Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Pirates

Just thought you might want to see my 5 year old
Pirate of the Caribbean.

This is the daytime version that he wore to school - complete with bandana and braids.

This is the night time version - he changed to the hat and added an earring and a sword.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Possession A Romance - Book Review

Possession A Romance
By A.S. (Antonia Susan) Byatt
Originally Published Chatto & Windus 1990
This cover version published Vintage 2001

This book is my third and final book for the Book to Movie Challenge. I love reading literary detective novels, although I do not particularly like poetry. However this is a search for what really happened between two (fictional) Victorian poets in England in the 1860s. A.S. Byatt made up poems, stories, diary entries and letters from both poets, and other family members and friends. These were woven throughout an excellent story of two present day academics looking for more details of the poets lives.

The two poets are Christabel LaMotte and Randolph Henry Ash. Christabel is actually a lesbian - but in Victorian times, this of course was a horrible sin - so she lived quietly with her companion Blanche Glover. Ash was married to Ellen, but they did not have any children. Ash and Christabel met at a dinner party given by a colleague in 1859, where they found a common area of passion (literature and poetry) to talk about.

Roland Michell is an American scholar of the poet Randolph Henry Ash. He is in England doing a fellowship (similar to an internship) on Ash. One day in the London Library, he is looking through an old Book that used to belong to Randolph Ash. Inside this book, he finds 2 drafts of a letter written by Ash to an unknown lady. The letters begin..."Dear Madam". It's obvious that Ash is not writing to his wife. The letters mention the name of the colleague who gave the party, so Roland does more digging and eventually discovers that there were 3 women at that party. Two of them were known, and one was not. The unknown woman was a Christabel LaMotte. Ash asks a colleague for advice on who to consult regarding LaMotte and is referred to Dr Maud Bailey in Lincoln University.

Roland goes to Lincoln to visit Dr Bailey and discovers that she is Lamotte's great great neice, being descended from Christabel's sister Sophia. Sophia's daughter May Bailey, married a Bailey cousin. Maud takes Roland on a small tour, visiting the home where Christabel lived. and died. There they discover some letters, previously unknown. These letters indicate an ongoing affair with Randolph Ash - something that noone else was aware of.

The letters take Roland and Maud on a trip to Whitby, and from there to France, where eventually they discover a secret, something that will change Maud's entire life.

At the same time as I was reading the novel, I also watched the movie. Beautiful. Not having seen it before, I loved it. I think its stayed pretty true to the novel, except that it cut out a lot of the other academics. In the novel there are other academics chasing Roland and Maud, because they too want to be the first to discover something new about Randolph Ash. Its the old adage - Publish or perish. They featured quite heavily in the book, and not so much in the movie.

My DH really liked the movie. He usually prefers actions and thrillers. He says this was a great story because of the search and the mystery, and he wanted to know the answers just as much as Roland and Maud did.

If I was to write a novel, I would want to write a novel just like this - a Literary Detective novel.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Old Books in the Old World - by Rostenberg & Stern

Old Books in the Old World
By Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern.
Oak Knoll Press 1996

This is a diary of Rostenberg and Stern's buying trips to England and Europe in the decade immediately following World War 2. It's not written in narrative, but as a diary. The ladies kept journals for those years (1947 - 1957), and excerpts of their diaries are printed, along with updates (or Retrospects as they are called).

In 1947 the first year they went to Europe, the ladies sailed to England by boat. The trip took 7 days from Hoboken (Across the Hudson River from NYC - in New Jersey I think) to Southampton, England. I'm not familiar with any of the English Antiquarian Bookshops - except one. Marks and Co at 84 Charing Cross Road. But there was no mention of Frank Doel. The ladies also took another boat to Calais, and then to Paris where they purchased more books. Later on the same trip, they also went to Strasbourg, Basle and The Hague.

In later years Misses Rostenberg & Stern visited London regularly, also Oxford, Cambridge, Vienna, Milan, Zurich, Florence, Geneva and Brussels. In 1954 the ladies FLEW to London for the first time. That trip took just seventeen hours rather than seven days. But then they went back to taking the boat.

Even after 1957, they still made the trip every summer, but they no longer recorded the shops they visited or the books they purchased. By then they were so well known, they were being welcomed everywhere they went. Prices were also rising as well.

This book is not for reading like a novel, since it's not a narrative. You have to be a real Bibliographic fan to read all the book titles and various phrases in French and German. It would have been helpful to have a small language glossary at the back. Otherwise it was a good book.

Oh yes, and this is my third and last book for the Bibliography Challenge. I will continue reading other books about books (I have quite a few), but I need to work on the Canadian Challenge before the New Year and all the New Challenges start LOL.

Miss O - by Betty Oliphant - Book Review

Miss O, My Life In Dance
By Betty Oliphant
Turnstone Press 1996

I stayed up until 2 am reading this book. I LOVE Ballet, and this is the story of Betty Oliphant who helped to start Canada's National Ballet Company in Toronto, and she also started the National Ballet School. I read this book for the Canadian Challenge.

Betty Oliphant was born in England in 1918. She started Ballet lessons at age 5, and continued with Ballet up until her teenage years. Thats when she started teaching Ballet. She did not have the easiest life growing up. Betty's father died within weeks of her birth, so her mother was a single mother raising 2 children (Betty had one older sister Mary)in post World War society. In 1942, (during WW2) Betty married a Canadian and gave birth to two daughters - Gail and Carol. After the war, the whole family emigrated to Canada where Betty tried to start her own Ballet school. After 3 years her school was integrated into the newly formed National Ballet of Canada. Betty was the BAllet Mistress at the Company for eight years, and later became the Artistic Director. In 1959, Betty found the National Ballet School and was the Principal of the School from the start until her retirement in 1991.

Betty did not have an easy life. She suffered through with 2 bad marriages, her second husband sexually abused her daughters. Eventually Betty had to have psychiatric treatment. She was very open about her mental attitude. And she was not shy about stating her views on such famous ballet stars such as Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Karen Kain. Betty died in 2004.

If you like Ballet, you will love this biography, learning all the unknown stories about how the school and the company work.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I haven't had any time to post this weekend.

Well yesterday (being friday) right after I posted the Devil Wears Prada review, we lost our power, and I could not post a second review. And today (Saturday) my son demanded to go out early. So he has been to his saturday morning dance class (he's doing hip-hop), and to a friends birthday party. With me tagging along behind.

DH is sick (has a very bad cough - sounds like a bark actually) so when we got home, I was sent out to McDonalds for dinner. Haven't had any time to read or post. Haven't done any laundry or dishes either. I will try and post this evening.

Does anyone know where I can find books about how to play the harmonica? My son won a harmonica as a prize today, and he seems to like the music he can make.

I am now moderating my comments again after the SPAM I just got on the last post. I am furious that I CANNOT remove the comment. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada - Book Review

The Devil Wears Prada
By Lauren Weisberger
Doubleday 2003

This is for the Book to Movie challenge. I'm having a hard time finding books that I like and want to read. I tried The Black Dahlia and The Hoax, but both books were boring. So I borrowed this one from the library and read that. I saw the movie last year like everyone else - might get it out and watch it again actually.

We all know the story. Andrea (Andy) Sachs, finishes college, and hopes to get a job with a magazine as a writer. But after months of looking, the only magazine where she can get a job, at is Runway, a top of the line fashion magazine. So Andy is hired to be the second assistant to the Editor in Chief. Her name is Miranda Priestley. Miranda is a perfectionist - and that's putting it nicely. She expects her assistants to live for her, and be available 24/7 to do anything she demands. Miranda gives all her assistants cell phones, and thus they effectively become slaves on a leash, because everytime that cell phone rings, they cannot say, No. They must say "Yes Miranda" and go do whatever they are told.

In the movie, Miranda may be a b***h, but I feel that maybe she was toned down, just a little. In the book, I think she was a lot worse. I also did not like the fact in the book, that Andy was a smoker. In the movie she's not. Also In the book, Miranda is British, and has an English accent. In the movie, obviously she is American.

Andy found herself losing her boyfriend (Nate in the movie, Alex in the book), because she could not commit to keeping any date they tried to arrange. Even in the middle of a date, if that cell phone rang, Andy had to do what she was told.

Andy had no choice, but to change her style. Everything she wore was criticised, and frowned on. There were clothes available for the taking, this is a fashion magazine after all. Andy lasted 4 months wearing her own style (mostly second hand clothes) before she caved in and started wearing the required fashions, including high heeled shoes and fashionable boots. Actually Andy had a choice, but she chose to stay there and put up with being treated like sh*t.

"A Million girls would kill for this job".
This is why Andy hung on for so long. This line is repeated a number of times in the book. One thing that Miranda asks for is 2 copies of the latest Harry Potter book that (at the time) was not yet released. Andy manages to accomplish this task. Running out for coffee, getting Miranda's lunch and snacks, and generally being the gofer girl, is Andy's job. She does no writing at all, except for letters and other correspondence.

At the end of the book, Emily (the first assistant) falls ill and is unable to attend the latest fashion shows in Paris. Andy gets to go instead, but while she is there, her best friend Lily, has a DUI accident back in New York. She ends up in hospital in a coma, and when Andy gets the message, she chooses not to drop everything to return home to help Lily get batter. No, she chooses to stay in Paris.

Until Miranda asks the impossible. Her daughters passports have expired, and Andy must get them renewed in just a few hours, so that the daughters can fly to Paris. Andy knows that while she has learnt to many things, demanding that the federal government renew two passports in 3 hours is not one of them. Andy finally realises that Miranda is asking the impossible, and she makes her choice. She swears at Miranda, and yes, she used the F word.

I felt that the book was a whinefest. Yes parts of it were funny, but most of it was Andrea being a slave to her cell phone. All Andrea did was whine, whine, whine about how bad the boss was. If I was in that same situation, I certainly would not have made it a test to see how long I could stay.

If I were in that situation, I would not have lasted one week before leaving. I prefer to wear clothes that are comfortable. Ironically enough, when I went to enroll at college recently, I had to do an English assessment, since I did not graduate from an Ontario High School. This assessment included grammar and spelling tests, and writing an essay. I chose to write a short essay on whether or not cellphones were a good thing or a bad thing. I wrote the cell phones were bad because they are so intrusive, and noone observes the proper etiquette when using them. The last line I wrote was "And that is why I do not own a cell phone". I don't have a Blackberry either - for the same reason.

Personally, I actually preferred the movie to the book. The movie had its really funny moments.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My New Bibliography Career

For those of you who remember that I said a few months ago, that I wanted to be a Bibliographer. I have slowly been investigating how to do this. I have enrolled at my local college to do an Archives and Records Management Certificate, part time, starting in January. I know it's not a Library degree, but at my age, I just don't have the time to spend 6 years doing an undergraduate degree and then an MLS. So I have settled for an Archives and Records Management Certificate instead. Hopefully I can do all the coursework for this certificate in one year. I have also finally joined the ExLibris mailing list.

Actually I am getting quite excited now, and am also wondering WHY I didn't think of doing this back in New Zealand. That's easy. Because I didn't ask the right questions. I just knew I didn't want to be a public librarian, dealing with students and the public all day long. I had no idea there were any other areas away from the customer service that I could do. Archives, Records Management, Reference, Bibliography, Cataloging, Indexing (which is another area I am interested in. I'm thinking I might like to do the USAD Indexing course - but that can wait).

Now I hear you asking. What brought this on, and why am I reading all this today? Because yesterday in the mail, I finally received my copy of Old Books in the Old World, by Rostenberg and Stern. I dropped everything else and have spent the last 24 hours reading this book. I'll post again when I review it.

I did apply to work in the Toronto Public Library some years ago, but when they called me and asked if I was interested in working as a page, and I was told that a page shelves the book, I was silly enough to say NO. I was more interested in working in the administrative area, and surely I didnt need to shelve books to do that? It turns out that I did NOT do my research very well, and have since discovered that ALL jobs in the Library system, start as a page at the entry level and that is more or less the only way (except for those with an MLS probably) to get into the system. At my local library, NOONE has an MLS. They ALL started as pages, and have worked their way up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Expanding Horizons Challenge

I know, I know, I did say NO more challenges, but this one looks good. I'm also doing this because I was not able to complete the "New Notions" challenge, and I feel a bit guilty about that. This challenge sort of covers the same area.

Expanding Horizons This runs from January to April 2008 (that's 4 months)

I've decided that for this challenge I want the focus to be on the nationality of the author, rather than the characters. The books can be fiction or nonfiction; adult or YA; and can cross over to as many other challenges as you want.

There are two ways to approach this challenge.
Either read four books by authors in one of the six categories (you can read more than one category, but you must read four books [in each category]; not two books in one category and two in another) OR read six books, one from each of the six categories.

The categories are:

1. African/African-American.
2. Asian/Asian-American (This is not just East Asian -- Chinese, Korean and Japanese -- but also Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and the Central Asian -Stans.)
3. Hispanic/Latin American
4. Indian/Indian-American (Again, books by Indian authors; not books by white authors set in India.)
5. Middle Eastern (Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Turkey...)
6. Native Peoples (Can include Native American, Inuit, Polynesian --Maori, Samoan, etc -- Siberian natives and Australian Aborigines.)

So now what authors do I want to read. (edited to add list)
I have decided to read 4 books from the Middle East.

The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
still need to find 2 more.

(oh yeah, and this is post number 200!!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Interred with their Bones

Interred with their Bones
by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Dutton Books 2007

I'm reading this for the Bibliography Challenge even though it's actually about Shakespeare, but I wanted to post it here, (rather than BiblioShakespeare) because it was a great novel. I really really enjoyed it. I also learnt a lot of new things. And when a book is written in such a way that I learn new stuff, that's when I enjoy it.

As most of you know there are many many theories on who really wrote Shakespeare's plays. And all these theories claim that one man wrote them. Usually it was not Shakespeare because he was only a wool merchant, barely educated, and he never travelled to Europe, so how could he have written about foreign places and customs?

This novel posits a new theory - something I had never heard or read of before. All the facts it mentions actually make sense. The evidence does seem to fit.

The novel starts with Katherine Stanley (Kate - an American) working at the New Globe Theatre in London, England as a director. She is directing HAMLET and the play is due to open in a few weeks. But one day Kate's mentor shows up to tell Kate something important. Within a matter of hours, Roz (the mentor) is dead and the Globe has gone up in flames. Kate goes on the run to find whatever it was that Roz found, accompanied by a man who claims to be Roz's nephew. His name is Ben Pearl.

The search is for the manuscript of one of Shakespeare's lost plays, called Cardenio.

The search takes Kate from England to USA, to Spain, back to England, and then back to the United States. Along the way Kate is attacked a number of times, and every person she meets with, in her search, is killed shortly after she speaks with them. Kate is listed as the number one murder suspect.

This novel covers many topics such as Shakespeare, Delia Bacon, Renaissance England, and the intrigues of life at Queen Elizabeth's court.

I had never heard of Delia Bacon, (February 2, 1811 - September 2, 1859), but she was a real person, and she was the first modern scholar to come up with a theory that Sir Francis Bacon was the real author of the Shakespeare plays. But back in the 1800s when she was writing her book The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespere Unfolded, she was laughed at, and called a crackpot. Delia went mad and eventually died in a mental asylum.

If you want something new about Shakespeare, if you want to learn lots of new information, and learn a whole new theory that is not common knowledge, then you will enjoy this wild ride.

I give it 5 out 5.

J K Rowling is in town today

By The Canadian Press

TORONTO - "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling visits Toronto Tuesday for an appearance at the International Festival of Authors. The U.K.-based author will be reading from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the final book in the popular boy-turned-teen wizard series, before hundreds of fans in a downtown theatre. She'll also answer questions from fans and hand out complimentary signed copies of the book to everyone in attendance.

This is Rowling's only Canadian appearance this fall.

Lucky little muggles got tickets to the event by random draw only. Rowling will hold a news conference before the book reading and journalists will no doubt be buzzing to see whether the author will address her recent "outing" of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Last Friday, Rowling admitted before a packed house at New York City's Carnegie Hall that the key Potter character is gay.


[edited to add]
Several days after Rowlings shock announcement, it looks like most fans are not happy with Rowlings decision to "out" Dumbledore.

"I'm a gay fan and I'm not amused," read one commenter on the blog, a site devoted to gay and bisexual men in the entertainment and media industries.

"Firstly, how very 'nervy' of her to out him after all the books have come out and it won't harm her sales," the commenter wrote. "Secondly, not a single rumour of this in the books. Nothing."

Predictably, right-wing Christian groups in the United States have also weighed in following years of assailing the "Harry Potter" series due to its focus on witchcraft. This time, Rowling's alleged crime is making homosexuals seem normal and kind-hearted to young readers.


"Part of the theme of the books is the fact that the adult world is very secretive. Book by book, Harry Potter finds himself drawn into these adult machinations, and Dumbledore is presented as a man of great secrets, so this just adds one more layer to him," he said.

"J.K. Rowling is a smart enough woman that she knows if she'd waved the rainbow flag, it was just going to draw attention in a way that she didn't want; it would have taken away from the story and become a distraction. I think the way she's handled it is perfect."

But Canadian children's author Eva Wiseman, who's nominated for a Governor General's Award for her book "Kanada," wondered why Dumbledore's sexuality was relevant at all in an adventure series of children's books about wizardry and witchcraft.

"If you have a character and if the fact that he's gay is important to the plot, of course you would mention it. If you needed it to make the book more relevant or advance the plot, then you would mention it ... but if it doesn't make any difference to the plot or it's insignificant to the story, then why bother mentioning it?"

Wiseman has her suspicions.

"Maybe she needs more money!" she said with a laugh of Rowling, who is the second wealthiest female entertainer on the planet, after Oprah Winfrey.


Monday, October 22, 2007

24 Hour Read-a-thon

Now that it's past October 20, I want to know how did everyone do in the 24 hour read-a-thon?. Please drop a comment and say how many books you completed in 24 hours. I couldn't commit to it, mainly because my son had a friends birthday party to attend on that day.

The Book Hunter

I found a lovely new Blog last night, and spent several hours reading it through. It's called the Book Hunter's Holiday, and is owned by Chris in California. She's decided that, after several years of being an English teacher, she would much rather sell Antiquarian Books. So she has started an online shop, attended a book fair and has even been accepted into a course at the Rare Books School in Virginia.

Last month in September, Chris started her blog about the Education of an Antiquarian Bookseller. Her posts are fascinating. As many of you know, I love antiquarian books, but I'm not a seller. I prefer to do the research, (Bibliography). Each post on her blog is called a Chapter. I thought this was a very interesting idea. Especially when there is a consistent theme all the way through. My blog is not consistent. Yes, it is about Books, but not every post is a book review.

My most favourite chapter was Chapter 33 - Required reading for those New to Antiquarian Books..

So please do drop by and welcome Chris to the world of blogging.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The problem with wearing glasses, and other things

My son went wild on me last night when I tried to read him a bedtime story. Don't wear the glasses, take them off. He was screaming. He eventually told me that the glasses make my eyes look "blurry", not the same. Since one lens does have a stronger prescription than the other, then one eye is slightly bigger than the other when he looks at me. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I had to look hard, but yes, there is a slight difference in the size of my eyes. There's not a huge difference, but he can see it, and he says it scares him.

He also thinks he will be teased because his mother now wears glasses. I dont think so. How many kids have parents who wear glasses? I promised I wont wear the glasses outside around him - unless I am reading - which I do while he plays at the park. but thats not likely to happen to much now that winter is coming on.

And inside, I'm wearing them while I'm on the computer. My back is to the TV. He's on the couch watching TV, and cant see my face. So that's ok, for now.

Today is also my 7th wedding aniversary. Happy anniversary to us (me and DH). We have survived a LOT of things. Not necessarily bad stuff, but we spent over 5 years dealing with government bureaucracy.

I also have a sore throat. I think I am catching the son's cold. My son is coughing (goes with his asthma) and DH is not feeling the best either.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Just bit & pieces

I'm still trying to finish a second book from my own Bibliography challenge. I'm part way through reading 3 different books about books, and for some reason, I cant seem to finish any of them. I am also having trouble finding a decent book for the Book to Movie challenge.

I went back to the Orthoptics department at the hospital today. The first visit was on Wednesday to get my eyes checked. Definitely a problem. I have diplopia (double vision - caused by a muscle palsy) of both near and distance vision. So now I have a new prescription for special lenses to wear in my glasses. I have to wear my glasses for all reading from now on, especially at nights when my eyes get tired. I got out of the habit of wearing my glasses, because when I first got them 2 years ago, my son said to me "I dont like you wearing them. Take them off. I don't know you.".

Well now that I HAVE to wear them, he's going to have to get used to them. I should post a picture. Give me a few days to take a pic of me with my new glasses and the grey hair now grown back. So you will recognise me at next years WOTS.

Oh yes, and the International Festival of Authors has started. Check the orange IFOA button at top left.

J K Rowling is supposed to be reading next Tuesday, but when tickets go into a draw and not everyone will get in. That's not fair. Tickets sold out in September.
J.K. Rowling comes to YoungIFOA : her only Canadian appearance this fall. She will read from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, take questions from her fans, and sign copies of the book for those in attandance. Seamus O'Regan hosts.

I see Jasper Fforde and Robert J Sawyer will be here on the same day as well. Two of my favourite authors. An event that's out of this world. Jasper Fforde, Spider Robinson and Robert J. Sawyer read from their novels. Jay MillAr opens the event reading from his new collection of poetry.

IFOA: Reading, Oct 23 8pm BRG
Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 8pm
Brigantine Rm - York Quay Ctr
235 Queens Quay West
Tickets cost $15.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

10-20-30 Year Meme

I found this at Literary Feline's blog. But I'm going to have to make this the 10-20-30-40 Year Meme since I am over 40.

Let's see - 10 years ago, 1997. I was living in Auckland New Zealand, working at a Media Monitoring business (this was a press clipping service - where we read the newspapers and magazines, and clipped out articles with keywords that the clients wanted.) It was an interesting job, but the management was not terribly good. I was single, living in a single room shed literally in someone's back yard. The shed had a carpet, a toilet, a shower and a small kitchenette. It was ok, but it had no insulation, so some winter nights were cold. But then, this was Auckland, the temperatures were mild all year round. I used to spend my free time at the movie theatres, or at the library or at my favourite book shop - the Hard to Find Second Hand book shop (see sidebar).

20 years ago 1987. Wow, this was the year I actually packed up and left home. I was 22 at the time, and my sister was married and living in Auckland. I was still with my parents in Dunedin. I decided that I needed to get a decent job, and there were no decent jobs available in Dunedin, so I opted to move. I packed up everything, went on a working holiday over the summer (December of 86, January & February of 1987) and then instead of returning home, I headed north to Auckland. My sister was recently married so I moved in with her and her husband. My first job in Auckland was at Mcdonalds. There were no McDonalds in Dunedin so I was totally unfamiliar with the concept of fast food. I got put on floor duties, washing the floors, keeping the tables clean, and washing the windows. The first week I had 5 shifts, the second week I had 3 shifts, and the third week I was given just 1 shift. That's when I quit, because I did not know that this was only a part time job. I walked into the Labour Department the next day and asked for another job. They sent me to the local city council where I was hired to do the costing. I enjoyed that job. It was full time, steady pay and I had the weekends off. I had a lot of trouble finding a place to live as well. I remember living with an old Dutch women as a room mate. I was there only because my sister said it was a good place. This old lady wanted company, and she was smoking and drinking the hard stuff all the time. Since I do not smoke or drink, I preferred to stay in my room, and watch TV or read. She kicked me out after a few months.

30 years ago 1977. My family were in the Solomon Islands at this time. I was going to the local secondary school, because the New Zealand correspondence school had told my parents that there were perfectly good schools to attend in the town we were living in. It may have been a good school, but it had a terrible English curriculum. Because English is the third language of the population (they have native languages and then pidgin english, which is the lingua franca) everything was about grammar, spelling and vocabulary. There was no literature and I never once cracked open a book of Shakespeares plays. [This did affect me when I came to sit English exams back in New Zealand a few years later. I had an excellent grounding in grammar and spelling, but I had no literature. So I was horrified when I failed the English exam. Not by much, but 47 is still a failing mark.]

40 years ago - 1967. Back in New Zealand. I was just 3 years old. I had one older sister and a new baby sister. Yep, I was the middle child. I assume the Vietnem war was at its' height. I don't remember anything of this time, but I know I was alive.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Alexandria Link - by Steve Berry - Review

The Alexandria Link
By Steve Berry
Ballantine Books 2007
Website Steve Berry

This post is not meant to offend anyone. It's just the outcome of my christian upbringing in a protestant home, and why I chose to reject my religion.

By the time I was 18 years old I no longer believed that the bible was accurate. I found too many contradictions, and other things just did not seem logical. One of the things I had trouble with, was the hypocrisy I saw everywhere around me - in my community and in the world. Another was the geography of the Bible.

How could 1 million men (plus women and children) have possibly wandered around the small area of the Sinai peninsula for forty years, without once retracing their steps. (I can't name the chapter/verse, but there is a verse in the OT that says the Israelites travelled 40 years in the desert without retracing their route. If anyone knows it, please leave a comment, thanks.).

Children grow older. And while clothes, appliances, tents, baskets, shoes, and many other items, may have been passed down, they eventually become rags and unusable and must have been abandoned somewhere. But there is also this verse - Deut 29v5. I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out upon you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. Excavations in the Sinaitic peninsula have failed to find any trace of the Hebrews. I find the above verse to be very convenient, and highly unlikely.

So instead I figured out (on my own) that the Israelites MUST have wandered around in the Arabian desert for 40 years. Plenty of room there, and there were no Muslims at the time. Twenty five years ago this was considered wrong thinking (what used to be called heresy) so I kept quiet. And I stopped attending church.

About 15 years later I was introduced to a man named Ron Wyatt. Ron was considered a crackpot, because he had a theory that the Exodus happened in the Arabian desert, not the Sinai desert. Since that matched my own thinking, I watched some of his videos. They made logical sense to me. He even travelled to Saudi Arabia looking for the real Mount Sinai. He claimed to have found it too. But mainstream archaeologists and academics say that Ron was wrong. But then, those same academics have no proof that they are right.

Now I have just finished reading the Alexandria Link, and guess what - the same theory has shown up again. This time in a story that says that the Alexandria Library holds the original scrolls written in Old Hebrew (what is now the Torah or the Old Testament) and these will prove that the old Israel was never in Palestine, but in Arabia.

The above is the background of the story. The story itself, is a little far fetched, but as an action thriller, it certainly is "high octane ride that will hold you enthralled"

Cotton Malone is minding his own business in Denmark, running his Antiquarian Bookshop. His ex-wife Pam shows up and tells him that their teenage son Gary has been kidnapped. And shortly after, Cotton's bookshop is obliterated by a missile.

Cotton contacts his former boss in Washington DC, and learns that someone accessed the Alexandria file. This is a file that names Cotton as being the only person who knows anything about this Alexandria Link.

The link is actually a person, and Cotton is his only means of contact. Cotton is now forced to find the Alexandria Link, in order to get his son back. He must do it before the Israelis, the Saudis and a new mysterious business group find the Link. The Link is the only way to find the Lost Library of Alexandria.

I would call this novel, a new version of the Da Vinci code. The only problem I had, was that Berry did not give the Vice President a name. Every time the Vice President or VP was identified, he was done by his title, not by his name. The President had a name. Why couldn't the VP have been given a name as well? It would have made the story run more smoothly, in my opinion. Other than that, it was a great story.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Interesting children's toys.

I don't usually post anything about kids toys, but my son discovered a new toy last weekend and persuaded his father to buy it for him. Very cheap, made of plastic and cost less than $2 from the local Dollar store.

Basically its just a throwing ball, but when its thrown, it turns inside out. Its made to open up by wind resistance, and then the surface slides so that the inside becomes the outside. Absolutely fascinating.

Anyway, I have never seen these before. Does anyone know what they are called and who invented them?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky Book Review

Family Tree
By Barbara Delinsky
Doubleday 2007

Hugh Clarke is from a very prominent New England family. He can trace his fathers family all the way back to the Mayflower. They have "impeccable" credentials, including skin colour (although that is never mentioned in polite conversation).

Dana Joseph Clark grew up an orphan, raised by her grandmother. Her mother died when Dana was five. Her father is unknown, except for a name and an old college photograph.

When Dana and Hugh's first child Elizabeth is born, she has the distinct look of the African American. Her skin is tanned, and her black hair is tight and curly.

Hugh doesn't know quite what to think except that maybe Dana's unknown father has some African American blood. Hugh's family immediately assumes that Dana had an affair with an African American man. And Hugh makes things worse by asking Dana for a paternity test to prove that the child is his. The paternity test is positive.

Dana starts questioning Hugh's love for her and baby Lizzie. So Dana decides to track her father down. Using her mothers old letters in the attic that Grandma could not throw away, Dana finds out her father address, and she and Hugh pay him a surprise visit.

Back home, the pediatrician calls and ask for an appointment with Dana and Hugh. The routine tests done in the hospital when Lizzie was born indicates that she has the sickle cell trait. Only 1 in 12 African Americans carry the gene. The pediatrician has Dana and Hugh both tested. The results turn both their worlds upside down.

I read this book because I love genealogy, and am interested in genetics. I was curious to know how such a story might be done. I did enjoy the story, It certainly took me on an emotional roller coaster with the accusations against Dana.

If you have known one life style all your life, how would you react if it was changed suddenly? Perhaps you discover new siblings you didnt know about. Or maybe it turns out that your grandmother wasn't really your grandmother. How would you react?

This story is about those sort of reactions.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ice Bound By Jerri Nielsen Book Review

Ice Bound
By Jerri Nielsen
Hyperion Books 2001
Some links
USA Today

It was the summer of 1998. Jerri Nielsen was a 45 year old ER doctor in Ohio. Her marriage had broken up, and she had lost custody of her children to their father [an abusive & controlling man who thought nothing of telling lies to gain control]. Now Jerri wanted a new life. She spotted an advertisement for doctors in the US Antarctica Program, so Jerri sent in her resume. Within a week, Jerri was invited to Denver Colorado for an interview.

The Antarctica, I was informed, was the highest, driest, coldest, windiest and emptiest place on earth. The south Pole itself was almost 2 miles above sea level (9300 feet) which meant that hypoxia and altitude sickness were common illnesses. And because the sun disappeared for 6 months of the year, for those 6 months, the pole was "closed" - no planes could get in or out at all. You were effectively stranded there. All supplies were delivered during the summer, and if you ran out during the winter, you either made it yourself, or you just managed without it. This was what Jerri had to look forward to. She accepted the position and the challenge, and after a few weeks of training, she eventually found herself arriving at the South Pole in late October 1998. Summer in the Antarctica happens over the long daylight period - October to February.

Jerri records the details of daily life during the summer, how she settled in, and how she felt after the Pole was closed in February of 1999. In MArch Jerri discovered a small lump in her breast. She did nothing for a while, hoping it would go away, and knowing that being "effectively locked down" there wasnt much that could be done. By May the lump had grown larger. So in June of 1999, Jerri told the bosses and the management back in Denver. Fortunately the internet was available, and contact was fairly easy through email - although always subject to satellite availablity.

Jerri was hooked up with a breast cancer specialist in Indiana, USA. There were discussions on how to pull Jerri out, or even if she could be pulled out. Eventually, the decision wwas made to drop medical supplies, (along with fresh food, and other supplies) at the Pole. No such winter flight had ever been attempted before. On July 10, 1999 a Hercules plane flew to the South Pole and dropped 6 large packages, and then flew back to New Zealand.

Jerri got the chemotherapy she needed to start treating herself. It worked for a while, the tumour shrank. Jerri started losing her hair. In September when the tumour started growing again, the decision was made to send another plane to extract her. The Pole was not due to reopen to flights until October 25. On October 16, 1999 Jerri was extracted back to New Zealand.

By now she was dizzy, weak, and tired. A result of the body not breathing very well (due to being at such high altitudes for an extended peiod of time) along with the chemotherapy, was wearing her down. Once she arrived in New Zealand she was able to recover quickly, because she was finally breathing rich oxygenated air since Christchurch is at sea level. Jerri was hustled onto another plane and was finally able to undergo more radical chemotherapy, surgery and radiation back in Indiana.

Many of the emails she sent and received during her year ON ICE are reproduced in the book. Some of them make for very funny reading. Others are where she questions herself, the cancer and what the odds of her survival are.

After she returned to USA, she was treated, had surgery and was declared cancer free in January 2000. Whether Jerri is still alive, I dont know for sure. The latest I saw any mention of her online was dated 2003. She was living in North Carolina.

This is a very good book for knowing the DETAILS of what it's like to live at the South pole. I know I could not survive there.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

So proud of my son

Since I purchased my copy of Patricia's book 13 Ghosts of Halloween last week, and having read it to my 5 year old son at bedtime every night since my son decided that it was time for him to read to me. He read the entire book back to me with just a little bit of help.

I realise that he has memorised the words (and when I read the book, I cant help but sing the words, because the tune is so obvious), and he used the pictures to remember the actions, but still, he was reading, and he does love that book.

I have never been so proud of him as I am tonight.Thank you Patricia for the great pictures and a great book.

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize for Literature today

Just so you all know, if you havent heard.

British author Doris Lessing [has] won the 2007 Nobel Literature Prize, the Swedish Academy announced on Thursday.
Detailed website
Wikipedia inluding a list of her books

I must confess, although I have heard of her, I've never read any of her books.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Icebound - Books around the World

Managed to grab a copy of Jerry Nielsen's book Ice Bound from the library today. This is the story of the scientist who was stranded in the Antarctica with cancer and had to operate on herself. This will be one for the Antarctica section of the Books Around the World Challenge.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

2 Quick Book Reviews

We have just had our Thanksgiving Holiday weekend here in Canada. And while I would have preferred to read a serious challenge book, a three day weekend is not the time for that. Not with a 5 year old to keep occupied and stress free for 3 days. So I settled for a couple of fiction novels sitting on my TBR pile, and was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed both books.

For those of you who have read any of the Pendergast novels, this one was delicious. It was the last in the Diogenes trilogy, and truth be told, I have not read the two earlier books. However I did read Relic, Reliquary and the Cabinet of Curiousities, a long time ago. So I was vaguely familiar with Aloysius Pendergast and his evil brother.

In this book we FINALLY find out exactly why Diogenes hates his brother so much, and why Aloysius feels he must stop his brother at all costs. At the end of the last book, Aloysius was convicted and imprisoned for a number of murders.

The Museum of Natural History in New York City (scene of the earlier novel RELIC) is again the centre for this novel. In the previous book of this trilogy, Diogenes had stolen the Museum's priceless Diamond collection. In this novel, he returns the diamonds to the museum - in an altered state of being. The Museum tries to keep this under wraps but word leaks out. So the Museum decides to throw a party - to take the attention off all the bad events. They reopen the Tomb of Senef, an old tomb exhibition that was closed down in the 1930's when the 81st Street subway station was built. However the killings continue.

In the end it becomes a race to find out if Diogenes can once again foil his brother, or if Aloysius can finally destroy Diogenes.

This was an exciting book. I read it in 12 hours - couldn't put it down. Fortunately it was easy to read while watching my son playing at the local park for most of the day, but having to swipe at annoying flying mosquitos and bugs all day was not funny. The extreme weather (got to 32 degrees on Monday - a new High record for Thanksgiving weekend) is doing some very nasty things.

Rare Earth was also a very exciting book. I'd vaguely heard of Michael Asher. His wife is Mariantonietta Peru, whom I have definitely heard about. She is a very well known photographer - mostly in and around the Sahara Desert. Michael is a desert explorer. He runs desert tours and expeditions and has written several novels - all set in and around the Sahara.

This book is about Dan Truman, an archaeologist who is sent to The Northern Sudan to find the location of a deposit of Rare Earth - a mixture of palladium, platinum and other valuable metals. Trumans job is to get a contract signed by the local tribal chief, so that the Mining company can start digging up the earth. He also has to do this without the Sudanese government finding out, because government bureacracy is a nightmare.

Dan has a 2 year gap in his memory. He has no family. In his dreams there is a beautiful tribal girl who is a seer, a prophetess. He knows karate and uses it to keep himself and others safe. In the desert, Dan meets the Sanghara tribe, and works to become one of them. In doing so he displays honesty, courage, loyalty, and integrity. These are what the tribe values, above anything else. He even passes the dangerous tribal initiation ceremony so that he can be accepted a member of the tribe. His life is now in the desert.

And while Dan is endearing himself to the Sanghara tribe, the Mining companies are gathering in the desert to plunder the rare earth. Dan is the one person who can stop them.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Club Dumas - Book Review

The Club Dumas
By Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Published Spain 1993
English translation 1998
Movie The Ninth Gate
The Engravings

This is my first book in the Bibliography Challenge, and in the Books to Movie challenge.

The main character, Lucas Corso is a Book detective. He searches out rare books for
his clients, and his methods of obtaining these books are not always legal. He knows
some Latin, Greek and history (wish I had learned those as well), and is quite familiar with bibliographies. At the opening of this story, Corso is given 2 jobs.

One is a manuscript of a chapter of The Three Musketeers. This chapter manuscript is supposed to be Dumas's original. Written in the early 1800's, Corso is charged with verifying its authenticity.

The other job is by a rich client called Varo Borja. He has a book called The Nine
Doors to the Kingdom of Shadows
by 17th century author Aristide Torchia. This book is very old, and is said to be an occultic book with nine engravings or woodcut pictures. It details what is required to summon the devil. The story is that there are 3 copies of this book, but the publisher Torchia died (in 1667) refusing to say which one was the real book. So now noone knows which one is the authentic and original version.

Barjo demands that Corso locate the other two copies and determine which one is the
original. And Corso is also required to obtain both copies by any means necessary.
Corso thinks that the two jobs are related. The circumstantial evidence he finds
suggests that Richeleu of the 3 Musketeers was interested in the occult.

So Corso visits the owners of the other 2 copies of the Nine Doors. While looking at these books, and making notes, Corso discovers that the engravings are not exactly identical. There are some slight differences. After visiting each book owner, the owner is later killed, and the book either destroyed or stolen. Eventually Corso determines that all three books are authentic as one would need all 3 books to make one correct book. Corso eventually figures out who the killer is. The ending has the killer using the engravings and trying to summon the demon, but being unsuccessful because one of the engravings was fake.

While he is doing this searching, Corso is also followed by a mysterious dark skinned man with a mustache and a scar, as well as a woman who insinuates herself into Corso's search. She claims to be his protector. He also discovers the Club Dumas - a group of people who are fanactical about Dumas and his books. But they actually have no connection to the occultic book. As the Club founder explained to Corso, "Your mind made the connection, not us.".

I liked the book a lot - especially Corso's search for the Books of the Nine Doors. I also loved all the bibliographical details. This book is a bibliophile's fantasy. Almost every page includes a literary reference, or a description of a rare edition of a famous work. Lucas Corso also comes across a number of books on the occult, these titles are presumably of Pérez-Reverte's invention. Check the Wikipedia entry for details.

I have not yet seen the movie, although I do have a copy borrowed from the library. I wanted to finish the book first before I saw the movie. Apparently the movie cuts out the Dumas & 3 Musketeers plotline altogether, and has Corso summoning the devil instead.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Now I have to say NO

OK that's it, NO more challenges. I am ordering all you bloggers & book lovers to STOP thinking up exciting new challenges because I have way too many. So far I have 8 challenges and its not even next year yet. Please, Pretty, Please? Thank you. LOL

As if you're going to stop. But seriously, I really do have to say NO to any more challenges.

The Canadian Book Challenge

The Canadian Book Challenge started yesterday and runs through to Canada Day - July 1st, 2008. The Challenge is to read 13 books about Canada - either written by a Canadian author or about Canada. 13 is for the number of Provinces and Territories. On the challenge blog there is a list of books from each province & territory. You dont have to read from every province, as long as you do read 13 books.

Since I live in Canada, I have to do this one. I already have a number of books already.

Causeway (Nova Scotia)
Emperor of the North (NWT)
Unknown Shore (Baffin Island, Nunavut)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Kimbooktu's Meme

This is an interesting meme that was created by Kimbooktu, that I found at Book Chase.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
I prefer paperbacks. I find them to be more reader friendly.

2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it...
BiblioHistoria. I think I would specialise in Non Fiction.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is...
Don't have one - too many books to choose from

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would [most] love to have lunch with, would be...
Carl Sagan. I have read most of his books, he had a brilliant mind, and was able to make science exciting for the public. He was also a great writer.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be...
probably Carl Sagan's Cosmos, the History of the Cosmos. (It is somewhat outdated now, but 27 years ago [1980] it was a great book).

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that...
means I dont have to hold the books - especially when I'm in bed.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of...
the Library Stacks

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be...
Thursday Next from Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. (The Eyre Affair is the first)

9. The most over estimated [over-rated] book of all times is...
the Bible

10. I hate it when a book...
starts out great, and then has a less than satisfying ending. The story just seems to fizzle out.

I'm supposed to tag five other bloggers for this meme. Instead I'll make this an open invitation to anyone who wants to jump in - consider yourself tagged.

13 Ghosts, medical appointments and shopping

I had my follow-up appointment with the Neurosurgeon today, (2 months and 2 days after I was discharged) and he has pronounced me to be fit as a fiddle. He says he doesn't need to see me again, and that he hoped I will have a good life.

My eye problem is not related to my surgery at all. If it was, it would have happened immediately after surgery, not 3 weeks later. It's most likely because I am getting old. Hey, I'm only 43.

So after my appointment, I went shopping. I went to 2 bookshops in 1 hour and spent (gasp) $80. Yep, that's eighty dollars.

I finally purchased Patricia's 13 ghosts of Halloween, for my son. Another book was the Geographer's Library, which looks interesting. Also purchased 2 books about Shakespeare. I will post about those on my Shakespeare blog.