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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mr. Rochester


I get especially excited over a 400+ page novel. If it's captivating, I get to have much more of it, I don't have to let it go so soon. The synopsis of Mr. Rochester sounded intriguing and different, so I looked forward to starting this book by Sarah Shoemaker. 

Always an avid reader of modern literature, I never had an interest in historical fiction, so I haven't read Jane Eyre, the classic always on the top of required reading lists. My interest in Victorian literature didn't come until recently when I started The Sisters of Versailles series. 

Edward takes readers through it all: some of his young childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. His is certainly a fascinating life, not one you'd expect from a son raised on his wealthy father's estate. But what causes all the dramatic twists & turns in Edwards life is that he's not the fortunate first son but the unlucky second son. Nothing would be handed to him like it was with his brother Rowland, he would have to work for everything, as Edward was constantly reminded of by his harsh, cold father. 

With no mother in his life, as she died giving birth to him, his father constantly away on business, and an eight year difference with his brother, Edward, in his words, lacked love. I could feel his need for affection and sadness in his telling of the 8th birthday spanking/whipping he received from his only family there, his brother. It was on this day that he first learned how he would come to be told about all decisions regarding his life, by letter from his father, that he was being sent away to live with a tutor.  
I expected the worst for him in his four years at private school, but was relieved that he enjoyed the unconventional lessons, and developed lasting friendships with the two other boys.  

But when he was 12, a letter from his father with his next assignment advised him he will be moving again and working at a mill. His years acting as an apprentice at the mill were all in preparations for his eventual move to Jamaica, where he will take over his father's plantation. It was in Jamaica that Edward came to discover his father's biggest, most calculating and heartless arrangement he made for his life.  

What stands out about Edward throughout is how bound by loyalty and duty he is. He remained a dutiful son and son-in-law in spite of the deception. I felt such fury at his father, and couldn't believe how he just accepted his horrible situation. Just when you think he will put an end to being a pitied pawn, he carries on, brings his burden with him and returns to his childhood home in England. 

It's when Edward meets Jane that you start to think he's going to make his own choices, decide what he wants, and find true happiness. But even here the situation is far from easy, and he's presented with a dilemma. Towards the end of Mr. Rochester, the trauma is too much, and you think he's never going to get a break.  

It's constant chaos for Edward Rochester and his story would play out well on the big screen.    

I don't think it's necessary to have read Jane Eyre in order to read and get Mr. Rochester. In fact, having read Mr. Rochester has made me want to read Jane Eyre, especially to experience their conversations from her point of view.  

I received Mr. Rochester in a GoodReads giveaway.

Until next time, 

Kara 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Matter of Geography


What I really like about Jasmine D'Costa's writing is her vivid descriptions that take you right there. In the case of her latest novel A Matter of Geography, it's Bombay, India in the early 1990's.   

Math teacher Peter, who tells us his story, describes math as a world of definition, certainty & comfort. He explains "There must be a mathematical, numerical solution, some certainty to human behaviour." He takes comfort in thinking there must be a mathematical approach to everything, from the conflicts between the Hindus and Muslims, to love.  

The Billimoria compound where Peter and his family lived had the necessary assorted characters that make up fascinating funny anecdotes, such as the woman who wore 3 dresses at once. There was also the humorous tale of when some men bought chicks for an eggs supply, and how that turned out. 
The Marchon sisters, who always had "puppies" (guys) around them, were cause for much talk in the building. In explaining the sisters very provocative behaviour, D'Costa says "their destinies were defined far before they were born."  
I enjoyed the way the Hindu nationalist organization was described: "a bunch of bony men with flared khaki shorts, sticks and some unskilled exercise routines could do a better job than the Indian Army." 

Something memorable for me was the child parent perspective told by Peter, how children see things differently than adults. Kids look at their own shadow & with imagination, call it a plane, but moms look up in the sky with worry their child is seeing things.  

I could sympathize with Anna when she wrote in her diary about her father who couldn't afford a summer vacation every year to visit their grandfather, but would never admit that truth to his kids, instead, he blamed it on them, like they didn't get excellent grades. 
Also, he would give his kids choices, but there never actually were any. Like asking the children if they want a real cooked egg, or candy egg for Easter, but it always ended up being the fried egg, even though the kids chose candy.    

Such a straightforward explanation for intermarriages and the caste system was given by Dr. Apte, Peter's frequent forced visitor: "The tradition of marrying one's own caste is not as unscientific as you may think. The country has so many cultures, religions, languages, customs... Bad enough, marriage is a major adjustment, but if you have to adjust to more - language, religion, customs - the chance at success is really challenged."  

The heartbreak of the marriage proposal scene was felt, how Anna reacts to Peter discovering love, thinking love conquers all, and telling him the brutal truth, yet in a kind a way as possible. He said he'd protect her from being assaulted for being at a pub, and asked if Canada doesn't have such issues, too? 
Anna responded it's not the way it is for her (women, minorities) in Canada. Peter thought he could be free in Canada too, but Anna broke it down to him finally as " ...they (her parents) realize they came as immigrants and settled as exiles.That is survival, Peter. That is not living." Powerful stuff. 

I received my copy of A Matter of Geography from Mosaic Press. 

Until next time,

Kara

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The River at Night


Heroine Wini feels disillusioned with her graphic design job, and wondered how long she "forced the square of my creativity into the round hole of graphic design." She sarcastically, or perhaps realistically, says "I'd been whoring up the imperfect for a paycheck for so long I couldn't face the real anymore." Not being a fan of excessive photoshopping, I appreciate this. Having gone through some traumatic losses and needing to literally & figuratively get away, Wini reluctantly agrees to an adventurous girls weekend with her BFFs. 
The friends are divided between being either cautious or a risk taker, and it's interesting to see how they handle each other in the situation they find themselves in. 

I like the honest way Wini calls bullshit on Pia's claimed desire to get off the grid, thinking she doesn't need anyone or anything. She isn't afraid to be truthful about her friends addictions, saying "addictions to me felt adolescent at our stage in life as harsh and unfeeling as that sounds." Wini goes on to explain that loneliness, career obsolescence and midlife dread haunt her. With dying parents, divorces and problem teens, who had time for addiction, she wondered.    


Author Erica Ferencik painted the road trip scene quite well, starting in the big city of Boston, to their journey through smaller cities and country towns, then eventually to their remote, isolated destination. She did this with nameless stores which give the very bare bones descriptions. The friends knew they were in the boondocks with one name signs on stores: GUNS. FOOD. MOTEL.  


Things get complicated when they reach their destination to meet their guide, and then even further craziness ensues when they begin white water rafting, making for a captivating story. 


Keeping with the water theme, The River at Night flowed easily, and I found myself eager to follow along & find out what would happen next. I was kept on edge and enjoyed the twists that Ferencik gave us. 


I received my copy of The River at Night in a GoodReads giveaway. 


Until next time,


Kara 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bubbly clay face!


Just what does a carbonated bubble clay mask do, I wondered? Face products with clay and black mud have become easily available now, so I thought I'd give this Milky Piggy one, by Korean company Elizavecca a go. 🥛🐷 It's described on Amazon.ca as a bubble mud pack that provides pore cleaning and black head removal. The clay looks rather lava like, and has the oddest feeling, like slippery tacky cold putty. 🌋
It expands in size, the bubbles grow as soon as you apply it, so you don't need to use a lot. The carbonation does tingle, and can feel a tad itchy, so I had to resist the urge to scratch! 


Here are the bubbles in action. A very puffy tingly mask!  

The carbonic acid and clay do their thing, massage the pores for 5 minutes. Then you splash water on your face, massaging it in for another couple of minutes, and rinse off. While it doesn't remove black heads, my face is left feeling very cleansed, tight, but not dry.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with this new fun product, for $13.50 it sure didn't break the bank, and does a great job at providing me a different type of cleanser for a change. 

Until next time,

Kara

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Oxi Clean Challenge




I used OxiClean™ MaxForce™ Foam Laundry Pre-Treater on my kitchen sheers that needed cleaning. I left it on some stains for at least a week, then washed them with the OxiClean™ Colour Shield Laundry Stain Remover Powder, and they came out like new. I also spot treated an ink stain which came out, and an old food stain on a sweater, which also removed it. I like the different format of it being a foam.

I did a load of laundry with OxiClean™ Colour Shield Laundry Stain Remover Powder and like the scent, it's not too overpowering or mild. I also soaked a filthy mop pad in hot water for many days and it did a great job of cleaning it. 
I got it free, received these products in the ChickAdvisor review club.

Until next time,

Kara

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Boom Chicka chocolate!


More tasty treats discovered! Boom Chicka Pop really is totally fantastic. I scored their dark chocolaty sea salt popcorn for 44¢ in another holiday markdown at Real Canadian Superstore (RCSS)! ♡ A chocoholics & bargain shoppers dream!  This sweet n salty combo works well.  Good quality chocolate is used, and the bit of salt adds a nice contrast. 

Which flavour of Angie's Holidrizzle is your favourite? Smiley Eating Chips Smiley Face, Emoticon


Until next time,

Kara

Friday, March 17, 2017

Lessons through Birds Art Life


Kyo Maclear takes us through a particular point in her life and gives us snippets into her thoughts all through when she went birding with a new friend. The author accompanied a musician/photographer Jack Breakfast (David Bell) for a year of bird watching in Toronto. I assumed she was either interested in learning about ornithology, the study of birds, or would take up bird photography. But in fact, many life lessons were shared with readers, including chapters on smallness, waiting, roaming and regrets. One that especially stayed with me was that big nature trips aren't always necessary. We can gain so much nature and wildlife from visiting city parks, marinas, patios and wooded trails.

I appreciate Maclear's descriptive passages and comparisons like spring roads in Toronto resembling a grey margarita mix and camp being an introverts nightmare. 

I know what Maclear means when she writes about her struggles with inactivity. She explains that she came to realize that a lull need not be filled with activity, some of it unimportant. Isn't it a goal for many of us to achieve a serene state of mind, and learn to embrace silence? We can learn much from our cats, who while they are hunters by instinct, they also really know how to bask in leisure. I envy my ginger tabby who gets such pleasure from napping for hours in a sunbeam.      

The author's description of living in a neighbourhood of incarcerated children is also something I can identify with. Quite often, especially in great weather, I wonder where are all the kids? I live near a grade school, yet only ever see kids walking home after school. It's not at all like where & when I grew up. You could always see children playing outside. Inside was reserved for snow storm days. Are 21st century kids experiencing nature, or just virtual realities?  

So Birds Art Life isn't about birding. It's more about what birds tell us about life. How observing birds, which is art, can give us life lessons.  Like when Maclear came upon the baby goldfinch that fell from the nest, and her automatic instinct was to care for it. Her dilemma is one that women often face. Do we make the nurturing, caring choice, or a practical, non sentimental one?  

What the peregrine falcon symbolized was of particular interest. In a grey concrete jungle, nature & beauty needs to be found in the burst of colours and flight of birds in among the buildings and downtown allies. It reminds me of in times of despair, notice collateral beauty. 

I received Birds Art Life in a GoodReads giveaway. 

Until next time,

Kara