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The Twelve by Justin Cronin was more dark and disturbing than The Passage and I don’t think I would have completed it if it had been the first book, but by this point I was invested in the continuing tale.


I didn’t expect to be touched by The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a story about a retired man walking across England, but Rachel Joyce surprised me.
“In walking, he freed the past that he had spent twenty years seeking to avoid…”  Separately, Harold and Maureen walk through their memories, their pain, and through the walls they’ve built.
Joyce’s mastery of words is impressive. The pacing is a bit slow at times, but it matches the journey.


Alexandra Fuller wrote about growing up in Africa in Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.  I certainly am glad that this wasn’t my childhood!  I don’t think Alexandra’s parents were really qualified to be parents. It also does not paint Africa as a place that I ever want to see, which is unusual. Her family farmed in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia, Zambia, and Malawi, which seem to be extremely inhospitable!


S. M. Stirling’s Diethe Fire has an intriguing premise (very similar to the television show Revolution), and some interesting characters. On the whole, there is too much fighting for me (I skip all the battle scenes in Tolkien books). Also, some of the people who came to be part of the various bands of people were just a little too good to be true – she is a vet and and fencer? he can make bows and arrows? convenient! Some people might want to know that there is a lot of wicca in this story.


I made it about 75% of the way through The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick. It started out well, but got weirder and weirder as it went on. Eventually I gave up.


Michael Bishop’s Ancient of Days also has a good setup, with a hominid as one of the main characters. There were some quite humorous bits, but on the whole I can’t recommend it.


I read the kindle version of The Kronos Interference by Edward Miller, and definitely would not have finished if it were a hard copy. The story started out promising enough, but the writing quickly disintegrated to something I’d expect of a junior high student.  The spark for the story is compelling, and I find it so disappointing when good ideas aren’t capitalized on!


Marina Lewycka’s We Are All Made of Glue is a strange book. The novel includes themes of a broken marriage, Palestinian/Israeli relations & history, the coming apocalypse, and details of various glues. Does that sounds scattered? It is!
There’s a good bit of humour in the writing, but the infidelity is difficult for me to stomach. Also, the husband is barely a sketch of a character, so it is difficult to understand the main character’s feelings for him.

(If you’re keeping track, that’s only one book to recommend from a whole month of reading.)



This season’s Survivor finished this month; I’m still a Survivor addict.

On vacation we’ve been watching season three of Burn Notice on dvd.


I’ve been enjoying Rick Fay in his various settings: Rick Fay and Friends, Rick Fay with Strings, Rick Fay’s Big 8
A few more Over the Rhine songs, too: All My Favorite People, Drunkard’s Prayer, Moth



The Winnipeg kitchen was mostly focused on preparing for our absence, and freezing food for Stickler Jr to eat while we’re away.
The Mexican kitchen has been great!  Avocados, plantain, tortillas, chayote, starfruit, watermelon, mandarins, etc, etc, etc!



The importance of learning who you are:


5 random things from December:


1.  The Christmas Day sunset was the most stunning I’ve seen in my 44 years.

2.  Marina Lewycka quote: “Peace in the world was all very well, but no way was it going to extend to Rip and me. No way. When someone hurts you like that, what you want is revenge, not peace.”

3.  Android Netrunner is a really difficult card game to learn! The instructions are not as good as they need to be.

4.  I may have found a new massage therapist, located much closer to home.  (My previous RMT has become too ill to work.)

5.  You’re supposed to grease/oil the springs of your garage door – did you know that?



Christmas gatherings – ugh!! Extended family gatherings. Work holiday “parties.”


What I’m looking forward to in January:

On the 16th, Mr. Swiv and I mark 25 years of marriage.




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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler Olsen was recommended on a podcast that I listen to, but it was too dark for me to enjoy. The characters were not likeable, nor were they fully realized. I did appreciate the non-American setting of Denmark.


Codex by Lev Grossman was wonderfully absorbing to read, but had quite a disappointing conclusion.

Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden seemed like an okay book, but I think I’m not in a season of life to appreciate it. Subtitle: 7 steps to improve your self-discipline and your life



Watching the final season of Flashpoint is bittersweet; I will miss it.

I have been enjoying Nathan Lane on The Good Wife, and Roy Romano on Parenthood.


MOVIES I’ve seen (in or out of the theatre)

We saw Lincoln with my parents, and it was a good choice. I have no idea how accurate it is, but it is good storytelling. It is quiet for a film about the abolitionist movement and the civil war. Very political, of course, and as a Canadian I was even more confused about their system afterward than I’d been going in.



On the swing end, I’ve been enjoying Lu Watters as well as Chris Barber’s Jazz Band.

Tangerine Kitty’s Dumb Ways to Die is a persistent earworm!

The best find of November was Over the Rhine’s Christmas album, entitled Snow Angel. It is the perfect Christmas music for me.



Pies have been produced in my kitchen. Not by ME, of course! Mr. Swivels convinced his mom to hand over the cherished recipe, and since then he’s made three pumpkin pies and a batch of pumpkin tarts.

I think the dish I made most often in November was smashed potatoes.


5 random things about November

1. My sister-in-law and her family returned home from Asia and will be living in Manitoba for eight or nine months. We helped my FIL & MIL prepare their house and move furniture, boxes, and bins.

2. My son turned 23. This is mind-boggling.

3. Hot Pot is fun! Hot Pot with cheerful friends is great! (This gang has previously swept us along for Dim Sum and Korean BBQ, and bubble tea, of course.)

4.  Dance workshops are always better in theory than in practice. NTS: train for the next workshop weekend

5.  The X-mini MAX II Capsule Speakers we ordered arrived from Singapore in less than 5 business days.  They’re terrific.





What I’m looking forward to in December:

The warmth of Mexico!