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ExUrbanis

Urban Leaving to Country Living

Literary Blog Hop Giveaway WINNER

November14

 photo winneris_zpsf53a251e.jpg
I turned to trusty random.org and drew the winner of my contribution to the ninth Literary Blog Hop Giveaway hosted by Judith at Leeswammes’ Blog

Congratulations to

Aloi at Guiltless Reading

who has elected to receive Adaobi Tricia Nwabani’s I Do Not Come to You by Chance.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who entered this giveaway.

Literary Blog Hop GIVEAWAY November 2013

November9

Literary Blog Hop November 2013 photo literarybloghop_november_zps04a479a8.jpgTHIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

I’m participating in the ninth Literary Giveaway Blog Hop, hosted by Judith at Leeswammes’ Blog, which is taking place from Saturday November 9th through Wednesday November 13th.

I’m offering any book by the following authors, all of whom I’ve read & enjoyed in the past three months. (Maximum value $15.00)
I’ve included African, American, Australian, British, and Canadian authors, so there should be something for everybody on this short list.

Barker, Pat
Endicott, Marina
Gilmour, David
Nwaubani, Adaobi Tricia
Nussbaum, Susan
O’Donnell, Lisa
Spark, Muriel
Strout, Elizabeth
Winton, Tim
York, Alissa

This giveaway is open to anyone living any place to which Book Depository delivers. You must subscribe to Exurbanis either by RSS or email.

To enter, leave a comment on this post with the name of an author of literary fiction whom you enjoy reading.

Be sure I have an email address to contact you. Then be sure to hop on over to Judith’s blog and see what the other participating bloggers are offering!

I will select the winner using random.org at 5pm Atlantic time November 13th.

Books Read in June 2013

October18

books readI keep hearing the words of the old Chicago tune in my head: “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?” Maybe not, but I’m sure you realize that this summary is several months late and I am so far behind telling you what I’ve read that I may never get caught up. But I do have to try. Thanks for putting up with me.

I got a lot more reading done in June than in the previous month, completing ten books including several that I’ve rated four stars or above. I hope you enjoy these summaries.

I’ll post the mysteries I read in the month, separately, as usual.
 

1. HALF OF A YELLOW SUN ## by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Nigeria-Biafra war) 4.5 star rating

Set in 1960s Nigeria, before and during the civil war that birthed —and then snuffed out— Biafra, Half of a Yellow Sun tells the story of a small middle-class family, supporters of the new country.  photo half_zps8996c6a5.jpgAt first, only the ideal of the academics in southern Nigeria, the move to secede gained impetus after a shift in government power that resulted in ethnic killings, based on tribal lines. The “take-no-prisoners” approach to battle launched the country into a bloodbath from 1967-1970.

Half of a Yellow Sun focuses on a middle-class professor and his family through the early 1960s and then through the war. There are reports of what the soldiers are doing, but for the most part, the emphasis is on civilians – why they supported Biafra and how the war affected them.

(S)he unfurled Odenigbo’s cloth flag and told them what the symbols meant. Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the North, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of the yellow sun stood for the glorious future.

Both of the author’s grandfathers lost their lives in the war, and Odichie writes with a familiarity of circumstance unavailable to an outsider. The story is powerful, even though it is removed from the front lines – or perhaps because it is. The exodus of refugees, erosion of living standards, and mass starvation are brought to life by this compelling novel.

It was an eye-opening history lesson for me and raises the question again of the ethics of involvement in foreign conflicts.

Read this if: you want an introduction to the politics of Nigerian history of this time; or you want to know why all those starving children stared at us from the UNICEF posters in 1969. 4½ stars

 

2. QUARTET IN AUTUMN ## by Barbara Pym (Fiction, Vintage, Gentle Satire) 4.5 star rating
Quartet in Autumn is a departure from the usual Pym fare of light and sometimes silly situations. It was published in 1977 when England “rediscovered” her. For the previous 16 years she had been unable to find a publisher who would accept her work. The industry mantra was that ‘people don’t read stories like yours anymore.’

Quartet in Autumn photo quartetinautumn_zps65217e93.jpgThis book revolves around four aging people who work together in an office that seems to have been forgotten by the company they work for. All four, two men and two women, live alone in varying circumstances. Although they are not close friends, the four have only each other in their lonely lives. When the two women retire (and are not replaced) the dynamics between the four changes.

Pym maintains her gentle satire. Of one of the characters, Letty, she says: “She had always been an unashamed reader of novels, but if she hoped to find one which reflected her own sort of life she had come to realise that the position of an unmarried, unattached, aging woman is of no interest whatever to the writers of modern fiction.” But despite this, the feel of this book is different, not shying away from the issues of loneliness or death. Although more serious than her previously published books, Quartet in Autumn will not disappoint fans of Pym.

Read this if: you want a poignant tale of fragile social and personal relationships. 4½ stars


 
3. THIS CAKE IS FOR THE PARTY ## by Sarah Selecky (Fiction, Short Stories, Contemporary, Canadian author) 4 star rating
This collection of short stories from Toronto author Selecky marks her publishing debut and introduces her as a young writer to watch.

This Cake is for the Party photo thiscakeisfortheparty_zps59e8087b.jpg Set in various locations across Canada, but especially in Ontario, the stories have varied themes and feature characters that include a young man struggling with whether or not to report a good friend of his wife as an unfit mother, a naïve young woman trying to launch a network marketing business, and a woman at her deceased neighbour’s yard sale. Her characters and themes are universal and guaranteed to make you squirm in recognition.

Selecky’s writing is clean and unpretentious, and I predict a bright future for her. Recommended.

Read this if:
you’re looking for a fresh, new voice in Canadian fiction; or if you enjoy short stories in modern settings. 4 stars

Note: Visit Sarah’s website and sign up for her free daily writing prompts. They’re brilliant.


 
4. THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT by John D’Agata & Jim Fingal (Non-fiction, essay, epistolary-emails) 4 star rating

“In 2003, an essay by John D’Agata was rejected by the magazine that commissioned it due to factual inaccuracies. That essay (. . .) was accepted by another magazine, but not before they handed it to their own fact-checker, Jim Fingal. (. . .) the Lifespan of a Fact photo lifespanofafact_zps760c834f.jpg What emerges [from the correspondence between the two men] is a brilliant and eye-opening meditation on the relationship between ‘truth’ and ‘accuracy’(.)” The book is presented in the form of emails between D’Agata and Fingal. Both men ‘push the envelope’ to make points that contribute to the overall premise of the book: just how negotiable is a fact in non-fiction?

When I read excerpts to my daughter, who has worked in non-fiction publishing, she was of the opinion that she would have ‘thrown the book across the room’, but I found it fascinating.

I won this from Katie at Doing Dewy in May’s Non-Fiction Blog Hop Giveaway.

Read this if: you enjoy reading essays; or you’ve wondered just how much fiction is in non-fiction. 4 stars


 
5. WINTER IN WARTIME ## by Jan Terlouw (Fiction, Historical, Young People, Translated, Award Winner) 4 star rating

Set in occupied Holland in the winter of 1944-45, Europe’s bleakest winter of WWII, this children’s chapter book, winner of the 1973 Best Dutch Juvenile Literature prize, tells the story of fifteen-year-old Michiel and his family. Through a series of circumstances, Michiel becomes responsible for an injured British pilot who has been hidden by resistance members.

Winter Wartime photo winterinwartime_zps78093e7d.jpg Although there are some heroic deeds performed, the author does not lose sight of the reality of war.
“(H)is father had once said: (. . .) Don’t think that it is only the Germans who are guilty. The Dutch, the British, the French, every nation has murdered without mercy and perpetrated unbelievable tortures in times of war. That is why, Michiel, you shouldn’t allow yourself to be misled by the romance of war, the romance of heroic deeds, sacrifice, tension and adventure. War means wounds, sadness, torture, prison, hunger, hardship and injustice. There is nothing romantic about it.”

While this is a children’s book, it is also suitable for adult readers. Even though it’s not overly graphic, the author still brings to life the desperation and pain of daily life: the cold, the hunger, the fear, the uncertainty of whom to trust, the death. As such, it is probably suitable for children 11 or older.

Read this if: you’re looking for a WWII story that doesn’t touch on the Holocaust; or you want to introduce your adolescent reader to what life is like for ordinary citizens in time of war. 4 stars

 

6. WAITING by Ha Jin (Fiction, Historical, Chinese)4 star rating

Waiting photo waiting_zps41eebba1.jpg Publishers’ Weekly says: Jin’s quiet but absorbing second novel (after In the Pond) captures the poignant dilemma of an ordinary man who misses the best opportunities in his life simply by trying to do his duty—as defined first by his traditional Chinese parents and later by the Communist Party.

Mary Park for Amazon.com says: [The author] himself served in the People’s Liberation Army, and in fact left his native country for the U.S. only in 1985. That a non-native speaker can produce English of such translucence and power is truly remarkable.

There is not a lot of action in Waiting; the characters wait, the reader waits. But the wait is worth it.

Read this if: you enjoy stories that ‘sneak up on you’, and reveal their impact once you’ve finished; or you’re interested in an “inside” story of Communist China in the 1960s and 1970s. 4 stars


 

7. SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT ## (Fiction, Coming Home) 3.5 star rating

I’ve seen this billed as a mystery, I suppose because there is a murder, although it is part of a secondary plot and it’s not really a mystery to the reader, only to the protagonist. Say Nice Things About Detroit photo saynicethings_zpsd415512d.jpg The book is much more a novel about “coming home”. But, as the book jacket says:: “Where do you go when home is Detroit?”

My dad grew up in Windsor Ontario, across the river south of Detroit. He was a life-long Tigers and Red Wings fan, but no fan really of the city of Detroit itself, into which he took regular business trips. Myself, I spent my teen years listening to the music of Motown on clear radio signals throughout southern Ontario.

Today, Detroit has a reputation of a city in decay—although, recently, one finding its feet again—and so that question of coming home to Detroit intrigued me greatly. And it is as that—a novel about ‘finding place’ in a struggling city—that this book works.

Read this if: you come ‘from’ somewhere that’s changed for the worse since you’ve left; or you’d like to understand a little better the fierce pride of city in Detroit. 3½ stars

 
8. LAMB (Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Thriller) 3.5 star rating

Lamb photo lamb_zps32b1cbfb.jpg

I had no idea what to expect from this book going in. It’s a thriller, but all emotional drama and definitely not action-based.

Middle-aged David Lamb ‘befriends’ an eleven-year-old girl and takes her on a camping trip without the consent or even knowledge or her parents.

The author builds suspense unrelentingly: is the inevitable truly inevitable? You be the judge of damage done.

Read this if: you enjoy a tightly drawn psychological drama that doesn’t involve espionage. 3½ stars

 

9. 97 ORCHARD STREET, NEW YORK by Jane Ziegelman & Arlene Alda (Non-Fiction, History, Immigration) 3 star rating

97 Orchard Street photo 97Orchardstreet_zps1c6b3604.jpg

Between 1863 and 1935, the tenement building at 97 Orchard Street in New York City was home to some 7000 families, mostly new Americans from many parts of the world. The building has been restored to late nineteenth century condition by the Tenement Museum, an initiative spearheaded in the 1980s by historian and social activist Ruth Abram and co-founder Anita Jacobson.

This book, in photographs and narrative, tells the story of several immigrant families in the squalid apartments here. The book is well laid-out and expands on the information on the virtual tour, but—honestly—the website is more interesting.

There is a 97 Orchard Street Cookbook for which I had rave recommendations from both Buried in Print and Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm.

If you’re in NYC, check the home page for information about live tours. The Tenement Museum has not been impacted by the government shutdown and is open for business as usual.

Read this if: the virtual tour intrigues you. 3 stars

 
10. MUMMA, CAN YOU HEAR ME? ## by Betty Williams (Non-Fiction, Memoir) 1.5 star rating

Mumma, Can You Hear Me? photo mummacanyouhearme_zpsedaade5a.jpg

Betty Williams, now in her eighties, has spent her life as a teacher: to her children, and to her students.

Written, at least at the beginning of the book, in the form of a letter to her mother (hence, the title) this memoir follows the author from her childhood to the present day, although not always in a straight line. The memories tend to meander and are maddeningly vague in many areas to which she makes allusions.

Ms Williams has had a rich and busy life. Unfortunately, the story is not well-told. Sorry, Betty.

Read this if: you are related to Betty or know her well; or if you are really keen on knowing about South American missionary work. 1½ stars


#
#
##
Half of a Yellow SUN is a qualifying word in the Keyword Reading Challenge at Bookmark to Blog.

## QUARTET IN AUTUMN is the sixth Barbara Pym that I’ve read, as I keep up with the LibrayThing Virago group read-along for Barbara Pym’s centenary.

## Although I purchased THIS CAKE IS FOR THE PARTY from the Book Depository I received, from the author via Ti of Book Chatter, a free copy of the short story of the same name which, interestingly enough, did not make the final cut for inclusion in the book. One of the stories that made the collection, though, features the same characters, so you may be interested in reading it along with the book.

## WINTER IN WARTIME was the June pick for the War & Literature Readalong, hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat.

## I read SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT as May’s random pick from my TBR wish list spreadsheet of 2,605 items for the Random Reads Challenge hosted by I’m Loving Books.

##
I received MUMMA, CAN YOU HEAR ME? through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.


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Mystery Books Read in June 2013

October18

 
When Say Nice Things About Detroit came up as my random reading pick this month, I thought I’d read a few additional Detroit-set mysteries. Unfortunately, the Loren D. Estlemans came too late in the month to fit in, but I did get to a couple of cozier-type tomes.

 
THE RED HOUSE MYSTERY by A.A. Milne (Mystery Fiction, Vintage, 1920s England)) 4.5 star rating

 photo redhousemystery_zps1342ae4d.jpgThe Red House Mystery is A.A. Milne’s only mystery novel; he is better known for his humorous writing, children’s stories (including the timeless Winnie the Pooh), and poems.

A ‘locked-room whodunit’ with an amateur detective, this book followed Agatha Christie’s Mysterious Affair at Styles by only two years (and predates her other work). It’s an elegant and witty, and it’s a perfect time capsule of early 1920s English country manor life. AND it has a solid mystery that’s fairly clued.

I wish Milne had written 50 more like this. I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in a long time – and I read it on my Kindle! 4½ stars

Read this if: you’d like a stylish vintage English murder mystery. 4½ stars
 

THE DETROIT ELECTRIC SCHEME by D.E. johnson (Mystery Fiction, Historical, 1910s Detroit, Amateur Sleuth) 3.5 star rating
The Detroit Electric Scheme photo detroitelectricscheme_zpse53d182f.jpg I began more impressed with this first in the series featuring Will Anderson, scion of one of Detroit’s leading electric car manufacturers, circa 1910, who by necessity turns detective.
The beginning of the book laid out lots of information about early electric cars and painted a vivid picture of the auto industry of the day.

But once the “mystery” was set up, I was disappointed at every turn. The solution seemed obvious to me and the author’s “sleight-of-hand” seemed heavy-handed. Other readers have raved about this series, though, so maybe I just made a lucky guess and the plot isn’t as transparent as I thought.

Read this if: you’re interested in today’s electric cars and would like some information on their evolution; or you’re looking for a new mystery series and the setting appeals to you. 3½ stars

 

HUNTING A DETROIT TIGER (Mystery Fiction, Historical, Amateur Sleuth, Detroit, Baseball) 3.5 star rating

Hunting A Detroit Tiger photo huntingadetroittiger_zpseeedeaa7.jpgThis is the fourth installment in the Mickey Rawlings series of baseball novel. Rawlings, an up and coming baseball player living and playing in the early part of the 20th century, turns detective in the name of social justice.

There was lots of not-baseball “stuff” in this mystery: labour unions and politics play large roles. I was interested in the history and the mystery but found that the book went on overlong and the plot became convoluted. I read this when I was quite sick with the flu, though, so I could be biased. Don’t let me put you off trying this series if it’s something you think you’d like.

Read this if:
you enjoy old-time baseball; or you’re interested in social politics of the early 20th century. 3½ stars

 

WWW Wednesday 09Oct13

October9

Is anyone still out there? It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve all taken your ball and gone home.

I’m working on the summaries of the books I’ve read over the past four months but, photo www_wednesdays4_zps5af47167.jpg in the meantime, and to break radio silence, here’s a fun meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. I came across WWW Wednesday via Words and Peace.

 
 photo deathofbees100_zps0ae743de.jpg
 
What I’m currently reading:

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

My heart is breaking for all of the main characters. It’s very hard to put down.

 

necessary lies 100 photo necessarylies100_zps18abea0e.jpg

I just finished reading:

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

This is women’s fiction set in 1960 North Carolina. I saw a decent review of this and needed an “N” title for my A-Z challenge, but I should have known better. Happy endings that involve unrealistic resolutions rub me the wrong way.
 

far cry from kensington 100 photo farcryfromkensington100_zps81f2e710.jpg

What I think I’ll read next:

A Far Cry from Kensington
Is something published in 1988 “vintage”? I guess it depends how old you are. Anyway, I expect this book will contain a lot of the protagonist’s memories of 1950s Kensington, which I’m sure is old enough to qualify. I’m hoping this is just my cup of tea.

 

How about you? What are you reading? Leave me a comment and let me know I’m not all alone in the blogosphere.

 

Mystery Books Read in May 2013

July18

 
In April, I had decided to get back to some of the mystery series that I’ve started over the past few years but never followed up on. A number of them arrived at my library in May, so I continued my “revisitations”.
 

SOME DANGER INVOLVED  by Will Thomas (Mystery Fiction, Victorian England) 4.5 star rating

some danger involved photo somedangerinvolved_zps7836cb5b.jpg

In 2010 I won, and read, The Limehouse Text, the third in this series by Will Thomas, featuring Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn. I knew then I’d found a series worth following up. Set in 1884 London, the characters are clearly modeled on Holmes and Watson, but are still original enough (and much more likeable!) to be entertaining.

In this first of the series, Thomas laments:
If I could change any aspect of work as an enquiry agent, it would be the danger, but then, Barker warned me on that very first day, right there in the advertisement.

 ASSISTANT to prominent enquiry agent.
Typing and shorthand required. Some dan-
ger involved in performance of duties. Sal-
ary commensurate with ability. 7 Craig’s
Court.

Some Danger Involved contains a solid mystery, an adventure in the Jewish section of Victorian London, and some danger for the reader: that of becoming hooked on this series.
Read this if: you enjoy Sherlock Holmes pastiches – this is a particularly good one. 4½ stars
 

THE RELUCTANT DETECTIVE by Finley Martin (Detective Fiction, Atlantic Canadian author) 4 star rating
the reluctant detective photo reluctantdetective_zps747f6e19.jpgFrom the beach near our home on Nova Scotia’s North Shore, on a clear night we can see the lights of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. I wouldn’t want to live on PEI but it’s a great place to visit and, after all, part of this “Atlantic Canada” that is now my home.

When she loses her job in Ontario, Anne Brown, a single mother moves back “home” to PEI at her uncle’s invitation, along with her 14-year-old daughter. His hook? “Pay’s not great, but nobody starves on PEI. And there’s no rat race like in Ontario.” Amen to that.
Anne’s uncle runs a Private Investigation service and takes her on as his office manager, but after six years of working together he dies of a heart attack, leaving the business to Anne. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief a little, but isn’t that what detective fiction is about – suspending disbelief?

There’s a solid, if not greatly innovative, mystery and some slightly bizarre loose ends. But I’d read more if this becomes a series, simply for the Island references.
Read this if: you enjoy private investigator novels; or you are interested in seeing P.E.I. beyond Green Gables. 3½ stars plus ½ for the Atlantic Canada connection = 4 stars
 

THE STRANGE FATE OF KITTY EASTON (Mystery Fiction, 1920s England) 3.5 star rating
strange fate of kitty easton photo strangefateofkittyeaston_zps1f5cb0ed.jpgThis is the highly anticipated sequel to The Return of Captain John Emmett which was a great success in 2011. WWI veteran Lawrence Bertram returns in his role of a gentleman in reduced circumstances and accepts an invitation of an old friend to spend some time at his country estate. Once there, he learns that several years before, six-year-old Kitty Easton, heiress of the house, had disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

I greatly enjoyed the setting, and very much like Lawrence, but I found the mystery meandered just a little much. I’m undecided as to whether I’d read a sequel.
Read this if: you enjoy the 1920s English country house setting. 3½ stars
 

A MAN LAY DEAD by Ngaio Marsh (Vintage Mystery Fiction, 1930s England) 3.5 star rating
a man lay dead photo manlaydead_zpsb4f1dc62.jpgSomehow, as I was growing up and cutting teeth on Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen, I missed knowing about New Zealand writer Ngaio Marsh. I love how the Web has made the world so small! I started to read Marsh with Death of a Fool in January of this year. I was intrigued enough to start at the beginning and find this first in the series (1934) featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn.

I must confess that, although I remember enjoying reading this, I cannot remember a single thing about it except that there were a number of upper class, foolish people (I think it was this book) and that Inspector Alleyn is a fascinating man.

Alleyn produced from his pocket his inevitable and rather insignificant Woolworth note-book.
“Meet my brain,” he said, “without it I’m done.”

No doubt, today it would be an iGadget but since I still use a paper notebook, I’m glad he “lived” when he did. I’m going to continue reading this series.
Read this if: you want to start reading at the beginning of Marsh’s writing career, and make an introduction to Roderick Alleyn. 3½ stars
 

HORNSWOGGLED by Donis Casey (Mystery Fiction, cozy) 2.5 star rating

hornswoggled photo hornswoggled_zpsb21b17a4.jpgI so enjoyed the first in this series, The Old Buzzard Had it Coming, when I read it in 2010. There was a clever mystery, and Alifair Tucker seemed a down-to-earth and intelligent protagonist.

It’s awful how long it takes me to get back to a series that I want to continue. But in this case, I should have postponed it indefinitely. The mystery wasn’t at all fairly clued and the body was moved surreptitiously so many times by so many different people that the book reminded me of the period English farces I watched at the Shaw Festival decades ago. Only the book wasn’t funny.

Points for the period setting (1912 Oklahoma) and dealing with thorny family issues.
Read this if: you’re determined to read everything in this series; or you’d enjoy the Oklahoma setting enough to overcome the plot flaws. 2½ stars
 

WINGS OF FIRE** by Charles Todd (Mystery Fiction, 1920s England) 1 star rating

wings of fire photo wingsoffire_zpsa429c448.jpgIn 2010, I also greatly enjoyed Charles Todd’s first Ian Rutledge mystery, A Test of Wills. I was excited to find a new series set in a period that fascinates me (WWI and shortly after) and to root for the protagonist, who suffers from shell-shock.

This entry, Wings of Fire, was agonizing to read and I would have dumped it early on but that the title satisfied a reading challenge category. There was a not-quite mystery of a murder-suicide, but it wasn’t enough to fill a book. The same material was presented over and over, in different ways, and then in the same ways, until I was ready to scream on several occasions. The only content remark I made for myself was to note the meaning of ordure. Go ahead: look it up.

I know this series is highly acclaimed, and I know that first sequels are often weak, so I may try another. I’d really love a series with the promise that first book had.
Read this if: honestly – don’t bother. 1 star
 
*
*
*
* Wings of Fire fulfilled the “word Fire or equivalent” category Beth Fish Reads’ What’s In a Name 2013 Reading Challenge.

Books Read in May 2013

July17

Yes, I know I’m more than a month behind but, please, forgive me. books readI was halfway across the continent visiting my new granddaughter at the end of May and into June, and then a health problem prevented us from returning home until mid-month. I feel as if I hit the ground running and am just now catching up.
Ridiculous, really, but that’s how I feel.

I’ll post the mysteries I read in the month, separately, as usual.
 

1. ALL THAT I AM **by Anna Funder (Literary Fiction, WWII) 4.5 star rating

All That I Am photo AllthatIam_zps7625a352.jpgThe winner of Australia’s Miles Franklin Award and several other prizes, Funder’s WWII drama, All That I Am, is said to be based on real characters. A group of left-wing German activists find themselves self-exiled to England when Hitler comes to power in the 1930s. From their London base, they try to alert the world to the human-rights atrocities being perpetrated by Hitler’s government. With hindsight, we think all should have listened. But no one did.
I found this to be very powerful in an elegant, understated fashion, and think it well-deserving of the prizes and honourable mentions that it garnered.
Read this if: you’re interested in a slightly different perspective on Hitler’s rise to power. 4½ stars
 

2. A GLASS OF BLESSINGS** by Barbara Pym (Fiction, Vintage, Satire, Humour) 4 star rating

Pym just gets better and better. A Glass of Blessings is a sly look at upper middle class marriage in 1950s England, through the eyes of Wilmet Forsythe, a posh “dig-me chick’ of her time. Wilmot is in her mid-thirties and clearly has been cosseted all her life. Married, she lives in her mother-in-law’s home, and has no responsibility for any part of the running of the household. She has plenty of money to buy what she wants and her time is her own, so idle hands. . .

Pym skewers her in her usual gentle manner.
Read this if: you’d enjoy a Pym with very little mention of church. 4 stars
 

3. QUEEN LUCIA** by E.H. Benson (Vintage Fiction, Satire) 3.5 star rating
Queen Lucia photo queenlucia_zpsb217ff84.jpg
I’ve heard so many people lately expressing fond memories and revisits to Riseholme, home of Lucia Lucas and her husband, and Lucia’s friend Georgie. This also is social satire—this of small English towns– although more acerbic and over-the-top than Pym’s. Benson’s stories are set in the 1920s but seem timeless, while Pym’s more definitely define the period setting.

I don’t have the emotional attachment to these stories that some others do so, while I enjoyed Queen Lucia, I don’t think I’ll be spending time on any of the sequels.
Read this if: you read them when you were young – evidently they hold up well with time; or you’d enjoy an “outrageously camp” satire of English village life. 3½ stars
 

4. LOST & FOUND **by Carolyn Parkhurst (Fiction, Contemporary) 3.5 star rating

Lost and Found Parkhurst photo lostandfound1_zps9cdfe365.jpg What could be more contemporary than a reality television show? In this show, teams of two decipher clues to discover where in the world they will go next and what they must find there. The contestants race across the globe—from Egypt to Japan, from Sweden to England—to battle for a million-dollar prize.

There are the requisite characters: the single mother with her nearly-estranged teenage daughter, the religious zealots, the fading celebrities, and the budding lesbian love affair.
And, of course, each character has a secret that the producers know and want to expose in the most sensational way possible.
Read this if: you enjoy reality TV shows. 3½ stars
 

5. LOST & FOUND by Oliver Jeffers (Children’s picture book, Board book) 4 star rating
Lost and Found Jeffers photo lostandfound2_zpsfd02c09a.jpgThis version of this title is a charming picture book about a boy who one day finds a penguin at his door. The boy decides the penguin must be lost and tries to return him. Since no one claims the penguin, the boy decides to take it home himself, and they set out in his row boat on a journey to the South Pole.

Colourful drawings, although I found the ending not-quite satisfying. It’s available in several formats; of course, the board book edition is suitable for the very young.
Read this if: you’re looking for a gentle story of belonging and home. 4 stars
 

6. TODAY I FEEL SILLY and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis (Children’s Picture book)4 star rating
 photo todayIfeelsilly_zps7ee46cd8.jpg
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis has been quite public about her mental health battles with a mood disorder. In this book she helps kids explore, identify, and, even have fun with their ever-changing moods.

Today I feel silly. Mom says it’s the heat.
I put rouge on the cat and gloves on my feet.
I ate noodles for breakfast and pancakes at night.
I dressed like a star and was quite a sight.

Laura Cornell’s bright, detailed, and whimsical drawings complete this charming book.
Read this if: you’re dealing with a toddler (or even an older child) who is learning to deal with moods. 4 stars

 

*
*
* ALL THAT I AM was the May pick for the War & Literature Readalong, hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat.
* A GLASS OF BLESSINGS is the fifth Barbara Pym that I’ve read, as I keep up with the LibrayThing Virago group read-along for Barbara Pym’s centenary.
* I read QUEEN LUCIA as May’s random pick from my TBR wish list spreadsheet of 2,605 items for the Random Reads Challenge hosted by I’m Loving Books.I had collected recommendations for it from Jenny at Shelf Love, Ali at Heavenali, and Simon at Stuck in a Book.
* LOST & FOUND are qualifying words in the Keyword Reading Challenge at Bookmark to Blog, and also fulfill the “Word Lost or Found in the title” category in Beth Fish Reads’ What’s In a Name 2013 Reading Challenge.


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Literary Blog Hop Giveaway WINNER

June26

 photo winneris_zpsf53a251e.jpg
I turned to trusty random.org and drew the winner of my contribution to the eighth Liteary Blog Hop Giveaway hosted by Judith at Leeswammes’ Blog

Congratulations to

Anne Berger

who has elected to receive Anna Funder’s All That I Am

A big THANK YOU to all 90 visitors who entered this giveaway.

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Literary Blog Hop Giveaway June 2013

June22

 photo  literarybloghopjune_zps38e3d269.jpgTHIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

I’m participating in the eighth Literary Giveaway Blog Hop, hosted by Judith at Leeswammes’ Blog, which is taking place from Saturday June 22nd until Wednesday June 26th.

I’m offering any book by the following authors, all of whom I’ve read & enjoyed this year. (Maximum value $15.00)

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
Dunmore, Helen
Findley, Timothy
Funder, Anna
Hornung, Eva
Ishiguro, Kazuo
Jessup, Heather
Jin, Ha
Kingsolver, Barbara buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Milne, A.A.
Pym, Barbara
Selecky, Sarah
Taylor, Elizabeth
Trollope, Anthony
von Arnim, Elizabeth

This giveaway is open to anyone living any place to which Book Depository delivers. To enter, leave a comment on this post with the name of an author of literary fiction whom you enjoy reading.

Be sure I have an email address to contact you. Then be sure to hop on over to Judith’s blog and see what the other participating bloggers are offering!

I will select the winner using random.org at 5pm Atlantic time June 26th.

Wondrous Words from Architecture

May22

I discovered both of these words (which I have may have encountered before but have forgotten through disuse) in The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton by Elizabeth Speller.

The protagonist, Laurence Bertram, is a scholar of church history, including their architecture.

ammonite photo ammonite_zps2090d1d5.jpgAmmonite: (from the horn of Ammon – Jupiter – whose statues were represented with ram’s horns): Any of the flat, usually coiled fossil shells of an extinct order of mollusks.

pg 22 She indicated an ornate bench. Two stone ammonites supported the stone seat (. . .)



pantiles photo pantiles_zps13af1a73.jpgPantile:
A roofing tile having an S curve, laid with the large curve of one tile overlapping the small curve of the next

Pg135 A handful of nearer [houses], more finished than the rest, had leaded windows and hanging pantiles
.

Wondrous Words Wednesday photo wondrouswordsWednesday_zps7ac69065.png
Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. It’s hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion.


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Saturday Snapshot: Baby Quilt

May18

My new grandbaby is due to arrive this weekend and I’m having a hard time being patient.

This is the quilt I made for them: machine-quilted, but it’s the first pieced quilt I’ve ever made – and some of the first sewing in 25 years.

baby quilt photo babyquilt002450_zpsed8c8df2.jpg

I really had no idea how to properly piece a quilt, but last year I saw a quilting frame in my neighbour’s front room when I stopped to buy some fresh eggs. So I did what I never would have had the nerve to do in the city: I phoned her and asked for help.

She and her daughter invited me to their home and spent a morning teaching and helping me with this project. I will be forever grateful for country neighbours!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.


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Mystery Books Read in April 2013

May7

In April, I decided to get back to some of the mystery series that I’ve started over the past few years but never followed up on. A number of titles made it in from the library, but my reading time ran out! This month, there’s only two of my “revisitations”; next month, there will be more.


TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE
by Alexander McCall Smith (Mystery, Botswana) 4.5 star rating
Book 2 of the Ladies’ Number 1 Detective Agency series.

Several years ago, our local book group read the Kalahari Typing School for Men and I discovered Mma Precious Ramotswe of Gabarone, Botswana. I was charmed and went on to read the titular first book in the series quite some time ago.

Tears of the Giraffe Alexander McCall Smith photo tearsofthegiraffe_zps6b8a0809.jpg In Tears of the Giraffe Mma Ramotswe searches for the fate of a young American man who worked on a co-operative farm in the area a decade earlier. She is also surprised by her fiancé with the addition to their ‘family’ of two orphans.

If you’ve not read McCall Smith before, you’ll probably be surprised at the cadence of these “mystery” novels. They are very gently paced and phrased, and nostalgic for the older, simpler ways of African life.
The series is delightful, and this book was moving as well. 4½ stars
Read this if: you looking for a series that evokes the character of Africa & its people, and don’t mind the absence of high action.


ON THE WRONG TRACK
by Steve Hockensmith (Mystery, Western) 4 star rating
Book 2 of the Holmes on the Range series

I read the first in this series featuring cowboy brothers Gustav “Old Red” and Otto “Big Red” Arlingmeyer in 2011. On the Wrong Track Steve Hockensmith photo onthewrongtrack_zps86716043.jpg Since then, I’ve wanted to read more about this duo whose older half idolizes Sherlock Holmes and wants to model himself after him. It’s left to Otto to chronicle their adventures. In this instalment, they are hired by the Southern Pacific Railroad as detectives on a Utah to California trip, and run up against notorious train robbers.

The voice in this series is as breezy and refreshing as I remember it, albeit containing profanity of the day, but the villain in this particular piece was a little too obvious, for not being obvious, if you know what I mean. It was still fun to follow Old Red as he trailed the clues and filled in the details. 4 stars
Read this if: you’re looking for a good non-thriller mystery, especially a 19th century western; or you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes (you’ll be tickled how much Old Red tries to imitate him.)



SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES
by Alan Bradley (Mystery, Cozy) Book 5 in the Flavia deLuce series4 star rating

Speaking from among the Bones Alan Bradley photo speakingfromamongthebones_zps7be66777.jpg I’m a big fan of Flavia, a spunky 11-year-old with a passion for chemistry, who travels her world of Bishop’s Lacey on her trusty bike Gladys.

In this latest adventure, the body of the village church organist is found in the crypt that contains the bones of the church’s patron, Saint Tancred, and Flavia is in it up to her neck. Along the way to cracking the case, she finds more clues that help her piece together the mystery that is her mother, Harriet.

As usual, it’s almost more about Flavia and her family than about unravelling the mystery which is a little convoluted and not really solvable by the reader. Still, Flavia is so much fun! 4 stars
Read this if: you’d enjoy a series, best read in order, that features a determined and intelligent adolescent protagonist; or you’d enjoy a slightly different take on the mid-twentieth century English village cozy.


DEATH COMES AS EPIPHANY
by Sharan Newman (Mystery, Historical, Cozy) Book 1 in the Catherine LeVendeur series3 star rating

Death Comes as Epiphany Sharan Newman photo deathcomesasepiphany_zps49099e25.jpg Set in 12th century France, this features Catherine, a young novice and scholar at the Convent of the Paraclete, who is sent by the Abbess Heloise on a perilous mission to find out who is trying to destroy the reputation of the convent and, through it, that of the abbess’s onetime lover and patron, theologian Peter Abelard.
I was uncomfortable with the amount of religious rigmarole, the “right’ of the church, and the solution: madness – or something darker? 3 stars
Read this if: you would enjoy a mystery more because of the religious element, rather than despite it.



KINDLE EDITIONS:
Tears of the Giraffe
Speaking from Among the Bones:
Death Comes As Epiphany



*

Books Read in April 2013

May6

books read

The very first month after I declared to the blogosphere my intention to read at least one non-fiction book each month, I didn’t. Read non-fiction, that is.

Otherwise, I had a great reading month, very much liking just about everything I read and rating all but one of the titles at least four stars. Today, I’ll recap my fiction; tomorrow, the mysteries.

ELLA MINNOW PEA:
A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable (Fiction, Epistolary) by Mark Dunn 5 star rating
Ella Minnow Pea Mark Dunn photo ellaminnowpea_zpsc556ed77.jpg This is the book I spent the month telling everybody they should read. It’s a seemingly light-weight epistolary novel set on the fictitious independent island-nation of Nollop, off the coast off South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet, ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.’ In fact, a statue with Nollop’s name and said pangram stands in the town square, and when letters start falling off, the Town Fathers see it as “Nollop’s Will” and ban the use of those letters, both in oral & written communication. As each letter is dropped from used by the islanders, so it is by the author of the book.

But this is more than just a clever lipogram (a written work composed of words selected as to avoid the use of one or more letters of the alphabet.) The effect of losing the use of the letters is startling, and the fabric of island life begins to unravel quickly. There is implied comment on religious extremism and on police states. It’s really very well-done.

What’s not to like? (Written) letters. Clever use (or non-use) of (alphabet) letters. Pick up this delightful little book and be prepared to ponder bigger issues than you think you will.
Thank you to Simon at Stuck in a Book who first brought this gem to my attention. 5 stars
Read this if: you love words.


* THE WARS
by Timothy Findley (Fiction, WWI, Canadian author) 5 star rating
When I saw The Wars was the April choice for the War & Literature Readalong, I wondered how I had never heard of this early novel by one of Canada’s literary leaders. Since I’ve read it, I wonder all the more.

The Wars by Timothy Findley photo wars_zps473cbfe0.jpg Set in WWI, the story tells of young officer Robert Ross who enlists after a family tragedy leaves him bereft. Written and published in the mid-1970s when it was still possible to talk to people who remembered that war, and the elderly veterans who marched in the Remembrance Day parade had fought in the French mud, it has an immediacy and power that many other First World War novels that I have read lack.

Findley’s prose is spare. There are no wasted words. It’s very powerful, and with no profanity. 5 stars
Read this if: you care about the animals—chiefly horses and mules—that were caught ’in service’ in the Great War.


THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
by John Green (Fiction, YA) 4 star rating

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green photo faultinourstars_zps97caf46b.jpg I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what this one is about. If you haven’t read it yet, you’ve read about it scores of times. I came to this book with a slightly cynical attitude but, although I didn’t cry, I did get teary-eyed a couple of times. It’s intelligently told and humanely felt. 4 stars

Read this if: you’d like some insight into how to relate to a young person with a serious illness; or you’re an adolescent thinking about life and death and their meaning.


* THE LAST RAIN
by Edeet Ravel (Fiction, Historical, Canadian author) 4 star rating
This novel is set on a kibbutz in Israel, mostly in the years 1949 and 1961.

The Last Rain by Edeet Ravel photo lastrain_zps693008b3.jpg The story jumps to various points of view and time periods, as well as formats (bits of a play, excerpts of committee meeting minutes, diary entries, and so on) at what is, at first, a dizzying—and sometimes annoying—rate. But piecing it together is all part of the plot, illustrating the complexities of any experiment to create a utopia.
Perhaps the photos of the (fictional) characters were the author’s own, since she grew up on a kibbutz? They were an additional element to keep the reader off-balance throughout.

When I finished the book, I wanted to start at the beginning and read it again now that I had the whole picture. 4 stars
Read this if: you’d like some insight into how the modern country of Israel was settled after its formation in 1949; or you’ve ever wondered about life in a commune-type setting.


* ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN
(Fiction, Classic) by Elizabeth von Armin 4 star rating

I’ve been wanting to read von Arnim for some time and decided to start with this title, her 1898 debut, because it is the one that Crawley House’s Mr. Molesley gave to Anna Smith when he tried to court her during Mr. Bates’ first absence in early season 2 of Downton Abbey.
Elizabeth and Her German Garden Elizabeth von Arnim photo elizabethandhergermangarden_zps237b65d3.jpg
Von Arnim was a young English woman who married an older German Count, and Elizabeth and her German Garden is considered semi-autobiographical. In it, a young wife and mother flees her hated social life in the city to live at one of her husband’s country estates and tend the garden.

It’s sensual, witty, and sweet all at once. 4 stars
Read this if: you love gardens; or, like me, you just want the thrill of that Downton connection!


* LESS THAN ANGELS
(Fiction, Vintage, Humour) by Barbara Pym 4 star rating

This 1955 novel is an incisive social satire that opens a window onto the insular world of London’s anthropologic community & its students.

Tongue firmly in check, Pym writes:
Less Than Angels Barbara Pym photo lessthanangels_zps526939d5.jpgFelix had explained so clearly what it was that anthropologists did (. . .) They went out to remote places and studied the customs and languages of the peoples living there. Then they came back and wrote books and articles about what they had observed (. . .) It was as simple as that. And it was a very good thing that these languages and customs should be known, firstly because they were interesting in themselves and in danger of being forgotten, and secondly because it was helpful to missionaries and government officials to know as much as possible about the people they sought to evangelize or govern.

In addition to the observations of those returned from Africa, Pym observes the townies observing their suburbanite brothers, women observing men, students observing graduates . . . all the world’s a foreign culture to someone. 4 stars
Read this if: you want to try one of Pym’s gentle satires that doesn’t concern the Anglican (or any other) church.

*
*
*
As mentioned, The Wars was the April pick for the War & Literature Readalong, hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat.
* I read The Last Rain as this month’s random pick from my TBR wish list spreadsheet of 2,456 items for the Random Reads Challenge hosted by I’m Loving Books. I first noticed a recommendation for it in MORE magazine. (Find it at MagazineDiscountCenter)
* Garden (Elizabeth’s German) is a qualifying word in the Keyword Reading Challenge at Bookmark to Blog.
* Less Than Angels is the fourth Barbara Pym that I’ve read, as I keep up with the LibrayThing Virago group read-along for Barbara Pym’s centenary.


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Non-Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop WINNER

April30

 photo winneris_zpsf53a251e.jpg
I turned to trusty random.org and drew the winner of my contribution to the first Non-Fction Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Rikki’s Teleidoscope.

Congratulations to

Julie Roddy

who has elected to receive Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff.

A big THANK YOU to all who entered this giveaway.

Non-Fiction GIVEAWAY Blog Hop

April26

NF giveaway hop photo non_fic_giveaway_hop_zps641a0a17.jpgWelcome to the first Non-Fiction Giveaway Blog Hop, hosted by Rikki at Rikki’s Teleidoscope. The list of bloggers participating is small, but if you’re interested in being in the roll call next time, I’m sure Rikki would be pleased to hear from you.

The best book I read in 2012 was non-fiction but I don’t read as much NF as I’d like to think I do, so I have a goal to read at least one each month in 2013.

My giveaway
is any one of the books on the list below, drawn from my non-fiction reading over the past two years. I think that any of these books is worth your time investment.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard
A Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick
Winter: Five Windows on the Season by Adam Gopnik
The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston

enter now photo enternow_zps96a45d5b.jpg

To enter:
1. Be a subscriber to my blog posts, either by email or RSS. (Orange ‘subscribe’ buttons are at the top right of this page.)

2. Leave me a comment, telling me which book you think you’d like (you can always change your mind if you win), AND the method & name you use to subscribe to my blog.

3. Limit of one entry per person. Contest closes 5 pm Atlantic Daylight Time Monday April 29th. Winner will be chosen from the comments, using random.org

This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY, to anywhere in the world that Book Depository delivers.

Now – hop on over Rikki’s where you’ll find a list of the other giveaway participants!

Thursday Afternoon: View from My Window 25Apr13

April25

A year or so ago, I ran a series of pictures with the view from my office window every Friday afternoon. I stopped because I thought there wasn’t enough change week to week to bear recording.

What I’ve decided to do now is to post a picture from the last Friday afternoon of each month. Since tomorrow I have a Giveaway Hop post scheduled, I decided to start for April with this Thursday view.

It’s April in Nova Scotia. We’ve had a milder winter than a lot of places but spring is still slow to come. The tree in the right foreground is a pear. No buds. The trees at the end of the driveway are tamaracks. No buds. There’s a birch tree across the driveway. No buds.

But just you wait. May is coming – and May’s the month that summer comes to Nova Scotia. Be sure to check in for the May 31st photo!

Who Wants Mail?

April22

The month is nearly over and I almost missed it!

snail mail photo snail_mail_zpsbcf4e964.gifThe United States Postal Service has named April to be National Card and Letter-Writing Month. The USPS’s goal is to boost written—and mailed—communications to build relationships through cards and letters. “Touch them with a letter they can feel – and keep,” they say.

Maya Angelou is widely attributed with saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How long has it been since you’ve received a real card or letter in the mail? Snail mail? Probably far too long. But if it’s recent enough to recall, perhaps you can remember that it did indeed ‘touch you’.
Wouldn’t you like to make someone else feel that way? Maya says they’ll never forget it.

I’ve said before: I love mail. While the USPS’s goal of increasing snail mail is admittedly self-serving, I endorse it whole-heartedly. Here’s what I want to say:

 photo TheRodgerssign225_zpse22a0b36.jpg1. Stop right now and think of someone in your life who needs to be appreciated. Send him or her a card or letter today.

Say thank-you, say I love you, say I’m thinking of you, I miss you, get well, happy anniversary, I appreciate you, I’m sorry, welcome to the neighbourhood, have a good trip, good work, it was nice to meet you . . .you get the picture. Just say something and get it in the mail!

2. No matter where you are in the world (I want to take mail-sending international), if you’d like to get some snail mail yourself, just send an email (the irony is not lost on me) to debbie at Exurbanis (dot) com and give me your name and snail mail address. I’d love to send you a note to say ‘hi’.

Sunshine Award

April21

sunshine award photo sunshine-award21_zps6bed88f9.jpg This is my first blogging award: Trish at Desktop Retreat has selected me as one of her Sunshine Award recipients. I can’t count the beautiful pictures on Trish’s blog that I’ve put on my Reading Women Board on Pinterest. Thank you, Trish!

I’m supposed to answer these ten questions and then forward the award on.

1. Who is your favourite philosopher? I’m not a big fan of philosophy but I’ve found many nuggets of wisdom in the art of Mark Twain. If you tell the truth you won’t have to remember anything.

2. What is your favourite number? If I have to choose, then eleven. It’s symmetrical. Besides that, it’s my birth date.

3. What is your favourite animal? I’ve never met an animal I didn’t like. But then, I’ve never met a camel. I’ve heard they spit. Or a hippo. I’ve heard they charge. Or a . . . okay, let’s go with dogs – they’re the animal I know the best.

4. What are your Facebook and Twitter URLs? Like Trish, I keep my Facebook account for family and friends. If you find me and tell me you read my blog, I’ll likely accept your friend request – but you may get bored with my niece’s wedding plans and my husband’s music gigs. My Twitter handle is @DebbieRodgers

5. What is your favourite time of day? The afternoon. Email has been checked, daily chores taken care of, and now I can get to projects or, even, reading! I think Henry James “summer afternoon” quote is one of loveliest thoughts I’ve ever heard. {sigh} All too soon, it’s time to make supper.

6. What was your favourite vacation? Our honeymoon in Vermont. It was a magical week in October: the trees were still gorgeous but it was after the long holiday weekends, both American and Canadian, so it felt like we were the only people there.

7. What is your favourite physical activity? I overheat really easily, so anything that’s in water is for me. I particularly like aqua-fitness classes.

8. What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink? When I’m hot, ice water. When I’m cold, herbal tea. My current favourite is Celestial Seasonings’ Country Peach Passion. mmmm. . .

9. What is your favourite flower? Tulips, ideally pink. But I’ve been blown away by black ones interplanted with fierce orange. Then there’s peach and pale yellow and clear yellow and purples of all descriptions. . .anything but red. I don’t know why, but red tulips irk me.

10. What is your passion? Sending cards. Real cards. In the mail. Snail mail. From my computer. You can too.

TEN MORE WINNERS

winner is photo Winner-_zpse4c2b2d9.jpgI had such a hard time narrowing this list of worthy recipients to ten. I would have included Trish at Desktop Retreat if I hadn’t already mentioned her in this post. Without any set criteria, I’ve tried to include a variety of world location and types of blogs. I hope you’ll find at least one or two that will appeal to you.

1. In So Many Words I especially enjoy Yvette’s Sunday Salon collections of art on a theme. And be sure to scroll to the bottom of her page and visit her Pinterest universe!

2. Fleur Fisher in her World You’ll find Jane’s thoughts on an eclectic mix of books, and the occasional “dog’s blog”.

3. Dwell in Possibility Bonnie comments gently and intelligently on some lesser known works including some that talk about her faith.

4. Heavenali “Book reviews by someone who loves books”. Vintage books. Lovely vintage books.

5. Mary Okeke Reviews Mary will feed your passion for African literature.

6. A Penguin a Week It’s always delightful for me to see what vintage gem in Penguin’s diverse library Karyn will show us.

7. Diary of a Word Nerd As Julia says: “Enriching your mind with tips on words, books, and reading”.

8. Amy Reads “Diverse books for your balanced life” including quite a bit of non-fiction. I appreciate Amy’s decisive ratings and I have a number of books on my TBR wish list because of her reviews.

9. Rebecca Reads Rebecca is a home-schooling mom who reviews “classics, nonfiction, and children’s literature”. I discovered a number of books on Rebecca’s blog for reading to my grandson.

10. Kittling: Books I hesitated to include this link since Cathy has taken a hiatus from blogging – and, as bloggers, we all know that can mean odds are even that she’ll not be coming back. But even without current posts, there is a wealth of history here for anyone who reads mystery or crime novels (and Cathy clearly differentiates which any one book is). I really enjoyed her series Scene of the Crime interviews with authors.

11., 12., 13. . . I’m so sorry to have to left out so many other wonderful bloggers, but this has given me an incentive to get working on my blogroll links over the next month.

posted under Book stuff | 11 Comments »

POSTCARD Friendship Friday: Look Alikes

April19

I love mail! Cards & letters – and POSTCARDS!

Beth over at The Best Hearts are Crunchy (I just love that name – Beth explains on her blog how she chose it) collects vintage postcards, most from the 1880s on into the 1950s.

Postcard Friendship Friday logo photo Postcardfriday_zpse4301f93.jpg

Every Friday she shares one in Postcard Friendship Friday. Anyone can join in and link to her post. Each Friday has a theme – but you don’t have to follow it. And “Friday” lasts all week, so you can link-up any time until next Thursday.

This week’s theme is look-alikes since April 20th is Look Alike Day.

These girls might be twins but, if not, they certainly look very much alike.

 photo postcardsistersB_zpsd42b98b4.jpg

I found my card in the Send Out Cards catalogue. Want to send one to your sister? Go ahead, no matter where you are in the world – do it on me.

P.S. Search the card catalogue using the term “sisters”.

April 19th is (Inter)national HANGING OUT DAY

April19

The forecast isn’t for sunny today, but it’s (way!!) above zero – 15C, 60F – so I’m hanging out at least one load of laundry on the line.

Today is National Hanging Out Day, an initiative of Project Laundry List to promote cheap, low-tech, and easy to install solar clothes dryers – that is, hanging out laundry to dry.

 photo urbanlin_zpse8fdceda.jpg

As I’ve discussed on this blog before, in urban & suburban areas, clotheslines can be considered eyesores and are often banned.

In many rural areas, though, hanging clothes is regarded as an art form of sorts. At the very least, it’s just the way things are done: it saves energy (and therefore money) and the clothes smell terrific and last longer.

Clotheslines are definitely part of country living. Whether you participate or not, chances are you’ll be looking at your neighbours’ lines.

Postscript: According to Project Laundry List, the average American uses more energy running a clothes dryer than the average African uses in a year for all her energy needs. Is this fair to the planet?! Yikes, don’t get me started on The Story of Stuff.

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