The House of DaVinci

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book 6: Bride and Doom by Deborah Donnelly

This was a light and fluffy murder mystery book. There are so many of these series out there now it is easy to get them confused. This series stars Carnegie Kincaid, a wedding planner. There are already several books in this series, this is the most recent and the first one that I have read.
The wedding in this book was between a Seattle baseball star and a goth singer named Honeysuckle Hell. So alot of baseball was the background, with a little bit of punk thrown in. For a minute, I thought the murderer was going to come completely out of left field, which I hate, but I ended up okay with the murderer. It wasn't telegraphed from the beginning but the clues were there so you could figure it out before the heroine.
This was light and fluffy and enjoyable, but I would recommend Jerrilyn Farmer's Madeline Bean series (LA caterer) a lot more. Plus, go a little bit heavier, and you get Sue Grafton's Alphabet series, which just keeps getting better and better.

The Come Back Trail

Suzanne Gaudet and the girls have won 4 straight to fight their way into a tie-breaker today at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts! Way to go girls!
They have a rough road ahead of them. Only one team has ever come from a tie-breaker to win. But all they can do is play their best.
Yesterday afternoon was crazy. PEI has been at 5 losses for days now, and seemingly out of it. Yet, yesterday morning things began to change. Nova Scotia, who has had a bad week, had a big upset and pummeled Ontario - making Ontario have 5 losses. Saskatchewan, near the top all week, spanked British Columbia - sending B.C. down to 5 losses. Then, yesterday afternoon, PEI won over the Yukon/NWT, keeping themselves at only 5 losses. Teams Canada, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are clear above the rest of the field, they are in the playoffs. The fight is now on for the fourth and final playoff position.
Saskatchewan is playing Alberta who has only 4 losses. My mother hates the Saskatchewan team and is cheering for Alberta. I try to explain that a Saskatchewan win is our only chance and we have to cheer strategically. She does not get on board. It is a tight game - with Saskatchewan coming out ahead! Alberta now has 5 losses!!!
Only one team remains in the competition with 4 losses - the team we always cheer for, our comrade, our fellow island - Newfoundland and Labrador. It is hard but I have to do it, I have to cheer against Newfoundland. Go Nova Scotia! At least their opponent wasn't a hated Western rival. It is easier to cheer for N.S. then for a western team. It is a tight game but N.S. wins!!!!!!! Newfoundland and Labrador now has 5 losses!!!
So it comes down to the final draw of the round robin on Thursday night. The first three teams know their positions. 5 teams are tied in 4th place with 5 losses fighting for a chance at the final playoff position. Alberta and B.C. are playing each other. One will be out and one will be into a tie breaker position. Newfoundland and Ontario are playing each other, each with 5 losses. One will be in, one will be out. PEI is playing N.B.. They are in charge of their own destiny. If they win, there will be two tie-breakers on Friday to decide that final playoff spot. If they lose, the Scotties is over, and only one tie-breaker will happen. PEI smokes N.B. 8 - 3 and gain a tie-breaker spot!!!!!!!!!
So as Friday dawns, this is the story. Alberta and Ontario play the first tie-breaker. The loser goes home, and the winner plays PEI in the afternoon in the second tie-breaker. (The coveted bye into the second tie-breaker (one less instant elimination game to play) was decided during a draw to the button before the tournament even began! Way to go Suzanne!) The winner of the second tie-breaker (PEI FINGERS CROSSED) officially wins 4th place and is the playoffs.
The playoffs then start tonight. Canada and Saskatchewan are in the coveted 1-2 game. The winner goes directly to Sunday's final, and the loser gets a second chance in the Saturday semi-final. The 3-4 game is Manitoba against whoever makes it out alive from the tie-breakers. The loser of that game goes home, with the winner making the semi-final on Saturday. The winner of the semi-final plays the final on Sunday.
So a team in the 1-2 game can win the Championship with either 2 wins, or a loss and then 2 wins. Alberta, in the first tie-breaker, has to win 5 straight games to win. PEI, with a bye into the second tie-breaker, only has to win 4 straight games. Are you starting to see why only one team has ever won this coming out of a tie-breaker?
Yes, it is a tough road ahead, but I am really proud of the girls. We started the week 1- 4. We had 5 losses on Tuesday afternoon. 5 losses has only made the tie-breakers 3 times in the history of the Scotties. They could have thrown in the towel at any time. Instead they made a big come back and won 4 in a row. Great job. And thanks Nova Scotia!! Without your two wins yesterday, we would be on the golf course!
So keep your fingers crossed for a great day of curling!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book 5: No Dress Rehearsal by Marian Keyes

It isn't quite fair for me to call this a book in my goal of 100 books this year because I am quite literate. But it is a great book for adults learning to read or with literacy issues. This is an Open Door book, which is a series of books started in Ireland a few years ago, aimed at adults learning to read. This has been a problem for quite a long time. What does the adult early reader read? Clifford the Big Red Dog is a little insulting when you are 37. This book is in the 2nd series of Open Door books, and is actually interesting book for an adult to read.
This book is written by one of my favourite chicklit authors, Marian Keyes, and it really does have her customary feel. It is only 76 pages, and doesn't have the vocabulary you might expect from one of her other novels but the writing feels the same. The main character, Lizzie, dies when she gets hit by a car while riding her bike home from work. Unfortunately, she doesn't know she is dead. She leads the kind of life that everyone ignoring her doesn't really shock her. Finally, her angel coordinators meet with her and convince her she is in fact dead. Lizzie then has one last chance to communicate some important life lessons to those she left behind.
This series has books written by Roddy Doyle, Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly and others. I know of another series like this, that also had a Maeve Binchy book but I can't remember the name of it. I got this book out of the library, not knowing it was aimed at early readers, just seeing the Marian Keyes name, but I'm glad I did. It is nice to know a little more about these books, and just how well they are written. And I'd like to thank Mrs. Cameron and Mrs. Durant and all those other awesome teachers in elementary school who helped me never actually need these books.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Scotties Tournament of Hearts

The Canadian National Women's Curling Championship is on this week. This has been sponsored by Scott paper products for over 20 years, and until this year has been known as the Scott. This year they changed it to the Scotties. It is driving me frackin' nuts. I hate name changes of any kind. Plus, PEI's Suzanne Gaudet is having a horrible week. There were a lot of big expectations on her this week as she had reassembled her Junior World Championship team, but it was a no-go. The level of curling over all has started to pick up though, so the end of the week should be interesting.

On an unrelated note, I tried Lays new Spicy Curry chips this week (I guess not unrelated because their commercials are running during the curling) and I have to say 2 gigantic thumbs up. I could not stop eating them. They are fantastic. Taste like curry. Fabulous!

I also watched Little Miss Sunshine. I wasn't really sure if I was going to like this movie even though it received many accolades, but I really liked it. Heart warming family drama but wickedly funny. A normal mom, her motivational speaker husband who can't earn any money, her Nietzsche reading, vow of silence taking teenage son, her heroin snorting, foul mouthed father-in-law, her suicidal gay Proust scholar brother and her 7 year old glasses wearing beauty pageant obsessed daughter take a last minute road trip to get Olive ( the 7 year old) to the Little Miss Sunshine competition in California. It is really a story about a woman trying to keep her family together but everything pulls them apart. Steve Carrell (for those Office fans) does a great job as the suicidal Proust scholar, especially the scenes where he is interacting with the teenage son. They seem like the only 2 sane people in the movie. It is definitely worth a rent.

For those of you interesting in my exciting book postings, there is a new one, 2 posts down. I saved a draft copy a couple of weeks ago, and I can't get it to post at the top of the page. It is one of my favourite books so far this year ( I am quite behind on my reviews, only 4 done, while I'm in the double digits for books) so I suggest you check it out!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Stressed Out Over Figure Skating

No broadcaster in Canada has decided to broadcast the Four Continents Figure Skating Championship out of Colorado Springs this week, much to my chagrin (next Sunday CBC is showing a couple of hours more than a week after it all happened) and I have spent the week gleaning bits of info here and there from the radio, internet and Youtube.

Saturday morning I am innocently trying to find out if PEI won their semi-final in the Mens Junior Curling National Championship (which we did!) and when the final might be on (which we lost. Good try!) when I found these pictures. This led to tears and shock as I tried to figure out what happened.

Jessica Dube took her partners skate right in the face as they did side by side camel spins. These spins are always done as close together as possible, and Bryce travelled a bit, and ended up hitting Jess. What a shock! She was extremely lucky. He didn't hit her eye, nothing was broken. She needed surgery to repair the cut because it needed several layer of stiches but is up and about and says she will be back on the ice in 10 days.

Jess seems to be a bit of a walking accident. In the last year of so she has had arthroscopic knee surgery twice, she was in a minor car accident which required her to wear a wrist brace, her and Bryce had a major scary fall at the first of the season, and when she was 4 she lost part of her finger to a lawn mower. Man, I am going to spend a lot of time worrying about her from now on.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Book 4: nobody's mother: life without kids edited by Lynne van Luven

This is very interesting book. It is a collection of essay's by 21 women who don't have children. Even the sentence I just typed has been affected by the book - a couple different essays deal with the language of having no children. Some women consider "childless" to be much to negative for the state they are. Many feminist writers are taking on the term "child free" which is too radical for others. And oddly enough, most women don't seem to like "barren" much. Whatever word is used to describe them, this is a diverse group from young to old, radical to conservative, gay to straight, defiantly child free to the heartbreakingly childless.

This book had a lot of press before Christmas. It was featured on the national radio program "Sounds Like Canada" (indeed, the host of that show, Shelagh Rogers, wrote the forward to the book) and then was on again just with reactions to the first show. It was also featured on our local Maritime Noon, where it took the entire second hour phone-in portion of the show. Normally callers have to give their full name and location, for this show, where women were talking about not having children and possibly not even wanting children (oh my!) they got to just give their first name so no one would know them. I found it disturbing that not wanting children would put you into the witness protection portion of a radio call-in show. I also found it amusing that all the callers that I heard were so adamant about stating how much they did love children - as if finding creatures that spit up, pee and poop on you, cry all night and day, could be anything but lovely and charming was a crime.

I really liked this book and would recommend it to all women - child free or not. It covered a lot of view points, some certainly not very politically correct. One essay was quite concerned about the women having children, because obviously if they were deluded enough to want children they shouldn't be the ones whose genes are being passed on. However, most of the women were desperate to show how they were "mothers" - whether they had step-kids, or extended families, or were environmentalists who "mothered" the Earth. The same "I love kids" vibe I got from the callers on the radio show. I loved a couple of the women who were partially glad they didn't have kids so they had a lot more time to read. An excellent trade off in my mind.

Also, apparently there is a wide spread epidemic of child free women being hounded by mothers who think they are unnatural, selfish (that term came up often, and it still alludes me how being child free is selfish, as opposed to the other way around),or just don't know their own minds and it will all change once they have a child. Luckily, I am not surrounded by these women. While I am child free, I am happy for those I know who have children, and if they think I'm "selfish or unnatural" they are keeping it to themselves. But, if such an outbreak ever occurs I'm going to be prepared. One of the authors, Laurel Bernard, is seriously thinking about having the following card made up to hand out:


I love it! Luckily, I don't need it.

This was a thought provoking, intriguing book. It was a quick read, but I one I really recommend.

DaVinci in the Sun

DaVinci was desperate for a sunbeam, and the only sunbeam in the house happened to be falling on the laundry baskets, so that is where she decided to nap. In fact, that is where she still is as I type this. Because one laundry basket is sitting on top of the other, there is a definite lean to begin with. Adding a 15 pound cat probably didn't help. But there is a sunbeam, and for sure her mother's clean clothes are soft. Does it matter if it is a leaning tower of laundry? Is it any wonder I have cat hair on everything I own?

Today is My Birthday

So, I am officially in my mid-30s now. Somehow, that seems a lot older than early 30s. I wish I was still younger - I feel younger. But what do you do? At least everyone I know is growing older with me.
I'm a very low maintanence birthday girl. I don't know when I kind of got over birthdays, but I did. Everyone around me wants me to want presents and cards and cake but I'm quite happy very low key. I'm in the middle of a mission to throw a lot of things out of my house and get organized so more stuff just seems to impede that mission. I had a wonderful sleep in this morning and woke up to a purring kitty cat in a sun beam sharing the bed with me. And I fully plan to slack off at work today. Sounds like a good birthday to me!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Book 3: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

This book won the Man Booker Prize in 2006 which is the biggest prize in fiction in the Commonwealth. I haven't read too many Booker winners, but some of my favourite books have won the prize, such as Life of Pi and Clara Callan. This book is also a Heather's Pick which makes it a guaranteed read at Indigo Books - you get your money back if you don't like it. I try to read most of Heather's Picks as they are generally pretty good. I think I'd be asking for my money back.
This book is set in the Himalayas at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga, in the village of Kalimpong, which after much puzzling, I have figured out is in India. . There is a Nepali uprising (this is during the 1980s) which is the background for most of the book as the village becomes more and more under seige.
Sai lives in an isolated house at the foot of the mountain with her grandfather, the Judge, and their cook. It is their story. Sai was educated at a convent while her parents went to Russia, and after their deaths ends up with her grandfather. She speaks English and celebrates Christmas surrounded by the senior citizen neighbours of this isolated house. Her mathematics tutor, Gyan, becomes her love and obsession. Gyan, however, is from Nepal, and she represents everything both wrong and right in the world. He struggles with finding himself and getting over cowardice and trying to figure out if he believes in the uprising.
We learn of the Judge's past, how he was sent to England in hopes of becoming part of the Indian Civil Service, and how his family, his village, puts all their hopes on him. We learn of his self-loathing and horrible existence in England, and how his life back in India is a lie. He hates all things Indian and English, and his dog is his only love.
Cook has managed to send his son Biju to New York, and his hopes are wrapped up with Biju's success. Biju existence as an illegal alien working in the kitchens of New York mirrors that of his father, still stuck in India, neither moving towards anything but a bare soul stealing existence.
This story didn't really grab me. It took me forever to work throught the first half of the novel, but the second half moved more quickly. It had some beautiful language, very evocative pictures of the landscape and atmosphere in the Himalayas but it didn't capture me. So much language, so little plot at points, made me want to skim the pages. In some ways I liked it. So many people, none of them happy, none of them settled in their skins, or in their geography. I can definitely see why so many people liked it. But it just didn't capture me.