Books

there were no dragon illustrations

Glorious news! I can now spell ‘prejudice’ without the help of spell check. It – and this will blow your mind – doesn’t have two d’s.

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ALICE IN WONDERLAND

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I can’t read Alice In Wonderland right now – the artwork in my library edition is off-putting.

It’s just not pretty and my books must have:

  • epic dragon illustrations
  • pretty illustrations
  • no illustrations

… but I’m going to push through. Probably. Or I’ll put it on my kindle and read it without any drawings whatsoever.

SHADOWSONG

30694168.jpgOnce upon a time, I read Wintersong. The front cover was pretty. The sequel has just landed in my kindle because I rather thought that though I disliked the first quite intensely, it made me think about validation and where we draw it from.

Perhaps this sequel would give me an issue to ponder, was my line of thinking. But then I read the introduction and it had a trigger warning for suicide ideation, and said that this book was the author dealing with her monsters.

It’s not that I have anything against authors fighting their demons through the written word, it’s just that I never think ‘well, gee, let me read about someone fighting their demons in a book duology that I liked just as much as I like liver and onions.’

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LADY JANE GREY: NINE DAY QUEEN OF ENGLAND

388656Fun fact: I once saw the back of the author’s head. (It was, I rush to assure you, attached to the rest of her body.)

Now, I have a reread of My Lady Jane planned for this year, but it is comparatively flippant to the actual reality. (Flippant, but hysterically funny.)

I rather hoped the ending would change, but apparently history is set in stone and you can’t change it.

Lady Jane’s letter to her sister had a quote that quite struck me:

‘Live still to die … and trust not that the tenderness of your age shall lengthen your life; for as soon (if God call) goeth the young as the old: and labour always to learn to die …

She was sixteen years old, and that letter was the last she ever wrote.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice before. Yes, yes – I’ve watched the movies, the T.V shows … all of that jazz, but I’ve never read the actual book.

But it has now been consumed, and it is with great astonishment that I discovered that it was quite wonderful. Just as good as everyone said it was. I am now eating enormous quantities of humble pie.

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Behold, my pride – it has toppled! My years of prejudice have taken a bruising fall! And yes, I shall admit it: Mr. Darcy is very romantic.

(Is it better than Georgette Heyer’s books though? Hmm …)

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Recountings

recountings: bachelors anonymous

Look, it wasn’t a Blandings or Jeeves novel and it wasn’t hysterically funny, but it was written by Wodehouse. And a ‘it was alright’ Wodehouse is still wonderfully written with wit and wumour.

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(Sorry. I was trying to keep the ‘w”s going.)

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BACHELORS ANONYMOUS

by P. G. Wodehouse

So. There’s this bloke, Ivor Llewellyn. He has a problem. He’s just become a bachelor for the sixth time.

Yes. You’ve read that right – he’s been in the blissful wedded state no less than five times.

The fault lies in his small talk. He’s terrible at it. When out at dinner with a female, he finds himself proposing over coffee:

“Coffee’s the danger spot. There is a pause in the conversation.”

… “It’s put me off coffee for life”

His lawyer, Mr. Trout – a member of Bachelors Anonymous (inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous), belatedly follows Llewellyn to London. Llewellyn who is frantically dodging the clutches of the actress, Vera Dalrymple. Of whom this can be said:

‘Tell me,” she went on, as the door closed behind them, “what do you think of that gifted artiste? Off the record. Just between you and me.”

It was a question which Joe was well prepared to answer. He did so with the minimum of hesitation.

“Let’s say that I think it possible her mother may love her.”

(The way Wodehouse writes … ah! It makes me laugh. You’re reading along nicely and then all of a sudden BOOM! a hilarious turn of phrase and you’re choking with laughter.)

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Joe Pickering, bodyguard-of-Llewellyn’s-bachelor-state, and Sally Finch, heir-to-a-fortune-if-she-doesn’t-smoke, are attempting to fall in love, but are consistently foiled by hijinks; fate attempts to throw them together, Mr. Trout tries to wrench them apart – for Joe’s own good, of course.

“Like so many young men,” said Mr Trout, “you have allowed yourself to be ensnared by a pretty face, never asking yourself if the person you are hoping to marry is capable of making out your income tax return and can be relied on to shovel snow while you are curled up beside the fire with a novel of suspense.”

… is that the criteria for being a good wife nowadays?

Oh.

Oh dear.

I shovelled snow once. But tax returns?

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There is a chase scene, done in a Wodehousian fashion …

“Follow that car!”

The driver was a stout man with a walrus moustache, not that that matters, who when given instructions like them to be quite clear, with no margin for error. He said:

“What car?”

… and an astounding change of heart by Mr. Trout, confirmed bachelor of countless years.

Mr Llewellyn was staring dumbly, as Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott might have stared when the mirror cracked from side to side and the curse had come upon her. Indeed, if the Lady of Shalott had entered at this moment, he would have slapped her on the back and told her he knew just how she felt.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. In the rush of work and life, holidays and visitors from England, it’s been a while since I’ve sat down with an honest to goodness book, and I’d forgotten how much I love reading.

And I do.

I really, really do.

Bertie Wooster

Books

traumatised by books

Words are powerful. Books are powerful. (I would love to say that’s the reason I called my blog ‘of words and books’ but it isn’t; I was just trying to keep my bases covered. I know. Genius.) They can give hope, inspire us, change us, aid us in rising above the ordinary to perform the extraordinary.

They can also install a crippling – crippling! – fear of everyday objects.

THE WITCH

My uncle and aunt’s copy of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a well-worn and battered paperback. I read it, in the quiet, sitting on the attic stairs. A dedicated bookworm, even at a young age.

Was I entranced? Did I fall in love with Narnia and the adventures of the Pevensie siblings? I’m not sure. I grew fascinated with Turkish Delight, I remember that. I still am a little.

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i mean, i wouldn’t betray my siblings for it, but still

Usually, I think, after reading about Narnia, you’d want to open every wardrobe door ever. Just in case. Just to see. You’d hold your breath a little and reach in, past the coats … just to make sure. Maybe, just maybe, adventure was waiting for you, just beyond your fingertips.

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But me? OH HECK NO.

Coming into the room? The doors are open?! Close them. You know. Just in case.

Open the doors to retrieve clothing? Better make sure those doors are closed.

Going to bed? CLOSE DEM DOORS!

The illustrations … they’ve stuck with me too

I can still almost see what I feared the most – the White Witch, bursting through my white wardrobe doors on a chariot drawn by snarling creatures, arm raised with whip in hand, her expression most terrible.

I thought she was waiting behind the wardrobe. Waiting for me to forget to close the doors. Waiting for that sliver of light to appear. Waiting for me.

So the wardrobe doors were shut, lest worlds seep through and threaten my very existence.

THE CORPSE

One would think that one fear from the literary realm would be enough; one burden to haunt a little girl was sufficient. An active imagination is somewhat of a curse and a blessing … and occasionally a hinderance to visiting the bathroom.

At night, I wasn’t afraid of the toilet, or of the windowsill, or of the mirror from which my dark reflection would glance back. But rather, what might be laid out in the bath, waiting for me, morgue blue, eyes wide, and really quite dead.

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As the audiobook was playing, I’d stare at this cassette cover. Slowly, a fear of the possible contents of a bath sprung forth

Whose Body? is a delightful book – I’ve since reread it. I wasn’t terrified in the least. But to a young girl who listens avidly as an innocent person walks into their bathroom and discovers a A RANDOM CORPSE IN THEIR BATHTUB … well it didn’t take long to connect the dots.

  • My house had a bath
  • My house had a roof
  • Ergo, my house could have a corpse

[LOGIC STRIKES AGAIN!]

It was terrifying. Answering the call of nature at night became a fraught experience. Even when it wasn’t night-time, a suspicious glance at the bath first just had to be given. To make sure, you know.

I knew how it could be done, you see. Someone could – quite legitimately – drag a corpse over the rooftops and dispose of it in our tub: they would, perhaps, start at our next door neighbour’s roof with the body and then jump across to our’s. Then with gymnastics worthy of an Olympian, they’d climb through the narrow slit of the bathroom window with the body and deposit the body in our bath.

And there I would find it.

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Gradually I grew up and forgot to be afraid, but I shan’t forget those nighttime trips and those quick, fearing glances at the bathtub, and that moment when you’d hopped into bed, well you’d better get out again – the wardrobe doors were cracked slightly open.

Sticks and stones may break bones, but words will invoke wardrobes and bathtubs and they will always haunt you.

Or at least, they will until childhood slips away little by little.

I think I just rambled, Life

things that i will totally do in 2018

There’s nothing I love more than lists. Lists are amazing. I hardly ever complete them, (TRANSLATION: nope. I never complete them) but we have wistful relationship. Sort of like my relationship with my violin – full of longing and missing talent.

Last year, I didn’t complete a single resolution. Not. One. So I thought, hmm … let me learn from this. Let me try to set achievable things. Let me … WRITE THE LONGEST TO DO LIST YET!!

Ah, yes. I really learn from my mistakes.

*ah-hem*

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BOOKS I WANT TO READ

  • A Dickens (WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!!!!)
  • The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over The World by Tom Feiling
  • Two indie books
  • Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis
  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
  • Nine Day Queen of England by Faith Cook
  • Pride and Prejudice (I’ve tried, but have yet to succeed)
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
  • A book by P.G Wodehouse (this will be a GREAT hardship)
  • Two books by Georgette Heyer (SUCH HARDSHIP)

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BLOG THINGS TO BE DONE

  • Two posts a week (HAHAHAHA)
  • Two Heyer Recountings
  • A Dickens Recounting
  • Two Guest Interviews
  • A few ‘Terrible Movies I’ve Loved’ posts
  • Greater interaction on other blogs

WRITING THINGS I’D LIKE TO ACHIEVE

  • Finish The Elf Stew
  • Edit and republish Our Intrepid Heroine
  • Enter a short story competition
  • Submit an article/short story for publication in a magazine/e-zine (is that what they’re called nowadays?)blur-1869579_1920

OTHER LIFE THINGS

  • Skate the Rideau Canal
  • Arrive back in England in one piece with sanity intact (WHAT SANITY?!)
  • Maintain daily devotions throughout the year
  • Strive to be kinder

I think – in order to encourage myself – I will cross off this list as I go. So be sure to check back. It’s a riveting sport.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t really mind if one thing or everything or nothing gets crossed off my List To End All My Lists – what matters, I think, is put most succinctly in this verse from Micah 6 v 8:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

(Though, of course, if I don’t manage to read a Dickens, I shall be BITTERLY disappointed.)

Life

resolutions that i didn’t keep in 2017

Look, I think I’m allergic to resolutions. Terribly, awfully allergic to them. I had resolutions made last year – heck, I wrote an entire blog post on how “I’m giving myself goals that I know are possible for me to achieve.”

Oh. Ha. Ha ha ha HA!

In my defence … I was working very hard in order to come to Canada. Please picture someone slaving day after day, taking up every single shift possible, coming home in the wee hours exhausted and drained … and then going back to do it all over again the next morning. Seven days a week. Four weeks a month. Twelve months a year. Ten years a decade …

(That’s not how it went, but it’s how I’d like you to imagine it went. Thank you.)

This is how I did …

1 // READ A DICKENS. JUST ONE. SURVIVE IT.

I didn’t read just one. Oh no. I outdid myself: I didn’t read any.

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2 // READ LORNA DOONE

I tried, but the book I had was a) very thick (I’m not kidding – you could clobber an intruder with it. It might not be completely effective but … you could), and b) the text was  too small and uncomfortable to read. If I remember correctly, I had it out on my desk for a few months, in painful hope. I managed to read a few pages … or paragraphs. So I suppose, in a way, I did read Lorna Doone.

Just, you know, not all of it.book-2572013_1920.jpg

3 // FINISH THE LIBRARY LASS

This didn’t quite work out very well. Why? I wrote too much and then there was nothing and then stage fright sprouted and “this is the way the project ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.

“Marriage is a give and take situation – the husband gives the money, the wife takes it.
– by Authors Numerous, CYNICS THROUGH THE YEARS

(I liked to pepper The Library Lass with quotes by fictional people. It was enormous fun.)

Maybe I will return to it, maybe I will not. Maybe I have commitment issues with my projects. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I’m indecisive. Maybe I’m not.

4 // PUBLISH SANDWICHESbooks-2596809_1920

Oh. I think that this was a dream too lofty. Though this story has a special place in my heart, it needed plenty of work and I did not have the time or the urge to complete it. I did not have the ‘umph’ as we say in my family.

5 // WORK ON THE SALT PUN

I worked on it – I did. I swear I did. I had a wonderful name for it, I had character pictures and background information and went through the ENTIRE manuscript with highlighter pens for every story arc. (I know. It was like, the ultimate level of commitment!) But then, in September, it suffered a major blow – I moved continents and left my hard-copy-scrawled-with-irreplaceable-notes manuscript behind.

Put a bit of a spanner in the works, to say the least.

It is now waiting for me to return to it, this September. (I miss you too, my love!!!)

Join me, later on in the week, when I draw up a list of goals for this year. Oh yes, my friends. You know what they say – once bitten, twice DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN FOREVER AND EVER AND LEARN NOTHING!!!!