Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Announcing...Tolkien Reading Day, Carol Riggs' New Release, A to Z, and ROW80 Round 1 Wrap-up


Tolkien Reading Day, hosted by the Tolkien Society!

This year's theme is friendship, and the Society's page features videos from various scholars reading some of their favourite passages on that theme. Some of them are my favourites too, and I've always loved Leaf by Niggle.

During the 2012 A to Z Challenge I blogged about my favourite books and quoted one of the lines I love ("'and my companion, who, alas! is overcome with weariness' - here he gave the other a dig with his foot"), which also happens to relate to friendship. Those moments of levity are always heartwarming. Here's another of my favourites:
"Merry smiled. 'Well then,' he said, 'if Strider will provide what is needed, I will smoke and think. I had some of Saruman's best in my pack, but what became of it in the battle, I am sure I don't know.'
'Master Meriadoc,' said Aragorn, 'if you think that I have passed through the mountains and the realm of Gondor with fire and sword to bring herbs to a careless soldier who throws away his gear, you are mistaken. If your pack has not been found, then you must send for the herb-master of this House. And he will tell you that he did not know that the herb you desire had any virtues, but that it is called westmansweed by the vulgar, and galenas by the noble, and other names in other tongues more learned, and after adding a few half-forgotten rhymes that he does not understand, he will regretfully inform you that there is none in the House, and he will leave you to reflect on the history of tongues. And so now must I. For I have not slept in such a bed as this, since I rode from Dunharrow, nor eaten since the dark before dawn.'
Merry seized his hand and kissed it. 'I am frightfully sorry,' he said. 'Go at once! Ever since that night at Bree we have been a nuisance to you. But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place.'
'I know that well, or I would not deal with you in the same way,' said Aragorn. 'May the Shire live for ever unwithered!' And kissing Merry he went out, and Gandalf went with him.
Pippin remained behind. ‘Was there ever any one like him?' he said. 'Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related. My dear ass, your pack is lying by your bed, and you had it on your back when I met you. He saw it all the time, of course. And anyway I have some stuff of my own. Come on now! Longbottom Leaf it is. Fill up while I run and see about some food. And then let's be easy for a bit. Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can't live long on the heights.'
'No,' said Merry. 'I can't. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them.'"

(One of my criticisms of the films has always been the fact that they never seemed to capture such scenes properly, either changing the dialogue into cheesy throwaway lines or cutting up the lines with silly faces. Sigh.)


Carol Riggs' cover reveal!

The Body Institute
Release Date: 09/01/15
Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start.

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul.

About the Author
I'm a YA writer represented by Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary. My sci-fi novel THE BODY INSTITUTE explores the themes of society, identity, and body image. I live in the beautiful green state of Oregon and have a Studio Arts degree; I'm an SCBWI member. 

You'll usually find me in my writing cave, surrounded by my dragon collection and the characters in my head. I also enjoy reading--mostly young adult novels--as well as drawing, painting, and quilting. I also attend writing conferences, walk with my husband, and enjoy music and dance of all kinds. 

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png

Cover Reveal Organized by:


The A to Z Challenge, which starts next week!

I've got my theme ready: Inspired by the 2015 Reading Challenge. It's always fun showcasing different books and authors. Very excited by everyone else's themes, too!


The end of this round of A Round of Words in 80 Days!

I didn't do too badly -- kept my goals minimal so I would not be disappointed by never having any time!

I'm still trying to come up with a system that lets me keep up with blog commenting (between work all day and baby all morning and night). Once that's in place and running regularly, now that the Wallace transcribing is working well on the weekends, I'd like to look into carving time for the real stuff, by which I mean editing all the novels I've got waiting...

Hope everyone had a great round; see you for round two!

What are your favourite Tolkien or non-Tolkien story scenes about friendship?

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Songs for the International Day of Happiness

Reposting an oldie today in honour of the United Nations International Day of Happiness!

The International Day of Happiness recognizes "the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives."

"You can participate in the International Day of Happiness by sharing your happiest song on the HappySoundsLike website and also through Twitter at #HappySoundsLike."

I shared a couple of songs on Twitter, but here I go reposting some other great songs, from the 30 Day Song Challenge I did in 2011:

One month can go by really really quickly when you're doing one of those 30 day challenges!

The 30 Day Song Challenge

Day 1 - Your favourite song
One song? How does anyone pick one song? Let's ignore the regular stuff altogether and go with Bilbo's Bath Song by J R R Tolkien: "Sing hey! for the bath at close of day / that washes the weary mud away!... A loon is he that will not sing: / O! Water Hot is a noble thing!"

Day 2 - Your least favourite song
Least favourite? Or hated? In the whole world? One song? Meatloaf. Any of his songs. Especially the ones that go on for 11 hours or more. No, I'm not posting a link.

Day 3 - A song that makes you happy
Lilly by Pink Martini. Actually, most of the songs off their second album. Pineapple Head by Crowded House. The Hollies are fun too. And The Bluetones' Time and Again: "If I found a brand new colour / something no one had ever seen / dug it up right there in the garden..."

Day 4 - A song that makes you sad
A lot of Johnny Cash's songs. Dağlar Dağlar by Barış Manço or Gülümse by Sezen Aksu. And many of the songs on the last Blue Rodeo album, especially Venus Rising. I'll link to my general Blue Rodeo playlist, just for fun.

Day 5 - A song that reminds you of someone
I first saw Mes Aieux with my friend Deniz (yes, same name!), during the Montréal Jazz Festival. Here's Degenerations.

Day 6 - A song that reminds you of somewhere
The radio station Radyo Eksen reminds me of living in Istanbul. But there's also The Small Faces' Tin Soldier, which I heard for the first time on a Turkish radio station.

Day 7 - A song that reminds you of a certain event
George Formby reminds me of our first visit to Holmfirth. And all the songs from Rubber Soul or Revolver remind me of the 1998 Ice Storm.

Day 8 - A song you know all the words to
The first I ever deliberately memorised were Roxette's Fading Like A Flower, and all of U2's Achtung Baby and Bryan Adams' Waking Up the Neighbours (on cassette!). I know the lyrics to most songs I like. There's always The Clash: The Magnificent Seven, London Calling or White Man in Hammersmith Palais.

Day 9 - A song that you can dance to
That I can dance to or that makes me feel like dancing? Going Downhill Fast or A Drinking Song by The Divine Comedy. Or Just When You're Thinking Things Over by The Charlatans.

Day 10 - A song that makes you fall asleep
Johannes Brahms' Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, Gute Nacht, Op. 49, No. 4
("that's Brahms! Brahms' third racket!")

Day 11 - A song from your favourite band
Can't choose just one. Here's my playlist for The Divine Comedy's A Short Album About Love.

Day 12 - A song from a band you hate
Er, why would I put up anything from a band I hate? All you have to do is turn on a Top40 radio station. Blech! Okay, seriously. I'm not going to post it, but I hate that Girl I Want to Make You Sweat song about rape. (After I posted this on Facebook, I learned that maybe that's not quite the intention of the song, and that others, including UB40, have covered it!)

Day 13 - A song that is a guilty pleasure
Well, guilty maybe cos so many people don't seem to like 'em. But I love Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. I won't subject you to Heart of Kentucky or If Fingers Were Xylophones or Llad Eich Gwraig, so here's a song called Stood on Gold.

Day 14 - A song that no one would expect you to love
Something by Tool, perhaps? Does anyone remember the song about the carrots? Also, anything by Gyllene Tider and The Carter Family. But I'm going to go with something Canadian here: The Age of Electric's I Don't Mind. Watch out for the Bolan reference!

Day 15 - A song that describes you
I don't know, you tell me!
I'm going with Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark at the moment, only for the line "sick of sitting around here trying to write this book". Though I quite enjoyed writing this book, actually. It's the editing that never ends...

Day 16 - A song that you used to love but now hate
I don't really do that. How about a song I used to love but now wonder how I could have mustered all that emotion toward. Most Def Leppard songs fall into this category, as does Don't Cry by Guns 'n' Roses. Though I still love all of Appetite for Destruction, and Patience.

Day 17 - A song that you hear often on the radio
I grew up with CHOM97.7, so 70s rock sounds welcome and familiar (Journey, anyone?); they've got all the Heart, Honeymoon Suite, Cars, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, etc. you could wish for. When they get the Led out, it's usually the same songs, but you might get lucky: No Quarter, Battle of Evermore, or When the Levee Breaks.

Day 18 - A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Ha! None of the bands I like get radio play (except in the UK). When was the last time anyone played The Cure? What about Die Toten Hosen? Duman? Jean Leloup? Jacques Brel? Anyway, here's Sali Mali by Super Furry Animals.

Day 19 - A song from your favourite album
Hard to choose. There's the first Stone Temple Pilots album, every Arctic Monkeys album, various punk compilations, the first two Pearl Jam albums, Pulp's Different Class and We Love Life, both Marion albums... All the albums mentioned throughout this challenge. Here's Nutshell from Alice in Chains's Jar of Flies.

Day 20 - A song that you listen to when you're angry
The whole of the Manic Street Preachers' The Holy Bible. Here's The Intense Humming of Evil. But it's not like I ever really get angry...

Day 21 - A song that you listen to when you're happy
Any of The Divine Comedy's first five albums. Or my Runrig playlist.

Day 22 - A song that you listen to when you're sad
Albums! The Divine Comedy's first 5; MSP's The Holy Bible; Gene's Drawn to the Deep End; Tom Petty's Wildflowers. Cousteau are *very* depressing. Magnetic Fields aren't far off, but I love Get Lost. And there's Crowded House's Afterglow, featuring Lester. Don't listen if you have a dearly loved pet.

Day 23 - A song that you want to play at your wedding
Already had that - Harvest Moon by Neil Young and Scheherazade from Rimsky-Korsakov (which reminds me of Tolkien's The Lay of Leithian, about Beren and Lúthien).

Day 24 - A song that you want to play at your funeral
I don't know that I actually want these played at my funeral but I do love the hymns I Vow To Thee My Country; Praise, My Soul, The King of Heaven; Jerusalem; and... Solus na Madainn by Runrig might be nice, too. But here's The Smiths' There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

Day 25 - A song that makes you laugh
Hmm. There's always George Formby, with his cheeky lyrics. The Smiths' Frankly Mr Shankly or Roxette's How Do You Do. Or Murry the Hump's The Green Green Grass of Home (yes, that grass), which they don't have on YouTube! You'll have to settle for Booze & Cigarettes.

Day 26 - A song that you can play on an instrument
There's no such thing. Though not entirely true; a friend wrote a song ages ago that I could pick out on piano (G, A, C, A, C, A C C, A D C, D D D D, E D). I also, once, painstakingly taught my tone deaf self to play the intro to The Stone Roses' Sally Cinnamon.

Day 27 - A song that you wish you could play
Any song - I'm tone deaf. I'd love to sing Jerusalem. And it'd be fun to sing The Jam when in the UK; Strange Town or Down in a Tube Station at Midnight or That's Entertainment. Even more fun to join others and belt out Spirit of the West's Home for a Rest. Here's a link to my blogpost featuring Vince Ditrich of Spirit of the West's favourite YA books!

Day 28 - A song that makes you feel guilty
Guilty about what? Guilty for listening to it? Okay, I've got one. The Spice Girls' Viva Forever. Though I haven't actually listened to it in about five years.

Day 29 - A song from your childhood
Sesame Street's Pinball Number Count. Also Rebel L, and The Muppets' Mahnamahna. There's also Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire, and Paul Simon's Graceland album. Oh, and Bad, which was the first U2 song I ever heard.

Day 30 - A Your favourite song at this time last year
Well, really, I wasn't all that different last year. How about nine years ago this time (give or take a few weeks), when I heard Idlewild for the first time. Hmm, which song to post... You Held the World in Your Arms is a good one. So's These Wooden Ideas. Here's American English.

Songs and artists I couldn't get around to mentioning: Clapton's Old Love, Alan Jackson, Deanna Durbin, Vera Lynn, Guster, Roy Acuff and Crowded House's Distant Sun.

One week left in this round of ROW80! I've fallen behind on my goals due to very busy work and life. Hope you're all doing well in writing and reading!

What are your go-to happy songs?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

180 Books to Read by 2015

Well, I've done it. I've deleted the list of 180 Books to Read by 2015 that had sat on the side of my blog for so many years. The original list came about when I finally catalogued our library, and made a list of the 180 books we owned (mostly) that I still hadn't read.

Have I now read all the books? No. But there are extenuating circumstances, I swear! Mainly, of course, we moved, and many of these books are now in storage far, far away.

Of course, for some of them, there is no excuse, as I could be reading the e-book version. I've added a new list below the 180 of "Books from the 180 that I still want to read". The ones I haven't brought, I'll have to find e-versions of.

This post is text heavy -- if you'd rather skip it, my previous post has photos of France! And feel free to skip over the German and Turkish and French titles.

Here're the original 180 Books to Read by 2015:

1. Austen, Jane Emma
2. Aiken, Henry David The age of ideology: The 19th century philosophers
3. Alcott, Louisa May Good Wives
4. Alcott, Louisa May An Old-Fashioned Girl (Done!)
5. Alighieri, Dante The Divine Comedy: Purgatory, Hell and Paradise
6. Andersen, Hans Christian The Complete Tales (two volumes) (Done!)
7. Aristophanes Clouds
8. Aristotle Ethics
9. Aston, Margaret The Panorama of the Renaissance (Done!)
10. Auden, W. H. Collected Shorter Poems 1927-1957
11. Balzac Top Oynayan Kedi Magazasi
12. Bartlett, Robert Medieval Panorama (Done!)
13. Beckett, Samuel Endgame and Act Without Words
14. Belloc, Hilaire Cautionary Tales and Other Verses
15. Benchley, Nathaniel The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming
16. Bevan, Tom The Mystery Trail
17. Blyton, Enid The Book of Fairies
18. Boethius The Consolation of Philosophy
19. Boll, Heinrich The End of a Mission
20. Brecht, Bertolt Ausgewahlte Gedichte
21. Brecht, Bertolt The Threepenny Opera
22. Brockmeier, Kevin The Brief History of the Dead (Done!)
23. Browne, Sir Thomas, M.D. Religio Medici
24. Bunyan, John The Pilgrim's Progress (nearly done!)
25. Byatt, A.S. Angels and Insects
26. Byron, Lord George Gordon Selected Letters and Journals
27. Byron, Lord George Gordon The Poetical Works
28. Carl, Sagan Cosmos
29. Carr, Emily This and That (Done!)
30. Carrier, Roch La Guerre, Yes Sir!
31. Carrier, Roch Mes oeuvres completes
32. Celebi, Evliya
33. Chaucer, Geoffrey The Canterbury Tales
34. Chekhov, Anton Five Great Short Stories
35. Chesterton, G. K. Stories Essays and Poems (Everyman's Library No. 913)
36. Chesterton, G. K. The Man Who Was Thursday
37. Chesterton, G. K. The Collected Poems
38. Chesterton, G. K. Heretics
39. Chesterton, G. K. The Secret of Father Brown
40. Chesterton, G. K. Ten Adventures of Father Brown
41. Christie, Agatha Das Geheimnis der Schnallenschuhe
42. Churchill, Winston My Early Life: 1874-1904
43. Cleland, John Fanny Hill: John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
44. Collard Montreal The Days That Are No More
45. Cran, Marion The Garden Of Ignorance The Experiences Of A Woman In A Garden
46. Dali, Salvador Diary of a Genius
47. Darwin, Charles The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
48. Dickens, Charles The Old Curiosity Shop
49. Dickens, Charles Weihnachts Erzahlungen
50. Dickens, Charles David Copperfield (don't own yet)
51. Donne, John The Works of John Donne
52. Dostoevsky, Fyodor The Idiot
53. Dostoevsky, Fyodor Crime and Punishment
54. Dostoevsky, Fyodor The Brothers Karamazov
55. Doyle, Roddy A Star Called Henry, Volume One of The Last Roundup
56. Duncan-Jones, Katherine (ed.) Shakespeare's Life and World
57. Emre, Yunus Turk ve Dunya Klasikleri: Yunus Emre
58. Feiler, Bruce Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses
59. Ferlinghetti, Lawrence Her
60. Findikli, Selma Imbatta Karanfil Kokusu
61. Findley, Timothy Dust to Dust: Stories
62. Findley, Timothy The Wars (I brought this one with me)
63. Fitzgerald, F. Scott The Crack Up With Other Pieces And Stories
64. Flaubert, Gustave Madame Bovary
65. Ford, Ford Madox The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (Done!)
66. Forest, Antonia End of Term
67. Forester, C. S. The African Queen
68. Forester, C. S. The General
69. Forester, C. S. The Ship
70. Frazer, James George The Golden Bough (abridged)
71. Fuat, Memet Cagdas Turk Siiri Antolojisi (two volumes)
72. Gabaldon, D. Yabanci
73. Gabaldon, D. Der Ruf der Trommel
74. Gaiman, Neil Anansi Boys (Done!)
75. Gaster, Theodor H. The Dead Sea Scriptures
76. Geck, Martin Johann Sebastian Bach: Life and Work
77. Gide, Andre The Immoralist
78. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von The Sorrows of Young Werther/Die Leiden Des Jungen Werther (Dual-Language Edition)
79. Green, Roger L.; Hooper, W. King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
80. Gregory, Philippa The Constant Princess (Done!)
81. Halman, Talat Yunus Emre and His Mystical Poetry
82. Hampden, John Nine selected plays: With commentary and acting roles
83. Hamsun, Knut Dreamers
84. Hamsun, Knut Women at the Pump
85. Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Scarlet Letter
86. Heyerdahl, Thor Kon-Tiki Man : An Illustrated Biography of Thor Heyerdahl
87. Hibbard, Howard Michelangelo
88. Hikmet, Nazim Bursa Cezaevinden Vanu'lara Mektuplar
89. Hikmet, Nazim Hikayeleri
90. Hoeg, Peter Tales of the Night
91. Homer The Odyssey
92. Homer The Iliad
93. Houghton, Norris (ed.) Great Russian Short Stories
94. Ilgaz, Rifat Hababam Sinifi
95. Ionesco, E. Rhinoceros, The Chairs, The Lesson
96. James, Henry Daisy Miller
97. Kandinsky, Wassily Concerning the Spiritual in Art and Painting in Particular
98. Kemal, Yasar Butun Hikayeleri
99. Kesey, Ken One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
100. King, Stephen Cujo
101. King, Stephen Pet Sematary
102. King, Stephen Bachman Books
103. King, Stephen Four Past Midnight
104. King, Stephen The Dark Half
105. Kingsley, Charles The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby (abridged) (Done!)
106. Kington, Miles, Ed. The Pick of Punch
107. Kinsella, W. P. The Thrill of the Grass
108. Konigsburg Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World (Done!)
109. Kulin, Ayse Kopru
110. La Mare, Walter De Stories From The Bible (brought this one too!)
111. La Mare, Walter De Time Passes and Other Poems
112. Leacock, Stephen Literary Lapses
113. Le Corbusier (biography)
114. L'Engle, Madeleine An Acceptable Time (Started!)
115. L'Engle, Madeleine The Young Unicorns
116. Lewis, W. H. The Splendid Century
117. Lewis C. All My Road Before Me (Done!)
118. Lewis C. Boxen (Started!)
119. Lewycka, Marina A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Done!)
120. Lindbergh, Anne Morrow Bring Me a Unicorn (and brought this one too)
121. Linke, Lilo Allah Dethroned: A Journey Through Modern Turkey
122. Llewellyn, Richard Green, Green My Valley Now
123. Maguire, Gregory Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Started!)
124. Maugham, Somerset Of Human Bondage (Done!)
125. MacDonald, George At the Back of the North Wind (Started!)
126. Machiavelli, Niccolo The Prince
127. MacLennan, Hugh The Watch That Ends the Night
128. MacLennan, Hugh Barometer Rising
129. Magnusson, Magnus The Icelandic Sagas
130. Malory, Sir Thomas Le Morte D'Arthur
131. Mandela, Nelson Long Walk To Freedom (autobiography) (aww, I leant this to a friend and never got it back!)
132. Marquez, Gabriel Garcia One Hundred Years of Solitude
133. Melville, Herman Moby Dick (Started!)
134. Miller, Henry Tropic of Cancer (don't own yet)
135. Milton, John Paradise Lost
136. Milton, John The Poetical Works of John Milton
137. Morris, William The Wood Beyond the World (Started!)
138. Morris, William The Well at the World's End
139. Moss, W. Stanley Ill Met by Moonlight
140. Mother Teresa of Calcutta A Gift for God
141. Munro, H. H. The Best of Saki
142. Orwell, George Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters Volume 3. As I Please 1943-1945
143. Orwell, George Inside the Whale and Other Essays
144. Osborne, John Look Back In Anger
145. Ozay, Mahmut Tireli Hafsa Hatun (Yildirim Han Zevcesi) (Done!)
146. Pamuk, Orhan My Name Is Red (Done!)
147. Pamuk, Orhan Benim Adim Kirmizi
148. Pamuk, Orhan Istanbul (Started!)
149. Parker, Dorothy The Portable Dorothy Parker (Done!)
150. Perrault, Charles Fairy Tales (Done!)
151. Pinter, Harold The Caretaker
152. Pinter, Harold Plays One
153. Pirandello, Luigi Plays
154. Plato Symposium
155. Plutarch Lives XXI
156. Plutarch Fall of the Roman Republic
157. Poe, Edgar Allan Complete Tales and Poems with Selections from Critical Writings
158. Pope John Paul II The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae)
159. Poulin, Jacques Volkswagen Blues
160. Poulin, Jacques Mr. Blue
161. Rilke, Rainer Maria Poems (Dual Language Edition) (This one was originally a "don't own yet!" but I bought it to bring with us)
162. Rimbaud, Arthur Complete Works
163. Russo, Richard Nobody's Fool (Done!)
164. Saz, Leyla Imperial Harem of the Sultans (Started!)
165. Skrypuch, Marsha Daughter of War
166. Souhami Gertrude and Alice
167. Spenser The Faerie Queene Book I
168. Steinbeck, John East of Eden (don't own yet)
169. Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath (This one was originally a "don't own yet!" but I bought it to bring with us and am reading it now (and loving it))
170. Stevenson, Robert Louis The Master of Ballantrae
171. Stevenson, Robert Louis Black Arrow
172. Stevenson, Robert Louis The Isle of Voices and Other Stories
173. Thomas, Lewis The Lives of a Cell
174. Tolstoy, Leo War and Peace (don't own yet)
175. Tolstoy, Leo Anna Karenina (don't own yet)
176. Troost, J. Marten Getting Stoned With Savages (Done!)
177. Wharton, Edith Ethan Frome
178. Wodehouse, P. G. The Man With Two Left Feet (Done!)
179. En Guzel Turk Hikayeleri
180. Classic Slave Narratives

Some books from the 180 that I still want to read:

Alighieri, Dante The Divine Comedy: Purgatory, Hell and Paradise
Auden, W. H. Collected Shorter Poems 1927-1957
Byatt, A.S. Angels and Insects
Carl, Sagan Cosmos
Chaucer, Geoffrey The Canterbury Tales
Churchill, Winston My Early Life: 1874-1904
Darwin, Charles The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
Dostoevsky, Fyodor Crime and Punishment
Fuat, Memet Cagdas Turk Siiri Antolojisi
Homer The Odyssey
Houghton, Norris (ed.) Great Russian Short Stories
Kinsella, W. P. The Thrill of the Grass
La Mare, Walter De Stories From the Bible
La Mare, Walter De Time Passes and Other Poems
Lindbergh, Anne Morrow Bring Me a Unicorn
MacLennan, Hugh The Watch That Ends the Night
MacLennan, Hugh Barometer Rising
Malory, Sir Thomas Le Morte D'Arthur
Milton, John Paradise Lost
Moss, W. Stanley Ill Met by Moonlight
Munro, H. H. The Best of Saki
Orwell, George Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters Volume 3. As I Please 1943-1945
Orwell, George Inside the Whale and Other Essays
Pamuk, Orhan Istanbul
Rilke, Rainer Maria Poems (Dual Language Edition)
Stevenson, Robert Louis The Isle of Voices and Other Stories
Thomas, Lewis The Lives of a Cell
Tolstoy, Leo Anna Karenina

Oh yes, ROW80. I did get a new batch of Wallace letters! And I started working on them right away, rather than procrastinating!

Hope everyone's having a productive week!

What books have you put off reading, or returned to after a long time?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Day Trip to Grenoble and a New Exercise for IWSG Day


Last weekend we visited Grenoble, France, a town in the Rhone-Alps region. Grenoble has a long history; one thing I learned is that it was the centre of glove-making for many hundreds of years.

View from our hotel on the square.
I tweeted about the brass band that was playing there in the afternoon

Another view from our balcony

Fountain inaugurated in 1897 to "commemorate the pre-revolutionary events of June 1788.
Built by the sculptor Henri Ding, the Fountain of the Three Orders, which represents three characters, is located on the Place Notre-Dame.
People in Grenoble interpret these characters as follows: 'Is it raining?' inquires the third estate; 'Please heaven it had[has?] rained,' laments the clergy; and 'It will rain,' proclaims the nobility" (Wikipedia)

Les Bulles, or the bubbles, the telepherique taking visitors up to the Bastille (not that one!)

A Canadian restaurant!
Santa's still clinging to the balcony, no doubt in honour of the ice-cold still gripping Quebec and Ontario...

Sunset over the Isere river

Back home, there was a lovely rainbow!

Today is Insecure Writer's Support Group Day!

I'm feeling a little less insecure today as I've actually accomplished a few of my ROW80 goals.

Mainly, I finished transcribing my latest batch of Wallace letters. Though of course as soon as I sent them off, I received a new batch!

Which just goes to show, there's no reason to feel insecure as new goals and accomplishments always come and go.

My latest mini-goal is to take part in the newest writers' exercise on the Forum. Here's the theme:

This month we're going to get into the skin of our characters. We're going to experience the physical sensations that he/she experiences and use them in our stories.

Remember learning about the five senses in school? Sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. We learned that we gather information about the world around us, or about our own physical well-being, through these five doorways.

The same is true for our readers - with a slight twist. They get their information through the five senses of our characters. It's important for readers to feel what our characters experience physically if we are to create a credible story, one that they believe in and remember long after they've finished reading.

And here's an added bonus for using sensory descriptions: one of the mantras of writing is Show, Don't Tell. The beauty of using the five senses in your writing is that it pretty much guarantees that you're showing, not telling.
Hope you'll come participate!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A Little Goes A Long Way

There's a theme to this post that I'll share at the end...

I've got three recommendations, two books and a musical!

Byzantine Provocateur by Melissa Bradley

An ancient city sparks forbidden desire...
Thalia Burton arrives in Istanbul to relax and enjoy the company of her old friend. Hoping to forget the boring rut her life had become, she never imagines one encounter with Fadi's brother re-igniting the dim flame of passion inside her. Captivated by the heat in his golden eyes, Thalia finds herself tempted beyond reason...
Murat Bahar had only intended to meet Thalia as a courtesy to his family. One look at the lovely American incinerates his intentions. She is an exquisite morsel he longs to taste, a taboo treat enthralling him like a siren of myth. Perhaps just one night...
Once is not enough. Thalia and Murat embark on a fiery, secret affair that could burn them both, costing them friends and family.

Read an excerpt on Melissa's site.

I read this novel a while ago and loved it! I wrote a formal review for the One Hundred Romances site and looking back on it now, I've remembered how I first met Melissa - through Rach Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Crusade. It's amazing how many different blogging events there have been! But back to Melissa -- I haven't read her other books yet but I just got Maxie Briscoe: Werewolf on my Kindle app and can't wait to start it!

I've blabbed about Outlander often enough around here. With the new miniseries on Starz (season two starts on 4 April!) I'd encourage those of you who haven't read it to start now!

But there's also an Outlander musical!

The stage production hasn't been organized yet, but the soundtrack is available, and it's lovely. The voice of Jamie is performed by actor Allan Scott-Douglas and... month, Allan's going to be jumping out of a plane!

Yes, it's a charity skydive, to support St Columba's Hospice (cancer) in Edinburgh.

The second book I'd like to recommend is actually two books, Lunatic Heroes and Beloved Demons by Dr Anthony Martignetti. There are also new podcast stories on his website! I reviewed Lunatic Heroes a while ago, but hadn't included a blurb.

Lunatic Heroes

Dark, comic, raw, disturbing, and often redemptive, these fifteen tales will take you from the 1950s to the present, along with a repeating cast of heroes and lunatics. The characters span the breadth and the depths of human qualities and capacities. The same person, in one story, may materialize as a hero and a god, and in another, as a lunatic and a demon. While the author roughs up the people in his stories with the hand of terror, he simultaneously views them with the eyes of love. Martignetti spares no one, and to his credit, particularly not himself.
So many of the stories made me cry - and more than a few made me laugh at the same time!

Beloved Demons

In his follow-up to Lunatic Heroes, Martignetti sheds all defenses to reveal the viscera of a mind shaped by the dark and confusing forces of his childhood. This collection of memoirs and essays focuses mainly on Martignetti's adult years, and features the pivotal characters of his ever-entertaining personal narrative. From the cascade of memories and emotions triggered by an accidental butterfly killing in "Cocoon Talk," to the homicidal impulses prompted by a visit to his boyhood home in "Sign," from the heartbreaking to the hilarious musings inspired by beloved pets in "Mochajava" and "Dog," and throughout the uncensored sexcapades of "Mad," "The Wild," and "Feast of the Hungry Ghost," Martignetti's colloquial, humorous, and intimate style will keep you riveted, crack you open, enthrall and embrace you with an honesty normally reserved for not even the closest of friends.

Now we come to the reveal -- all three of these are recommended based on some difficult times, past and present. Allan's charity drive is in commemoration of a hospice that helped his family enormously while his uncle was undergoing cancer treatment. Melissa and Anthony are currently undergoing treatments. Sometimes when you're in the midst of things it's hard to ask for help. But every little bit counts!

If you know of others facing a difficult time,
who might need our support, please let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Coffee Break

If we were having coffee...

This is a blog idea from Conny at Study Read Write. I'm going to borrow it for today!

If we were having coffee together this week, we'd be in Geneva, which means we'll likely have a renverse. We might be seated at Cafe de Paris, which has been around since the 1930s!

There are a lot of people watching opportunities at this cafe, but if you'd prefer to be by the lake, there are many cafe-carts and sandwich booths along the water. It's been relatively mild here, compared to the weather much of the rest of the world has been experiencing -- we might even get a chance to sit outside! If you'd like something a bit upscale, there's always the Cottage Cafe...

We can take a break from work and responsibility and talk about cabbages and kings... Somewhere in there I'll probably bemoan the fact that I haven't been keeping up with my ROW80 goals! But we can talk about what our day requires, the books we're reading and any interesting movies or TV shows we might have seen.

I think we're all looking forward to...


If we linger for a while, I won't be coming alone!

(why sideways?)

We should have a dessert with our coffees. My treat!
What's your favourite dessert?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Book Reviews and Canadiana

Book reviews!

Wait, ROW80 first -- I'm still falling behind on blog comments. I read 'em all, those who drop by here and all the fellow bloggers I visit, but having time to leave a comment is another matter... Haven't had a chance to format those Wallace letters and ask for a new batch either. I've been reading a lot, though, and did a bit of plotting for a story of my own. I have this crazy idea that I might do Camp NaNoWriMo in June!

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend

I haven't finished this one yet. So far it's a bit rambling and not as tight, if that's the right word, as her Adrian Mole books or The Queen and I. I'd have preferred a focus on the main characters, whereas the constant parade of secondary characters dilutes the impact of the story.

Yes, the main character, Eva, really does take to her bed! But her point of view isn't very strongly told. There's a precursor to this in The Queen and I, when Prince Philip refuses to leave his bed; the contrast between his mood and his wife's strength was very well detailed. Eva is alternately calm and angry, yet the reader is never invited fully into her thoughts, and the points of view of the other characters are doled out in snippets. It's hard to hang one's reader empathy hat on one character, so the entire novel seems disjointed. We'll see how the final third plays out.

HELP! Food Allergies Coming To Dinner -- The Pinch Hitter's Guide to Cooking Without Gluten or Dairy by Kait Nolan

I love chatty cookbooks; they're almost as good as a novel. Nolan's voice is strong and authoritative; you know she's tried and perfected every one of these recipes and that none is a space-filler (as some recipes seem in other cookbooks). A few recipes in, I'd almost forgotten I was reading an allergy-related cookbook -- the dishes sound so yummy!

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

As the daughter of a hoarder, Phoenix Fuller had a tough childhood. So when the handsome, popular Riley Stinson became her boyfriend in high school, she finally felt as though she had something to be proud of. Phoenix was desperate not to lose him -- especially once she found out she was pregnant. Yes, she might have acted a bit obsessive when he broke up with her. But she did not run down the girl he started dating next.
Unfortunately, there was no way to prove her innocence. Now, after serving her time in prison, Phoenix has been released. All she wants to do is return to Whiskey Creek and get to know her son. But Jacob's father isn’t exactly welcoming.
Riley doesn’t trust Phoenix, doesn't want her in Jacob's life. He is, however, ready to find someone to love. And he wants a good mother for his son. He has no idea that he's about to find both!

Hard to believe this is the eighth Whiskey Creek novel; have I really read that many? This one's a breezy read with less tension than some of the others. The stakes in the story aren't as high for the two main characters; it's almost as though they've suffered enough in their backstory, and now the reader is invited to hear of their redemption.

Phoenix is a very likeable character, strong and determined and kind, and it's lovely to see her win through and earn a bit of the good stuff she deserves. Some of the scenes are a bit heavy on the tell rather than the show, but overall the story flows at a good pace. Novak does a great job capturing the point of view of Phoenix and Riley's teenage son Jacob -- it's fun to guess whose story will be next in the series; Kyle or Baxter, or maybe even the next generation? I'd like to hear more from Jacob!

Meanwhile, I've been busy at work -- and music helps a lot! I've made a few new playlists on YouTube. This can be a frustrating exercise, as not every song you think of is on there, and after you've made a playlist, you have to keep curating is as songs come and go based on copyright enforcement or users' slack attitudes. Here's my newest, a sample of some Canadian bands in roughly alphabetical order:

What have you been reading or listening to?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Another Year-end Review

Year-end review, this time of my knitting projects!

Now this is sad. Looking back, I see that without counting the A to Z Challenge, I posted only three times on my neglected knitting blog (Now I'm 26 posts away from 200 overall).

The first was a recap of my knitting in 2013, the second was a happy announcement, and the third featured gifts and an update.

Happily, however, this does not mean I neglected the hobby itself! I completed two baby blankets and started work on two Outlander-inspired projects, one of which I finished last week! I haven't uploaded my photo yet - mine's in black and pink - but this is sort of what it looks like, though much thicker:

I looked at two patterns, the gathering and the sassenach, before deciding that I knit too tightly for such patterns. I did a 2*2 rib on circular needles, which made for a very cosy cowl.

I've already started another, along with a sweater for myself!

It's been a while since I shared famous people who knit, or literary references to knitting. I still collect them! I came across this one a while ago on Twitter:

Knitting Tim Burgess of The Charlatans (who have a new album out!)

Speaking of projects, I haven't moved ahead on my A Round of Words in 80 Days goals. That's what happens when you bring home office work on the weekend... But I'll take this opportunity to list my main knitting and other hobby goals for the year:

1. Finish knitting three more cowls
2. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies
3. Organise all our photos and print a few, especially for our grandparents
4. Bake more!

Which hobbies are you focusing on this year?

Please share your favourite baking recipes!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Quick Jaunt Round the Blogosphere!

Very quick post today as I'm going to be on my rounds, trying to catch up with all of your blogs!

I'm doing well on my main A Round of Words in 80 Days goal, which is to complete the Alfred Russel Wallace transcriptions: I've typed up the current batch and simply need to format them. I also finished knitting an Outlander-inspired cowl! But that's for a later post...

I thought I'd share links to some of the fellow bloggers I'll be visiting, including - still! - some lovely bloggers who came by when I was blog blitzed!:

Trisha at Word and Stuff

Joan of Dark - who has a new book of Geek Knits patterns coming soon!

The Word Wenches, a gaggle of romance authors

Al Diaz or Father Dragon - haven't visited in ages!

Joy Campbell - another blogger I miss visiting!

Fellow Forumite Jo Murphey

Jamie at Mithril Wisdom

Nick at Scattergun Scribblings

...and so many more! Including author Jo Bourne, who always has awesomesauce helpful posts on technical topics. Also Forgotten Bookmarks, featuring images of the many varied items readers leave behind in books, and Pop Sensation, a hilarious send-up of vintage paperback novels.

I think I've also come up with an idea for a theme for this year's A to Z Challenge (sorry, Gary, I can't resist the A to Z!). Having a theme always helps, because if I get organized I can plan posts in advance and maybe - just maybe! - keep up with comments. It'll be another book-related challenge for me, I think.

Are you joining the A to Z Challenge?

Which other bloggers should I visit?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Year-End Writing Recap and Full Set of Characters' Faces Images

And the winner of my 900-posts contest is...Theresa!

I've previously employed my cats to choose winners, because it's easy to toss rolled up bits of paper in the air and have them choose one to bat around. This time, though, I used a new method. I asked this little girl to choose from a range of items on the windowsill:

A foolproof method! Except when she launched her chosen item on the floor...

For today's post and ROW80 check in I'd planned to do a year-end review of my writing in 2014. Yet I'm afraid to look, as I don't think I've accomplished very much. Let's see:

January 2014 – I was wise last January. I recapped my knitting as well as my writing, and I only entered one vague goal: edit Druid's Moon. Unfortunately, I'm still stuck on that project. It's a great little novella. It just needs a bit of tension-adding tweaking...
February – Not much writing, again. But I updated my characters' faces file! This is very exciting. For handy reference, and fun, I'm going to repost that portion at the end of this post.
March – I made it over to the Forum for an exercise on flashbacks.
April – The A to Z Challenge!
May – I participated in another Forum exercise, kept up with Alfred Russel Wallace transcriptions, and met Irvine Welsh!
June – Well, I read the latest Outlander book...
July – Let's call it filling the well; I was certainly reading a lot.
August – Book reviews count as writing! I wrote more of them in August, and also completed the Forum exercise.
September – Another Forum exercise, on similes and metaphors, plus I started typing up the longhand draft of Larksong.
October – More book reviews, more typing, and I started thinking about my NaNo story.
November – NaNoWriMo! Plus book reviews.
December – Filling the well again. Recap of books read in 2014. I typed a few more hundred words of Larksong; I've got half a notebook to go! Also submitted a short story to a contest.
January 2015 – Almost completed a new batch of Wallace letters. Also, I've found out about a few new agents I'd love to submit Out of the Water to. Here, then, are my goals for 2015:

Keep up with blogging and the Wallace transcriptions, and maybe the Forum (no pressure on the latter).
Get going on the Druid's Moon revamp. I can start by printing it again and reading it on the way to and from work.
Submit Out of the Water to new agents.
Find homes for the vignette and short story I haven't submitted anywhere yet.
Finish typing Larksong in plain text on the iPad and enter it in Scrivener.

What I really need to do is revise my schedule and draw up a plan that carves out writing time in my day-to-day (which I used to have either in the evenings or at 5 a.m.). I'd like to get that done this week.

Characters' Faces!

The Face of A Lion

(I have been trying to track the source of this photo, discovered in Real Simple magazine, for years.)


Out of the Water

(this photo was taken by Ara Güler.
The surroundings are completely anachronistic (picture Baha carrying an easel, not a mattress!)
but the pose and expression are just right.)

(this is actually Edwin Long's The Marriage Market, 19th Century.
I discovered the image on The Orientalist Gallery.)

Brother Arcturus
(this is actually Anthony Van Dyck's Portrait of the Sculptor Duquesnoy, 1627-29)

Rosa's father is in there too, but he also has a story of his own:

Captive of the Sea

(ahem. Some of you might recognise him as Mike Wolfe from American Pickers.
What can I say? It's that expression on his face, it's pure Santiago.)

(this is from the Elegance series by Rob Hefferan)

Rome, Rhymes, and Risk

(um, yes, that is Canadiens defenceman Tomas Plekanec. Why?)
(actually, Devran also looks a bit like actor Tom Ellis.)

(another image from The Orientalist Gallery)

They also look like this when they're together:
(Solomon and Gaenor is one of my favourite films.)

Druid's Moon

(this guy is French Formula 1 racer Romain Grosjean.
I saw his photo in the paper and thought, "Frederick! Since when do you race cars?")

(this is a screenshot from some survey that I took.
I was halfway through when this image appeared on my screen. I was very excited!)


This is completely the wrong face, but the outfit and stance feel right. I still haven't quite located a photo of George's face. I came close yesterday though, when I noticed some of the faces in a link someone posted to a Karl Lagerfeld shoot on dandies for Numero Homme magazine.

I don't have a picture of Alice! Well, I do. I have a gorgeous shot of a couple on the beach that looks exactly like Alice and George once they've openly admitted to their love for each other, but unfortunately it was a photo that an author shared of her parents (from close to Alice and George's time period) and I haven't yet asked permission to share it here. Sorry, Alice!

And finally, there's this image, which makes me feel like I'm inside a story every time I look at it.
It's Daniel Ridgway Knight's Rural Courtship, but when I saved it on my desktop, I called it "nothing changes, huh?"

I hope you all had a great writing and reading year in 2014!
Which images have inspired you to write?

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • Hidden by Catherine Mackenzie
  • secret beta read 2
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • The Wars by Timothy Findley (reread)
  • So Anyway... by John Cleese
  • (Subterranean collection) John Scalzi
  • Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King (loved My Pretty Pony)
  • What to Expect in Baby's First Year
  • Baby's First Year for Dummies
  • Beowulf and Sellic Spell by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • The War of the Ring - Book 8 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman)
  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton
  • But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton
  • Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad by M. R. James (short story) (1904)
  • Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman (reread)
  • My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
  • Usborne board books
  • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson (so lovely)
  • Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico
  • secret beta read!
  • The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend
  • HELP! Food Allergies Coming To Dinner by Kait Nolan
  • This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak
  • The Owl Service by Alan Garner
  • Two Caravans by Monica Lewycka
  • Aunt Sass by P. L. Travers
  • An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (actually a few pages of the story, written by John Green for the film of his novel The Fault In Our Stars)
  • January Brings the Snow by Sara Coleridge (poem)
  • Kissing song by Neil Gaiman (poem)
  • The Mother by Nettie Palmer (poem)
  • William Tell Told Again by P. G. Wodehouse
  • Her Ladyship's Companion by Joanna Bourne
  • The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
  • Mes P'tits Contes, legends of Swiss cantons
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here
  • see the 2011 statistics on
  • see the 2011 list at
  • see the 2010 list at
  • see the 2009 list at
  • also in 2009 at
  • see the 2008 list at
  • also in 2008 at
  • also in 2008 at