September 30, 2013

Recent Reads

99. On Sal Mal Lane
I love reading books set in places I visit, and since I am headed to Sri Lanka later this year, this book moved up my TBR pile.

I have briefly visited Sri Lanka before, but do not have a deep understanding of their civil war. This novel is set about four years after the troubles first begin. Sal Mal lane is home to families of different ethnicity, religions, class and political leanings. While they are not holding hands singing kumbaya, everyone knows their place, and for the most part get along. Like most neighborhoods, we get to meet the people through the children of the lane. There is laughter, lots of tea drinking, cricket and music, but all that changes as the forces in the outside world trickle into the lane. 

The writing is lyrical, and the narrator's voice feels like a traveling storyteller of old. There is much foreshadowing,and while I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and learning some of the history, at no time did I sink into the story and inhabit this world. Rating: 3 stars.

100. Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
Once upon a time. Do those words not bring back such happy memories? Well, there is nothing happy about what happened to those fairy tale characters. Instead of living happily ever after, they had to flee their homelands, and now live in New York City. They might have lost their riches and titles and kingdoms, but have retained their powers. 

This first book in the YA Fables series introduces us to their new reality. And is a murder mystery to boot. A fun read with wonderful art. Rating: 3 stars.

101. Lexicon
Jacket blurb: At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics--at least not in the usual ways. They are taught to persuade, to use language to manipulate the minds, to wield words as weapons. The very best graduate as "poets" and enter a nameless organization of unknown purpose.

Words are powerful. What if you could learn what combination of words would get anyone to obey your commands? This book has two story lines that converge, and tries to explores themes of privacy, identity, data collection, and the power of language and coercion. I loved the premise of the book, and the creativity of the author, and though it is a fast read, I felt the story lacked real depth in exploring the themes or the characters.  Rating: 2 stars.

102. The Sense of an Ending
We are all the heroes of our own stories. I read that somewhere many moons ago, and this book reminded me again of how true that is.

The book won the 2011 Man Booker Prize, among other awards, and I had high expectations going in. The novella (107 page ebook) is divided into two parts. In part one we hear the first person narration of a young man's life - the story arcs from sixth form all the way to almost the end of his life. In part two, we learn additional information that changes how we view part one. The writing is beautiful, and I highlighted lots of passages, but ultimately did not love this very male-oriented exploration of love, loss and memory. 

This is the first book I've read by the author, and found his writing lovely enough that I will read his other work. Rating: 3 stars.

September 29, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 38

This is week 38 and I continue to love this project. Highlights this week included fun one on one time with my nephews. They grow up so dang fast. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

You can read how I decide on this project, and the basic supplies I will use every week here.
Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper and play ball element by Shabby Princess. Love this element and textured cards by Melissa. So happy card by Jessica. Flower card by Dianne.

September 27, 2013

Chipotle ad

I love this Chitpotle ad.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

September 26, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 37

This is week 37 and I continue to love this project. I am playing catch up, and should be all caught up by the weekend. I ended up taking very few photos this week. Some weeks are like that. I watched some great tennis, a fab movie, and mourned the premature end to sailing season.

I am also starting to think about 2014, and whether I will continue this project in the new year. Yes I love it, but am thinking about maybe doing one page per week, or maybe one double spread per month. Will let you know what I decide. Thanks for stopping by. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

You can read how I decide on this project, and the basic supplies I will use every week here.
Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Carina. Arrow card by Jen. Textured cards and Here is the story card by Melissa.

September 24, 2013

Refillabe Travel Journal

I decided to try something new for my upcoming trip.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

Links mentioned in the video:
The Midori Knockoff Journal
My Turkey Travel Journal

AIB365: It's Your Fault

From All India Bakchod: Every sexual assault case in India inspires a string of stupid and hateful remarks against women. This is our response to those remarks.

AIB 365 is a weekly sketch show from India's edgiest, politically incorrect comedy collective AIB. 

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

September 21, 2013

Maps that change the way you see the world

I love maps. Always have. Especially the old one that have areas that clearly state "here be monsters". Does that not send chills up your spine?

So fellow map lovers, here are some fun links to check out:

To see an interesting collection of maps that will have you looking at the planet in a completely new way, click here.

To watch a fun vlogbrothers video about some of the same maps above, click here.

Changes your world view doesn't it?

September 18, 2013

Miss America

I have really mixed feelings about pageants like these, but still am a little stunned at the vitriol directed at Nina Davuluri who was crowned Sunday.

You can see the BuzzFeed story here, and it is the racists comments against this winner of Indian descent that I find appalling. I found this video response right on the money. Unless you are Native American, you came from someplace else people. Sigh.

September 17, 2013

Recent Reads

96. Die Trying
This is book #2 in the Jack Reacher series. I was in the mood for a fast, plot driven read, and reached (pun intended) for this one.

Jack Reacher is at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets involved in someone else's problem. It seems to help that the someone else is a beautiful damsel in distress. Yes, she has a busted knee from a sports injury, but is smart and brave and strong. Did I mention beautiful? They get kidnapped by members of a militia group, and the story involves lots of action, mayhem, the FBI, the White House, and guns. Lots of guns. There are entire passages in the book where one gets a bullet's eye view of the action. Oh, did I mention there is also a bit of romance and a love triangle? The characters are one dimensional, the story not compelling, and yet I read to the bitter, and rather anti-climatic end. For that I gave it an additional star. Rating: 2 stars.

97. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
"I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I found joy in the things that made me happy".

Neil Gaiman captures the essence of childhood like few others can. This novella is the flashback of a middle aged man of his bookish seven year self, who finds himself in a world more magical and horrifying than he could ever imagine. We often forget the horrors and joys of childhood as we get older, but Gaiman helps us remember. While I really liked the premise of the book, and the lyrical writing, overall the story did not grab me. Rating: 3 stars.

98. American Born Chinese
I'd heard great things about this Printz-winning graphic novel, so decided to give it a read.

Three interconnected story lines explore themes of not belonging, not fitting in, wanting so badly to be someone else. The Chinese American immigrant story is the universal immigrant story, and yet it is the particulars that make it interesting. And that was my problem with this novel. It is good, but not great. The art and coloring are wonderful, but I found the stories lacked depth, maybe because it is written for a YA audience. Nevertheless, this is a good fast read for young readers dipping into immigrant stories. Rating: 3 stars.

September 15, 2013

Delhi rape: how India's other half lives

This Guardian article is the best I've read on this issue thus far.

The news from India enrages me. The news that the defense attorney blames the victim is par for the course. As a person of Indian descent, and one who lived in India for a couple of years, and experienced "Eve teasing" on a daily basis, I am outraged but not surprised. The article quotes MJ Akbar as saying, "It is a few weeks of outrage against hundreds of years of tradition".

Well, I for one think that it is high time that some traditions are changed. I also know that they do not change without political, social and economic pressure. As part of our trip to Asia this fall, we discussed a trip to India. Maybe Goa. But not after this news. Not now. How much of a drop in tourism money will it take to help make a change? I do not know. But add mine to that bucket.

September 14, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 36

This is week 36 and I continue to love this project. As much as I love to travel, I also love being home. Though am excited to be planning my next trip. Destination Sri Lanka. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by unknown. Love this story element by Ali.

September 13, 2013

Journal page

It has been a while since I shared a page from my journal. Been playing in other ways.

Collage, acrylics, watercolors and pen.

September 12, 2013

One Little Word 2013: September

As part of OLW, I'm pairing up my word with an intention for the month and focusing on three goals. Here is the card I created for this month.

Flowers by Jessica Sprague. Striped paper by Shabby Princess.

September 9, 2013

Recent Reads

92. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
This book makes several top 10 lists for books set in Las Vegas, and since I'm heading out there again, it was the perfect time to dive in. 

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this drug addled road trip to Vegas in search of The American Dream. The author writes wonderfully, is insightful and funny. I did get tired of the drug induced paranoia towards the end of the book, but overall am glad I finally got around to reading it. Rating: 3 stars.

93. They Moved My Bowl: Dog Cartoons by New Yorker Cartoonist Charles Barsotti
This compilation of dog cartoons has some fun moments, but overall I found it to be just an OK read. Rating: 2 stars.

94. How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You
This collection of cat cartoons is a fun and quick read. If you've been around cats and wondered how it is that they don't kill you while you sleep, give this a read. Rating: 3 stars.

95. The Big Exit
I listened to the audiobook, which was well narrated by R.C Bray, but as a person who has worked with tech startups, I expected more from this story. While there are some interesting ideas, it never really hits its stride, and at no point was I sucked into this world. Rating: 2 stars.

September 6, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 35

This is week 35 and I continue to love this project. I was in Vegas for the start of the school year, so got to see my nieces head out on their first day in a new school system. Bella in grade 6, and the twins in grade 5. They grow up so fast. Was lucky enough to snag a window seat on my flight home. I do love a window seat. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

You can read how I decide on this project, and the basic supplies I will use every week here.
Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Jessica. Arrow card, Embrace element and Alphas by Katie. Glass dots by Carrie. Bubble card by Leslie. Back to school element from the web.

September 5, 2013

One Little Word 2013: August Update

And  just like that August is over, so time for a monthly status update. Remember these were my goals for the month:

And how did I do?

Goal #1: Capture stories. This has really been a focus all year long. My project life is part of this focus, but decided to dive a little deeper with family members this month. I recorded personal stories, both public and private. In addition to learning things I did know before, this has also had the benefit of deepening relationships. And is that not what it is all about?

Goal #2: Photo walk. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun these are to do. And how easy. I explored new places and saw things differently. Definitely something that I will continue to do the rest of the year.

Goal # 3: Learn something new. As part of my video project I experimented with getting better audio for my videos. That entailed learning how to edit video and audio separately, and when I finally got it, I was quite impressed with myself.

All in all, am quite proud of my efforts and accomplishments. I hope you had a great month as well. Let's see what September has in store.

September 2, 2013

The Newsroom

I am always on the lookout for interesting TV shows, something that seems to be getting harder and harder to find. Since I'm a West Wing fan, decided to check out The Newsroom.

From Wiki: The Newsroom is an American television political drama series created and principally written by Aaron Sorkin that premiered on HBO on June 24, 2012. The series chronicles the behind-the-scenes events at the fictional Atlantis Cable News channel.

I watched the first two DVDs of Season 1. The first five episodes, and while I like the premise, the women in the show really bother me. They are incompetent and whiny and so dang male identified. What professional woman would ever behave in such a way in a work setting? Am I the only one annoyed?

Turns out I am not. You can read exactly what I'm talking about here. Seriously Mr. Sorkin, I expect more from you.

September 1, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 34

This is week 34 and I continue to love this project. This week was all about my trip to Vegas to spend time with my parents, and my brother and his family. I had such a fun time with my nieces. I also have three inserts for this week. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Insert One. You can read more about this insert and supplies used here.

Insert Two. You can read more about this insert and supplies used here.

Insert Three. You can read more about this insert and supplies used here.
Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Unknown. Travel element by Traci. Family, Happy to be and Love this elements by Katie.