The English American by Alison Larkin

Okay, I know I haven’t posted in eons. But summer is short and I’ve been busy enjoying it!

I just finished The English American by Alison Larkin which I absolutely loved! I have been doing a fair amount of reading this summer, but this is the first book that I’ve read in a while that I raced through and enjoyed absolutely every moment of. It is a very easy read with interesting, likable characters. The ending is somewhat predictable, but I didn’t mind. I saw it coming and was thrilled when it did happen. Chick lit at its best! I highly recommend this novel if you’re looking for some light, fun summer reading.

Published in: on August 23, 2008 at 9:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Strangely appealing story. A group of gods living in present day London. Love, betrayal, incest, loss, death, rebirth. An unconventional hero. A trip to the land of the dead. A bizarrely fun read! The lives of gods are certainly not dull. A very quick, light read.

Published in: on April 6, 2008 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s been a while

But I just haven’t felt like spending much time on the computer. I’ve been working some overtime, and the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen when I get home. What have I been doing other than working?

I’ve finished the rest of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Each book was better than the previous! I’m not sure if I’ll get around to posting reviews of the other two, but my review of the first book can be found here.

I’ve also read The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. Another great read. I may post a review next week sometime.

And just to show that I don’t love every book I’ve ever read…this weekend I read Stuck in Downward Dog by Chantel Simmons. I’m not sure why I didn’t like it. I enjoy some nice light chicklit. I enjoy yoga, which plays a dominate role in the novel. But really, a waste of my Sunday. Mara has got to be the most whiny and annoying character I’ve read in a loooong time.

After a brief hiatus, I am knitting. Work seems to have messed up my wrists a bit, but they are on the mend as things begin to slow down at work. I am slowly working on a pair of socks for Blair. Consolation socks, since I can’t seem to get a sweater to work. Picture to come.

What else is going on? Oh we started to get a fresh fruit and veg delivery from fresh options. We’ve received two weekly deliveries so far and I’m just loving it. I do love to cook, but I hate deciding what to make. The weekly delivery means that I just plan menus around what we get. No decisions. I just can’t rave enough about how wonderful that is! I’ve been meaning to take a picture of the lovely fruit and veg delivery, but the days are just not long enough yet to capture the loveliness in the natural light. Maybe in another week or two. The delivery varies each week and is full of organic and, when available, local fruit and vegetables. Yum!

And I curled. Yep. I did. And we won. Those of you who know me can stop laughing now. I’m serious. I did curl. And we did win. I even have the pictures to prove it. So there.

Will post properly soon. With photos of knitting. Or food. Or at least a proper book review. Or something.

In anticipation of spring


herbs

Originally uploaded by my spare time

These are some herbs that I planted last summer. Rosemary, thyme and mint if I recall correctly. I’ve been craving the lovely bright flavours of fresh herbs. I can’t wait until spring has sprung!

In anticipation of spring I have my stack of gardening books out and piled on our dining room table. This morning I was flipping through them as I ate my breakfast and avoided looking out the window in hopes of being able to delude myself into believing that spring really is just around the corner. Really it is! In spite of the piles and piles of snow in our yard. Sigh.

I have attempted a vegetable garden the last two summers. The results have been less than wonderful. We live in an older neighborhood with lots of very large, established trees. I love the trees, but they’re not very good for letting in sunlight. I think this year I’ll try to find some plants that are shade tolerant. Or perhaps container gardening is the route to go. Perhaps I can chase the sun with the containers? The front yard is much brighter. Perhaps I’ll plant some veggies among some flowers in the front?

In spite of my lack of success, I really do enjoy playing in the dirt. I guess it’s more of a labour of love than anything else. Eventually I’ll learn what works and what doesn’t through trial and error. If anyone has any helpful suggestions feel free to send them my way!

Published in: on March 3, 2008 at 1:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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Review: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

A while a go I went to see the movie The Golden Compass. I loved it! The special effects were fabulous. The story was thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was raving about the movie to a friend who was surprised that the movie was any good. When I was puzzled by her reaction, she said I should just read the book.

Well, The Golden Compass is one of the few books which have been made into a movie that I’ve actually seen the movie of first. I’m an avid reader and don’t really have the patience for crowded theaters so I’m much more likely to read the book and later rent the movie when it comes out on video.

Once I picked up the book I wasn’t surprised to find it much more complex than the movie. Lyra is amusingly precocious. She does things that are very inappropriate for a little girl of eleven years of age. I would often find myself smirking at her eagerness to get into trouble, and cringing a bit at the ability to find that trouble. It’s not always easy to figure out who Lyra should trust as she progresses on her voyage. The alliances are not at all obvious. She does manage to obtain an unlikely crew of companions on her voyage, not all of whom are openly willing companions, or entirely trust worthy.

Even if the plot and character alliances were not so complicated, I’m very surprised that this is marketed as a children’s book. There are ideas that touched on that are really of an adult nature.

I really don’t want to get into the plot too much, as I don’t want to spoil any of the twists. Just trust me when I say that the book is so much better than the movie, and the movie was pretty darn good! Highly recommended! I can’t wait to start The Subtle Knife!

Published in: on March 2, 2008 at 11:36 am  Comments (3)  
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Review: The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

The Abstinence Teacher has a chick lit feel to it and is a very easy  read. I tore through it in a couple of days. I really related to Ruth Ramsey and thought she was a very likable character.

I was intrigued by the play between left wing and right wing attitudes toward teaching children about sexuality and health. I wasn’t quite sure which stance was being taken. I was curious to see what the moral of the story was. I’ll let you read to find out rather than spoil the suspense.

I did wonder if it was fair to portray the right wing religious characters as, for the most part, being driven to religion by weakness or tragedy. There must be people who believe in an organized approach to religion simply because they believe it’s right? Not because they need a crutch? I think the approach taken by Tom Perrotta makes a complex topic much simpler than the reality.

I found the ending deeply unsatisfying. I actually started cursing after I finished the last page.

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Effigy by Alissa York

I often read book reviews with the intent of adding to my request list at the local library. There are often 100 people or more ahead of me on these request lists, so it can take months before I actually get my hands on the book. As a result I often forget why I wanted to read a particular book. Effigy is just such a book.

Effigy is about a polygamous Mormon family in the 1850s. Not the type of book I’d usually read. Well, I figured there must be a reason I wanted to read the book back when I added it to my library requests, so I dove on in. The characters were interesting, complex and had depth. I wanted to know more about the characters as I progressed through the novel. I was intrigued by the women who accepted a polygamous lifestyle.

I did find most of the male characters a bit hard to take. But that may be my attitude towards polygamy and organized religion coloring my impression of the characters.

Overall, an interesting read. The plot had some interesting and unexpected twists. The story was character driven in a way that I particularly enjoy. My one complaint, without getting into details, is that I did find the ending somewhat frustrating.

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 1:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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Review: Half Life

I recently devoured Half Life: A Novel by Shelley Jackson. I’ve been soooo slow at finishing everything lately. But I tore through Half Life in no time at all. I loved it!

The premise seems a bit gimmicky. Conjoined twins and the concept of self and autonomy. But it really works. The ties between Nora and Blanche are fascinating. The story really is about Nora and Blanche, but the other characters are odd and wacky in a manner that I find quite charming.

Published in: on February 5, 2008 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The boyfriend sweater disaster

That’s it. I give up. I’m done. I’m not spending another second knitting Blair’s sweater. Nope. Not another single second.

I finished the yoke of the sweater and had Blair try it on. And it was crooked. Again. Even though this time I used entirely different shoulder and neck shaping. So I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem is not my knitting. It’s Blair. His upper body is lopsided. Really. That must be the problem. Honestly. It couldn’t be anything else. Because I am a very careful knitter. Who counts stitches. And follows instructions.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, what am I going to do with this lovely yarn? I think I’m going to make a throw for a chair in our sun room. After I frog it. Ouch.

Published in: on February 5, 2008 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Success!

The dinner experiment was successful! Yay! I would highly recommend Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m going to purchase it. The level of detail in the instructions and descriptions is wonderful.

I was thrilled that my parents really seemed to enjoy the meal. Some of the flavours in Japanese food can be quite strange if you’re not used to them. I can’t think of anything that they would eat on a regular basis that’s anything like dashi or wakame, both of which were in the miso soup. But they enjoyed it enough that my mom even asked for the donburi recipe. We don’t have them over very often, so I’m glad it all went well.

I served the food in two courses. The first course was miso soup and an eggplant dengaku. Then I left Blair and my folks to chat and visit while I prepared the donburi and the vinegared cucumber. I can’t believe how quick and easy it was to make the donburi! I think donburi would be a wonderfully quick week night dinner. I think this will be in heavy rotation on the nights that I cook.

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of everything before we began eating. I was hungry! I’m really not one for fussy food displays, so it wouldn’t have been much to look at anyway. The cookbook does have wonderful instructions on how to make pretty food arrangements though.

Published in: on January 15, 2008 at 9:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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