31 August 2010


How I know I stand in line,
but it is not conformity
I have been cut and sewn
to resemble your notions
I try to stretch and fly
but I have been rooted
This line is a prison
but there are other inmates
Together perhaps we could fly
but for now, we strain at the roots

Carry On Tuesday

29 August 2010

The End of Summer

The robin sings 
empty songs of spring
in the winter


The swan cries
for moonlit skies
that reflect the water

28 August 2010

And So it Ends, My Friends

Monday I resume school. I have mixed emotions. I need to concentrate more on my studies this year.
As such, I will have to spend far less time blogging and visiting blogs. This makes me sad.
But, I expect to still visit and comment, and blog. In smaller doses.
I will try to schedule posts on the weekends and catch up on blogs then too (MM suggested it, but when she's home, she likes the computer, so I don't see it working out).
I realise that there are a lot of people who blog with full-time jobs, and young children, and numerous other distractions, so why can't I? In order to get a full-time job in the future, I have to now concentrate on my studies. Not that I'm not intelligent, just that I want to do more than simply pass, I want to excel.
I will try very hard to keep the standard as high as I felt it was this summer. The blog almost lived up to its name most weeks, sometimes exceeding it greatly (by that I mean daily posts). I have a lot more followers, and found a lot more blogs to follow.
It's funny, because I really wanted school to begin (to see my friends, of course), but now that it is impending so soon, I want the lazy summer to stay. Because it was lazy. And I was blogging, and writing, and now...
I will be doing different things, and I still want to have time to blog and write. But sometimes the best time to do those things in squashed in between life, because then you really have to make it worthwhile.
Saying goodbye to summer is not that hard, because I love autumn, and saying goodbye to laziness is not so hard, because I love routines. Perhaps it is the feeling that I should be sad that makes me sad to see summer go, but summer will be back. And in the meantime, I will do lots of things that are fun, and some that aren't, but when next summer comes, it will be different than if this summer kept going because of all the things in between, and that is good. That is why it is not so hard to see summer retreating.
All the bad things in life make the good things better.

27 August 2010

Favourite Pen Friday #2...Cross


This is MM's, as I previously mentioned. It is a really great pen, though expensive. I love mine, even though I don't know where it is to love. Getting this as a gift was perfect becuase there is no way I would have spent that much on a pen. But what a pen!
If you happen to have that much extra money lying around and have been looking for a pen, I would say Cross. They do ballpoint pens, pencils, and pen/pencils too. 
P.S. Sorry for the lateness of this, I was having trouble with the uploading of photos.

26 August 2010

A Load of Nonsense from Me

So I was at the Over the Edge open reading in Galway City Library earlier tonight, and this is what it was like:
Firstly, it was in the children's portion of the library (more space), and down there there is a pillar. Right. In. The. Middle of the floor. And guess who was sitting behind it?
You got in one: me.
Anyway, it wasn't bad. There is a woollen felt tree around the pillar, complete with felt leaves, felt apples, even felt fungi (my favourite part). And the way the wool was coloured it looked like a calf or a fawn, and also it was stretched and sewn around the pillar, and the branches looked like legs. It looked like a freaky sewn-fawn thing...
I also noticed; there was a fish-tank, and the fish kept going near the filter where the water splashes back in to the tank. And I wondered why. Did the bubbles just feel good? Or were they running out of air? Were they trying to hear the readings? Did they feel the nerves in the room and hyperventilate?
Also, there was this mobile hanging from the ceiling that was really cool. It was made out of rainbow popsicle sticks that spiralled around and around. And I got all nostalgic at the huge picture books. One was called 'Walking with Dasiy,' I think. Is it really fair cows are always called Daisy? But I couldn't see the cover, so I told myself it was a goose called Dasiy instead. Also there was this book called 'I'm Sorry,' and it was funny because I only noticed it when this woman was fumbling for her poem to read, and I can't remember if she actually said I'm sorry, but it was so fitting.
So I got to listen to the poems and stories rather than see them read, but oh well.
And you thought I wouldn't mention it, you hoped until this moment MM, but I am going to.
MM read a flash fiction called 'Cat and Mouse,' and she was nervous. I felt bad for her. I was going to read something, but I waited until the last moment and couldn't find it (it was the poem that I won Millcove with...under 18's section).
Also we were in a rush to post something that had to arrive for a deadline by tomorrow (good one MM), and we posted it with ten minutes to spare. And by the way, the Irish postal system is that good.
Actually we weren't the only ones rushing. Our sort-of-neighbour John Walsh was too. He posted his entry today as well. Come on people!
The sad part is there is no under 18 section unless you are local to the competition (which I am not), it's all over eighteen.
But two years ago, a seventeen year old won. What? Plus I didn't even think the story was that good, but oh well. Then I thought I could use a pen name and not let on it was me, but how would I cash my cheque?
Anyway, MM said she would talk to them about a children's section, and if I entered the adult section and placed, they can't really deny me a prize right? This would be next year anyway.
I was going to keep it about the reading, but I didn't remember too good. I couldn't see the people, just sometimes the back of their heads in the window, the parking garage across the street and the footpath, which were all very entertaining. Sadly most of the work escapes me.
Anyway, that was my night.

Thank you for reading a nonsense post brought to you by late night driving.

Theme Thursday: Equal

The thing about sequels
is they are often unequal
to all that preceded before
and the thing about elephants
is they can't learn to dance
so stand all alone on the floor
the thing about flies
is they buzz in your eyes
and annoy you more and more
and the thing about endings
is they are often impending
long after you start to snore.

 Theme Thursday, where interpretations run amok.

24 August 2010

The Curious Case of the Kerrs

More about their respective childhoods and family.

Mary Feiertag: Born in Belfast 1879. Her mother was called Marie, and she was born in Germany. She had Mary fourteen years after her marriage.
Mary had an older sister called Caroline (seven years older) an older brother called George (four years older), and a younger brother called John (two years younger). They lived in Upper Frank Street. They were the only family in their house, which was made of either brick, stone, or concrete and had a slate, tile, or iron roof. The family of four occupied seven rooms, and there were four windows in the front of the house.
In 1901, her father was already dead. Caroline worked as dress-maker, George as a watch-maker, and John was an apprentice engine fitter. Mary worked as a clerk in the local mercantile. They all identified as Roman Catholics.
In 1911, Caroline and her mother were living at home still.  George was still a watch-maker, but now John was an engine fitter, no longer an apprentice.
By this time, the census forms had changed and one could see a new column, entitled "particulars of marriage." Marie Feiertag gave birth to five live children. Only four were alive in 1911. I am guessing the one that died was between Caroline and George.

John Kerr: He was born in Co. Down, in...1883. He was younger than his wife, and so I believe he lied on later forms saying he was the same age. His father was John Kerr, a teacher. His mother was Mary Kerr, she was an Englishwoman.  Strangely, his father was two years younger than his mother. So why did James later lie about being younger than his wife?
She had him when she was 27. He had two older sisters, Mary Josephine (four years older), and Sarah Therese (two years older), a younger brother Charles Edward (three years younger), a younger sister Agnes Genevere (six years younger), and the youngest in the family was Alphonsus Patrick (eight years younger).
They lived on Cyprus Avenue, only a mile away from Upper Frank Street. On top of that, Beechfield Street, very near to Upper Frank, had some Kerrs on it, perhaps relatives they would have visited. Their house was made of stone, brick or concrete, had a tile, iron, or slate roof. The family of eight  occupied twelve rooms (but there were more rooms in the hose, so they must have had servants), and there were eight windows in the front of the house. They also had a stable, a fowl house, and a workshop.
I believe that as he and his elder siblings were born in "Co. Down," and the younger ones were born in "Belfast," that the family had moved into the city for some reason a year or two after he was born.
In 1901, Mary Josephine worked as a National school teacher (like her father), Sarah was a housekeeper, Charles Edward was a monitor (not sure what this is), and the youngest were still in school.
By that time (he was eighteen), James Kerr was a pharmaceutical apprentice. He was also the only member of his family who could speak both English and Irish.
The whole family identified as Roman Catholics.
In 1911, the family was in a different house, but still on Cyprus Avenue. Their house was made of stone, brick or concrete, had a tile, iron, or slate roof. The family of five occupied thirteen rooms, and there were thirteen windows in the front of the house. They also had a stable.
Charles Edward and his father were the only ones employed (as National teachers). Mary Josephine was (I believe), married to William John Campbell, a local. They were married in 1902, and had four children (still living, of six). Alphonsus Patrick was a boarder with a Protestant family in Cork. He was working as a pharmaceutical apprentice (like his older brother), and could speak Irish and English.The rest still lived at home (save James, he was in Clones).  Now James's older sister Sarah, and younger siblings Charles and Agnes could also speak Irish and English.
By this time, the census forms had changed and one could see a new column, entitled "particulars of marriage." Mary Kerr gave birth to eleven live children in total. As of 1911, only seven were living.

In 1911, James Kerr and his wife Mary Feiertag Kerr lived in Clones. They had a six month old baby girl, their first.

Just a note: I am putting this on my blog as a place to have all the information together and to share the excitement (I think it is exciting), but don't feel pressure to read or comment :)

Bookshelf Revamp

In keeping with current trends (seen on The Steampunk Home here and One Must Shock the Bourgeois here and here)...I have turned the books on my meagre bookshelf spine side in. Well, just to see how it works for a while.
I think it probably won't. Because I can't tell which book is which.
But I like the way it looks.
A lot.
The Before:

The After:

Leather Shoes

So little done, so much to do
and in between there's sleeping too.
If I leave the sleeping up to you
but keep the dreams in a leather shoe,
then wherever I walk they'll come too.
I'll know if they don't ever come true,
that being there was the most they could do
and with them in my shoes, I flew.

Carry On Tuesday

23 August 2010

The Last on Miss M. Feiertag (I think)

Just a photo of Fermanagh Street, where they lived in Clones. The red circle is the Church of Ireland, St. Teirnach's, which they lived close too. Almost everyone on their street however, defined themselves as Roman Catholics (save two Methodists).
The cursor is on the street. (If you can see it, it's to the right of the circle).

For more on the Kerrs, scroll down.

Further Files on Mary Feiertag

The original post. The second post.

Post the third:

Back to Belfast, the street directory 1907: there is a F. Fiertag listed at the residence. Occupation? A jeweller. That was her father. Mother; unknown, but is listed as head of household in 1911. Presumably the father had died?

The younger Mary Feiertag was already in Clones in 1911. She had been married to James Kerr for four years and had one daughter, aged six months, called Mary.
In 1911, both she and James were 32. They had been married at 28. The postcard(s), if indeed from James, were sent when they were both 27.
All members of the household were Roman Catholic. Perhaps this is why they left Belfast in the first place?
James Kerr is listed as a pharmacist undergraduate. The family lived over their shop (chemist). It had walls made of either stone, brick or concrete. The roof was either slate, iron, or tiles. There were six rooms and three windows in the front of the house. They were the only family in the house, and occupied all six rooms (with three family members). The census was filled out on April 10 1911.
They lived in the barony of Dartree, the town land of Crossmoyle, on Fermanagh Street.

And sadly, that is probably nearly all there is on the Kerrs. The rest is not in the public domain. We know of one of their children, Mary. She was the eldest. That was the first pregnancy and the first birth. We don't know if there were later hardships, but we do know there were three other children, two boys and another girl, though not in what order. We know they were interesting people, we know a lot about them. More than I know about my own grandparents.
The rest is up to imagination. And I am inspired.

Miss M. Feiertag

Regarding the earlier post about the postcard, I sent a message to the ebay seller to ask if he knew anything about Miss Mary Feiertag, and he said:

She was a native of the Black Forest in Germany, came to Ireland and lived in Belfast where she met her future husband James Kerr - the sender of the cards. When they married they lived in Clones where {he} was a chemist. They had four children - two sons and two daughters. There are no surviving members of the family.

I guess there is no great mystery. Unless you count that the cards were in different handwriting, meaning they were sent by different people. Perhaps the seller is covering up the truth when he says her future husband sent them. Perhaps both she and her husband were involved in something not entirely legal.
On top of that is the fact she was listed as householder in the 1911 census. Was that before or after her "marriage?" Perhaps the Mary listed was her mother, and the younger Mary was already married and gone by 1911.
On the other hand, perhaps there is no great mystery, no cover-up, no scandal, and it is just a very ordinary postcard from one ordinary person to another, in the year of 1905.

A Nation Once Again

I bought two postcards from ebay on Friday. They arrived today. One seems to have an interesting history, though I can't know for sure.
It was posted from Dublin on March 9 1905, to a Miss Mary Feiertag, Upper Frank Street, Belfast.

Here is what it says, written diagonally across the message half of the card:
And then I prayed
I yet might see
Her fetters rent in twain
And Ireland long a
province, be
A nation once again
These are lyrics from the song 'A Nation Once Again,' written by Thomas Davis, who was a revolutionary Irish writer. He was also the chief organiser and poet of the Young Ireland movement. Born in Mallow (County Cork), he later moved to Dublin and studied at Trinity College. (A statue of Davis was erected in 1966, the same year Nelson's Pillar was blown up, in College Green, where Grattan's statue stands).

Henry Grattan was a campaigner for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century, a great orator and patriot. He opposed the Act of Union 1800 that merged the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain.
It is his statue on the postcard*. He appears as he did when moving the Declaration of Irish Rights, which he supported in one of his most celebrated orations.
To his left is the old Irish parliament house. Interestingly, the spot where his statue (still) stands was chosen as a site for the Prince Albert Memorial, but was reserved for Grattan's statue, while the other was changed to the lawn of the Royal Dublin Society.
Behind him is the statue of King William of Orange, later blown up by the IRA. He faces Trinity College.

Miss Mary Feiertag is interesting too. In the 1911 census, she was listed as the head of household at the same residence the postcard was mailed to six years before. As you can see, she lived not too far from the Lagan, though, on closer examination, her house does not seem to be very wealthy looking.
She apparently collected postcards, as on the other postcard I purchased was written; another to your collection. This was sent by a different person than the other, and from Belfast.
The questions remain; what is the story behind the choice of statue and the unsigned lyrics (besides the name of the songwriter, who died in 1845)?
Was it coded communication?
Did Miss M. Feiertag really collect postcards? Or was it a front?

 *Postcard believed to have been printed by Valentine and Sons.

'Tortilla Flat' Book Review

This is from a collection of John Steinbeck's shorter works, and so has no blurb. This is the first in that collection, and, besides this, the only other of Steinbeck's work I have read is 'The Grapes of Wrath,' which I reviewed for English class, and might type up at some point (incidentally, have you heard of a teacher that gets mad at you for typing something? Got told off and as a result don't type my English stuff anymore).
So, even though I have only read two of Steinbeck's novels (short or otherwise), he is one of my favourite authors. His characters are so three-dimensional, they really are alive, and that is what I love about him. I see him as a modern Shakespeare, because I foresee people reading his work for a long time to come, and that is all down to his characters. Shakespeare and Steinbeck both completely understand the "human condition," and no matter the year it is set, nor the time it was written, everyone can see themselves in their characters.
Back to 'Tortilla Flat' in particular then. As with 'The Grapes of Wrath,' the journey is of the characters, not the plot. At the beginning, I really felt very little sympathy for any of the characters, seeing them as thieves. But slowly I began to see them, and to hold them in contempt would be to hold humanity in contempt.
It was a case of them evolving, but it was more than that, and I've said this before though I don't know what about, it was the reader's mind evolving, the characters simply being revealed layer by layer.
The voice throughout was great; familiar and lofty at the same time, and easy to believe originated anywhere you wished it to, a fellow of your own kind.
Can you blame me too much for not saying much about the plot or specific characters? Only Steinbeck's work is not like that for me, it is like a mirror and a blender and no matter who you are you will see you and all your neighbours there, mashed up in one or three characters and so they cease to become those characters but become all of you, and so it is more like reading about you and your mother and your friend than any one else. So why would I say much about it, when I know it is different to what you will see? And the plot is not relevant next to the characters, without them you have nothing.
In all honesty, I would say I am still sort of digesting it. It ended sadly like life so often does, but not in a frayed way. It was obvious the story had finished, and so there was no more to say even if one wanted to. I felt privileged to have shared that time with all in Tortilla Flat, in a way it felt like peeking through windows, like something I was not part of, nor could ever hope to be. But subtly, the message is still there, and that is, we are all human.
Could Shakespeare have said it better?

Amazon listing here.

As for stars I find them gaudy and unnecessary for collections and great works. But let it be known that this would be five.

22 August 2010

Sunday Scribblings...Dangerous

It's dangerous to walk the cliffs
Humans just can't fly
Step back and remember this
If you slip, you die

'Solace of the Road' Book Review

From the blurb: Holly is sick of being told what to do. She's ditching her old life and she's heading off. She puts on her blonde wig, blows herself a kiss and flutters her eyelashes. 
And now she's ready. She's Solace. Solace of the road.
Siobhan Dowd is much deeper than I took her for, even after reading 'A Pure Swift Cry.' Among the things I loved about this were the name Solace, how a fourteen year old could hitch-hike without the author condescending, and how everything about it, from the children's home to the city, was so real.
This is as much a masterpiece as 'A Swift Pure Cry,' and I will now pick up 'Bog Child,' and attempt to read it again.
I liked the way Holly slowly recalled her memories as her journey progressed. The way the wig almost became Solace was amazing.
The adults in Siobhan Dowd's work are perfect. Some mistrust children, and some are kind and well-meaning, and each novel is so like life is; unpredictable and predictable, sad and happy, never simple. The characters just keep on living life, and isn't that the easiest way, just keep on living?
I now have huge respect for Siobhan Dowd that was absent before, and I am very sad that she did not complete more novels.

21 August 2010

On Reveiwing Books and Reading

Interestingly, I started reviewing books on my blog because someone suggested that it was a good way to get new readers. I have noticed, however, that not many people seem interested.

Strangely, I don't mind. I don't love writing book reviews, but in the past few weeks writing them has been fun. Not only do I get to recap and remember the book, but I get to share books I enjoyed. It's a fun challenge to see if I can convince someone to read a book because I suggested it.

It helps me look at the technique as a writer, and not just the writing as a reader. I get to re-examine plot and characters, and see what works and what doesn't, and if I like it. I read so fast, by the time I'm done I can hardly remember the name of the main character. Now I do remember, and it feels quite lovely.

Now I can go back and look at an old book review about a certain book. Now I can see my taste evolve. Now I can show people who I am, because I'm the sort of person who chain reads classics and chicklit in a single sitting.

We are what we read.

'A Swift Pure Cry' Book Review

A quote in the front says 'A beautifully written and heartbreaking story...the story will be familiar to everyone in Ireland, but no less shocking for that.' That about sums it up for me. 
I won this in a competition. So I wasn't too interested in reading it. It sat on my bookshelf until last night. Then I realised I had been very wrong. This was Siobhan Dowd's début novel.

The blurb: Life has been hard for Shell since the death of her mam. Her dad has given up work and turned his back on reality, leaving Shell to care for her brother and sister. When she can, she spends time with her best friend Bridie and the charming, persuasive Declan, sharing cigarettes and irreverent jokes.
Shell is drawn to the kindness of Father Rose, a young priest, but soon finds herself the centre of an escalating scandal that rocks the small Irish community to its foundations.
This is a story from an age I didn't live in, didn't grow up in. This is a story from the time of my parents. But it is these stories that have shaped Ireland into what it is now. Sadly, the Ireland of today is not so dissimilar than it was in the story.
I wouldn't give too much away. This is a very daring début novel, and whatever I expected about it, it was wrong. It will make you cry with frustration and with sadness. But it will really really make you understand. This is the way Ireland was. If you are my generation, this was your parents, if you are older, it was your peers.
When MM first came to America, everyone thought Ireland was very dangerous, because they had only heard of The Troubles and cared no more beyond that. But there was and is much more to Ireland than The Troubles and beautiful landscapes. And this book shows you.
I really think everyone who reads it will get something from it. Most will get a new understanding, and appreciation. Some will get empathy, far too many will get empathy from this.
This is Ireland.
I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: *****
Voice: *****
Dialogue: *****

Which means...five stars
Amazon listing here.

20 August 2010

Favourite Pen Friday #1

This pen actually belongs to DD, but pens often change hands in our house, though they are always begrudgingly returned ;)
A lot of our pens are from Tesco, but, although price is a (rather considerable) consideration, it doesn't mean quality is compromised. They might not always be of the best quality, but they are never bad quality if you catch my drift.
Also, there is no call for snobbery regarding pens, I mean, it should be what is written (and the handwriting...yes mine isn't great, but I'm working on it, I want a Spencerian scrawl) that counts, yes? That said, not all (but most I guess) our pens are cheap. There is a certain attraction to a nice pen (the same that draws the eye to blank notebooks), that affects most writers... I had a lovely orange fountain pen given to me by my uncle which I lost misplaced that belongs here, but MM's shall suffice. Look for it next week...

'Abarat 2' Book Review

From the blurb: Candy Quackenbush's adventures in the amazing world of the Abarat are getting more strange by the hour...Candy's companions must race against time to save her from the clutches of Carrion, and she must solve the mystery of her past before the forces of Night and Day clash and Absolute Midnight descends upon the islands.
This sequel to Abarat was even more enjoyable than the first. The amazing oil paintings were back to illustrate, and the writing and plot were still as smooth and gripping as ever. The characters were all well-rounded and had bad and good facets. I especially enjoyed the character of Christopher Carrion.
One would think that Clive Barker's imagination would be almost drained, but each new creature and place is as imaginative as wonderful as the last. I really enjoyed this.

I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: ****
Voice: *****
Dialogue: ****

Which means...four stars
 Amazon listing here.

19 August 2010

Contrast: Bows and Flows of Angel Hair

I've looked at clouds from both sides now...

From up and down and still somehow...

It's cloud illusions I recall...

I really don't know clouds at all...

Lyrics: Joni Mitchell 

The Bridge of Tears


The sound of water lapping the shore carries over to the far field. 

There used to be a gateway here, where this world met the next. The tears of those left behind filled the valley. So a bridge was built, of willow wood. It was fragile, and only those possessed of a great knowledge could cross it, for they knew how to walk like angels.
But now, where once wise men walked and crossed to the far field, there are only remains. Floating in the lake of tears, the bridge is broken and alone. 
Once there was a procession, all of souls given to wandering, and the bridge let them through to the other world. And they promised to come back, but one of their number was greater than the rest, and the other world thought to keep him. The weakest man, who walked last, fell through the bridge and drowned.
And the copse of willow trees burnt and died, and the people forgot how to walk like angels.

In the far field, all the procession watch this world and wait to return over the bridge of tears.

 The image is by mjagiellicz of DeviantArt

'The Knife of Never Letting Go' Book Review

I think I already mentioned that I don't like series, but I made an exception for this. Why? Because PonyGirl had  a poll about which was a better book, and this was the only one I hadn't read out of the few. I knew it looked good, I knew it was good, but the library only had this one so I knew I'd be disappointed looking for sequels... Written by Patrick Ness.

This is how I choose a book: Look at the title on the spine. Unless both the title and spine are bad I pick it up. I look at the cover and at the blurb. If they look good I open the first page and read a bit, and if that doesn't convince me, open it at random and read a little. This sometimes differs in that I pick a book solely on title or cover, or don't pick it for the same reasons. I am rarely disappointed though.
This book had neither a very interesting title nor cover (though they were both somewhat intriguing). The first sentence was absolutely wonderful though (and there was a quote on the back that said as much, pretty much the only words besides the title on the cover).
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say.
The concept of the New World was incredible, but perfectly believable. In fact everything about it was perfectly believable, even though it rings of fantasy. 
The characters were what really drove it, but the plot was great too. I loved how the reader found out along with Todd that what he had believed about himself and his town and his parents was totally incorrect. I loved how people he thought were kind and nice were still capable of bad things, and people he thought were one way had many facets. 
It really was a story of growing up, but the things he did and saw along the way made it unique. I would certainly recommend it.
One last thing; I liked how it was written in a different style, sort of slangy, lots of dialect. It was still understandable and rather than detracting from the story, it added to it. That is all.
I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: *****
Voice: *****
Dialogue: *****

Which means...four starsAmazon listing here.

18 August 2010

Contrast: Fights and Brotherhood

This is Frances. He is a stray cat that we sort of adopted.
He used to have two eyes, but one (got scratched and) closed over. This mostly affects him when he can't see his food too well and thinks there isn't any.
Frances used to chase off our other cat (Batman), but then Batman got stronger. Then he chased Frances away.
Now they are tolerant of each other. We think they might be brothers, as they are both black and white, and get on okay.
This is what Frances looked like when he had to fight for his food and before his eye totally closed over (not for weak of heart).
Frances used to be more skittish but now he lets us get much closer. However, Batman loves to be petted, and drools most contentedly like a dog.

Sepia Scenes #96

Coole Park Co. Galway.

'From Hereabout Hill' Book Review

It is always nice to settle into a collection of stories every so often between novels, and that is just what I did. The thing about short stories is they can be like snacks in-between novels or read all at once, or over a long long time, because they are short! I'm the type of person to keep reading until I finish a book, no matter the hour. So I have no experience in the read-them-over-a-period-of-time-department, but oh well. Written by Michael Morpurgo.

The blurb: The stories reflect [Morpurgo's] love of myths and legends, his concern that we learn ofthe past, his keen sense of place, and they confirm his skill as a brilliant observer of family life and chronicler of first love.
I enjoyed all of theses stories; they were all well-written, well-thought out, and had great plot and characters. Is there really much more to say?

Amazon listing here.

17 August 2010

Contrast: Light and Seasons

We went to Coole Park briefly this past weekend, and we have been a few times before. There is a particular pathway near the toilets with overhanging trees. I took two photos of it. One was early this year, 2nd February. The second is from this past weekend, the 15th August. The difference in light  (though taken around the same time of day) and tree growth is amazing.

Doesn't it just change the entire atmosphere as well? The first is like a Grimm forest, the second is a Disney forest (Yes, still haven't gotten over Tinkerbell's de-sass-ification).

'Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH' Book Review

Yes, this is a book for much younger readers. However, after seeing the film (which I don't remember and, after looking at wikipedia, am glad I don't) I had tried to read it numerous times and had not been able to finish it. So I tried again, and lo and behold I did it! It really is a lovely book, I have no idea why I couldn't finish it before. Written by Robert C. O'Brien (aka Robert Leslie Conly).

The blurb: Time is running out for Mrs Frisby, who must move her family of mice before the farmer destroys their home. But her youngest son is so ill she is convinced he won't survive the move. Help comes in the unexpected form of some super-intelligent rats, and little by little Mrs Frisby learns the rats' extraordinary secret.
This book goes a long way toward changing the perception of mice and rats (and animal testing for that matter), and it has a lovely story. I have a fondness for personified animal stories, if they are good, and this was. There was enough human-like detail to make you feel sympathetic toward the characters, yet it was still made clear they were animals.
I enjoyed the plot, and while it was heart-warming, it had enough true-to-life incidents to make it believable (well besides the animals taking and acting like humans part), so all in all, a great book...
I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: *****
Voice: *****
Dialogue: *****

Which means...five stars!
 Amazon listing here.

16 August 2010


Born anew
ice crystals
crack and fall
emerging like a butterfly
the tree of solid green
was never really dead at all

This is my 200th post. I though it fit to have it now with the prompt of "beginning" from One Single Impression. This is the beginning of another hundred posts for yours truly, and may there be hundreds more!

'Abarat' Book Review

I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but it was good. Looking at the page number and seeing it shoot from 76 to 184 in what seemed like a second told me I was loving it. I don't like series of books a lot, because if you can't get the sequel or it isn't out yet, I want to know the rest of the story, but end up just forgetting about it and moving on to something else and by the time the sequel is available I'll have forgotten the first book. Anyway, the first two Abarat books were in the library so I took them out. This is the first book by Clive Barker I have read, but I'll read more.
From the blurb: 
It begins in the most boring pace in the world: Chickentown U.S.A. There lives Candy Quackenbush...Out of nowhere comes a wave and Candy...leaps into the surging waters...Where? To the ABARAT: a vast archipelago where every island is a different hour of the day...As Candy journeys from one place to another...she begins to realise something. She has been here before.
Candy has a place in this extraordinary world: she is here to help save the Abarat...She's a strange heroine, she knows. But this is a strange world.
And in the Abarat all things are possible.
From the ambigram title to the beautiful illustrations inside, I knew that a lot of effort had been put in to make this book a work of art. And it was. The imagination of it shone though, and the descriptions (and paintings) of otherworldly creatures were amazing.
At times the characters seemed to blur together and their dialogue was unrealistic. I appreciate this took a lot of effort, but it seems Clive Barker spends a long time on his novels. So there is time to make it a bit tighter. I don't know if I just pick things out more easily now or some writing is falling by the wayside, but if I notice some quirks and inconsistencies it distracts and annoys me.
I did really enjoy this and I would recommend it, though it is thick and heavy and therefore hard to read in bed (well the one I had was a hardcover, I don't know about the paperback). Another thing I don't like about some science fiction and fantasy are hard-to-pronounce names; my brain stumbles over them even if they can be sounded out and just look hard to say.
Plus, look out for Abarat 2; I've not finished it yet, but expect the review soon.

I give it:

Plot: ****
Characters: ****
Voice: ****
Dialogue: ***

Which means...an even four stars
 Amazon listing here.

Favourite Pen Friday

Ten pens, ten weeks.
I bring you...Favourite Pen Friday.
For the next ten Fridays I will feature one of my favourite pens.
I have ten.
They are not necessarily expensive.
Some are not pretty.
Some don't write well.
One isn't even a pen.
Look for them starting this Friday.

Microfiction Monday #44

As his feet slowly rusted, he regretted leaving the super glue near his visor. He wished he had gotten that chainsaw for his birthday.

More Microfiction Mondays: Stony River

15 August 2010

Sunday Scribblings...The Ideal View

The view from every room in our house is fairly ugly. There is no one lovely view, and even just an okay view in some rooms would be nice, but alas, our house is situated where it is, and I'm not complaining, only...

The ideal view would go like this...

From the door into the room you can see the window. It is medium-sized with a diamond lattice. Just to the right of it is a little Dutch door that leads to an iron balcony. From the balcony, the landscape rolls to the sea. Across the bay there are cliffs and cool blue mountains. Turning to the left, there are green hills not too far in the distance. To the right the grass keeps rolling and dipping shallowly until the horizon ends...

This isn't very different from the view you can see when you are closer to Galway Bay. It is the view we might have if we lived farther to the west and closer to the shore. It is imaginary though, as geographically it is unsound.

10 August 2010

'Forget Me Not' Book Review

I might have read Anne Cassidy before, but I remember little to nothing about it if I have...Are lost children books a trend (granted, neither this nor the other (The Disappearing of Katharina Linden) I read recently were new releases or anything, but what are the chances of two lost child books in such a short time?)

The blurb: Jade Henderson is missing, taken from her cot in the night. Stella Parfitt watches the police investigation  unfold, and begins to ask her own questions. Where was her mother that night? The woods hold a dark secret...
I got really caught up in this book. Who I suspected varied as I read on, sometimes reverting back to one, then changing to another character, but the ending was a surprise. It was one of those books you read thinking you know whodunnit but it's not that person. Then when you look back over it, all the clues point to the real killer/kidnapper/criminal.
Usually parallel stories (often spanning a generation) interest but tire and annoy me. This was an exception, as it felt like two separate stories, were it not for the common link; Terri. That is what made it so interesting.
It also made me question some things. Like, is it really right to give a child back to it's biological mother? Of course. If she doesn't even remember her biological mother? Maybe. If her biological mother never treated her right...but might have changed?

I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: ****
Voice: *****
Dialogue: ****

Which means...four stars
 Amazon listing here.

Growing Up

When I think...
Back then I was so naive
I wore my heart high on my sleeve
you could see me coming a mile away
I used to think flamboyant was okay
When I was young, I was really me
I shouted my opinions. I was free.
but that's how life...used to be

Carry On Tuesday

Photo by DD

09 August 2010

'The Vanishing of Katharina Linden' Book Review

I figured out the abductor fairly shortly into the book, but it still made me second-guess myself. 
What I liked about it; the descriptions of the village were great. I have never been to Germany but one of my friends is German, it was nice to see it though the eye of a local (also her dad is English, so it seemed very similar to the book, even down to the relationship between the parents). I also liked the ending, it was happy. I like happy endings that seem likely. This wasn't exactly likely, in fact the whole book had surreal elements (death by hairspray), but it was still nice. However, just for once, could the person you most suspect actually be the abductor? Or is that just too boring?
I thought the title didn't quite suit the book, as it wasn't just about Katharina. I suspect the publishers of trying to make it sell-able. Then again maybe not. It is also quite a long title. I often like short and to-the-point with a bit of intrigue better. That said, I did like this book (mostly for the atmosphere). I really felt like I could be in Bad Münstereifel.

I give it:

Plot: ***
Characters: ***
Voice: ***
Dialogue: ****

Which means...three stars
Amazon listing here.

Microfiction Monday #43

The images jostled for preponderance in the letter-outlines, but she saw only the simple bridge where she had said yes to his diamond ring.

More Microfiction Mondays: Stony River

08 August 2010

Header Photos: Revisited

Since I just got a new header photo, I thought it would be interesting to traverse the previous header photos, back over a year.
My first header photo was very amateurish. It was a few sheets of paper and pencil holder. I took it on my duvet in order to get a white background which I could subsequently change. However, the texture did not work for that. I tried to make it black, to no avail. It ended up patchy, but MM said it looked like a beach at night. Anyway, I made the mistake of not saving it, so when I changed it, it was lost to the ages. However, below is the before-black-"fill" version. Not bad. Here is where I posted about that photo.
After noticing that I had spelled writers' wrong, I got another header photo. My second header photo was for Christmas. Right after that I got a new header. But below is my Christmas one. There was text that said "Happy Christmas from Two Writers' Daily." I'm fairly sure it was this photo. Here is my post.
After Christmas, I changed it, incorporating two presents; my Moleskine notebook and DD's bogwood pen.
It feels like I missed a photo, as this is taken on my desk, purchased much later...
Next, it was changed to my most recent one, MM's fountain pen and inkwell. As a background; my desk and the wall.
Now my current one (This post will be updated and linked to for each subsequent header photo as  a matter of interest, therefore this photo is here. But you can just look at the top of the site.)

Edit June 21 2011: Now I have this one, taken to brighten and liven up this blog when I changed the background colour from back to white.

Edit 26 August 2011: I last changed the photo in April (but forget to edit this, hence the June date) and it was time for a new one, according to MM. So here it is.

'Black Mirror' Book Review

Loved this! Though I guessed what was really going on easily. Haven't read anything by Nancy Werlin before, but I might if I see it. I felt bad for Frances.

Black Mirror was an intriguing book. I enjoyed it, was sad at the ending, was surprised at some of the characters' true natures and unsurprised at others.
I would recommend it. It is a portrayal of modern life (to a point) that I really liked, I also enjoyed how the children were the ones running the operation! I also liked how the title was "shattered" on the cover.

I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: *****
Voice: *****
Dialogue: *****

Which means...five stars!
Amazon listing here.

07 August 2010

'What I Was' Book Review

I have actually read 'Just in Case' by Meg Roscoff, which I enjoyed also. 'What I Was' is different, but still good.

I kept telling myself I didn't like it, that the way it was told and the stupidity of the narrator irked me. But in truth, it just drew me in and I kept reading and reading and reading. The truth about Finn surprised me, realising only shortly before the narrator. I would recommend this book to others, yes. The only thing I didn't like about it was the ending. It was too much like real life. I wanted happily ever after. But of course, that is not the way Meg Roscoff writes. And she writes lovely books that make you think but still tell a great story and have wonderful characters. I will definitely read more by her.

I give it:

Plot: *****
Characters: ****
Voice: ****
Dialogue: *****

Which means...four stars
 Amazon listing here.