Valentine’s Day for Book Lovers

We’ve never been the couple to celebrate Valentines Day, but for some reason, I love making these ‘wish lists’. So, if you’re looking for gift ideas for the book-lover in your life here are a few that have made it to the top of my ‘wish list’!

These enamel pins by Book Riot! There are some wonderful Edgar Allan Poe ones, but I found this set particularly endearing.

Janemount on Etsy has a beautiful collection of bookish pins too (including a seven Harry Potter ones!).

When I was in Omaha to see Stephen King speak I finally found a store that sold Frostbeard candles. I’ve been curious if they smell as good as it sounds like they do, and the answer is in the affirmative. They are divine and there are so many unique scents to choose from. This is one of my favorites!

I’ve seen the picture of stair treads painted with books spines floating around Pinterest for ages now. We all have, it’s a popular one. It’s one of those DIY’s I’ve always wanted to try out, but the amount of time it would take to piece it all together always forces that project to the back burner. Horse Feather Decals on Etsy has solved that problem though. This is such a unique gift idea!

The Ohlala sells these dreamy literary scarves! I’ll take one of each, please!

Heath and Harebell knows the way to every book-lover’s heart; literary chocolate for the win!

 

 

25 books behind schedule

Every year, I set a new reading goal through Goodreads. I’ve increased the total number of books I aim to read each year, and this year had it set to 80 novels. As of December 13th I am at 50 novels read. Which, according to Goodreads is specifically 63% of my goal, and exactly 25 books behind schedule.

In previous years it wasn’t uncommon to see me scrambling with a few weeks left before the end of the year and a few novels short of my end goal, but 30 books in 2.5 weeks might be pushing it…

So, how exactly does one get 25 books behind schedule? Well, let me tell you one really good hypothesis. First, you have very full-time self-employment. Then, in late June, right in the prime of your busy season, you decide it would be an incredible idea to return to University to take your Masters… which starts in September, your truly busiest season. Then, when September comes, you spend the next four months with your nose buried in Anthropological theory and research, while editing photos until 3am and shooting six days a week and before you know it, it’s December 13th and Goodreads is reminding you you’re 25 books behind schedule.

I’m a planner though, so that couldn’t possibly be the reason for my reading goal being so far out of reach.

99% of my life is thought about, planned out, and neatly scheduled in both a digital calendar as well as a paper copy, you know, just in case. Just ask my husband, it kind of drives him nuts. Every once in a while though, I get a crazy idea (such as applying to University without telling anyone) and then things just kind of happen. I had VERY different plans for myself in 2016. I had intended to write, and read, and work on personal projects. And I definitely did do the first two on that list, but it all went in a very different direction than I thought it would. Instead of writing fiction, I was writing about the language used by shamans in the Amazon and researching Fraz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Emile Durkheim, instead of voodoo, black magic, and witchcraft.

2016 was a tough year. I did a lot of soul searching, trying to decide what I want from my life, and what I’m meant to do and as scary as it is to say it out loud, I think I’ve found it.

I’ve been dreaming of doing this kind of work since I was a little girl, but I had no idea at that time it was Anthropology that I was looking for. I have had this crazy dream of working for National Geographic, of travelling, writing, and doing photography, and Anthropology will take me right in that direction. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time, but I made it through my first semester without any major meltdowns so I’m taking that as a hint I’m on the right track.

2016 Reading List

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Yesterday I announced my plans for what 2016 will hopefully look like around here. In preparation for the book I’ll be working on and the posts I want to share here, I’ve created a reading/research list for myself.

On my Goodreads account, I’ll be setting a goal of 80 novels read for 2016, which means I still have plenty of wiggle room to add more novels to this list as I go along.

Based on my list, can you guess some of themes of the book I’ll writing? What is my list missing that you would add?  I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!

1. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft– Stephen King

2. Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories– Chuck Palahniuk

3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life– Anne Lamott

4. Eats, Shoots and Leaves– Lynne Truss

5. Wiccapedia: A Modern-Day White Witch’s Guide– Shawn Robbins & Leanna Greenaway

6. Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy– Melissa Milgrom

7. New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families– Colm Toibin

8. House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition– Mark Z. Danielewski

9. A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook– Janet and Stewart Farrar*

10. The Book of English Magic– Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate

11. Witch Hunt: The History of a Persecution– Nigel Cawthorne

12. The Witchcraft Sourcebook: Second Edition– Ed. Brian P. Levack

13. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography– Simon Singh

14. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner– Scott Cunningham

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15. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York– Deborah Blum

16. A Room of One’s Own– Virginia Woolf

17. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing– Mignon Fogarty

18. Writing from the Senses: 59 Exercises to Ignite Creativity and Revitalize Your Writing– Laura Deutsch

19. A Short History of Nearly Everything– Bill Bryson

20. Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community– Joy Deangdeelert Cho, Meg Mateo Ilasco

21. Grimoires: A History of Magic Books– Owen Davies

22. History Of Witchcraft– Jeffrey B. Russell*

23. Signs and Symbols– Miranda Bruce-Mitford*

24. The Book of Codes: Understanding the World of Hidden Messages: An Illustrated Guide to Signs, Symbols, Ciphers, and Secret Languages– Paul Lunde

25. The Black Arts– Richard Cavendish*

26. The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned– Michelle Belanger

27. Cat’s Cradle: A Novel– Kurt Vonnegut

28. Slaughterhouse-Five– Kurt Vonnegut

29. Witches of America– Alex Mar

30. Fight Club– Chuck Palahniuk
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*-denotes books I still need to add to my bookshelves

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself – Jen Kirkman

This is not so much an book review as it is a conversation. A conversation I was too scared to have on my own so I’m using Jen Kirkman’s words, as a buffer of sorts. A pillow, to soften some of the things that I want to say, to talk about. There really shouldn’t be anything to be scared about, but for some reason, having this discussion without wording it around Jen’s book makes my voice shake, ever so slightly.

Since the days when I was still wearing one piece pyjamas I have told anyone who would listen that I didn’t want children. My Mom always reassured me I would change my mind but I would defiantly stomp my foot and tell her she was wrong. Thankfully I’ve grown since those days and am able to use words to explain my decision opposed to foot-stomping

I never played with dolls. Luckily I had a little brother who is close in age and we shared a love of animals and ninja turtles. I never understood why most of my girlfriends enjoyed playing house and carting babies around, it just wasn’t appealing to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I like kids. Between my husband and I, we have some pretty amazing nieces and nephews and I love them dearly. Nearly everyone around me has little ones of their own and I thoroughly enjoy watching their babies grow into toddlers and celebrate every milestone along the way. I work with children often and I adore the time I get to spend with them. So trust me when I say, it’s not that I don’t like children, I just don’t think that kids are for me.

I’ve never felt that maternal drive that I’ve heard so many women describe and I’m finally realizing that that is ok. It does not mean there is something wrong with me, it just means that my version of ‘family’ is a little different than societal ‘norms’. I’m still a ‘mother’ of sorts to my adopted “children” (aka pets), and for me, it’s fulfilling.

This conversation about being childless by choice is becoming more prominent, more accepted, and less questioned. Just yesterday Humans of New York posted a portrait of a childless by choice woman and it was shared and ‘liked’ thousands of times. And, there are countless novels, like Jen Kirkman’s which celebrate a child-free life.

In her book I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, Jen talks at length about the countless times she’s been forced to explain herself and fight for her decision to live childless and not be made to feel guilty about it. She comments on how many have called her selfish for her decision to not have children and her response is, “I don’t go up to parents and say, “You know what you guys should do in addition to what you’re already doing? You should start a small charity that helps birds that can’t read. What do you mean you don’t want to do that? How come you don’t want to add that to your schedule? Isn’t that selfish?””  I love that she is confident enough in what she wants to know that she doesn’t have the time, nor does she desire to make the time to raise a child, and that she, nor any other person who has made that decision, should be made to feel guilty for their choice.

Jen also discusses how she is often told she would be an amazing Mom after reassuring people, numerous times, it’s not what she wants. While I don’t really mind when people say this to me, I couldn’t help by laugh at her response. After being told she would shine as a mother she comments, “This statement is at best condescending and at worst patently false and potentially dangerous. It’s like telling a friend who you know has a paralyzing fear of wild animals that she would make a great game warden. Seriously, she should just shake off her deep-seated anxiety about being around rhinos and lions and just go out there and guide some poor, innocent family on a safari. I’m sure you’ll do fine!”

Pregnancy, childbirth, children, and fertility are all extremely sensitive topics yet they seem to be commonplace, often with near strangers. And, while I don’t feel it’s appropriate for anyone to mercilessly question a woman about her actions and decisions regarding these things, I am glad that it’s becoming more commonplace to have open and civil discussions about living child-free by choice.

 

Book Club vol. 1b : The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

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I’m a few days late with this post, sorry! I said I would have it up on Tuesday but due to a few illnesses, our book club gathering was postponed until next week. I had intentions to include everyone else’s thoughts and opinions as part of this post, but you’re stuck me and me alone.

I have a degree in English yet this was my first encounter with Mr. Gaiman. I can’t believe I waited this long, I loved this novel! When I picked up a copy of this book I also purchased The Ocean at the End of the Lane and I’m really glad I did, I can’t wait to read more of his work.

I’m not sure what other editions of this book look like, but my copy had illustrations by Dave McKean. Being a visual person, I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book with illustrations. His art compliments the story beautifully.

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I’ve been told numerous times I would love Gaiman’s writing because I love description. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors specifically for that reason. I must have a lot of people who know me pretty darn well because this introduction to Gaiman’s work did not disappoint. The Graveyard Book was rich with visual imagery and satiated my desire for near photographic writing.

“You might not have seen a pale, plump woman, who walked the path near the front gates, and if you had seen her, with a second, more careful glance you would have realized that she was only moonlight, mist, and shadow. The plump, pale woman was there, though. She walked the path that led through a clutch of half-fallen tombstones towards the front gates.” – Neil Gaiman

My girlfriend read this novel at the same time I did and made the comment that each chapter felt like a new story. I can’t disagree with her, it does read that way. I don’t think this appealed to her, but I quite enjoyed it. With this novel being intended for a younger crowd, I imagine that reading through one chapter at time would be quite satisfying as they are almost reading short stories within the novel as they make our way through its entirety.

Overall, I loved the time I spent with this book. It opened up an entirely new (to me) author and I’m excited to make my way through many more of Mr. Gaiman’s novels. I really enjoyed the graveyard setting of this novel and grew quite fond of all of the characters, with the exception of a few men, but I won’t spoil it for those of you who have not read it yet.

If you enjoy description-heavy writing and are looking to get lost in a great story I highly recommend this book!  For those of you who have read this already, did you like it? Who was your favorite character (I have a few!)?

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I’m going to start ‘hosting’ book club right here, once a month. If you’re interested in joining along, we’ll plan to meet her on the 1st of every month to chat about that month’s novel. If you feel like throwing out novel suggestions, please do! Let’s set our next book club meeting for Wednesday April 1st, and next time, we’ll discuss The Beach by Alex Garland. I’ve been promising my brother for weeks that I would read this book next so now I’m holding myself accountable and I hope you’ll join me!

 

Book Club vol. 1 : The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

One way I hope to find balance in my life this year is by actually making time for myself, my health, and my interests and hobbies. One of my very favorite things to do during ‘me time’ is read.

The goal of reading 100 novels in a year has been on my ‘bucket list’ for as long as I can remember. But in an effort to actually succeed at this goal, I’m slowly working my way up to that daunting number. This year’s goal – 75. And, while I love reading, I also enjoy reviewing so I’ll be sharing some of my book club books on here with you! If you would like to join in and read along that would be wonderful. We’ll drink coffee and chat about literature, it will be lovely!

This month’s book is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I’m a Neil Gaiman virgin. I have a degree in English and sadly, this is still a fact. This month though, I’ll remedy that with this novel. And… I may or may not have picked up another one of his books while I was buying this one.

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Anyway, our book club meeting is set for February 22nd, so start reading now! On the 23rd or 24th, we’ll meet back here and talk about it!

P.S. I’m on Goodreads, so if you would like to follow along with the novels I’m reading this year, please add me as a friend!

Best friends?

Hello my little corner of the internet!

You probably thought I forgot about you. Possibly cast you aside for bigger and better things. Or maybe you feared I reverted back to ink from a ribbon pressed on paper. I know you are aware of my love affair with all things vintage.

The truth is, I haven’t stopped thinking of you since we last spoke. May 27th was the date according to your wall. I wanted to stop by and visit. I’ve been longing to tell you about my travels and adventures. I’ve experienced some pretty incredible things since we last talked about life while sipping tea. I’ve been dying to share them with you.

When my calendar rolled over to reveal a new year I promised myself I would be a better friend to you. I swore I would visit, at least once a week. I committed to myself, and you, that we would grow close throughout 2014. It didn’t happen though, and I’m sorry for that.

If you’ll have me, I would like to be friends again. Best friends, if you will?

So, what do you say, blog… can we give it another go?

Goals – 2014

Most people do their New Year’s Resolutions post on January 1st… so I’m a little bit behind.  Honestly, I was kind of scared to make this post.  By writing these things down and committing them to the unforgiving expanse that is the internet means I’m allowing others to hold me accountable to these goals.  And, for the first time in a long time, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to accomplish my goals.  But gosh darn it, I’m going to try!

We’ll begin with, what I hope, is my most attainable goal.

I desperately want to get to a point where I’m able to read 100 novels in one year.  In an effort to get to that point I’m bumping last year’s goal of 50 novels up to 65 for 2014.  I’ve been tracking my progress on my Goodreads account.  If you’re on there, please add me as a friend and join in the journey!

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I’m a workaholic.  This isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Because November is my birthday month (the big 30 this year, eck!) and it’s also NaNoWriMo, as a gift to myself and a celebration of my birthday, I’m going to save up for the rest of the year so that I can take most or all of November off to participate in 2014’s NaNoWriMo.  This is a scary one for me for a number of reasons.  1. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.  2. I do not have a game plan, with my novel-to-be or how I’m going to make this happen.  I’m not even sure what I’m going to write about?  3. What if I don’t finish, or what if my novel sucks (realistically, it probably will, but what if it REALLY sucks?).  Wish me luck with this one!

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Get active!  I want, so badly, to start running again, take a yoga class, play floor hockey with my husband.  All of it.  I used to run, every single day and I miss it more than I can tell you.  I always allow my job to take over and never make time for me, to make time to do the things I love.  I know it’s important, so I’m going to start making that time.  I need to.

Shoot more film.  I love my film cameras and love shooting film.  I learned the art of photography using an old 35mm Pentax camera and I miss it.  Again, it always feels like life is moving too quickly to slow down and take the time to shoot a few rolls of film.  I really want to add film as an ‘add on’ to my photography packages and in order to do that, I need to start shooting it more often!

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Strive to learn and grow as an artist.  I never want to stop learning, growing, and challenging myself so I always add this goal to my yearly list.  The first steps I’ve made with this goal this year is to book myself a space in Sam Hurd’s workshop in Chicago this summer.  He is an INCREDIBLE photographer and I can’t believe I’m finally going to have the opportunity to spend a day with him, learning his creative ways.

So, that’s my list for this year!  Feel free to hold me accountable, ask me how I’m making out with these goals, or pester me for slacking off!

Book Review : The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

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Book : The Poisonwood Bible – 543 pps

Author : Barbara Kingsolver

Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers 1999

Amazon : The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel

I have been putting this review off for weeks.  I have no idea why.  My notes have been sitting on my desk since I finished the novel and I have been meaning to write this but just… haven’t.  So now that it’s 3:23am and the fireplace that keeps my office warm won’t start (it’s a brisk 16C in here right now) and the wind is screaming outside my window (welcome to Spring in Saskatchewan) and I’ve decided it’s a darn good time to finally write this.

I absolutely adored this book, but I really struggled with this review.  I didn’t know how ‘deep’ I wanted to get with the religious aspects of it because, well, I’m not a particularly religious person.  And, while I have no problem commenting on how I interpreted it, I know there are many out there who know a heck of a lot more about Christianity than I do and I wasn’t sure I wanted to engage in that conversation with my less-than-excessive knowledge on the subject.  I will make one comment though.  This novel was confrontational and quite critical of Christianity, and that’s one of the main reasons I liked it.  I enjoyed the challenge it created.

The second reason I struggled with this review is that I know next to nothing about the Congo.  Specifically the Congo in 1959.  Which, just happens to be the main setting of 90% of this novel.

So instead of the glaringly obvious theme of religion and the ever-present setting of the Congo, I would like to mention the characters and the text itself.

“Believe this: the mistakes are part of the story.” – Adah

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This story is about the Price family.  They are a family of missionaries from Georgia, who volunteer their services in the Congo.  Their living situation changes drastically with their move and they quickly realize just how different their lives as missionaries will be.  Their story is told solely from the mouths of the five women of the family, mother, Orleanna, and daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May. While reading, I was enjoying the novel so much that I was nearly three-quarters of the way through it before I realized there wasn’t a single chapter dictated from the perspective of the only male in the family, Nathan.

The prose throughout the novel was smooth and beautiful and each character’s voice was strong, distinct, and unique in their respective chapters.  While I grew to appreciate each girl and woman, I fell head-over-heels for Adah.  She describes herself as a “crooked little person, obsessed with balance.”  Between her physical disability and intellectual excellence she is one of the most eloquently written characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  There were bits of her that reminded me of my brother, and bits that reminded me of myself and together it just created a warmth and I couldn’t help but be hopelessly devoted to her.

I already know this is a novel I will return to many times.  It is one that I will read again and take away a little bit more each time.  So, even though I have no educated response to the religious tone of this novel, and can’t comment on the going ons of the 1959 Congo, I still highly recommend this novel.

“It is true I do not speak as well as I can think.  But this is true of most people, as nearly as I can tell.” – Adah

02.09.2013

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Envying:  Celeste Giuliano   Her photography is fun, flirty, classy, and unlike anything I have seen recently.  I would love, more than anything, to travel out to Philadelphia, PA to stand on the other side of the camera for a change.  Specifically, her camera.

Reading: The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel At the moment, I’m halfway through the novel and I’m absolutely loving every single page!  Adah is my favorite character and I find myself looking forward to her chapters.  When I first picked this novel up I did not know it was a part of Oprah’s book club.  After reading A Million Little Pieces I vowed I would never read another novel with that cream-colored sticker, ever again.  I’m grateful I was not aware of its status previous to reading the first few chapters as I would have caused myself to miss out on an amazing novel.  I’m itching to finish it and as soon as I do I’ll post a book review!

Watching: The Following  I am so incredibly excited about this show!  For those of you who don’t know me well yet, I promise it will not take long for my obsession love for Poe to emerge in full force.  My right arm is sleeved with his words and portrait and I’m an avid collector of every single Poe-related item I can get my hands on.  So, to tell you I was eager when this show launched would be an understatement.  Have you watched an episode yet?  What do you think so far?

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*Side note – there is an eBay auction up right now for one of these masks!*

Drinking: Bad Attitude Hipster – American Double/Imperial Pilsner.  Mr. T (my husband!) is quite interested in all things beer.  So, awhile ago we attended a beer tasting evening at a local shop (Willow Park).  This was one of the featured samples and I fell in love with it.  It reminds me of fresh-cut grass in the middle of summer.  And, in the middle of Saskatchewan winters any item which reminds you that summer will eventually come around again is an item worth hoarding 🙂

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Listening:

I love everything about these two!  Their sound is incredibly unique and her smile in this video is infectious.  The best part, their video features puppies!  You must watch to the very end (that’s when the puppies are their cutest!).