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Archive for March, 2015

Library Lust

credit: unknown (via here)

credit: unknown (via here)

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Library Loot

The Just City by Jo Walton – So excited to start this.  It sounds fascinating and fun – a perfect combination!

Never Shoot a Stampede Queen by Mark Leiren-Young – I started this a few years back while on holiday and thought it was hilarious.  But it was an ebook and I wasn’t able to finish it before the loan expired.  Time to try again.

Sway by Kat Spears – I don’t read a lot of YA but I’ve seen this recommended in several places so I thought I’d give it a try.

What did you pick up this week?

 

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Funny GirlIt’s rare that I finish a book thinking “I can’t wait to see the film adaptation of this”, but that was clearly the main thing on my mind when I finished – heck, when I finished the first chapter even – of Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl.

Funny Girl tracks the rise and fall of Barbara (and Jim), a fictitious 1960s British sitcom, and the lives of those involved in the show.  The show centres around Sophie Straw, a blonde bombshell who would rather make men laugh than pant – an ambition all men in London seem to find vaguely disorienting.  Crafting the show specifically for her are two sexually confused writers (well, one is confused, the other is just closeted) and a mild-manner producer, the straight man in this little group of actors and writers.  Rounding out the quintet is Clive, the Jim to Sophie’s Barbara, who can’t quite accept that what fame he has came because of Sophie’s star power and not his own.

It is a fun book.  It’s just also a bland and insubstantial one.  I never particularly enjoyed Hornby’s earlier novels but at least they were fresh and memorable.  Here, everything is instantly forgettable and every character is embarrassingly stereotypical and flat.  Even the characters you like – perhaps especially those ones – you spend the entire book hoping that Hornby will grant some attention to in order to flesh them out.  But no.  That never happens and so Sophie remains the sexy actress who just wants to be taken seriously for her talent rather than her looks, Clive remains the handsome but characterless cad, doomed to lechery and forgettable roles, and so on and so on.  It’s all a bit frustrating, particularly as Hornby’s attempts at social commentary are equally formulaic.

That said, I still think it would make a wonderful movie.  Flat characters collapse in print but do just fine on screen.  And who doesn’t love 1960s costumes?

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Five WindowsWhile fighting a cold a few weeks ago, I spent a Sunday morning curled up in my living room, with the weak winter sunshine streaming in and all the necessities an invalid could need ready at hand: a blanket, a cup of tea, and one of the cosiest books I know: Five Windows by D.E. Stevenson.

I first read Five Windows back in 2013, when I was devouring several D.E.S. books per month.  It instantly became one of my favourites, classed alongside The English Air and the “Mrs. Tim” books, and my fondness for it has only increased after this reading.

Five Windows is the story of David Kirke from his Scottish childhood to his early adulthood in London.  It follows him through five different homes: the manse where he grew up as the only child of loving parents, the townhouse in Edinburgh where he lived with his uncle while attending school, the seedy London boarding house where he lives after first arriving in the city, the cosy flat above a bookshop which he has the pleasure of making his own, and the house just outside London where he begins his married life.

David grows from a quiet, gentle boy to a steady, thoughtful man.  While the sections dealing with his youth in Scotland are lovely – particularly for the relationship between David and his mother – the book improves dramatically when David moves to London to train for a career in law.  The Scottish scenes could be a bit cloyingly sweet; with the move to London, D.E.S. is able to deploy some of her (rather too rarely used) humour.  At the squalid boarding house where he initially lives, he finds himself initially taken in by the tacky glamour of several fellow boarders.  Initially drawn to them, even as he is uncomfortable with their careless approach to things he holds dear, David eventually comes to see the others for what they are and neatly, and quite wonderfully bluntly, cuts them out of his life.  David is that rare creature: the kind-hearted and good but entirely sensible young man.  He is also a delighted homemaker, taking real pleasure in doing up the flat he moves into after leaving the boarding house.  It is very sweet and David’s pride in his home is familiar to anyone who has gone through the same experience.

While in London, David begins to write.  As a child, writing had been a favourite pastime and in London he turns to it again, writing first a series of sketches about the city and then a novel.  He takes his work seriously – Mr. Trollope would be proud of David’s work ethic, though perhaps a little disapproving when David chooses to leave his steady job after selling his first book – and his hard work is rewarded with success.  What is more, his personal life also prospers: he falls in love with a girl he has known since childhood, recently arrived in London after escaping her rather awful family.  Naturally, there is one more home to be done up – the one they will share as man and wife – and all ends as it always does in a D.E.S. novel: happily ever after.

This is a really lovely book and the only negative I can think of is how desperately difficult it is to obtain reasonably priced copies!

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

 

Library Loot

Gifted and Talented by Wendy Holden – absolute fluff but very fun.

The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys – Humphreys’ newest.

The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes – 2015 appears to be my year for rereading Keyes.  This is the fifth of her books that I’ve picked up this year.

What did you pick up this week?

 

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Library Lust

credit: unknown (via Decor Design Review)

credit: unknown (via Decor Design Review)

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Sea to Sky

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Yesterday morning, I finally got a chance to visit one of Vancouver’s newest tourist attractions: the Sea to Sky Gondola.  About an hour north of the city, the gondola whisks you from sea level up into the mountains, offering spectacular views of Howe Sound.  There are multiple viewing platforms, several short walking paths (not to be confused with the challenging hiking routes), a suspension bridge, and a welcoming, casual restaurant/guest centre with a stunning deck .  We have family visiting from Europe and back East this summer and I can’t wait to go back with them.  It is a place I would return to again and again.
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