Hey, it’s just another one of those 2012 Reviews!

But since the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog, I do feel obligated to publish it.  Thank you WordPress.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 27,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

I am so pumped that my blog could power six Film Festivals.  Whatever that might mean.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people (however misguided), who visited this year.  And to everyone who clicked the follow button and for all your delightful comments.  You’ve encouraged me to keep on going.  And to all the googlers who got here by accident, try to be a little more careful when you search for random stuff or you’ll just end up back here again wondering why.  It’s because my tags are all over the place.  Sorry.  But thanks for dropping by anyway.

About the Casual Vacancy

Before you read this book I think it’s important to make yourself forget who the author is and what she’s previously written.  Squash all those expectations and preconceived notions and just start reading.

I don’t know how anyone can keep so many characters alive and functioning and interacting with each other, and get so deeply into their heads.

This is a study of people, community and politics, human nature, drugs, racism, prejudice, poverty, self-abuse, family and domestic violence, doomed relationships, parents and teenagers, and how lives intersect.  The language is adult and many of the scenes are graphic.

The book begins and ends with a funeral and is not at all about happily ever after.

Personally I didn’t find anything very funny in it – I was too busy being disgusted with all the pompous idiots – but most of them more or less ended up getting whatever they deserved.

There’s more sadness than joy here, and enough twists and turns to keep you turning pages to find out what happens next.  It’s a story you can get completely caught up in, and for me, that’s the mark of a great book.

You Don’t Become A Hero by Being Normal

Yesterday I went to see the first 3-D movie of my life.  It was one of those spur of the moment things to decide to go at all and a last-minute decision as to which show to see.

So suddenly there we were, crazy glasses on, watching ParaNorman with things jumping off the screen into our faces.

There were some scary gruesome bits, so it might not be suitable for the very young, but kids quickly get to the age where they think it’s fun to be grossed out by ghosts and zombies.  It’s a great bold story with a strong moral lesson.  I don’t think it’s just for kids.

42% Captivated

“Ruprecht Van Doren is an overweight genius. Daniel “Skippy” Juster is his roommate. In the grand old Dublin institution that is Seabrook College for Boys, nobody pays either of them much attention. But when Skippy falls for Lori, the Frisbee-playing Siren from the girls’ school next door, suddenly all kinds of people take an interest. A fatal doughnut-eating race and the ensuing tragedy will explode Seabrook’s century-old complacency and bring all kinds of secrets into the light, until teachers and pupils alike discover that the fragile lines dividing past from present, love from betrayal—and even life from death—have become almost impossible to read … “(Amazon description)

I am always drawn into a book by its title. So if you want someone like me to read a book you’ve written, give it the weirdest name you can think of. This one must have come up on an Amazon book list because I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle and I’m 42% into it, as per the helpful little things that kindle tells me at the bottom of the screen.

Skippy dies in the first chapter, pretty much on the first few pages; then we skip back to the ‘beginning’ to see what leads up to that. This has saved me (or prevented me) from reading the last chapter first, which I sometimes do in a mystery because I can’t stand the suspense of not knowing what happens in the end. And I like to see how the author develops the plot to come to whatever conclusion. So no, this strange habit doesn’t ruin a book for me, it makes it better. Although there still could be some kind of twisted ending to this one; you never know.

So the captivating voice? Has an Irish accent?? I don’t know. Every book has something captivating about it for someone, even if it’s just the name on the cover, otherwise there would be no point in publishing it. I’m liking this book; if I try too hard to analyze the reasons why, I’m afraid I won’t like it so much anymore.

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A Sensational Setting

Distinct, definite, and unmistakably unique settings aren’t normally what draws me to a book. A seriously good story can happen anywhere. Of course there needs to be location description and a few historical facts thrown in, but I like these things handled with a light touch, so that they add substance to the plot but never detract. Nothing irks me more than two pages of pointless description when you’re on the edge of your chair wondering what happens next.

But here’s the exception to my personal book selection rule; a book I picked up because I recognized the author’s name and because I lived where she lived. It was also on a 40% off table at Chapters. Strong incentive indeed, never mind strong setting.

It was strangely thrilling to read the familiar place names in print. Latham Island. The Gold Range (better known as the Strange Range). Rainbow Valley. Frame Lake. It made me remember the weather reports and newscasts on the radio in Dogrib and Slavey. The Berger Inquiry and the MacKenzie Valley gas pipeline controversy. Giant and Con mines. School Draw, Dettah, Back Bay, Mildred Hall (my kids went to that school!) Old Town, Willow Flats. The mish-mash of professionals and misfits from all over the country who end up thrown together for any number of reasons, forming bonds and creating their own life altering adventures. All absolute music to my ears.

Elizabeth Hay was a radio broadcaster who lived in Yellowknife in the early 1970’s, long before we got there. Still, there were so many of her observations that hit home and her take on things was so familiar, that she kept me thinking – yes! – that’s exactly how it was. Exactly.

If you’ve ever seen the midnight sun, or know someone who’s lived north of 60, or just have some kind of burning curiosity about what it’s like to be there, you will appreciate this strong setting and maybe even love this book.

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