I like big books and I can not lie…

So, remember how I set a goal to read 15 books this year…not going to happen. Unless you count board books…

I was all set to accomplish this modest goal, until I saw this:

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Well, now I have to read it…by June. My copy is 1,072 pages. Whew! Now that my little one is starting to sleep better (fingers are crossed), this should be very doable.

Like the title of my post suggests, I love big books, and book series. At first, they seem intimidating, but then I get to know the characters, buy into the premise…and shortly, I’m emotionally invested and cannot believe what happened to my favourite character – how are he/she going to get out of this one/how could she fall in love with him/why did that he/she have to die/what is going on!!!!! I’m gasping and tearing up; I’m swearing and laughing…this reaction can rarely be coaxed out of me in a work shorter than 500 or so pages.

Here are some of my favourite big books and book series (and don’t worry, they’re not all Stephen King):

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Pillars of the Earth

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The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

Dark Tower

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The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (I’m on my second copy – the first one started falling apart from so many readings!)

Witching Hour

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The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy

Glass Lake

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And of course, we can’t forget the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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What are your favourite big books?

Happy reading!

C.

P.S. Here’s another teaser for you :)

New Year, New Me?

Not really. Not this year anyway. I’m feeling quite good about myself right now, and for once, don’t feel the need to make any grand resolutions or changes. To be honest, I thought I would be racked with insecurity about my parenting, my post-baby body, my lack of exercise, or some of the usual things I tend to obsess about, but today, I feel calm. I feel at peace with my choices, and could not have asked for a better 2012.

Please, don’t anyone panic…I still have a plan for 2013. Me not have a plan? That’s crazy talk! This year, things are just a little more relaxed and positive. In fact, that may be the word that describes what I want to focus on this year. I want to surround myself with people/things/activities that are positive and peaceful – there’s not enough time to dwell on the negative, especially when there is so much for which I am thankful.

mental-strength-checklist

(image source)

Resolutions don’t really work for me – I need concrete, achievable goals if I’m going to accomplish anything and stick with them. So here it is, the plan for 2013:

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Mommy:

  • Pack in and cherish all the moments I can before things change at the end of my maternity leave (May)
  • Find another activity that she will enjoy and benefit from (we’re already signed up for swimming) (January)
  • Catch up on her baby book and photo album (February)
  • Research and decide on childcare (March/April)
  • Childproof our home, and buy and install baby gates (really soon)

I’m absolutely loving being a Mom, and I am incredibly excited to watch her grow and change each day.

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Writing/Work:

  • Explore my work options (January/February) and sort out plan for going back to work (March/April)
  • Blog twice per month (January) – I may blog more, but I’d like to post at least this much
  • Read 15 books this year (December) – I’m hoping this is a low estimate. I really miss reading, and I’m going to do my best to fit it back into my leisure time.

I’m not sure what my professional life will look like this year, and how I will balance it with parenthood, but I need to figure it out in the next five months.

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Personal:

  • Get back to pre-baby weight (January) – I’m getting close
  • Add running, yoga and some form of strength training (other than lifting baby) back into my schedule (January) – I don’t have a gym membership, but I can run outside, weather depending, and I have lots of videos gathering dust that I can rediscover
  • Take care of myself (all the time) – this includes drinking water, getting enough sleep and getting a massage/pedicure once in a while. It also includes giving myself a break – I don’t have to be perfect or have it all together all the time – that’s just too much pressure.

I don’t have a weight goal this year. I want to focus on feeling fit and comfortable in my own skin.

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There you have it – the list for 2013. Happy New Year!

What goals/resolutions have you made?

C.

Green…

I didn’t read this book because it won awards. I didn’t read this book because I like the cover (my copy came with an unattractive yellow one). I read this book out of jealousy.

Téa Obreht was born in 1985, making her 25 when The Tiger’s Wife was published. Twenty-five.

The Tiger's Wife

This book was also a National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (2011), the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction (2011) and the Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of Year (2012). (I got this from Goodreads.com, one of my favourite book sites). Jealous.

Twenty-five! I had to see for myself. Despite my jealousy, it was pretty darn good. There were parts of the story that dragged a bit for me, but the writing is mature and dense and beautiful. The characters are complex and artfully developed. My favourite parts of the book were the backstories given to some fairly minor characters – so much thought was put into where these characters came from and what propels them.

I have grand visions of myself as a best-selling and award-winning author. I know I still have time, and that right now, my priority is my family, but the brilliant writing of someone so young really brought out the green in me. Although, I’m glad someone so talented is being recognized…there’s a lot of crap being published out there…

I wanted to hate it. I wanted to say that it was good, you know…for a 25-year-old. *Hangs head in jealous shame* It was beautiful. Please read.

C.

The Irresistible Bandwagon

The Bandwagon…like a car accident, I can’t look away. I’m reluctant to jump on, but I can’t help but be curious. There must be something to it, right? Or everyone wouldn’t be joining in. I can’t resist; I must know what the fuss is about.

On occasion, I am pleasantly surprised. Case in point: Harry Potter (my love has been clearly stated)…

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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and the Hunger Games (so glad I jumped on).

The Hunger Games

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And sometimes, I get screwed.

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Sing its praises all you like, I did not like Twilight. I thought about apologizing for this unpopular opinion, but I won’t – I didn’t like it…at all. I thought the writing was much too simplistic for the audience, and I thought Bella was a terrible role model. The relationships in this book weren’t realistic or healthy, and while I understand that it plays into teenage fantasy and such, I would have really preferred a strong female lead character who took charge of her life and feelings. I only read the first book, so maybe they get better…

As an aside…vampires who can’t be killed by wooden stakes? Garlic and silver have no effect? Come on…

Twilight

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Recently, I was disappointed again. I was promised a risqué adult romance that would make me blush if caught reading it in public. Sadly, Fifty Shades of Grey just didn’t do it for me. Yes, it was very racy and kinky, but I would classify it as erotica, not romance.

Fifty Shades of Grey

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I found it repetitive and thought the female lead was weak, indecisive and whiny. She could have been so much more – confident rather than weepy and needy; strong in her convictions, instead of allowing someone to have so much control over her. As erotica, it was pretty good albeit repetitive; as a romance, I could not identify with Anastasia or see why she was so obsessed with Christian. Again, I’ve only read the first book in the series, but I have no desire to pick up the other two.

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Oh well, uou never know until you try, and I don’t like to pass judgement without sampling the product. Despite this recent disappointment, I will pick myself up, dust myself off and wait for the next bandwagon to pass. I already have one in mind…how is Game of Thrones?

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Did you like Fifty Shades of Grey? What did you like about it?

C.

I’m back…I think…

Hi All! I’ve been AWOL for quite a while, but with good reason. First, I was distracted with the end of my pregnancy – I could blame pregnancy brain, but the truth is, I was uncomfortable and didn’t even want to think about reading, let alone posting. And now, I’m having a blast with my new little lady. We’re a month into this new adventure, and I started thinking about whether to continue this blog, and if so, what it would look like.

I don’t have a long-term plan, but I do want to continue to focus on all things literary. I do not intend to turn this into a “mommy” blog. There are plenty out there already – both good and bad – and I’d hate to turn into one of the bad ones, and frankly, I don’t feel like opening myself up to the inevitable parenting criticism that comes with putting that part of my life online. I think I’ll stick to books and writing – I’m happy to take criticism in this area :)

I have no idea how often I’ll be able to post, and for a while, I may have to backtrack to some books I read months ago and touch on some of the kids books I’ve come across, until I figure out a good way to fit more reading into my schedule.

Let’s see how this goes. Thanks for sticking with me :)

60 books…revisited

Happy New Year everyone! I hope all of you had a wonderful and relaxing time with family and friends.

I set my self a goal of reading 60 books in 2011, and I’m happy to say I just squeaked by with 63. :)

Here are a few leftover reviews from my 2011 reads:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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I loved this! There are so many fascinating aspects of this non-fiction account of Henrietta’s contribution to science that I’m not sure where to begin. First, it’s incredible how they attempted to treat cancer in the 1950s; horrific how scientists used to perform experiments before informed consent; amazing how the few cells taken from Henrietta have allowed science to progress; terrible how Henrietta or her family neither consented to the procedure nor compensated for the resulting success of her genetic material. Rebecca Skloot wrote a touching portrayal of Henrietta’s family’s struggle to understand and come to terms with her unintended donation to science. It also explores the debate about ownership of your own body and what rights individuals should have versus the importance of scientific progress.

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Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul

Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives

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Another non-fiction! One of my vacation reads, Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul was an interesting look at the effects of a mother’s external environment on her unborn baby. Written from a unique perspective, as Paul was pregnant while performing the research, and me being pregnant while reading, I really enjoyed the variety of issues presented and that there was not too much panic-inducing “DON’TS.” I think the most interesting thing for me was the research on stress and how it appears to be beneficial for a pregnant woman to have some stress in her life instead of being treated like a delicate flower.

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NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

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It seems like I couldn’t get enough non-fiction in the past few months! This was excellent. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman takes a look at common sense parenting with respect to new research. There was a ton of useful and interesting information throughout, and I dog-eared quite a few pages for future reference (I never do this, but I didn’t have post-its in Mexico…). I especially loved the chapters on the importance of sleep and the development of language…and that testing for intelligence too early can pigeonhole children before they have a chance to really develop. Loved it!

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We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need To Talk About Kevin

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This was one of my favourite books of the year.  Difficult subject matter probably not something I should have read while pregnant but so well written that I couldn’t put it down. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver was smart, but didn’t apologize for it, and I loved that. Written from the perspective of a reluctant mother, Shriver explores a variety of taboos, including not bonding with your child and well, not liking your child. It was honest, and harsh, and hard to read at times, but so well done. I’m interested to see the movie, but I’m not sure it can do this book justice. I will definitely be seeking out other titles by Shriver.

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I think my 2012 book goal will be slightly less ambitious as my life if going to change completely very soon, but I’m going to aim for 40 and see how it goes. Two down so far. :)

What was the best book you read in 2011?

C.

Cabo San Lucas

The hubby and I decided we needed a winter break. When we took into account our work schedules, holiday prices and the fact the I can’t fly after February, November seemed like our best bet. We’d heard good things about Cabo, and hey, there was a good deal – SOLD!

on the beach

We stayed at the Riu Sante Fe (YouTube video with theme song).

Walkway

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I can’t honestly tell you much about the town or the restaurants or the bar. Basically, we spent almost the entire week by the pool…reading…heaven…sigh…

Infinity Pool

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Ocean View

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There were four big pools and a couple smaller ones with swim up bars…we alternated between the party pool (good people watching)…

Party Pool

…and the quiet pool (good reading atmosphere, less waiting for drinks).

Quiet pool

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Since we were there though, we thought we should at least check out the town a bit, so we booked a city/boat tour of the area for a morning a few days before we left.  I really enjoyed this little tour…

view from the hill

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You know I love me some animals, so I was so happy to see pelicans…

Pelicans

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Hungry Pelican

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and Sea Lions…best part of the tour!

Sea Lions

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We also visited a glass blowing factory. This was really neat – it was amazing how hot the glass needs to be and how pliable it becomes…and how fast these workers can turn the blob of glass into something recognizable.

Glass Blower

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Glass Turtle

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Talk about talent and experience! I, on the other hand, not so talented or experienced…

my attempt

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I think if we come here again, we’ll have to try out some of the interesting bars and restaurants our guide pointed out.

I really like that the tour took us through the areas of Cabo San Lucas where the people actually lived in addition to just the tourists spots. Seeing the way people live in other cultures is one of the most interesting parts of travel. It also puts our own culture and values in interesting perspective…

Are you taking a winter vacation?

I’ll be back with a book report on the three books I got through on our trip. :)

C.

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