarah's Key), and Table Topics . My aunt tried to find the book club version-and even sent the gift receipt to see if I could find it.
I couldn't resist-I opened them last night!!

One of the questions prompted this post: "What is you favorite quotation". I couldn't think of a quotation, but I do have a favorite poem.

When I was in grade 7 I remember studying poetry. I don't have the best memory for things that long ago-but I do remember that we were required to analyze a poem (including song lyrics). Someone in the class did "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails. Wow-I can't believe I remembered that!

I chose a Robert Frost poem the name I can't recall, because The Road Not Taken was (and still is) my favorite poem, but we had already covered it in class. When my teacher informed me that I had misinterpreted the poem I selected I pretty much closed the book on poetry after that. I was (and still am) pretty sure that you can't be wrong about what a poem means to you .

So even though I don't read much poetry, my favorite poem remains:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(Lyrics courtesy of wikipedia)

What is your favorite quote and/or poem?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!!

This post is not reading, beading, or even knitting related!! While Valentine's Day may be a "greeting card company" holiday-it's still nice to celebrate with someone you love. For the single people out there (or even those in relationships)-love can be found on many different levels-the love you have for your significant other, your family, friends, pets....

This year my husband surprised me with an evening at the Kortright Centre. We had never been there before, but he had been looking at the website recently as somewhere to take visitors. We had dinner, followed by an evening hike/walk on part of a trail, and ending with a bonfire. It was made even nicer by gently falling snow-that ended up coming down fairly heavily, but it was quite warm outside!! This was the first time that my husband planned everything out without any input from me and it was amazing!! He even rented a car!!

We really enjoyed ourselves and are planning on going back to the Kortright Centre, maybe this spring for their Marple syrup festival, but definitely in the summer!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

scarf knitting 101

Another non-reading or beading post:

My grandma taught me how to knit a LONG time ago. I tried to make a scarf. But it was too tedious so I gave up. Hopefully this does not happen again.

After two knitting lessons I am well on my way to making a scarf. Now that I can knit AND purl (is that how you spell it?), I am really enjoying knitting.

I think I might still like crochet better, but that may be only because I have more experience with crochet.

As you can (hopefully) see in the picture to the right, I'm using a yarn that changes colours throughout. In "my heart of hearts" as Bronwen likes to say, I have ALWAYS wanted to make something with yarn like this.

I've only been working on this for a few hours, so I'm not sure how long this will take me. I still need to focus with this "pattern" because I have to switch between knitting and my plans for wine drinking and knitting tomorrow night should be interesting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Canada Reads Review: Nikolski

Nicolas Dickner's Nikolski is my 4th of the Canada Reads Books, and so far, my least favorite. The "About this book" section on the Randomhouse website says: "Intricately plotted and shimmering with originality, Nikolski charts the curious and unexpected courses of personal migration, and shows how they just might eventually lead us to home. "

The description that continues there sounds like the makings of a GREAT book, but there was something missing for me. I didn't connect with any of the characters and honestly wasn't all that interested in finding out what would happen.

I did like the idea of Noah's mother traveling cross-country in a station wagon and trailer, well, more like cross-prairie. I was fascinated by the way they tried to keep in touch by "guessing" where to send letters and postcards-although that would NEVER work for me!! Even if I could imagine myself living out of my car with no plans ahead of me, I would still want to arrange a more structured way to keep in touch!!

I think I may have read through this one too fast, because it feels like there was something missing in this story.

It's been 16 days since I said I was going to start the Canada Reads Challenge-I think 4 books in 16 days is a record for me! I'm waiting for #5 (The Jade Peony) to come in at the library (it's been "In Transit" for a few days). In the meantime I have a book club meeting next week so I need to start reading that book!

So my blogger friends, what book(s) are you reading? Any suggestions for me?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Canada Reads Book Review: Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

I REALLY enjoyed this book!! There is a quote from Elizabeth Hay (another great author--> Late nights on Air) on the back cover of Good to a Fault, "...a wise and searching novel about the fine line between being useful and used." PERFECT!

The basic plot: 40 something loaner Clara gets into a car accident with a family (with 3 kids and grandma) who are living out of their car. The mother ends up in the hospital with cancer-not accident related injuries-so what does Clara do-invites the rest of the family to "stay" (live) with her.

While I can't EVER imagine welcoming strangers into my home to live, I adored Clara. I really felt like I was in her head. Endicott does such a good job of allowing you inside Clara's thoughts-like how she seems to think she has no right to feel her feelings-she's always tearing apart her initial reactions to things/people/situations, or how she seems to feel unworthy "She couldn't even be sick successfully". Clara doesn't-or can't-view her actions as kind or good, because she constantly feels like she's not doing enough.

The way Endicott wrote about the children and their feelings, fear, loyalty, happiness...amazing!

I also really liked the theme of "goodness" throughout.

It was heartbreaking at different times, and in different ways at the same time-for all of the characters involved. I liked this book from the first paragraph to the very last.

Definitely my top pick of the Canada Reads books so far!! I still have Nikolski and The Jade Peony to read though!

(Great interview with author Marina Endicott here)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I took a crochet class about two years ago and have been enjoying making blankets and little animals off and on ever since. I recently saw a pattern for a cute shawl thing-but realized it was a knitting pattern NOT crochet.

What's a girl to do- take a knitting class and drag a friend (Marcia) along. We had a really fun time and caught on pretty quickly. I feel like it's taking a lot longer than crochet, but that's probably because I'm still getting used to manipulating 2 needles instead of one.
I'll post a picture after our next lesson next week-we'll see how far I get with one ball of yarn!

Are there any knitting (or crochet) fans out there?

Monday, February 1, 2010

"It looks like you bought it!"

While I was off sick last week I did a whole lotta reading, and finally a little bit of beading! I haven't felt inspired lately so haven't made much. I received (most of) these beads for Christmas from my aunt (and uncle too!) and wasn't quite sure what to do with them. I finally just started putting a few different beads together with the intention of making another bracelet, but then decided on earrings when BAM! Inspiration hit and I made this lovely necklace.

My husband actually said "It looks like you bought it....not so.....crafty". Thanks? I love and I've worn it 3 out of the past 4 days. This is usually what happens when I make a new piece of jewelry!