Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I'm back! An update and the books I've been reading...

I don't know if anyone at all is reading this, but I want to apologize for not posting in a timely fashion. Been a crazy year full of ups and downs which I won't go into, but I'm moving in between grief and joy simultaneously, as I've lost a lot this past year and gained so much too.

My big news is...
I'm engaged! We met sometime after I split with my ex of four years, and we've been engaged since June. We're shooting for 2020, as we want to wait till he's done his schooling, but I'm excited nonetheless. Even though he works full time now, on weekends we go on adventures to various thrift stores, bookshops...flea markets are my favorite. I will post pictures here, but you can also see them through my Google+ account.
To the right is a picture of my fiancee, Cody.

I have been reading a lot, especially childrens books through open library, (and some fic and non fic too) including The Adventures of Miss Petitfour (a new favorite), Two In A Tent (a 1970s childrens picture book about nature) The Trouble with MagicThe Plant Sitter, The Noisy Clock ShopAmeliar Anne and The Green Umbrella, as well as a non-fiction book full of pictures and information about one of my favorite actresses, Alice Faye. I did attempt to read Mrs. Miniver but unfortunately for me it started off charming and got remarkably dull. 

I will be updating more, I promise. I'm kind of stuck deciding what to read next, even though I've got more than 600 books on my TBR list! I'm thinking of re-reading a favorite or picking up another book I own from an author I enjoyed.

Cody is away all of this week *sad face* but it means I have more free time to read too, so I think I'll go out on my deck today...

New review will be coming soon, if I can get out of this slump..

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Review: All Talking All Singing All Dancing

All Talking All Singing All Dancing All Talking All Singing All Dancing by John Springer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I ADORE this book. Filled with pictures and text about the periods each chapter covers, for a musical and film buff, it's a dream come true. My friend Andy sent this as a surprise Christmas present this year, and I couldn't be happier with it! This is definitely a keeper, which I'll even use my Ex Libris stamp on.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Review: Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know those books you love so much your words run away with you? This is one of them. Normally for a book I love this much I would write a review made of nothing but reaction gifs, but I just...can't. It took me so long to read this because I got sick and then busy with Christmas preparations.

This is my second reading after a very long time. My copy is very well loved by this point--taped at torn creases, bottoms of the pages stained with coffee, doodles in the margins (I promise I was still enthralled), and now as I read it a second time, I find myself highlighting my favorite passages—and trust me, there are many.

'You smell..' she began, slowly and wondering, 'like--'
'Like a herring!' I said bitterly. My cheeks were hot now and very red; there were tears almost, in my eyes. I think she saw my confusion and was sorry for it.
'Not at all like a herring,' she said gently. 'But perhaps, maybe, like a mermaid...' and she kissed my fingers..."


We follow the story of Nancy Astley, a Whistable oyster girl who falls in love with “smasher” named Kitty Butler (otherwise known as a crossdresser—tails and top hat and all) that she sees one night at a music hall. Though she has a beau, Freddy (played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the adaptation—HOW COULD YOU EVER LEAVE HIM FOR A WOMAN, I HAVE NO CLUE.) she has deep feelings that she can't understand, and of course, being the 1890s, her sister, Alice, who's supposedly her best friend, is prejudice when Nancy confides in her. Eventually Nancy leaves Whsitable and her oysters behind to follow Kitty to London to be her dresser. Without giving anything away, twists and turns ensue and Nancy passes through three different women during her adventures—Kitty, then being a toy for a masochistic group of lesbians run by the winner of Bitch of the Year award 1893, among many others, then finally to a sweet gentle woman named Florence who has a tragic past love story. The ending made me happy and just... It's so WELL WRITTEN!!! I was so so so immersed. It's laced not only with descriptive prose, but with actual music hall lyrics too.

“As I was a-walking down a London street
A pretty little oyster girl I chanced for to meet
I lifted up her basket and boldly I did seek
Just to see if she had any oysters..”

-(listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-BIY... )

After my first reading, I watched the BBC adaptation, and my adoration was sealed. But I had other books to read. So now when I've had the chance to read it again after almost 2-3 years, ugh reader I'm dizzy! Imagine a Charles Dickens novel set in music halls and the backstages of the 1890s (among also a seedy hedonistic lesbian underground, the back alleys of London, the Socalist parties of the 1890s..), mix that with girl on girl action...

Water's prose matches perfectly with the time period, descriptive and lush but unlike most of the Victorian's...unbelievably risque, nearing erotica. But it's not lazy erotica. It's a very decadent, atmospheric read. Just a big piece of red velvet cake, like the curtains on stage, or the curtains in other areas..You just get pulled right in and it's amazing. It's filled with sex and music halls and struggles and passion..

"I could not take my hands from her, but she seized my wrists and kissed my fingers and gave a kind of nervous laugh, and a whisper 'You will kiss the life out of me!'

The only thing that would've made it better would be to have pages of photographs of actual music hall performers, especially smashers, of this era. I also think it would be neat to hear what some of these songs actually sounded like.

A lush, sexy, 5 course meal of a book. I recommend it highly---to read again and again. A definite favourite. Brava, Ms.Waters! Brava!


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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: The Waves

The Waves The Waves by Virginia Woolf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's so very hard to review this. I read this so many many times in high school that when I picked it up today I barely needed to read it. It was all still in my heart, just like Jane Eyre. My copy is so well loved. All my junior and senior year notes in the margins and front flaps, and all my sea blue-green highlighting (I thought I was clever--ocean, waves, sea-green highlighters...I'm such a nerd!) There is no plot. It merely just lays the hearts and minds out on the table of these characters...like a deep character study. We first read this, being very confused, especially if you're not used to the stream of consciousness style, but then, for me at least, it all clicks. The "waves" can represent so many things: loss, time, aging, emotions. All of them whip you around like a damn hurricane, even if you're six or sixty. Woolf take us on a journey of the coming of age of a group of friends and their trials and thoughts. They're individuals as characters but they're also ourselves. It's all thrown to the wind though. There's no clear plot as I said, all of the prose is intricate and metaphorical and you just get so lost in it.

I relate most with Susan, who just longs for a gentle life. This book broke my heart over and over. Woolf takes us on a journey of the things we miss--every sight and smell and sound. You may not think any of this is important, but it is, as it reminds us that we are LIVING. and as hard as that can be, it's always worth it I believe. We all have new adventures: new romances, new hearts to break, new hearts to give your heart to, new books to read, new places to see. This book swooped me in and around like a rushing tide. It's a scrapbook of experience, of the mind. There's so much truth and wisdom in here that it's almost frightening--sometimes the ideas she gives us are very bleak--about loneliness and heartbreak and dying--there's nothing you can do about it. You have to surrender yourself to it. That isn't to say you should let yourself just sink into nothing at these bumps in the road. But all these bumps means you're growing and learning and living, and making yourself ready to open new doors.

There are things that require patience and waiting--I've been with my lover for 4 years now, and I love him so much that I'm waiting till he's finished university so we can be together. He lives in Australia. Most would call this foolish. I'm trying to grasp at opportunity of love. Not that I wouldn't be able to find it again. I just want to hold onto him.

Anyway, off topic. If you're in the mood for something poetic and deeply introspective and moving, and if you can get used to the writing style, I highly suggest you read this. You won't regret it.

I want to share a few of my favorite passages. They may not not make sense to you out of context. well, out of of not-so-much-context.

"Something always has to be done next. Tuesday follows Monday; Wednesday, Tuesday. Each spreads the same ripple. The being grows rings, like a tree. Like a tree, leaves fall"
"While I sat here I have been changing. I have watched the sky change. I have seen clouds cover the stars, then free the stars, then cover the stars again. Now I look at their changing no more. Now no one sees me and I change no more"
"My book, stuffed with phrases, has dropped to the floor. It lies under the table to be swept up by the charwoman when she comes wearily at dawn looking for scraps of paper, old tram tickets, and here and there a note screwed into a ball and left with the litter to be swept up. What is the phrase for the moon? and the phrase for love? By what name are we to call death? I do not know"
"How much better is silence; the coffee-cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake."

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: In Real Life

In Real Life In Real Life by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this. A perfect pick me up after a few weeks hiatus from reading because of a medical ordeal. I'm fine now, and happy to get back to reading~

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Once Upon a Time Machine

Once Upon a Time Machine Once Upon a Time Machine by Andrew Carl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really looking forward to this after seeing the cover while I was snooping around the graphic novel section of GR. What I got was 1 or 2 really good stories, and a bunch of pretty confusing or bland ones. The art, even for the bad stories is very good, and what's weird is that there's these panels in between showing 1-2 page illustrations of storybook characters in a futuristic way, like Rapunzel was a robot, with her hair as like her own Medusa tentacles. That was wicked cool--but sadly, those pictures would've made much better stories than the actually stories put into this book. I wish they had. The stories contained within, where to me very tedious and confusing, with almost no relation to the actually story characters in the skits, and all set in like the same style of battle cruisers and post apocalypse type stuff. Not that I think this a bad idea, but for every story? It was weird. Each story had a different artist, and yet they all felt the same to me. One or two stories stood out. I'm not against modernization or updates as far as fairy tales go, but it needs to be done right and this just felt too helter skelter. Like I said, would've been super cool is they had made stories out of the pictures in between the stories.

This is one of them, again, just a picture, no story--but wouldn't have this made an awesome section of the graphic novel? like holy cheeseballs!!

Captain Hook & Peter Pan! OuO

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Review: Blankets

Blankets Blankets by Craig Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A rather bittersweet love story. A coming of age story about a boy becoming a man, discovering religion, and abandoning it. Religion was a main theme, but not as strong as self-discovery, becoming your own person and following your heart through all the BS of life. Really enjoyed it and the illustrations are lovely. The ending is very open to interpretation I think.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Delicious!

Delicious! Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is....well, for lack of a better word, Delicious! (Forgive me..)
A foodie brain like mine goes crazy for books like this, scattered with recipes and descriptions of smells and tastes...MMMM! I'm going to try my hand as the orangey spice cake recipe at the end and I'll update later if it falls through or not.

The WWII aspect of the story was sweet and rather fascinating, but also sad. I'm glad Lulu got a resolution. Our main heroine, Billie (short for Willhema) a drab and shy woman living in the shadow of her "beautiful" sister. This story broke my heart too. Gosh. No spoilers I swear but the twist involving her sister knocked the wind out of me. I enjoyed Billie's little romance, and the scenes with the hidden library and hunting through filing cabinets of index cards made my hands shake in excitement. Clue hunting through dusty old books and cabinets? Add hot library sex and living in a city full of restaurants? Count me in baby! I live for stuff like that.

I loved all the side characters, especially Sammy. He was kinda fantasy material, not so much that he was hot or anything, he was quite an older man (and no, it's not that I don't find older men attractive, but this guy was as old as my dad) but he was very sophisticated, and spoke using archaic words. I mean, no one REALLY talks like that, but it was another unique spice in the soup of our cast. (Oh and gay. I guess that's cliched or stereotypical, but whatever. I liked him. He wasn't FABULOUS! or anything. :P)

I do wish we had just a tiny bit more time with the cast of Hell's Kitchen (I kid..) because I found them such a weird motley crew. What I wouldn't give to work at a test kitchen and taste bits of everything here and there. I'd probably get fatter though!

Did I mention I'm obsessed with all the descriptive paragraphs about food? and I mean almost every kind of food...for whatever reason, all the cheese shop scenes had me drooling the most. What can I say, I'm a Dairy Queen (their food is way below sub-par, by the way. EUCK.) I liked our heroines love interest, Mitch, too. all I'm in envisioning is a slightly less muscled mountain man with awesome scruff and sweet, good with his hands *wink wink--and I don't just mean a spatula!* a bit sly...smart. Did I mention he could cook like nobody's business? Adored the scene with him and Billie in the bathtub with his pancakes. Oh god yes. This is sounding more and more like a sex roleplay the more I type...but seriously a cook with scruff? (I don't recommend combining your scruff with your cooking--no one likes beard hair in their scrambled eggs) He's got an island in his kitchen too--I'm such a foodie fangirl because that made me go nuts. It's like paradise compared to my tiny terror kitchen.

The story really enfolded itself in a lovely way, wrapped around a cocoon of grief, courage and food and the comfort it can bring in the worst of times.


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Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gosh, I loved this graphic novel! I did grow up with food in a minimal way--I do wish I had grown up with it more, and more diverse food, more healthy food with a small amount of indulgence--though I still remember my mother's fried hot dogs, her idea of putting ice cream or ice cream sandwiches between waffles or having my childhood favourite, chicken stir fry. Unfortunately though, my mom burnt or overcooked everything she made, even eggs. On Christmases, my grandmom gave me a whole new taste for food. She made cookies by scratch and ham and veggies and it was just wonderful.

I wrote down all the recipes in this book and I think I will try to the lamb. It was very very funny and I love the art and Lucy's explorations through a diversity of food and adolescence. In particular, I loved the bit with porno magazines. This is a treat for foodies and for artists.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

The Lost Garden by Katherine Swartz (Netgalley Review)

Thanks to Netgalley for letting me read this book.

I enjoyed this OK. It's set over two time periods: the 21st century and post-WWI, switching between two families who both live in the same house and take care of the same garden. A garden which holds a secret of forbidden love which our modern day family is trying to discover, while struggling with grief and problems of their own. Our modern day family, two sisters, one losing her biological mother and then her biological father, the other losing her father too and his second wife, her mother. I won't go into too much detail but this causes our older sister to struggle with resentment she's kept locked away since she was sent away to boarding school when she was a girl after her mother died. In our post World War One story, we also see a story of two sisters, Katherine and Eleanor, struggling to also overcome grief of their lost brother and the vastly changed post war world they've suddenly found themselves in. Eleanor is different from her rigid sister Katherine, and wants something more to do than just nurse veterans. She can't seem to find anything of interest out of her cloud of grief, until a gardener named Jack comes to work and she finds solace in his company, able to let her guard down and be herself when she's been always forced to be the strong one for her family. Never comforted or consoled. Jack cares for her, but cannot act on it, as it is improper. Eleanor refuses to let him go, but a lot of things have changed because of the war and things are not always what they seem...

This is a story of love, grief and forgiveness. of making sacrifices and fresh starts. I found myself more attached to the post-WWI story than the other--I felt their characters were built a little more..It was alright. Probably wouldn't read it again-it certainly wasn't bad, but I felt rather disinterested until at the end I was blubbering like a baby. It was a lovely ending to an otherwise sad book. I'm indifferent, other than that. Thanks Netgalley.