Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Calling To Me: Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book

The Broke and The Bookish are asking us this week what are the Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book.  I don't think any particular word or topic will make me automatically buy a book, but there are some that will make me at least pick it up.  I am drawn to these topics for different reasons.  They are genres that I've found many loved stories, or they call to me and my personal history.  In no particular order, here are the top ten topics I'm drawn too.

1. Dystopian - This comes from reading -and loving- The Handmaid's Tale and 1984.  They are classic dystopian to me.  It's why I picked up The Hunger Games.

2. Immigrant/Immigration - My parents immigrated to this country (separately, they met here).  Reading other immigration stories, I feel, gives me an insight into what they and my many relatives went through.  It's why I picked up The Book of Ifs and Buts (plus I really liked the title).

3. Caribbean: Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, etc. - Anything from the country my family is from, and the surrounding areas, will at least get me to pick up the book.

4. Multi-Racial/Bi-Racial - Again, this has to do with my family.  It's the reason I wanted to read Prismatic.

5. Myths - I enjoy myth retellings/interpretations.  This will get me to look at the book, even if I don't buy it.

6. Zombies - This is a recent thing.  I don't buy a ton, because I can only read so much of one genre, but after World War Z and The Walking Dead I seem to be picking up Zombie fiction more and more.

7. Short Stories - I love short stories collections, whether from one single author, like Stephen King's Everything's Eventual or from many authors, like Forty Stories.  Single author collections are great because sometimes you don't need a whole novel to tell a tale.  Multi-author anthologies are also great because it's an easy way to get a taste of authors you've never read before.

Wow, it's been a while since I couldn't come up with ten.  I'm not an overly picky book shopper.  I buy loads of books.  Hmm...

What words/topics appeal to you?

Monday, April 29, 2013


Did anyone watch Continuum last year?  Or last night?  It is a science-fiction show about a "Protector" (cop) from the year 2077 who gets transported back to present day Vancouver. It is so good. I was addicted to the 10 episodes of season one last year.  I had been hoping and hoping that Continuum would be renewed for a second season and it was, this time with 13 episodes.  The second season premiered on Showcase on the 21st.  I think the first season is airing now on SyFy in the US.

Why do I like this show?  I don't know.  I think Rachel Nichols (who was in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra - Don't hold that against her -, Criminal Minds, Alex Cross, Alias) is awesome as lead character, Kiera Cameron.  I find Kiera's struggles with moral decisions, to let the future play out how it's supposed to because she wants to go home vs. not being able to standby and watch people die, really interesting.  She's also not a "pure" hero.  She makes mistakes and can be selfish, but in the end it is all so she can be reunited with her son.

I'm excited to see where Continuum goes this season.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Digging, by Seamus Heaney

"Between my finger and my thumb  
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun."

I'm always pleasantly surprised when I find myself connecting to poetry.  I don't know why this surprise still lingers.  Initially, it was because I had studied it so much, poetry had lost much of its magic for me.  This last year and a half, since I read The Disney Princesses, I've been finding myself drawn more and more to poetry, whether a classic, like Rime of the Ancient Mariner or Digging.

I came across Digging by chance.  I had been flipping through my Norton Anthology of Poetry and I stopped on a page with poems by Seamus Heaney.  I recognized the name since I read Heaney's The Cure At Troy a few (like 11!) years ago.  I stopped and my eyes fell on the first lines of Digging.  I was hooked.  I sat and read the rest of the short poem.  It was lovely, an ode or homage maybe, to the narrator's father and grandfather.  The father and grandfather spent their lives with spades, working with their hands, but the narrator can not dig, he instead holds the "squat pen" to write.  It was a lovely, interesting poem.  Though short, it told a story.  I might read the rest of Heaney's poems in my Anthology.  I might re-read The Cure At Troy too. 

There are potatoes in the poem.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What A Surprise! Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE/LESS Than I Did

This week The Broke and The Bookish want to know what are the Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE/LESS Than I Did.  I decided to split the list, 5 each.  They're in no particular order.  Hopefully my ramblings are understandable.

I thought I'd like MORE:
(aka, Disappointed)

1. Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations, by Alexander McCall Smith - Everyone seems to love Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books.  I'd heard such good things about them. When I saw a copy of Heavenly Date and Other  Flirtations not only did I pick it up because of Smith's reputation, but I love short stories and I liked the title.  I was sadly disappointed.  I've since read another of Smith's books, a novel, not No. 1 Ladies, and also didn't really like it.  He's not a bad writer, just something about his style doesn't appeal to me.

2. Girl meets boy, by Ali Smith - Girl meets boy is a book from the Canongate Myth Series.  Up until this installment, I had enjoyed each Myth book.  They're all by different authors, so perhaps there was bound to be one I didn't really like.  It's a slim 149 pages, but it took ages for me to get through.

3. Undead Reckoning, by Mike Slabon - I was really looking forward to this self-published zombie-fantasy novel.  I've been getting more into zombies (perhaps blame Walking Dead) and I want to support self-published authors and Slabon seems like a genuinely nice guy.  I really wanted to love this book, but sadly didn't.

4. The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, by Alan Bradley - Why do people love The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie?  I expected to love it too.  They synopsis, what other people were saying, all indicated to me that I would enjoy the book.  I found Flavia so irritating, I just couldn't handle it.

5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen - Unlike the other books on this list, I really liked Pride and Prejudice.  I loved Lizzy and Darcy; all the characters were fantastic.  It's a great story.  I read it after I read Sense and Sensibility, which I loved.  The way people spoke about Pride and Prejudice, I expected to love it more than Sense and Sensibility and that just didn't happen.  So while I still enjoyed it, I didn't love it the way I expected.  Right now, Sense and Sensibility is my favourite Austen.

I thought I'd like LESS:
(aka, Pleasantly Surprised)

1. The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling - So many people were complaining about The Casual Vacancy.  It wasn't Harry Potter, it was long, it was boring.  If you went in expecting it to be like Harry Potter then yes, you'd be disappointed, but I knew it wouldn't be.  I read the synopsis.  More than one it was mentioned that this was a book for adults.  It actually reminded me a bit of a Stephen King book.  I really liked it.

2. The Deception of Livvy Higgs, by Donna Morrissey - I knew I'd like Livvy Higgs, I just didn't know I'd love it!  I could seriously gush about it, but it would probably be simpler to read my review.

3. Living Dead In Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse #2), by Charlaine Harris - I read the first book in the series, Dead Until Dark and liked it.  I didn't think it was spectacular, but I had a box set and figured I'd eventually get to the rest of the books.  A while later I read Living Dead In Dallas and that was the surprise   Book 2 hooked me into the series.  I read five books in about two weeks, which is pretty fast for me.  Then, I borrowed book 8 because I just had to know what happened next. (I'm not going to talk about the most recent books.)

4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - I figured Lee's novel would be okay.  There would be some historical/societal/social stuff, but I didn't know.  I didn't know how amazing this novel really is and why EVERYONE should read it.  Everyone.

5. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts, by Douglas Adams - My hubby told me to read it.  He usually only reads fantasy, but here he was trying to get me to read sci-fi.  I didn't know how awesome  Hitchhiker's  was.  I want to re-read it.  Multiple times.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Dark Tower 4.5: The Wind Through The Keyhole

The Wind Through The Keyhole was fantastic.  It was like I could hear Roland’s voice as he was telling his ka-tet the story of another storm and then the story he told to a boy there.  I was a little worried about the triple-layered story.  I know Stephen King likes to give his readers loads of information about characters that may not matter by the end of the tale, but that wasn’t the case here.  I loved visiting Roland, Jake, Susannah, Eddie and Oy.  I missed them.  I also liked that we saw a different friend of Roland’s youth. I always found that Jamie was mentioned in passing, as someone who was there, but he wasn’t Cuthbert or Alain and so his personality was never detailed.  I enjoyed quiet Jamie Redhand.  It was nice to see the Sisters of Serenity, the group of women that were Gabrielle Deschain’s refuge, also only mentioned in passing.

I have to say the highlight of the novel for me was the actual The Wind Through The Keyhole story.  Tim was an amazing character.  His story had me captivated.  I had to know what happened to him and his mother.  I worried about them.  All the little Dark Tower bits littered through the story were really interesting too.  I wonder if Roland saw them.  I loved Daria.  Really, I don’t know if I have anything bad to say about this story.  The Wind Through The Keyhole fits nicely into the Dark Tower canon. It doesn't change anything, we sadly don't get to see the ka-tet for too long, but the story Roland tells is worth hearing.  In a way, I feel like Roland was a vessel for King to tell the story of Tim Stoutheart and maybe as a way to get in some Roland/Jamie time.  Everything connected together though and I really enjoyed it.  Any fantasy fan would like this story, whether or not they have read the other Dark Tower novels.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Amazing Books From Long Ago

This week The Broke and The Bookish have asked what are my Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger. The only trouble I had with this list is remembering which books I read before I was a blogger.  I've been blogging since 2006 and that's a lot of books.  Then, I also had trouble narrowing it down to ten.  But here are ten favourites that have stayed with me over the years.  I plan on re-reading some (all) of them eventually.

1. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
2. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
4. Kindred, by Octavia Butler
5. The Lord of The Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein
6. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
7. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
8. Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro
9. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
10. Haroun and The Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie

I'm going to sneak in an honourable mention of books 1-6 of the Harry Potter series.

What books did you love before blogging?

Monday, April 08, 2013

I Have Chosen...

Feedly!  I've been using Feedly for a week.  I like Feedly better than Google Reader, I think.  I like the options for display.  I can make it look a lot like Google Reader or I can give it an expanded look.  I like the interface.  I find it very user friendly.  I really like that I can see how long it has been since a blog has posted.  As I've been making the change from Feedly to Google Reader, I found some blogs that were on my list hadn't posted in over a year (or longer!).

I know there were some people who chose Bloglovin' as their Google Reader replacement, but it just wasn't right for me.  It's a good site; if you want to stick with something that feels a lot like Google Reader, then this is probably your best option.

I had been considering Pulse, but there were a lot of options missing.  There were no dates on the articles.  No "Mark as Read", or "Keep Unread" button.  Pulse is lovely to look at.  I really liked the display.  But there weren't really any customizing options.  I like making things feel like mine and Pulse just felt like Pulse. I actually sent suggestions to Pulse and after looking at their forum, it looks like many other users did the same.  They were very nice about deleting my account and user data, so I have to say, their customer service is fantastic.

I don't think I'll be switching from Feedly anytime soon.  I enjoy their tablet and phone apps.  They're very easy to use and also easy on the eyes.

What Reader do you use? 

Sunday, April 07, 2013


Has anyone seen Touch?  It's a television series starring Kiefer Sutherland as the father of an autistic, but extremely gifted boy.  I have to say that I'm loving this show.  Hubby and I have been watching the show since February.  It sadly has short seasons of 13 episodes, but there is a lot put into those episodes   I think there are three left so we can see what else will happen to Martin and his son Jake (hopefully something good).

We have been watching this show, thinking it's awesome, an interesting blend of science and spirituality, and we didn't realize that this is actually the second season.  So much was happening, Martin found Lucy, decided to help her finder her daughter, it was so easy to be drawn in, that we didn't realize were were missing something.  I was on Netflix one day and I saw Touch.  What?  How are the episodes already on Netflix?   I had a quick look and who did I see?  Danny Glover!  Then I did a little Wikipedia search and I found that Danny Glover was on season one.  Where was I when season one was on?  I'm going to blame babies for that one; I wasn't watching a lot of television while my son was an infant.  I was more interested in sleeping.

I plan on watching the first season.  Apparently, Martin and Jake started in New York.  I'd like to know what brought them to Los Angeles.  Touch is an interesting, unpredictable show, I can't wait to see what happens next... and what happened before.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Who Do I Choose?

I'm still trying to decide about what to use to replace Google Reader.  Right now, I keep going back and forth between Feedly and Pulse.  I've eliminated Bloglovin' from the contest.  It looks a lot like Google Reader, but I was thinking, if it's time for a change, why stay the same?  Though, I've seen a few of the blogs I follow decide on Bloglovin'...  Both Feedly and Pulse have mobile apps...  I suppose I could just try each out and then decide after a couple days of playing with it.  What do you think? Feedly or Pulse?

Monday, April 01, 2013

Solid Objects, by Virginia Woolf

 Spoilers... But it's hard to talk about Solid Objects without spoilers.  It's a very short, short story. 

A piece of green glass made John go crazy! He gave up everything. To collect rubbish. I actually barely noticed the Stream of Consciousness style, because everything following John, moved so fluidly. Solid Objects might be my new favourite of Virginia Woolf's short stories (sorry A Hauted House). I went in expecting at least some extra concentration needed, that I often find with Woolf's work. I didn't get any of that.

The plot was clear and engaging. The characters were interesting. I wonder, perhaps, if this isn't some kind of commentary on British society at the time... On politics or politicians? Maybe it was about the power of change. One tiny, insignificant object, garbage, really can change a person's entire life. There are levels to Solid Objects, while also being one of the most accessible of Woolf's stories. I've always thought that starting with Flush, Woolf's short novel, was a good place to begin when venturing into her work, but Solid Objects might have just changed my mind.

Short Story Monday is hosted by The Book Mine Set.