tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
I'm getting an ebook reader for Christmas, the Kobo one that Chapters/Indigo sponsors (and Barnes and Noble sells in the US). It will read ePub books which is the standard for ebooks as well as pdf files. I will be able to borrow from the library if i want as well. I also did some judicious searching online and have found a few downloads of ebooks, many hundreds and after weeding through them to discard the ones i defiinitely don't want, i still have nearly 1000. I doubt i will read them all, there are many that may not really be my thing but there's a lot that i probably will read. Not all older classic books either, there's some newer ones and many of the books or authors are ones i though i might like to read or re-read. I'll have a good library to pick at when i've read any that i've bought or borrowed from new releases.

I officially get the ereader tomorrow night when [livejournal.com profile] gramie_dee and i exchange our Christmas gifts at our annual webcam "party". I'll get my annual song t hen as well. Stay tuned here and on Facebook as well for a link when it's ready for public listening. He's quite pleased with the results of this one this year so i expect great things!

We had our office Christmas lunch and afternoon do on Friday. The food was really good, done at a local hotel. The organizers did up some little games like a Bingo sort of thing and another one where you get snippets of songs or dialogue from movies or tv shows and you had to guess which ones they are. I suck at Bingo so i didn't do very well there. I did ok on the guessing game but missed out by one in participating in the tie breaker. Ah well. I'm working this week up to Friday noon when the offices close down and then am off for a week.

I had a visit from my best friend J. today. She drove down from Moncton. My other friend, T, who makes up the third side of our triangular bestfriendship wasn't able to be there, in fact, i think they probably passed each other on the highway as T. was off to Moncton to her partner's family's Christmas get together. T and I will meet up on Thursday and exchange our gifts. J and I had a lovely long chat all afternoon. She moved east from Edmonton in the summer so we will get to see each other a bit more now as Moncton is only about 3 hours' drive or a little less if it's not winter.

2010 books
33 was that one about Catherine de Medici that i mentioned in the last book post.
34: The Sign by Raymond Khoury This was good. We start at a remote location where there is a scientific research crew. The head of the crew argues with someone and is killed and a witness is chased as he runs away. It seems as though he drives over the edge of a cliff in his hurry. Two years later, we are in the Antarctic where a news crew is covering the disintegration of an ice shelf as part of the larger environmental disaster the world is hurtling towards. Suddenly a glowing symbol appears in the sky. The news crew gets the scoop but nobody really knows what this symbol means. It happens again shortly after over Greenland where another environmental problem is ongoing. Is this sign religious? nobody knows. We move to Egypt where a monk, a very well known religious man, is in a cave in the mountains and has covered the walls with a drawing of this same symbol, but he's been doing that for months, long before the symbol appeared in the sky. We also follow the brother of the man that presumably died and he is on a mission to prove that his brother didn't die and might have something to do with this sign, whatever it is. Slowly we discover that the sign is being projected or man-created. There's good guys and bad guys, people that use and get used. It was a good read. I'd read more of this guy's books. I think i did read one of the ones he wrote about the Templars as it happens and he's done a few more.

35: Official 50th anniversary book of Coronation Street - Sean Egan. Lots of pics, focuses on many of the individual actors, brief summaries of the major storylines up to mid 2010.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Another good workout with the PFD. He pushes me but only if i want to be pushed. I'll give most things a try and i think he knows where i'd draw the line so pretty much anything he suggests, i can do or at least try to. It's good, too, because there is always some new exercise he shows me each time i go so i don't get bored. We don't do all the same things every time. And today he asked me if he'd told me about the tennis ball thing... Um no? We were talking about massage therapy and i must have mentioned the spots behind my neck and shoulders, between the shoulder blades that gets so tight from sitting at a computer all day.

Turns out, what you do is put the tennis ball behind you, around the shoulders/shoulder blade and lean against the wall or you can do it lying on the floor too. Then you lean into the ball and roll it around the muscles that are all knotted up. Oh My God what a feeling! You can get it right at those knots!! You can press as hard or light as you want. The ball might slide a bit but you just pick it up again and go with it. I suppose you could do it if you had a high backed chair too and it might not be as slippery on a fabric surface. A tennis ball has just enough give to it but still firm enough. I went right from there to the dollar store and bought a package of three, with one that will live in my desk at work.

I've finished a couple of books and nearly done a third one and not listed them here. One i can't even remember the title of at the moment or even what it was about and i've put it on the bookshelf at work so i can't reference it. That's my brain these days. The second was 50 Years of Coronation Street the (very) Unofficial Story by Sean Egan. Great book! Lots of backstage behind the scenes goss and info. There's another official 50th anniversary book i'm reading now by Tim Randall which is good too, but more about the storylines over the years with some focus on various actors as well. The 50th anniversary of Coronation Street is Thursday December 9. Anyway the two i've read are numbers 31 and 32. I"m nearly finished 33 which is a fictionalized account of the life of Catherine de Medici called The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis. She has Catherine as a follower of astrology and dabbling in spells and magic on occasion. It's a good account of court intrigue, though, I'm enjoying it. Nearly finishes so i might take it to bed and finish it tonight.

If you watch Eastenders, they're going to have Dot Branning mention Corrie in the show that night too and say how she always watches it and loves it. A nod to a golden anniversary and a nice touch. The episode was written by Daran Little who was the Coronation Street archivist for many years, wrote a handful of excellent Corrie books and wrote for the show for a few years as well.

Next week is going to be unmissable if you do watch the show. Monday night will have the explosion that sends the tram off the viaduct into the corner shop and Kabin. The rest of the week is going to be the rescues, the aftermath, the deaths and injuries and the episode on Thursday is going to be live, no pre-filming. There are extra episodes as well, on Wednesday with an hour on Thursday, and the usual 2 on Monday and Friday. I download them and i can hardly wait! I think the special effects spared no expense. They used a combination of some CGI and some real effects and fire and stuff. I figure the actual action of the tram coming along and coming down will be the CGI stuff but they do have tram cars on the set and have destroyed the two buildings at that end of it. I've seen photos and it looks pretty awesome. They're trying to keep it secret who will be the ones to die but there are already actors that have been noted that are leaving the show so i reckon some of them at least will be trammed but they could still throw a surprise in there.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
2010 Books:

29 Henry - David Starkey
This is a biography of the early life of Henry VIII by the man that has become well known for his Tudor expertise. We attended the British Library exhibit on Henry VIII last year that he curated and it was excellent. I like his books because they aren't dry or difficult to read yet the facts are there. This book takes the reader from Henry's childhood to about 1507 or 8, just after his son Henry died in infancy and just as Wolsey is about to start his rise to power.

30: Breaking the rules - Barbara Taylor Bradford
I read one or two of her early books years ago and remembered that i liked them a lot. They're pretty standard "chick lit", always about a strong woman and her family and making her way in life and business usually. Most of them are about the Harte family who founded a major Knightsbridge department store a la Harrod's or Harvey Nicks. I was looking for some easy reading and i thought this, her latest would be good though i've not read any of hers in years and years. I don't know if her style has changed or my tastes have but i found this book very annoying. It's about a beautiful woman who is going by just the initial M and trying to make it in New York on her own as a model without using her famous family name. Uh oh. What family would that be, then?

She's beautiful, she's a gourmet cook, she's savvy in business, she's clever and is an interior designer with the utmost taste. She manages to eventually get her break and becomes an instant supermodel. She marries a famous and very handsome actor and they become the instant In couple, media darlings. But someone is trying to kill her and her family, which turns out to be that Harte family i told you about. The annoying part of this book is that M is perfect, everything about her is perfect. Everything about her life, the lives of her siblings, her friends, it's all perfect or if it isn't, it becomes so. Luck? She's got a golden horseshoe up her arse and so does everyone else. Love is instantaneous and profound for not only her but her friend and her sister, too. Everyone forgives her and understands completely if, by rare chance, she says or does something like keep a secret or tell a white lie for someone else's good. Of course.

The dialogue is not particularly clever or snappy, and there's a number of times, once we find out who her family is, that the author takes you back and summarizes various bits from the plots from the past books about this family. Tedious. As i said, i haven't read her in many, many years. Maybe she was always this way, i don't remember. Sometimes i notice that with authors that become very famous, their books suffer and become mundane, more of the same and nothing really new. The end kind of let me down a bit. Obviously if there's a killer on the loose, they must be stopped but the plot was again, perfect, the perfect plan executed perfectly without any glitch at all and the end result, if not quite what the characters expected, was a result that would ensure no further problem from the villain. No exciting twists, just a bit of contrived nonsense.

Having said that, if you like her books, you'll like this one.
tvordlj: (Default)
First proper session with the new PFD. He really knows his stuff, and he's going to do some different stuff than i've done before so that's good too. He really watches how i sit/stand and do the exercises so i do them right. It didn't seem like we did a lot today but i'm already feeling it. He did say he wanted me to know tomorrow that we met and my muscles are already telling me. Anyway i think it'll be a good fit.

2010 books - I've also got Pride and Prejudice on the go on my ipod version of Kobo. It is familiar to me but i think it's because i've seen the series so many times because i know i've not read the book before.

28. Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver
This book is in a sort of autobiography format in the form of journals written by a man from boyhood into his 30s. The journals are edited by his secretary and published. His mother was Mexican and his father was American but the book begins in the 1930s when he and his mother are living in Mexico with a man who his mother hopes she will eventually marry, once he's left his wife. As he grows up, he meets artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Frida becomes a good friend. During the time he works for them he also meets Leon Trotsky. All this will come back to cause him grief later in the late 1940s after he's a published writer and the Communist hunters are on the rampage. The journal entries are not written in the first person, but in the third and have lots of dialogue so are easy to read. You get a bit of a sense of the man but not as much as you would if you'd read his innermost thoughts. The journals have been edited by his stenographer and though she's allowed some of the man's personality and thoughts to come through, she's also been judicious where his privacy is concerned. It's not a bad read, a little different. I've read one of her books before, Poisonwood Bible and liked it. This is very different from that one.
tvordlj: (Default)
The day dawned dark with rain lashing down. Pretty much summed up my mood today as i had to take [livejournal.com profile] gramie_dee to the airport for his journey home. It's always a sucky day when we have to part. Next visit is in the spring. Thank God for the internet and the ease of communication. We couldn't do this without it.

Am going to see a touring production of Spamalot tonight. If he'd been flying Air Canada as usual, he'd have been here to go with me but because he's flying through Toronto to another airline, he had to leave in the afternoon for the evening connection. I'm still going with some friends so i guess that will take my mind off things for a few hours. One couple that's going to be there tonight just came back from Vegas this afternoon and broke the news.... after 17 years together, they got married while out there on a whim!

and for keeping up the 2010 book list...

27 The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners - Luanne Rice
This is about a woman who had left her husband and children and fled to Capri. Her 16 year old daughter has decided to go to her mother's and find out why she left and ask her to come back. Their father/her husband had died a few years previously and her little sister has been drifting and having sleep problems. It just seems like the sisters really need their mother. But the reason the mother left was because she was having a nervous breakdown and there were things that happened that she couldn't guarantee wouldn't happen again. It seemed better all around that she go. The daughter and mother rediscover each other and we get to know some of the other neighbours as well. There's a troubled young lad in the mix of course and there's a boyfriend left behind. It was light reading and something i'd picked up for the flight to Toronto and the wait in the airport and i finished it in the one day.

I'm sure there's another book in there that i read but i can't for the life of me remember what it was.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
2010 books

25. Hold Tight - Harlen Coben
Reading this book felt more like watching a tv drama about a group of families who all live more or less in the same area, sort of Desperate Housewives but without the sex. I think it's because there was a lot of dialogue rather than long descriptive paragraphs. You got told what was going on with not meandering. There's a family with a son that's been getting in with the wrong lot. Another family lost their son to suicide. A third family has a son that desperately needs a kidney transplant. There's a child who's teacher made an unthinking remark about her appearance on a bad day and regrets it but the child has been teased and bullied non stop. There's also a man that's been abducting and violently beating women to death. Two of them that we are witness to. All of these stores are interconnected in some way. It wasn't a bad read. It was certainly a quick one.

26. Disordered Minds - Minette Walters
In 1970, a teenage girl was gang raped by three other teens, witnessed by her best friend and the friend's little brother. Nobody tells what happened. A few weeks later, the girls get into a fight at school. The girl that was raped gets suspended and shortly thereafter goes missing. A few days after that, an elderly woman gets killed by her grandson. Or so it seems. He is a bit slow and is scared and confesses but recants. Too late, the prosecution twists things so that they can get a conviction and he goes to jail. A few years later he kills himself. It wouldn't seem the two things are related but as the book goes on, we find that they are. In 2003, a man has written a book about wrongful convictions and the case was one he mentions. He is intrigued and is contacted by someone who also thought the conviction was wrong. They get off on the wrong foot but end up working together to unravel all the clues to prove that the grandson didn't in fact kill his grandmother and they eventually figure out what happened to the missing girl. Not bad, i kind of had a lot of it figured out but the writing was good and it was a mix of styles. You'd get emails, reports, newspaper articles, excerpts from a book, letters, as well as the regular prose and dialogue. It's not based on a true story, but you could see how something like this could happen back then.

Quiet day, been doing a bit of housework. It was actually chilly outside, there was a cold breeze coming in. Haven't decided for sure if i'm going to go to the air show tomorrow or not. Probably be a last minute thing if i do go. Or i could just be lazy and relax. My feet would probably thank me for it.

New trainer is good. A bit tougher than the last one but i like her.

and.....21 sleeps!!!

2010 books

Sep. 1st, 2010 11:21 am
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
24: Quentins by Maeve Binchy
I haven't read her in awhile and though i didn't think i'd read this before, parts of it are familiar. It could be that i've read it before, it could just be that her books are much the same, but also a lot of her characters and even references to their storylines appear in many of her books so it could just be that. It's about a young woman who gets involved with a married man, completely duped by him and finds out he's a financial scammer. Meanwhile she's helping friends work on a documentary about a local restaurant, Quintens so you get the story of that, plus the people that work and dine there regularly. It's pretty much typical Maeve but I do like her books for the most part.

Hurricane Earl is still expected in some form. Now they're saying it *could* hit land a bit west of the province but they really can't be sure. In any case, we'll have a stormy day probably Saturday. The grocery stores are already insane with people stocking up for a seige. Most of us really don't need much. An ice pack to keep the freezer cool, bread, juice, water, batteries and stuff to make sandwiches which you can keep cool in a picnic cooler with another ice pack if you have to.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
It's book catch-up time again

21 Unbroken - A Story of Survival - Bev Callard
Bev Callard is an actress on Coronation Street. Last year she had a complete breakdown and it took nearly 6 months before she was able to return to work. She even had ECT ("shock treatment") as a last resort, her depression was so severe. It wasn't the first time she's struggled with it either. This is her autobiography, written, as many of the celebs do, partly as therapy for themselves and partly because they hope that their struggles and survival will encourage others in the same position. It wasn't overly rivetting, over all, and the writing style seemed clear that she didn't use a ghost writer but it was ok, and interesting enough if you're a fan of the actress or Corrie.

22 Fourth Estate - Jeffrey Archer
This is about two newspaper and media barons in a battle to best the other and become the top baron of all. It traces their lives from schoolboys to the final confrontation. The book starts with both men facing utter financial ruin and it seems that one of them is about to jump off his yacht into the sea. We then go back to their childhoods, one a poor Jewish boy from Eastern Europe who claws a life for himself using the military, the other a privileged rich boy from Australia who reluctantly goes to Oxford and spends a lot of his life gambling. Both men are workaholics leaving very little time for their relationships. They'd rather conquer the next takeover quest than be there for their families. Standard issue stuff but i enjoyed it well enough.

23 Puppet - Joy Fielding
Amanda Travis is a lawyer living in Florida but she is originally from Toronto where she seems to have had a pretty rough childhood at the hands of a mother who was angry and depressed most of the time and a father who had no time for his daughter because he was looking after his wife. Amanda has two failed marraiges under her belt and enjoys a successful career. She finds out that her mother seemingly shot a stranger in a hotel and is now in prison for the murder. Her mother insists on pleading guilty. Amanda reluctantly returns to Toronto to face her adversarial parent and with the help of her first ex-husband Ben who is a lawyer representing her mother, dig in and discover some things about the case that put Amanda's whole childhood into a new perspective. There's a few little twists here, though most of them are fairly predictable but it was a good read and an easy one.
tvordlj: (Default)
The cable guy didn't get here until noon. Figures. I was up at 7:30 in case he came early. They never do, do they? Anyway now i will just get to grips with the new remote control and all the funcitonality of the dvr. I can actually use the old remote but the newer one has a few buttons that are easier to find and use. I'll keep the old one for a spare. I've got series recordings set up for Corrie and Young and Restless so Monday will tell the tale, watching one thing while another one tapes. you still have to leave the tuner on one of the two channels you are recording but the other tuner will find the other channel apparently. Gives a bit more flexibility. I recorded a movie this afternoon to try that out and it was good. I'm going to have to get used to saying "recorded" instead of taped! Almost 20 years of vcr terminology is a hard habit to break.

No usb input to the dvr though apparently there's a way somewhere to hook up the computer to it. I can't be bothered. If they're going to be like that, they're only encouraging "illegal" downloading, aren't they! I do still buy dvds if it's a movie i really like and want to have the extras as well.

2010 books

19. Paris in the Terror - Stanley Loomis
I found this book in a second hand bookstore and have been reading it on the bus. Because it's quite involved i never got more than a few pages read per commute so it took awhile longer to read than i usually take for a book. It's about the history behind the French Revolution focusing on Marat, Charlotte Corday who killed him, then Danton and Robespierre and their subsequent downfalls. It was quite interesting and i found out a lot about the revolution that i hadn't really known before. Some of it is speculation of course, where there was no documentation but it seems overall to be pretty accurate.

20. The Golden City - John Twelve Hawks
This is the third book of a trilogy he's written about psychic Travelers and the fight against the "Big Machine", sort of a Big Brother that increasingly controls the world. There are Harlequins who have made a life vow to protect the Travelers and this story is about Maya who keeps watch over a Traveler who's twin brother has gone over to the "dark" side. This book is the finale of the story which i've enjoyed though this book seemed less riveting than the other two for some reason. The story ends on a note of hope as they do when they're fighting the oppressors.

Am now reading an autobiography of one of the Corrie actors, Bev Callard. It's not bad, but she's not a writer, that's for sure. Some of the stars that have done autobiographies are pretty good, some are not good at all and some use ghost writers! Still, it's interesting enough. I got an autographed copy but i may just pass it on as a raffle prize to the next ping.
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Mom and i are going on a road trip over this long weekend. Tomorrow is Canada Day so is a national holiday. I booked off Friday as well so we're going to the beautiful Annapolis Valley here in Nova Scotia. We've booked a lovely inn, a pretty Victorian building for a few nights and there's lots to do and see in the area. There's a couple of restored forts, a public garden, a farmer's market, and there are some pretty towns in the vicinity as well. The weather looks like it's going to be good, always a bonus. There may be fireworks tomorrow night, i think maybe in a nearby town. The hotel/inn may have wi-fi so i may get a chance to check in.

18 - The Redemption of Alexander Seaton - Shona MacLean
This is a historical mystery, taking place in a small village in Scotland in 1626. Alexander Seaton is a man who almost became a minister but has fallen from Grace, quite publically and is now teaching at the village school. He passes a man in obvious distress, who asks for help. He thinks the man is just drunk and as it's a stormy night, he continues on home. The man turns up the next day dead, in Alexander's schoolroom. He's been poisoned and one of Alexander's remaining good friends is accused. He is determined to prove his friend's innocence and along with the local doctor, dig in and investigate. There's another dead body, and a bit about the background of Mr. Seaton and why he has been prevented from his calling. There's a witch hunt and more danger and in the end the culprit is caught and the motive explained. I liked it because the setting was a bit different and the "hero" was flawed and sympathetic.

Am currently rereading Pillars of the Earth in preparation for a series being shown starting July 23 on the Movie Network :) One of my favourite books!
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
17 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest = Stieg Larsson
I read 743 pages in just over a week. That's got to be a record for me, especially as i read much of it on the bus, but also at lunch at work and  a few evenings at home! This was every bit as good as the first two. This book was mainly concerned with the case against Lisbeth Salander, accused of killing three people. The people on her side were meticulously investigating the conspiracy that has been surrounding her life since she was a child. Her father was a Russian defector who worked for the secret service and her life was pretty much one big cover up, people trying to keep her silent and under control. The book examines the conspiracy and it's far reaching fingers. Lisbeth herself is mainly lying in a hospital bed through much of it, recovering from a gunshot wound to the head. It's in intricate case and there's lots of twists and turns. As you would expect, it all comes right in the end but what a ride, right to the last!

The first of the three books is a bit hard to get into, it's slow and plods through a lot of background. The story in the first book doesn't really have a lot of bearing on the other two but it introduces the characters and their relationships to each other and is essential for the trilogy. For once, at least for me, the books live up to their hype. There's violence and brutality in them but it's all necessary to the story.  What is really impressive is that the books were translated from Swedish and yet they flow smoothly. The person that did the translations obviously had to deal with differences in meanings of phrases and slang but it reads believably and the translator is to be commended as well.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
15  I can't for the life of me remember the name of the book i finished when i was over at Graham's. It was about a group of Bright Young Things in British society in the late 60s and early 70s told in flashback. One of them, who wasn't titled but who was well enough off to be accepted has been contacted by someone that he went to university with and whom he had brought into the group. The friend, Damon, was seen mainly as a hanger-on and Not Really Our Sort but the women liked him. 30 years later he's dying of cancer and contacts the first guy to find out which of the women he had sex with had his child. He gives the guy a list and as each one is found , we hear the story of the past told up to a breaking point that happened at a party in Portugal. I can't say it was riveting stuff but it whiled away the hours on the plane, and before i left, was the commute book.

16 The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson
Book 2 of the trilogy, much easier to get into than the first and wow, what a ride! It continues on with the same characters (as the third book does, to wrap it all up!). We have a triple murder and it looks like Lisbeth Salander has done it. The search is on but she's too good at hiding. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is on her side and trying to find out who really killed the three people. Problem is, it turns out Lisbeth did have a motive for killing one of the three but not the other two. Little by little, Mikael uncovers the link between all three and Lisbeth and peels down the layers to the real killer. The book ends with a cliffhanger of sorts. I've already got my hands on the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest in paperback, picked up in the U.K. I notice the hardback is just newly released in Canada. Ha! I started reading it on the bus this morning. Wahey! I also saw a trailer for the movie for "Fire" on telly in Copenhagen. We've only just had the first movie here about a month ago and i don't know how long it stayed. I"m guessing the next movie might hit our screens by the end of the  year or by the same time next year.

This third book will be one i'm sure i won't be able to put down. A friend of mine had finished the trilogy a month ago and was bereft that she had to leave Lisbeth behind. She says her new motto is going to be "What Would Lisbeth Salander Do?"

2010 books

Apr. 26th, 2010 02:38 pm
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Two very different books finished this month.

13 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
The first of a trilogy apparently. This story is about a journalist that has just been convicted of Libel and has to spend a few months in prison. Before his prison term starts, he's hired to investigate a 40 year old murder, the niece of a wealthy older industrialist, Henrik Vanger. It's a classic closed room murder in that the young woman disappeared during a family get together on a small island that was cut off from the mainland when a bridge was closed. The woman was a favourite niece of Vanger and he became obsessed with her disappearance/presumed dead case. He hires the journalist for one last kick at the can. The girl in the title is a young woman who is a computer hacker and researcher for a security/investigations company. She has her own demons to live with that have shaped her life and personality. They eventually get together to finish solving the mystery which has a horrific ending.

I did find the book very good once i got into it but it took a long time to really get into it. A good 200 pages or more filled with background of the two main characters and a number of others. Didn't really seem necessary to go into quite so much detail, to me. I saw the movie just as the book was finally gelling so i knew the ending before i got there. Having said that, i guessed one of the twists, to do with the pressed flowers and wasn't all that surprised at the reveal about the killer. The movie followed the book fairly well though diverted from it a bit but not really in a bad way. I'd recommend it but with a warning that the start is hard to keep your attention but if you stick with it, it's worth it. I have the second book but probably won't start that until later in May.

14 The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn - Eric Ives
A biography of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second and ill-fated wife. Very well researched and easy to read. when i say easy to read, i mean it's not dry like a textbook. Some historical books are very hard to plow through but this was pretty good. You really get a good idea of the woman. Was she set up? Oh yes. Did she actually commit adultery? That's still up in the air but it seems it just might be true though not to the extent they charged her with. The book only dragged for me for a couple of chapters in the middle that felt very much like filler, detailing to the nth degree many, many items of art or books that she and/or Henry owned. There was another chapter that was titled to imply that it was about their lifestyle when it was all about the gifts they gave each other and others in Court. While it's interesting on one level, it bored the face off me and i skimmed both quite quickly. Other than that, the book was a good read and quite informative.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Been out and about quite a bit this weekend, it seems. Went to Mom's for a roast beef dinner on Thursday night where Ryan and his friend from Scotland were there as well. His friend, Jan ("Yan" - He's got a Dutch dad) has the ultimate geek watch... press a button, some lights come on and it's showing the time in binary! Hours on the top row, minutes on the bottom.

Borrowed Mom's car for a couple of days. My friend Tracey and i went for coffee on Friday afternoon at Tim Horton's as there isn't much open on Good Friday. The big new drugstore next to it was, though, so we went in for a nosey. She wanted body wash, i wasn't really looking for anything and came out with a bag of stuff that cost me about $75! Mind you, one of the things was a minature hair straightener for nearly 30 dollars including tax with a little half inch wide barrel. Just right to take the curl out of my bangs if nothing else and it's dual voltage for traveling, with a little carry pouch included. I have a full size one at home but it's no good for traveling as it doesn't have the dual voltage. So we're good to go there.

Saturday i went to the gym and struggled through, then had my hair cut and highlighted. No more skunk strip down the middle at the part of my hair! Got some groceries after that and came home finally, about 5:30. Sunday Mom and I went to lunch when i took the car back and i visted there for a bit. Today i'm going to putter around here as there are some chores needing doing plus i might get out my suitcase to start chucking odds and ends into. Because... there's only.... 26 sleeps!!!

Catching up on my book list...
11. Various Flavours of Coffee - Anthony Capella
I liked this one quite a bit. It takes place starting at the end of the 19th century in London and is about a man Robert Wallis, who is an immature selfish dandy at the start of the book. He is a poet but not a very successful one yet. He meets a strange man in a cafe and because he can so aptly describe the cup of coffee, which isn't even very good, he is persuaded to work for the man, Mr. Pinker, who is a coffee importer and seller. He is writing a sort of encyclopedia of coffee, something that would standardize the descriptions so that buyers and growers all over the world can use the same descriptions so everyone knows what they're getting.

He, of course, has a daughter and Robert falls for her but he's arrogant and flip and she puts him firmly in his place. But alas, his father has a better idea, and sends Robert to Africa to start a coffee plantation. There, Robert meets Fikre, an exotic slave and becomes obsessed with her. The book travels from Africa, back to London with another sojourn to Brazil for a short encounter. We see Robert grow up and see him through his obsession and back to the lovely Ms. Pinker who is now married to an MP and deeply involved in the Suffragette movement. It's all very descriptive and informative about what it was really like to be a Suffragette and how the commodities and stock markets can work and be manipulated. Quite good.

12. The Dogs and the Wolves - Irene Nemirovsky
This is translated from French and is about a poor Jewish girl and a rich Jewish boy. The girl and her cousin are from the poor slums but she meets the boy when she and her cousin are children, running from a Pogrom. The rich boy's family is distanty related to the poor one. The Dogs and Wolves in the title represent the two families, you can pretty much guess who the dogs are. She falls in love with him on sight, dressed in clean clothes, living in a big and beautiful house, and he shadows the rest of her childhood. She moves to Paris with her cousin's family and grows up there, becoming an artist though not a famous one. She paints scenes from her childhood home and two of them are noticed by the rich boy who is also now living in Paris. He is in love with a woman from a rich Christian family and now the the poorer woman has realized he's there, but she is now married to her cousin.

The books touts the story as tragic and sweeping. I wouldn't call it that. The book is short, the actual (and mutual) love story part doesn't last that long before it's over and that's about it. It was all right and maybe it would have more impact in the original French, but it wasn't really something i'd recommend. If i want a "tragic and sweeping" romance, i want a book as thick as a doorstop that covers at least two generations worth of storyline!
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Happy Birthday to the lovely [livejournal.com profile] tammihayne!

2010 Books:

9. Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne
Another in the stack of books Mom lent me. She didn't like it and didn't finish it. I finished it but it was annoying me a lot by the time i did. I rarely will not finish a book but sometimes it's a struggle. This book is similar to an older one he wrote about the upper monied class of society based out of NYC. This is more of the same. Gossipy, not really much of a plot, and very, very repetitive. It's mainly about a writer, based on Dunne himself, a man called Gus Bailey who is the observer of the society into which he's managed to insinuate himself. He and everyone else gossips about everyone they know and if one person has an idea or an opinion on a particular person or event, they all seem to have the same thought/opinion and Dunne repeats it almost verbatim every time a different character thinks about it or talks about it to another character. Or he'll describe someone and describe their connections to someone else or their history. 4 or 5 of the times that character is brought into a scene. It's just tedious after awhile.

10. New York by Edward Rutherfurd
I've read most of Rutherfurd's long books that brush over the history of an area back to the times when it was populated by hunter/gatherers. He brings the reader up through the history and events of an area by describing how things touch various families and their descendants. You can usually see the thread of the 3 or 4 lines of the families throughout the history. I particularly liked Sarum and London both. The one he did on Ireland was good but was split into two books so it was even longer. The thing i don't like about his books is by the time he hits the most recent century, he's speeding up and just barely touching on things and it's not nearly as interesting and detailed as the stories he tells earlier in the book. The characters are far less developed and therefore, less interesting.

Having said that, most of the book is really good. This one on NYC doesn't go back as far as most of his others. It starts after the colony was founded by the Dutch, in the mid 1600s and on through the British takeover. It follows characters, mainly the Van Dykes at the start, and then the British Masters family through most of the book through the Revolution, Civil War, corruption, building of the Empire State building. The last major event was, of course, Sept. 11 2001 though it lingers a bit through to 2009. He brings in a few other families that start off interesting but are then left aside with very little mention after their main story is told. That's something else he's done differently than he has done in the past. Usually there are still traces of the main families but most of the focus here is on the Masters. I think i need to go back and reread Sarum and London again. I think i enjoyed them the most.
tvordlj: (Movies)
Very quiet weekend after 2 busy ones so i enjoyed it. I watched lots of video i'd downloaded plus a movie that [livejournal.com profile] gramie_dee sent me for my birthday, Festival. It's about a group of people attending and mostly performing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. There are comedians competing for a comedy prize, an ernest woman performing a one woman play about Wordsworth's sister, a group of Canadian (yay!)  performance artists staying in a house that is owned by a woman who has just had a baby and clearly has post partum depression of some sort. It's frank, it's somewhat graphic in a couple of scenes, it's got a loose plot but is really about the characters more than the plot. It's funny and it's very indy-feeling. IMDB says it's a black comedy but i certainly wouldn't call it "black" or even dark overall though one character's storyline turns out to be dark and a bit sad and some others are more about failures than successes.  I wouldn't say that tinted the whole movie with the decription, though. It's also certainly not slapstick or broad comedy or a romantic comedy either. It's just about people and their ups and downs and ambitions.

Actually, there's a user review on IMDB that really is a very good description without spoilers:

An accurate portrayal of the vibe on the streets, boozing in the courtyards and ragbag mix of shoestring productions in dingy halls ranging from high artistic pretension to low comedy. More to the point it's a bloody good film, presenting us with some memorable portraits of aspiring artistes, jaded stand-ups, local journalists and citizens rubbing up against each other in pubs, hotel rooms and rented flats, and of course venues, with some pithy exchanges hurled between floor and stage. The actors are well served by a realistic, witty script that highlights the distinctive backgrounds and foibles of their various characters. They excite your sympathy, affection, pity or distaste even as you laugh. Every scene is either funny or sad, usually both. And the musical soundtrack is exquisite. It's not perfect - there are one or two moments of over-dramatised conflict towards the end that don't ring true, probably driven by some perceived need to pander to commercial expectations. The film should have retained its faith in the bubbling undercurrents which have swept it along so nicely until then, but thankfully it ends on an appropriate note of bittersweet irresolution.

Some of the other reviewers thought it didn't go far enough, to either pathos or humour. Someone else suggested it was similar in vein to Robert Altman's classic, "Nashville". I can't remember if i saw Nashville all the way through so it could very well be a similar type of ensemble movie. I thought the acting and the script were both really good with some surprises.

Books 2010:
8. Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist  - Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox has already written one autobiography and this one chronicles much of the most recent 10 years of his life, since retiring from acting due to his diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. That's wrong, it wasn't the diagnosis, which he lived with for a number of years before he retired from acting, but it was getting more and more difficult for him to deal with the rigors of acting on a regular tv series due to the advancing symptoms. The book is mainly about him dealing with that and how he got into the politics of lobbying for stem cell research along with his foundation for PD research. There is a section about his relationship with his family, one on his work, one on faith and one on politics. The faith part isn't overly religious and neither is he but he is spiritual and believes in *something* somewhere. He seems to be really dedicated to his family and loves them a lot. They give him a lot of strength. He always came across as a naturally buoyant and energetic guy, really nice and down to earth and this book most definitely reads like it. It's not written in a formal way, it's as if he wrote down his thoughts exactly as he had them, in the language and phrasing he'd use when speaking to a friend and makes it far more interesting and enjoyable to read. I like that. It's more revealing of the author rather than "i said this and he did that and did you know... " etc that many celeb autobiogs seem to be.

2010 Books

Mar. 2nd, 2010 07:53 am
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
7. Angel Time - Anne Rice
Awful. I don't know why i persevered. The story blurb says it is about a hit man who finds redemption after a guardian angel whisks him back to medieval Norwich to right a wrong. I'm paraphrasing here. I thought that sounded interesting. the first bit of the book was all about the hit man and his works and how he likes to visit missions in the area. It's very Catholic dogmatic. Then this angel appears and shows him back over his life, ie. shows us his childhood. Grim. Also lots of religious content. This is getting to feel like a sermon. Now we're back into medival Norwich. ah, maybe it will pick up now. He's transformed into a Dominican. There's a Jewish family who has been accused of murdering their daughter after she went into the cathedral to see the Christmas spectacles. They didn't of course, she got ill and died but they in their ignorant wisdom and anti-Semitism of the age, not long after similar events in Lincoln caused a child to be martyred and sainted, get them whipped up into a similar frenzy. Enter Brother Toby. And then the story stops again and we get chapter and chapter and verse about the life of the mother of the girl. Why? No idea. More religion. Oh look, the girl that died has a twin sister who's living in Paris with her biological father, who became a monk since he fathered the children. He didn't know about the children, but the minute he did, he came and took one back with him. You know what's going to happen next of course. And it had a very Bobby Ewing like ending. Was it all a dream or not? It makes me feel like the author must have rediscovered her religion, a born again Catholic, and frankly, i felt like the book was more about that than the thin thread of story. Bleh.

2010 books

Feb. 23rd, 2010 09:58 pm
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
5. Bowie by Mark Spitz
A new biography of David Bowie. Seemed to focus a lot on his younger pre-famous years which was interesting because i hadn't read a lot from that part of his life before. I did read one or two books about him but it was yonks ago. There isn't a lot about the last 10 to 15 years because he's been keeping more or less a low profile so it's somewhat unsatisfying there but the rest wasn't bad at all.

6. The Prince of Darkness - Sharon Kay Penman
She writes a lot of historical books, fictionalizing the lives of people like Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, Maud and Steven's civil war (When Christ and His Saints Slept) and another one that I particularly liked, about Edward VI called the Sunne in Splendor. This book is one of a series of medieval mysteries where the main character is good guy Justin de Quincy. I haven't read the other books but the plot often refers back to Justin's previous adventures. It's a medieval romp, basically, with twists and turns and none of them particularly suspenseful but it was an easy read for the bus and good fun. You could picture it as a rollocking movie starring your favourite pretty boys of various ages. Justin is the sweet younger man, Durand is the somewhat older yet cynical and tough guy, There are a few dark villains and there's Prince John lurking in the corners.

Am reading an Anne Rice book now and it's already irritating me but i think it's about to pick up speed.

So I've got the rental car booked for when we get back to Manchester and i think that's everything done there. Going to get some currency on payday this week because the Canadian dollar is very strong, i think the newspaper rate was less than $1.60 but you don't get that at the banks. Even so, it'll be about $1.60 or 65 which is unbelievable. Consider the highest i ever paid was over $2.50 and for quite a few years it bounced around between 2.10 and 2.25. I'll take it! The Danish Krone doesn't seem to fluctuate too much and is about 5 to the Canadian dollar. I'll probably get some of that too since i'm going to be at the bank anyway. I checked my passport and it doesn't expire until October so i'm good to go there. This passport will have lots of stamps in it, besides all the UK ones. I've got ones for Paris CDG, two for the Eurostar (Paris, Brussels), Amsterdam Schipol and i'll have Denmark as well.
tvordlj: (Reading Woman)
Floor shopping with Mom today. She took a few samples home but wasn't happy with them once in the house and in the kitchen. Back to the old drawing board.
I stopped into Pennington's and hit a sale and got some bras and underwear on for quite cheap and picked up some tshirts as well. Buying two or more they were 20 dollars each.

2010 Books:
4. The Devil's Punchbowl - Greg Iles
This was a bit of a brutal book to read. It's about gambling, abuse and dog fighting and it's not pretty. Sometimes disturbing in the descriptions and events in the book, the story itself is good but you can't be an overly sensitive soul. It's definitely an action flick type of book, about the mayor of Natchez who's best boyhood friend warns him about the owners of one of the riverboat gambling casinos who also runs hookers and illegal dogfights. His friend is soon murdered and he's realizes he didn't take his friend as seriously as he should have. The "hero" of the book is Penn Cage and i think probably he has appeared in Iles' books in the past though i've not read any of them. He calls on a couple of old friends that he can trust, one of whom is ex Special Forces, another is a crack sniper and there's an ex military chopper pilot. His ex-girlfriend, a reporter, gets involved as well. We see the story from Penn's point of view and also from some of the other characters such as some of the victims of the manager of the casino. As i said, it can be disturbing at times but if you've got a strong stomach for the violence, it's not bad.
tvordlj: (Fabulous Dahling)
What do you see?
This is Maggie. Mom got her a couple of weeks ago from my cousin Sharon. She's a small kitty and has silky fur. She's not quite 2 so still has lots of kitten playfulness in her. She's quite a dark grey with very green eyes. Mom actually has renamed her as her name used to be Jabba. What kind of name is that for a small female cat, I ask you? Sheesh!

2010 Books:
2. Clothar the Frank - Jack Whyte
I read his Uther last year and i did like it. I liked this one less. It's the size of a door stop and is about the man that would become Lancelot only in Jack Whyte's Arthurian world, the man was actually a Frank from near present day Geneva. He was a man brought up by his aunt and uncle, his parents having been killed by a throne usurper. This book is about his childhood and coming of age, learning the arts of warriors and life, being educated by Bishop Germanus and eventually making his way to Britain to see Germanus' old friend, Merlyn Brittanicus and the book ends when he meets the newly minted King Arthur.

All i can say is ... he doesn't half go on! Good lord! The book is told in the first person from Clothar's point of view and he's looking back on his life and telling the story. He'll say how it took 3 weeks to get from point A to B and it wasn't easy. Then proceeds to describe, in painful detail, everything that happened. This is one bloated book! You could have covered the same ground in at least a third less time and it would have been just as interesting. As a result i ended up skimming over parts when my eyes would glaze over, to get back to the story proper which wasn't bad. It was just hard work. As a result, i'm reading some nice light chick trash by Candace Bushnell for my "bus" book and have been reading through a biography of David Bowie for my "bed" book.

Happiness is a new handbag/purse! I came across a half price sale yesterday and got a lovely large brown bag with a nice long strap for 50 dollars with the taxes included. It's a bit narrow at the top opening but i figure that's probably a bit safer anyway if it's harder to get into. It zips closed but the zip is recessed in and there are handles that come up too. There are a few zipped pockets but the main bag is one big compartment, not divided which only annoys me because i can't find things. I can't find things in a big open bag but at least i know it's down there in the dark somewhere. Bags and purses are "my thing". They always fit unlike shoes or clothes. Photo behind the cut.
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