Saturday, May 11, 2013

Death and books

It has been a while since I last posted here, but I have not been terribly inspired by the books I have read lately. Do not get me wrong, there have been some good reads, but nothing that has stuck to me like the ones on my last post (The Rook series' second book is finished!).

However, I just finished reading a book that made me cry and made me think hard. It is a tragic love story, so tragic, but so nice too. Of course, it is still fiction, but the theme of the book is one that is real, and that is the right to die.


In the case of Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, one of the main characters, Will Traynor is involved in an accident that leaves him a quadraplegic - causing him paralysis on all four limbs or the entire body below the neck. Will used to be a daredevil before the accident, and he talks about his adventures with such melancholy that one cannot help but realize how tragic it would be to end up like him. 

But then the story gets complicated, with Lou Parker entering his life like a ray of sunshine. They fall in love slowly but surely, and then we are thrown with the fact that Will has decided to end his life in the near future. What, you say? How can the lead in the novel die? 

But that is exactly why this book made me cry and made me think. What would I do if I ended like Will? Would I be so depressed and out of hope that I would end my own life? Would my family be okay? What if it was one of my loved ones, like in the book for Lou, that decides to end their life?

Would it be so unbearable to keep on living and let the complications of quadraplegia end your life instead of using a drug? Would that person have the energy to keep on living? What about the family? What if you let it happen to you or someone else, is it possible to forgive? To allow them to make their own decisions?

I actually wrote about the right to die for a paper a while back, and I had to read some stories and reasons why so many people are fighting for that right. It is illegal here in Canada, so it would not be possible for someone to request it from me... I truly do not think I would be able to say yes to my loved one. I would make them fight for their life and let it end when it is supposed to. What about you?

I say this now, but so did the character of Lou, and in the end she gives him his freedom by letting him do what he wanted. He decided to have her in his life till the end, but could not love her enough to stay alive in his condition. Such sorrow! Oh, the pain that one would feel if it was one's spouse or partner. If my hubby asked me it would break my heart in a million pieces. Cannot even conceive it. 

Yet there are many out there who are suffering from long term diseases that are awful, like ALS. Or ones who are just completely paralyzed and really cannot be moved. And then there are those who are in a complete vegetable state. What do you do then? Big question, huh?

Even though the book had some funny and light parts and some romance, it has a very serious topic to be discussed. I love books like this, that stay with you and you know you will read again. If you read this book, make sure you have tissues with you. The tears are 100% worth it.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oh, some good reading has been happening...

   The weather has cooled, and now is the perfect time to cozy up to a nice book. Which nice book should you read you ask? Well, it's not just one, but several. It is time to blow your minds. Yes!

   This post is dedicated to the debut novels I have read, that really, really make you wish you were an author. Yes, all of the following novels are debuts! Let's get started with "The Rook" by Daniel O'Malley.


Do not let the cover mislead you. Looks simple enough, but the writing is quite the opposite. If you are a fan of paranormal fantasy like I am, well then, this is the book for you. I kid you not. It has been nominated for best paranormal fantasy book for 2012 on goodreads. That is how I discovered it. 

I truly loved O'Malley's imagination, and I just fell for the character of Myfawny (pronounced like Tiffany). Who knew that a girl with invisible super powers could be such a hard core fighter? He created a girl who is not only strong, but also sensitive and not afraid of being single. You have to read it to find out more about this great character.

I am loving the fact that this the first book of the Checquy Files, a super sercret organization that fights demons, vampires, and all kinds of supernatural beings. The members of this organization are not cute people, but they are the "good guys". There are twists galore, and the suspense keeps you wanting more. I was so sad to finish the book, and I cannot wait for the next one (hope it comes out next year). Fantastic read! 

The next book I have read that you must read is "The Age of Miracles" by Karen Thompson Walker. Another debut novel that really astounded me that it was a debut! Really, where are all this new authors coming from? So jealous. Kidding. Thompson has written a very haunting, sad, and thoughtful novel that will stay in your mind for a week or more. 

The main character is just a tween, but we get to experience how the world changes, literally, through her eyes. It is a coming of age novel that does not disappoint. It is not sappy, just very poignant. What would you do if the earth's magnetic field came to a stop? What if you knew death is imminent, like right now, but you knew what would cause it? Would you let the government rule how you live your last days, or just take off on your own?

See? Not easy questions, but she makes you ask yourself these questions. It is a great novel about the end of the world as this girl knows it, and we get to go on that journey. If you like good fiction, this is one is sure not to disappoint, but surely depress you a bit. 

 The next book is "The Color of Tea" by Hannah Tunnicliffe. I loved this book! Not only does it go on and on about macarons, the French pastry, but it is all about forming friendships with the most unlikely people. Grace, the main character, is a foreigner in Macau, and island part of China. She has to face many hard truths while she is there, but she does. 

Don't you love the cover?

 What I loved about this book, is how honest it was. Tunnicliffe wrote almost like it was her story, and who doesn't love that about an author? Her emotions felt real, and she touches on some hard subjects like infertility and adultery, but they are not the main topic. What is most important is how Grace makes friends in the end; when she didn't want to, when she had almost given up. Ah, the power of a women bonding over pastries... You will like it, trust me.

The next one made me cry - HARD! It is not often - actually, it is very rare when a book makes me cry tears, big fat tears. This book did: "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" by Carol Rifka Brunt. 


 I cried because how is it fair that your favorite person dies? That is what June has to go through at fourteen. The death of her uncle. It is very devastating. But what I loved it is that this novel touched on AIDS. The story is told on the year of 1987, just a couple of years after the existence HIV/AIDS had been announced to the world. Do you remember that? I do, as a nine year old, it was creepy how they made it seem like a punishment for sinners. Lo, and behold, it is now affecting all humans alike, no matter your sexual preference. I have not read any books like this one.

Just as good is June's relationship with her sister. Isn't it wicked the way siblings can make our lives miserable, yet we still love them? Some sister power is shown, and I loved the end. Again, it made me cry. It made want to have been there back then and being able to help out more. Thank goodness we have more knowledge now of the disease and we do not live in fear of catching it by touching someone. How sad it must have been for families back then. :(

So these are just a few of the books I have read in the past few months, that I thought I should share. I hope you make the time to go to your local library, or book store, and read. I cannot think of something more relaxing than curling up to a book. No, not with a hot cocoa, as I know I would spill! If you get a change to read any of these, please discuss with me.    

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two great reads that you must read as well

I love when you randomly find books on either a book list online or just grab a book at the library because you liked the cover.  The two books I will talk about I found online, both book lists, both recommended. I was not disappointed this time. The books are:

"Of Bees and Mist" by Erick Setiawan

A fantastic read, one of those books you actually have to take your time to read, and not skip any parts. Of Bees and Mist


 "Calling Invisible Women" by Jeanne Ray

 "Of Bees and Mist" was one of those books, like "The Night Circus", that makes you really use your imagination. However, Erick Setiawan's style is different. Yes, he incorporates a lot of superstition and he has been obviously influenced by women in his life, but he makes you think. I loved rooting for Meridia, the main character of the book. The story starts when she is only 16 years old and ends when she is a full woman and a mother. 

The main conflict is the relationship she has with her mother-in-law, but also how the relationship between her husband and his mother affects her marriage. Oh, to have such a conniving and nosy mother-in-law! I really do not think I could do it. I would just not have someone like that in my life. Which is what ends up happening, but it's the passage to getting there that is so evocative of strong emotions.

Erick touches on the 'mama's boy' character, that is sometimes missing as a strong one in some books. Here, Daniel is a big one, that you like and really want to smack too. You feel for him, yet you also get angry at what he does. 

See? To have an author make you feel like the characters are real, well, that is talent. To also know this is Erick's debut novel, just confounds me and others (as per comments and reviews). If you have a list on the go, please add this one. You will not be disappointed. I took my time with this book, and you will find too that you have to actually read it slow, to make let it work its magic. This is definitely not a book to rush read.

Now, for "Calling Invisible Women"... Who hasn't felt invisible at some time in their lives? I know I have, not for long, but sometimes, our lives take over and we forget ourselves. I do not think it is anybody's fault but our own. We have to make sure to let others see us, hear us, care for us, but we also have to do that for our own selves. 

This novel by Jeanne Ray, is about a middle-aged lady who literally starts going invisible, hence, the title. Oh, but she is not the only one. It is a heart-warming story and again, it made me think. Not only because, I may have felt the same as the main character, Clover, but also because if this really did happen, would I notice it? Would I notice it if it happened to a friend? How many people have we ignored? How many are invisible to you, yet they are there, existing.

I really, really liked this story. I may be biased because I am married and a mother, but I am sure any woman will feel the same. I am sure men must feel the same, it is just written in a female point of view, so I can relate more. 

I am looking forward to reading more these two authors, and I hope that when you do get the chance to read either book, you will think so too. Oh, I love reading! :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Incredible - "The Night Circus"

I have not been so excited about a book in a long time. Well, one that was not a trilogy and that hasn't been read by millions. I heard about the Night Circus from a blog post last year. This person highly recommended it and then I saw it on a few Top Ten books of 2011.  Well, I knew then I must read it.

When I tried taking it out of the library it had a long wait list, assuring me it was a good book. Of course I did not know how good of a book it was until I read it. If you want fantasy coupled with a sweet, simple romance, then this is one book you must read. I loved it so much I am going to buy it! I know, an actual book purchase. I only buy CD's, movies, and books if I really, really like them. The author is Erin Morgenstern. Here is a link to her site with a short excerpt:


This is her debut novel and I found it hard to believe that it was so. The imagery she uses is so amazing, I felt like I could see what she was describing. Again, it's been a while since I fell in love with a novel.

The main characters are Celia and Marco who are doomed from the beginning, but does love conquer all? You have to read it to find out. What I loved about the novel, was the intricate description of the characters, the circus people, the tents, the magic involved to create such a place. I loved Erin's imagination.

The love story is there, but this is not a sappy book at all. In fact, there is little romance. However, you still root for the couple. Well, at least I did, only because I am a sap and a romantic at heart. Celia and Marco are not the only characters in the book. We get to meet others, and for me the clock maker was my other favorite character. The way she described the clocks was amazing, and I only wish such clocks existed.

Reading the novel gave me the urge to visit a circus. Of course I have not seen one, except for the Cirque Du Soleil shows. I don't know if those count... I wish there was still a traveling circus going around North America with all kinds of things to see, with a good magician or illusionist, and just plain wholesome fun. Wouldn't that be nice?

I really don't want to give too much away on this post because I really want you to read it. Then, I would love to discuss it with you. I can't wait to read more from Erin Morgenstern, and hopefully her next novel will be just as good. ☺

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I love charcoal and sanguine

I love art, always have, always will.

If I could, I would draw or paint all day, but life has gotten on the way. Not a bad thing, just that by the time I sit down, my creative juices have been drained. I used to draw a lot, but the most I did was when I was 19 to right before I had my first kid. I am now looking forward to the new school year this year, only because I will have some time to paint or draw. Well, that is my hope.

One of my favorite art mediums is charcoal and also sanguine. I love the look and the feel of charcoal. I took a drawing course when I was 19, you know, one of the ones offered at night in high schools. It was a really neat time for me. I was becoming more independent from my twin, and had to take transit all the way to the West End in Vancouver, to get to the school. It was awesome.

Our teacher was really good and I was introduced to sanguine. He taught us how to mix it with black charcoal and the lovely contrast they make. We did some ink drawings too, which I hated. I did not like that I couldn't get my lines straight and it was not the same using a brush on paper. Let's just say ink is not my fave. If I am going to use a brush, I will use it on a canvas. We did use charcoal pastels too, which are nice, but not the same.

So, back to sanguine, I guess I must let you know what it is if you don't know:
I found this definition in Wikipedia:

 Sanguine or red chalk is chalk of a reddish-brown colour, so called because it resembles the colour of dried blood. It has been popular for centuries for drawing (where white chalk only works on coloured paper), and the term also describes a drawing done in sanguine. The word comes via French from the Italian sanguina.

If you want to work with a sketchbook, try it out. I like combining it with black charcoal for a nice contrast. People often ask me who the person is that I draw, but I don't draw people that I know, the images are just from my head. Of course, some are obviously a figment of my imagination. :)  The only person I have dared to draw is my husband. Tonight I was inspired enough that I wanted to share what I drew and also, share an oldie from 2005.

My latest - sanguine has more texture to it live.
This one is from '05, not many from that year.

So, if you like to draw or paint - what is your favorite medium? In another post I will talk about acrylic and oil paints.

I love art. ♥

Friday, December 16, 2011

Songs (not albums) I liked best in 2011

This year I have decided to write about the songs that I liked best. I will not choose best albums only because I simply do not like every song a band or artist puts out. Well, that is why iTunes, emusic, and other mp3 sites were created for, so we could choose our faves.

So, what songs touched me the most this year? There are some that I can play over and over and over. It drives my husband crazy, but I can't help it. I love listening to each chord, to the notes being sung, and just let it take me away. I was telling my mom the other day that it's kinda crazy how some people go ballistic with celebrities, but i had to admit to her that maybe I would go crazy like that for a singer whose lyrics have touched my soul (Thom Yorke, anyone?). 

Truly, a lot of the songs we listen to on the radio are sometimes manufactured by a group of writers, but there are still some singers out there that actually pen their own words.

Here are my fave songs of 2011:

Snow Patrol - Called Out in the Dark
I just love this song and I've listened to a LOT.  It's catchy, it's fun, and I just like the lyrics. In the case of this song, I loved it even more after watching the video. Gary Lightbody's voice rocks too. Have you seen the video? How cute is that? Check it out if you haven't:

Angus and Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane

I am perfectly aware that this song has been extremely overplayed. However, I just love their harmonies and the softness of the music. How cool that they are a brother and sister duo? They both have the cutest voices. Ok, so maybe singers don't want to be described as cute. Hmm... Ok, how about they both have dewy voices. The video does not do much for me, but in case you haven't heard this song, here it is.

Other Lives - As I Lay My Head Down
Other Lives - Dark Horse
Other Lives - For 12

Other Lives blew me away during their opening session for The Rosebuds at the Media Club this year. I didn't even know who they were, and then BAM! Blown away was I. Seriously, they are incredible and boy, can they play great music. The three songs I've listed are my faves from their album and the ones that stayed with me after the concert. If you ever get a chance to see them live, please do. They are one band that are worth paying $$ to see. They are opening for Radiohead in the US.  Here is the live video for As I Lay My Head Down - live, so good!! Agree?

 Adele - Someone Like You

Come on, who didn't feel something after really listening to these lyrics: 
I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over.

Wow, I know that there are tons of you out there who have gone back to see your exes for closure or to stalk them, so don't deny this song moved you to tears. I did not cry because I have been blessed with no exes, except one, but all I could think about was a lot of girls in my life (my sisters) whose hearts have broken when such ex moves on and gets married. So heartbreaking, no? The b&w video is so nice and I just love Adele's powerful voice.

The Pack a.d. - Take

Two piece band from Vancouver, yo! Gotta have some indie here. Saw them live this year for the first time. They are special to my hubby because he sent them a cassette full of road trip songs, and he was chosen to win a nice candle, a symbal from their drums and their cd (that came empty). Ha! They rock and well, they are some cool chicks and very funny live. Here's the video. :)

 Low - Try to Sleep

Low's album C'Mon is really one that I enjoy as a whole, but Try to Sleep is my favorite song. The lead singers are a couple and both have low voices, no pun intended. I had the pleasure of seeing them live at the Rio Theatre, super awesome venue - no smoking allowed, yay! The video for this song has John Stamos in it, and he sure looks dapper in the video. Look up the history of Low and see why they are called Low.

The Raveonettes - Forget That You're Young
The Raveonettes - Apparitions

I love this Danish band and got the chance to see them live with my hubby. Not only did I have a great date night but it was a great show. That same night we saw the Pack a.d., so that is why you see both bands in this list. I love the Raveonettes sound and it's not the same every time. Their harmonies are tight and best of all is the double drums. Check out not only their new album Raven in the Grave, but also their older ones. Very cool sound. Here's Apparitions:

Fleet Foxes - Lorelai

This is one of the many bands whose CD's my hubby will get and put it in the van, and I will ask: "Who's this?" Then him answering and introducing me to yet another good band. I'm so lucky to have my own personal DJ. Ok, so Fleet Foxes remind me of another good band - My Morning Jacket - and that is not a bad thing. This song is the one that I like best, so whimsical. I can envision driving on a car and passing green fields... Check it out.

Foster the People - Pumped Up Kids

Ok, so here is another treat for me. Another over played song that I have not gotten tired of yet. It's so California, no? Did not realize that I was getting hooked to a song about guns until someone pointed out and by that time, it was too late to turn it off in my head. 

The Kooks - Junk of the Heart (Happy)

I feel happy when I hear this song. I guess they brainwash me with their happy song and happy lyrics. See? Just thinking about being happy makes me happy. This is pretty much the only song I've heard from the Kooks but I enjoy it every time I hear it. 

The Head and the Heart - Lost in My Mind

"Ooooh Oooooh Oooooh Oooooh" This is really one song makes sing out loud in the car. Oh, my poor girls. "There are stars up above, We can start moving forward" - love those lines. Now doesn't it just wanna make you stomp your feet? Well, the singer does in the video - how fitting. 

So, as you can see I have a wide selection for you to listen to. If you have never heard of these bands, go on youtube and watch their videos or listen to their songs. Search them online and look up their history. There are other songs but I will stop here or otherwise, it might drive you crazy. Music, just like books, allows me to escape and it either makes me super happy or melancholy. I love how it a tune will bring back memories of a special day and it's no wonder then that, if married, you will have your own wedding song. 

I truly wish I was a song and music writer but alas, I just have to enjoy it from others. Let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

North and South the BBC series

Wow, it has been a while since I last posted, but I have not felt excited in a large level in a while. Sure, there are songs that are killing me right now, like Snow Patrol's Called Out in the Dark - I can hear it over and over. But for movies and tv series, not so much. I will do a separate blog for the Twilight series, but this post is about North and South (2004), a BBC production.

John and Margaret professing their love ♥

Who has heard of Richard Armitage? Not many, but many will when the Hobbit comes out. Now I will be one of the ones out of the dark and know what a good actor he is. Ok, so the script and the series were good, but he brought it! He was perfectly cast as Mr. Thornton. I cannot say I have read the novel, but I am sure curious to see how much I would like it after watching the series (written by Elizabeth Gaskell). 

Let me tell you, this is one love story that compares to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth's. Do I dare say it? Yes. This does not mean that this was better than Pride and Prejudice, not at all, it's just the way the love story of Margaret Hale and John Thornton plays. They don't like each other at the beginning and then he likes her, but she doesn't, then she does something that makes him not like her, then she likes him, and finally (!) they get together. ☺

 In the meantime, there is a bit of "history" given to the watcher, how cotton mills worked in the 1800's, in a time when cotton was just starting to make an appearance in England. There is actually a comment by one of the characters that says how they think they will always wear linen. Well, sure seems cotton is more popular now. They show industrialization at its height, unions starting to happen because of poor working conditions. Sad looking people are shown, with hungry kids to spare, and lots of dirty clothes around. Aren't you glad you live in this century?

There is quite a bit of sadness on this story, it's not very cheerful, but it grabs your attention. Well, at least it caught mine. I was really impressed with Armitage the most, and not just because of his pretty face, he can act. Daniela Denby-Ashe was good as Margaret, but sometimes she gets a blank look on her face that did not sit well with me. In the end, when Margaret was able to show how she was feeling for John, Daniela's face changes and then I thought she was better. 

Oh, if I was a director! But of course we all think we can do better than others. Hee hee. It is just a dream, like so many others related to art. If you get a chance to watch it, please give your opinion.