Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Journals to gift

Recently here at Mrs Baja we have been talking about gifts, and I am revisiting
an idea I had last year.

For Christmas last year I wrote my thoughts, rules, if you like, for my girls in a beautiful Korean notebook that my mother gave us.

Time has proven them to be still popular. My little one, Dellylu, recently told me, 'When I'm old, like when I carry a handbag, I'm gonna carry my rule book in there.' Not a bad endorsement for a year-old gift.

Some of the 'rules' I will add to their books include;

If it starts with, ‘No offense but…’ then it’s better left unsaid.

Never leave your friend until she is safely inside her house, or has started her car.

Learn how to make one good meal for entertaining, and always have those ingredients on hand.

So, I have found a couple of likely journals at Amazon you could use to make a gift for someone you love, if you like. They are just beautiful, and maybe now would be a good time to start a journal for yourself. I know some of us Mrs BG contributors are inveterate journal keepers.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Russian literature

...uh.. no.  
I tried. Not hard, but I did try.  Russian shopping?  Yes. Yes.  I tried. I succeeded and I had company.    
     When I was in Texas a few weeks ago, my sister, my daughter and I all went on an international outing for the day in Houston. Texas gets a bad rap sometimes. What with Enron, ex-presidents that shall remain nameless, strip malls, big hair, etc. the reputation isn't entirely undeserved but there's another side and it's an interesting one.   
    The first stop we made was to the Russian General Store.   The store is on the small side with deli counters lining the walls and of course there is a great deal of Russian food that would be comforting if you're Russian and that far away from home, but all sorts of things were packed onto the shelves.
Soaps: Smell like дом! ("home" to the rest of us..)
     They had everyone covered.    Can you imagine what it must be like to be in a strange country and need to feed your baby?   I thought this was odd at first.  American grocery store shelves are full of baby formula, but if I'm a Russian mother with a baby, these cans represent one less thing I need to worry about because people I know have used them and lived to become adults.  Who knows what they put in that American stuff?  I'd have a point.

     In the very back of the store was something that would delight any Russian book worms heart, a book shop. I was busy buying shiny things, but Leslie spotted it behind a counter and a curtain that had been pulled to one side.  None of us were sure if we were allowed back there, but it didn't stop us.  Ugly Americans are ugly Americans in America too.  We did ask if it was okay when the shop keeper came to make sure we weren't getting too much out of hand.  Good call on her part. We're rowdy.  I regret to say I neglected to photograph the large collection of contemporary fiction in my haste to get back to my more shallow pursuit of shiny things, but here is a bit of what we found:
 Note: This is not Tolstoy.

The Classics, and not just the Russian ones.

The Queen's Necklace, Dumas.  I asked.
Do all places have far flung surprises?  Arm chair travel anyone?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kindle Children’s Books

I never knew that my kids were dumb. Up until now I had thought them to be pretty clever, but then I browsed the children's Kindle book selection. There are some serious gaps in their reading. Enough with the Allison Miranda series and the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and pft on the L'Engle collection. My kids are reading drivel, I tell you!

Thank goodness for Amazon pointing this out. Otherwise they might have faced dire consequences in their academic future.

They are not reading Homer's Iliad! And they have not started on the Jane Austen canon, either. We are reading Emma, why not them?

According to Amazon, Dostoevsky is appropriate reading for little ones. Since Crime and Punishment is part of their everyday lives, see. Like they do the wrong thing and get grounded or a detention.

It's a huge oversight, but I don't believe even the school's Senior Curriculum has War and Peace, even though Amazon considers it a children's book.

Our long summer holiday is coming up and I may have to take back those fun books with attractive covers that I've set aside for Christmas and get my little girls something a bit weightier.

That's it! We are starting with Tolstoy!

Uh Oh... Airline Travel Restrictions for Bookworms!

Did that get your attention? Don't worry, bookworms can still fly but we might all need to get e-readers! Check out number five in this list of personal items allowed in the carry-on policy for United-- bookworms get their own mention.   
The following personal items are not counted toward your one bag and one personal item limit:

Assistive devices (canes, crutches, etc.
Child safety seats for ticketed children
Infant restraint devices (infant seat with or without stroller, front pouch or back carrier)
Outer garments (coats, hats, etc.)
Reading material (a reasonable amount)
Umbrellas (one per passenger)
Food and beverages to be consumed onboard

Hahaha-- too funny! Bookworms do lug too many books!!  But dang, what is a reasonable amount?  Maybe taking my nine hundred page tome isn't the best idea but I could sure do some damage with that baby if the air marshall requires back-up! Whack Whack-- thud!................ I'm back... I'm back... Just drifted off on a gratifying flight of fancy! 

Two hours left to choose my reasonable amount of reading material-- Oh, the pressure-- and Oh, the agony of leaving behind my current hefty read.  What to take... hmm... maybe a couple of paperbacks from my TBR--- that sounds worthy and reasonable... but which ones?!

By the way, my last flight was in 2004 and I had the most horrendously difficult but hilarious (in retrospect) time getting on the plane-- really it was worth of a Seinfeld episode.  

My adventures involved an expired drivers license; a wild taxi ride to a DMV;  a race to get through check-in and security; and of course, wouldn't you know it--- getting singled out for  the super security check pat down. Yep, little ol' me-- guess I did look half crazy and mighty suspicious by that time!! They even pawed through my picnic bag of bacon sandwiches and garden tomatoes! Ooo.. scary tomatoes! Guess I could've been masterminding a food fight. ;o)

This time, I have been checking and double-checking travel requirements and carry-on policies-- and renewing my driver's license!! Yep, expired again-- just happened to be at the DMV this week to renew car tags and checked my license on spec... whew!

 So if you see any airport ruckus on the news, I hope and pray that it isn't me!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Library Lagniappe!

Every trip to the library results in a lagniappe: a benefit, a treat, a little unexpected something extra.
Wednesday night, I sat in the library finishing the last ten pages of Emma thirty minutes before closing time.  Why? Well, it was overdue after multiple check outs and I really needed to return it. (and pay my fine)

Have you ever tried to read an Austen novel under pressure? It is not easy, let me tell you. Ten pages of an Austen novel is like reading fifty or more pages of my usual fluff.  First, I tried to finish at the barbeque restaurant. Silly me--  Emma is just too highbrow for barbeque. 

The peace and quiet of the library did the trick though with time to spare. With Emma returned safely, what to read next? One of my TBR books at home? No, of course not, I grabbed the fifth Percy Jackson for an easy fun read. Then glanced at the case of new books... just in case... and there was my lagniappe!!

SQUEE!!! The thirteen book in the Wheel of Time Series came out and I didn't even know it! Woot! Woot!
At this particular juncture (the beginning of a busy holiday week), I absolutely do not need to be obsessively reading a nine hundred page book but no way could I leave it there. For goodness sake, some slow reading Wheel of Time geek fan might come along and then who knows how long it would take to get my greedy little paws on it. 

Naturally, in my excitement, I couldn't locate my library card-- then realised with dread that I didn't have my library card. Yikes! That is what changing purses will do for you! Before panic set it, Lola the Librarian came to the rescue by checking it out to me on her card. Whew! 

I love the fifty-two page prologue of this book! I love lagniappes! And I love Lola the Librarian!

Have any books sneaked up on you lately?

Oh why not....

     Anyone who reads a great deal has to have at least thought about writing at some point.  There are already plenty of good books and there are quite a few really good books, but there are also books, and I cannot be the only reader who's thought this, that lead to,
     "I could do better than this." 
Call it hubris, because lord knows I have plenty, but I'm trying to "do better." I'm writing a book.  I posted an excerpt on my personal blog which you can find by following the link here on Mrs. BG's, but after talking with Lesa, and the most objective of people, my loving sister and mother, I thought I'd throw it out there to see what readers who don't already love me think about it.  They say the first few paragraphs are the most important anyway. Here goes:

 Aubrey Hale fell, furious and dumbfounded, onto a step stool to look at the stunningly beautiful jade object in her hand. The storage unit was quiet other than the sound of the climate control system pushing perfectly humidified air around the room, but the internal curses she screamed in the direction of her dead husband made her head feel like it was going to explode.  Conner had been dead three years, and that was reason number one he currently sat on the top of her least favorite people list. Reason number two was that his company, Conservator Transit, Inc., along with all the headaches that came with it was now her responsibility.
What she held in her hands was closer to a catastrophic brain bleed than a headache because she was pretty sure it was an exact mirror to the jade dragon seal sitting in a nest of shredded paper beneath her bed. If Conner hadn’t already been dead, she’d have divorced him; in fact, she was wondering if she could have him exhumed for just that purpose.  She wanted to throw the seal against a wall. Instead, she clenched it until the ache in her fingers worked its way up her arms then sat it gently at her feet. Individually, the seals were rare and ridiculously valuable. As a pair, they were priceless and fuel for an international fire-storm.

When resignation finally replaced rage, she took out her cell phone to call Jack Douglas, the FBI agent she’d been lying to all day.
"Thanks large, darlin'", she said to no one.

Twenty-two hours earlier
   Dinner in the city meant another long day was going to be extended indefinitely, but Aubrey hadn’t seen her brother in law, Sean, in months and he would be a nice diversion from the pace of the past few weeks. The easy conversations she and Sean had were some of the more pleasurable moments she spent with the Hale family before Conner was killed and the only peaceful ones she’d shared with them since she’d become the widow and heir. She had always known their thin affection was more practiced than perfected, but she’d been absolutely shocked by how quickly the civility ended when she inherited their youngest son’s shares of the Hale family trust.
 Sean had offered to come to her, but Aubrey had declined.   The hard angles of Oakland kept her more aware of her tenuous place in the world, but navigating them was a lot to ask of a man in a twelve hundred dollar sports jacket. Traffic was also easier for her than it would have been for him leaving San Francisco at this hour, particularly with the Bay Bridge in a perpetual state of construction, or deconstruction, depending on one’s point of view. 
The view of the city, still orange-yellow from the last arcs of late autumn sunlight might have felt like karmic confirmation of a good deed had she not known her real motive was to keep him out of the firehouse.  Conner and she had restored the crumbling hovel into a sleek home for their life together, and the last thing she wanted was his doppelganger sitting on the sofa in the softening effects of warm firelight and wine all night.  The few evenings that happened soon after  Conner’s death had all ended with a solitary climb up the stairs and sobbing. Among the things she’d figured out very early in life were: sobbing is useless and leads to occular bloating where as one foot in front of the other was and is always salvation.

Her cell phone ringtone and a number she recognized as belonging to Alan Mercer brought her back to the present. That had to be more down side than not because any call after hours meant something or someone broke bad and couldn’t wait until tomorrow morning but she was still grateful that whatever the topic of conversation would be, it was guaranteed to move away from reawakening sadness.  She pressed “Accept.”
“What’s wrong?”
“The Italian government.”  Alan had no love and little patience for the many bureaucracies that he had to endure as Conservator’s head of Customs Compliance
“Only one government today? Wow. That’s unusually charitable of you. So does this mean you’re getting some lead time on the holiday cheer racket or that you’re drinking on the job?”
When the silence wasn’t filled with a response, she decided her sense of humor was currently unappreciated and continued. 
“Okay. I’ll put on my concerned face.  Tell me the good parts.”

"There is it... what do you think," she asked after donning her asbestos undies?  And for those of you appalled and/or concerned. It's copyrighted and all that good stuff, though personally, I believe in the benevolence of the universe, my fellow man included.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Emma, we need to talk.

,     Emma and I have parted ways.  Our relationship ran its course.  We're still friends, but we had to be honest with each other.  She's a Highbury highbrow and I, an Orange County lowbrow, minus the cat fights, Botox, Restylane, sugar daddy and jumbo mortgage, though the use of "low brow" sort of makes the explanation redundant, and I have a job, not a line of skin care products.

     I could start with the list of fascinating field trips I was going to take outside Orange County to hide the fact that I'm not going to be a big Jane Austen fan, but they aren't materializing so I'm thinking honesty is on the agenda.  The only thing I can think of is that Jane Austen and Jerry Seinfeld appreciation sit on the same gene. The one I don't have.  The Seinfeld thing is a problem in my family. I hope the Austen thing doesn't become another one. Don't get me wrong. I like Emma. A lot, but I read to give my brain a break. I don't want to have to think when I read and I have to think when I read Jane Austen.

     Horrible. I know.  I am what's wrong with readers ( the world ) today.  I told Lesa she needed to add  "Too stupid ( me, not the book )" to the Mrs. BG poll, "Why do usually give up on a book?"Okay, stupid is a little harsh, but lazy.. yeah. That would be much better.  "Too lazy ( my flesh, not my spirit )."  That's why I didn't finish reading  "A History of Pi", the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter in Euclidean geometry, not the baked good. It was by Petr Beckmann in case you're interested, and if you understand why Seinfeld is funny you probably are.. 

I did finish Emma, and at some point, when I get my own line of skin care products, I'll start reading Pride and Prejudice.  In the meantime, I still plan on taking those field trips outside Orange County, if for no other reason than the plastic lady parts and puffy lips are starting to look normal.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to make your own cute little books

We read and write about books here on Baja, but we hardly ever make them. I had a go a while ago at recycled notepad books, and this is what I learned.

1) Making books is simple and easy, but time consuming and a little messy.

2) You need a Cricut unless you want to run your own personal sheltered workshop for quite a while.

3) There are heaps of sites on the web to get you started. I used this one.

4) It is really satisfying.

5) People think you're wonderfully clever and crafty. Or they think, "She should really get a life. Who makes books?"

The video instructions start with, 'Cut 50-90 pieces of paper exactly the same size.' Giggle.

If you have a Cricut or some other source of paper cut to a specific size you are good to go. I used waste paper from school so there was something interesting on the opposite side of each page. Some Italian, music, chemistry, etc. So you could recycle paper specific to the book or the recipient. Or you could just go for the random polymath approach.

I added a few coloured pages, just for interest. For the covers I used scrap booking paper my beautiful mother gave me and a vintage Italian map of Capri.

To glue the spine I used PVA and for the cover layers and 'varnish' I used Mod Podge.

This project costs next to nothing (unless you duck out to Wal Mart to buy a Cricut) and is so fun. If anyone has a go I'd love to see the photos.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Lagniappe for Lesa: I WON!!!

So exciting! When I clicked on the post  Charity Event Results and Winners at Random Ramblings, the first bit of good news I read was that  donations totaled $220 dollars!  Yippee! The  proceeds were divvied up between two worthy organizations: Save The Children and First Books.  

Now for the second bit of good news: As a thank you to donators, the hosts of the Charity Event offered seven giveaways. I never win drawings or giveaways so what a pleasant surprise to see my name listed as the winner of the $40 CSN gift certificate. What a fabulous lagniappe!  Much more than a little something extra-- Thank you, Jillian,  Linna, and Raila!

Now for the fun: Shopping! We love shopping here at Mrs. BG as you can read here and here.  But have you seen the CSN Store website?  How will I settle on one thing? And I only have until December 31 to decide!

Any Ideas?

By the way, CSN doesn't sell books, which is a shame. Maybe a bookcase, instead-- Wonder if hubby would fall for the 'I'm saving money by spending money' line again...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map!

If there's a place you got to go
I'm the one you need to know
I'm the Map
I'm the Map
I'm the Map
If there's a place you got to get
I can get you there I bet
I'm the Map...

Ever since I had my first baby - the fruit of my looms, my spawn, the first of my brood, if you will - I have developed a fear of anything that could kill him/us/humans. The list grows daily, currently including death by rabid alligator, cruise ship sinking, caught on a bus that cannot slow down or it will blow up, and being swallowed by a python. Don't laugh. I got the email.

But perhaps a more likely scenario would be for me to end up on a plane next to a man with smoking underwear. Whether or not that would happen (I am quite certain it would!) I have developed a fear of flying. It certainly limits where you can go if you want to go  foreign.

Plus, flying is stinking expensive. Five people? Plus, we'd need, you know, clothes, which means, you know, luggage.

Mexico used to fill that void - we could drive to an exotic land. Mexico is a fabulous place. I absolutely love. Mexico. Talk about beautiful and diverse! And great for families. The whole country is family oriented!

Now, however, we have run into el problemo. Yes. You guessed it. The quality of souvenirs has gone down.

Naaaaaaawww! Just joshin'! No, the problem is that it is now considered as dangerous as a war torn country. Um, it is a war torn country. "Come on, kids, our next family vacation is a whirlwind tour of Afghanistan and Iraq. Be sure and wave your passports as we drive through!"

Well, one of the things that we love to do is drive to a destination. We drove from Houston to Guanajuato, Mexico several times, and then from Houston to Mazatlan, Mexico. They were both about 18 hour drives. But I love that - the scenery is fabulous, so unusual, beautiful and ugly at the same time.  We have some great memories as a family.

We haven't done too much traveling north of the border though. So...since we are not flying anywhere and it's too dangerous to go to certain places....we are going to visit the United States. By car.

There are so many places I want to go with my family. It's a totally different experience with your family as opposed with friends or single.

Rand McNally 2011 Road Atlas: United States, Canada, and Mexico (Rand Mcnally Road Atlas: United States, Canada, Mexico)Step 1. Order a road atlas.

I ordered a road atlas. It just arrived in the mail yesterday. I made a cup of coffee, got some Nilla Wafers, got a little notebook (for takin' notes), and went to my little table...and someone had misappropriated my atlas! My hubby and little anklebiters were looking at the maps of Canada (Canada?? That's not on my list!). Later on, after they were all sleeping, I went back in to get my atlas. My father-in-law was looking at it. At Canada! (What's going on there?)

What is it about a map? Most people love to study maps. Planning an adventure...planning an escape...imagining smells, tastes, views.

We just love maps. is a semi-review.

Rand McNally has been in the map making biz for, like, ever. So, sufficed to say, they know what they are doing. I can't truly compare to other atlases, but they do update the maps yearly. I know other companies do too. But...some not yearly. I wanted the most current year. It tells of long-term and permanent road closures, new roadways, new sites, etc.
It offers maps of some of the larger cities - freeways and major roads. Also the downtown areas of major cities are mapped. So really great if you need the basics and just need to get from one main street to another main street.
I bought the cheaper version - it is paperback. This is good enough for us, but I kind of wished I'd splurged and got the ring bound. I may take it to an Office Depot and get it bound and either buy a bookcover or get it laminated. Looking at it at home is one thing - traveling with drinks is another!
This is also quite large. That again, is fine for us, but they have smaller versions. These could fit inside a bag. Another option would be the large print. I could see that being helpful in the dusky hours when you are trying to catch your exit!

All in all, very pleased with what I have. I feel comfortable to go to California, visit the Grand Canyon, and head to New York. And that's what it is all about, yeah?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mrs. Baja's Gift Shop: Stephanie Plum Inspired Gifts

The gift giving season is upon us, but here at Mrs BG’s we think it’s always fun to shop. So we have a new, year ‘round feature, Mrs. Baja's Gift Shop.

Here we'll show off book-inspired gifts, sticking to the theme of the book, series or character. No books, book marks or book lights here; we are thinking off the page. Confused? Have a look and you'll see what we mean.

We are kicking off with gifts for Stephanie Plum readers. Wacky, exciting, Stephanie-related gifts for Evanovich aficionados.

Since Stephanie never cooks and has nothing in her pantry except peanut butter and frosted flakes, a gourmet food hamper is just the ticket. The only thing here that needs cooking is tea, so it’s perfect for stake outs. After the food is gone she could use the basket for picnics. Who are we kidding? She can use it to take her laundry to her mother’s.

Wooden donuts are low calorie fun treats. Or is that just too cruel?
This is a beautiful cookie jar. It would add a touch of class to any inner-city apartment, and it would be easy to see when you are running on low on treats. But you wouldn’t be able to hide your gun in it...
This one would be better for hiding guns, and you can personalize it with the names of the family. But which man would Stephanie put on hers? And do they have hamster images?
This is the ultimate cookie jar for Stephanie fans, since Morelli calls her cupcake.

This will make you or your partner smell like Ranger, the sexiest man in fiction.
a cap gun, so someone can shoot at you, and you can shoot back. It’s die cast and looks really real.
For those who love bling or want to channel Sally Sweet, a pretty pair of earrings. They would dress up the t-shirt below.
Any woman would appreciate a wardrobe staple like a V neck tee. Fits nice and snug to show off your curves (donuts, anyone?) and goes anywhere. The funeral parlor, the police station, a break-and-enter, a movie and capture, a transvestite rock concert, dinner with the family, a stake out….

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Books I Couldn't Finish

I have been away from blogland for a while, and I briefly explained why on my blog. With the quality of writing produced by my fellow bloggers I know you have been well entertained. So I'm back!

Would you believe I started this post originally back in February, then picked it up and worked on it a few months ago, then re-revisited it AGAIN just now? How's that for procrastination? So here it is, third time lucky. If it seems a bit disjointed you know why. I was afraid that if I took the time to polish it up I would procrastinate yet again!

From a month or so ago...

With all the recent talk (ed. Note; August) about books Mrs BG's dear readers and authors couldn't finish, I thought I would dust off this post I couldn't finish back in February about books I couldn't finish. I'm looking forward to finishing it!

When Sam said she'd abandoned books and felt guilty about it, I completely understand. And I am dying to know why we give up on books. Could you all please respond to the first official Mrs Baja survey?

Original post I didn't finish follows....

So, there have been a couple of books recently (ed. Note; February) that have just not worked for me. I have never thought myself very critical, fickle or discriminating, but maybe I am.

My first non-finisher is a book my beautiful mother bought me back in June. I picked it up and was so intrigued and excited by it. The author is the apparently well-known Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate. The cover of The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature says it's 'curious, inventive, fearless, naughty', which is hard to resist.

Some of the ideas are fascinating. I liked reading about how language shapes our attitudes. For example, doctors are more likely to be in favor of a program that might save 200 out of 600 vulnerable patients rather than one that will kill 400 out of 600. Same numbers, different spin.

And Pinker quotes a study that shows when we estimate number problems roughly, we don't really use language in our heads, but when we calculate exactly, we do. So, we have an image-based estimating process, but use words to calculate.

Parts of the book made me think about my French and Italian students. For example, the idea of language not translating exactly is hard for some. I regularly have to explain that the English gerund (ex. I am running) really doesn't have an exact translation into romance languages. That concept is not expressed simply in some languages, and so, conversely, many English learners with Romance language backgrounds have a hard time choosing between 'I run.' 'I do run.', and 'I am running.'

These are all interesting ideas, and the book is very well-written, but I just haven't made much progress in the months I've had it. It's a lot of thinking for my poor brain, and I usually want to read something lighter, funnier and easier.
Well, that's where I stopped finishing my post about six months ago. Since then I have gotten side tracked reading a few more books.

Michael Robotham's Bombproof was just a bit brutal for my delicate sensibilities.

Le Testament Français by Andreї Makine is beautiful. I got it from the Heron Island swapsies library. His first language is Russian and he wrote in French. This edition is in English and it is musical, lyrical, just poetry in prose and the images he paints stay with me. I love it. And I haven't finished it… Don't know what's going on there...

Image from the National Gallery of Australia.

And to finish off this post about not finishing books I will tell you about Ned Kelly: A Short Life by Ian Jones. The Kelly family is infamous and very important to the Australian psyche. Ned was the bushranger (bandit?) who made his own armour. Does anyone remember seeing 'him' in the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony? Kind of a naughty Robin Hood.

Jones' book is an incredibly, minutely detailed account of Ned's life. No event, however small, is left out of this account. I'm not making any progress here. It may have been a short life but this is a loooong book.

If you want to learn more about Ned without having to read Ian Jones, check here. It looks like a great blog. And they seem fond of Ian's work, too.

So, ladies and gentlemen, there is my confession. Now your turn. How many books do you have languishing in your to-be-finished pile? Please don't tell me none! I might start to worry about myself.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fruits- by photographer Shoichi Aoki

My sister and I used to fight constantly over who would get to keep this book, week after week. Another art gallery buy, the glossy pictures, short, sharp sentences and vibrant colour, it was the kind of book you were drawn to from about the ages of about 2-13. But this book is not aimed at any age in particular.

Fruits is a collection of photographs of Japanese street style, complete with small descriptions of every look at the bottom. According to the unique individuals photographed, their ensembles are representing a personal point of fashion, from "fluffy alien" to "harmony and unity". The western clothing that you see everyone except these people wearing has only been mainstream in Japan for about fifty years and considered very conservative. The strange outfits of these people are mostly handmade and most link back to their traditional culture- kimonos in bright colours. 

This book makes you laugh occasionally, think often and smile at every page. Definitely worth reading, even if you just want to see the boys with  funny hairstyles.


Friday, November 5, 2010

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai


I have just finished reading Kiran Desai's second book - The Inheritance of Loss.

Set in India, it is the story of orphaned Sai, who is deposited on the doorstep of her grandfather. His cook is the one who cares for and nurtures her, although he is distracted by thoughts of his son in America. A violent political insurgency is set off, causing chaos and pain, and affects the characters - rich and poor alike - in unusual ways.

The Inheritance of Loss [INHERITANCE OF LOSS]

I have to say that although much prefer the author's first book, simply because the plot was lighter, this story had me riveted! She has a way of describing the cold, the wet, the smells, the darkness. I was completely sucked in to India. I absolutely love how the characters are so realistically self absorbed and how remarkable her observations are:

The insurgents: "The men sat unbedding on their rage, learning...that old hatreds are endlessly retrievable...they find the hate pure, purer than it could ever have been before because the grief of the past was gone. Just the fury remained..."

Proud mamas: "Perhaps England and America didn't know that they were in a fight to the death, but it was being fought on their behalf, anyway, by these two spirited widows of Kalimpong."

War: "But while the residents were shocked at the violence, they were often surprised by the mundaneness of it all...and found that it was possible, faced with the stench of unimaginable evil, for a human being to grow bored, yawn, be absorbed by the problem of a missing sock, by neighborly irritations, to feel hunger skipping like a little mouse inside a tummy..."

I will say, it does have quite a few moments that truly made me angry and sad, and I am a sucker for resolved happy endings. This doesn't end bad. It just ended. I would have like for an airplane to fall from the sky and give them everything they need for a happy ending and a "what-for" to those that deserved it. And for the pilots of said airplane to be okay....but it didn't end that way.

So basically, I probably won't read this again, but I did enjoy it very much. The descriptions and the narrative were definitely enjoyable and I really love her characters. All in all an excellent read. Once. ;)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Petticoats West To Jane Eyre!

 Tuesday Treasures is a recurrent feature in which I share the bookish distractions that catch my eye in the school library I work in on Tuesday. I'm not the librarian; I am the speech pathologist. You will hear no complaints from me about sharing a workspace-- this little old school library collection is chock full of wonderful treasures. Plus, I get to release my inner-librarian. The students who wander in looking for books assume I am the Tuesday Librarian.

Today's lunch and break pages are brought to you by:

The title on the spine of this 1967 edition caught my eye and what a fun retro cover. I had to read the first chapter. 

The setting is post Civil War Boston and times are very difficult for orphaned girls and widows. Seventeen year old best friends Addie and Sybil run into each other after two years of separation.

Addie never left Boston but illness, losing both parents and becoming poor left her disconnected (self-imposed) from her old life. Running into Sybil makes her realize that hardtimes have affected everyone and there is no shame in shabbiness. 

Sybil and her mother are planning to join a movement led by a charismatic but ugly man to take orphaned girls and widows by ship to the Pacific Northwest. Addie wants to join to but has no hope of raising the $300 fee-- with luck she may get to go as a charity case but, of course, work off her debt.

Quite the engrossing tale and a lot of story for one chapter;  maybe I actually read two chapters... I do lose track of time.

Do you know the author Olive Burt? The most information I found is here in a write up (including photos) by the president of the League of Utah Writers. Olive Burt was a very prolific author who mainly wrote juvenile western historical fiction. Click  here to see a  list of her books.  She was also  a member of  many writing/press societies and won many awards/honors. Interesting lady!

This edition of Jane Eyre is from the 80s. Did book covers typically look like this in the 80s?  I can't remember! 

I do remember last reading Jane Eyre in the late 80s while in my gothic phase.  Really didn't plan to ever reread it but Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar will not stop writing about this book! If you don't believe me, follow the link to her millions of fascinating Jane Eyre  related posts! And on the first day at school, what book just happened to be on the library cart-- yep, Jane Eyre!

So after spotting it again today, I gave in and read the first chapter. Wow! What a great beginning and I didn't remember Jane being a bookworm or being bullied and abused by her relations. Her mean obnoxious cousin throws   a book at her head resulting in a cut! Good on Jane for finally defending herself-- I wanted to clobber him too!!

Guess I will be rereading this book sooner rather than later.

That is it for this edition of Tuesday Treasures. May you also have the joy of discovering a gem of a book. Happy reading, ya'll!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...