This is week 48, and I am still playing catch up. In addition to the insert I created for this week, I decided to make two double spreads for the week. We jammed a lot in, and I wanted to capture the sense of how packed it was. Highlights of this week included exploring the Ancient Cities, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As always, click on images to view larger.
142. A Monster Calls Thirteen year old Connor has nightmares. And if that wasn't bad enough a monster comes calling, or in this case walking.
This short fairy tale is targeted for the middle grade reader, and explores illness, loss, grief, anger, the power of stories, and how we live through terrible times that we can survive.
There is much I liked about this book, and yes tears were shed, but unlike other reviewers I did not love it. I am reading this while traveling, so the fault might be all mine. I would love to read some reviews written by young readers. I wonder how they connected to the story. As an aside, I loved the art in this book. Rating: 3 stars. 143. The Blood Gospel (The Order of the Sanguines #1) Archeology, relics, religious conspiracies and vampires are right up my alley, so imagine how disappointed I am that I did not love this book. Thoroughly enjoyed the premise, but the writing is clunky, the romance read like a high school kid wrote it, and the character development was non-existent. This is not a book I would have finished at home, but I guess my vacation brain is more forgiving. Rating: 2 stars. 144. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Small Southern town writ large indeed. We meet the characters and learn about the story through flashbacks, flash forwards, news articles and present time. A fun read. Rating: 3 stars. 145. The Godfather I loved the Godfather movie trilogy. Actually I loved the first two and found the third not as thrilling, but I have watched that trilogy more times than I care to count. We used to have back to back viewings in college, and I felt like I could speak Sicilian at that end of those sessions.
Well, it is time for another viewing of the trilogy, and I realized that I have yet to read the book that launched the movies. Yes, the writing is a little dated and repetitive, and the way women and African Americans are portrayed is not acceptable in our times, but this is historical fiction that captures a place and time really well. I got more of the back story of the characters, and craved Italian food and wine the entire time. A fun (for a mafia story) fast read. Rating: 4 stars.
This is week 47, and I am still playing catch up. No pressure, will get done when I get done. In the meanwhile am enjoying the trip down memory lane. Highlights this week include hanging with my sister, getting to know her new hubby, exploring Hikka and Galle, taking local trains, walks on the beach, figuring out local money, and warm ocean swims. As always, click on images to view larger.
Additional freebie supplies used this week: Title background map paper via the web. Good times element by Ali. Brad by Shabby Princess. Hello card by Leslie. Journal card by Melissa. 4x6 collage templates by Liz.
And not a mouse was stirring. Probably because it is so dang cold!
We are having a lovely, quiet holiday at home. Reading, long outdoor walks, napping, drinking copious amounts of tea, and eating really good food. Susan is in recovery from a month of no cooking, and whipping up the most delish meals. Main course was lobster mac n cheese. Lobstah baby!
Left some for Santa on his most busy night of the year. I hope the rumor that he is Vegan these days is not true ....
This is week 46, and I continue to love this project. I'm still rather jet lagged from my trip. Am keeping vampire hours - up at night and asleep for much of the day. Does not help that daylight hours are so short at the moment. I have some catch up to do on my project life, so here goes. Highlights of this week include trip planning, packing and the anticipation of a month away in warmer climes. As always, click on images to view larger.
Additional freebie supplies used this week: Title background paper is the Sri Lankan flag via the web. Plane element by Katie. Journal cards by Melissa. Fave memory card by Suzy. Hello element by Jackie. Info element by Michelle.
138. Insurgent This is book # 2 in the Divergent trilogy, and I am reading the three books in as many days. Kicked this reading jag off by re-reading book #1, and I would recommend doing that if it has been a while since you read it. This book starts off where the first one ends, and there is not much in the way of a recap.
Our gal Tris clearly has PTSD. And really who can blame her after what she has been through? While I did not like this one as much as the first, it is action paced, if a little light on character development. It moves the story forward, we meet new people, there are twists a plenty, and a cliff hanger reveal at the end (which I had already guessed). I am keeping my fingers crossed that the author has given us a satisfying conclusion in the next book, which I plan on starting tonight. Rating: 3 stars. 139. Fables, Vol. 9: Sons of Empire Book #9 in the Fables graphic novel series is a bit of a disappointment. The Empire does not strike back, so much as have a meeting to discuss striking back. This book is much more fragmented, and while we learn about Bigby's dysfunctional family, there is not much about this one that is compelling. Rating: 2 stars. 140. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality Over the years I have accumulated several hundred nights of hotel stays under my belt, and I confess to never having given much thought to the staff.
This memoir is an interesting look at what happens behind the scenes, some of which made me smile, much of which made me shake my head - you do not really want to think about where your toothbrush has been while you left it unattended after all.
On a recent trip to Turkey, I was struck at how most of the customer facing, aka tip potential jobs, were staffed by men, while women staffed housekeeping. So the men got tips for helping move bags on wheels a hundred feet, while the women who kept the rooms clean were often stiffed. That same divide was reinforced for me by this book.
The author narrates the audio book, and captures the snarky tone well, but his voice did not really work for me. Towards the end there is a work rant that felt too much like hanging out with unhappy co-workers for my taste, but overall I found this backstage pass interesting enough to read to the end. Rating: 3 stars. 141. Allegiant This is the final book in the Divergent trilogy, and honestly I should have stopped after the first book.
The first two books are in Tris's voice, and in this one we also get Four's point of view. Two issues with that: firstly, Four is simply not that interesting once you get to know him, and secondly, the author has the same voice for both Tris and Four. I had to keep reminding myself who was narrating.
So the real question is why did I finish it? Mainly because I had heard that it had a heart-breaking end, though honestly I was more delighted to be done with it. Such a disappointing end to this series. Rating: 1 star.
Got home around 3 am last night, and it was rather hilarious plowing through knee deep snow to get to the door. A shoe was lost in the snowbank, and recovered this morning. One car shoveled out, the rest can wait until tomorrow.
It is rather surreal to go from shorts on the beach to bundled up with a snow shovel in about 48 hours.
As much as I love traveling, it is great to be home.
At the Colombo airport waiting for our 3am flight out of Sri Lanka. Am I up late, or up early? Having a cup of tea and mug of coffee at the Coffee Bean. Total price: LKR 1010, about 7 dollars. Am I going to have enough rupees left over for chocolate at duty free?
135. The Round House Having really liked two other books by the author (The Master Butchers Singing Club and Shadow Tag), I was looking forward to this 2012 National Book Award winner.
This coming of age story is about Joe, a thirteen year old, whose entire life changes over the course of a summer when his mother is attacked on a reservation in North Dakota. Told from his perspective, we learn about his family and friends, the community he lives in, and the laws that govern people on the reservation. This is a character driven mystery of sorts, and the writing is beautiful in places, but overall I was not gripped by the story telling. Something was missing for me. The chapters seemed disjointed, and many of them could have been standalone short stories. Maybe that was the problem - I never got into the flow of the story, and if I was not reading this for book club, it would have ended up on my Did Not Finish pile. I read somewhere that this book is a prequel to The Plague of Doves, a book I have yet to read, so probably did not help the situation any.
I know most people loved this, so maybe it is just me. Like I said, I have enjoyed other books by the author, and do plan to read the rest of her back list. Rating: 2 stars. 136. Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page Let me first confess that I have yet to read Moby-Dick. I tried once, and gave up right about the time I hit the word Circumambulate. Don't get me wrong, I love the word, but realized I was not in the right frame of mind to read the book at that time.
Which brings me to this delightful book. The author has a fascination with Moby-Dick, and created an illustration a day, for each page of the 552 page paperback version of the story, on found papers using a variety of mediums. Each illustration is accompanied by a bit of the original story text, so I've now read a piecemeal/snapshot version of Moby-Dick, which has whetted my appetite for more.
I'd recommend getting the fat, heavy, print version - an ebook will simply not do - surround yourself with colorful creativity, and see if you too get obsessed with whales. Rating: 4 stars. 137. Divergent Now that the trilogy is complete, and I have all three books in hand, decided to go back and re-read Divergent before diving into the other two books. I looked at my earlier review and have nothing new to add - this is a fast paced YA book for fans of the Hunger Games, with a kick-ass girl protagonist. I look forward to reading how this story unfolds.
Jan 21, 2012 review: New author #4. This young adult (YA) book as gotten rave reviews and I needed a quick read - a palate cleanser if you will - so dived in. Dystopian novels seem to be all the rage, both in adult and YA fiction lately. Wonder why. At any rate, I read this book in a day. Stayed up late to finish it. Tris is not as kick-ass as Katniss (Hunger Games), but you gotta root for a girl protagonist amidst all the boy centered books. The next book in the trilogy will be released this spring and is on my TBR list. If you're looking for a fun, fast read, check this one out. Rating: 4 stars.
Today was a travel day to lovely Ella. The train ride from Nuwara Eliya is said to be the prettiest in the country, and before we got fogged in, I'd have to agree.
Checked into our guest house, and this is the view from our balcony.
Simply stunning. Could spent days simply soaking in this view.
It is warmer here than Nuwara Eliya, but still damp. It is off season after all. We have the guest house to ourselves, and just finished up the best dang meal I've had on the island yet. Looking forward to exploring sights and tastes tomorrow.
132. Running in the Family Another book in preparation for my trip, and if it is indeed true that "in Sri Lanka a well-told lie is worth a thousand facts", I am going to thoroughly enjoy my trip.
To paraphrase the author, this book is not so much a memoir or history, as it is a family portrait, a gesture. Michael Ondaatje left Ceylon when he was about 11, and returned to visit for extended trips as an adult. This book is a journal of those adult visits, and includes vignettes, photos, poems, stories, gossip, and is often both hilarious and heart breaking at once. There is no narrative as such, this is more of an excavation of his family's past and its legacy. Rating: 3 stars. 133. The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great Sharks From promo material: A journalist's obsession brings her to a remote island off the California coast, home to the world's most mysterious and fearsome predators, and the strange band of surfer-scientists who follow them.
This was our read aloud book on the boat this summer, a perfect time and place to read it. Remember that emotional checklist: happy, sad, mad, glad? Well, I experienced that entire range while reading this one. This is narrative non-fiction at its best - we learn about the environment, the sharks, the researchers, historical events, and the personal journey of the author coming to terms with her place in the world.
If you are a sailor, shark fan, surfer, or simply an armchair adventurer, this book is a really great ride. Rating: 5 stars. 134. The Cuckoo's Calling I listened to the audio version wonderfully narrated by Robert Glenister.
The thing about the author (aka J.K. Rowling), is that she knows how to spin a good yarn. Yes, I am a Harry Potter fan, but this is no YA book. It is a good mystery, with an interesting detective, and distinctive characters who are well fleshed out. The story is character based, and unfolds slowly, so if you are in the mood for a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of read look elsewhere. I especially enjoyed the social commentary the author explores: celebrity status and the mania of the paparazzi, wealthy women who starve themselves thin, etc. The writing is cinematic in quality, there was a movie playing in my head the entire time I listened to this book. I look forward to reading another Cormoran Strike installment. Rating: 3 stars.
So here we are in "Little England", and true to its namesake it is misty and damp. No worries, we brought along rain gear, and I now have the perfect excuse to drink pots of hot tea all day long.
Today involved strolling through Victoria Park, which is filled with lovely plants and signs that request decent behavior, exploring this hilly town, and starting to think about how to deal with the rainy days forecasted for the rest of this week. Can you say curling up with tea and a good book by a cheery fire? Indeed I can.
As an aside, there is a lush golf course right by our hotel. It has 10 holes. Not 9. Not 18. 10. Must be a Sri Lankan thing.
Took an early morning tuk tuk ride to Sigiriya, the next UNESCO World Heritage Site on our list. So glad we went early. Not only did we beat the heat, but also avoided the crowds.
The soaring pillar of rock called Sigirya does not disappoint. The entire site is quite lovely, and the views from the top are spectacular.
The frescoes are located in a sheltered gallery in the sheer rock face, and are believed to represent either apsaras (celestial nymphs), or King Kassapa's concubines. One of my fave sites of the trip for sure.
Spent Thanksgiving visiting the Royal Rock Temple complex in Dambulla. Did not miss the turkey one bit.
The hike up to the caves is steep in parts, but offer superb views of the surrounding countryside.
The caves' history as a place of worship is thought to date back to around the 1st century BCE. There are five separate caves with about 150 Buddha images. Delighted to have visited another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I remember reading about how we are negatively biased a while back. A light went on when I read that. It is often so much easier to recall and obsess about the bad than the good. While there is a good evolutionary reason for this bias, it does not help us today. I love this simple way to change our stone age brains.
Buddhas, Dagobas and Monkeys oh my! Spent the day biking around this ancient capital, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is so much larger than I expected, and incredibly scenic. Am glad that we decided to stay four nights, giving us plenty of time to soak it all in.
128. Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds This is the second book in the Morning Star trilogy, and the fifth book of the Griffin and Sabine story. Danger, passion, and romance unfolds, but I did not enjoy this book as much as the others. I love Egypt as the main setting, and the artwork is lovely, but the letters were not as interesting. I hope the author finishes strong. Rating: 2 stars. 129. The Morning Star: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is Illuminated This is the final book in the Morning Star trilogy, and the sixth book of the Griffin and Sabine story. As much as I love the idea of the story and the artwork, the final two books in the series did not captivate me. Rating: 2 stars. 130. Fables, Vol. 8: Wolves Book #8 in the Fables graphic novel series is an ode to wolves. Bigby goes on a mission. A beanstalk is involved. I like Cinderella more and more. Action, adventure, a growing litter, and yes, a wedding. Fun. Rating: 3 stars. 131. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War Let me start by saying that I am not a Zombie fan - is fan even the right word? If there are Vampires and Lycanthrope, count me in, but Zombies? Nah. So imagine my surprise when I really enjoyed this audiobook. The Zombie Wars almost eradicated human kind, and after the war, the author interviews people from all over the world to record their first person experience of the battle. The author wonderfully captures unique voices with each character, and I would highly recommend the full cast narration version of this book. Rating: 4 stars.
This is my current fave brekkie - bread with coconut sambal, daal, and the best dang fish curry I have ever tasted. Went to Serendipity Arts Cafe in Galle twice to get me some. So good. My second fave brekkie involves string hoppers. I am in foodie heaven.