Tag Archives: Amazon

Really Rudolph?

Amazon just sent me an email saying based on my recent activity perhaps I might be interested in this –

img_2867Holy.  Should I buy one?  It’s only CDN $6.95.

I’m trying to think what kind of activity I was involved in for them to come to this conclusion.

Behold the roomy rudolf tea strainer in raspberry red.  Perhaps I searched for an item beginning with the letter R.

Although my sinuses are happy I’m drinking hot water laced with lemon and Truvia at the moment, normally I am just another coffee addict with no love for anything even vaguely similar to tea.

And this does not look like Rudolph.  It very suspiciously resembles a moose.

I’m afraid Amazon will just have to try harder to get me to part with seven bucks.

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Stretching It All Out

What can I say, right now, with certainty?  “It is time to get up off the couch and do something about these atrophying muscles before I am unable to get up off the couch at all.”  I am quoting that annoying little voice in my head.  Some days it makes a lot of sense. aging backwardsThis morning I came across this interesting looking book in an e-mail from Amazon.  They are always sending me suggestions on how to spend my money.  And although normally I am very boring and predictable, sometimes I do things that are spontaneous and insane, like spending almost eighteen Canadian dollars on a book and an author I’ve never heard of before. I blame my ignorance on rarely watching television.  And a few other things that I don’t feel like getting in to here.

But who is there among us who would not like to be 10 years younger and 10 years lighter?  Excepting of course 40 pound ten-year olds.  But what really sold me was this phrase.. gentle, scientifically designed workouts based on Classical Stretch and Essentrics…

I don’t believe the aging process has any hope in hell of ever being reversible, but staying as fit as possible, for as long as I can, definitely appeals to me.  As does not doing anything strenuous which might cause me to break out in a sweat. So I downloaded the book, had a shower, fixed my hair and put on a bit of make up, just in case anyone drops by, so that they will not sadly shake their heads at me and wonder why I am letting myself go, now that I don’t go to work anymore.  No one has actually done that yet, but I like to be prepared, because you never know.

Normally I would not do any of these self grooming things before getting some exercise (whatever that even means anymore, it’s been so long).  Then I started to read.  And I read and read and read, eventually skipping through a bunch of pages and then going back to the table of contents to see if we were EVER going to get to the part where we’re told what to do to scientifically stretch our damned muscles.  There was really no need to sell me on the WHY of all this.  Let’s just do it, for the love of essentrics.

Okay!  I did 9 ceiling reaches, which is a little over half of the recommended dosage.  The process involves much stretching, as promised, and a lot of breathing.  Both good for you.  I went on to the Hamstring Stretches and discovered I could actually do them, even though the pictures had made me extremely skeptical.  Then there’s a bunch more leg stretches and pretzel positions, much like I remember getting entirely frustrated about when I tried yoga a hundred years ago. You are supposed to stop if you experience pain.  Excellent rule.

The Open Chest Swan Sequence for Posture is my favourite, so far.  Except I had to keep getting out of the various positions to tap the kindle to turn the pages.  There are nine steps involved.  The whole procedure is supposed to take about 30 seconds to get through.  HAHA!  By this time my 30 minutes was up.  How the hell did that happen?  And my arms felt like lead weights were attached to them.  So I quickly went through some lunges, noting that I was making almost all of the common mistakes so helpfully noted and illustrated.  Then I did a few side leg lifts, just to see if was possible.

She lost me at the modified sit ups.  I’m saving those for tomorrow.  Or whenever I happen to get to them within the allotted 30 minute time frame.  I’m excited about the zombie position and spine rotation and plies.  There are also Squash Lunges and Barre Footwork things and frankly I don’t know what else yet.  No wonder she put all this at the back of the book to give us lots of time to think about it.

Anyway, it all looks awesome!  And like being double jointed is not a requirement!  I feel like I stretched a few muscles that I didn’t even know I had.  I don’t think the eighth of January is too late to spontaneously come up with a sort of resolution.  I would really like to keep this up. I felt virtuous and proud and down right energized making my ridiculously healthy smoothie after I was done.  There are also pain relief exercises and things to do for balance and mobility.

Looks like a good book!  And like it or not, I will try to keep you posted with my newly young stretched out fingers and admirable computer desk posture.  Hey, those are good goals too. image

The Cats Pajamas

cats pajamas

“We carry our ancestors in our names and sometimes we carry our ancestors through the sliding doors of emergency rooms and either way they are heavy, man, either way we can’t escape.”

“Her father is fastened to his room, with his records and his drugs and his quiet. She crawls under her covers. It is her fault for triggering one of his spells. Normally she can tightrope through his moods. At least it had been brief. Most girls do not have to deal with a father like hers. They would be afraid of the way she lives, lawless in a roachy apartment. They would be scared of his fits. Madeleine would be scared too, she thinks, falling asleep. If she had only experienced finished basements and dads who acted like dads. But Madeleine loves her father, and how can you be scared of someone you love?”

Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas 

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damn picture.
There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damned picture.

I don’t know why I included the word “damned”  in that caption.  Maybe because convalescing is dull and I think profanity will jazz up the experience.

Anyway, speaking of profanity and jazz, here’s the blurb about this book from Amazon:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

I was a bit in love with Madeleine from the first page.  And crazy about her by the last one.  Sometimes the quirky prose in this novel reads like poetry.  It’s a good story, written from several different perspectives, over a time span of just 19 hours.  You’d be surprised at how much can happen to so many people in such a short time.

It’s a book made to be read in one sitting I think, and I might have done that if I hadn’t been so doped up on pain pills and falling asleep so much.  Today I haven’t taken anything, so I guess I can’t blame my sketch on mind altering drugs. This is how my brain sees a bar in the middle of the night.  What can I say.

I hope Marie-Helene Bertino writes another book soon.  I’ll illustrate it for her if she asks.  Huh.  Maybe the drugs aren’t completely out of my system.  But I’m very clear-headed when I say it’s the mark of a great author when she leaves you wanting more.

And So We Let The Great World Spin

…because doing that is easier than trying to get it to stop spinning, I guess. At least we haven’t managed that one yet.

let the great world spin colum mccann

When I first saw Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann reviewed on Amazon I was dismayed to learn that it wasn’t yet available on Kindle.  So I had to WAIT FOR IT.  Sheeesh.  I’m much better at instant gratification than I am at being patient.  I waited so long I eventually forgot about it.  And then when I came across it by accident finally listed in the Kindle store a few days ago I downloaded it right away without even trying to remember what my reasons were for thinking I would like it in the first place.

Well, good thing I’m boring as dirt consistantly predictable and don’t change my mind a lot because the book did turn out to be exactly the kind of story that kept me happily reading all the way to the brilliant end.  I’ll admit there was a moment of panic when one section ended and another began and I was completely lost with a brand new cast of characters who seemed to be completely unrelated to the previous set.  I’m not normally a big fan of back to back short stories because of my deeply ingrained need to know what happens next.  But here the stories and the people are all linked in simple or intricate ways;  their lives converge and overlap, and the actions of this one or that one send out ripples which will ultimately affect the actions or even the fate of someone else.  It’s the kind of thing we see every day of course –  action, reaction, watch the dominoes fall.

In New York City, August 1974, Phillipe Petit walked back and forth across a cable between the World Trade Center towers.   This real life event is not necessarily the central focus of the book, but it is the thread that holds it all together.  There is a street priest from Dublin, his brother, his lover, heroin addicts, hookers, mothers who have lost sons to the Vietnam war, artists, computer hackers, cops, and a Park Avenue judge.  And I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve mentioned here.  Ordinary people who are capable of extraordinary things.

The book is beautifully written and was well worth the wait. There are some very quotable quotes throughout.  Enjoy this little sampling.  And if you decide to read the whole book, I think you will enjoy that too.

“It was my earliest suggestion of what my brother would become, and what I’d
later see among the cast-offs of New York—the whores, the hustlers, the
hopeless—all of those who were hanging on to him like he was some bright
hallelujah in the shitbox of what the world really was.”

“There are rocks deep enough in this earth that no matter what the rupture, they
will never see the surface. There is, I think, a fear of love. There is a fear
of love.”

“The intrusion of time and history. The collision point of stories. We wait for
the explosion but it never occurs. The plane passes, the tightrope walker gets
to the end of the wire. Things don’t fall apart.”

Another Best Seller

I am in awe of Kate Morton for writing yet another novel that held my undivided interest from beginning to end.  If you haven’t read

– The House at Riverton

– The Forgotten Garden

– The Distant Hours

– The Secret Keeper

just pick one and get started.  They’re all great stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the book description from Amazon:

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton, a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

The history and the family secrets are fun, the characters are strong, her writing is a treat to read.  Over four hundred pages flew by, layer upon layer of the story revealed, past to present and places in between until the final mystery was solved.

If you’re not hooked yet, read the excerpt on Amazon.  And I’ll see you later – 450 pages later I expect.

Let’s Play Lexicographer

Joseph Broch
Joseph Broch (Photo credit: puigjoan)

Daily Prompt  Create a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.

Well I’m just enough of a geek to get all excited and anticipate that playing Lexicographer will be a lot of fun. I felt that way about Hungry Hippos once too, for about five minutes.

Here is my new word, the very first one in my Brave New Words Dictionary (that is also made up, so don’t bother looking for it on Amazon just yet):

rablentumentia – (rab-len-tum-en-chi-ah)

noun

a mental disorder or form of mild psychosis in which the patient is afflicted with very lengthy bouts of non-stop talking in a loud and obnoxious manner with complete disregard for audience and/or subject matter.

Word origins: from rablen, (middle English), to speak in a rapid confused manner;  from entia, (latin), the state of, and from tumlen, (yiddish),  to make a racket.

possible synonyms, also mostly made up – bureaucratosis, cacoethes loquendi, non-motivational speaker syndrome, chronic blarney verbitis

Sentence Examples:

1.  The CEO’s pointless rambling at board meetings was routinely ignored until one of the members arrived without his ear buds and was consequently subjected to twenty minutes of verbose indecipherable nonsense which he later described to his co-workers as almost certainly blatant symptoms of a rather severe case of rablentumentia, and was gratified to realize that not one person disagreed with his astute diagnosis of the problem, although that was perhaps due to the fact that none of them had had the misfortune of misplacing their own ear buds and were well-trained and practiced in the art of appearing to listen and give a damn.

2.  A person suffering from rablentumentia should not be considered for the position of telemarketer.  (So why are they, I wonder?)

3.  Some doctors have noted that the duration of rablentumentia can be lessened by the onset of laryngitis and that although there is no proven cure for the condition, being bound and gagged and placed in such isolation as a sound-proof room may significantly reduce the visible and auditory symptoms of the illness and thus the stress levels of everyone involved except for the patient himself, but what the hell, it’s a start.

Teleported by Accident

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman might be the strangest book I’ve ever read.  “LONGLISTED FOR THE 2012 MAN BOOKER PRIZE” is the phrase that impressed me I guess.  Truthfully, I don’t remember how it turned up on my kindle.  Or why.  Maybe it was one of those muddle-headed middle of the night minor mishaps, where I push some buttons on my e-reader with my eyes closed.

I read a few pages and thought, oh my God, what have I gotten myself into now?  Several chapters in I lost count of the times I’d  back-tracked and re-read passages and even whole pages trying to get it all to make a bit of sense.  Eventually I had one of those ah-hah moments.  Once I realized it’s simply an insane story that’s all over the place, that’s when I started to love it.

This partial quote from the Amazon  site sums it up well:

…..a historical novel that doesn’t know what year it is; a noir novel that turns
all the lights on; a romance novel that arrives drunk to dinner; a science
fiction novel that can’t remember what ‘isotope’ means; a stunningly inventive,
exceptionally funny, dangerously unsteady and (largely) coherent novel about
sex, violence, space, time, and how the best way to deal with history is to
ignore it.

If you can wrap your brain around thousands of brilliantly crazy metaphors and similes and want to read a book with four different endings, this could be just what you’ve been waiting for.  There are some difficult  parts and bits of bizarre cleverness that I’m sure went right over my head, but there are also hilarious scenes that had me laughing out loud.  For me it was a sort of roller-coaster read – I had to make myself sit back and enjoy the ride – so that when it was over, I found I couldn’t remember a whole lot about it except for the fun.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

This is the kind of book you could read from beginning to end on a quiet afternoon, forgetting everything around you.  That’s assuming you’ve got a quiet afternoon with no distractions of course. If you don’t have that, you’ll wish for it once you get started.

No matter, I read the book in fits and starts whenever I had a minute or two, and thoroughly loved it anyway.

This is a love story of sorts;  about partnerships and bonds, siblings and family, relationships and promises, grief and loss, love lost and found.

(Excerpt from Goodreads and Amazon)

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.  

Hard to believe this is a debut novel.  I hope Carol Rifka Brunt has many more stories to share.

Getting to Know Stephanie Plum

I’m halfway through book three in Janet Evanovich’s great long mystery series starring Stephanie Plum.  This is one of the reviews from Amazon on the book that started it all:

Stephanie Plum is so smart, so honest, and so funny that her narrative charm could drive a documentary on termites. But this tough gal from New Jersey, an unemployed discount lingerie buyer, has a much more interesting story to tell: She has to say that her Miata has been repossessed and that she’s so poor at the moment that she just drank her last bottle of beer for breakfast. She has to say that her only chance out of her present rut is her repugnant cousin Vinnie and his bail-bond business. She has to say that she blackmailed Vinnie into giving her a bail-bond recovery job worth $10,000 (for a murder suspect), even though she doesn’t own a gun and has never apprehended a person in her life. And she has to say that the guy she has to get, Joe Morelli, is the same creep who charmed away her teenage virginity behind the pastry case in the Trenton bakery where she worked after school.

If that hard-luck story doesn’t sound compelling enough, Stephanie’s several unsuccessful attempts at pulling in Joe make a downright hilarious and suspenseful tale of murder and deceit. Along the way, several more outlandish (but unrelentingly real) characters join the story, including Benito Ramirez, a champion boxer who seems to be following Stephanie Plum wherever she goes.

Janet Evanovich shares an authentic feel for the streets of Trenton in her debut mystery (she developed her talents in a string of romance novels before creating Ms. Plum), and her tough, frank, and funny first-person narrator offers a winning mix of vulgarity and sensitivity. Evanovich is certainly among the best of the new voices to emerge in the mystery field of the 1990s. –Patrick O’Kelle

Even though I’m not an avid mystery fan, the story was great and written with large doses of humour.  I haven’t seen the movie, but I like the trailer.

There’s lots of controversy over the casting, (isn’t there always?) but it all looks good to me, no doubt because I haven’t yet reached book twenty in the series with indelible character sketches branded on my brain.  Maybe I’ll never get that far.  But the journey to this point has been a lot of fun.

E is for Etymology

E is for Etymology, Origin 1350–1400; Middle English < Latin etymologia < Greek etymología, equivalent to etymológ ( os ) studying the true meanings and values of words.
One of the first things I do every morning is play my many word games.  Apparently, that’s what WRITERS do.  Ergo, I must be a writer.  Ergo is another lovely E word, way quicker to type than therefore, ergo I decided to use it here and if I continue on with this sentence for much longer you will begin to seriously doubt I have any talent for writing whatsoever.  Ergo I shall stop.

If you love words too, check out

PR Daily News 

and click on Writing and Editing.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.  It’s full of interesting stuff.  The article that convinced me I must belong to that elite group called “writers” is here.  Because I love all those word games and play most of them every day.

MOST days I feel very smug and smart with all the words I know or can figure out and sometimes am even able to spell correctly.  Other days it’s good to bring that ego down a  peg or two by playing Etymologic.  The first time I played I got 4 out of ten by making wild guesses.  The best I’ve done is 8 out of 10 by cheating.  You can totally rationalize cheating if you convince yourself it’s in the interests of learning something new and has nothing at all to do with getting a less embarrassing score.

These games are also something I can enjoy by clicking away with one hand while using the other to drink coffee, another activity which gives me great pleasure.  I wonder where the word multitasking originated?  From Latin multis (much, many) and French tâche (job or task)?  Although the word tache without the accent can also mean ink stain.  So another plausible meaning might be too many ink stains on your fingers from writing so much, and ergo, get a keyboard you moron.

Having a good book on the subject of etymology seemed like such a great idea to me this morning that I searched Amazon for just such an invaluable source of information.  There were just way too many choices. What I ended up downloading to my kindle was this:

English Swear Words and Other Ways to be Completely Misunderstood, by Peter Freeman.

I doubt that it will be helpful for cheating at  Etymologic, but it could prove to be wildly educational.  Sort of like learning a second language, and probably a lot more fun than Latin.