Saturday, June 15, 2013

Coming Back

I haven't been posting here for such a long time, and I was surprised to see that's it's been more than a year

A few reasons ... after I broke my arm, I was typing with one finger on my left hand, but mostly I didn't feel like writing a lot ... even though I've been reading a lot. My blogger friend, Nan, in New Hampshire gave me the idea to group some books in one post and just write a short synopsis.

So here's my first group. There will have to be quite a few posts and quite a few groups to catch up

Finding me in France
by Bobbi French
Creative Book Publishing 2012

She left her successful medical career in Newfoundland and bought a one-way ticket to a small village in Burgundy.  The story is an entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny account of her experience.

An accompanying blog.... follows the daily adventures in France, then a move to Switzerland, and again to Vancouver Island.

Hometown
Out and About in Victoria's Neighbourhoods
by Anny Scoones
TouchWood Editions 2013

with illustrations by Robert Amos

I wrote about Anny's previous 'Home" books here a few years ago, her life and adventures on Glamorgan Farm in North Saanich, BC. After selling the farm, Anny bought a small house in James Bay

Now my two favorite authors are living in Victoria, just 30 minutes from where I live. Maybe I'll meet them on the street some day.

Honolulu
by Alan Brennert
Kindle Book  2009
read in 2012/2013

I added this book to this group because I lived there also ... for three years, ten years ago.

This book follows the life of a young 'picture bride', immigrating from Korea in 1914. Historical fiction at its best

next up Molokai by the same author



Friday, November 4, 2011

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

Annabel Pitcher (Kindle Edition Jun 13, 2011)

shortlisted for the Galaxy National Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and the Dylan Thomas Prize.

I laughed and cried almost the entire way through this story. Jamie has just moved from London to the country with his Dad and Jasmine, his teenage sister, and Roger the cat.

After his sister, Rose, died five years ago, the family fell apart. Mum stayed in London with her boyfriend, Dad spends his days in a drunken haze, Jas had dyed her hair pink and taken up with Leo, a pierced and green-haired

Jamie doesn’t miss Rose because he was only four when she died. He hasn’t cried in all that time. He’s far more interested in his cat and in keeping his new friend, Sunya, a secret from his Dad.

There are many blog posts about this book … you can read from Cornflower’s blog here

There is a link to the reading by David Tennant, shortlisted for Audiobook of the Year

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just William

by Richmal Crompton
first published 1922
Kindle edition April 2009

This is the first of the series and a collection of 38 William Books by
Richmal Crompton

Whether it's a trip to the cinema, babysitting a youngster, being a page boy at a wedding, or running away from home to take a job below stairs, the 11-year old William Brown can always be relied on to create chaos and havoc wherever he goes. This short story collection (the first of 38 books) is a wonderful introduction to a classic character.

Particular stand outs are 'William the Intruder', in which William falls in love with the same girl as his brother Robert, 'The Show', which has the first of many hilarious moments from Mr Brown to round off an excellent story, and the first ever story 'The Outlaws', which sees William forced to look after a baby which he tells the rest of the Outlaws he's kidnapped in order to save face. Of course, things don't go according to plan in any of them, although there are a nice mixture of moments of triumph and despair for the youngster.

This is a blurb from the back cover of Just William:
”No matter how hard William Brown tries, his school uniform always looks tatty and disreputable, he mangles the English language in his speech and writing, and he can never remember any of the rules he's supposed to be following. Along with his gang, the Outlaws, he spends his days contriving schemes to make money, trying to get out of doing schoolwork, musing about the fact that girls are a different species and , he reckons, being generally misunderstood by teachers and all other adults.
William is one of the most self-righteous characters in English fiction, always ready with a convoluted excuse to explain away his misdemeanours and elastic lies that get stretched to breaking point”

At one point his father said, “The only thing that relieves the tedium of going out to dinner is the fact that for a short time one has a rest from William.”

I hope I can find more of the William series, whether on Kindle or in real books. He’s a delight.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My new Kindle


I do so love my new Kindle. It's only a few months old and already stuffed with books - mostly samples, I haven't bought all of them. I resisted buying a Kindle for a long long time because I'm passionate about the look and feel of real books and paper, and a great supporter of our local library. But one day not long ago, there was a book by Linda Gillard available ONLY on Kindle, and I wanted it. House of Silence was my first book, and it was wonderful. I was hooked, and since then I've read another of hers, Emotional Geology.

There are 81 items in the list, but only five or six of those have I bought. I do like the feature that allows me to 'sample' the books before I decide to buy them.

Some of the most recent acquisitions are: Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernieres, Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton, Collected Stories of Eudora Welty and Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.

I read blogs written by friends who review books, and then I want another one. I'm beginning to think I'm greedy and want it all - am I an obsessive compulsive consumer?

I made a padded bag from some scraps in my sewing drawer


I haven't figured out yet when the wireless connection is on, or when is the best time or place to connect. Sometimes I go outside because I've heard or read somewhere that it's best to be away from things like tv or computer. The PDF file with instructions is huge and it takes a bit of time to wander through it. Usually I just try at random times throughout the day or evening - eventually I get a connection.

And the very best thing is that it's so light weight and portable - perfect for reading in bed.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tinkers



by Paul Harding

Harper Collins
2009

George Washington Crosbylies dying of cancer in his living room while his family keeps watch. His death provides the framework for the real story, which is about his unsteady relationship with Howard, his father.

At times George is lucid, recalling notable incidents of triumph and tragedy from his life as clearly as a newspaper reporter. Often, though, he slips into prose poems that seem to have little bearing on the story but perfectly reflect the semi-dreaming state of his mind.

"When his grandchildren had been little, they had asked if they could hide inside the clock. Now he wanted to gather them and open himself up, and hide them among his ribs and faintly ticking heart."

This novel touched me deeply because it brought up the memories of my uneasy love/hate relationship with my own father. As I move more and more toward the end of my life, I reflect often on the past - my place in it and my family relationships. They seem so incredibly important now, and earlier not given the smallest thought.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Breakfast at the Exit Cafe

Travels through America
Merilyn Simonds/Wayne Grady
Greystone Books 2010



In December 2006, husband and wife Wayne Grady and Merilyn Simonds decided to take the long way home from Vancouver to Ontario. Anxious to avoid winter driving, and eager to experience America – a nation they knew only from depictions in books and movies – they opted to drive down the Pacific Coast, cross the continent through the southern states, and finish their journey along the eastern seaboard. They set off in their trusty Toyota Echo with “no itinerary, no agenda” – except to make it to the Grand Canyon by Christmas Day and to discover the perfect hash brown.

For Grady, whose forebears were slaves who came to Canada in the 1870s, it becomes a journey through fear of racism and violence into his own family roots in the American Deep South. For Simonds, who grew up a lonely Canadian in the American School of Campinas, Brazil, it becomes a journey into the heart of the ex-pat promised land, the nation of the American Dream.

Part travelogue, part exploration, part mid-winter love story, this is a journey into the heart of the next-door eighbor we thought we knew. There are frequent side trips into fascinating nooks of history, geography and literature.

The Americans they meet along the way - eating in restaurants, manning motel offices, waiting in line for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade - illuminate a country dissolving in the grip of the final years of the Bush administration.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

True Home

Anny Scoones
Touchwood Editions
2010



I love this series - Anny Scoones lives near my home, and I visit often to buy eggs from her heritage chickens and ducks. Duck eggs make the most delicious omelettes.

This is the third in her series about life at Glamorgan, a heritage farm where she raises heritage breeds of chickens and ducks, goats and horses, geese and turkeys. She loves pigs passionately. Two great Gloucester Old Spot sows named Mabel and Matilda each weigh more than seven hundred pounds. The breed is considered extinct in Canada, and she loves to show them off the the Saanichton Fair in the fall.

Many stray and rescued animals come to live - cats and dogs came to live out their days in peace. Bee was an old cat who came from a rescue organization. Anny said, "I'll take an old cat." Older cats never get adopted. The girl who was a volunteer said, "This is Honey Bee. She was found half alive in the gutter downtown. Nobody wants her, and she's ancient - she should live out her final days at a peaceful home. Take her home to die." Winnie was an elegant feral calico rescued from the crazy cat place where the old woman had lived alone with fifty cats Norman was found by a cat rescue society in a back alley in a seedy party of town.

Some come as gifts. Jasmine and Ju-Jube are two of Jake, the Drake's, five immaculate wives - the others are Jemima, Jewel, and Jessica. Jake is afraid of water so is usually filthy. He only ever put his head in the water and never bathed.

I laughed when I read about her joining a yoga class. She had a stiff, sore neck from a fall on the ice during the previous winter. Her pig veterinarian recommended yoga - "she looked fit and calm and healthy - the mayor did yoga, she was my divorce lawyer  years ago." And she resisted the whole idea.

the whole idea of having to wear skin-tight pants, which show every lump on your thighs plus a pot-bellied midsection; having to go barefoot, which shows all the thick deformed toenails, overlapping, calloused toes and bunions, and having to lie down on a rubber mat that other people have probably perspired on - the whole thing mad me rather cynical. But I thought if it helped my stiff neck, I'd give it a shot.

I was completely self-conscious. The whole thing for me was totally embarrassing. I lay on my sticky rubber mat in my tight pants, and listened to the instructor. She told us to close our eyes and 'observe our breath' and to forget all thoughts. Lying on my back was killing my neck.

Finallly came some silence, and I realized that silence with people is really uncomfortable to me, but silence in the woods, or silence with my dear old sows or with my cabbages gives me bliss and serenity, a deep contentment. She read a short quote from a Buddhist teacher whose name is Thich Nhat Hanh. He talked about Home and how true home is now. This moment is what is important. This moment is our true home.

That's why I decided to call my third and final book about Glamorgan Farm True Home.

Anny read from this latest book last month at a local cafe. She said this will be the last book about the farm. There are other books to come, and I look forward to whatever comes next.