Note: I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon this Saturday, October 18th, but I will not be posting any updates here.
When I'm not reading or cheering, I'll be hanging out on Twitter and Instagram. Come say hi!

Monday, October 29, 2007

R.I.P. II Challenge completed

I ended up reading only 1 book from my original peril pool but I do hope to get to the rest of them sometime soon-ish. I signed up for Peril the First to read 4 books and I actually finished 5 so I'm pleased to have another challenge successfully completed. It wasn't terribly hard to do though really since I was in just the right mood for some gothic, seasonal reads. This also ended up being my personal 'Vampire Challenge' since except for the 5th book they were all vampire stories!

Books completed:
(click on the title for my review)
1. Twilight- Stephenie Meyer
2. Dracula- Bram Stoker
3. The Rest Falls Away - Colleen Gleason
4. Rises the Night - Colleen Gleason
5. Kwaidan - Lafcadio Hearn

Best book I read for the challenge?
I'd say Twilight since it was my very first vampire story and it really captivated me! Colleen's Gardella Vampire Chronicles are pretty fun too.

Book I could've done without?
None actually. While I didn't love Dracula, I'm glad to have read it and don't regret the time spent on it.

Any new authors? Will I read them again?
They were all new to me! I'll definitely be reading more by Stephenie Meyer since I recently got the next 2 books in the series. I've obviously already read a 2nd book by Colleen Gleason and I plan to continue with that series as well. I'm also curious to read more by Lafcadio Hearn, especially more of his Japanese writings and his re-counting of Japanese folk tales. I'd even perhaps read more by Bram Stoker someday.

Best thing about the challenge?
Besides being just plain fun, it introduced me to a genre I'd never bothered with before and find that I enjoy. The challenge itself may be almost over but I look forward to reading more gothic reads, and more vampires stories in the future. Thanks Carl for hosting such a great challenge!
Happy Halloween everyone!
Cartoon from Savage Chickens

Friday, October 26, 2007

time flies

Wow! Time really got away from me the last few days with work and preparing for my trip. I was planning to post before I left but here I am, already arrived and jet-lagged in Victoria. This picture was taken last year, btw. My father's computer is quite ancient so you'll have to wait until I get back for any new pics. I did bring my camera though and I'm looking forward to trying it out here. I'll be back online again in a couple of days to post my R.I.P. II Challenge wrap up and hopefully a little blog-visiting. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'Kwaidan: Ghost Stories and Strange Tales of Old Japan'

by Lafcadio Hearn
(also known as Koizumi Yakumo after gaining Japanese citizenship)
Fiction/Folklore/Japan, 1904
paperback, Dover (this edition pub. 2006), 159 p.
(#46 for 2007, R.I.P. II Challenge- #5)
A blind musician with amazing talent is called upon to perform for the dead. Faceless creatures haunt an unwary traveller. A beautiful woman – the personification of winter at its cruellest – ruthlessly kills unsuspecting mortals. These and seventeen other chilling supernatural tales – based on legends, myths, and beliefs or ancient Japan – represent the very best of Lafcadio Hearn’s literary style. They are also a culmination of his lifelong interest in the endlessly fascinating customs and tales of the country where he spent the last fourteen years of his life, translating into English the atmospheric stories he so avidly collected.
As usual with any compilation of assorted stories I preferred some more than others but it was still fun to read all of these old folk tales. Most of them were new to me but I enjoyed finally reading Yuki Onna (Snow Woman) which I’d heard of before. One of my favourite stories was The Story of Aoyagi which actually slightly reminded me of an Ali Smith story. I wonder where she got her inspiration. ;)
While I thought the essay on butterflies was interesting, overall the three Insect Studies at the back seemed rather out of place alongside the spooky ghost stories, although they did provide a little glimpse into Hearn’s fascination with all things Japanese. All in all, it was certainly worth reading for the cultural knowledge.

My Rating: 3.5/5

You can read many of the stories in Kwaidan and others tales of Japanese folklore here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

'Rises the Night'

by Colleen Gleason

Fiction/Paranormal Romance, 2007
Signet Eclipse (Penguin) mm pb, 333 p.
The Gardella Vampire Chronicles- Book #2
(#45 for 2007, R.I.P. II Challenge- #4, 2nds Challenge- #1)
Lady Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy has been a vampire slayer for just over a year, balancing her life as a peer of Society with the dangerous role that takes her out on moonlit streets, stake in hand.
Now, in Italy, a powerful vampire is amassing the power to control the souls of the dead. As Victoria races across Europe to stop what could be the most deadly army the Gardellas have ever faced, her unlikely companion is Sebastian Vioget, a man as tempting as he is untrustworthy. But when Victoria discovers that she has been betrayed by one of her most trusted allies, the truth will challenge all her powers as a Venator – and as a woman …
The ‘poofing and slicing’ continues in this 2nd instalment! I enjoyed getting to know our heroine a bit more, as she continues to grow into her role as a Venator. And of course the naughty, sexy Sebastian! With lots more suspense, action, and romance, it was another engaging page-turner! Sometimes a little escapist fiction is just the thing! I’ll definitely read the next book when it comes out early next year to see what’s in store for Victoria and all the other characters. The fact that I’m getting hooked on a vampire romance series when I’d previously avoided all things relating to vampires or books labelled romance (I have read my share of chicklit but I never usually even visit the romance section of the bookstore) is not lost on me! Well done Ms. Gleason!

My Rating: 4/5

Friday, October 19, 2007

PhotoHunt: Practical

Not only tasty autumn fare, it also serves as its own bowl.
kabocha gratin

Friday Fill-in #7


Friday Fill-ins has a new home! Check it out - just click on the button above.

1. October ... is a great month for a birthday! :P
2. Darkness ... doesn't scare me!
3. Haunted houses ... are um.. haunted.
4. My favorite scary movie is ... well I don't have one because I don't usually watch scary movies.. because ... I'm chicken.
5. Cockroaches do scare ... me.
6. It was a dark and stormy night ... the perfect time to curl up under a blanket in front of a cozy fireplace and read a gothic novel.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to ... sleeping, tomorrow my plans include ... spending time with H preferably with camera in hand.. and Sunday, I want to ... catch up with blogging and get some stuff done around the house and get organised for my trip!

Yesterday I received this Halloween treat from .:mar, which was created by Hootin' Anni - click on the link to read more about her idea behind the treats (scroll down past the haunted houses). We're supposed to pass it on to random visitors to our blog but I'm going to cheat (nothing new there!). I love all my bloggy friends and appreciate everyone who take the time to comment so I think you all deserve a treat! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #7: Anticipation

Banner courtesy of Harlekwin

Next Thursday I fly "home" for a visit, so here are
13 Things I'm looking forward to...

1. Browsing at some of my favourite book stores, such as this one or this one.
2. Visiting friends and their babies.
3. Walking on the beach.
4. Smelling the ocean and generally enjoying the view.
5. Driving. We don't have a car here so I only drive in Canada when I rent a car about once a year.
6. Enjoying the Autumn colours. It'll likely be another month before the leaves turn here.
7. Taking pictures.
8. Shopping. It's hard to find my size in Japan so I'll have a bit of a shopping spree for clothes and shoes.
9. Eating Ukrainian food. Gotta have my annual perogy fix.
10. Eating lots of other foods I've been missing, like rhubarb pie, salt & vinegar chips, etc.
11. Relishing the calm and uncrowdedness!
12. Enjoying the Halloween atmosphere although unfortunately the jack-o-lantern festival that I went to last year has been cancelled this year. :(
13. Walking down memory lane.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!



'The Rest Falls Away'

by Colleen Gleason

Fiction/Paranormal Romance, 2007
Signet Eclipse (Penguin) mm pb, 346 p.
The Gardella Vampire Chronicles- Book #1
(#44 for 2007, R.I.P. II Challenge- #3)
Vampires have always lived among them, quietly attacking unsuspecting debutantes and dandified lords as well as hackney drivers and Bond Street milliners. If not for the vampire slayers of the Gardella family, these immortal creatures would have long ago taken over the world.
In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous moonlit streets, Victoria’s heart is torn between London’s most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her duty. And when she comes face-to-face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make a choice between obligation and love….
I kept hearing about this vampire series on various blogs but with Carl dangling a tantalizing prize pack as incentive, it seemed only logical to give in and read them now.
Well, I had much more fun reading this than Dracula. It had humour, action, romance, a bit of everything really. Juggling vampire slaying with society outings in Regency era London certainly allows for some fun details. A small thing perhaps but I also really got a kick out of the chapter headings. I usually tend to skip over chapter titles so the fact that I read them and chuckled over many of them is no small feat. And while these books will likely never be nominated for the Booker Prize, this was a fun, page-turning read, and a good introduction to the series. I immediately started the 2nd book after finishing this one so that’s got to say something!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, October 14, 2007

amusing fashion

Spotted in Shinjuku Gyoen:
Pain Scratch Alternative Jesus ???
I'm curious what the rest of the patches said but I didn't feel like sitting there waiting for him to get up. Engrish always makes me smile. Hope you had a great weekend!
More Weekend Snapshots HERE.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

PhotoHunt: Smelly

Sapporo fish market
I posted other photos of the fish market previously HERE and HERE.
Incense burning at Nanzen-ji, Kyoto
I quite like the smell of incense but too much in an enclosed room can be rather smelly. More photos from Nanzen-ji HERE.
View more PhotoHunt Participants HERE.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Fill-in #6


1. Once upon a time ... I was slim.
2. I hope there are no.. screaming and ... crying babies sitting near me during my long flight to and from Canada later this month.
3. I like .. white tea and ginger... snaps.
4. Way down... in the well, Toru looks for his missing cat.
5. Keys ... have a way of ending up at the bottom of my bag; locks ... are a necessary inconvenience.
6. Have you seen ... Lisa's Halloween creations? They're so ... fun!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to ... sleep, tomorrow my plans include ... getting outside while the weather's nice and then maybe some shopping as I need to buy some gifts to take to Canada with me and Sunday, I want to ... relax!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

'Dracula'

by Bram Stoker

Fiction/Classic/Horror, 1897
Penguin paperback, 426 p.
(#43 for 2007, R.I.P. II Challenge- #2)
When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries in his client’s castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing into questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.
I was glad to finally finish this last weekend as it seemed like I’d been reading it forever! I had set it aside to finish off my non-fiction reads last month but still… I had it out from the library for 4 weeks! As I mentioned when I read Twilight, for years I’ve been avoiding vampire and horror novels in general, but the R.I.P. Challenge and the season put me in the mood to finally try it. When I started reading it, a little to my surprise, I found myself quite enjoying it. It was very atmospheric, especially at the beginning in Transylvania. However, as the story progressed, the rendering of Van Helsing’s accent and his excessive wordiness started to really annoy me and the story itself got bogged down in the niceties and purple prose. Thankfully they finally put two and two together and started to actively pursue the Count but then the ending was rather anti-climatic. I am glad I finally read this classic vampire story if for nothing else than now being familiar with the vampire lore that has come from it. But I’m equally glad that I borrowed it from the library as even though it’s a memorable story, it’s not one I think I’d bother to read again.

My Rating: 3/5

Dracula at The Literary Gothic

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

more books

(click to enlarge)
You know, I really wasn't planning on buying any more books this month, at least not until my trip to Canada at the end of it. But somehow these ended up coming through the door last week. And actually the 2 Japanese titles were free (I used some points on my Tower Records point card) so they don't really count, right? Of course Violette and Kiara had to check out the shiny new books too!
So the new additions to the staggering TBR mountain range are:

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostovo
I've read a lot of positive reviews of this lately and since I was already reading Dracula, I decided I'd better read this too!

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
I Bookcrossed my old copy of P&P before we came back to Japan and I think a re-read may be in order sometime next year. I'm also playing with the idea of re-reading all the Austens next year as some other bloggers have talked about.

The Flower Mat - Shugoro Yamamoto
I was looking for something else to buy with Twenty-four Eyes and this one sounded interesting.

Twenty-four Eyes - Sakae Tsuboi
Will Ferguson made mention of this in Hitching Rides with Buddha, calling it "one of Japan's most touching novels". Who am I to argue with Will?

A Certain Slant of Light - Laura Whitcomb
A YA ghost story. This kept being recommended to me on Amazon because of Twilight, and I read a good review of it recently so into the basket it went too.

Eclipse and New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
I went ahead and ordered these because I want to continue reading about Edward and Bella and don't think I can wait too much longer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

pretty in pink

Yesterday we finally got out to a park and I used my new camera outside for the first time! It was sometimes cloudy but it was comfortable, at last! The leaves haven't started to turn yet and there aren't many things blooming right now but we managed to find a few. Here's a perfect example of what I couldn't do with my old camera but now can. Yay!
(click to enlarge)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

BAFAB: and the winner is...

It's actually Sunday morning here but it must still be Saturday somewhere. So without further ado, it's time to draw a name for my Buy Give a Friend a Book giveaway. Thanks so much to everyone that threw their name into the hat, I'd love to be able to give you all something but unfortunately there can only be one winner.
The specifics: everyone who entered, all 19 of you, received a number from 1-19 in the chronological order that your comments appeared on the BAFAB post. Then I used this random number generator to select one number.
And the winner is... #4... Cathrine in Norway! Congratulations! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this ... ... in the post to you next week.
And if you didn't win this time, the next BAFAB week is in January. :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

PhotoHunt: Curvy

rollercoaster beside Tokyo Dome

curvy lines in a rock garden
Entsuin, Matsushima (Aug. 2006)

Friday Fill-in #5


Questions this week are courtesy of Amy:

1. If I were a tree I would be ... a Japanese maple because... I love their little red leaves in autumn. If you asked me this in the spring I'd say a Japanese apricot (ume) because the blossoms are so pretty and their twisty branches are very fun.
2. If I were a bird I would fly over ... Canada from coast to coast.
3. If I were a book I hope I would be ... a classic.
4. If I were a car ... I would be reliable.
5. If I could get rid of one piece of technology it would definitely be ... high-pitched ringing alarm clocks because ... there's nothing that'll put me in a bad morning mood faster.
6. If I could get rid of one bad habit at a snap of the fingers it would be ... procrastination, I'm the Queen of putting things off!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to ... sleeping, I'm really tired today, tomorrow my plans include ... ??? and Sunday, I want to ... go out to a park or somewhere to see some flowers and trees, I'm having withdrawal!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

BAFAB: a book and a ... hand!

*Sticky Post (scroll down for newer stuff)

It's Buy a Friend a Book Week again! This time the book up for grabs is Strangers by Taichi Yamada. I read it for last year's R.I.P. Challenge, so it's been read once but is still like new, and while I didn't love it (didn't hate it either), it's had some good reviews. (Click on the title above to read the reviews at Amazon). Plus it's a slim book that won't take too much time to read. So I'm hoping someone will enjoy it!
As an added bonus, since I received 2 of them with my recent poppet purchases, I'll include one of Lisa Snellings-Clark's disembodied hand bookmarks.

If you're interested please leave a comment on this post by Friday, October 5th, and I'll draw a name sometime during the day on Saturday, October 6th. And remember that anyone anywhere can enter.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #6: Anagrams

Word Play
13 Anagrams

an·a·gram noun
a word, phrase, or sentence formed from another by rearranging its letters: “Angel” is an anagram of “glean.”

Eleven plus two = Twelve plus one
Snooze Alarms = Alas! No More Z's
Clint Eastwood = Old West Action
Gregory House = Huge Ego, Sorry
Slot Machines = Cash Lost in'em
Conversation = Voices Rant On
Desperation = A Rope Ends It
Listen = Silent
Dormitory = Dirty Room
Christmas tree = Search, Set, Trim
A Decimal Point = I'm a Dot in Place
The Earthquakes = That Queer Shake
Vladimir Nabokov = Vivian Darkbloom
(Vivian Darkbloom is a character in Nabokov's Lolita)
and of course Harry Potter fans with know that
Tom Marvolo Riddle = I am Lord Voldemort.

Sources: Wikipedia and Wordsmith.org.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Reading Update: September

Books Completed:
(clicking on the title will take you to my review)
38. The River - Tricia Wastvedt
39. Tears of the Giraffe - Alexander McCall Smith
40. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
41. The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way - Bill Bryson
42. Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne - Ben Hills

Favourite book of the month?
Twilight. Did you even need to ask? I've gone ahead and ordered the next 2 books in the series, which I'm very much looking forward to reading.

Least favourite?
I guess I'd say Tears of the Giraffe. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series just isn't for me it seems. The most disappointing would be Bryson's book, The Mother Tongue, because of all the factual errors. I don't like to doubt and start questioning the information in a Non-Fiction book so it won't be a reference book to hang on to like I had thought it would.

Reading Challenges- Progress Report:
Non-Fiction Five Challenge - COMPLETED!
R.I.P. II Challenge - 1 done, 3 to go (by Oct. 31st)
TBR Challenge - 5 done, 7 to go (by Dec. 31st) -- No Change
Japan Challenge - 4 done, 8 to go (by Dec. 31st) -- No Change
O'Canada Challenge - 3 done, 9 to go (by Dec. 31st) -- No Change
Book Awards Challenge - 0 done, 12 to go (by June 30th, 2008) -- No Change

And 2 new challenges:
Fall Into Reading Challenge - 5 to go (by Dec. 21st)
2nds Challenge - 3 to go (by Dec. 31st)

Reading Goals for October:
My R.I.P. reads are the first priority this month. I'm down to the last 100 or so pages in Dracula so I'm sure I'll manage 2 more after that. I think the problem will be that there are quite a few more than that that I'd like to fit in. But I really should try to read a couple of books for other challenges as well. We'll see where the month takes me.

Monday, October 01, 2007

jack-o-lanterns

Woohoo! It's actually cool outside, and has been for the last couple of days. Sure it was very grey and rainy all weekend, but it's cool! So to celebrate the first day of October and the fact that it looks like Fall may actually be arriving, it seemed time play around with a new header. Something fun, a Halloween theme this time. You know, I'm not terribly fond of orange but pumpkins are the exception.

For more October goodness, Lisa's Halloween poppets are on sale. She'll apparently be adding even more creations over the next few days to tempt us with! I have a feeling Violette and Kiara were just the beginning as I've decided that I just must have a rat. A Trick or Treat Rat to be specific. I know. I know. But since I was born on Halloween in the Year of the Rat, I figure it's meant to be! Happy October everyone!