Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Now, I'm usually a medium anyways, but the proprietor urged me to try on everything as a French medium is different from an Italian medium etc. And she was absolutely right. Several of the tops I tried on were too small; others too large. This was just right, so obviously it had my name on it. And the prices are pretty good as well. The dress also "embellishes" the colour scheme of my newly decorated bathroom. Not that I feel the need to colour co-ordinate my wardrobe with my towels, but I'm just craving anything these days that has that fresh, apple-green look of spring - such a happy colour.
There is the repeated promise that Woman will get her revenge. I wait with delicious anticipation.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Theroux's new book will partly explore the vast changes that have taken place in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and China since that first trip, which reminds me of another travel book I've been dipping into and which Theroux fans would also enjoy. Dutch journalist Geert Mak spent 1999 travelling around Europe, visiting in particular those places that had huge historical importance in the 20th century. His resulting book In Europe, is part travelogue and part reflection on how those historical events have shaped and changed contemporary Europe. Essential reading for anyone like myself who loves to travel in Europe - especially by train.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The longlist for the 2008 Orange Prize is out. I always look forward to this list because it usually features a lovely mix of established writers and new debuts, with a good international representation. Plus Canadian writers usually do quite well by it and every year that I've been following the prize, I inevitably am introduced to a fantastic new writer. This year, I'm intrigued by The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Lauren Liebenberg. Nice to see some former and current Dewey picks on the list as well. Thrilled also to see The Outcast by Sadie Jones - a real emotional rollarcoaster of a read, but an incredibly written first novel. My money is on this book to win! The shortlist will be announced on April 15th, and the winner on June 4th.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
And congratulations to my colleague C.S. Richardson, whose novel The End of the Alphabet (also a former Dewey pick), has just won the Regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Novel for Canada and the Caribbean. He'll now go up against the winners from the all the other regions for the over-all prize, announced on May 18th. To see the list of all the regional winners, click here.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
After hundreds of votes, the top three preferred locations were: France, England and Norway!
Monday, March 10, 2008
For those unfamiliar with the books, the books are historical mysteries set in England in the late 1920's and early 1930's. Maisie Dobbs is a trained psychologist and private investigator who served on the frontlines in France during WWI as an army nurse. Maisie is a very engaging character, the books are packed with period detail and the mysteries often explore the after-effects of war.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Child 44 is an amazing first novel and is bound to be compared to Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park. The pacing is incredible and the book is, as I've attested, very hard to put down. I loved both the characters and the history that is woven into the story, which paints a very scary and grim portrait of the era. Since I've read it, the book has received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. Child 44 releases at the end of April, so make sure you go to your local library site after finishing this post so you can be first on the holds list! Other interesting notes- the killer in the book is loosely based on a real serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, and the film rights have already been sold to Ridley Scott.
Also out at the end of April is Vodka Neat by Anna Blundy, a former Moscow Bureau Chief for the London Times. Vodka Neat introduces a great character, Faith Zanetti. Faith is a foreign correspondent who likes her vodka neat (and plentiful), and dislikes those who stand between her and getting a good story. Years ago, Faith was married to a Russian black marketer named Dimitri. When her boss at her newspaper find out that she speaks fluent Russian, Faith is assigned to cover the Moscow desk. She's returned to Moscow many times since she left Dimitri, so is quite surprised when she is arrested shortly after her arrival. Unbeknownst to Faith, Dimitri confessed to a brutal dual murder shortly after she left the country and is now saying that in fact it was Faith who was responsible. Faith is pretty certain she didn't kill two people with an ax, but if the truth be told, she was pretty drunk the night in question and doesn't remember much of anything. Trying to sort out the mess, she uncovers a web of lies and cover ups leading right back to her former husband. The story is told partly in flashbacks of her courtship and short marriage to Dimitri in the late 1980s, and the comparison of Moscow at the height of the Cold War and the Moscow of today is very striking. I love the character of Faith, who has many personal issues to deal with but is strong, intelligent and funny.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
There was plenty of time for taking walks around the downtown area. This shot was taken in a small park at the top of Bay St. where you can just glimpse the Sleeping Giant in the background. I can only imagine how lovely it must look in the summer. If you go down Bay St. towards the water, you'll pass the Calico Coffee House which sells organic coffee and makes great lattes (I have a homing instinct for them) and has cozy booths and a fireplace. Just a few doors down is the Hoito Restaurant where we feasted on the famous Finnish pancakes for lunch. And a few doors down from that is Finnport full of wonderful items by Finnish designers, including of course lots of Marimekko! I bought a bag, some material to make cushions with, and a pair of these fun and happy socks! You can buy from them online. Trip Outdoors, at 29 Cumberland was having a great sale on outdoor gear and in particular Sierra Designs clothing; I think all the wedding guests popped in there.
My brother's new in-laws have a farm about half an hour out of the city where they keep bees, (we all got some home-made honey to take home) and where their neighbours catch trout (barbequed fresh just a few hours after - yum). So this urban diva got a good taste for Northern Ontario and their warm hospitality, and a good time was had by all. But after three days of houses full of guests, two active, excited dogs, and many energetic (but very cute) children under the age of five, I will admit to breathing a tiny sigh of relief after it was all over, and I was quite happy to escape to the peace and quiet of the city.
Monday, March 3, 2008
The weekend Guardian had this great piece by one of my favourite writers - A.L. Kennedy (who moonlights as a stand-up comedien) reviewing a film festival in London celebrating Hollywood's screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. I love in particular this Kennedy quip:
The screwball casts were iconic. If you want to know why my adult life has been constantly tinged with disappointment, consider that I grew up believing glorious creatures along the lines of Cary Grant and Clark Gable and James Stewart were, if not commonplace, then at least occasionally available. The women? They made me believe that being a woman might turn out to be great. They were fantastic.