Thursday, April 29, 2010

April Reading Round Up | Book Circle Book

The story of Danny Dunn/ Bryce Corteney
In the 1930s few opportunities existed for boys in Balmain, but at just sixteen years of age Danny Dunn has everything going for him: brains, looks, sporting aptitude - and luck with the ladies. His parents run The Hero, the favourite neighbourhood watering hole, and Danny is a local hero. Luck changes for Danny when he signs up to go to war.~from the blurb
I dunno. This one was okay but kind of disappointing really.  I enjoyed Corteney's ealier writings but now he seems to be churning them out in industrial fashion and they are all the same.  This could have been a book with so much more depth but he tries to cover so much time and too many people IMO.  It was very predictable and too shallow.  The ending leaves things open for a sequel but I don't think I'll bother.

The book thief / Markus Zusak.
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors. ~ from the blurb
This was one of last year's book circle books which I never got in time to read.  But finally my turn came and I must say I would recommend the book.  The mix of vulnerability, honesty and bravery against the back drop of WW2 with all it's desperation and deprivation is highly engaging.  It's not a "happy" book as such but eminently satistfying.

Eat, pray, love : one woman's search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia / Elizabeth Gilbert.
Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want; a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be. To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year.~ from the blurb
This much celebrated book was one I'd had on hold for a while and it finally arrived.  I wasn't sure what to expect from it.  Sometimes I find the popular books are too saccharine for me.  The first few chapters made me wonder if I'd bother to finish it.  I was beginning to think this was another book about a spoiled, undercommitted, over-dramatic Westerner trying to get meaning in their lives.  However, I persevered and gradually got drawn into the book.  Gilbert's writing is quite amusing too so I found myself laughing a few times.  I enjoyed her investigations on prayer and meditation.  Prayer is something I feel like I fail at and I'd like to learn better how to be effectual.  Also in meditation - I find it hard to settle down and stop the self talk.  So those chapters were particularly interesting for me.  Unfortunately, I can't afford to take the time off to have month long explorations of spirituality and love so somehow I have to work this out in the here and now. It is probably a cultural thing but I did find myself rolling my eyes a few times with this woman.  The way she hung on to her previous lover got a bit annoying when it seemed obvious to me that it was never going to work.  But maybe that is me and my Kiwi "get over it and move on" attitude.

Unseen academicals / Terry Pratchett
Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork - not the old fashioned, grubby pushing and shoving, but the new, fast football with pointy hats for goalposts and balls that go gloing when you drop them. And now, the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood for trying everything else.~from the blurb
I always enjoy Prachett's satirical writing.  My French teacher in 4th form first introduced me to them and I've been a fan ever since.  I have my favourites of course - Mort being one of them.  This one is kind of about football, but also about assumptions and stereotypes.  Prachett always makes me laugh.  (And I really wish I had a Luggage).

Growing great marriages / Ian and Mary Grant.
Ian and Mary Grant maintain that the two great human desires are to know that we can love and that we can be loved. In their latest book, they give skills and tips on how to maintain your relationship with your husband or wife. Whether your relationship is flaming with passion or just flaming awful, this entertaining book gives you insights and practical ideas to make your life stronger and happier. You will take away keys and tips to transform your relationship into one that others will envy, full of fun, communication, passion and intimacy. Turn the dream into a reality.~ from the blurb
This one is good.  Janine recommended it and I also do.  I wanted DH to read it but there were so many holds on it I had to return it.

and then my reading history on my library record disappeared! So any others I read this past month I'll have to try and remember.

Book Circle April Book
Replenishing the Earth : the settler revolution and the rise of the Anglo-world, 1783-1939 / James Belich.
(2009). Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Pioneering study of the anglophone 'settler boom' in North America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand between the early 19th and early 20th centuries, looking at what made it the most successful of all such settler revolutions, and how this laid the basis of British and American power in the 19th and 20th centuries. Why does so much of the world speak English? Replenishing the Earth gives a new answer to that question, uncovering a 'settler revolution' that took place from the early nineteenth century that led to the explosive settlement of the American West and its forgotten twin, the British West, comprising the settler dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Between 1780 and 1930 the number of English-speakers rocketed from 12 million in 1780 to 200 million, and their wealth and power grew to match. Their secret was not racial, or cultural, or institutional superiority but a resonant intersection of historical changes, including the sudden rise of mass transfer across oceans and mountains, a revolutionary upward shift in attitudes to emigration, the emergence of a settler 'boom mentality', and a late flowering of non-industrial technologies -wind, water, wood, and work animals - especially on settler frontiers. ~from the blurb

Well the blurb sounded interesting okay?  I thought I'd enjoy it but oh boy, it was hard going.  Much more academic than I thought it was going to be!  Which is a shame because Belich can write in a more engaging style and his historical documentary on The New Zealand Wars was very interesting.
I did persevere until almost the end but I'm really not sure I "got" what he was trying to say except that much of the world speaks English because of the fortuitous factors that promoted English-speaking settlers where they settled, and their willingness to make a go of it despite the hardships they faced.

The curious thing about this is there were several holds on this book after me so either other people were seduced by the blurb or there are some dedicated historians out there.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Originally uploaded by pdugmore2001.

We spend a few days at a friends' bach up at Omaha.

Lydia @ 3

Lydia @ 3
Originally uploaded by pdugmore2001.

Butterflies and clock graphics from The Graphic Fairy blog.

Interview with a 3 year old...
What are your favourite things?
Pink toys, pink dollies, pibk cots and pink swimming pools.

Who are your friends?
Ashita, Connor, Benjamin, Joshua, Eden and Holly and I don't know.

What games do you like to play?
Old MacDonald, teddy bears and my friend is Eden. Do you know Eden? And we dances when the music comes Mumma. I can hop now 'cause I am big now Mumma eh?

What do you like to eat?
Sugar, chicken, pink sausages and red sausages/

What did we do today?
We went for a swimming pool. Mumma can we have a picture of me swimming?

What else?
Ticke everywhere Mumma!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Family & Friends

Family & Friends
Originally uploaded by pdugmore2001.

another layout done over a period of weeks!!! finally finished it. Taken quite a few years ago now when we went down to Ashburton for a friend's wedding. This was before I met DH even.

Tart Undies

Tart Undies
Originally uploaded by pdugmore2001.

A layout done on my day off work.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hodge podge

My blog seems to be mostly about books these days - sorry.

Just for a change, here is a shout out for the MAGS Roarbotix Team who won the New Zealand Vex Robotics National Championship 3 weeks ago.  They are now off to Dallas, Texas in the US to represent New Zealand tomorrow!  You can track the progress of the team via their blog.  Mitchell, the driver of the robot in the nationals is the son of one of our friends.  Please pop over and give them some comment love - I am sure they would love some support from back home while they are over there.  It's really exciting to see these young guys pursuing robotics, and being a household of geeks we think stuff like this is cool. Tim is a keen robot fan.

January Blogosphere Book Circle Review
The bolter : Idina Sackville-- the woman who scandalised 1920s society and became White mischief's infamous seductress / Frances Osborne. London : Virago, 2008.
ISBN: 9781844084814

On Friday 25th May, 1934, a forty-one-year-old woman walked into the lobby of Claridge's Hotel to meet the nineteen-year-old son whose face she did not know. Fifteen years earlier, as the First World War ended, Idina Sackville shocked high society by leaving his multimillionaire father to run off to Africa with a near penniless man. An inspiration for Nancy Mitford's character The Bolter, painted by William Orpen, and photographed by Cecil Beaton, Sackville went on to divorce a total of five times, yet died with a picture of her first love by her bed. Her struggle to reinvent her life with each new marriage left one husband murdered and branded her the 'high priestess' of White Mischief's bed-hopping Happy Valley in Kenya. Sackville's life was so scandalous that it was kept a secret from her great-granddaughter Frances Osborne. Now, Osborne tells the moving tale of betrayal and heartbreak behind Sackville's road to scandal and return, painting a dazzling portrait of high society in the early twentieth century. ~from the blurb

I did enjoy this book.  I know some of the book circle group found it boring, but I found it easy to read; the historical side of things always appeals to me.  I really couldn't relate to the lifestyle portrayed in the book though!  Wow is all I can say! :-P
I did feel sorry for Idina - she obviously was born in the wrong era and her upbringing must have heavily influenced her attitudes towards a whole bunch of things.  These days she would have been some sort of politician I'm sure!  She appears to have been a feisty number on the outside but with a terrible need to be loved/worshipped. It's clear she was looking for "something" that would be fulfilling and never really found it.  As a mum I found it so hard to understand how she could abandon her sons and have so little to do with bringing up her daughter but as other book circle members have pointed out, the connection between parents and kids in those days in that class was very distant.
I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone who didn't like to read about historical time periods or biographies.  There is a lot of detail about various family members and important people of the day which I found reasonably interesting but others found less than diverting!  But that's ok. :) 

Easter Camping
We spent the Easter weekend camping at Otamure Bay.  Friends on Facebook will have already seen these photos.

The weather was great, some cloud and a shower or two but mostly sunny and warm.  The kids had a grand time playing in the sand and sea and generally pottering around.  The photographic options weren't so good for Rod but he did take some photos.  We went with some friends of ours who have children a similar age and this turned out to be a good thing for the mothers since they mostly entertained themselves together. :-)

The campsite was very busy with fishermen, people attending a motorbike rally next door and of course, the likes of us on a family holiday.  Unfortunately this meant queues for the toilets and the single shower (cold) and that wasn't especially fun.  It's a lovely spot, but perhaps not one we'll be going back to.

I've had a few days off work this week and today I'm *gasp* even going to do some scrapbooking!