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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Moment I Wish I Could Relive

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A photo of a soft pretzel. If I could relive one memory, it would be hanging out with my best friend Jill Scheiman.

Jill and I were inseparable in junior high and the beginning of high school. Both of us came from upper working class to lower middle class families, so we were used to having plenty of fun on a budget.

She loved music, sappy movies, and developing crushes on someone new every few months. I used to marvel at how easy it was for her to suddenly start liking someone because of how rare it was for me to do the same thing.  Her bedroom was filled with teen fashion magazines and home gym equipment whereas mine was filled with books and whatever secular music CDs I could afford to buy. I was quieter, more serious, and much less interested in romance as a genre or as a hobby than she was, but we both enjoyed finding the humorous moments in life whenever we could and talking about various nerdy things.

I wish we could spend another afternoon driving around aimlessly, going on the rambling walks we would sometimes take while we talked about everything, or enjoying some soft pretzels or slushies at the mall. We were both genuinely good kids who liked hanging out together. Giggling was about the most disruptive thing we could think to do.

(Well, other than the time that we toilet papered the car of one of our youth group leaders. With that being said, we also cleaned it all up afterwards, and the adults were amused, not annoyed, by our antics as this was many years before the famous toilet paper shortages of 2020 and they knew we didn’t mean any harm.)

They were never grand plans, but they were our plans. Even simple things in life are better if you have someone to do them with!

We mostly lost touch after she graduated from high school as she was a few years older than I was, but the last I heard about her was that she was married, had a couple of kids, and was studying to become a nurse. (She did not go straight on to college after her high school graduation, so this was later on in life).  I wish her and her family well.

But what I wouldn’t give to be a carefree kid with her again on a Sunday afternoon! Every few years I look her up online to see if I can find anything about what she’s up to these days. I haven’t had luck with that in a long time,  but I do keep trying. Maybe when we are old women we’ll have a chance to be silly again together. I included her last name in this post on purpose just in case she ever googles herself and stumbles across this message.

As an interesting aside, I recently read that today’s teenagers are much less likely to hang out at the mall than previous generations did. Some malls don’t allow unaccompanied minors to walk through them at all anymore, and other malls have gone out of business due to the Internet and cultural shifts. Almost anything can be ordered online these days, so plenty of shoppers of all ages have switched to that if they need a new book, t-shirt, or pair of shoes.

I wonder what Jill and I would have done if we were teenagers in 2024? Probably a lot of texting, social media stuff, and swapping memes, I’d guess.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes for Spring


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Spring is my favourite season of the year. In honour of it, here are ten quotes about spring, from literal musings about it to jokes to the use of this time of year as a metaphor for much bigger topics..

 

A photo of a sweet little grey and white baby rabbit who is tucked into the bottom of someone’s grey sweater. The person is holding up the side of their sweater so the rabbit does not fall out. The person is standing outside, too, and you can see some melting snow on the ground. “…I hear the sounds of melting snow outside my window every night and with the first faint scent of spring, I remember life exists…”
John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

 

“The most beautiful springs are those that come after the most horrible winters!”
Mehmet Murat ildan

 

“Spring is the time of the year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade”
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

 

“Spring time in Florida is not a matter of peeping violets or bursting buds merely. It is a riot of color, in nature—glistening green leaves, pink, blue, purple, yellow blossoms that fairly stagger the visitor from the north. The miles of hyacinths are like an undulating carpet on the surface of the river and divide reluctantly when the slow-moving alligators push their way log-like across. The nights are white nights as the moon shines with dazzling splendor, or in the absence of that goddess, the soft darkness creeps down laden with innumerable scents. The heavy fragrance of magnolias mingled with the delicate sweetness of jasmine and wild roses.”
Zora Neale Hurston, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance

 

A cute little Cape May Warbler is sitting on a branch and looking around at the world. This bird is black and yellow and about the size of a sparrow. “Every year, I’m shocked at the abundance of growth, life, and wholeness that seem to happen in a matter of weeks. Half the year we live in Eden, the other half on Mars.”
Myquillyn Smith, Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round

 

“Snow in April is an abomination.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

 

”Winter has frozen
my heart.
I can’t wait to drink
a glass of spring
and get wild.”
Bhuwan Thapaliya

 

“I love the smell of rain and growing things.”
Serina Hernandez

 

A photo of a cherry tree in full blossom against a light blue sky. The pink petals are blooming everywhere on the branch. “Come with me into the woods where spring is
advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”
Mary Oliver, Dog Songs: Poems

 

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
Pablo Neruda

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books on My TBR List the Longest

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Pink sand moving through an hourglass that’s sitting on a white surface in front of a white wall that has a black abstract painting hung upon it. I usually weed through my TBR list a few times a year because even though I am a mood reader my tastes do tend to shift over time. Just because I read 3 or 5 or 10 books on topic X last year doesn’t mean I’ll continue with that pattern this year. Sometimes I will, of course, but in other cases my interest in that subject has been satiated and I want to read about other things now.

Here are some books that have been on my TBR list for many years without being read or weeded out. They are all well-known works from the 20th century, so I’m betting they will be excellent reads.

Someday I hope to read all of them…unless my tastes change, of course!

1. Dune (Dune, #1) by Frank Herbert

2.The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

3. The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara

4. Sula by Toni Morrison

5. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

 

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books About Tornadoes


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A cartoon-style drawing of a white and grey tornado. Last year I used one of the spring themes to talk about thunderstorms in books. Spring is thunderstorm season in Ontario, and it is also tornado season!  This means that as much as I enjoy watching thunderstorms roll in on warm spring days, I am also always aware that some storms can create tornadoes.

That is to say, I always stay close to shelter on those days and regularly check for breaking news. Tornadoes are nothing to mess around with!

They can be fun and educational to read about, though, so here are some books featuring them.

1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1) by L. Frank Baum

2. Elephant Wind: A Tornado Safety Book by Heather L. Beal

3. Watches and Warnings by Ryan Wolf

4. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

5. Twister: The Original Screenplay by Michael Crichton

6. The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard

7. Twister by Darleen Bailey Beard

8. The Mystery in Tornado Alley (Nancy Drew, #155) by Carolyn Keene

9.The Secret of the Invisible City by Dale Carlson

10. The Rainbow Tornado by Ian More

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: An Interesting Story About Family or Friends

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

To give a little backstory first, my grandfather has been a farmer his entire life just like his father was before him. One of the problems with farming in certain parts of the Midwestern United States is that the land there used to be a giant swamp.

This means that anywhere from mild to much more serious flooding is common in certain low-lying areas and that they often have too much water for their crops instead of not enough. Stagnant pools of water are also a great place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs, so one must take note of that as well unless you want to become dinner for thousands of tiny little bloodsuckers.

Drainage pipes are one modern solution to this problem. My grandfather’s land is filled with them wherever he notices that he has too much water.

This is the tale of the white drainage pipe and the kids who protected it.

When my brothers and I were little, Grandpa installed a drainage pipe in his side yard. This was a little uncommon as most of his pipes were in his fields or by his barns in order to keep his crops and tools from being flooded out.

It was not a complicated job, but it was something that my siblings found fascinating. We were allowed to stand a safe distance away and observe part of the process. I have vague memories of it being muddy as they dug.

After the pipe had been placed and covered over with dirt and grass seeds again, Grandpa gave my brothers a very solemn and important assignment.

Two photos from the day when Grandpa dug the drainage ditch in his yard. In the left photo, you see a Caucasian girl with short, curly brown hair leaping over the drainage ditch. I’m probably about 5 or 6 years old in this photo. The ditch was maybe a foot or two deep and there are piles of soil on each side. I’m wearing a pink shirt, a red skirt, and white shoes that were somehow still clean despite all of the mud. I n the photo on the right, my little brother is standing next to our grandfather beside the ditcher. The ditcher had been painted red but the paint was fading. It was about 8 feet tall based on how much it towered over my already decently-sized height grandfather. Grandpa is a Caucasian man in about his 50s whose skin has been deeply tanned by a lifetime of working outdoors. He’s wearing a blue and white ball cap, a blue longsleeved work shirt, and a lighter blue pair of pants. My brother is also Caucasian, about 3 or 4 years old, and he wearing jeans and a yellow-tshirt, and has straight blond hair. Every time we came over to visit, they were to pour a little water in one end of the pipe and make sure it flowed out the other end into a nearby creek.

Some kids might have forgotten this duty after a time or two, but my siblings were not among them. Every time we visited, they would pour a little cup of water into the pipe and then we’d race down the hill with a nearby grownup to ensure grandpa’s pipe wasn’t plugged up.

This went on for multiple visits if my memory is correct. The pipe was always clear, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

And now I chuckle at the cute memory and creative way to encourage the grandkids to burn off some energy and feel included before going indoors into our grandparents’ home.

(This post was edited to include a few family pictures I didn’t know existed from this time period. Look how big that ditcher was! And I’d forgotten that I jumped over the ditch).

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Top Ten Tuesday: Movies That Would Have Made Amazing Books


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A photo of about six rows of red empty seats in a theatre. There’s not a lot of light in this room which gives it an eerie sort of feeling even though all you can see are tidy, red seats everywhere you look. Thank you to Sabrina @ Notes From a Paper Plane Nomad for coming up with this topic!

This is one of those weeks when I will be giving a little more than the suggested ten answers.

What surprised me while doing research for this post was how common it is for many movies and tv shows that weren’t originally based on books to eventually have stories published about them anyway.

I wonder if there has ever been or will ever be a film based on a book that was originally based on another film?

At any rate, here are some films that would make great books. So far as the Internet tells me, no books have been written about any of them yet.

1. Us

2. Good Will Hunting

3. Inception

4. The Cabin in the Woods

5. Beetlejuice

6. Edward Scissorhands

7. Nope!

8. Europa Report

9. Labyrinth

10. Get Out

11. The Sixth Sense

I look forward to reading everyone else’s responses.

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Book Trope I Wish Wouldn’t Happen IRL

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Closeup photo of pink, yellow, orange, and white conversation hearts. Not all of their messages can be read, but the ones that can be say things like “love,” “soft,” and “help.” I have two words for all of you this week: forbidden romance.

Assuming everyone in the relationship is a consenting adult and no one is being harmed, I spend exactly 0% of my time worrying about who anyone dates or marries in real life or in fiction.

This includes, but is not limited to, interracial, interfaith, age gap, multicultural, interabled, same sex, and any other sort of relationship that some heartily disapprove of.

You see people in just about every sort of “forbidden” relationship you can imagine in Toronto every single day. If someone chose to be horrified by other folks quietly going about their business, it would literally occupy the offended person’s mind every single moment of their days for the rest of their lives and they would still run out of time decades before they ran out of couples to be angry about.

Yes, I know that not every community is like this by any means….but I think our world would be a better place if everyone treated others with kindness and didn’t make a fuss about who folks fall in love with.

After all, there are more important things to discuss. For example, are conversation hearts delicious or not? I love them but my spouse does not!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring 2024 TBR


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

There are four stacks of books in the background of this image that have about 6-8 books in each stack. No spines, authors, or titles can be seen in these stacks. The three books in the foreground have been wrapped up multiple times with a rough, brown, thick string that might be twine. There is a large pink cloth flower on top of the books. On their spines the words “Happy Spring’ and a few tiny pink cloth flowers have been affixed to cover any signs of their authors or titles. So here’s the thing about spring and my reading habits:

I tend to dramatically slow down on my reading time once the weather warms up, April showers have ended, and spending ample time outdoors is pleasant again for the first time in about six months.

If Ontario happens to have an unusually cold or stormy spring in a given year, this obviously does not happen.

I try to plan for all sorts of possibilities since you never know what the weather might do as the seasons change.

Let’s see which new books coming out this spring have caught my eye. I hope to read them on stormy days when going outdoors is not such an appealing idea.

 

Book cover for The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church by Sarah McCammon. There is no image on the cover really. It starts off as lime green at the top of the cover and gradually shift colour to a sea green at the bottom. The title and author are written in a white font whose style is reminiscent of chalk on a chalkboard.

1. The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church by Sarah McCammon

Publication Date: Today!

Why I’m Interested: Not only am I part of this demographic group, I was also a preacher’s kid. I’m really curious to see what the author has to say about us and how much of her research matches my own experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cemetery of Untold Stories by Julia Alvarez book cover. Image on cover shows a drawing of a very pale person who might be a statue lying down with their eyes closed. They are surrounded by flowers and greenery, including one green leaf that is touching their lips and some grass growing up by their pale, still body. The background is pitch black, possibly a reference to this being set very late on a cloudy night?

 

2.  The Cemetery of Untold Stories by Julia Alvarez 

Publication Date: April 2

Why I’m Interested: As an author, I have my own little cemetery of abandoned stories that I feel guilty about and do hope to go back and finish one day. Personifying forgotten characters is such a creative idea. This could be an excellent read.

Book cover for A Sweet Sting of Salt by Rose Sutherland. Image on cover shows a closeup of a white person whose long, straight, brown hair is flowing over their bare chest, concealing their breasts. Their hands are holding their hair in exactly the right position to keep this image from becoming too racy.

 

 

3. A Sweet Sting of Salt by Rose Sutherland

Publication Date: April 9

Why I’m Interested: Romance isn’t a genre I visit very often as you all may remember, but I love the fact that this is a retelling of the classic folktale The Selkie Wife and am excited to see what the author does with it.

Book cover for https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/196834746-the-house-that-horror-built. Image on cover shows an eerie red glowing light that looks like an alien spaceship hanging low over the floor in an otherwise almost pitch black room. You can see two white lightbulbs above it and the dim outline of a large wooden door, but the rest of the room is shrouded in darkness.

 

4. The House That Horror Built by Christina Henry

Publication Date: May 14

Why I’m Interested: It’s much less common for me to read horror since the pandemic started, but I do find the occasional stories in this genre that aren’t too scary. Here’s hoping I can handle some paranormal horror as the protagonist sounds like a very interesting person who just so happens to work in what sounds like might be a haunted house.

 

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Book Trope I Wish Happened IRL More Often

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Every Christmas I reread Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

I love seeing a grumpy, selfish, mean man being transformed into someone who is kind, generous and remorseful.

WA photo of the hands of two people who are holding one side each of a $20 US bill. One of the people has dark skin and the other person has a medium skin tone. hile I do believe people can change for the better in real life, too, it seems to be much more rare than it is in fiction.

When it does happen, it’s a slow process in my experience. Instead of taking one night, it generally takes many years and includes lots of stops and starts.

The gradual process of it makes sense to me as a changing is hard work and rarely happens immediately for anyone no matter which habits we’re trying to begin or end.

But I do wish this transformation would happen more often in the real world. Imagine how much better life would be if it were common for people who have a great deal of wealth and power in the world to give it away in order to save lives and reduce suffering.

So many of the deeply kind and generous people I’ve known have been folks who have limited influence and tight budgets but who still do everything they can to help others. If only everyone behaved the way they do!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Worried I Might Not Love as Much the Second Time Around


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m going to tweak this prompt slightly so I can give more general answers to it as I have a long history of rereading books I loved X years ago only to discover that they no longer suit my tastes for a wide variety of reasons.

Drawing of dozens of red, green, black, or yellow circles that have been arranged in a chainmail pattern so that all of the circles are interlocked with several other circles to create an unbreakable bond between them. This means that if I’ve felt the urge to reread something, I’ve probably already done it.

Change is part of being human, and I don’t think it’s always reasonable to expect someone to feel the same way about a book 5, 10, or 50 years later.

Some people will always love certain books, of course, and that’s perfectly okay, too. But I believe that some books may work best if read at certain stages of life or under a specific range of personal circumstances for some of us.

This will be a short list this week.

1. The Classics

I’ve had some disappointing experiences rereading some of my favourite childhood classic novels only to discover things in them that I’d either forgotten or had not fully understood the first time I read them. This makes me not want to read reread anything else from this genre I have fond memories of.

See also: the weird and offensive things The Secret Garden had to say about how people should overcome their health problems. While I agree that spending time out in nature and trying to look on the bright side of life can be great coping mechanisms, they are not magical cures for anyone’s disabilities or illnesses.

 

2. Long Books

I used to see books that were 400+ pages long and relish the thought of diving into them. Now I strongly prefer works half that length at most unless the storyline is otherwise irresistible to me.

See also: The Pillars of the Earth series by Ken Follett. I remember loving how detailed the plot was about the lives of ordinary people who built those amazing cathedrals in Europe…but it’s also almost 1000 pages long which is far too verbose for me these days.

 

3. Unsatisfying Endings 

It’s disappointing to follow a series for years only to be let down by how it ends.

See also: The Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M. Auel. The first few books in it were wonderful, and then most of the conflicts that had been slowly building up tension in this series were either completely ignored or hand-waved away with tepid solutions in the final two books.

While I’ll always have a soft spot for these characters, I cannot convince myself to read those last two books again.

 

4. (Overly) Hyped Books

Obviously, not all books that are wildly popular upon their release are going to have this issue, but I’ve noticed that quite a few books that are hyped up a lot do not match my expectations of what I want to read. Their characters might feel flat when you look closely, or their plot twists have an over abundance of foreshadowing, or the issues they discuss are no longer so relevant a few years later.

I will not be providing an example of this one as I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for enjoying the hype surrounding hot, new books or having different preferences for character or plot development than I do. Reading tastes are such personal things.

It has simply been my experience that there is often – but certainly not always –  an inverse correlation between how much a new book is hyped up and how much I will personally enjoy it. So I will leave those heavily advertised books for other readers to enjoy and go browse in quieter sections of the reading community.

 

5. Fairy Tales

It pains me to admit this, but I have not enjoyed the majority of the fairy tales or fairy tale retellings I’ve read in the last five years. The genre doesn’t feel fresh to me anymore.

Hopefully this will change someday as I loved this sort of thing when I was a kid.

Once again, no examples are needed here.

 

6.  Amazing Plot Twists

Some stories work fabulously the first time around because you (probably) won’t see their plot twists coming in advance.

Once you know what those plot twists were, it can be hard to find the motivation to reread these tales even though I may have really enjoyed them the first time around.

See Also: Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Ishmael, #1) by Daniel Quinn, but I will not be giving any hints about what the twist was!

 

 

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