Dec. 31st, 2009 03:49 pm
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Lovely afternoon! Mom and i took our chapters gift cards out and Staci came with us! It didn't take long to rack up almost 100 dollars though I had a 50 dollar gift card to offset it. Hardcover books might be 30% off but if you buy a few it adds up! Actually, i got two, plus two paperbacks. a small box of four Godiva chocs, minus the discounts plus 10% off for the regular Chapters discount, plus tax... how did it add up again? Oh well lol! I wouldn't have spent that much if i hadn't had the 50 gift card so thanks, Justin! Mom and I always end up seeing who spent more and she beat me this time. By about a dollar! :)

So what did i get? Quite a variety actually. New York, by Edward Rutherfurd; a biography of David Bowie by Marc Spitz; The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles which is a crime/mystery and a little light fun reading, One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell. I still have a couple of historical non-fictions to read in my stack and have started an Amanda Quick (The Third Circle). Also on the stack is an older one by Jack Whyte called Clothar the Frank. I read the one he wrote about Merlin and i liked it so thought i'd try some of his other historical novels. Some of them are trilogies and i couldn't get the first book so i picked this one up instead for now.

Last one for 2009, number 31, Sailing away from Winter by Silver Donald Cameron. My friend Tracey gave me this for my birthday and i've been picking it up and putting it down. It's a description of Cameron and his wife's journey by sailboat down the eastern seaboard from Cape Breton to Florida and the Bahamas. The boat seemed to give them a lot of trouble so there were ups and downs with that. There are bits about various places they stopped, the historical places and the absurd as well.

Anyway, We three had a hot drink in Starbucks and had a lovely chat and later Mom and i went over to the Mall for a poke around a few of the stores. I picked up a new frying pan and a half price calendar with lovely scenes of Scotland for my wall at work. I'm looking for a new bathmat but i can't find the colour i want though i've seen it in towels. I want a teal green to pick up that colour in my shower curtain which has golds and a bit of the green in it. Winners had some nice towels in the exact colour i wanted but i don't really need towels. I may get some though if i can get the bath mat.

Tonight i'm going to be online with [ profile] gramie_dee seeing in both his New Year and mine.
tvordlj: (astronaut cat DOH)
The office has half-emptied out this week. Next week, there will be a skeleton crew on board and I won't be one of them. I haven't worked Christmas week for years and having some seniority would generally mean I can get the time off if i want it. It's very quiet, too. Not a lot happening.

Just have to get through this afternoon, then a session at the gym after work. Don't really feel up to is as i'm a bit tired, though. I woke up at 4 and really didn't get back to sleep properly, though dozed a bit. See, yesterday i bought a small bag of "chicken bones" as seen in this photo here. A New Brunswick company, Ganong, makes the best. They are a brittle candy shell of cinnamon with chocolate inside as the "marrow" and oh God they're good! They only bring them out at Christmas time, or at least, that's when you see them around a lot more, so it is one of those treats that really typify the season. We always had them in the house growing up, those, and the buckets of hard candy in various shapes including ribbons and the clear sugar gylcerine "toys", shaped like animals, clowns, all sorts of fanciful things. Anyway, sucking on those chicken bones can make your tongue bleed from the sharpness of the brittle candy shell or.... which is what i think i did, the hot cinnamon "burned" my tongue and the roof of my mouth a bit. My mouth hurt when i went to bed but when i woke up at 4, it was very tender, felt a bit swollen and i had a hard time getting back to sleep. It's not so bad now, just a little tiny bit sore. Guess i learned that lesson!

2009 books:
30. Once in a Lifetime by Cathy Kelly
She's an Irish writer and i've read a few of her books. I quite like them. This one is mainly about one woman, Ingrid, who's a well known political interviewer on television. Her husband, David Kenny, runs the family owned posh department store, Kenny's. There are a few other characters, mainly women who all have a connection either to one or both of this couple or to the store and we get to know some of them as well, and their problems and solutions. David Kenny dies suddenly and most of the book is about the aftermath, dealing with that, how she copes (not very well at first but that's got a lot to do with a "shocking" discovery she makes. Standard plot really, but i won't spoil it for you). The other characters' stories aren't given a huge amount of detail but enough that make it interesting to read. What was a bit odd, though, is when they take a fairly minor character and jump back into their past and describe it all in detail. It doesn't seem to really go with the rest of the flow. It might have been better if it was about Ingrid rather than someone that's really not a major player. I think i would have enjoyed it more if all of these secondary and minor characters had more connection to each other or to Ingrid in the end. Some of them did, but not all of them. Having said that, I still enjoyed the book. Cathy Kelly writes decent books. She's no Marian Keyes, whose books i really like a lot, but she's not bad.

2009 Books

Dec. 14th, 2009 02:27 pm
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Like [ profile] lola_is_naughty, i'm on number 29 and i'm sure i'll hit 30 by the end of the year, maybe one or two more depending on how much i read in bed. I have one that i have been reading on and off for most of the year, a non-fiction about a couple from Cape Breton who are sailing all the way to Bermuda in a sailboat that seems to be filled with gremlins. Anyway, that may end up being 30 as i'd like to finish it and get it out of the stack by the bed. I bought a few paperbacks the other day and i still have a couple of history books in the stack too.

Probably here i should jump in with the 30 days/30 posts meme. Today's is a non-fictional book. I quite enjoy history books particularly those set in the Tudor period. Most are pretty good unless it's about a person about whom not much is known. Then it seems to be filled with nonsense, like last year's Jane Rochford was. On the other hand, the biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine was quite a bit better yet there is still not a lot known about her over many of the periods of her life. The author seemed to make better suppositions, assumptions and filled in the blanks with much better educated guesses instead of just regurgitating pap and sticking Eleanor in there. We went to the Henry VIII exhibit at the British Library earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I ordered the catalogue and the new book by Starkey on Henry. The catalogue (a non-fictional "meme" book) has lots of pictures of the exhibit and the corresponding text. It's lovely to leave through and remember seeing the original items. I'm kind of expecting Starkey's book to be much the same as in the catalogue with more filling, and probably similar material to what he put in his Six Wives book.

So i've finished my next book for the 2009 countdown.

29 Beyond Black - Hilary Mantel.
This is the same author as Wolf Hall but it's a very different book. Welcome to the world of the dead and the people that can speak to them. It's about a psychic or "Sensitive" called Alison. She travels around the Greater London area appearing at psychic fairs and shows where she passes on messages from those that have passed. On stage, she is much more a "show" person, and more vague about the messages and the recipients than when she's doing a one on one. She's plagued by a nasty piece of work who is her Spirit Guide and all of his spirit friends, none of whom have a redeeming factor between them. The difference is Alison knew them all when she was a child and they were actually alive.

Alison had a horrific childhood, the daughter of a prostitute and these men were some of her "regulars". They contributed much abuse of all types and between them, and all the spirits that she could see and hear even as a child, her life growing up was a misery. She seems a bit circumspect about it all but the spirits are wearing her down and she never gets a moment's peace.

Enter Colette, a divorced woman who is looking for somewhere to make a new life for herself. She is controlling and emotionless and more of a skeptic than even she will admit. she has no sensitivity to the spirit world and not always a lot of patience for Alison dealing with it. She move in with Alison and acts as her manager, arranging her life and becoming more and more overbearing.

The book is supposed to be funny, or have funny bits but i found it dark and kind of sad. It was different than i usually read, that's for sure and i admit i skimmed bits of it. It wasn't a bad book but perhaps not really my thing. Also, Alison is a large woman and there's a lot of weight-negativity in the book and i find that put me off, too. In the end, Alison is Alison. As she says, she has all these spirits and things to deal with and you need a bit of heft to stand up to it all.

2009 books

Dec. 9th, 2009 03:37 pm
tvordlj: (Default)
28. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mandell
This just won the Booker prize for 2009. Since i haven't read any of the others, i can't say if it was better than those. I did like it. It's the story of the rise of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII's court, with a bit of his brutal childhood, his life with Wolsey and Wolsey's downfall and Cromwell's rise to a position of power. It ends in 1535 at the height of his power and wealth. I wonder if she's going to write a sequel about the fall of Cromwell as well. The style of writing was a bit different. It's fictional, and it's written sort of in the third person but as if he himself were writing it about himself in the third person. That's the only way i can describe it. Cromwell is slippery, silver tongued and ambitious but isn't underhanded, at least not maliciously so. It portrays Henry as more than just a brute with a temper. He's almost naive, definitely spoiled and self centered, tempermental of course. He portrays Anne Boleyn as calculating as well as her sister Mary. His friends, such as Charles Brandon and Henry Norris are the "entourage" hangers on but loyal as well. It's a different take on the story, a different point of view.

Got both flu jabs today and they put them right in the shoulder muscle. I'm sure i never got them that high before, they were always further down my upper arm so of course the shoulder muscles are a bit tender. I'm supposed to have a gym session after work. We'll see how they fare. If they're too sore, i'll just stick with lower body and maybe do some extra time on the bike.

More books

Nov. 24th, 2009 06:58 pm
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
I have fallen behind on my book list....
25. The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox
This is a book about obsession and revenge. Revenge causes a Countess to hide her baby, her hated husband's heir away from him, in the arms of her old friend. That child, Edward, discovers who he really is when he's an adult but can't prove it. It turns out his hated school rival is the Count's protege and potential heir and Edward vows to find proof and get one over on his rival for once and for all. The book starts with a murder, a practice murder because Edward is planning to murder his rival. The rest of the book goes back into their history and we find out the road Edward travelled to get to that point. There is, of course, a woman involved, a woman that Edward has fallen in love with but who also has an agenda.

26. The Glass of Time - Michael Cox
This is a sort of sequel to the previous book only, mistakenly, i read this one before the other. It didn't really matter a whole lot as it turns out. Each could stand on it's own. This book is about a orphaned woman, Esperanza, who is sent to be a lady's maid to a Baroness who has been living as a widow since the love of her life was murdered before they were married. She knows she's there to complete a plan put forth to her by her guardian but she doesn't know what it is. Little by little she finds out the history of her parents that interweaves with her insinuating herself into the life and affections of the Baroness in order to right a past wrong. She doesn't realize that will affect her future as well. Both of the books were pretty good. They take place in Victorian England about 20-something years apart. They are by no means love stories so might appeal to men as well as women.

27. The Last Great Dance on Earth - Sandra Gulland (third book in the Josephine B. Trilogy) This is Josephine's final chapter, taking place when she's now married to Napoleon and he is the Emperor. She suffers his mistresses, she suffers bad health, she worries for her children and battles her in-laws. Because she's too old to give Napoleon an heir, she is cast aside, which breaks her heart and possibly his. He does seem to continue to love her but must have a son, which he does get, but we all know the end result. The book ends before Trafalgar, with her death.

Am not reading Wolf Hall which is about Thomas Cromwell's life in the Tudor courts.
ETA... that should read "Am now reading" doh
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
We had our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and boy, what a spread! Both turkey and roast beef with veg, mashed potatoes, gravy, two kinds of stuffing and both pie and cheesecake squares for dessert. *groan* everyone contributed something so Mom didn't have to do it all. It's getting too much for her to do it all anyway but we have the celebrations there because she's the one that has room for us all.

Friday i got my hair cut and coloured as i mentioned and it's too dark for my taste to i've washed it twice so far, hoping to start the fade out process a bit sooner. I don't really want to drench more chemicals on it so soon. It doesn't look bad, i just prefer it a bit lighter and redder.

Today's chores were laundry, reorganizing a few dresser drawers, washing floors and sorting out the recycling. All done.

2009 Books:
24: Echo in the Bone - Diana Gabaldon
Book 7 in the series about Jamie and Claire Fraser. I thought it was going to be the last book but clearly not. And i think there has to be at least 2 more. We continue the adventures, with characters getting into dire straights and having to be rescued. We are following the battles of the American Revolution in 1777 and 1778 and Jamie's illegitimate son, William Ransom, Earl of Ellsmere has been brought onto the canvas as more of a major character. There are two new characters, a Quaker doctor and his sister. The action also follows Briana and Roger in 1980 as they get on with their lives and follow that of Jamie and Claire through a group of letters in a chest that was delivered to them. I can't remember but i think it was sent to a bank or trust company to be delivered after a certain date when Claire had hoped Briana and Roger would have made it back to the future successfully. All they know is that the time traveling through the portals jumps about 200 years but it's not an exact thing, give or take a few years. The book is long and winding and and possibly long winded in places but there's so much to pack in! Fans of the series won't mind and we are all going to have a long wait for the next book as she takes awhile to get it all written and put together. It's usually 2 or 3 years in between publications. There's a lot of loose ends to tie up though she's already done some, but then leaves others out there to pick up.

She's been known to say there will of course be a happy ending but not without a few tears. There's always been talk about a movie or mini series but i don't think you'd ever cast it to satsify most of the fans. Everyone has such a carved-in-stone idea of what the main characters should look like and you couldn't cast anyone known i think. You'd have to go with unknowns. That's probably the only way it would work. And even just filming the first book (Outlander) would take in so much scope that a lot of what was written would have to be dumped. Her books are very well researched and her characters are very charismatic and so well drawn out that they really do seem to live. The romance is spicy, not schmaltzy and is just as hot now that Jamie and Claire are in middle age. Quite refreshing for us middle aged fans!

And on that note, the author is in Halifax tomorrow night for a speaking and book signing engagement. It looks like i shall be going and my friend Tracey will be meeting me there. I'll have to make sure to bring my book and my camera! It'll be crowded because she's quite popular. I remember the first book signing in Halifax. It was for her third book i think and it was in a small bookstore downtown. The place was heaving with people and everyone kept saying they thought they were the only ones that had heard about the series and author!
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Since we're on a book blogging day, i might as well get caught up on my 2009 books read list. I've been a bit remiss.

21. First of the Josephine B. Trilogy by Sandra Gulland,The Many Lives& Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. This is about the woman who later became Josephine Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon. The first book mainly goes through a bit of her childhood in St. Lucia and her first years in France where she was sent to be married. Her first marraige wasn't all that successful and then came the Revolution. She was in prison at one point and was the Lover of a Captain in the Army, who was also in prison while she was there. The first book ends when she's accepted Napoleon's offer of marraige. The book is written in journal/diary form by Josephine herself but with dialogue as well. It's based on what is known about her with fictional stuff thrown in. It's pretty good, seems to be well researched and characterized. The trilogy is huge, though, so it's kind of heavy to hold!

22. Second book of the trilogy, Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe. I'm not quite finished it yet but i needed a break from Josephine and started the next book below which i've read quite quickly and finished. This second book takes place during her marraige to Napoleon. As i've left it, he's all but calling himself Emperor, having taken over the government on his own.

23. Five Women, by Rona Jaffe. A friend had recommended one of Ms. Jaffe's other books but the library didn't have it. This one was the only one they had so i got it. I haven't been to the library in ages and i should really go more. When i've made a bit more of a dent in the unread stack! Anyway, this book is about four women that are unlikely friends who have dinner at a NY restaurant every week. The fifth woman is the owner of the restaurant but who doesn't really become close friends with the others. The book jumps back to each of their lives in turn. Each of the women are from very dysfunctional families and have contentious relationships with their mothers in particular and it points out how each of them has repeated many of their mother's patterns and the effects their upbringing has had on them. It was ok, a quick read, nice for a break. I may not get back to Josephine just yet. I have a new Fiona Walker that i think might just hit the spot before i delve back into history again.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
next up in the 2009 books is
20. Her Majesty's Spymaster - Stephen Budiansky
This is the story of Sir Francis Walsingham who was Queen Elizabeth I's secretary and who turned out to be expert in running espionage schemes in a time where there were a legion or two of plots against England, mainly by the Catholic countries of Spain and France. This was Spain's glory era where they were the Empire of the World. Elizabeth, by the Catholics' standards, had no legitimate claim to the throne of England and though Protestantism was growing in strength, Spain and to a lesser extent, France, had much more influence in much of the world and had the backing of Rome, naturally. Walsingham used an extensive network of spies and couriers for letters, used information and threw out misinformation to stymie the enemies. His years of efforts uncovered multiple plots both to free the captive Mary Queen of Scots and to assassinate Elizabeth herself. This network also helped him keep ahead of the Spanish attack.

I really found this interesting, so much detail and research but it was very well written too, not dry and labourous to get through. The author also threw in little phrases that were quite funny and not something you often see in historical books like this, like... talking about Englishmen traveling in Italy and then an aside saying there were *always* Englishmen traveling in Italy. a "seamy fraternity of priest-takers", ... his use of descritive language makes it a lot more interesting a read. There's lots of facts and quotes from many letters and documents, not too much supposition but then that era was fairly well documented. I didn't really know much about Walsingham and his relationships to the Queen and Burghley (Sir William Cecil, her long time advisor) before i read the book but i sure do now. There's lots about the Queen herself as well. it doesn't seem to be exaggerated or pumped up for dramatic effect, Very good read altogether.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
19. The Likeness - Tana French

Apparently this is the second book about the main character, Detective Cassie Maddox but i hadn't read the first one. Doesn't matter, they made enough references to the previous plot that you get the gist. Don't really think i have to read it now! Anyway, this book takes place in and around Dublin in present day. A murdered woman is found and she looks to be Cassie's identical twin though is not. Cassie has not been working on the murder squad or the undercover squad after some traumatic events and has to be persuaded to take over the woman's life to help find the murderer. The woman lives in a house with four graduate students who may or may not be suspects and Cassie has to find a way to fit in and figure it all out. She does fairly well thanks to the dead woman's mobile phone that has a lot of video that was shot of the roomies and information the police extracted about the dead woman's life from the same roomies. The dead woman is an enigma, however, with no apparent family, friends or past so the murderer might be someone she knew from her former life.

The book is well written and it drew me in. The roommates are not completely drawn out but then since they are strangers to Cassie and she's trying to get to know them but not get too close to them, it works. Cassie does get drawn in to their cocoon of a life, a bit, while trying to unearth a murderer. They are all loners, people that don't quite fit in but found each other and seem to live in their own little world, which, little by little, is developing the cracks that Cassie soon detects. Little by little, the story unfolds and you start having various suspicions along with her. It did keep my interest and the ending, while not a complete surprise, wasn't quite what i expected either.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
After two nice days on the weekend, we've come back to the usual overcast, fog, showers. Might clear up later in the week. I didn't actually go out in the sun yesterday. I started a painting as a present for a wedding i'm going to in September. I did some housework, read, made a nice seafood chowder. It would have been nicer if i'd had tinned milk, but i didn't and i didn't bother going to the corner shop to see if they had any. I just made it with normal milk. Still tastes ok but just a little flat.

2009 books:
18: This Charming Man by Marian Keyes.
I mentioned when I started reading this how annoying some of the writing style was. It didn't get any better for the POV of that character, Lola. Might have been better if consistent. But not. Even wrote dialogue in annoying style and not consistent either. Also, noticed each character different typeface. Anyway, that aside, this is a bit different from her usual books. Not as light hearted. It deals with domestic abuse and alcoholism so it could be a bit triggery if you've got easily-pushed buttons on those subjects. However, i found her storytelling from the points of view of those particular characters very realistic and sometimes harrowing which means she did a good job. Makes you wonder if she's either been there or known someone close that has. If not, then she's done extensive research and done it well.

The three main characters, Lola, Marnie and Grace are all well drawn out. The man they each have in common, Paddy, is not so well explained. He's more than "charming but flawed", he turns out to be a real bastard but we don't really find out what made him that way. He lost his mother at age 15 and seemed to have a cold, unfeeling father but there really is no detail and he was a bastard even as a very young man. Lola's adventures were quite funny once you got your head around the awful style and even then i tended to read those bits a bit fast because i found it tedious and overdone. I wish she'd have had the dialogue bits in "normal" speak at least. That's where it seemed the most inconsistent and hard to read. The story, though, was compelling enough that i did want to get through even though at times, it was hard to read emotionally too. Marnie's story dealing with her alcoholism was particularly realistic. She was isolated, both emotionally from her surroundings and family and physically as she lived in London and the rest either in Dublin (Grace) or, temporarily, in a village in Co. Clare, (Lola, who interacted with many of the villagers, some in surprising and quite funny ways).

There are additional parts to each character's story that pop up as the book progresses, too. It's not all told at the start and that actually works. Overall, aside from the style of writing for Lola's character, it was a very good book though a bit different from her usual fare. Another of her recent books, Anybody Out There? was a bit different as well, dealing with grief. I wonder if she's moving towards this sort of thing, a serious issue or two underlying the main storyline which still has some funny and light hearted bits and good characters. If so, that's not a bad thing.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Ok, so i couldn't wait until after the Parade of Sail to put my photos up online. Flickr set with photos and videos here. Those of you on Facebook, there are sets of similar photos there, broken up into two albums so that the cruise photos from today are separate. I will post Parade of Sail photos after the event.

2009 Books:
17: Audition by Barbara Walters

This is her autobiography. Quite a thick book and it's quite interesting. I liked reading about her life before she became famous and she was always very frank about her regrets, her ambition. She was a ground breaker for women in broadcasting and it sounds like she's a workaholic. The woman is in her 70s though won't say exactly how old she is. Very interesting to read how she got interviews with some of the most famous names in the world, both political and celebrity, heads of state and ordinary people who's lives and situations touched her. She talks about lots of her interviewees, many of whom she liked even if she didn't like their politics or what they'd done. Even when it's clear she really disliked her interviewee, she tends to soften it and doesn't write insults or hugely negative stuff. Some, yes, but not like "mud slinging" types of things. It seemed pretty fair and she seemed to try to be honest.

2009 Books

Jul. 2nd, 2009 07:52 am
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
16 - Beautiful People - Wendy Holden
Another light summer read. Takes in a cast of characters, none related to each other but brings most of  them together at various points. It's about a vapid shallow manufactured Hollywood  "actress", a serious British West End actress from a 10 generation family of serious acTORS, a beautiful young man, an earnest young nanny, and other characters in the circles of each of them...agents, family, employers. It's not very deep, it's entirely predictable, even some of the peripheral character names are kind of silly. (Totty Ponsonby-Pratt for a stuck up society woman) It's meant to be light reading and that's what it was, i enjoyed it well enough. Not something I really had to concentrate on. I do like "chick lit" and this is definitely in that genre. It's certainly not the best of the genre i've ever read but not the worst either. That book i read a few months ago probably registered the new low standard! Next up is Barbara Walters' autobiography, Audition

Yesterday was Canada Day and was a national holiday. Nice having a Wednesday off to break up the week. Next year it'll be a Thursday so a lot of people will take the Friday off. Because i stayed up late reading the night before, though, i didn't get up early enough to get to the parade that i'd planned on seeing. The weather wasn't all that encouraging either so in the end i just stayed home and did a bit of housework. Might take myself to a movie on Saturday afternoon. Again, weather isn't supposed to be cleared up so at least i'll get out of the house. I"m sure there will be something on i'll want to see.

tvordlj: (Default)
14 - True Evil - Greg Iles
Second book by him i've read and it was pretty good. It's about a female FBI agent who's lost her father and her mother is dying of cancer. Her sister dies suddenly but her sister tells her that her husband murdered her. The agent, Alex, goes on a quest outside FBI rules to find how the how and when etc. This leads her to a corrupt lawyer. It seems that in every case that she's uncovered, someone dies of cancer or some other blood disease, the spouse inherits big bucks but in every case, that spouse was going to file for divorce before their spouse got sick. Somehow, someone or something is giving these people illnesses and the surviving spouse and the lawyer are making a mint. This leads her to a doctor who she belives will be the next victim because his wife has been seen visiting the lawyer. This is the only point that kind of stuck for me. The lawywer must seen dozens of people every day and many of them wealthy people wanting divorce. I never did pinpoint why Alex thinks this particular one is going to be The One. I may have missed that. I read quickly and do miss little things at times. Other than that, taken it on faith, We proceed. Alex is desperate to prove her brother-in-law killed her sister and she wants custody of her nephew when it's all over. There's another person involved, a doctor who is an expert in viruses and radiology and all the other things you might need to introduce illnesses into someone. Overall, pretty good book for a bus commute.

Now, on to a chick lit book, Best of Times by Penny Vincenzi. I like her books. I also have Sailing Away From Winter by Silver Donald Cameron on the go.

2009 Books

Jun. 11th, 2009 01:07 pm
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
14. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir
One of the better historical biographies i've read, this seems to have been meticulously researched. As with most historical female figures beyond the last 150 years, there never is a lot to go on because women were disregarded for the most part. Even so, the author has pieced together a pretty good supposition of Eleanor's life, debunking most of the myths and legends that gushed forth after she died. Since there isn't a lot to focus on Eleanor to fill the whole book, there's lots of history about other figures in her life, her husbands and sons. Of course it went into all the ins and outs of the Thomas a Beckett conflict which took place over quite a number of years, more than i realized. Eleanor was extraordinary and was practically a Methuselah, living into her 80s.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
12: Third Degree - Greg Iles
This was given to me by a coworker whose wife was clearing out some of her books. Another coworker saw it and said Iles was a really good writer. I did enjoy this book, I have to say. It takes place over the course of one day. A woman has been having an affair which has been over for about a month only she finds out she's pregnant, probably by the lover. The husband, a doctor with control issues, finds evidence of the affair when looking for something else and goes beserk. He descends into violence, ties her up, tries to make her tell him who the other man is, tries to break into her computer, but she refuses to admit anything. Meanwhile, his fellow doctor and practice partner is feeling the pressure because he's been defrauding the medical boards and they're closing in on him. He had been planning to let his partner take the fall but everything goes wrong. The lover gets involved in the rescue mission, all the while trying to keep his secret fearing it will compromise the woman he still loves. I did enjoy the book and had a hard time putting it down at times. The only beef i had with it, is that the author would go off into a detailed description of stuff that happened in the past of various characters and it bored the bejesus out of me. Get back to the crisis! Only a few of these actually seemed to give you any insight to the character, some were about characters that really didnt' matter to the story either. I ended up skimming over those parts. It was a pretty good read, though, and i might search out more of his titles.
tvordlj: (Suitcase wings)
One week countdown!
A week from right now i will probably be at the airport, all checked in and waiting. This weekend i have to do laundry and pack as much as i can, but i've also got a wrap-up meeting with our committee to tie up the end of the Corrie event from March. I've booked a massage for Friday and a pedicure for Monday. Once that's done, i'm definitely good to go. I never go on a trip without freshly painted toes!

We had a retirement lunch today for a coworker who's my age but has her 30 years in. There was also cake after, later in the afternoon, baked by another coworker who's legendary with her baking. She decorated it like a garden, with flowers, bees, butterflies and ladybugs. It was a chocolate cake with buttercream icing. There was even a little picket fence on one side! and it was NOM delicious!!!!

Heather's retirement cakecakeCutting

2009 Books
10. Neither Here nor There - Bill Bryson
One of Bryson's earlier travelogue books. I think I have read this before but it's been quite awhile. It was written in 1990 and it would be interesting to see how much things have changed in some of the countries, particularly the eastern European ones that he visited. He is a very funny writer with a way of putting things that can make me laugh out loud, even on the bus!

11. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
I'd seen the movie awhile back and never did see the book around. It's not out of print but it's not that easy to find here. Luckily, my lovely fella found a copy and sent it to me for my birthday (among other things!) and I finished it last weekend. I loved it! The gloomy, gothic and depressing descriptions of the farm and people countered with the optimistic and determined Flora Poste were wonderful! I have the dvd so i watched it again and realized i'd forgot a lot of the movie. It followed the book fairly well, too, which is nice. Definitely quirky and definitely a fun read. It was written over 50 years ago but it still feels very fresh.
tvordlj: (Default)
It's been a nice relaxing long weekend. Mom and I went to a late lunch at a new restaurant in Dartmouth Crossing, Moxie's. Very nice. Very chic. Presentation was exquisite! Saturday was tidy up and house work day though for some reason i think i nipped out but i can't remember what i did. Sunday, Sis picked me up and we visited at Mom's for a bit. Sis brought a load of half-price Easter candy. I had a bit and though didn't go crazy with it, i don't eat choccy a lot at one sitting so those last couple of mini-eggs were really a bit much. Mom and i are going to Chapters later today and i'll probably have to get a few groceries.

Only 17 sleeps left until i land in Manchester! I did drag my suitcase out and threw some things in it that i didn't want to forget, like the hair dryer, books, maps, toiletries, plug adaptors. That sort of thing. There may not be room for clothes! lol!

Bloody hell, there's snow flying outside. Big fat flakes which probably won't last very long. Aaggh! When will it ever stop! This is typical though, of April.

2009 Books:
9. The Sisters of Henry VIII - Maria Perry
I really liked this book. You don't hear that much about Henry's sisters, Mary and Margaret but they both had an impact on the succession that people don't really think about. Mary's granddaughter was Jane Grey, the 9 Days Queen, through her daughter Lady Frances Brandon and Margaret's granddaughter was Mary, Queen of Scots. All this i knew but i didn't know a lot more and this book had a lot of information that was really well researched. There were gaps, of course, and the author also recounted what was going on in Henry's court as well, as far as the quest for the divorce and the downfall of Anne Boleyn. The biography of Jane Rochfort did all that and just stuck Jane in there as an afterthought most of the time but this book, when the narrative was not on Mary or Margaret, tended to just leave them alone. Sometimes, yes, they speculated what Mary or Margaret might have done or said but it was very unobtrusive. I thought this was well written and researched and it's definitely a keeper.

10. Neither Here nor There - Bill Bryson
I'm pretty sure i've read this before but i don't really remember much about it. I rarely laugh out loud at books even when they're meant to be funny but this one has me giggling all the time. He really has a way with words. This book is about his travels through Europe in 1990 as he retraces the backpack trip he and a high school buddy made in the 70s. You get bits of that trip along with the current one as he makes his way from the north of Europe to the south of Italy and back again. He's a funny guy.

2009 Books

Mar. 22nd, 2009 04:49 pm
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Two very different books that i've read recently.

7. Consent to Kill - Vince Flynn
I borrowed this one from Mom who liked it. It is the standard-issue Assassin vs Assassin, really. Arab puts out hit on CIA super assassin because said assassin killed his son who was deeply involved in terrorism. Hires a German ex-spy who contacts assassin-for-hire couple to kill famous CIA assassin. As luck would have it, SuperSpy doesn't die but his pregnant wife does. Vengeance shall be mine, sayeth the SuperSpy and the chase is on. It was ok, easy reading, fairly predictable.

8. A Step in the Dark - Judith Lennox
This is more the type of book i usually read. Young widow, Bess, has to leave her infant son with mother-in-law and travels from India to England just before WWI. Mother-in-law of course is determined to keep the grandson and after the war, by the time the mother sees her son again, he doesn't know her. She goes on to marry two more times and have more kids until the first son shows up on her doorstep 20-some years later. We follow her life, trials and tribulations, the life of her older daughter, see into the lives of her other daughters a bit. What happens to the oldest son and a man who latches on to him as a meal ticket/best friend who also has some prior connections to Bess. The two men both disappear with in 6 months of each othe and then the book jumps forward about 23 years, during WWII and after and we get a quick run down of what happens to whom for the duration. Really slowed down the book and I skimmed a lot of that. Yeah, yeah, get back to the story. I had already predicted the last secret of the book so the end was a bit of an anti-climax. I liked the first half of the book better than the last half. And at the end, there was one glaring error, i think. I may be wrong but i didn't think Heathrow airport was called Heathrow until the 70s? I have an old tour book from the 50s and they referred to it as London airport. The last of the book ends in the early 1960s and there's a reference to Heathrow.

2009 Books

Mar. 15th, 2009 12:48 am
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
6. Q&A by Vikas Swarup (aka Slumdog Millionaire).
I very much liked this book. I haven't seen the movie yet and i can see where it would be quite good though probably grim at times. The life of the 18 year old Ram Muhammed Thomas was not a pretty one. The quiz show that he'd won thought he must have cheated, mainly to get out of paying because they weren't in a financial position to pay out yet as it was a new show. How could an unschooled poor waiter answer 12 difficult questions? He describes various parts of his life, stories about things that happened to him and people he met and the circumstances of the stories resulted in him knowing things that allowed him coincidentally to answer each of the tv quiz show questions correctly. The book shows a life that alternates between the depths of despair and of hope and luck. The book seems to have lived up to the hype. Can't say about the movie. Hyped movies in my experience rarely do but as this one isn't a Hollywood made movie, it just might.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
2009 Books:
5. The Lollipop Shoes - Loanne Harris
This is a sequel of sorts to Chocolat. I liked the movie a lot but i never did read the book. I should, though.  The movie seemed to take place in the late 1950s or early 60s. This book takes place 3.5 years later but it's current timelines, with people having mobile phones and technology so i suppose the book took place more or less current times as well. Anyway. It's about the same family, the woman named Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk and there's another daughter, Rosette. Vianne is magical and the children have inherited that though Vianne has packed all that away in an effort to present themselves as Normal to the world. Vianne has suppressed the vibrant person she used to be to try to fit in, survive. Anouk is growing up and knows she's different but tries not to be. It doesn't work, though, the other kids in school somehow know and things are difficult. Rosette, nearly 4, is almost a feral child. She doesn't speak, but is intelligent. She just seems to be in her own little world. The three of them live over a shop in Montmartre in Paris selling chocolate but not the handmade chocolat that Vianne was famous for in her former life. The woman that managed the shop has just died and the self-important owner of the building, Thierry, is enamoured of  "Yanne".  Enter Zozie de l'Alba who isn't really Zozie, but another woman who changes her name and identity as needed like a chameleon. She is also a witch who steals identities and people, or "hearts". She discovers that Vianne, or Yanne as she is known now, is not what she seems and she detects something special in Anouk, who goes by Annie and she is determined to steal their hearts, really, their souls, for her collection.  The book follows on and depicts how Zozie changes their lives by manipulation and magic, sly and seductive, subtle and dangerous, little by little until the final confrontation.

I really liked the book, the characters, the suspense. What was Zozie going to do next? It's frustration watching everyone unknowingly succumb. I really cared about all the characters, even the ones i didn't like. I still turned the page to see what would happen to them next. Each chapter of the book alternates from the point of view of either Vianne, Zozie or Anouk and it is fairly clear within the first few sentences who is speaking. It doesn't always work but in this book i think it does because it's a book where you really do want to know what the characters are thinking to know how everything is affecting them. The only negative is that perhaps the voice of Anouk is a bit old for an 11 year old at times but perhaps she is just one of those children that people call an "old soul".

Anyway, quite good.

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