Sunday, July 29, 2012

I was informed that I haven't updated in too long

Then I wondered why, because I knew I'd be really busy over the past month, and remember posting a buffer of posts that would magically appear. Then I realized that I hit save, and not publish. Hi, my name is Kate: I apparently can't use the internet. Awkward. So what have I been doing? Not much really. I mean, I can tell you about the non-confidential freelance stuff I'm doing, but that's boring. So here are some pictures.

I went to Nova Scotia

Saw a Disco Lobster

Made a cake

Made Tacos (Tortillas and all!)

Also went to Sonic, and got a Lime Slushee
(This basically completes me)

Stay tuned for the updates that will magically be back-posted!  Which you probably wouldn't realize if I didn't tell you. Points for honesty?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympics & Books (sort of not really)

It's not a secret I'm kind of fascinated with the history of the British Monarchy. The opening ceremonies as... odd ... as they may have been were for all intents and purposes me at least smiling if not laughing out loud during because it was so very British. Anyone who knows me knows I grew up in Children's Choirs and Private Schools (right?) but the thing that anyone who also grew up in either (or both) of those things knows is that singing Jerusalem is basically a weekly thing. I don't know why, but it is. It's also ridiculously fun to sing.

Either way, I've got a stockpile of reviews, and I decided to throw some of them them together in one big post about British-themed books. Except just throwing together some books actually kills the librarian in me, so these all have to do with Downton Abby (sort of mostly).

First up!

 Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey is a publicized tiw-in to Downton Abbey and was made to be a historical account of Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abby) (Crazy, right? I bet you had no clue I'd throw that twist in) and life therein. Written by the actual Countess of Carnarvon (no really) it gives an insiders view into life in the castle, the history of the Countess' husband's family. The book is well written, engaging and while obviously written by someone with a vested interest in the castle (and history) it was obvious that the Countess is a fan of the subject. Granted the book is more about the Lady Almina than the "real" Downton Abby it's fascinating look into the society of the time (over a more historical account.) (Though there is a kind of fascinating discussion on one blog I read about how this books is a 'woman's history' and if that affects peoples perception of it's historical value) (But that is on another blog. This blog is all about pretty book covers) (Interesting though, no?)

One of the most memorable things about this book to me is how funny parts of it was. I'm aware I should give you a summary, but I'm not going to because I'm sure that you figured out that it's a memoir of a kitchen maid. Because you're clever like that. In sharp contrast to the above book, this book is actually written by (ghost written? It's not actually clear) by a kitchen maid turned cook. Powell took a University course at 58, and wrote this book at 61 - fascinating because it broke the silence barrier that many servants feel the need to uphold (especially of that time). It presents a very "us and them" attitude, and admittedly she has a fairly negative slant it's fascinating because even though it was first written in 1968 it has an almost timeless memoir feel about it. I'm not actually sure about how I feel about this book. I mean, I'd say for sure give it a read but probably not push it to the top of your list.
 I don't think I can explain to you how much I wanted to love this book. The Astor families is one of those families that I have a fascination with - from Lady Astor's famous temperament to the fact Astoria Queens was named after them made this a book I loved. While I can't say I loved it as a book, I can say I loved it as a story. It read like you were having a conversation with Harrison. Again this was re-published from the mid 70's and while again it was a book published 30-odd years ago about 90 odd years ago it had a few time-warpy moments Harrison presents a very real picture of her employers and her time with them. Fascinating read - do yourself a favour and pick it up.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

What better book to put on Friday the 13th than Bonk (which is the best title ever).  I picked this book up cause a friend had it on her read list on Goodreads. I mean, really what could possibly be more fascinating than experiments and research involving dead humans? Early "sex researchers" were inventive, barbaric, and creepy, and it's entirely possible they were totally crazy. Basically this book taught me that some of the things people do? I... no words guys. I thought I was pretty well-informed regarding some of the less-conventional, more taboo, things humans do in their quests for excitement. (I read lots. Plus I'm a librarian. We're basically priests or doctors for the things people ask/tell us) Now, I realize I have no clue about pretty much anything - and am probably better off that way. Basically I'm boring. I'm ok with that.

The thing is, this books is fun. It's well written, hilarious, a little bit disturbing but go read it. You'll learn things like 1 in every 5000 women is born without a vaginal canal. One less question to ask your friendly neighbourhood librarian (or your doctor. whatever.) (actually jokes aside, that probably is something you should ask your doctor)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

As I've mentioned here before I was born to a Jewish mother and an Anglican Newfie father. While that made for some hilarious contradictions growing up, it did result in a feeling of not really knowing where I belong in the scope of fitting into a box we all kind of sort of need while growing up. Blah blah I'm my own person, but when I was 12 I was fascinated by the Hasidic Jews while visiting NYC with my mom in the summer. They felt so... foreign, so different and admittedly there was a part of me that wanted to belong just so I could understand why they felt that living like that was their calling. Fast forward to university where I was one of count em four Jewish students on my 2400 student campus and I was basically the most "ish" of them all.

Where I'm going with this, is I've always wanted to understand the Orthodox, but frankly been too scared to ask. I had one Orthodox friend when I lived in Toronto, and she answered a ton of (and created more) questions I had while I tried to sort of but not pry into her life, and why she went from growing up more secular than I did (apparently that's possible) to being completely Orthodox.   So I get that this book is biased, and the author is dealing with a lot of issues she has from growing up in a closed community (and growing up in Waterloo and knowing several ex-old order Mennonite kids one the idea of which I'm familiar) that was isolating, scary and heartbreaking, this book is still one I found fascinating, and that I finished in about a day. This small short blog isn't one where I'm going to get into what little I know of the Hasidic community, let along of the Sitmar community it's a fascinating memoir about one persons experiences in, and leaving a tight community I personally always wanted to understand.