Well, not that it's actually summer here *g*.
Anyways, I figured it was time to take a deep breath and raise my head from the school work to drop by and update this blog.
Starting in January I've been nose to the grindstone at school. In spring term I took three courses and since May I've been doing a course on Business in Canada (a required support course for my diploma). As in-depth financial analysis etc isn't exactly my forte, I've been having to slog through a lot of stuff that makes my head ache and my eyes very tired. Also in May, I did a 10 day library practicum at the Sechelt Library, on top of my regular 2 day/week shift...made for some busy weeks going 6 days!
Other than that, we've put in a veggie garden, Sean has built a ramp from the lawn to the deck, and we're looking forward to a big family week in early August when both our families will be out here at the same time :) I'm sure my camera will get quite a workout. A camping trip is also in the offing - we'll be off-the-grid at Lightning Lake in Manning Park for three days...should be fun, as the scenery is gorgeous and there is lots of hiking and biking in the area.
Come September I'll start my second-to-last term at Langara...it's hard to believe I'm so close to being finished!! It hasn't been easy, but OTOH, I've learned a lot and combined with my experience working at the Sechelt Library, I feel like I've finally found my career (well, the one more likely to earn me decent money...not sure my writing will ever do that!)
Speaking of my writing, I'm still plugging away as I have time, editing What the Heart Remembers and brainstorming on my three Works in Progress. I do miss being able to write as much as I did before, but I think all the time I've spent in school will make me a better writer and I'll certainly appreciate the time I do have to write once my diploma is finished. It will seem strange to combine p/t work and writing again :)
Finally, Chloe and Cleo are still as sweet as ever, loving life and finding new and inventive ways to have fun.
Hope you enjoyed this update :)
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
One of the reasons I love Jill Mansell's book so much is her characters. She really makes you care about them and Daisy MacLean is no exception in Mansell's latest Sourcebooks release, Staying at Daisy's. A young widow who runs a hotel owned by her father, Daisy fights her attraction to a guest at a recent wedding reception, the charming rugby star, Dev Tyzack. The development of their relationship is the core of the story, but Ms. Mansell's subplots are another of her strengths. They feature an endearing mix of characters, each of whom is caught up in romantic circumstances fraught with complications, from Daisy's friend Tara, who is having an affair with her now married former boyfriend, to young Barney, recipient of one of Daisy's late husband's kidneys, each has a part in this enjoyable and heartwarming tale of love and life.
The area of Bristol is familiar territory for fans of Ms. Mansell, and once again she depicts it so effectively that the reader is left with a feeling of having actually walked beside the characters throughout the story and breathed the same air they did. The hotel is a character in itself, charming and a welcome refuge for its many guests.
The plot and subplots move along smoothly, integrated so well that when the many threads come together towards the end of the book, the conclusion feels natural. There are plenty of surprises along the way, as well as a fun storyline featuring a dog named Clarissa. While there is much to enjoy in this novel, there is a serious undertone that gives it depth, as several characters must face some truths about themselves and the way they've chosen to live their lives. Daisy especially has to decide whether to hold on to the past or let it go and begin anew with a man who appears ready to dedicate himself to her and her alone. They never fail to make me care and, dare I say it, even grow a little along with her characters .
So, for those of you who are looking for an entertaining, emotionally satisfying read, I highly recommend you seek out Staying at Daisy's.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Elizabeth Chadwick I am certain she has written the perfect book that cannot be topped. And each and every time I read her next book, I find I am wrong. Such is the case, once again, with To Defy a King, published this month by Sourcebooks Landmark. Twenty years ago, Ms. Chadwick won the Betty Trask award and launched her historical fiction career. Since then she has moved from strength to strength, especially over the last few years with her novelized accounts of the lives of real people who played their parts in the history of medieval England.
In To Defy a King, the author weaves a rich tapestry from many threads, recounting some of the most important years in the life of Mahelt Marshal, daughter of the famed knight and warrior, William Marshal. Married while still a girl to a man ten years her senior, Mahelt leaves a household where she is loved and where her mother is respected for her brain as well as her lands and child-bearing, and finds herself at the mercy of her strict father-in-law, Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. Fortunately, her husband does not share his father's opinion of women and soon they form a strong, loving bond that will be tested time and time again as Mahelt finds herself torn between loyalty to her family and loyalty to her husband.
England in the early 13th century is ruled by King John, a ruthless man who takes what he perceives to be his and proves an intractable enemy, especially when thwarted. His barons grow increasingly unhappy and many rebel, seeking to force some form of restraint on their sovereign. It is against this background that Mahelt and Hugh build their marriage, only to see it threatened by a mistake in judgement that ends with their son as a hostage.
The heart of this book is Mahelt, a woman true to her time, yet still strong and vibrant, and far from perfect. That is part of her charm - she makes mistakes and proves to be headstrong and stubborn. Hugh is a more than a match for her, honourable and strong, but also a fallible man forced at times to choose between his wife and his filial and political obligations. Together they pick their way along a treacherous path that could see them lose all in order to stand up to a man they believe is not fit to rule.
Far from being overshadowed by Mahelt and Hugh, the other central characters are equally well depicted, with their own strengths and foibles. One of Ms. Chadwick's many talents is the ability to create concurrent supporting storylines which complement the main plot while also following their own arcs. My favourite one is that which follows Hugh's tense relationship with his half-brother, William, Earl of Salisbury, who is also half-brother to the king, illustrating as it does the rivalries and jealousies that exist between men who want to like each other but can't.
As always, the historical background is impeccable, full of glorious detail. Ms. Chadwick has a knack for knowing exactly which historical tidbits to highlight in order to paint for her reader a living picture of the past. Without resorting to gadzookery, she imbues her dialogue and narrative with medieval words and cadences that sound natural, drawing her reader ever deeper into a near perfect recreation of the turbulent era.
The further I read into this wonderful novel, the harder it was for me to pull myself away. So when you curl up with it, be sure you have a few hours to devote...you won't regret.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Yes, it's been a while. What's been going on with me lately, you ask? Well, first, from Octobert through early December of last year, I was working at the library almost full-time, involved in a project to convert our library to RFID technology. What that means is I spent two + months sticking RFID tags in the majority of our library's collection. Fortunately I was working with someone I liked...we had some great conversations that helped lessen the boredom of what was a very repetitive task.
At the same time, I was taking two courses at school, one of which contained some extremely challenging material. Eventually, I did conquer it, but for a while, things were pretty hairy as I worked during the day and did school work at night. This term, by comparison, seems positively, carefree *g*, even though I'm taking three courses.
Speaking of school, I hope to be done by spring of next year, assuming I can take my final support course (Intro to Business in Canada) over the summer. Yep, it's a shame to have to do school over the summer, but I know that if I have a four month break, it will be that much harder to get motivated again in September AND it means I should be able to graduate next April.
We had a quiet Christmas and holiday season, which was actually quite nice after my busy term. New Year's Eve saw us planted on the couch with lots of yummy fingerfood, champagne and The Pacific - a fantastic mini-series. To lighten the mood after a few episodes, we switched to Jeeves and Wooster :)
Since then, I've returned to my normal work schedule and am concentrating on my school work again. At times I'll admit it does get to me, but with just over a year to go, I just keep telling myeslf that it's all worth it to get that diploma.
Needless to say, my writing has taken a back seat over this period. It's frustrating, but at this point, I don't see it changing till I'm finished. I'm still reviewing for Sourcebooks (my next review is coming up soon) and that does help. Also, when ideas come to me for my stories, I make sure to note them down and have faith my characters will be waiting for me when I have the time to devote to them again.
So, that's my life right now...I'll visit blogs again during my next break in late Apr/early May...