Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Almost Moon

What if your whole life had been leading up to the murder of your mother? I feel like that is the case of Helen Knightly. Her mother is crazy. After the death of her father, Helen is left to care for her. She is divorced and her children have moved away. She also manages to alienate her best friend, really making herself alone. Does she do this on purpose? Yes and no.

The novel takes place over 24 hours (or a bit more). It starts one evening and ends the next. It also takes place over Helen’s whole life, as she looks back to see what brought her to this place. The Almost Moon had a good ending. I think Helen finally makes the right decision. However, it also left me with a lot of questions. Just a page or two more and I would probably have the answers I want. They’re just not there.

If you’ve read Alice Sebold’s amazing novel, The Lovely Bones, (if you haven’t, got get it, now), you’ll enjoy The Almost Moon. It didn’t have the same level of excitement for me, but that’s okay. It was a great read that definitely captures your interest. It’s Sebold’s style that holds you. I eagerly await another Sebold book.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Lump Of Coal

The Lump Of Coal is a children’s Christmas tale written by Lemony Snicket. When Lemony Snicket’s An Unfortunate Series of Events ended, I was sad. (You can find my comments on the various books on this blog in July, August and November 2006.) Not only did I want to know more about the Baudelaires, but I was going to miss Snicket’s unique style of writing. He has a way of teaching something to the reader, whether a moral or meaning of a word, with ease. He does not condescend; explanations are done plainly and with humour.

In this story, it starts off a little sad. No one wants a lump of coal for Christmas. At least, that’s what you think. Someone wants a lump of coal and it makes them very happy. Snicket turns a negative into a positive without being obvious. It just happens naturally, as we follow the coal on his journey. The Lump Of Coal, I think, actually teaches you to look beyond preconceptions. A cliché comes to mind, but I think it’s appropriate in this instance. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

PS: The cover is actually silver, not white.
PPS: The illustrations are done by Brett Helquist and they’re fantastic!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monday, December 07, 2009

Negotiating With The Dead: A Writer On Writing

Negotiating with the Dead is Margaret Atwood’s tale of what it’s like to be a writer. It’s not instructions; it doesn’t tell you how to be a writer. Negotiating with the Dead expounds different aspects of what it’s like to be a writer. Atwood uses many metaphors and explains what is often going on in a writer’s mind. She also talks about the relationship between writer and reader. It is a good book; just don’t expect a road map on how to be as successful as the author

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is Quirk Classics newest Jane Austen installment. Ben H. Winters’s does a fair job taking the classic tale to a sub-surface level. It is a fun and interesting read, blending personal heartbreak with sea monster attacks. Winters keeps the essential personality of each of the characters. He leaves the old world of Austen behind and creates a new one. It is a world fraught with battling sea-beasts.

Winters is not the same author who created Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. There is a difference in writing style and the manner in which the books are transformed. While Winters created entirely new towns and re-wrote much of the story, Seth Grahame-Smith’s approach was more subtle. So don’t expect the same feeling from both books. The individual style is apparent. I prefer PPZ; SSSM seemed too long. It lacked something that PPZ managed to keep from the Austen original. SSSM is a fun read though, and if you liked the first Quirk remake, try this one too.

Kick a Ginger Day

Have you heard of this? November 20th was national Kick a Ginger Day. This is its second year. I must be out of the loop. My husband was telling me about it. As he was teaching, the vice-principal was going around and talking to each classroom. Last year it got pretty bad. My husband told me that one of his students had bruises up and down her calves. So this year, the school was taking a stance. “Kick a Ginger” and suffer the consequences.

Do you really want to kick Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Reba McIntyre or Rupert Grint? Yes, you might want to kick Lindsay Lohan, Carrot Top or Ginger Spice, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with their hair colour.
I talked to my husband, then took a look around the internet. Kick a Ginger Day came from a South Park episode that said red-haired people were bad and had no souls. Apparently, the episode was supposed to satirize vampire movies and Children of the Corn. I’ve never seen the episode and have no desire to. Clearly their attempt at satire failed.

Last year, a Facebook group was created for Kick a Ginger Day. 40000 people joined! People with red hair found themselves in danger. Children were coming home with bruises because classmates were kicking them. Some police were classifying this as a hate crime; the only reason these people were attacked was because of the colour of their hair. Now, if you search Facebook, there are many more groups denouncing this act, encouraging you to “hug a Ginger” instead. I’m still shocked that people would kick a group of people just because a cartoon told them to do it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

True Blood

I just finished watching the HBO series True Blood. It was fabulous! I was initially hesitant to watch it. I’m a fan of the Charlaine Harris books and didn’t want to be disappointed with their interpretation on television. However, a friend who had read the Sookie Stackhouse books at about the same time as me, recommended True Blood. She loves Eric. After watching the series, I can see why.

True Blood is based on the Harris books, but it’s not quite the same. The vampires seem a bit meaner. In the books, I’m rooting for Eric and Sookie, but on the show, Eric might be too “evil” for me. So, I’m for Bill on the show. Season one is the first book, season two is the second, and there are more differences than just the vampires’ behaviour. What happens to Jason and his reaction to these circumstances are a significant change. Amy and Jessica are new characters. Lafayette is still alive. The maenad went from a flash in the pan to a primary pain. These changes are fantastic and fun.

I wonder how True Blood interprets Club Dead in season three. Who are they going to cast as Alcide Herveaux? Are Sophie-Anne and Hadley going to make another appearance? How will Eric and Sookie get closer when she’s so disgusted with him now? With the end of season two, they’ve already changed the kidnapping. I’m eager for season three.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a classic children’s story that I’ve recently read to my little baby. My daughter is now 5½ months old. I read her The Giving Tree Tuesday and Wednesday before her naps. Unlike my daughter’s favourite, Goodnight Moon, this is a story I read as a child. The copy I have now is my husband’s.

It’s kind of sad. When I was younger, I remember thinking of it as sweet. I’ve read it to her twice and I feel like I’m getting emotional each time. I know it’s silly, but the tree does so much for the boy and I feel like he just takes advantage of her. I talked to my husband about it and basically he said it’s a story about unconditional love. I know I would certainly give everything of myself for my child. Yet, I feel like the boy ought to appreciate the tree. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being silly in my sleep-deprived state… or perhaps I’ve grown cynical in adulthood.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Servant of the Shard

Which Drizzt related book is this? I’ve lost count. Drizzt Do’Urden isn’t exactly in this book, though he “writes” a journal entry before each section, as with The Spine Of The World which follows Wulfgar’s adventures away from Drizzt. I miss Drizzt. I feel like it’s been so long. I do have to say that I liked Servant Of The Shard better than the last book. The first half I found a bit slow. The main group of characters spent too much time in Calimport and I felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere. The second half was much better. Once Entreri decided to take the Crystal Shard from Jarlaxle, there was so much more excitement. The story moved forward at a better pace. Even though there was no Drizzt, his presence was definitely felt. As a treat (at least I think so) Cadderly made an appearance. It was appropriate to the story and not surprising. Servant of the Shard makes me eager to read the next Drizzt book and the next Entreri/Jarlaxle book too.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Goodnight Moon

Is it possible for my 4-month-old to already love Goodnight Moon? I think it is. Almost every night, my husband sits with our little baby and reads her the story of the little bunny saying, “goodnight”. It is simple and sweet. My daughter loves to look at the illustrations and even helps her father turn the pages. You might think that it’s just the soothing sound of his voice, but no other book gets quite the same reaction.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Book Mine Set: The Great Wednesday Compare #4- The Wizard of Oz VERSUS Frankenstein

Who's your favourite?

The Book Mine Set: The Great Wednesday Compare #4- The Wizard of Oz VERSUS Frankenstein

From Dead To Worse

What just happened?! That was maybe the best ending of the whole series. More than any of the other books, it makes me want to get the next one right now! This is a book of surprises and change. When something happened and I thought it ought to be the end of the book, there was so much more. story to tell. This book was filled with excitement and mystery; you really didn’t know what was going to happen next. I can’t really say much without giving the story away. If you’re a fan of Sookie Stackhouse, From Dead To Worse does not disappoint.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Undead And Uneasy

Undead and Uneasy is the fifth installment of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series, starring Betsy Taylor. Betsy has been abandoned; she wanted to be left alone and now everyone is missing. This is definitely one of the better installments. Betsy is finally accepting the role as the Vampire Queen. She is becoming independent instead of relying on her companions to solve everything for her.

The Wyndam werewolves, another of Davidson’s creations, also make an entrance. Antonia was already on the scene, but the rest of the gang shows up knocking on Betsy’s door. I’m glad I took the time to read Derik’s Bane. It was a good introduction to the pack before this story.

There was a good fight, some good love, bad enemies and bad boys. Betsy Taylor isn’t Sookie Stackhouse or Bella Swan, but she’s someone I’ll keep reading about.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dead As A Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead

In Dead as a Doornail there’s the packmaster contest, a sniper and Tara’s new beau. It’s all twisted. Sookie gets sucked into these situations by being a caring person.

Definitely Dead has
Sookie dating a new man, trying to

figure out who is attacking her and cleaning out her dead cousin’s apartment. I actually wish there was a story that looked at Sookie and Hadley’s relationship, maybe with some sort of resolution. It’s still another great and frightening adventure for Sookie.

The vampire summit is the centre of All Together Dead. There are some hot scenes, bonding and Barry. Barry the Bellboy telepath from Living Dead In Dallas returns and it’s an interesting reunion. I hope he make appearances in future books.

Each book finds Sookie in peril. Most of it stems from her falling for Bill Compton. Though they aren’t a couple, his presence still ripples through her life. The sniper, however, is not Bill’s fault. With each book, Sookie learns not only more about the magical world around her, but more about herself. There are aspects of who she is that Sookie is proud of, parts she doesn’t understand and things she doesn’t like. I like that each book isn’t a flat story with a flat lead character. The supernatural world has depth and so does Sookie Stackhouse.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dead to the World

I am definitely on Team Eric after Dead to the World. Charlaine Harris delivers again. With each book, I’m loving Sookie Stackhouse more and more. She’s inventive, tough and self-educated. She’s not a damsel in distress. She can think her way out of dangerous situations. Her bravery, however, can land her in a lot of trouble. At least Sookie is able to handle everything thrown at her. Harris has created a great lead character, of whom we can be proud.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Fuchsia Is Now

I gave my husband The Fuchsia Is Now by J. Otto Seibold to read to our daughter today. I warned him that it was ridiculous. When he was done, he called it annoying. It was a shower gift and I was happy because I love books and the illustrations seemed really colourful. After the first time I read it, I nearly returned it and got something else. I do like the pictures, even though Fuchsia’s hat looks like a nipple.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Club Dead

I think that I am now officially on Team Eric. How can Bill think Sookie would stay with him after what he did? I was hoping that Eric and Pam were wrong about what Bill was doing in Mississippi. I suppose there wasn’t really a need for them to lie to her. The truth pushed her more towards Eric anyway.

With each novel, I get more and more involved. I want to know what happens to Sookie. How will her life become more tangled with supernatural beings? Will she ever be able to have a normal relationship? Could she date a regular human guy even if she found one she liked? Harris does a great job keeping Sookie and all the characters fresh and interesting. There seems to be more to discover with every story.

PS: I knew who killed Falcon the whole time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dream Angus

A short book, but not exactly a quick read; it was difficult to get into, to lose myself in the story. I’m sorry to say, I was a bit disappointed with Alexander McCall-Smith’s Dream Angus. I really wanted to like it. Dream Angus is another installment of the Myth Series, which includes authors Margaret Atwood and Karen Armstrong. I’ve read both their contributions and they were great. Instead of one story, I got many. Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and [another contributor] Jeanette Winterson’s Weight were retellings, reimaginings of old myths. This is what I expected. Instead, Angus’s story was constantly being interrupted by different tales from the modern world. It was more like a collection of short stories orbiting Angus’s myth. I suppose I had high expectations. It was still a good book. Perhaps I was just unprepared for its format. I just wish there was something about it I could get excited about.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Living Dead In Dallas

Living Dead In Dallas is the second of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels. I couldn’t put it down. Sookie found herself involved in another vampire mystery. She also found herself in a human one as well. In both instances, it was the humans who hurt her most, not the feared undead. There are fanatics and fangs, shapeshifters and werewolves. There are mythical creatures you don’t expect. This story was a ton of fun and I’m eager to read about what happens to Sookie next.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

If you loved the original… well, I hope you’ll love Seth Grahame-Smith’s reworking of Jane Austen’s classic. I certainly did. The story still centres on Elizabeth Bennet. However, instead of her and her sisters being English ladies, they are great warriors as well. Elizabeth and Jane are in fact, the two best warriors in Hertfordshire. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies really shows off women as strong individuals, fighting to save their country.

I really enjoyed how Grahame-Smith took the character development a step further. Elizabeth was a strong individual in Austen’s classic, but in this new retelling, she is also physically strong. If you thought Mrs. Bennet was silly before, she’s especially silly now. The antagonists are even more vile. Grahame-Smith is a bit more obvious with how troublesome Mr. Collins is, but alas, poor Charlotte… The punishments for the antagonists are probably things you wished would happen to these characters originally. Oh, Mr. Wickham…

Having recently read Austen’s Pride and Prejudice many of the passages were fresh in my mind. I loved how little words like, “zombies” and “Satan’s army” can change the meaning of an entire chapter. The zombification seemed seamless. For people who have read Austen’s work, this is a fun change. For those who haven’t, this might be a nice introduction into a classic…just make sure you read the original after.

Did I mention they’re going to make it into a movie? I can’t wait!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Chuck Norris vs. Mr. T

Chuck Norris vs. Mr. T by Ian Spector is a fun laugh. It is also totally, wonderfully, pointless. Spector’s book is filled with “facts” as to why Chuck Norris and Mr. T are the baddest dudes who ever lived. It is a follow up to Spector’s The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 facts about the World's Greatest Human, which he was sued over. It all started on the internet; websites listing these satirical facts. However, once it was published, Chuck Norris sued Spector and Penquin books (though he didn’t seem to mind while it was only on the internet.) How Spector survived this encounter to publish another book, I don’t know. But he did and gave readers 200 more facts, plus 200 about Mr. T. As Chuck Norris felt the need to point out, these facts aren’t true, his tears can not cure cancer. They are just a bit of senseless fun, perhaps something to leave on the coffee table to spark conversation and loads of laughs.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

I just want to scream at these women, “Why are you acting so crazy?” The actions of some of the characters made me cringe. I felt like this movie gave women a bad name. I felt like the women were essentially all the same, just in different situations. None of them seemed to have any real, common sense. The male characters seemed to be somewhat more varied, though all except Conor were commitment phobes. It was very frustrating to watch.

I like to think that I was never like these women. Though I know I may not be the best judge of myself. Yes, sometimes we may read too much into a situation, trying to figure out if a guy likes us. Yes, we may delude ourselves about where a relationship is going. We at least try to believe the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech. Don’t guys do that too, try to figure out if a girl likes them? But I don’t know any woman who’s gone to a restaurant hoping to bump into a guy who hasn’t called her. I don’t know anyone who has purposefully gotten involved with a married man. I don’t know any obsessive callers.

For me, the highlight of the movie was the relationship between Gigi and Alex. I think they might have gotten the most screen time and deservedly so. It’s the only storyline that offered any real insight into dating. I also thought Mary was quite funny. The Janine, Ben, Anna triangle was frustrating. Was Ben Affleck only in the movie for five minutes? You forget he’s even in it. These women ‘aren’t the exception, they’re the rule,’ but that doesn’t mean they can’t have some individuality.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I am so glad I finally got to see Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. I found it a welcome addition to the Harry Potter franchise. The Half-Blood Prince has action, tense moments and maturing teenagers. As with the previous book to film adaptations, there were some good parts left out. I would have loved to see the Gryffindor team win the Quidditch cup, though I was happy to see Harry as captain, with Ginny and Ron on the team. It also would have been nice to be introduced to the new Minister of Magic, but that’s okay too. I’m sure the next movie will find us staring at a lion-esque man. I also would have liked a little more back story into who the Half-Blood Prince was. We get it in the book, but not for those who have only seen the film. I think the ending was well done, the battle and the meeting of friends. I also liked how the story began with the “Unbreakable Vow”. I’m glad that I was able to see it and can’t wait to see it again.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is an amazing story. It is beautiful and sad. The story of Clare and Henry stays with you even after the end. I wish I could know more about Clare’s future; it seems so fragmented. I loved the evolution of Clare’s feelings for Henry, the childhood longing to the adult reality. I love Henry’s shock at his feelings of Clare. They each changed the other’s life before knowing the other existed.

Is there any free will in their stories if Henry comes to Clare knowing everything because he travels through time? The same question comes up when Clare runs into a young Henry. Do they ever make any real choices? There is a depressing inevitability to it. Fate or determinism? The added dimension to the story makes the events, the lives of Clare and Henry, seem real.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pride & Prejudice

One of the best ways I’ve been able to stay awake during 4am feedings has been to read. It takes some careful balance and coordination, but I think I’ve figured it out. The first book I’ve finished since having this all consuming baby is Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

I have to say, I love Elizabeth Bennet. I love Darcy too. They are such great characters. I can see why Pride & Prejudice has remained a popular story and Austen’s most famous. The entire story, all the ways pride and prejudice get in the way of happiness, is fantastic. Any one who is a fan of quality fiction should read Pride & Prejudice I already want to read it again.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Photo by Kelly Bystryk
It’s been a while… a long while since I updated my blog. Well, I’ve had a baby. She’ll be 8 weeks old this Sunday. She’s absolutely perfect and now takes up most of my time. I imagine she’ll take up most of my free time for a long time. I endeavor, however, to keep up my blog, my reading and my other pursuits. It’s slow going right now, but it’s getting better. My daughter, though not sleeping through the night, has a somewhat predictable sleep pattern and her personality is developing. It’s amazing to watch her grow and change every day. She already likes being read a story.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dead Until Dark

I can definitely see why they turned Charlaine Harris’s books into a series. It’s not just some gothic, vampire romance. There’s a mystery to be solved. Sookie Stackhouse is a character who grows. She’s a shy waitress who has spent a lifetime hiding her “disability” and because of it, most of the people in her small town either think she’s slow or crazy. No one takes her seriously. She’s pretty, but doesn’t date. Then a handsome vampire moves to town and her whole life changes.

I love how strong and intelligent Sookie is. She isn’t stuck in the same place through the story. She learns and adapts; she changes. Something I find missing in the MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead books. Confidence is something she gains. Bill is the love interest of this first novel, but from the story, you can tell he might not be her only one. Harris creates possibilities for Sookie. Dead Until Dark isn’t about Sookie being saved by the vampires or other supernatural beings in her life. She saves herself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Derik’s Bane

Derik’s Bane is another, quick, fun read by Undead and Unwed author, MaryJanice Davidson. It’s a cute book I decided to pick up since a member of the Wyndam Werewolves showed up in the last Undead book I read. Though it’s nice to know where Antonia came from, this story is about Derik. Derik Gardner isn’t your typical werewolf. The story starts off interesting enough, though I feel like it loses its punch partway through. I read it and before I knew it, the story was over. It isn’t a terrible novel, it’s just not as good as other stories I’ve read.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Thorn Birds

I can’t believe how much I loved The Thorn Birds. It was long, but so well written, you don’t even feel the time pass. Colleen McCullough created more than just a story or an interesting narrative. McCullough created a dynasty, a family you could believe was real and grow attached. Even now, I miss them.

Though there were many unexpected events throughout the story, The Thorn Birds had a practically perfect ending. I wouldn’t call it neat, more like final. Yes, the reader might wonder about Justine’s future; she is only 30 by the end of the novel. The reader might also wonder a bit about who takes over Drogheda. However, I don’t feel like there are any lingering questions. The story does not need a sequel or an interview with the author asking her what she things the future would hold for the Cleary line. When The Thorn Birds is over, it’s over.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Star Trek

I loved it. Simply put. Kirk, Spock, the entire cast was amazing. Chekov and Scottie were hilarious. Bones was brilliant. Uhura was alluring and absolutely gorgeous. Sulu kicked ass. Bruce Greenwood was a fantastic Christopher Pike. Leonard Nemoy’s performance was great. I was pleasantly surprised with the casting of Spock’s mother. I could say so much more, but I don’t want to give away anything. All I have to say is that you should see this movie. It doesn’t matter if you’re and avid Star Trek fan or not. This is a great, well constructed movie, that requires no previous Star Trek knowledge to enjoy. It was just so good!