Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

One Word Summary: Elizabeth

More Words: In grade nine I had to do a creative project on everyday life during the depression. This book reminded me of that assignment, with a few key differences. Number one being the quality of the work. The writing, the research, the romance were all much much better. Another biggie- this book takes place after the occupation. Unfortunately I can't say I was in love with either, the assignment or the book. Yeah it's great, as a source of information on everyday life between 1940-1946 in Great Brittan. It is also highly quotable. The characters are diverse, fun, quirky. It's emotional and human. It's silly. Juliet is classic, everyone wants to be her or her friend. And if not they're stuffy religionists*. There is nothing wrong with this book. It was just too Idyllic. Do communities like Guernsey exist anymore? Do I wish they did? Would people today enjoy being hyper involved in everyone else's life? People they know, not TV characters or Celebrities. It took a lot of work to read, but it was worth it. The Potato Peel Pie society has grown on me.
*religionists are people who use God as an excuse for being mean, cruel, thoughtless, unkind, judgemental, or better than you. They hate children and condemn anything fun.

Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books. 53

It was much easier before Kit learned to talk, but it was not so much fun. 80

I think you learn more if you're laughing at the same time. 89

What a blessing that I have no imagination and am able to see things clearly. 267

Is it unseemly to get married so quickly? I don't want to wait - I want to begin at once. All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged- after all, what's good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it's a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. 274

Writer's are rarely the solution to anyone's problems. 285 afterword

Censorship: I would let my daughter read this

Georgette Heyer: The Black Moth

One Word Summary: No Honour in Whining
More Words: I'm a little disgusted with myself for enjoying books that take place in such a repressive unliberated era, or written by women who lived in a different repressive unliberated era. Fortunately Heyer may just put me off Regency Romance, since I'm terribly addicted. There was a whole chapter called "Mistress Diana is unmaidenly" where she allegedly wears her heart on her sleeve and proposes marriage to Jack. She was very subtle. Also Mistress Diana is later abducted, sneered at and manhandled by The Black Moth, but since he didn't actually rape her and it all turns out good (Jack shows up just in time to duel The Black Moth and then Jack proposes marriage to Diana) she's willing to laugh it off as a great joke and wrap the whole thing in clean linen so the neighbours wont talk. It's ridiculous! oh, but it gets worse. Turns out The Black Moth really was in love with Diana and now he's a reformed rake-ist. What I want to know is why all the 'gentlemen' didn't put an end to him sooner? Really, it's just bad form to steal another man's property! And then there's Jim who is inlove with his master- it's a little sickening how servile the servant class gets to be. But why am I complaining not even the men get to be human in this book, they have to be perfect. Alright, I'm done with my rant. Incase it's not obvious, I liked this book. But I'm never reading another regency again.

Summary: It all started with a card game where someone cheated and the wrong man takes the blame and it ends with a happily ever after. There is a sword fight, or two.

Ally Carter: Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover

One Word Summary: Huh?
More Words: I liked the first book in this series, I'd tell you I love you but then I'd have to kill you. This is the third book, it was less confusing than book two, Cross my heart and hope to spy, but still not completely transparent. Maybe it's supposed to be true to Cami. She's unsure about everything, especially when it comes to boys. Or maybe it's true to spy culture, where information is often convoluted.

Summary: A bunch of girls, who attend an elite spy school, stress about boys. They also accomplish one secret mission in each book, usually involving boys. Up until now the missions haven't been serious... but now it's getting all Harry Potter Book 4.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

One Word Summary: Brains! Guts! Glory!
More Words: Truthfully- I haven't actually read this book. I saw it at Barnes and Noble (my favourite store) and held it in my hands for a long while. I weighed my options and put the book down with a sigh. The cover picture would be too fascinating for my daughter and knowing there is a book entitled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is almost as great as reading it. Almost.

From the blurb on the back of the book:
Complete with romance, heartbreak, sword fights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses. Pride and Prejudiced and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

*Note to self: make an Austen Spin-off List

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books I returned to the library without finishing, boo hoo

Winnie the Pooh and the House and Pooh Corner by AA Milne,
There was nothing sweeter than the sound of my daughters voice chuckling while I read the chapters outloud. Even my husband bubbled over and he was pretending to do something else. But the book smelled like an ashtray, and my daughter took it into her head to start choosing her evening story, and finally the book was overdue. I'm determined to get another fresher copy, even if I have to read it alone.

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare,
For fun and sort of as a very cheap date my husband and I took parts and read this together. Only we're not Actors so our efforts came out very stilted and completely unpoetic and not even a bit funny. Consequently we never finished, and then our copies were overdue. I really liked the movie with Elizabeth Taylor, and I liked the movie Ten Things I Hate About You, and I liked the performance I saw in college... so I might get around to reading this even if the fun takes some work.

Cranes: A natural history of a bird in crisis by Janice M. Hughes
This book is really cool. I've always wanted to be the type of person who dressed in tweeds and wellingtons and walked out in the dewey mornings to watch birds. Only I have a difficult time using binoculars, they're so disorienting. Same with mircroscopes which is why I'm not a scientist. Anyhow my first impression of this book was not favourable (It started out all doomsdayish- "Woe Woe Woe. Humans are destroying the planet, and even if they changed their wicked wasteful ways it's too late. Life is Over. Woe Woe Woe"), then I changed my mind. Only it's a coffee table book, so the size is not conducive to reading in bed and the glossy pages are not conducive to reading with lots of light. And then the book was over due. I want to finish this book, I really do, but if I never get back to it I'm going to go birding(some of the best lectures I attended were about evolution and birds) and I'm going to make 1000 paper cranes (or at least learn more about Sadako Sasaki). I do miss all the notes I took...they're still in the book.

Growing Trees from Seed: A practical guide to growing native trees, vines, and shrubs by Henry Kock
One day I'm going to buy a small house with lots of lawn and I'm going to build a forest. I'm determined. This book will make it possible. It was overdue, so I couldn't keep it forever. One day I'm going to buy this book.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Katherine Dunn: Geek Love

One Word Summary: Dreamlets

More Words: I probably read too much of this book before setting it aside. At first I thought- "Hey I'm willing to suspend my assumption that normal is somehow ideal. But thank goodness this only fiction." As I plowed ahead the content became a little more edgy, as in perverted, which was something I didn't expect. Although I should have, since deviant behaviour is dismissing conventions. I guess, like most people I have to draw a line somewhere so I put this book down. It's not vital to my happiness, besides intellectual stimulation can be found elsewhere. And if I'm wrong, well there will always be someone else ready to champion the mainstream-ification of subversive* ideas. Although the freaks in this book seemed to revel in their uniqueness so it might be a cruelty to normalize them**. I wonder if it's even possible.

*in the most complimentary sense of the word-since I'm sure the true subvert wants to be acknowledged.
**cliche sentiment, right?

Plot Summary: The mystery surrounding the dissolution of a freak-show family. Actually, I didn't get very far... so all I really know is that a father and a mother experimented with various substances to birth malformed mutated children who they displayed to the public in a family freak show. When the story starts everyone is dispossesed. The first chapter is idyllic, but it turns quickly.


  1. What were those parents thinking! Was their family project wrong, or right?
  2. What makes freaks so fascinating? Why do people have an instinct to stare and look away simultaneously?
  3. Were the children only valuable as a draw for gawking crowds? As a way to keep their father's carnival solvent?
  4. Does Miranda lose her tail?
  5. Who was Miranda's father? Do I really want to know?
  6. Ignoring the fabulous disguises were the characters in this story everday people?

Inscription found on the inside flap:

This book was bought by Daniel Silver (N.Y. N.Y.) and given to Daniel Brooks
(Toronot, Can) Then given by Daniel Brooks to Daniel MacIvor (Toronto) then
given by Daniel MacIvor to Stacy Abramson (Granada, Spain/Chicago, Il)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Noel Streatfeild: Family Shoes

One Word Summary: Miss Virginia Bell thinks...
More Words: This book was written a long time ago in England, so the values and customs are different. I started reading The Shoe Books after I saw "You've got mail" and I really like them. They're a pleasant world where everyting always turns out gorgeously. Where the villians are simply thoughtless and selfish and usually rich. Where everyone else cares about you. The books seem to say believe in miracles you will go to an elite dancing school and be famous one day. Plus there are a few moral lessons added for good measure. Of course, I don't care for a few things in this book. For one the family keep secrets and they refuse to ask for help. I don't think private martyrdom is noble. Besides it's not truly noble since they whine a lot about things when they could just ask for help. Finally, while I don't like people being crabby because they feel crabby I'm not sure if being polite all the time and above all else is good for anyone's emotional health. However that's England a long time ago for you.

Another Series in the Mayberry-ish style are Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy books. And for an older crowd there's Phyllis Reynolds Taylors Alice books.


"I want to rescue someone from drowning, or catch a burglar, or something like that," she complained. "But everybody round us is so dull, they never want
those sorts of things done for them."

"Darling don't be so silly. Do yo think I'd miss one minute of watching my children grow up for all the money in the world?"

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Terry Pratchett: Wee Free Men

One Word Summary: Crivens!
More Words: Waily Waily! Not being of an extremely intellectual bent I don't know if I can explain the higher meaning in this story, but I did like it. It was silly and thought provoking and interesting. I simply loved the Nac Mac Feegle, and their war cry. "Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willna be fooled again!" The ladies in my book group spent a lot of time discussing two things. The first item we talked about (actually I listened) was how our perception of reality might not always be accurate. The second thing we talked about (again I just listened) was about how crazy our male children are. We also ate a lot of chocolate fondue. In general everyone enjoyed the book. One person didn't, she said it was soft-core fantasy and it didn't grab her attention. Incidentally she didn't' like A Wrinkle in Time either. As for me, I thought there was some irony in spending a good portion of a day reading a fantasy story about not dreaming your life away. I'm still wondering what Pratchett meant by 'waking up', it seems he meant a lot of things. Ultimately, I need to read more Shakespeare.

p.s. I read the illustrated version. Some of the pictures were purposely unpleasant. Revolting, actually. My daughter liked sneaking peaks. She's three. I'm not quite ready for her to fight monsters. And I believe she is still too young to grow up. However the pictures are facinating so... Beware. Little eyes are seeking. and Be ready to answer their questions.


  1. What makes a person a hero? What is a witch?
  2. Is it possible for everyone to be "awake"? All the time?
  3. How does the author feel about education? Does it keep us from thinking? Does make us useless?
  4. Do you think this book says men are less smart than women? What's your opinion?
  5. How did Tiffany's anger help her overcome the Queen?
  6. Is there a difference between duty and love?
  7. Why didn't Granny talk much? Why didn't Tiffany insist on being the Hero at the end? Do you think she was right to blackmail Roland? Did she blackmail Roland? What exactly happened?


They looked like tinkers, but there wasn't one among them, she knew, who could mend a kettle. What they did was sell invisible things. And after they'd sold what they had, they still had it. They sold what everyone needed but often didn't want. They sold the key to the universe to people who didn't even know it was locked.

"You think... that you sort of died somewhere else and then came here?" said Tiffany. "You mean this is like...heaven?"
"Aye! Just as advertised!" said Rob Anybody. "Lovely sunshine, good huntin', nice pretty flowers, and wee burdies goin' cheep."
"Aye, and then there's the fightin'," said another Feegle. Then they all joined in.
"An' the stealin'!"
"An' the drinkin' an' fightin'!"
"An' the kebabs!" said Daft Wullie.
"But there's bad things here!" said Tiffany. "There's monsters!"
"Aye," said Rob, beaming happily. "Grand, isn't it? Everythin' laid on, even things to fight!"

If I was a world that didn't have enough reality to go around, Tiffany
thought, then snow would be quite handy. It doesn't take a lot of effort. It's
just white stuff. Everything looks white and simple. But I can make it
complicated. I'm more real than this place.