Hi everyone!

So my apologies for the absenteeism. While Christmukah was fantastic – always an amazing time with family and friends, so busy but so worthwhile – the start of 2014 has been … not all bad, necessarily, but eventful. We DID all get sick the first week of the year, which is never fun; Little Tyke missed two days of school due to a broken boiler and one due to this illness, I’ve had 2 job interviews and a few days of work, as well as a special project I’ve been working on with my online school, and Ari’s office is in the midst of a move. Not to mention getting sick immediately after (a) a trip that (b) entails Christmukah, gifts, a week away generally etc., you set yourself quite behind. It was the second week of January before new toys found homes, Christmas decorations came down, etc. This week we had a cleaner come into our house – such a relief! – and only this week or so has it felt like we’ve been back to any kind of routine. Needless to say, during a few weeks where it’s felt like the house, work etc. have been falling down around us, blogging has not been at all a priority, even for someone with as spotty posting as me to begin with.

That said – we’ve learned a lot the last few weeks about time management (yes, even thirty-somethings can learn! lol …), about teamwork, about how awesomely helpful our kids can be if we don’t just take it on ourselves to clean up after them … so I’m guessing now that we’ve sort of found our footing again, hopefully a bit of blog posting won’t be too hard to keep up. And there is LOTS to talk about, from the ridiculously cold weather (and my related jealousy of my mother, stepfather and grandma, who are down in Florida as we speak), to politics, to pop culture (Justin Bieber and Richard Sherman anyone?) … and of course our regular features like my reading list etc. So this is a post to say thank you for bearing with me – over the last year of inconsistent blogging, and the last 3 weeks or so in particular, I’m back and among my New Year’s resolutions (like going to the gym, starting weight watchers and finding a job lol), is to be a more regular presence here … because as anyone who sees me in passing on FB or has the chance to chat with me knows, I have a lot to say. I just need to make more of an effort to come by here and say it! πŸ˜€ I look forward to that conversation in 2014.

Blessings, and Happy New Year (either belatedly for 2014, or early if you observe Chinese New Year, as we have often done when years haven’t gotten off to the best start! lol …)



{January 3, 2014}   New Year, New Reading!

Hi all! Hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and that 2014 is off to a rolicking start for all! I had a wonderful time with friends and family, and I feel like a good time was had by all this Christmukah season! And now it’s January 3 and we’re back to the routine’ – the take the tree down, make room for holiday gifts, unpack and have laundry on constant loop time. So much I could say about the week or two before now, from what I felt was a very successful Christmas Eve pageant at church, through a fun Christmas resulting in some new electronics, clothes, books and – most importantly! – amazing time with family, and a Chanukah with my in-laws and just about all our friends back in Kitchener-Waterloo (including a few ‘rasslin’ buddies in Toronto when we went to check out WWE’s live show on Dec. 30 – thanks Ari for the tickets, and Dad for babysitting!).

I will definitely try to do a bit of a look back/look ahead, year end/year beginning post in the next day or two, but Christmas break also means new reading, and despite having done some reading in recent months I haven’t updated my reading list in some time, so I wanted to take care of this before I forgot and got sidetracked with other things in the New Year. I also wanted to make a couple of changes; namely, changing my two Dan Brown picks to “Book of Negroes” by Canadian author Lawrence Hill (which I finished over the winter break, incidentally), and to “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family” by Susan Katz Miller. You can find those changes below in bold, and “Book of Negroes” struck off. I may yet replace one or two books below with Malala Yousafsi’s autobiography and “Blood”, also by Hill, but I’m going to hold off on that as yet, since I’m still really interested in my list as it is, so I might just read those over and above my 101 books. We’ll see. πŸ™‚

That said … for my first book review of 2014, we’ll look at a wonderful piece of CanLit, “THE BOOK OF NEGROES” by Lawrence Hill, with no further ado …

I’m a bit behind the 8-ball in reviewing this one as it’s roughly 5-6 years old, but I read Hill’s “Black Berry, Sweet Juice” a couple of years back and wanted to read more of his work. Ari bought me this book for Chanukah and I read it over about 2 weeks’ time, which should tell you how engaging it was, and an easier read than you might expect given the subject matter. πŸ™‚ You can find the review below.Β 

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. β€˜Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The SixΒ WivesΒ of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill
42. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family – Susan Katz Miller
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

I’m torn on exactly what to say about this book. As I said in my Goodreads review, on the one hand I want to get a bit picky about how readable and accessible it is in some ways – should a book about slavery really be a ‘page-turner’? On the other hand, it speaks well to the author that, while he doesn’t (much) sanitize things (although I’m sure the horror of slavery is such it is impossible to write about from this remove without any sanitation), he creates an accessible book that you don’t need to be a historian or scholar to read, enjoy and learn from. Aminata Diallo is a relatable character who faces both a lifetime of losses and horrors, yet builds important and affirming relatinonships that see her through. While there are a few unrealistic conceits throughout the story designed to build hope and affirmation, you still feel the strength her journey requires of her, and the understanding that even when good things happen, it has so often gone the other way it is far from a sure thing (and vice versa). A very human story about a very inhuman time and place, crossing the map from Africa to the Southern United States to the Northeast, into Canada, and back to Africa before one last trip to England, this historical novel might struggle in some places with the risks of the genre – telling a compelling and entertaining story while remaining true to difficult subject matter – but by and large succeeds, and at the very least is a compelling and engaging read you will not regret.

et cetera