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review 2017-03-06 20:14
Murder on the Orient Express / Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie

I am surprised by how easily and quickly Dame Agatha’s books slip by. I can certainly see why this is one of her favoured books, loved by many. It does reveal Hercule Poirot at his best, exercising those little gray cells.

Now my reading of Anne Holt’s 1222 last year makes more sense—is it ever an homage to Christie and the Orient Express!

I can also see where it is nearly impossible for the reader to guess the ending of this one, so Christie – 2, Wanda – 0 so far with my Agatha Christie reading.

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review 2016-08-06 22:26
Anne of Green Gables / Lucy Maude Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables (Sterling Classics) - L.M. Montgomery,Scott McKowen

Everyone's favorite redhead, the spunky Anne Shirley, begins her adventures at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When the freckled girl realizes that the elderly Cuthberts wanted to adopt a boy instead, she begins to try to win them and, consequently, the reader, over.


***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

Finally, I met Anne of Green Gables. Honestly, it’s taken me so long that I’m surprised my Canadian citizenship hasn’t been revoked. (I never watched the TV show, either). I don’t know the source of my prejudice against the tale, but it was unwarranted. I quite enjoyed Anne with an E. It is definitely a tale of an earlier time in Canadian history.

Actually, in many ways it reminded me of stories that my parents told of the one-room school houses that they attended here in Alberta. The kids they got along with and the kids that were difficult. Knowing everybody else’s business in small communities. The teachers they liked and the teachers that they merely endured.

In that time period, people really did “acquire” orphans in this way. Lucky children were actually part of the family, as Anne was. Unlucky ones were more like indentured servants and worked half to death. Child welfare has changed considerably!

In a small community, you make the best friends that you are able to in the small pool of people that you have to choose from. If you are lucky, you find a few to be your secure circle as Anne does. I had my dependable 3-5 people in our small town school and I’m still in some form of communication with several of them. This book brought back many happy memories of good friends, good teachers, and the thrill and anxiety of leaving home for the big city.

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review 2016-06-14 15:17
Charlotte's Web / E.B. White
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White,Garth Williams,Rosemary Wells

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.



***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

I distinctly remember my grade one teacher, Doris Wright, reading Charlotte’s Web to us, a chapter or two per day. I suspect there was some snivelling when we reached the end of the tale.

Boy, could I identify with the main human character, Fern. I grew up on a small farm like the ones in the book (without the work horses—we used tractors during my childhood) and it was primarily a hog farm. I was very familiar with how sweet baby pigs are. In fact, when children came to visit, my mom would assemble her camera and some old towels and we would head to the pig barn. She would scoop up a piglet in a towel, hand it to a child, and photograph the proceedings. That cute little round snout on a piglet is irresistible to a child—we have many photos of kids kissing piglets right on the snout! Mostly, however, we didn’t spend much time getting to know the pigs—they would be leaving after they were weaned, sold on to farmers who would raise them to market weight. Not a good idea to get too attached.

I also had a spider phobia as a child (which has thankfully subsided as I’ve aged) and I do remember Charlotte being an example that I told myself about, trying to convince myself that spiders were not the horrible creatures that I had imagined them to be.

Like Fern, I spend many happy hours in the barn, watching chickens, pigs, cows and horses. In fact, when I was about 3, my uncle gave me some duck eggs and a Bantam hen to incubate them. She hatched four ducklings from the eggs (and was quite distressed when her charges went swimming in mud puddles) and those ducks lived for many years! They would stand and quack at us when we were playing baseball if they wanted to cross the yard for some reason. When we paused the game, the ducks would quickly waddle across, as if they didn’t want to hold up play for very long.

Farms have changed so much! Not just horses being replaced by tractors, but the mixed use family farm being lost in favour of large, single purpose farms. Wheat farms, chicken farms, intensive hog farms, cattle feed lots, etc. Fewer children learn to milk cows, gather eggs, and weed gardens. I feel like mine was an idyllic childhood and I’m so glad I grew up when I did.

Charlotte’s Web was a great exercise in nostalgia for me, remembering all those wonderful childhood details.

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review 2016-01-18 15:15
Beowulf / translated by Seamus Heaney
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation - Seamus Heaney,Anonymous

Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.


Beowulf is an interesting window into the past—specifically where Christianity and older pagan religions overlapped. It was fascinating to see the older, warrior culture being lived with an overlay of Christianity. But deeds of bravery and being able to hold your liquor whilst on the mead-bench were still valuable commodities! Modesty was not yet a virtue—a warrior was expected to declaim his exploits (a la the Norse god, Bragi, from whom we get the English verb “to brag.”)

Although I was familiar with the story line of the first half of the poem, dealing with Grendel and his mother, I found the second half completely new. I was unaware of the portion dealing with a dragon that Beowulf faces. I know that Tolkien also translated this poem and I was amazed at how similar some sections of it were to parts of The Hobbit when Bilbo and the dwarves are dealing with Smaug, the dragon occupying the former home of the dwarves. Obviously, Beowulf was inspiring for Tolkien.

I know that I had to translate parts of this poem from the old English for a linguistics course that I took many years ago. I remember it being a difficult task and I have to admire Seamus Heaney’s accomplishment. He has created a very readable version of the text. I tried something quite different for me with this work—I borrowed both the text and the audio book from the library and allowed the poet to read his work to me, while I followed along in the text. The only problem with this arrangement was the abridgement of the spoken-word version, requiring occasional pausing on my part to find my place further ahead in the text. Despite this, I enjoyed the experience very much and plan to use audio-books for other foundational texts of Western literature, such as The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Several of my friends have warned me that is it very important who is providing the vocal performance on an audio-book. I felt that a poet of Heaney’s stature would have a good grasp of performing his work and I was not disappointed.

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text 2015-12-31 05:50

happy happy dance dexters laboratory dee dee


I just finished reading the last book I will read in 2015.


Cheezburger movies dancing star wars win


It was my 100th book of the year.






This is a first for me, and what better place to share my excitement than my bookish corner of the world?!?!?!



Hope you all had a fantastic reading year and here's to 2016, may it be a year full of epic reads for you all!!!!!


party skins celebration effy skins champagne toast




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