Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year for 2008

I just wanted to say HAPPY NEW YEAR for 2008 to all my readers.
As I write this, here in Ontario, there's just 15 minutes to go.
In New Zealand, it's already been New Years day for almost 18 hours.
I cant wait for the Summer Olympics. I love watching Gymnastics.
It's just gone midnight - HAPPY NEW YEARS

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde - Book Review

The Well of Lost Plots
Jasper Fforde
Hodder Stoughton 2003
Book 3 in the SpecOps Series.

I found this novel to be full of lost plots as it ALL took place inside the Book World. I was more interested in the Next family and SpecOps and England of 1986, NOT the books. Besides most of the books mentioned are fictional, and as I have mentioned several time, I am NOT a fiction fan. I prefer non-fiction.

Thursday Next is pregnant with her first child, her husband has been eradicated - with noone (except Thursday) having any memories of him at all. So Thursday decides to take a break for a year inside a book where her enemies cannot find her. She joins the Character Exchange Programme where outlanders (real humans) and book characters get to change places for a while.

Inside the Book world is a HUGE Library - called the Great Library. It has 52 levels - 26 above ground, and 26 below ground - one floor for each letter (authors names). These floors are filled with books. The top 26 floors are filled with every fictional book ever published, and the lower 26 floors hold every fictional book that was never published, and occasionally there are ideas for a book that were never written. This library has NO non-fiction.

Are you confused? Me too. The books are policed by the characters themselves under the name of Jurisfiction. Thusday Next settles down inside a small detective novel called Caversham Heights. While on holiday, she is expected to take over the activities of the character she was exchanged with. But Thursday's mentor Miss Haversham (from Great Expectations) has other ideas. Thursday ends up helping Miss Haversham in her Jurisfiction duties, and eventually passes the exam to become a Jurisfiction agent herself.






During the course of her duties, Thursday has to battle Aornis (a very nasty memory worm) who obliterates Thursdays memories so that she too forgets her husbands name, and at the same time, Thursday must also investigate why several Jurisfiction agents have dissappeared. She discovers that they were killed because of the new upgrade to the Book. The new version about to be released (which is like an e-book reader to us outlanders) ends up having a major restriction - each book can only be read 3 times before being destroyed. This means libraries will no longer be able to lend books, and readers must keep buying books in order to read and remember them.

Thursday must battle the bad guys and the mind worm to save the fictional books and her husband.

While I loved Book 2, I was not too keen on Book 3, because it dealt with fictional books, and it was not set in Thursday's England, the world of Literary Detectives and SpecOps. That is the world I love. Now that Thursday and Landen are reunited, I will try reading Book 4 and hope that it is set back in England.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Inkheart Movie

For those of you who have read the Inkheart & Inkspell Books, by Cornelia Funke, you may already know that these books are in the process of being made into movies. At least Inkheart is. It was originally due for release this Xmas, but due to delays, it is now set for release in March 2008. I borrowed the books from the library this week, but have not yet started reading them. Then I find out that Canadian born actor Brendan Fraser has split with his wife and has just finished making Inkheart, the movie. Speaking of fantasy movies, I saw Neil Gaiman's movie Stardust on DVD last night. I rather enjoyed it too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Madonnas of Leningrad - Book Review

The Madonnas of Leningrad
By Debra Dean
Published by William Morrow 2006
Paperback from Harper Perennial 2007

This is a beautiful story, about Marina, an elderly Russian woman who, in the 21st century is slowly forgetting her family, due to the ravages of Alzheimers. In her mind, Marina keeps returning to the Seige of Leningrad in the Second World War, some sixty years previously.

During the seige, Marina was a tour guide at the famous Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. During the seige, the museum employees are charged with removing the artworks from their frames, and being packed away and then sent to a safe place. After they were removed to safety, the employees are hidden in the Museum basement along with their families, where they survive that first terrible winter of the seige. (winter of 1941).

Marina keeps herself sane by walking through the Museum rooms and creating a memory picture in her head. She tries to remember the details of every picture in every frame. It is a lot of mental work, but somehow Marina knows it will help her survival.

The author does an excellent job of describing what it is like to live with Alzheimers - her grandparents both suffered from it. She also did a lot of research about the Hermitage Museum, and the artworks they hold. In fact Debra was not able to visit the Museum until after the book was published.

Marina knew lots of artists names - Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Leonardo, Caravaggio, Gainsborough, etc. I personally love art, and art history, which is why I purchased this book.

I am writing this at my brother-in-laws house, and will upload some pictures on Xmas day.

Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud - Book Review

Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud
By Julia Navarro Author Interview
Seal Books (Sept 2007)

One of History’s Most Sacred Treasures. . .
An Age-Old Secret Conspiracy. . .
Now the Truth Is Revealed. . . .
Did you know that the city of TURIN in Italy has tunnels running under the city? I mention this because these tunnels play an important part of the story in this novel. The story is about the search for and the history of the Shroud of Turin.

Now some people think the Shroud is real - and that's fine if they choose to do so - as long as they do not endanger anyone else in that belief. There are others who beleive that the Shroud is fake because its been dated to the early medieval period, not to the time of Christ. That's fine as well. This novel - The Brotherhood of the Shroud - has come up with a plausible explanation for the dating discrepancies.








The Shroud of Turin dates to A.D. 30 by tradition; 1260 to 1390 by carbon dating.
Modern scientific analysis is continuing. So the Shroud is a fake. But even the Scientific community are doubting their own science. Here is a page where they are grasping at straws to explain why the carbon dating is wrong. To me that is bad news. Science is
based on facts, and the fact is, that the Shroud currently being held in Turin is a fake.

I read a book once that claimed that the shroud showed the image of Jacques de Molay - the last Grand Master of the Knight Templar when King Philippe sent out orders for the Templar Knights to be destroyed. At the time that idea made sense to me, and still does. It certainly fits the carbon tested dates.

This novel suggests that there were two shrouds. The original one that was wrapped about the body of Jesus Christ, and then during the crusades, a second long piece of material was wrapped around the first shroud for protection. That too makes sense. But here's where the science goes crazy. Somehow the image was imprinted from the first shroud onto the second, and it is the second shroud that is now in the Turin Cathedral. Just before Black Friday (October 13th, 1307) - the day the Templar Knights Order was destroyed - the knights sent both the shrouds into safekeeping.

The novel is told in two time lines. One being the story of the original shroud, and
the events surrounding it from the time of Jesus all the way up to the destruction of the Knights Templars in 1307. The second time line is in the present time as the Art Crimes Police Unit attempt to find out who keeps attacking the Cathedral of Turin, trying to steal the shroud. Marco Valoni and his team, find a "brotherhood" of men with their tongues surgically removed (so they cannot speak) involved in the attempted thefts. The team also discover that the Templar Knights do still exist in the present century. Their job is to protect the Shroud. And lastly Ana Rimenez a young reporter does some digging, and uncovers the truth about the Shroud, but loses her life in the process.

The story was interesting, the historical parts were fascinating, but since this fiction is not based on any KNOWN history, I found it hard to enjoy the whole story. The history given here certainly is plausible, but the fact is that NOTHING is known for sure about the shroud before it showed up with the Counts of Savoy in the 1400s. And that is why I personally accept the carbon dating for the early medieval period.

And where is the original shroud? Well this novel suggests that it was taken to the one country where the Templar Knights were free to regroup and continue their way of life.

You Are What You Read

There is an article in Sunday's New York Times that says You are What you Read.

In an 1806 diagnosis, a British doctor hypothesized that the “excess of stimulus” produced by reading novels “affects the organs of the body and relaxes the tone of the nerves.” Reading at the table interfered with your digestion, reading before lunch with your morals. Another expert, in 1867, warned that “to read when in bed ... is to injure your eyes, your brain, your nervous system, your intellect.”

In 18th-century paintings, the reader sprawls on a sofa or lolls at the hairdresser’s; in 19th-century magazines, those characters shown reading are the least likely to engage in any exercise more strenuous than turning a page. One English journalist in 1874 worried that frequent readers “are defrauded out of their proper amount of exercise, get their muscles relaxed and their health out of gear.”

Reading was for girls what gaming is for boys: absorption shading into addiction. And like the Xbox or the potato chip, the pleasure it gave in the moment was proportionate to its dangers in the long term. Then, reading was a sign of laziness; now, readers get credit for hard work.

The idea that reading makes one lazy - is somewhat preposterous. I have never been told that I read too much. At least I dont remember being told that. I was frequently told that I watched TV too much (back when I was watching TV - I dont do that any more). I am also told that I do spend too much time on the computer. But I dont recall ever being told that I read too much. Not in those specific words.

I remember being told frequently that I was a bookworm, a bookworm bear (if such a thing exists) and a bookaholic. I remember being told to "not read in the dark, because it will hurt your eyes". I was always being told "Elbows off the table" if they were planted either side of a book while I was eating. But I must have not been very good at mind reading when I was a child. I certainly never picked up any message that meant I should be outdoors playing, or to get up and help with the chores, or that I read too much.

Every birthday and Xmas, I asked for book tokens (like book vouchers) and invariably received them, and so I was able to buy more books. Whenever I was told I could have a toy, I usually asked for a book instead. If I did own any toys or dolls, they were given to me as gifts.

If I am what I read, then I consider myself to be a fairly well rounded and knowledgeable person. With good general knowledge in history, geography and politics. I am not so good in sports and science and definitely hopeless in maths. I LOVE Trivial Pursuit, and I love watching trivia game shows on TV like Who wants to be a Millionaire, Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader and the new program Duel.

I am constantly searching for more knowledge. I LIKE who I am because of what I read.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Golden Compass Books BANNED

Here's an article that aired on CBC three days ago, but I only found it today. The Golden Compass Book series by Philip Pullman, have been banned by the Halton District Catholic School Board. One of the school boards in the Greater Toronto Area. This district covers the Municipalities of Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville (west of Toronto) in Ontario, Canada.

A memo to principals said there were concerns the books were "anti-God, anti-Catholic and anti-religion," and elementary school officials were instructed not to distribute book club flyers that had The Golden Compass available for purchase.

Published in 1995, Pullman's The Golden Compass has returned to the public eye because of the new blockbuster film adaptation of the fantasy tale that hit theatres this month.

The book, voted the best children's book in the last 70 years by readers around the world earlier this year, has drawn high praise and condemnation. The Vatican newspaper waded into the debate this week, criticizing the new film and Pullman.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Three shopping days to go

So hubby and I did go and see National Treasure: Book of Secrets yesterday. Despite the critics panning it, we both enjoyed it. Although hubby complained that there were not as many clues for the team to follow this time. He wanted the actual search to be longer. Well, considering that the film crew filmed in Paris, France and London, England, as well as different parts of the USA, they probably couldn't afford to drag out the search too long. In the first movie, the entire search was in USA, up and down the eastern seaboard. Much cheaper, and therefore, more clues allowed.

So I took my son to the movies today, to see Alvin & the Chipmunks. He enjoyed it. And we also went to see Santa today at the local mall (Dec 22nd), where son got the obligatory photograph. He asked Santa for a skateboard. Santa promised he would try and make one. My 5 year old son knows that Santa is not real, and that the Santa he saw today is fake. At the same time he will also be upset if he doesn't get a skateboard.

We were planning on giving him the skateboard for his 6th birthday next year - right before summer. That way he will have good weather to learn how to skateboard. With all the snow and ice lying around on the ground right now, even if he did get a skateboard for Xmas, he certainly won't be able to ride it right away.

The mall was unbelieveably crowded, and noisy. With only 3 shopping days to go, so many people sure do leave things to the last minute.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Xmas Meme

I know I have not been writing, blogging or reading much this month. Mostly because I have to spend a fair amount of time looking for a job. So here is a Xmas Meme I found. If you want to do it, feel free. Not tagging anyone. Entirely your choice.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Egg Nog. Both my boys love Egg Nog.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa wraps most of them, but if he gets tired or runs out of sellotape, the rest go into a bag.

3. Colored lights on tree or white?

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. Don't even know what it even looks like.

5. When do you put up your decorations?
They still not up yet. My son has to keep reminding us. They will probably go up on the weekend before Xmas.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Nothing special.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Dont know if it's my favourite, but the most memorable Xmas memory I have was the summer my family went camping out in a tent where it rained for a week. We played monopoly, card games and I read a lot of books. We also caught a ferret which jumped into one of the luggage bags, and suffocated from the clothes. This would have been well over 20 years ago as I was still in high school.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don't remember anyone telling me about Santa when I was a little girl. I probably learnt about St Nicholas from reading books.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
No. Actually my son might get one on Xmas Eve, if he is persistent or being particularly naughty.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
The usual tinsel, and small lights.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Dread it. It's too cold, and the ice is a real hazard. I grew up in more temperate climes where it just doesn't snow.

12. Can you ice skate?
No. My balance is very bad. I cant rollerskate either.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Anything to do with books, whether it was book tokens, book vouchers, gift vouchers anything like that for which I can buy books.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Nothing really. In fact I do find it a nuisance.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Dont really have one.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Putting up & decorating the Xmas tree (even if it is a fake one)

17. What tops your tree?
We have a small star.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving. My hubby and I dont buy for each other. But we do try and do something special. Today we are going to see the movie - National Treasure: Book of Secrets - which opens today. Thats our Xmas presents for ourselves. Obviously we make sure our 5 year old has a few gifts.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Good King Wencaslas

20. Candy Canes?
I dont like them. They break too easily, they make sticky crumbs and they are just too sweet to eat.

21. Do you feel Christmas is too commercialized? Or is it still meaningful for you?
Definitely too commercialised.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

US magazine publishers are gouging Canadians

I came across this article today.

U.S. Publisher Takes American Price Off Magazines To Charge Canadians More

Is it dirty pool or simply smart business? Whatever you decide, it's not a story you're likely to read in a magazine. After months of being hammered over Canadians paying higher prices for U.S. goods despite the higher value of the loonie, one American firm has apparently found a way around it - they've simply removed any trace of the U.S. price for their items sold in Canada.

New York-based Hearst Magazines is the company behind a slew of huge magazine titles, including Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Esquire and Oprah Winfrey's "O." All of them used to appear on racks with two cover prices, all cheaper in the U.S. than here. But consumers began protesting en masse when the loonie soared above its American counterpart and wondered why they had to pay as much as 30 per cent more.

Some retailers - like Wal-Mart - heard those disgruntled calls and started selling the titles for the lower price. But now consumers who read them will only find one posted cost - and it's the higher Canadian one.

The company maintains it was simply trying to end the confusion for Canucks about the price difference and why it was there in the first place. And they admit they made the move at the request of Canadian wholesalers, who have been taking a hit both publicly and financially by the seemingly inexplicable difference.

There are suggestions that publishing and distributing American magazines in Canada costs more and that's the reason for the price differential. But many customers are questioning that logic, wondering how their currency can be worth more while their costs are higher. And it's not a cheap move for Hearst executives - they now have to create two different covers for each country.

It's not clear how long this new policy will be in place or if the publisher intends to make it a permanent feature of their magazines.

Another report - with quote below

The only reason they’re doing it is to maintain the rip-off structure for Canadian consumers.

Any bets that the book publishers will start doing the same thing eventually - even if it means two different book covers? I think it sucks. It ALWAYS has to be about profits.

Snowed in today

Its snowing today. This blizzard went through Oklahoma and the Midwest 2 days ago, and I have been hearing stories that many many people have lost power. I do hope we don't lose power - again. I took a photo. This is my flickr account. I was going to take my son out to see Santa today at the local mall, but that's going to wait until this blizzard stops. In the meantime, I'll see if I can continue reading.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not His Type - Book Review

Not His Type
By Chamein Canton
Genesis Press, Indigo Imprint 2007 pp 456

I stopped in at the local library yesterday and found a shelf full of new paperback romances by African American authors and featuring African American characters. Now I have not read a romance novel in a long time. So I picked up one about a literary agent who happens to also be a baseball fan, a single mother, and a larger size woman and started reading it. Two hours later, I was half way through the book, and could not put it down, so I took it home.

For New York literary agent and author Cathy Chambers, life is pretty good. She has a job she loves in a city she loves; things are even sweeter because New York is home to her favorite baseball team, the Yankees. For years, Cathy has had a crush on Yankees superstar Marcus Fox. He's handsome, he plays for her favorite team, and, best of all for Cathy, he's completely unattainable. That is, until chance leads her to meet him in a trendy restaurant.

Now, Cathy's dream is suddenly attainable ... if she can overcome her self-consciousness long enough to believe that Marcus, who is well-known for being surrounded by skinny models, could really be interested in a full-figured woman.

I too am a full-figured woman - ok so I am considerably overweight - but this is the first time I have ever seen any books about the plus-sized women, and a romance as well. And I like watching baseball too.

There were some very interesting observations made.

It's because being fat is the last form of acceptable discrimination in this country. Heck, there's a whole multi-billion dollar weight loss industry based on the fact that noone wants to be called fat.

Do you agree with this statement?

Here's another.

If you act like you're fat and don't deserve anything good to happen to you, then that is exactly what will happen. It has nothing to do with the fates, other people or even God. You will have shot your own self in the foot.

The author Chimein Canton has put a lot of herself in this novel. Like Catherine, she too is a single mother with college age twin sons, a larger size women, and she is also a literary agent (specializing in African American women) based on Long Island.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Like I said, I couldn't put it down. I finished it in just 6 hours, which for me is slow, but I did have to do some shopping, run around after my son, and organize dinner. There were tons of detail about how a literary agency works, which I really enjoyed.

The topic of large women is very relevant to our society because Two-thirds of Americans (over 64%) are overweight. Almost one-third is obese. It is now the norm to be large, not the exception. However the media, the health industry and that billion dollar weight-loss industry do everything they can to make women feel guilty about being large. The medical industry thinks obesity is a disease.

I have actually seen several articles that mentioned how the food industry is deliberately putting chemicals in the food to make people eat more. That's part of what MSG does.

Remember the 1999 Emmy awards when Camryn Manheim from The Practice won an Emmy. She held it up in the air and said "This is for all the fat girls". She is my hero on TV. She is currently starring in The Ghost Whisperer.

So now if I hear anyone comment on my size, I take the power. Most of the time.

"Look at her. She's fat" (person sniggering or pointing a finger)
"Yes I am fat. Do you have a problem with that?" (me)
"Yes I do, I find it disgusting". (them)
" Well ma'am, that's your problem to deal with. I have no problem with being fat." (me) and I walk off. I dont bother to tell them that I have PCOS, and one of the symtoms of PCOS is Obesity or the inability to lose weight. Before I hit puberty, I used to be a rather skinny girl.

I am especially empowered to say this after my recent brain surgery. In all my pre-operative and pre-admission tests, NOT ONE single person told me that I was a bad risk because of my size. In fact the anathesiast really made my day, when he said to me "I dont think we will have any problem with your heart. If your heart can handle the body changes that occurr throughout a nine month pregnancy, then it can handle a 4 hour operation with no problems".

Body Positive

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CN Tower Light Festival

Every evening around 6pm, when I pick my son up from daycare, he and I have to check out the CN Tower which we can easily see from our neighbourhood. During November and December There is a Lights Festival in Toronto - called the Cavalcade of Lights. The last few nights the Tower has been showing a range of colours including the rainbow, zipping up and down the sides. It's actually gorgeous to see.
I'm sorry I dont have any photographs, but I did try to take some. Unfortunately my camera cannot capture the lights from the long distance we are at, although our eyes can see the lights perfectly. Except when it's snowing, and the tower is covered by the clouds.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Slightly Chipped by L & N Goldstone - Book Review

Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore
by Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone
Thomas Dunne Press HC 1999
Griffin Imprint PB 2000.

I read the Goldstone's third book - Warmly Inscribed - back in April. Its taken me several months to find & read their second book Slightly Chipped. But at last I have read it.

First the nitpicking. The Goldstones attended the Sotheby's auction in New York City in 1998 for the sale of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor's furniture, jewellery, books, clothes and other possessions. Someone from Sotheby's told the Goldstones that the founder of the Boyscouting movement was Sir Michael Baden Powell. The FACT is that the founder of the Scouts was Sir Robert Baden Powell. Sir Robert did have a grandson named Michael Baden-Powell, and Michael is currently the heir to the Baron title, but he certainly was not the Founder of the Scouting movement. Michael is involved in the Scouting movement in Australia. Sotheby's employees really should get their FACTS straight. Or the editor needed to do a better job of the fact checking. (see page 184 Griffin PB edition May 2000)

Now for the interesting stuff. If I had read this book back in April, most of the names would have gone straight over my head. William Morris and his Kelmscott Press (I knew about Morris and his Wallpapers), The Bloomsbury group (I'd never heard of this group, although I had heard of Virginia Woolf), and Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach (whom I had never heard of at all).

But the last 7 months has taught me a lot about books, about authors and about printing. So the chapters I enjoyed the most in this book were the ones about Morris and his Kelmscott Press (chapter 2), the Bloomsbury Group (chapter 3), ASW Rosenbach (chapter 6) and the Sothebys auction (chapter 9).

I purchased my first Rosenbach book just a few weeks ago. But I still haven't read it. Got too many challenges to read for. But I will get there. Chapter 6 about the Goldstones visiting the Rosenbach museum in Philadelphia was an interesting chapter. And just like the Goldstones, I too wanted to know more about the books. The background information about Rosenbach and his books was absoluting fascinating. Half the chapter is about Rosenbach, and other of half is about Dracula (Abraham Stoker), and Trilby (George du Maurier - grandfather of Daphne Du Maurier). I enjoyed the Dracula notes, but not the Trilby notes. I am not a fan of Daphne Du Maurier's mostly fiction. Although I have read The Glassblowers.

Chapter 8 discusses Bibliofind, ABEbooks and other Bookish search engines on the Internet. In 1997 things were very quiet as the internet was more of an information source than any search engine or profit making source. In 1998, with the release of Windows 98, as we all know, the internet literally EXPLODED.

I enjoyed this book. I read it in 24 hours. The remaining chapters were about Book Fairs in the New England area and interesting books that the Goldstones purchased, or didnt purchase. And once again, I received a good and interesting education from the Goldstones. I will definitely be looking for their first book - Used and Rare - published in 1997.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Do we have any Boxing Gloves?

"Do we have any Boxing Gloves, Mommy"? my son asked tonight as I put him to bed.
"No son we don't". I replied.
"But we have to have them for the 26th", he said. "Coz that's Boxing day".

Bookends - A New Musical about Old Friends

I just discovered those two old and dear friends, Rostenberg and Stern this year. They were 2 Jewish women who refused to do what tradition said - which was to get married and raise a family, and leave the menfolk to do the business. Instead they got together and started their own Rare Books Business and ran it for over 50 years. They produced dozens of catalogues, and also did a large amount of Bibliophilic scholarly research.

Madeleine Stern discovered Louisa May Alcott's pseudonym under which she (Alcott) wrote a number of "racy" novels, that were totally different from the Little Women & Little Men series. Stern died earlier this year. Leona Rostenberg wrote a few books about the history of printing in Europe. She died in 2005.

I also heard something about a musical based on their lives. Well I finally found some information about the Musical. It was produced and performed by the New Jersey Repertory Company. it's called BOOKENDS and it received some good reviews.

I wonder if this musical will ever come to Canada. Maybe I might suggest it to the local theatre company. Because I for one would LOVE to see it.

In the Company of Writers by Charles Scribner Jr

In the Company of Writers: A Life in Publishing
By Charles Scribner Jr (CS IV 1921-1995)
Charles Scribner & Sons Published 1990
Scribner Timeline

In 1945 Charles Scribner Junior (officially CS IV) joined his family's publishing firm. Charles was born in 1921, in Quogue, Long Island, New York, but raised in New Jersey from a young age. CS IV graduated from Princeton University in 1943, and promptly joined the Navy as cryptanalyst.

After the war was over, he joined the family firm in 1946, as the director of advertising and publicity. Scribner grew up knowing and being friends with well known authors such Ernest Hemingway, CS Snow, Scott Fitzgerald, PD James, Thomas Wolfe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Alan Paton, Charles Lindburgh.

This book describes Charles's time as a publisher, director, chairman of Scribners, actions he took, and chances he missed. And always there were the authors. But the most famous friendship Charles had, was with Ernest Hemingway. This friendship was a continuation of Hemingway's ongoing friendship with Charles father (CS III).

Hemingway was a prolific letter writer and, in 1981, many of these letters were published by Scribner in Ernest Hemingway Selected Letters. It was met with some controversy as Hemingway himself stated he never wished to publish his letters. Further letters were published in a book of his correspondence with his editor Max Perkins, The Only Thing that Counts in 1996 [Wikipedia].

In the Company of Writers is a very nice book if you really want to know how a publishing company works. You follow all the actions Charles made, commiserate with the mistakes he made, and enjoy the successes. I enjoyed it, but it does get a little dry in places.

In 1984 Scribners became part of Macmillan Publishing, and later Scribner became an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Audio files of interviews by Charles Scribner IV about running a Publishing company, and about this book. Oh and this is read for the Bibliography challenge, which means I have now read 4 books for that challenge. Now I'm done. LOL

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Napoleon wrote a love story?

Apparently Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a love story. Back when he was a writer, before he became a general. Today comes news that page one of this manuscript was sold at auction in Paris, France for CDN$35,000. It was just a short story - barely 22 pages - but it was in Napoleon's handwriting. I'm surprised it didn't go for a lot more.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Richard Leigh dead at 64

So who was Richard Leigh? Well back in the early 1980's he co-write this little book that the catholic church hated, and said it was heresy. If it was not for me reading this little book, I would not have made the decision I did to leave the church I was raised in. And if it was not for this book, Dan Brown would not have written such a succesful novel about some painter, since he virtually lifted a major name from this other little known book, and was taken to court for it. Dan Brown won. And of course the other little book was called Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Codex by Lev Grossman - Book Review

By Lev Grossman
Harcourt Books 2004

About to depart on his first vacation in years, Edward Wozny, a hotshot young investment banker, is sent to help one of his firm's most important and mysterious clients. His task is to search their library stacks for a precious medieval codex, a treasure kept sealed away for many years and for many reasons.

At the same time, Edward is also involved in a computer game but in this game he takes a wrong turn, and finds an "easter egg". When he asks for help to get out of the easter egg, he discovers that the codex is also an easter egg.

An Easter Egg is a term that refers to an undocumented feature or novelty that is in a [computer] program that the makers of that program placed in the program for additional fun and credits. Easter Eggs are in no way destructive to any software or hardware within the computer and are usually meant for something unique and fun.

Enlisting the help of passionate medievalist Margaret Napier, Edward breaks into the stacks of a specialist library to find a box of books missing from the family library and thought to be stored there for safekeeping. They find the box, full of old books but not the codex. Until Margaret gets an idea and looks more closely at the old books.

The entire story takes place over two weeks. The story reads somewhat dry in places, but it is very interesting. Edward is relatively developed, but Margaret is not. I feel she could have been a lot more developed. There is very little background on her.

Anyone for Jane Austen?

My father is a huge fan of Jane Austen's novels. And despite growing up around him, I don't remember reading any of her novels - except maybe for Pride and Prejudice. I have seen the P&P TV series (starring Colin Firth). And recently I picked up an interesting novel about Mr Darcy. It's called Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer.

So last night while surfing, I discovered the Jane Austen Challenge. Read or watch a minimum of 2 Jane Austen-related books or movies. Starting January 1st, 2008.

I think I will join this because I really do need to read or see more Jane Austen. So I will read Darcy's Story and watch the movies - Becoming Jane and Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow version).

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Administration, Bibliography, Cataloging job required

Things are really happening on the Shakespeare front. I received an email from another Shakespeare author this week. She has written a book on a woman contender for being the playright. I wish it was January 1st already, so I can start reading my Shakespeare books now, instead of waiting another whole month.

I am in the process of looking for another job, so if anyone in Toronto knows of any vacancies in the Toronto Public Library, or any publisher, bookshop (first run, remainder or antiquarian), magazine or newspaper who needs an Administration Assistant who has a can do attitude and is willing to work on cataloging, bibliography, research, filing, record management and archives, please let me know. I do have library and cataloging experience. Money not important. 25 to 30 hours per week at least. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blackout in Toronto and Rosenbach

A Book Hunters Holiday
By ASW Rosenbach
Boston, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1936

The good news that happened today was that My Rosenbach book Book Hunters Holiday (published 1936) arrived, sans Dust Jacket. Which is probably why I got it so cheap. I purchased this last week as per my previous post.

The bad news is that my part of Toronto - Downtown - had a blackout. It happened right before the rush hour on a very cold and windy evening. I had picked my son up from Kindergarten and taken him to the barbers to get a long overdue haircut. The timing turned out to be fortuitous.

We were on our way home, (around 4.15pm) and had paused outside the 24/7 Sobeys store when all the lights in Sobeys went out - leaving the entire shop in darkness. Looking around we noticed that the traffic lights were out, and so were the other store lights along the street front. Including the library and the barbershop.

So we quickly headed down the hill away from the street, wondering if our apartment building still had power. The local corner shops all still had power, so I purchased some pizza pieces for us to eat at home. It was a good thing too, because my worst fear came true. Yes - our apartment building was blacked out.

So we climbed the stairs. And ate our pizza pieces, and dug around for the flashlight before the sun set. And then we spent the next 2 hours reading my sons books by flashlight because there was nothing else to do. No computer, no TV, no fan to keep us cool, and no microwave to heat up our food.

Fortunately the power came back by 7pm, which is why I am giving you an update. LOL

The city news says it covered most of downtown - probably including the subway. If anyone knows if the subway was shut down, could they please let me know? Just out of curiosity. Thanks.

The Samson Effect By Tony Eldridge - Book Review

The Samson Effect
By Tony Eldridge
Publisher - iUniverse - Editors choice & Publishers choice
Website - Samson Effect
Available at these locations

I have been waiting for The Samson Effect to be completed since June when I read the first three chapters and pre-viewed it. Now at last I have the book, and have just finished reading it. It was everything I expected, and more. I stayed up reading it until after midnight because I could NOT put it down.

If you like reading Clive Cussler and Dan Brown, then you have to read this book. As I said in my preview, the action starts from the very first page, and it literally does not stop.

Michael Sieff, an Israeli Archaeologist has been looking for the Samson Effect and finally he has found a new piece of the puzzle. After an encounter with a Palestinian "warlord" intent on a world jihad, Michael calls his closest friend and colleague Dr Thomas Hamilton (a Biblical Archaeologist professor teaching at a small university in New Hampshire) to drop everything and come to Israel.

Thomas goes to his Department head and tells him that he is taking a 3 month sabbatical to go to Israel. Thomas' request is denied, but says he is going anyway. As he drives away, behind him the Archaeology department building explodes. Thomas becomes a wanted person for the bombing. He drives to the airport and after an incident at the airport, Thomas is sneaked aboard a private jet and flown to Israel.

Michael's Uncle Benjamin Ben Hur is the Israeli ambassador to USA. His assistant is Hanna. Hanna joins Michael and Thomas in their search for the Samson Effect. So far the biggest clue they have is a location - Hidden in the Belly of the Devil - somewhere close to Hebron. In Biblical times the devil was also a serpent or a snake.

The Samson Effect is a drug or plant of some kind that makes people strong just like Samson in the Old Testament. Thomas also beleives that the Samson Effect may also cause mental illness, depression and other pyschological illneses.

The rest of the story is a race between the Jews and the Palestinians to find the Samson Effect first. Also mixed into this race is a mysterious group of Jewish rabbis who already know the secret of the Samson Effect, and are determined to protect it at all costs.

There is action on every page, some romance and certainly some prejudices between Jews and Arabs. Otherwise this was a great story. Just over 200 pages, but every page is jampacked with action from start to finish. I think this book is worthy of being made into a movie. I thought Thomas was just like Indiana Jones, Azim was Belloq, and Michael was Sallah. As I said at the top, I could not put this book down.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Starting Out by Pierre Berton - Book Review

Starting Out (1920 - 1947)
Author: Pierre Berton (1920 - 2004)
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart, Toronto 1987

When I moved to Canada 7 years ago, I didnt really know anything about Pierre Berton. But I had read one of his books - Klondike. Then I discovered that Pierre was born in the Yukon and lived there during the early depression era. His father had been a gold rush miner originally from New Brunswick. So when I found this book recently, I snapped it up.

This is the story of Pierre Berton from his early childhood in Dawson City, Yukon, through his high school years in Vancouver and in college at UBC to being in the Army during World War 2. Pierre was actually born in 1920 in Whitehorse, Yukon, but the family moved back to Dawson City in 1921. At that time, Whitehorse had a population of 300, and Dawson City was 12,000. Today Whitehorse has 24,000 and Dawson has 1800. Dawson is now a Historic place because it is a genuine gold rush town. It receives 60,000 tourists every year.

Berton remembers riding his bicycle along wooden sidewalks past old saloons, dancehalls, brothels, theatres and hotels, most of which were old, decaying, and boarded up. He describes the Victorian architecture, the luxurious but dusty interiors, and mining machinery strewn everywhere, both inside the old buildings, and outside lying along the streets.

In winter Berton describes going to school in the dark, coming home in the dark,
indeed, not even seeing the sun for 6 weeks during December & January. He saw the
northern lights regularly and never thought anything of them. In the middle of summer "nothing was really dark in Dawson during that brief six week period when the sun set for less than 2 hours".

This is the Bertons childhood home located at 8th Avenue & Harper in Dawson. It was a small one bedroom house with no bathroom. It is now a historic site and used for a "writers in residence" program.

In all my years in the Yukon, I never saw a wolf. I saw moose, caribou, brown bears, lynx, coyotes and all manner of wildlife from arctic hares to porcupine, but never a wolf. The howl of the wolf was heard frequently.

Berton moved to Victoria in 1931 during the depression when his father lost his job.
He describes his high school years in Victoria, during which time he discovered his
love of writing, and endeavoured to become a journalist. This he did while being on
the staff of the Ubyssey at UBC in Vancouver. After he graduated from UBC, Berton
got a job on the Vancouver News-Herald where he eventually rose to the position of
City editor by the time he was twenty one years old. Then in 1942 Berton joined the
army, and spent 3 years being trained for all manner of things such as infantry,
intelligence, officer school and so on.

But he never actually got to see any action. Then closest he got to it was in
England. When he was finally mustered out, he married his wife Janet and tried to
get his old city editor job back at the News-Herald. They refused to give it to him,
paying him a paltry sum to be just a reporter. So Berton joined the Vancouver Sun
Newspaper. But something in him was still restless, and a year after he married, he
accepted an offer to work for Macleans Magazine in Toronto.

So in 1947, he and Janet packed up and moved to Toronto. The next book covers his years in Toronto. It's called My Times (1947 - 1995) and I will be reading & reviewing it soon. Naturally of course, this book is read for the Canadian Challenge.

I could go on and on, but I LOVED this biography, for all the details it gave me about the Yukon. Now I realise this all took place well over 70 years ago, but still. I have never been to the Yukon. I have never seen the northern lights. Now I have a dream to go there and see the northern lights in my life time. I better get cracking, I have less than 40 years to do it in (and that is assuming I live for 80 years).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gods Behaving Badly - Book Review

Gods Behaving Badly
By Marie Phillips
Random House Canada
Publishing date - December 4, 2007
ARC copy
Personal Rating R18 (for Language)
Random House
Author profile
Author Guest Blog

Booklounge (from Random House) sent me this book as a prize for doing a book survey. How nice. When I first saw the title, my first thought was The gods must be crazy.Well if you ever saw those movies (the first one was made in 1980) you'll remember how funny they were. This book is not quite so funny, but it is a great read. The first thing I must mention is the profanity. There is a LOT of profanity (or filthy language) in this book. Including intercourse if you can call it intercourse.

If you ever watched the TV series Hercules, you'll recognize the Gods names. Basically the major Greek Gods - Artemis, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Ares, Eros, Hermes, Hera and Zeus all live in a shabby house in North London. They've been here since the 16th century because they needed a place to live after their powers became very weak. They could not longer do everything they used to do before. Except Apollo and Artemis. He still makes the sun rise and set every day, and she still makes the moon grow full and and dark every month.

Being Gods they don't need to eat, but they still need to pay the house bills, the power, water, etc, so they found jobs. Apollo needs to be idolized, and he fancies himself as a psychic. So he sets himself up as a pyschic with his own TV show. Aphrodite does phone sex, always walking around with a cell phone clapped to her ear. Hera and Zeus are locked away in the attic, because they are refuse to acknowledge that they are no longer all-powerful.

Into this family comes Alice, a cleaning lady. She used to work at the studio where Apollo had his TV series, and she used her privileges to sneak her boyfriend Neil into the show. The studio boss saw them on TV and sacked her. Alice then needs to find a new job and eventually ends up at the house of the Gods. Where she is hired to clean the house. After 400 years, it was quite filthy because the gods could not lower themselves to do the demeaning jobs.

Apollo is empowered (by Eros) to fall in love with Alice, and when he attempts to rape her, she refuses and leaves. Apollo does not take the rejection at all well. He asks Zeus to kill her. Alice dies in the park from a lightening strike. Neil goes to the Gods house to ask for their help to bring her back. Apollo tries to say he is sorry to Neil for killing his girlfriend, but when Neil rejects Apollo's attempt at an apology, Apollo gets mad, and intends to show Neil who he is dealing with. Apollo points to the sun and BAM the sun goes out. At the same time Apollo collapses to the floor.

(Physics note that the gods dont seem to be aware of. It is a physical impossibility for anyone to make the sun go out instantly - at least from the Earth anyway. It would take a minimum of 8 minutes for such a power to reach the sun)

The rest of the book tells the story of how Neil races to find and rescue Alice and the world before the mortals all die, and bring the gods back to full power. We find out what the underworld is "really" like and how it works. We meet a few new gods and other names from greek mythology such as Hades and Persephone the gods of the underworld, Cerebrus the large three headed dog, and Styx of the river.

As long as you can get past the filthy language, this is actually a very interesting book to read. Not least because noone else has ever thought of writing about the gods. Well, not since Hercules and Xena anyway.

Marie Phillips, the author, has done some very good research for the areas that each god was responsible for. I give this book 3 out of 5. I would make it 4 out of 5 if there was not so much bad language, and and 5 out of 5 if it was funnier. I also read this for the Books around the World Challenge since it is set in London, England.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Shakespeare and Flickr News

I was doing some surfing for Shakespeare stuff today, and came across some new and interesting blogs and websites. I also received an email from a well-known Shakespeare author. So if you want to read it, pop on over to my Shakespeare blog and read todays posts.
Shakespeare by Another Name
Shakespeare Geek, Master of Shakespeare

I also made myself a new account at flickr, so you can visit my photos. I dont have too many yet.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Winter has arrived - a whole month early.

Now I know that officially Winter does not start until December 21st. But today is November 22nd - Thanksgiving day in USA - and it is snowing in Ontario, Canada. A whole month early. This photograph was taken this morning overlooking our balcony and the park next door.

I always thought it very funny to start the official season on the 21st of the month (because they are the solstice days) instead of doing what New Zealand does, and start the new seasons at the beginning of the month.

On December 1st in New Zealand is the official start of Summer. Although it will still officially be Autumn in North America. Maybe its still Autumn because the trees outside my apartment building are still stubbornly hanging onto their leaves.

So right now in the Northern Hemisphere it is officially still Autumn (or Fall), even though it is snowing. In the Southern Hemisphere it is officially still Spring, but only until December 1st.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Updating my Challenges for 2008

I spent part of the day sorting through my books and making lists of what books I want to read for Next Years Challenges. My Challenge Sidebar has been updated.

The History Challenge (12 books)
The Colour of Stones (a novel)
The Ambassadors by Jonathan Wright
God's Secret Angels by Alice Hogge
Court Lady and Country wife by Lita-Rose Betcherman
Improper Pursuits by Carola Hicks
Heal Thyself by Benjamin Woolley
Nelson's purse by Martyn Downer
Books on Fire by Lucien Polastron
The Dragon Seekers by Christopher McGowan
The Dreadful Judgement by Neil Hanson
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
(last book still to be chosen)

My own Shakespeare challenge (4 books)
Shakespeare by another Name by Mark Anderson
Shakespeare & Co by Stanley Wells
Shakespeare The world as Stage by Bill Bryson
Shakespeare the Man by AL Rowse
Shakespeare's Face by Stephanie Nolen
History Play by Rodney Bolt
A Year in the life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro
Me and Shakespeare by Herman Gollob

In Their Shoes Memoirs/Biography Challenge (any number of books)
An Uncommon Woman (The Empress Frederick) by Hannah Pakula
On a Grander Scale by Lisa Jardine (Christopher Wren)
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind by Diana & Michael Preston (William Dampier)
Leonardo Da Vinci by Charles Nicholl
Elizabeth by Randy Taborelli (Elizabeth Taylor - not Queen Elizabeth 1 or 2)
History Play by Rodney Bolt (Kit Marlowe)
Christina Queen of Sweden by Veronica Buckley
Rene Angelil (The making of Celine Dion) by Jean Beaunoyer & Jean Beaulne
Out of the Flames by Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone (Michael Servetus)
Me & Shakespeare by Herman Gollob (a memoir) (Crossover)

Themed reading - Art & Antiquities
(read at least 4 books)
Thieves of Baghdad by Matthew Bogdanos
Sotheby's: Bidding for Class by Robert Lacey
The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick
American Gothic by Thomas Hoving
Stealing History by Roger Atwood
The Ambassadors Secret by John North
Into the Antiquities Trade by Kevin Cheek

Canadian challenge
(13 books by July 1st)
Starting Out by Pierre Berton (1920-1947)
My Times by Pierre Berton (1947-1995)
Under Arrest
Miss O
One Red Paperclip
A Nurse's Story
Emperor of the North
Unknown Shore
(more Canadian books as I find them)

Books around the World
(see sidebar)

Young Readers Challenge
read 12 childrens books

Fine Books Magazine and the Canadian Postal Service

The November issue of Fine Books and Collections Magazine finally arrived at my home in Canada today - 23 days after it arrived at the Book Hunters home in California. That took just over 3 weeks!!! This is not the first time this magazine has been so late, but surely it cannot take 3 weeks just to cross the border? It's only a magazine, it's in a clear sealed plastic bag so anyone can see what it's about, and it is not supporting anything that is against "National Security". The delay might be caused by Canadian Postal Service - but I have my doubts on that.

Anyway, I am reading through to see what goodies are inside. Let's see.

The FIRST Western Style Book Fair to be held in China (Hong Kong) from November 30 to December 2nd. (pg 21)

And then there is the cover story. The Archimedes Codex or Palimpset. I first read about this palimpset a number of years ago, when I came across a NOVA website about this codex. I never saw the actual program, (which aired on PBS in 2003) but the website was very intriguing.

This article in Fine Books is an excerpt from a new book about the scientists who have been studying the codex (manuscript) for the past few years (since 1998). Now the story of the discovery has just been published. I LOVE reading about ancient manuscripts. This is one story I have been waiting for, and I cannot wait to get this book.

Feeding those addictions - Hockey Cards and Books

Yesterday was November 20th. Thats a very important date in this household, because every year around that date, the latest series of Hockey Cards become available to the public. McDonalds Hockey Cards.

Now my husband is ADDICTED to these cards. He has been collecting them for many years, long before we were married. You would not believe the number of folders he has that hold Hockey cards. The good thing is that these cards are relatively cheap - about $1 per pack to buy, and there about 5 cards in each pack. The other good thing about these cards is that season is VERY Short. These cards will only be available for no more than 2 months. Hockey Season itself lasts about 6 months - November to May - culminating in the STANLEY CUP playoffs.

Come mid January and these Hockey cards will disappear. You then must either swap cards with other people to get any you missed, or purchase them on ebay at inflated prices. Hubby went out last night to McDonalds and came home with 15 packs of cards. Don't worry, he will be buying more cards as soon as the bad weather stops.

While I am not a hockey fan, I have learnt some of the major rules, teams and players names. It cannot be avoided when you live with a hockey crazed fan. So we have compromised about our respective addictions. I allow hubby to buy his cards during the short season, and he doesnt complain when I go out buying my books. This is a better deal for me, because I get to buy books all year round.

Yesterday I fed my addiction - again. I purchased a copy of ASW Rosenbach's Memoirs called A BookHunter's Holiday.

ROSENBACH, A. S. W.; A Book Hunter's Holiday;
Adventures with Book and Manuscripts. Boston, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1936, First edition, 8vo [22 x 15 cm]; xiv, 259 pp, frontis, numerous plates and other illus, including facsimiles of writing, title pages, etc, index, orig cloth, gilt title lettering on spine and cover, endpaper signature, inkmark erased on title, interior quite clean and fine, in very good cover. US$18 Plus taxes & shipping.

So which do you think is the better addiction and the better deal - Books or Cards? I would love to hear your stories and comments.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Anatomy of a Crossword - Book Review

Anatomy of a Crossword
By Nero Blanc
Berkley Prime Crime

A nice little mystery series involving Crossword Sleuth Belle Graham, and her husband Rosco Pantekratos, a Private Investigator.

One of Belle's earlier mysteries gets optioned for a TV series, so the series producers ask Belle to spend a few days in Hollywood as Technical Consultant. While she is there, one of the actors is killed, the screen writer starts acting funny, and various accidents happen on the set.

Eventually Belle uncovers the fact that the murder was connected to a very popular game show being filmed nearby also involving crosswords.

There are several crosswords scattered throughout the book, which are related to to the story. Answers are at the back of the book. This is a nice series, although I am not a crossword fan.

I'm not reading very much right now because I am still coughing. So is Hubby. And I cannot go back to work until I get rid of this cough. I am trying to read more Canadian books for the Canadian challenge.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Margaret Atwood Versus The Four Seasons Hotel

So I briefly blogged about the Giller awards last week when an email showed up late that night to announce the winner. But today I found out that something else of interest happened at the awards as well.

I just happened to be reading a few book-related articles in recent issues of the Star online (I dont read the actual paper) and came across this small item about the Scotiabank Giller Book Awards given out last week. In the pink column on the right of the article is an interesting item written by Martin Knelman.


Literary couple bring own dinner

More than 400 A-list guests dined in style at last night's Giller Prize bash at the Four Seasons Hotel. The literary crowd feasted on tuna tartar and beef tenderloin.

But two of the most notable guests took a pass on that menu and instead brought their own dinner in a box.

Former Giller Prize winner Margaret Atwood and her husband, Graeme Gibson – author of The Bedside Book of Birds – quietly declined the food being passed.

The reason: They were protesting the Four Seasons' role in a massive resort development in Grenada that threatens an endangered species: the Grenada dove.

"Until there is a fair resolution of the dispute over the kind of resort being built in Grenada, we cannot accept food or drink from the Four Seasons," explained Gibson, who arrived at the event carrying what appeared to be a gym bag but in fact contained their meal.

And so Canada's most famous literary couple munched on home-made spinach and cucumber, and drank their own sake, while others at their table, including former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, ate beef and drank wine.

The proposed resort is being built on what used to be a government-protected sanctuary.

The Four Seasons claims the project is controlled by the government and a developer, not the hotel chain. Gibson doesn't buy that.

Four Seasons CEO Isadore Sharp sat at a nearby table.


Hey I had no idea that the Atwood-Gibson Group were environmentalists.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Star Trek Academy - Collision Course

StarTrek Academy - Collision Course
By William Shatner
Simon & Schuster October 2007
Collision Course
Collision Course
Collision Course
Collision Course

If you've read my profile, you will see that I love reading Sci Fi (especially Star Trek and StarGate). In fact back in New Zealand I had a nice collection of over 60 Star Trek novels - mostly TOS (The Original Series) and a few from the other series. When I started watching Star Trek, I was watching the Original Series in reruns. In 1980 that was the only series on TV, although the first movie had just been released (1979). During the 1980s, more Star Trek movies came out, I continued watching TOS but I was not raving about it. Kirk was ok, but I really liked Spock. I loved his logic, his reasoning and his lack of emotions. I even made and uploaded a website about Vulcans called Shirkahr of Vulcan.

In 1987 the new series of Star Trek called The Next Generation started airing, and I absolutely fell in love with the Enterprise D and all her crew. I especially loved Data, Picard and Troi. TNG is still my favourite series. I watched DS9 but there was no Spock/Data like character. When Voyager started, the critics said it was not very good, but I found myself rather liking Janeway, Tuvok, and Chakotay. I didn't like Kes much, and when she left and the Borg showed up, things got much more interesting. The Borg was another variation on Spock and Data - my 2 earlier favourite characters.

I eventually stopped reading the novels - mainly because they got a bit boring, and repetitive in their storylines. And for the last 10 years I haven't really seen any Star Trek novels that I could rave about. Until last night.

One of the episodes of TOS was called Conscience of the King (1967) in which Karelian (a travelling theatre player) is accused of being Kodos the Executioner - a man who in his position as governor of the Tarsus 4 colony (some 20 years previously) had deliberately executed at least two thirds of the colonists so that others could survive. The food supply had gone bad and Kodos' thinking was to kill the adults and allow the children to live. The children would eat less food, and be more malleable under his control. James Kirk was on Tarsus 4 that year and he lived through the entire event. He was one of nine witnesses who could identify Kodos. Oh yes, and Kirk was just 14 at the time.

Collision Course starts in San Francisco, three years after the events on Tarsus. Jim Kirk is back on Earth and living in San Francisco. He is now 17, a rebel teenager, doing silly things like stealing a Starfleet car and trying to prove his girlfriends innocence. She stands accused of stealing Dilithium. (Dilithium is the fuel for Starship engines). Kirk gets caught by Starfleet, along with another teenager who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This teenager is 19, and a Vulcan. His name is Spock. Together the two of them are manipulated by StarFleet to find the Dilithium thieves.

So how does the theft of Dilithium tie into Kodos? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out, but I assure you they do. Spock of course entered Starfleet against the wishes of his father, Sarek, who wanted him to go to the Vulcan Science Academy instead. This book also shows how that decision played out. Remember that scene in the movie The Voyage Home (ST4) where Sarek finally acknowledges that Spock made the right choice. (This is one of my favourite lines)
Sarek As I recall, I opposed your enlistment in Starfleet. It is possible that my judgment was incorrect. Your associates are people of good character. Spock They are my friends.

OK OK. I know I have gone on long enough, but it is a great book. I stayed up until 2AM reading it, because I could not put it down. The fact that up until now there has NEVER been any stories of how Spock and Kirk met, makes this book a must read for ANY Star Trek fan. Star Trek is 40 years old, and it has taken 40 years for this story to finally come out. What other stories are still in hiding?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Spellman Files - Book Review

The Spellman files
by Lisa Lutz
Simon & Schuster 2007
Spellman Files - The Book

If you have ever thought about being a Private Investigator, well, this is THE book to read. Isabel "Izzy" Spellman is a private investigator for her parents family business - Spellman Private Investigators in San Francisco. Izzy has been working for her parents since she was 12.

She has learned all the tricks of surveillance, how to tail someone, how to write a surveillance report, and how to do a credit check and a background check on a suspect. If you want to know about the life of a PI then you gotta read this book.

This is the first book (supposedly) in a series of novels about the Spellman family. The family is chaotic. Izzy is 28 years old, and lives at home with her parents and younger sister. She wants to leave home and live somewhere else, preferably with a normal boyfriend, but she knows she cannot get a job because she has no other qualifications. Her only skills are running credit checks and background checks on her potential boyfriends. Izzy even tried working as a receptionist on the switchboard for an insurance company, but quit after 3 days and went back to being a PI.

Izzy is given a Cold Case (missing persons) file to see if she can find anything new. While she is investigating, Izzy is told to drop the case or a lawsuit will be filed. But she can't stop, so she keeps digging. She does eventually resolve the case and then shreds the file.

As most of you know, I love doing research, and most of a PI's job involves research. As a teenager, I seriously thought about becoming a PI for a while because I loved the idea of doing research. This was about the time Magnum PI was on TV. But then I discovered that PIs have to tell lies and fibs when they are calling around trying to confirm their information. I decided that I couldn't do that. I hate telling fibs.

In fact I once left a good job in New Zealand (with NZ Telecoms) because I hated being forced to tell lies to the clients. The clients used to ring up and ask How long is my phone going to be out of order? I was required to tell them, I apologise for the delay sir, but the cable is broken and its going to be out for about 2 days. Most of the time the cable technicians were telling us that it would be closer to five days before the cable was repaired. Eventually the constant lying got to me, so I left.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Nurses's Story - Book Review

A Nurse's Story
By Tilda Shalof
McClelland & Stewart 2005

Tilda Shalof is an critical care nurse in the ICU at Toronto General Hospital. She's been there for over 20 years. This book is the real story of what happens in the ICU and how patients are really cared for.

Tilda Shalof went to University and obtained a degree in Nursing long before they became compulsory. When she started working at the ICU (in the mid 1980s) she was laughed at for having a university education.

Someone told her "We need REAL nurses here".

Shalof offers insights that come from experience with some of the toughest health issues society confronts. She touches on the difficulties associated with the restructuring of the 1990's, which led to cutbacks and nurse layoffs, and the 2003 SARS crisis, which threatened and burdened nurses far more than any other class of health care workers.

She tells the story of one aged patient whose two daughters were researching cures on the internet and dictating to the ICU nurses what they wanted done next. Despite the fact the patient was obviously dying, the daughters refused to accept a DNR (do not resucitate) solution. "As long as Dad has a 1 percent chance of surviving, we expect a 100% effort in caring for him". Shalof theatens to get a court order to allow the man to die in peace. Unfortunately she does not say what the outcome was.

Shalof is very blunt about the cuts in nursing numbers and how it affected patient care. She talks about how the hospital went through a period of firing all the nurses and wanting to hire unskilled (newly graduated) nurses to "save money". And then she mentions how the hospital was frantically rehiring all the old nurses on a casual and part time basis, because it was cheaper that way. The hospital didnt have to pay out benefits.

The book is not an easy one to read. It took me several days. Some of the stories are depressing. Especially where the nurses themselves complain about how they dont get any respect or credit for their work. It's the doctors who get the credit.

Now for my family story about the Toronto General Hospital.

When my husbands grandfather went into hospital (on the Friday before Thanksgiving in October 2001) with pains in his chest, he was kept in the ER for 3 days waiting for a bed. During this time he had 2 strokes. When we went to his apartment on the Sunday to take him up to my brother-in-laws house for Thanksgiving dinner (like we do every Thanksgiving Sunday), Grandpa was not at home. Noone knew where he was.

We spent the Thanksgiving Monday calling all the hospitals looking for him. All the hospitals kept telling us "No, he's not here." Finally on the Monday evening Toronto General Hospital told us, "Yes, here he is. He was in ER for 3 days waiting for a bed." By the time he was admitted, he had had 2 strokes, plus the doctors discovered that he had lung cancer (he was a heavy smoker).

When we went to see him in hospital, my husband became the only "next of kin" available to make a decision. Hubby is the oldest grandson. My parents in law were living way up north (near Timmins at the time) and it would take them 2 days to drive to Toronto. His mom did not want to make any decision. she was too scared. She told my husband "You do whatever you think is best".

The hospital were wonderful. They told us that after two strokes, he was a vegetable, and that the cancer had already spread throughout his body, and the chances were not good. Early on Tuesday morning, the hospital called us to tell us that he had another stroke, and was on the machines. He could no longer breathe by himself. So on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, (October 10 2001) my husband signed the papers, and we sat with him, said our goodbyes and had the machines turned off.

Whether or not Tilda Shalof was one of the nurses who helped care for Grandpa, I have no idea. She might have been.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Are you a biblioholic?

Have you ever bought the same book twice without knowing it?
Do you have several books on an obscure topic that you haven't read?
Is the first thing you do when you get interested in a subject is to rush out and buy 6-7 books on it?
Have you ever been reprimanded or fired for reading on the job?
Have you ever purchased or rented additional living space just for your books?

These are some of the 25 danger signs that you may be a biblioholic. In this tenth-anniversary edition of the much-loved Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction, author Tom Raabe takes a humorous look at the all-consuming love of books and has updated the information within by discussing the ever-mutating new E-landscape and its effects on fellow biblioholics everywhere.

If you answer "yes" to any or all of these questions, don't worry. You are not alone. Your complete recovery awaits you-just buy one more book!

Biblioholism by Tom Raabe

But I dont want to recover. I want to be "among the gently mad"
My answers are Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes.

Yes I have been reprimanded and fired for reading on the job. My very first job way back when I was in high school (we're talking over 25 years ago here), I was working as an assistant to a seniors home and I used to work there 3 afternoons a week. They used to have a huge bin filled with books sitting in a small alcove, and when I was tired, bored or had nothing to do, I would go and sit in this alcove and read. The matron reprimanded me a few times. After I had been there for 18 months, I was getting bored with the job, and when she found me reading yet again, she said to me, "I dont think you should work here anymore". I agreed. So I stopped.

But eventually that was balanced with a 5 year stint working in a Media Monitoring job (aka press clippings), where I got paid to read newspapers & magazines.

Norman Mailer died today aged 84.

NEW YORK - Norman Mailer, the pugnacious prince of American letters who for decades reigned as the country's literary conscience and provocateur with such books as "The Naked and the Dead" and "The Executioner's Song," has died. He was 84.

Mailer died Saturday of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, Michael Lennon, the author's literary executor and biographer, said.

"He was a great American voice," said a tearful Joan Didion, author of "The Year of Magical Thinking" and other works, struggling for words upon learning of Mailer's death.

[more on below link...]

Obituary Source

Friday, November 9, 2007

New Bibliography discoveries.

On my way home from buying the Robert Munsch books (see the next post down), I stopped at a Rare Books bookshop - D.E. LAKE - not too far from my home. Now I haven't been in this shop for quite a while (maybe 2 years) because quite frankly the owner is intimidating. He knows I cant afford books, and (2 years ago) when I asked him if he had any books about Britain, he led me to the back of the shop, where all the expensive books were, and left me to it. When I saw that the prices were all at least $100 and more (some of these were really old books) I left fairly fast. But the look he gave me - he had a big frown on his face - and I knew he was thinking that I was just a waste of time.

Anyway, today I went back, and boy have things changed. The grumpy owner wasn't there. His wife and daughter were running the place, and they could not have been more helpful. The place was literally OVERFLOWING with books - piled up on every single shelf, so high you could not see the books already on the shelves. It was not this crowded the last time I went in. Back then everything was neat and tidy and every book was in its proper place.

Anyway, I went in and asked if they had any Rostenberg & Stern books. Actually, I also asked if they were new management. Coz the fellow who owned the shop is always there. The young lady I spoke too hadn't heard of Rostenberg & Stern. My dad's off somewhere else today. I'll have to call my mom. She gets on the phone and calls mom. The daughter gets instructions on where the books about dealers memoirs are, and takes me down. After a bit of looking we eventually find them. And then she shows me a pile of books about books.

I found a bookseller biography going for $70, (can't remember the name - sorry) and sadly I put it back on the shelf. Then I found a Rosenbach biography going for $180. That too went back on the shelf. They didn't have any Rostenberg & Stern, and no Sowerby either. But I did find The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter by Charles P. Everitt at $14, and snapped it up. And in the same pile, I hit the jackpot.

An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students by Ronald B. McKerrow. Oak Knoll edition 1994. Going for $40. I snapped that up as well. So starts my real education.

Robert Munsch

So how many of you readers, either read Robert Munsch or had his books read to you when you were a kid?

My son has yet another birthday party to attend tomorrow (I think that's the 5th one in four straight weekends). I spoke to the birthday boys mom at the last party, and she said books would be good. I asked her "How about Robert Munsch?", and she said "Yes please".

So today I went out and purchased 5 Robert Munsch books. I had to get that many - because one - there are so many good ones, and two - I needed to buy some for my son as well because I haven't brought him any new ones for a while.

He says in all seriousness, I only want boy books, mommy. No girl books. And quite a few of Robert Munsch's books are about girls, so OK kiddo, no more girl books. That cut my selection of books today down to five. I found 3 boy books, one about a boy and a girl, and one about a girl. Now I know he doesn't want any girl books, but this one is about a girl on a really really really fast wheelchair. Now my son loves going fast, so I figured he might be ok with the girl going really really fast on a wheelchair. If he doesn't like it, the Birthday Boy gets it.

Update - My son liked the wheelchair and wants to keep ZOOM.

Update - There's a new Young Readers challenge for reading kids books out there. I'll think I might read Robert Munsch books for this challenge. No specific list yet - just whatever I buy next year. And if I find any Encyclopedia Brown Books, I might read some of them too. I haven't read any of those for 30 years or more.

The Samson Effect - Part Deux

I previewed the Samson Effect by Tony Eldridge back in June. The Samson Effect is now available at most online bookshops, and will be on the actual bookshelves at select stores (including Indigos in Canada) by January or February next year. You may also order your copy through your local bookstore. Details as follows.

The Samson Effect by Tony Eldridge
Paperback: $15.95- ISBN- 978-0-595-45172-2
Hardcover: $25.95- ISBN- 978-0-595-69366-5
Samson Effect Paperback
Samson Effect Hardcover

Barnes and Noble Website (
Offers a 10% discount for BN Members.
Samson Effect Paperback
Samson Effect Hardcover

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rare Books School 2008 Schedule

The schedule for the 2008 classes has been announced. As much as I would LOVE to go to Rare Books School (in Virginia), right now there are several things that are holding up that dream.
One - I cannot afford it.
Two - I am currently in poor health
Three - I am already enrolled at my local college to do Archives & Records Management.
Four - I think that's enough excuses. LOL

Apologies for the lack of Book News & Reviews, but I'm not in much of a reading mood right now. Still coughing too much. Although my son seems to be recovering. His coughing has lessened quite considerably. I can wait a few years to attend Rare Books School.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize Announced This Evening

Late Breaking News that has just arrived in my email box.
The 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize Winner was announced this evening at a Gala Black Tie Dinner & Awards Ceremony in Toronto.
The winner was...

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay!

Published by McClelland & Stewart

Edited to add - Former broadcaster wins Canada's top literary prize Announced the next day.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Remember Remember

Remember, remember the fifth of November;
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.


I just remembered that today (Nov 5th in North America & UK at least - but it was yesterday in Australia and New Zealand) it is Guy Fawkes Day. I grew up in NZ with no Halloween at all. It just never caught on as a tradition. Instead we went out on Guy Fawkes Night to light Bonfires, and set off fireworks. In Ottery St Mary (a town in Devon, UK) where my ancestors came from, they have a tradition of racing while carrying flaming barrels covered in tar.

I have also just discovered a new Musical about Guy Fawkes Day.

Also I have learned that November 5th used to be celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts, but it was called Pope Night. By the mid 1800's this tradition had died out. Thanks to Philiobiblos for mentioning this.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Aaachooo!! Aaachooo!!!

Please don't come any closer.

My entire family have respiratory illnesses - me, hubby and son. All of us are sneezing, trying to clear our throats of phlegm, and being generally under the weather. To make things worse, my son has 2 friends birthday parties to go to this weekend. One yesterday and another today. And he keeps demanding his candy from Halloween. Chocolate (milk, cheese & any other dairy product) does NOT help. It just creates more phlegm.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Little About Us Meme

The Little About Us Meme. From Literary Feline

The basic facts:
Who is your significant other? Zazou (not his real name)
How long have you been together? 7 years
Dating/Engaged/Married? Married 7 years
How old is your Significant Other? Same age as me

Who eats more? He does
Who says "I love you" first? He did.
Who sings better? He does,
Who's older? I am but only by two weeks.
Who's smarter? That depends. I'm smarter in the academics and he is smarter in the every day stuff. (he can fix a car, build a house, cook a gourmet meal and fix the computer. I'm good for the spelling)
Whose temper is worse? I'm quicker to explode, but I get over it faster.
Who does the laundry? I do.
Who does the dishes? Dont have a dishwasher. He does most of it.
Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? He does.
Whose feet are bigger? Of course he has bigger feet. He's way taller than me.
Whose hair is longer? Mine but not by much.
Who's better with the computer? Thats depends. He fixes it, and I do all the writing and surfing.
Who mows the lawn? We don't have a lawn.
Who pays the bills? I do. But he pays the rent.
Who cooks dinner? Most of the time he does.
Who drives when you are together? He does. I still don't have a Canadian drivers license.
Who pays when you go out to dinner? Whoever has money at the time.
Who's the most stubborn? He is, until I prove him wrong.
Who is the first one to admit when they're wrong? He does.
Whose parents do you see more? Neither. His parents have both died, and mine are not in Canada.
Who named your dog/cat? We do not have a pet.
Who kisses who first? We take turns.
Who asked who out? He took the initative and flew from Canada to NZ.
Who's more sensitive? Probably me.
Who's taller? He definitely is. By more than 6 inches.
Who has more friends? Probably me since I spend more times with the local moms.
Who has more siblings? He does - 3 brothers. I grew up with 2 sisters, but one has since passed away.
Who wears the pants in the relationship? I'm going to say me. If he made the decisions, nothing would get done. He's the dreamer, I'm the realist. We complement each other nicely.