The Reading Forecast

Last week, I read a…lot. I get stuck into these phases once in a while when real life is difficult to handle so I give myself over to fiction–gratefully. I’ll have mini reviews in the wrap up so I’ll just be listing the titles in the forecasts.

Books read last week:

  1. The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats
  2. A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
  3. The Gap of Time – Jeanette Winterson
  4. Into the Dim – Janet Taylor
  5. The Riddle – Alison Croggon
  6. Step Aside, Pops – Kate Beaton
  7. Nightschool: The Weirn Books vol. 1-4 – Svetlana Chmakova
  8. Sea Rex – Molly Idle
  9. Viva Frida – Yuyi Morales
  10. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle – Janet Fox

Books Currently Reading:

  1. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
    Still at 216 pages. SIGH. Must read more this coming week.
  2. Their Fractured Light – Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner
    I’m just 50 pages in but liking what I’ve read so far.
  3. A Year Without Mom – Dasha Tolstikova
    Just started this one.

To Read in the Coming Week:

I don’t rightly know what I’ll feel like but I reckon these titles will be part of the pile I choose from:

  1. Listen, Slowly Thanhha Lai
  2. The Immortals – Jordanna Max
  3. A Study in Charlotte – Brittany Cavallaro

Review: The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Knopf Canada
Source: Publisher

It is not every author who is asked to do a rewrite of a Shakespeare play, ya know. That ought to give you an indication of Jeanette Winterson’s level of wordsmithery. I had heard of her writing and how wonderful her books are but had yet to try any of her books. I am actually really glad at The Gap of Time is my introduction to her writing.

The Winter’s Tale is a pretty famous tale so if you haven’t read it, I recommend that you do before you read this book though it isn’t quite necessary to do as Winterson provides a summary of the events of the play in the beginning. But I think a certain familiarity with the original material will enrich the reading of the retelling so you should do.

To be honest, The Winter’s Tale is not a favourite of mine because Leontes is an ass and I just wanted to see him pinioned–I felt that strongly about him. Winterson’s Leo is just as mad and infuriating but Winterson infuses him with a lot more humanity than Shakespeare did. As a modern reader, I actually liked Leo more, fallible as he is–not someone I would want to know or have a relationship with but as a fictional character, he is a lot of fun to read about. In fact, all the characters are very fun to read about. Polixenes and Leo’s relationship becomes complicated so you don’t know if he is jealous of Mimi (Hermione in the original) or Xeno (Polixenes). I most loved Pauline who is probably the only person who can put up with Leo. Winterson doesn’t diverge from the original much but her iteration of the tale has a lot more heart, a lot more warmth, and in general is the one that I prefer. The writing is out of this world too–as expected. Here are a few examples:

“What would we be like if we didn’t have a body? If we communicated as spirits do? Then I wouldn’t notice the smile of you, the curve of you, the hair that falls into your eyes, your arms on the table, brown with faint hairs, the way you hook your boots on the bar of the chair, that my eyes are grey and yours are green, that your eyes are grey and mine are green, that you have a crooked mouth, that you are petite but your legs are long like a sentence I can’t finish, that your hands are sensitive, and the way you sit close to me to read the menu so that I can explain what things are in French, and I love your accent, the way you speak English, and never has anyone said “‘addock” the way you say it, and it is no longer a smoke fish but a word that sounds like (the word that comes to mind and is dismissed is love.)”

—————————————————————-

The baby had lain like the visible corner of a folded map. Traced insider her, faded now, were parents she would never know and a life that had vanished. ALternative routes she wouldn’t take. People she would never meet. The would-be-that-wouldn’t-be.

Because her mother or her father, or both, had left the map of her folded on the table and left the room.

It was a map of discovery. There were no more North Poles or Atlantic Oceans or Americas. The moon had been visited. And the bottom of the sea.

But she was setting out with the blank sheet and compass of herself.

Unpathed waters. Undreamed shores.

Review: The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook by Jean Blacklock

9780147529855

Hardcover January 12, 2016
Published by  Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher

You may not know this about me but I fancy myself a baker when I most empathize with Peeta. I mean, when I’m hungry and the nearest cakeshop is an hour away. I like puttering around in the kitchen and though I’m not the best baker ever, I do love seeing baked goodies come to life for the short time they exist before my family gulps them down.

I adore The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook for a number of reasons. It is very accessible and does not assume any expertise on the part of the reader/cook/baker. I cannot stand cookbooks that simply assume you know what’s what because most of the times, I don’t. There’s a wonderful section in the beginning that explains the ingredients and tools necessary, gives some tips on what’s available versus what is recommended.

And then there are the recipes themselves. The pages are vibrant with delectable photographs of the cupcakes and the recipes moves from an extended section for various icings (and all of them are delicious, I tried two) to the cupcake recipes. The best part are the icing recipes because they are delicious. Lemon icing is a fave as is peanut butter. But the thing about the recipes is that they inspire you to be creative and try to add your own ingredients with whatever results. I love that too.

If you see a lot of cupcake making in your future, I recommend this. I would have taken a picture of my tries but honestly, they were gone very quickly. Like…I had people taking the cupcakes as soon as I finished icing them.

The Reading Forecast

Another week, another reading forecast. Or reflection on what I’m reading. Right now I just want to crawl into bed and forget Sunday morning ever happened but I have things to do so unfortunately that is not an option. Here’s what I read last week:

  1. An Inheritance of Ashes – Leah Bobet
    I ended up really enjoying this one and will be writing a review for it on the book wars. Soon.
  2. Updraft – Fran Wilde
    I inadvertently started a new series. I thought this was a standalone but apparently not.
  3. Goblin Market – Christina Rossetti
    I enjoyed this one.
  4. The Zurao Aphorisms – Franz Kafka
    This had flashes of brilliance among not so brilliant aphorisms. There were some I flat out disagreed with. On the whole, an interesting read.
  5. Saturn Apartments vol 1-2 – Hisae Iwaoka
    I am enjoying this series. My library has the compete set of volumes so I should be able to finish this eventually.
  6. Stars Above – Marissa Meyer
    I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. More thoughts on the book wars on Tuesday.

Currently Reading:

  1. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
    Still at 216 pages. I’ll read more this week so help me God.
  2. Step Aside, Pops – Kate Beaton
    Immensely enjoyable. I’m loving this collection more than the first one.
  3. The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle – Janet Fox
    A slower read than I had thought it would be. I’m still only on page 30 out of 400. But it is creepy and I have high hopes.

To read in the coming week:

I will start The Riddle by Alison Croggon on Monday for the readalong I’m doing with a couple of others. After I finish Rookskill, I will maybe start Their Fractured Light by Kaufman and Spooner or maybe another middlegrade. Depends on how I feel honestly.

January Wrap-Up

In January, I read 34 books (listed below). Of these 34 books:

  • 14 books were from the library.
  • 9 were books I owned and had not read.
  • 11 were books for review.

I received 30 new books in January. Of those 30:

  • 25 were for review and
  • 5 were ones I purchased.
  • 9 I have either read or given away because I’m not interested in reading them.

My TBR pile stands at 492 books at the moment.

Whew. All these stats.

Books I Read in January 2016

  1. What a Wonderful World vol 2. – Inio Asano
  2. Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls – Marco Polo
  3. I am Beautiful – Rupi Rajwan
  4. To Dance – Siena Cherson Siegel
  5. Cracks in the Kingdom – Jaclyn Moriarty
  6. A Tangle of Gold – Jaclyn Moriarty
  7. Piratica – Tanith Lee
  8. Traffic – John Ruskin
  9. The Naming – Alison Croggon
  10. Oddly Normal – Otis Frampton
  11. Alone on the Beach at Night – Walt Whitman
  12. A Song for Ella Grey – David Almond
  13. A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab
  14. Mrs. Rosie and the Priest – Giovanni Boccaccio
  15. Sure Signs of Crazy – Karen Harrington
  16. The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
  17. As Kingfishers Catch Fire – Gerard Manley Hopkins
  18. The Night Parade – Katharyn Tanquary
  19. All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders
  20. Fortunately, the Milk – Neil Gaiman
  21. The Age of Earthquakes – Douglas Coupland
  22. Mamasaurus – Stephen Lomp
  23. Tell me a Tattoo Story – Alison McGhee
  24. Our Lady of the Ice – Cassandra Rose Clarke
  25. Archivist Wasp – Nicole Kornher-Stace
  26. On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts – Thomas de Quincey
  27. Awkward – Svetlana Chmakova
  28. An Inheritance of Ashes – Leah Bobet
  29. Updraft – Fran Wilde
  30. Goblin Market – Christina Rossetti
  31. The Zurao Aphorisms – Franz Kafka
  32. Saturn Apartments vol. 1-2 – Hisae Iwaoka
  33. Stars Above – Marissa Meyer

From The Zurao Aphorisms by Franz Kafka (with introduction and afterword by Roberto Calasso). This edition published by Schocken Books.

Aphorism 11/12:

The variety of views one may have, say, of an apple: the view of a small boy who has to crane his neck for a glimpse of the apple on the table, and the view of the master of the house who picks up the apple and hands it to a guest.

Aphorism 16:

A cage went in search of a bird.

Aphorism 28:

Once we have taken Evil into ourselves, it no longer insists we believe in it.

Aphorism 48:

Belief in progress doesn’t mean belief in progress that has already occurred. That would not require belief.