Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wild Seed

Wild Seed is the first novel in Octavia E. Butler's Patternmaster series, in the chronology of the Patternmaster world.  It is actually the 3rd novel written in the series.  If I had known that before I started, I probably would have read the books in publication order.  Oh well.  The edition of Wild Seed I have is collected in an Omnibus titled, Seed To Harvest.  I hadn't fully decided until I reached the emotional end of Wild Seed, whether I would write about each of the four Patternmaster books individually or if I would write about Seed to Harvest as a whole. It was an emotional ending and a fantastic story. Wild Seed is definitely a story on its own, able to stand alone, not just as a part of a series.  The power of the story decided for me, I had to write about Wild Seed (and now each subsequent story) on its own.

Wild Seed starts off with Doro. Sensing the presence of Anwanyu, Doro veers off his path to find her. That decision sets their immortal lives on a new course.  I loved this story.  Not only is the plot interesting and unique, it gives us a view of a world we don't often see in fantasy. Doro is a spirit, who's not a spirit; who changes bodies by first killing the spirit of the ones who own it. He can become male or female, black or white, anyone he wants. Anyanwu is an incredibly strong shapeshifter. She can become any living creature, learning all she needs to know about how a body functions by eating a bite of that animal. She can be a woman or man, make herself black or white or whatever she wants. Doro has lived for almost four thousand years. Anyanwu is young in comparison, only about four hundred by the time the book ends. They were both born in Africa, but their lives have moved to the new world, to a secluded part of New York. 

I love Anyanwu. I love how much she loves her friends and family. I love that she wants to be around her people. I love how much she cares for them, wants them to be safe and to grow and think for themselves. I love how much she loved Isaac. She was amazing, they were amazing. I'm so glad that this is a series and I (hopefully) get to see what happens next to her. 

I loved to hate Doro. I just wanted him to see what he was doing was wrong, not just because of convention or superstition, but because it can create bad people. Before finding Anyanwu, he lost most of his humanity. Anyanwu is a good (interesting) influence on him. I'm excited to see what kind of change will happen to him through the books in this series. 

I liked that we got to know Isaac. Besides him, we don't really see much of the other people Doro and Anyanwu interact with. The rest of the characters flit in and out of their lives, though there are a few we get deeper glimpses into, like Stephen, Luisa, Thomas, Nneke, and Leah. I wonder who we will see in future books. I suppose with the unending lives of Doro and Anyanwu, the next book could start with the end of Wild Seed, or it could start a hundred years in the future. 
I wonder about the other books. How much time will have passed? Where are we going to find this immortal pair? Will Anyanwu change Doro? I'm excited that I have started this series and I'll be reading the other books soon.

 *I really like all these interesting covers from over the years.  I had to share.*

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Girl Who Played With Fire

I love a good ending, don't you?

Though I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I took my time before I read The Girl Who Played With Fire. For two reasons: the length, it comes in at over 700 pages; and the subject matter, I knew it would be a mystery/thriller and have a measure of violence about it. I also knew what kind of violence, so, I avoided it for a while. Recent developments in my life have afforded me some uninterrupted time for a couple weeks, so the length seemed like a non-issue and I decided this was the time to read it.

I'm glad I finally did and I don't know if I should have waited so long. The Girl Who Played With Fire had me hooked from the beginning.  I think I liked it better than the first book. There was character development, intrigue and action. I loved every twist and turn. Stieg Larsson created such a compelling character in Lisbeth Salander and also in Mikael Blomkvist. I liked Berger, Paulo Roberto, Mimmi, Erikkson, Modig, Bublanski, everyone. Admittedly, there are A LOT of characters, and since it's been so long since I read the first book, I had trouble remembering all of them. But I'm used to it... I read Stephen King, after all.

I liked that Larsson created not just a compelling story, but also takes one sensitive topics. I felt that he was not just using it as background to tell a tail, but he also expressed an opinion about them through his work. It gave me something more than just a fantastic story to connect too.

As with so many second books in a trilogy, this felt like a middle book. It didn't until the end. The final few pages created such a cliffhanger, a sense of urgency, I don't think I'll be waiting as long to read the final installment. If it wasn't for those scenes, if the ending was just a bit different, or if the book was just five pages longer, two pages, it could have been a complete story unto itself. This is the Millennium trilogy though, so that it ended that way didn't surprise me.

I'm excited to read The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. That there is a third book, means I kind of know what's going to happen after that final scene. Part of me wants to keep going about how much I enjoyed The Girl Who Plays With Fire, but I should really just pick up the next book. If haven't read these books yet, even if you don't like mystery/thrillers, I highly recommend them. It is the characters that make the Millennium books amazing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls.

Was that Hawksworth at the end? Wow. A great ending. Both the main story with the Bennets and the epilogue. I feel like the epilogue was not really created to connect to the first Pride and Prejudice and Zombies novel, but to actually connect to the third, Dreadfully Ever After. Which I will be reading, sooner than later. Dawn of the Dreadfuls actually has me wanting to read more Jane Austen too.  It's been a while since I read Emma and I have Northanger Abbey calling to me from a stack of books nearby.

I thoroughly enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. It was brain candy. Just what I needed. It had women fighting stereotypes and preconceptions. It had twists. It had Lizzy and Jane. It had zombies! Steve Hockensmith did an excellent job moving backward from the story Seth Grahame-Smith wrote in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He gave origins to where the Bennet sisters and their father learned their warrior ways, and Lady Catherine as well. Though we got more details about the zombie plague, we don't know where or why it started. I wonder if we'll get that in the third book.  Dawn of the Dreadfuls was funny, tragic, and exciting.  It's everything I expected it to be.  I loved that the Bennet parents got first names and that they are both given more depth.  I liked seeing who owned Netherfield before Bingley.  There's so much I liked about this novel.  I feel like I could gush.  Instead, I'm going to say, read it.  Even if you haven't read Pride and Prejudice or Pride an Prejudice and Zombies, I'm sure you'll still enjoy Dawn of the Dreadfuls.  The story stands very well on its own.  I wish there was more, but I suppose there is and I'll be reading it soon.  More Regency zombies, please!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's in the Fridge? Homemade Pasta Sauce!

What happens when you have to make dinner and you don't have time to go to the grocery store and the cupboards are bare?  You take a bunch of stuff from the fridge and throw it in a pot!  I looked through the food stocked in the kitchen, I found that I had butter, milk, flour, various leftover vegetables and the usual herbs and spices.  First, I decided that I needed to use the broccoli, asparagus, and spinach (I hate when produce goes bad).  Then, I saw the butter.  I don't usually have butter, but I baked recently and had some left over.  Butter, plus flour and milk, add some parmesan, throw in the greens and now I have a veggie cream sauce! I added some black pepper, basil and oregano, what more do I need?  I checked out what pasta I had, and surprisingly, I actually had some fettucine.  It was a quick dinner and it tasted fantastic. Sometimes, you just need a few minutes, imagination and determination to find what you need.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Call Roxanne, by Andrew Pyper

After reading Andrew Pyper's exciting novel, The Demonologist, I just had to read something else by him.  After a quick search, I found a free short story (I'm a sucker for a free short story), Call Roxanne.  (Also, I just finished Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxane!)  This is not a story about a girl named Roxanne, it is a story about a boy and his father.  Something is wrong with the boy and I think something is wrong with the father.  I thought the relationship between father and son was interesting.  I wish I knew more about them.  I loved the way the trip to the hospital was woven into the story without being obvious.  I thought the introduction of Roxanne was interesting and the way she popped back up at the end.  It ends so abruptly though, I wish I knew more about the boy and what happens to him.  Call Roxanne has definitely made me eager to read more of Andrew Pyper's works.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Cyrano de Bergerac

I want to see this play! The story is brilliant, tragic, and full of emotion. If you don't know Edmond Rostand's most famous work, Cyrano de Bergerac is about love and appearances. Cyrano has a rather large nose and is considered by himself and others as ugly. He is in love with a beautiful woman, Roxane. Roxane is in lust with Christian, though for the time, they call it love. Christian is also in love with Roxane, but must work to woo her. He has no words. Cyrano is an expert at words, he is a poet and perhaps could have been a playwrite. Cyrano believes that Roxane could never love him, so gives his words to Christian. First in a letter, then in the famous balcony scene where Cyrano whispers from the bushes, a scene that has become a part of pop culture and parodied in so many different forms.

The end is just so sad. Though familiar with the balcony scene and the play, I didn't know how it began or ended or the other man vying for Roxane's affections. I hoped for truth, for love to conquer all. I wanted for Cyrano and Roxane to find happiness. You'll have to read it to find out what happens. It's one of those works that is so frequently referenced, that you think you know what happens, but you actually don't. As when I finished Death of a Salesman, I want to see Cyrano de Bergerac now. I'm going to be keeping my eye out to see if the play will be preformed in Toronto or Stratford. I should check a couple of the local theatres too. I have to find a good movie adaptation. Suggestions? Cyrano de Bergerac was a fantastic play and I'm eager to see it performed.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Shopaholic On Honeymoon

Shopaholic on Honeymoon is a perfect little taste of the Shopaholic series.  It is full of Sophie Kinsella's humourous tone and Becky's insanely wonderful personality.  Shopaholic on Honeymoon takes place during the gap of time between Shopaholic Ties The Knot and Shopaholic and Sister. There's an entire year in there where Becky and Luke go on honeymoon.  They travel the world and come home to all of Becky's purchases.  But was it smooth sailing the whole time?  Was it a perfect year?

I love that Kinsella was inspired to write this short story.  I'm glad it was free too!  Though it had what I believe is the desired effect, I want to read more Shopaholic.  I don't own Shopaholic to the Stars yet.  I want now more than I did before.  I'm itching to read more Kinsella.  I do have a couple of her stand-alone books that I haven't read yet.  Maybe it's time for Twenties Girl or Can You Keep A Secret?.  I have been spending some time commuting with strangers this week, maybe Can You Keep A Secret? is the perfect book to be reading.  I think I just need more Sophie Kinsella in my life.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Am Employed!

I'm very excited.  Not only am I excited about this new opportunity and looking forward to my new job, I'm excited to have money.  It'll be nice not to have to worry so much about what I'm spending. It'll be nice to be able to save money eventually, for a vacation, a new car, for the future.  No more interviews with questions that drive me crazy.  No more ads, agencies, reading between the lines... no more searching!  I start on Monday.  There's some training and then a really amazing work schedule and location.  Then I'll be on my own, achieving goals, getting to know new people and finding my place in a new environment.  I'm eager to begin.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Job Interviews are Like Blind Dates

It starts simply: two people look at profiles. X is a person looking at a job description, she decides to apply. Y reviews the résumé, the detailed profile, listing traits, with a cover letter talking about all their good points.  The exchange can be a biased, since there is a lot of history on a résumé and often less in a job description, but an industrious X can go online and search out the company "creep their Facebook", finding all kinds of un/interesting things.  Y might be checking out X's online profiles too.  How much of what they find is true? How many people lie on their resumes?  How many people make a company seem more impressive through a fancy website? There is only so much you can learn from these profiles.

A meeting is agreed upon.  X "dresses to impress".  We hope Y would do the same.  If they don't, won't they also be judged by the person coming to meet them?  Like a blind date, clothing can be crucial. Does X want to work somewhere, be with someone, that doesn't look put together, that doesn't look like they know what they're doing?  Also, don't be late.

After that first impression, X and Y have a chat.  They talk about their histories.  X talks about her previous employers, past relationships.  Y gives a history of the company, may talk about previous employees.  Are X and Y getting along?  Y might start talking about what will be expected of X.  X might ask questions of Y, trying to figure out what she would be getting into and if it is worth her time.  

After they part, it's left of to Y to call.  Is X the right fit?  Y might need a second date.  If Y decides against pursuing a relationship with X, there's often disappointment and sadness.  If Y offers, then there is joy and a new relationship. However, X does have the option to decline. What if, after meeting Y, X knows she'd never be happy there? What if X gets a better offer? After that first meeting, that first date, there's more than one possibility.

My job search has been going on for a while.  I've been on a lot of interviews in the past few weeks. It was maybe two weeks ago that I started comparing job interviews to blind dates.  The interviews are so often the same conversations, just had with different people in different locations.  Which got me thinking about dating (something I honestly haven't done in a very long time), then thinking about blind dating, since I'm not actually meeting anyone until after the exchange of information.  Like blind dates, I'm hoping one of these meetings works out for me.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan

Jeffrey Brown's Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan was fantastic.  It was everything I expected after reading the first Star Wars Jedi Academy book.  It was cute, funny, and sweet. Roan really grew, more than he did in the first book.  It wasn't just him getting through a year of school and getting used to Jedi training.  In Return of the Padawan, Roan learns about himself.  He learns about maintaining friendships, listening to others, and resisting the dark side.  Even though it's the Jedi Academy, there are so many relatable moments for kids. This could be any school.  

I thoroughly enjoyed Brown's style of drawing and the way that the book is pieced together. Including the report cards, the Ewok Pilot cartoon, and journal entries is fantastic.  I really liked the inclusion of "Holobook", the Jedi Academy's version of Facebook.  It showed how, as in real life, you can make a simple post, and then receive negativity.  Holobook is my new favourite part of the Jedi Academy.  I was happy reading this latest installment and I can't wait to read about Roan's third year in The Phantom Bully.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Breaks Between Books

How long are your breaks between books?  Mine used to be non-existent.  I frequently had the next book picked out before I finished the one I was reading.  It had nothing to do with the enjoyment of my current book. Even if I found the book all-consuming, crazy-amazing, I would still have something ready and waiting.  Not that I always read the book I thought I was going to read; I occasionally changed my mind, but there still be only a day between books.  With blogging, I like to get my thoughts down before I start something new. Often, I would throw down my points and then start the new book, cleaning the post up when I had more time.  What happened?

Lately, probably the last three or four months, it is sometimes days before I pick up my next book.  It's not that I feel like I'm in a slump, I've enjoyed the books I've read.  I loved, The Demonologist and The Flying TroutmansBlue Lily, Lily Blue and Specials had me riveted.  Why did it take me so long to pick each of those books? There were days between all of them.  I could have read another (short) book in the time it took me to pick something.  Is it because I have Emily Dickinson's collection on the go?  Usually, I only have one "currently reading" book at a time, but I started her poems months and am taking my time. The poetry is an ebook, so if I'm out, without space for my novel, I can take in a few poems.  I also find by spacing them out, I'm enjoying each poem more. (I'm taking lots of notes too.)  However, I don't think that's it.  I've been reading the poems for about eight months now and this change is newer than that. 

So, what is it?  Why am I now leaving so much space between books?  How long do you let go by before you pick up another book?

It's been two days since I finished my last book. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Malai Kofta Kabab

As mentioned in a previous food post, I've been trying to make dinnertime more interesting for me and the Hubby (the kids would be happy with chicken nuggets and apples, they need to try new things).  I have loads of ground beef in the freezer, but wanted to make something besides pasta sauce or tacos (not that we don't enjoy those things).  I did a quick search online and came up with this recipe from Kraft Canada.  Their online recipe site has really expanded its "ethnic" offerings.  I looked at the ingredients list.  I had everything except the cooking creme*.  Since I was going shopping anyway, I picked it up.  I also added my own twist on a few of the ingredients. Below are pictures of my journey making Malai Kofta Kabab for the first time.

I enjoy toasting my own spices.  I use a regular steel pan, I think it does the job better than a non-stick pan.  In the pan I have cumin and coriander seeds.  I have burnt my seeds in the past, so I try to keep on top of them.  When they smell awesome, is usually when they are done.  Then I put them in my marble mortar bowl and then pestle them until they're ground up.

Here are all the ingredients, with my iPad shining in the background.  I think in this first attempt, I used too many breadcrumbs.

After the ingredients are mixed together, the slightly flattened meat balls goes in the oven.  FYI, that's how we tried to sell it to the kids, they're meatballs in a new sauce.

Time to start the sauce.  Sautéed onion smells so good!

Now it looks like a sauce.  It was my first time using the cooking creme.  It didn't melt as fast as I thought it would.  It worked out just fine.  All I needed was patience.

The "meatballs" are ready to go into the sauce.  It smelled so good.  I sneaked a taste of the meat before the sauce was done.  It's really a great combination of spices.

Okay, that picture is way smaller than one serving.  It smelled so good (and it made me and Hubby so hungry) that I totally forgot about taking a picture.  I also took the picture at the dinner table, which makes the sauce and rice look yellow for some reason.  It didn't look like that.  It did get a slight yellow tinge from the spices, but it looked more creamy.  Hubby and I were really happy. The kids ate the rice.  We made them taste the "meatballs".  I think they'll get to like them eventually.  I also made a cucumber salad to go on the side.  There are no vegetables in this dish, unless you count onions and cilantro.  Looking at the pictures makes me want to eat this again. I think I'd like to make this for a dinner party some time.... with people who are less picky than my kids.

*I tried to look up this recipe on other sites without the cooking creme, but it was too complicated for a weeknight meal, so I went with easy. I might try totally from scratch next time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

I hate that question.  Sometimes it's ten years, then I might hate it even more.  I've mentioned before that I am currently unemployed and looking for work.  I've had a couple interviews where this question has been asked.  What I want to say is: working for you; or NOT unemployed; or having won the lottery, on vacation.  It's hard for me to answer, when five years ago, I did not picture myself in this situation.  I thought I'd be working for the same company, enjoying the office community, sharing pictures and stories of our children, reading good books together, having a nice time, while doing work that related to the environment.  Instead, I've had a different job since and been unemployed for almost a year.  Five years is not a long time, and it's also forever.

Instead of talking about those things and sounding like a madwoman, I come up with a relatively "correct" answer, talking about being with the company for the long term and taking on increasing responsibilities. I do hope some of the things I say.  I want to have a job in five years.  I'm tired of looking for work.  But after the previous five years, I know anything can happen and something unexpected always seems to.  Instead of trying to predict the future, I'd rather concern myself with the present.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Flying Troutmans

The Flying Troutmans was amazing, more than I expected.  I remember buying the book ages ago, reading the synopsis repeatedly over the years and leaving the book on the shelf.  Why did I finally read it? I was in the mood for a grownup book and that is what The Flying Troutmans sounded like. Something about real life.  Something I could relate too.  It spoke to my mood.  I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, though.  The writing was engaging and unique, just like the characters.  Sometimes, I wished that Hattie and the kids would just get there.  I wondered how many more crazy stops they could make.  The tension drove me a little nuts, wondering what they would find.

I enjoyed the story so much, I "suspended my disbelief".  Some of the decisions Hattie made, thinking back on it, were so unbelievable.  Who would take those kids where she took them?  Who would make those decisions?  Hattie?!  But within the context of the story, it seemed right.  Hattie was making the best decision for her sister and her sister's children.  

A quote on the front cover of my edition commented on the humour of the book. Other quotes I looked at also mentioned the novel was funny.  I did not find it humourous, at least not in the way the quotes implied.  It was funny in a sad sort of way, not a haha, kind of way.  I did not find myself laughing out loud, I found myself empathizing with Hattie, Min, Logan and Thebes.  I found myself thinking about mental illness.  Maybe part of that was the recent Bell Let's Talk day.  Miriam Toews created some of the most interested characters I've ever read about and I'll miss their road trip.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

It's Not a Special Occasion, It's A Turkey Breast!

Lately, I've been a bit bored with dinner.  It seems like I make the same chicken and beef recipes all the time.  I'm a busy parent, so I do tend to like what's easy, but I also think variety is the spice of life.  Not only will different foods be fun, but it would be nice to vary the different vitamins and minerals we are taking in.  When considering the possibilities, the first thing that came to mind was turkey.  I love turkey, but like most people, I only make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I thought it was time to change that.  I always see the turkey breasts in the meat section, but haven't bought one since I was pregnant with my daughter (and chicken made me sick).  So, this week I picked it up.  

I'm good at making a turkey, but I was nervous about making just the breast.  I didn't want to over cook it.  I definitely didn't want to under cook it.  I wanted to get the skin nice and crispy.  I considered pan-frying, but thought for my first time out in 6 years, I should just roast it.  It turned out fantastic.  I rubbed it down with the same seasonings I used during the holidays.  I put it in the oven for about an hour and a half and it came out perfectly.  It was juicy and brown.  

My one mistake, too small of a dish.  It didn't quite fit.  The bone prevented the meat from actually touching the bottom.

Brown on the outside, juicy on the inside, it couldn't have turned out better.  (I don't know why I didn't move the knife and fork when I took this picture.  It's a nice knife, at least.) 

What do I use to season my turkey?  It's pretty simple: olive oil, garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Easy, good and tasty.  

Any suggestions for changing up my dinnertime repertoire?  I'm excited to try more new things!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Demonologist

I think I loved The Demonologist.  The story was riveting.  I was up late many nights because I just had to know what happened next.  I loved the characters, I empathized with them, I shouted at the book, I gasped out loud.  I loved the trip the character took, from New York to Venice, Florida to Northern Ontario.  It was the road trip from hell, but it was amazing.

Why don't I know if I loved The Demonologist?  I am not sure how I feel about the ending.  Quite a few unexpected things occurred. The emotional climax hit, but there was no after-moment, if you know what I mean.  I didn't need an epilogue or anything, I just wish there was a little bit more. There were so many unanswered questions.  I had to double-check to see if this was the first book in a series, because it seems to be calling for a sequel.  I do appreciate the ending though, there's a certain artistry to it.

Last weekend, I met author Andrew Pyper and wrote a bit about my experience.  I wish I had finished the book before the meeting, because there is so much I want to know.  Not that I think I would have broken out of my bumbling shell and asked him any of my burning questions.  The film rights have been sold, will it end the same way?  Why isn't there more?  I thought there'd be more running, more hugging, more tears.  I did love O'Brien though.  She was amazing throughout the novel.

I appreciated that though this was a horror/fantasy type novel, with evil demons straight out of Paradise Lost, that essentially, The Demonologist is about a father looking for his daughter.  He loves her, she is so much like him, they want each other to be happy. Their relationship anchored the emotional context of the book; my heart was always pulled back to David Ullman's loss.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Tale of Two Printers

The first printer was a Canon and it printed beautiful pictures.  That's what I was in the middle of doing.  We had some pictures done recently and I wanted to put them up.  I selected two beautiful pictures, one of each of my children.  My daughter's picture printed, but before my son's could come out, I got an unfixable printer error.  I went online and did everything, every trick I could find.  What I learned was that somehow, between picture one and picture two, the printhead died.  We'd had it a few years, it had done its job.  It was inconvenient, however, because I needed to fill out some forms and email them to someone.  When the printhead went, it killed the scanner part of the printer too. Stress!

Luckily, we had a second printer.  My mother-in-law, a while ago, bought a fancy new printer and gave us her old one, which was still pretty fancy.  I knew one day the Canon would go, so I kept the HP they were giving us.  We used it a few times, but not a lot.  The Canon printed great pictures and was less bulky.  Now that the Canon was dead, it was time to put the HP into full service.  So I thought... The HP was out of ink!  Easy enough fix, though expensive.  In the meantime, the scanner was fully available, so my Hubby printed the forms at work, I filled them out, scanned them and sent there where they need to go.  Yay!  Stress gone!  Until.... I put the ink in the printer.  Print error! Nothing will print! Seriously? How could both printers be dead? Once ink is open, stores aren't supposed to take them back. I tried all the tricks that the internet found for me (again), but nothing worked.  I contacted HP support and they referred me to the same tricks.  When I told them that didn't work, they gave me a number to call.  Then I was hung up on.

So, I called Staples, the company I ordered the ink from.  Why hadn't I called them first? Well, the ink was opened and packaging gone.  After a discussion with a customer service agent, and his discussion with his supervisor, they gave me a credit for the value of the ink.  Now, I will to buy a new printer with my Staples credit.  Probably not an HP, though I have an HP laptop.... Staples was fantastic.  I explained my problem and they helped me out.  Yes, I have to by a printer from them and it's not like the money for the ink is going to detrimentally affect their bottom line, but they could have just said, no. 

It's been a frustrating time.  I thought I had two printers, when it turned out I had zero. I thought I wasted money on printer ink, which we know costs about as much as a new printer.  I was so stressed when I needed to print important things.  I feel like it's all such a waste.  All those electronics and the ink.  I hope the environment doesn't hate me. Buying a new printer is nice though.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kind of a Diary Entry....

I went to see Andrew Pyper speak at the WCYR monthly meeting.  He was fantastic.  I loved when he talked about dumping out his notes on a dining room table, then connecting them, eventually turning them into a novel.  So much of the process he described for himself is actually what I like to do or see myself doing, the more I write.  I wish I had said something about that to him when I talked to him.  He brought a box of his book, The Demonologist, to sign for attendees.  He was so polite and I felt so awkward.  Most people I know don't think of me as a shy person.  I can get really chatty, but when I'm faced with a room full of people I don't know, I get very quiet.  I get awkward. I don't know what to say.  

I was also in a bit of a rush.  I was squeezing this meeting in because I really wanted to see what a WCYR meeting was like and I wanted to hear Andrew Pyper speak.  Other things were calling to me, waiting for me to be done.  My Hubby helped, taking care of things until I got home, but I felt the pull anyway.

To sum up, I felt dumb and awkward when I met a bestselling author, instead of telling him how awesome his talk was.  Good job me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Garlic Spread

What happens when I make spaghetti one night and realize I have no garlic bread?! After a brief moment of 'the kids are going to lose it' (they love garlic bread), I think, I'm sure I can make my own. Then, I did.  It was super easy, easier than I imagined.  I just made a simple garlic spread, no cheese or anything fancy.  I might try fancy in the future, but that wasn't what I needed in the moment.

What I used: Margarine, Garlic, Parsley

That's all I put in it.  I used margarine, because that's what I had on hand.  I took out enough margarine to spread on both sides of four pieces of bread.  For four slices one garlic clove is enough (the second time I did this, I used two and it was too strong).  Parsley is just for taste, and to add a bit of colour.  

I mixed it all together in the bowl, spread it on the bread, then toasted it.  Done.  Tasty bread and a happy family.  What more could I have asked for?  I haven't tried using butter yet. I wonder what that would taste like.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman is a brilliant play.  Willy, Linda, and their sons connect with the audience.  I could see their lives in the lives of people I've known.  The play is American in sensibility, as well as origination, but appeals to everyone.  Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman has been performed around the world, from England to Italy to China.  The hopes and dreams of the Lomans are the hopes and dreams so many people have.

I have had the 50th anniversary edition of Death of a Salesman sitting around in my house (and all the apartments before) for over a decade.  I read The Crucible twice, once in high school, once in University. I also vaguely remember seeing the movie. I missed out on Death of a Salesman. Sometime after my second reading of The Crucible, I saw the 50th anniversary edition of Death of a Salesman on a clearance table. I had to get it.  Afterwards, because University didn't allow for much recreational reading, it sat on my shelf.  I don't know why I let it get away from me. It was brilliant. Death of a Salesman is one of the best plays/stories I've ever read.

I'd love to see it performed.  As far as I know, it won't be playing in Toronto or Stratford in the near future.  I know there are 1966 and 1985 films, maybe I'll be getting my hands on one.  I could picture it all in my head though.  I know it's called "Death" of a Salesman, but I was still holding out hope.  I know it was silly, but I wanted Willy and his family to break free.  Maybe he did in the end.

I felt so sorry for everyone, the boys, who grew up with parents who built them up so much, they didn't know how to fail.  I couldn't comprehend the lies, I know they were "selling" themselves, but it seemed so false, lying not just to others, but to themselves.  I think of all the characters in the play, Bernard probably saw the truth more than anyone else.  I wonder if that's why he wasn't also a salesman.

I'm not sure how I feel about Linda.  I think she has strength, trying to hold her family together and supporting her disintegrating husband.  But she also seems a victim.  Was this the lives of many housewives of that era?  Do they hold on desperately?  Is it the lives of some wives now?  Linda also tells her sons what is acceptable, she scolds them for their bad behaviour.  She tries to protect her husband's state of mind.  I think, whether I end up liking her or not, she is a great character.

Arthur Miller's play is amazing.  I recommend it (and The Crucible) to everyone.  I think it is thoroughly a modern classic.  I am glad I finally read it. 

Friday, January 09, 2015

Old Blog Posts

Do you ever update old blog posts?  I just did. I recently wrote a couple posts and referred back to books I read many years ago, 1984 and The Queen of the Damned. I cleaned up the posts to match the ones I write now.  I started The Eye of Loni's Storm a long, long time ago.  8 1/2 years ago!  Back then, I was unfamiliar with blogging and didn't have a personal blogging style.  The posts were much shorter.  I would spew out my thoughts after finishing a book or watching a movie, throw up a picture, then hit "publish".  That was it. As I looked back, I saw the posts and found them too messy.  Am I going to go back and rework all the posts from back then? No. I think just the ones I direct readers too. There are too many.  I don't rewrite them either. If I wrote five sentences, then that's what it will continue have. It is only the formatting I change.  I wonder, though, if I should leave these old posts alone. Are they better as they were? More original? I'm not changing the content at all, just a bit of the presentation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Tale of the Body Thief

The ending!  The ending makes the book for me.  It was unexpected. Just when you think the story aught to be done, bam!  Lestat hits you with something more. I feel kind of bad admitting this, but seeing the press for Anne Rice's new vampire book (it's been over a decade since her last), Prince Lestat, reminded me that I never got past Queen of the Damned, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Before I started The Vampire Chronicles, I had read Lives of the Mayfair Witches, as well as one of Rice's stand-alone novels.  That's a lot of books by one author for me.  I don't know why it took me so long to read The Tale of the Body Thief.  It is not as though I didn't want too.  Maybe because the book is a long one.  Not "Stephen King long", but still a bit of a chunker.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Lestat.  The Tale of the Body Thief takes place many years after The Queen of the Damned. The vampires have separated, gone on with their lives. Lestat has returned to New Orleans.  Louis lives there too, but they do not live together.  While flying about the world, Lestat is presented with an irresistible offer.  Lestat goes on an adventure he wanted, that other vampires can only dream of, but then doesn't want.  There are ups and downs and madness.  I think in The Tale of the Body Thief we are seeing Lestat learn and grow in a way we haven't before.

I do wish that this novel was 50 pages shorter.  I had a bit of a difficult time getting through the beginning of the book.  Lestat had a lot of exposition; he explains why things aren't as they were left in Queen of the Damned.  He talks about his life, Louis, Claudia, Marius, Miami, everything.  What the beginning does well, is set up the novel as another one of Lestat's chronicles.  He speaks/writes directly to his readers.  He refers back to his previous books and to Louis's memoir.  I've read a lot of action-packed books lately, and there wasn't much action in the beginning, so maybe I'm just not used to that level of description anymore.  Once I got past the first part of the book, the pace really picked up and I just had to know what Lestat will do next.

I also loved David.  David Talbot through the whole story was amazing.  Am I totally happy with the end? No. Not in the sense that I didn't like it, because I very much did.  I am left wondering, however, if we are given David's real, human feelings in those last pages.

The Tale of the Body Thief has left me eager to read more dark, vampire tales.  Mature, evil bad guys, anti-heroes, and ethics that get thrown out.  Is that what Memnoch the Devil will bring?  We will see.

Monday, January 05, 2015

50 Classic Club Questions

More surveys! I like them. I can't help it.  50 Classic Club Questions took me over a month to do though.  Not a lot of one word answers. December was just so busy!  I'm hoping for a quiet January. Here goes, 50 answers to 50 Classic Club questions:

1. Share a link to your club list.

2. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) :)
I joined the Classics Club in January 2013 and have read 15 titles so far.  I need to do better.

3. What are you currently reading?
Friend of my Youth, by Alice Munro is what I was reading when I started answering the questions, now I’m reading The Tale of the Body Thief, by Anne Rice.  I'm also making slow and careful progress through Emily Dickinson's complete poems.

4. What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?
I had just finished reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater when I started, I've read a few books since then, most recently Specials by Scott Westerfeld.  Both books are not classics, but they were both fantastic.

5. What are you reading next? Why?
I almost never know what I'm reading next.  I've been considering Cloud Atlas, Little Dorrit and Death of a Salesman.  We'll see.

6. Best book you've read so far with the club, and why?
It's kind of a four-way-tie between Alias Grace, Slaughterhouse-Five, Lives of Girls and Women, and Their Eyes Were Watching God.  All had strong lead characters, all were brilliant stories.

7. Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?
I was really anticipating both Alias Grace and Slaughterhouse-Five.  They both have such an aura of prestige (or something) about them.  I'm excited to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and the Austen novels I haven't read yet.

8. Book on your club list you've been avoiding, if any? Why?
Anna Karenina.  It just looks so scary.

9. First classic you ever read?
For the Club? or ever in my life?  For the Club it was actually The Velveteen Rabbit.  In my life, it might be The Magician's Nephew in elementary school.  I can't think of anything before that, though I did love to read as a kid.

10. Toughest classic you ever read?
Umm.... this is difficult for me.  The only "tough" classic for me that I can think of was tough because I didn't like it.  Classics (excluding modern classics), I think have an inherent degree of difficulty just because of the language.  They become tough for me when I am not connecting to the story at all.

11. Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?
I think 1984 did all those things.

12. Longest classic you've read? Longest classic left on your club list?
I'm pretty sure the longest classic I've read was David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.  That was way back pre-blogging. The longest classic left on my list is also Dickens, Little Dorrit.

13. Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?
The oldest classic I have read is probably The Orestia.  Left to read is Medea, by Euripedes. Anything Greek is probably very old.

14. Favorite biography about a classic author you've read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?
I don't read a lot of biographies in general, but I did read - a very long time ago - Jean-Jacques Rouseau's Confessions.

15. Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, as a modern classic and something by Shakespeare. Why?...  Because everyone should read something by Shakespeare.  There's a reason he has endured for so long.  Also, The Handmaid's Tale is just one of my favourite books and I always recommend it.

16. Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?
I never thought about it before, but I do really like my edition of Slaughterhouse-Five. It's a reprint of the first edition from 1965.

17. Favorite movie adaption of a classic?
Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.  I feel like that movie captures everything I love about Austen's classic.  Thompson and Winslet are perfect as Elinor and Marianne.

18. Classic which hasn't been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.
Umm.... None.  They've either all been made or need to be left alone.

19. Least favorite classic? Why?
Vanity Fair.  I hate on this book a lot.  It's just so shallow.

20. Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.
Off the top of my head:
Anne Brontë
L. Frank Baum
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Grimm Brothers
Jules Verne

21. Which title by one of the five you've listed above most excites you and why?
I'm excited to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.  Anne is the only Brontë sister I haven't read.  I don't know why and I don't know why I'm excited to read this book.  I just am.

22. Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)
None that I can think of.... In general, if I read a book and dislike it, I'm not going to spend my time re-reading it.  There are so many other books out there to read.

23. Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?
Offred from The Handmaids Tale. Its been over a decade since I read this book, but every so often, I find myself thinking about her.

24. Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?
Billy Pilgram.... because he's crazy! (not really). I don't know.  An Austen heroine who likes to read?

25. Which classic character do you most wish you could be like? 
Billy Pilgram, because then I could meet aliens!  Again, I don't know...

26. Which classic character reminds you of your best friend? 
Marianne from Sense and Sensibilty reminds me of a couple of friends, who have too often fallen for the wrong guy.

27. If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?
I'd love to know what happened to Offred from The Handmaid's Tale.  Did she get a happy ending?  Did she die?  I wouldn't be able to resist reading the discovered pages.

28. Favorite children’s classic?

29. Who recommended your first classic? 
I don't know. A teacher probably. 

30. Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)
My Hubby, more because he knows what I like.  I also pay attention to the blogs I follow.  Way back, before I became a more active blogger, I followed blogs just so I could discover new books.  I tried to vary the blogs I followed so I'd be exposed to different genres, new and different authors.  It worked a little too well.  My to-read list has exploded in the last 5+ years.

31. Favorite memory with a classic?
Falling in love with Jane Eyre and knowing that I would always want to read classics.

32. Classic author you've read the most works by?
Probably Virginia Woolf.  I took a class in University that focused completely on her.  We didn't read all her books, but I read most of them.

33. Classic author who has the most works on your club list?
Jane Austen.  I tried to only include one or two books per author, but part of my personal classics goal is to finally read all of Austen's novels.

34. Classic author you own the most books by?
I think Dickens, especially if you include ebooks.

35. Classic title(s) that didn't make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?)
My list has changed a bunch of times.  The most obvious one, I think, is when I decided to read Carrie by Stephen King and added it to the list.  I figured, if Alias Grace is a modern classic, Carrie is a modern horror classic.

36. If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. :) Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?
Vonnegut might have been interesting to read that way, but I've already read Slaughterhouse-five. H.G. Wells too, but I've read a bunch of his books already.  I've only read short stories by Hemingway, so I could potentially do that with his novels.

37. How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?
There are 10 re-reads on my list, which is probably why I bumped my list to 60 instead of 50.  I'm very much looking forward to re-reading The Handmaid's Tale.  I've only re-read three of that 10 so far, I think I enjoyed them all equally.

38. Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?
I think just a few months before I decided to join The Classics Club, I tried to read Crime and Punishment.  My son was an infant and I was looking for my next middle of the night read (I read the bulk of Pride and Prejudice this way after I had my daughter.)  I couldn't get into it.  I tried a little while later and couldn't do it again.  It might have just been me though.  I remember trying to read a couple other books at about that time and not being able to get past the first few pages.  I should try to read it again.

39. Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?
If I don't think I'll like a book, I don't read it.  Sometimes I think I will like it and then I don't, but that's different.  There are too many books out there for me to spend time reading something I think I won't like.

40. Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?
1) Re-reading at least three classics from my list.
2) Reading more poetry.
3) More spins (they keep me reading).
4) Maybe finally reading Anne Brontë.
5) Catching up on my list.

41. Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller

42. Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Anna Karenina

43. Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?
Reading others' reviews and learning about classics I'm unfamiliar with.

44. List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?
I enjoy all their blogs for basically the same reason.  I like the selection of books they read and I like their reviews.

45. Favorite post you've read by a fellow clubber?
Umm.... Nothing comes to mind.  Sorry.

46. If you've ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you've participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you've completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?
I've never done a readalong on anything.  I can't make that kind of commitment.

47. If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?
I'd probably enjoy a readalong for The Handmaid's Tale, because I love the book so much.  I'd also probably enjoy an Austen readalong, but like I said, I don't have that kind of time to commit.

48. How long have you been reading classic literature?
My whole reading life? Elementary school?  Since I've know what classic literature was.

49. Share up to five posts you've written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn't love, lists, etc.

50. Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)
Yikes!  This was a pretty thorough survey that seems to have taken me over a month to answer.  After thinking about it, I think my question is: What keeps drawing you to classic literature?
I think it is the idea that a story can be timeless.  That it can endure 50, 100, 1000 years, and even more.  I like reading the stories and discovering why they have endured.  I like loving them the way someone 100 years ago loved them and that maybe someone 100 years from now will love them too.

WOW!  That was a lot of questions, but an interesting and fun journey.