Monday, February 27, 2012

The Young Girl, by Katherine Mansfield

I know it has been a long time since I participated in Short Story Monday.  Now that my baby is older, I’m getting back some of my life, my usual habits and that means I want to read more and Short Story Monday encourages reading.  I'd like to read a new short story every week, but realistically, I'm going to aim for every other week.  So for my first Short Story Monday since my son was born, I thought I'd read an author I've never read before, but have been wanting to for a while.

Katherine Mansfield's, The Young Girl is a curious little story.  Were young socialites really like that back then?  Of course, after I think about it, is she acting any different than someone like Paris Hilton or Heidi Montag or any of those young famous girls that are famous for being famous? (I don't pay a lot of attention to the new batch of famous for nothing people.  Who's the new Paris Hilton?). Also, I thought it was interesting that The Young Girl's mother seems to have a gambling addiction.

I found some of the story a little vague.  I didn't know how young two of the characters were until far into the story.  I had a couple other confusing moments, but I found they didn't really matter.  I enjoyed the story.  It was a "slice of life" that I enjoyed reading about.  I liked the Girl's reaction at the end.  It showed that she wasn’t two-dimensional.  It was a good story and I'm looking forward to reading more stories by Mansfield.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Flight, by Marianne Villaneuva

I usually try not to have any SPOILERS, but this time, it was too difficult.

I was surprised by how much I liked Marianne Villanueva’s Flight.  I found it in this month's issue of PRISM International.  The story is only four pages long but it is full of surprises. At first it seems like a straight fiction story of a child growing up in the Philippines (or some island).  Then elements of fantasy are thrown in.  At first, they could be construed as symbolic, then you begin to feel they are real.

I am so intrigued by this story I want to look up more of Villanueva’s work.

*Rant:  I know it's not a long post, but I'm busy this weekend and was busy last weekend and my daughter is refusing to nap and my son has forgotten how to sleep through the night.  BUT, I really did enjoy this story so I wanted to get it out there. *End of Rant.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Joined Goodreads and A Few Days Later 49th Shelf

I wasn't sure about joining Goodreads for a long time. I'm still not sure. I'm wondering if I'll eventually find that I'm too busy to maintain my Goodreads account as I have with previous non-blog bookish endeavours. Why then, if I'm concerned that I'll be too busy did I end up with a Goodreads account? One simple reason: the Goodreads app. Do you know that the Goodreads app has a barcode scanning feature? So, instead of having to manually enter my books, all I had to do was scan the barcode with the camera. Is is weird that I thought of barcode scanning as fun? Probably, but I don't care. I really liked that I could scan the book and a picture of the cover would pop up. It made joining Goodreads worth it.

There are other reasons I joined, like finding my blogging friends on Goodreads and entering giveaways. I like the Recommendations feature and the quizzes, browsing them are an excellent time waster.

Will I stick with Goodreads? I think so. Now that I'm on there, it seems pretty easy.  We'll see what happens.

The other site I've joined is 49thShelf.  It's a Canadian Book site.  I actually signed up ages ago, but never did anything about it.  Then, after joining Goodreads, I thought, I could join this one too.  It's Canadian and I'd like to help out my local indie authors if I can.  Plus, I'm always going on about Margaret Atwood, I enjoy Michael Ondaatje and Alice Munro and so many other great Canadians, it seemed natural to sign up here .

So, here I am.  I used to say that I wouldn't do any other book site besides my own blog, but now I've gone and joined two.

What was I thinking?

I've linked to both sites on my sidebar over to the right.  I know many of you are either already on Goodreads or at least know what it's about, but you might not know about 49thShelf.  Both sites are worth a visit.

*I couldn't resist using that picture.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It’s Getting Hot In Here!

I’m putting this one out fast.  It’s going to be a busy morning with the kids, but I was thinking about this topic all week.  So quickly, from The Broke and The Bookish, here are the Top Ten Books I'd Save If My House Was On Fire.  In no particular order: 

1. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
2. The MadAddam Trilogy, by Margaret Atwood (I know the third book isn't out yet, but I'm sure I'll want it.)
3. The Hunger Games Series, by Suzanne Collins
4. The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
5. The Legend Of Drizzt, by R.A. Salvatore
6. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
7. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
8. The Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series, by Charlaine Harris
9. Sense and Sensibilities, by Jane Austen
10. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

I know there are a lot of series on there.  I couldn't help it.  I love books so much, I’d have a hard time just picking ten.  I’d actually, probably grab the King, Atwood and Rowling books first and then try to get the rest.  My husband would be grabbing the Salvatore books too.

Monday, February 20, 2012


It had been way too long since I saw a movie in theatres.  Babies keep you busy.  But my husband decided we should go out, so the easiest thing for us to do was see a movie.  What movie should we see?  Well, we didn't really know.  We looked at what was playing at our local theatre, then turned to Rotten Tomatoes.  That brought Chronicle to our attention.

I hadn't heard much about Chronicle.  I'd seen one trailer on television after it had already opened and that's it.  I knew what it was generally about, some guys gain telekinetic abilities and we see what results from that.  On its own, it didn't seem particularly appealing, but when saw the 84% Fresh rating, my curiosity was piqued.

Chronicle was fantastic.  I really enjoyed this movie that I had no clue about two weeks ago.  Chronicle is told through various video cameras, mainly the camera of one of the three teenage boys, who decided about a week before they got their powers to video his whole life.  Thereby, the boys getting their powers is on video.  Occasionally there are other videos that come into play, a blogger's videos and various security cameras.  It give the movie a unique feature as the quality of the videos changes with the individual camera, so the quality of what we see changes too.

I really enjoyed how the boys grow and develop individually and together with the fun and responsibility of this new ability. It is a short movie and I was pleasantly surprised at how much action and character development they packed into an hour and twenty-three minutes.  Some of what happened was a bit predictable once the beginning laid everything out, but some of what happened wasn't.  Though there were a few predictable moments, there wasn't a part of this movie I didn't find entertaining.  If you are looking for something to watch the next time you got to the movies, go see Chronicle.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Goodbye Books Giveaway

I'm giving away some books; I was looking at my bookshelves and decided there were a few books I didn't need to keep, for various reasons.  So, I’m parting with them even though I'm a crazy book hoarder.  I'm going to giveaway one book a month, telling you a bit about the book and why I'm giving it away.  Some of the giveaways will be international, some not, because of how much it would cost to mail that book out.

The first is The Red Badge Of Courage, by Stephen Crane.  I'm giving this one away because I have another copy.  It's nothing fancy.  The copy up for grabs is the Dover thrift edition. I don't think I even read this copy.  I'm pretty sure I bought it while in school, forgot I had it and bought it again.  I enjoyed it and I don't tend to gravitate towards war stories.  Since blogging, I reviewed another of Crane's stories, A Poker Game.

This one is international, so if you'd like it, leave a comment below.  I'll choose someone at random on February 29th.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart Breakers! (Books Not Boys)

SPOILERS!!  (sorry)

The Broke and The Bookish are going anti-Valentine’s Day this year.  They want to know who our top ten heart breakers are.  These books are all heart breakers for different reasons.  I’ve tried to explain without giving too much away, but it can't be helped.  In no particular order:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Houseinni – I know it’s a book I mention a lot, but I just hoped for Miriam so much.
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood – Another book I mention a lot and another woman who deserved better than she got.
  3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins – Yet another book that is often found on my lists.  I know it’s not the same as the first two, but I was so sad for Katniss (and Peeta) as they got off the train in District 12.
  4. The Chaos Curse, by R.A. Salvatore – After all their battles, it seems like Cadderly is going to die!
  5. The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower, by Stephen King - I really wanted Roland to find his friends and family and happiness at the end of the journey.  At least there is hope.
  6. Eleanor Rigby, by Douglas Coupland - A brilliant story, with a very sad ending.  You really think for a while that the reunion will be enduring.
  7. Confessions of an Ugly-Stepsister, by Gregory Maguire – This really is the stepsister’s story and it’s her that you feel for.  You want her and her sister to have a happy life.
  8. 1984, by George Orwell - I just hoped their love would win out.
  9. The Helmet of Horror, by Victor Pelevin - They were connected, they hoped to find each other, only discover that they couldn't.
  10. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker - One heart-breaking moment after another.  You long for Celie to pull through and finally win.
What book breaks your heart?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roots Day #6 or Getting Excited About Sleep

I can't believe I've done six of these Roots classes already.  The time goes by so fast.  We measured my son in the class today.  It is something that is done three times over the course, beginning middle and end.  The kids were so excited to see how much he's grown.  They were also excited to see how much more he was moving around.  Conveniently for the class, my son started using rolling over as a means of transportation on Tuesday.  So he was moving all around his green blanket.  The kids were excited that he was "coming to see them".  Maybe the next time they see him, he'll be doing more.

The theme for this unit was sleep.  We explained to the kids what his preferences were.  He doesn't sleep with a nightlight.  What kind of blanket does he use?  Dies he sleep with a stuffed animal? - He's too young to sleep with a stuffed animal, plus he doesn't want one.

It was an interesting class; definitely better than the last too.  Now, I'm back to looking forward to the next one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Will We Have To Defend Ourselves From From A Robot Spider Army?

For the Sci-fi geeks: It's a Replicator!

I don't know what they're actually going to call it.  They have a naming contest going on.  I'm not entering because all I can see are those metal bugs from Stargate.  To go even geekier, the Replicators were initially toys too.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Hobbit (Graphic Novel Adaptation)

It has been a long time since I read J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit.  Influenced by a review I read at The Book Mine Set, I decided that I would read the graphic novel adaptation of The Hobbit, by David Wenzel and Charles Dixon.  After all, it was just sitting on a shelf.  (I bought it for my husband about four years ago.)  Some of what John at The Book Mine Set said, plus my own memories of the original novel, made me want to see (read) for myself.  Even though I had been planning on reading something else, it was a graphic novel and those don't take long.

I think The Hobbit adaptation is the longest graphic novel I've read.  I haven't read a lot, but I've been reading a few each year for the past while.  Enough to think that at 134 pages, it's long.  It wasn't even just the page count.  There were a lot of those descriptive/narration boxes everywhere (I don't know what they're actually called).  I'm used to the pictures telling the story, with dialogue bubbles and the occasional box.  It didn't make the novel bad, it just made it take a lot longer than I thought it would.
Reading The Hobbit graphic novel, I found myself having similar issues to the ones I had with Dracula.  It was a combination of knowing what would happen, plus not being sure if i was remembering it right and wondering if there were changes made in the adaptation.  It's been over ten years since I read The Hobbit.  It looks like I might have to read it again.  Especially with the movie coming out in December, I want to make sure I remember it right.

One, possibly minor problem i had while reading it, Why did I keep expecting the drawings to look like the actors from the movie, especially Elrond?  The book is separate from the movie.  Maybe part of that issue was that I expected the elves specifically to look different.  Not necessarily ethereal or wispy, but they looked so much like humans, that I had a difficult time identifying them immediately.  Otherwise, I thought the art was just fine.

If you like Tolkien's The Hobbit and you like graphic novels, you may like this book.  I liked it, but I don't think it really changed or enhanced my connection to the original story.  Would I read it before or instead of the original novel? No. It's good, but no way that good.  It was an okay little diversion and reminder of a great movie to come.

When is a quote not a quote?

I hate this misuse of quotation marks.  It annoys me every time I see it.  Click the link below for more pictures.

Stargazing blog by Malene Arpe

Monday, February 06, 2012

On Gender And Babies

Do you differentiate between "girl" toys and "boy" toys?  My daughter loves trains and cars.  A stuffed Spiderman is among her favourite toys.  She loves dragons and spaceships.  She also enjoys dolls, skirts and Tinkerbell.  We've given her options and she gravitates towards whatever she likes.  We do the same with our son.  My daughter has already "loaned" him a pink and purple cabbage patch doll.  Right now, he likes to chew on the face...  I wouldn't take it away from him just because it's pink.

There are some parents who have said to me, oh sorry, your daughter won't have anything to play with because I only have boy toys.  Really?  My daughter won't want to play with any of the same things as your son?  Not one thing?  I mean, I don't think we should be as crazy as that lady in The Toronto Star article from last year.  But I also don't think we should draw a line with girl stuff on one side and boy stuff on the other.

My hubby pointed out that we don't live in the city.  Well, we don't live in the boonies either.  Besides, that shouldn't even matter.  This is the twenty-first century!  Small town or city dweller, it shouldn’t matter what toys your child likes.  All that matters is that they’re happy and healthy.

*Imagine me saying this, more or less, in a rant to my husband as he’s doing the dishes, our 7-month-old son is playing with his feet and our 2 ½ year old daughter is pushing a musical train around her little brother. *

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Dracula (The Movie)

The official title of the film is Bram Stoker's Dracula, but I'm not sure if it really is.  One argument for this being Stoker's Dracula is that there are lines the characters say that are right out of the book, which I really liked.  Much of the characters personalities are there.  But holy crap, there are a lot of boobies.

As I said in my review of the book, it had been many years since I watched the movie.  It was so long ago that I didn't remember a lot of it, just the general story.  Re-watching it, the movie came back.  I knew I remembered some sort of romantic storyline between Mina and Dracula.  A storyline which is absent in the book.  The movie gives Dracula a more romantic, tragic air, coupled with his viciousness, serves to make him a more sympathetic, even relatable character for cinematic audiences.

I understand that vampires are probably the most seductive and sexual of the supernatural creatures.  There is the sucking and penetration, much of which is in the neck area, an erotic area of the body.  There is also the romantic idea of being together for eternity.  In the book, Dracula's "brides" are fairly sexual, wanting, even craving Harker.  In transferring the characters from book to film, it seems that all the characters have had their sex drives ramped up to match the brides.  (However, compared to True Blood and other contemporary vampiric incarnations, the Dracula movie is not outrageous.)

I enjoyed the movie.  I think I enjoyed it more the first time, not knowing how it was going to end and without the book fresh in my mind.  It definitely has a dark and creepy air.  The scenery and sets felt a little more obvious this time, now that I'm used to big budgets and CGI.  The lunatic asylum threw me off too. (Were they really like that back then?)  It just seemed so wild and dirty, where in the book, everything felt more clean and organized. 

I really liked the atmosphere, with darkness surrounding the characters, highlighting just what was necessarily, creating an engaging mood and environment.  The actors were great, taking us back to seeing young Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder.  Also, Gary Oldman looks the same and it’s been ten years.  So does Anthony Hopkins, who is a good Van Helsing.  Also, I love Cary Elwes.  I’m not sure if I actually liked Winona Ryder as Mina Harker, though.  At least not the Mina from the book. 

I feel like someone is going to make another Drucula movie in the future.  I don’t think people can help making remakes/reboots these days.  The book is such a rich source material; I can see it constantly attracting people to it.

I’m not sure I like the end of this review/post.  But I don’t have anything else to say except, it was a good movie.  If you like vampires, you should watch it.