—for Jonathan

Stone not yet placed, but weeds
fill in. New home, extra room.
Crib unused, still up and dressed.

Earlier, the breeze unseasonably
cool. Now, melted sun-pelts splash
across shoulders, drizzle down backs.

See the family ringed around
the site, fingers intertwined,
prayer whispered:

One who carried him into
the world for three seasons.
Another who carried him out
in a tiny white case.
Delicate daughter, able
to comprehend.
First son, tow-headed two-
year-old I think I must be,

Who, moments later, will run off
to twirl a pinwheel. Will scoop up
the small American flag blown loose
onto a narrow hallway of grass,
then wait for feedback.

—The Penwood Review, Spring 2005

I knew no sadder thing. I flew up there to see if I could help, and together we visited the site. All the details in "Pinwheel" are literally true, down to the strange weather: cool, then suddenly blazing. My sister later asked me for an item of remembrance, and I was glad I could give her a copy of the print journal containing this poem. Each year since then, in recognition of Jonathan's birthday, the family has been placing a pinwheel beside the small stone.

Review: The Disenchantments

Title: The Disenchantments
Author: Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 16th, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary

The Disenchantments might not be the best band in the world, but hearing them play no one can deny that they mean every note that they play. And that they look good doing it. For years, Colby and his best friend Bev have planned to graduate high school and then leave for Europe just as their friends leave for college. But before that, they’ve planned a tour with Bev’s band, The Disenchantments, with Colby serving both as driver and groupie. The tour will start with them leaving San Francisco and end with them arriving in Portland, to drop off one of Bev’s band mates at college. But everything changes when Bev announces that she doesn’t want to go to Europe, but instead plans on going to college like everyone else. But the show must go on, and Colby reluctantly agrees to continue with the tour, knowing that the girls need him. Stopping in a different city every night, The Disenchantments play everywhere from basements to old schools, their music terrible but played with heart. Colby, who had for so long had a certain picture of what the future would look like, now has no idea what he’s going to do with his life. Lost and confused, he just wants to know what made Bev change her mind and what’s going to happen next.

Summer might be coming to an end, but there’s always a place for a fun summer read, even when the sweaters come out and swimsuits find their way to the back of your drawers. The Disenchantments isn’t all sunshine and good times, but it has a summer feel to it, like lying in the sun while your favourite song is playing on the radio. Like any coming of age story, there is bound to be heartbreak and angst, but overall this book meets my ‘good summer read’ criteria. There’s music, a road trip, friendship and romance. This book is a good read for anyone at a crossroads, who isn’t quite sure what they’re going to do with their life. With a fast moving and well-paced plot and lots of interesting minor characters, The Disenchantments makes for a quick read that is difficult to put down. A great road trip novel, it was easy to get lost in the portrait of these characters and their journey throughout the West Coast. At times the characters were too cool, too artistic or too quirky. However, they were well written and developed, although Bev always felt far away and hard to like. I was very satisfied with the ending and afterwards the book left me with a good feeling, and what more can you ask for? It may not have been enchanting, but it did leave me with that good summer feeling. Overall, The Disenchantments is a story about the difficulties of growing up, how hard it is to do but how it’s always worth it in the end.


“We felt so small with the city lights stretching forever below us, and we yelled at the top of our lungs because we were just these small humans but we felt more longing than could ever fit inside us.”

In My Mailbox (43)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, in which book bloggers post about the books they've bought, borrowed or received in the past week. This is my first IMM in months, since I just got back from working at a summer camp. 

Yay for going to the library for the first time in months! Based on a recommendation from a friend I picked up Switched and Ascend by Amanda Hocking. I actually didn't know that Switched is the first in the series, so I took out both. I also took out Seraphina by Rachel Hartman because I keep seeing it advertised and it looks ridiculously good. 

I also bought The Hunger Games on Blue-Ray, which came with a Mockingjay necklace. Looking forward to watching this again, since I haven't seen it since it was in the cinema. 

I wish this was a more exciting IMM to make up for its absence on my blog, but no luck. Feel free to comment with the link to your own IMM! 

Too many months

too many months
with a for sale sign
in our yard,
this old house reluctant
to let us move on

Ribbons, Fall 2010; Take Five, Vol. 3

photo copyright of ImageANAlogy

This actually went on for much longer—nice house too. The situation was surreal—the recession, well, plus . . . long story. It seems I'm good at buying high and selling low. The eventual buyer, on August 26, 2011, got a real bargain, including some brand-new beautiful wood floors and new AC units. Insane: had closing just one week after the offer and had to be out of there within a few days after that. The temps were above 100 degrees F as we were madly throwing things into vehicles. It wasn't surprising that I soon ended up with a huge case of flu—and hubby with a series of migraines—and at the same time came the massive wildfires near our new home to the north (see an upcoming post).

By the way, can you see the red-and-white for sale sign? More photos by ImageANAlogy:

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson 
Author: John Green and David Levithan
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: April 6th, 2010
Genre: YA, Contemporary

One winter night in Chicago, two teenage boys named Will Grayson meet by chance in an adult entertainment shop. Both Wills are juniors in high school and live in different suburbs. John Green’s Will believes that all problems and pain in life could be avoided by keeping quiet and not caring. His best friend Tiny Cooper is proof of what heartache can do, since Tiny is always in love with a different boy and always having his heart broken. David Levithan’s Will is angst ridden and doesn’t have any real friends, except for a boy online who he’s in love with. His closest thing to a friend in real life is a girl he doesn’t like all that much, their unhappiness with life their biggest thing in common. When the Wills meet, it seems like the most random thing that has ever happened. In a winter full of love, botched fake IDs, bands named after physics experiments, Will Graysons and an epic musical about love and all things Tiny Cooper, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a hilarious collaborative novel about the things we can’t choose.

Man, that was a hard synopsis to write. I just finished Will Grayson, Will Grayson for the second time, and I’m a bit confused about how I didn’t burst out laughing the first time I read it, while I was in the quiet floor of my school’s library. This book is told through alternating chapters between the two Wills, Green writing one and Levithan the next. I loved this book the first time I read it, and this time I loved it even more. Of John Green’s books, I’d say this is the funniest. Tiny Cooper is hilarious without meaning to be. When Levithan’s Will asked what rhymes with ‘sodomy trial’ I didn’t so much as laugh, but actually belted out. Like a laughing goat. While some humorous books are only humorous, Will Grayson, Will Grayson also touches on bigger issues that are relevant to everyone.

John Green’s half of the book follows Will, who doesn’t want too much attention drawn to him, which doesn’t exactly work when you’re best friends with Tiny Cooper. Tiny is very big and very gay, and is focusing on writing a musical about his life story. I love Tiny and his quest to make the world better through his musical, and his and Will’s friendship is just wonderful. Of the female romantic interests in John Green’s books, Jane is my favourite. As with all of John’s books, I love how different things play a role in the book’s themes, like Schrödinger’s cat. The plot was well paced and always interesting, even if when writing out the synopsis it didn’t sound like a lot happened. David Levithan’s Will is angry and sarcastic, but I liked how we get to see different sides of him as the story progresses. I also liked how he didn’t fit into any typical stereotype of a gay teen. In the conversation between the authors at the end, I thought it was really interesting how David Levithan explained that he wanted his Will to be in the middle of things. You often see teens in books diagnosed with having depression, but Will shows what happens afterwards. It was also interesting how he said that Will writes in lowercase because he sees himself as a lowercase person.

I’m sure a lot of people will find the musical ridiculous, but I thought it was wonderfully hilarious. The first time I read WGWG I wasn’t very keen on the last scene, but this time I enjoyed it more, especially considering how it relates to an earlier conversation between Levithan’s Will and Tiny. A common complaint I hear about this book is that the two Will Graysons don’t have more of a relationship, but I liked reading about the two separate characters and their separate lives. Whether you’re a fan of John Green, David Levithan or have never heard of either, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is an original book full of humour and insight that I enjoyed immensely.


“Maybe there's something you're afraid to say, or someone you're afraid to love, or somewhere you're afraid to go. It's gonna hurt. It's gonna hurt because it matters.”

I'm just a woman; with sugar

I'm just a woman
building her life
around a garden. . .
this deep-seeded need
to nurture

—Moonbathing, Issue 6, Spring/Summer 2012

with sugar
I lure hummingbirds
into the garden;
you, though, never were drawn
to sweetness and light

kaleidowhirl, Autumn 2006

No, this is not a photo of my garden; it was taken at the Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont. I don't have much of a garden here on this patch of ground that was notched out of the forest. For one thing, it's hard to grow anything "normal" in this somewhat harsh environment where stubborn yaupon thrive. For another, I've found the native trees or plentiful weeds, combined with the heat, give my immune system major fits. Also, because of the condition with my back, I haven't been allowed to bend very much. So I've been staying inside a little more often. I suppose my garden now is my poetry.

Review: Never Eighteen

Title: Never Eighteen
Author: Megan Bostic
Publisher: HMH Children’s Books
Publication Date: January 17th, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary

There are so many things that Austin Parker will never get to do, from going to college to turning eighteen. One weekend, he and his best friend Kaylee spend two days doing things Austin wants to do while he still can. Austin has people he wants to talk to, in efforts to help them. He tries to experience things he’s always wanted to do, help the people he knows, and right wrongs he’s made in the past. He’s also trying to make the world better for the people he’s leaving behind. Austin just wants to help his friends and family do what he can’t do for much longer: live.

This novella touches on a lot of serious issues in a short time. At first, I thought it was sort of going to be like I Am The Messenger with cancer. Maybe this assumption set my expectations too high, but I felt a bit let down by this book. At first I found it difficult to get into, perhaps because of the present tense narration. Perhaps because all the things Austin had to do were things he had to check off on his mental to-do list, and it just felt like he was going through the motions in helping these people. Around the third person he visited it just felt unrealistic, since there was so many major issues touched upon with the different characters. I also expected him to help people in a more creative way than just talking to him. Dialogue is a big part of this book, and I thought something was off about the characters’ conversations with each other. At the same time, this book was an emotional read that got to me at some points. At times the writing was descriptive and well phrased. Never Eighteen was moving at the end and I liked the playlist at the end of the book. This book was thought provoking and will appeal to people who like sentimental books about life and death.


Buildings Recycled Into Bookstores

While there are so many beautiful bookstores in the world, some of my favourites reside in buildings that were formally something else. Here’s a list of some bookstores from around the world that find their homes in recycled buildings.

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore, Maastricht, Netherlands A different kind of place of worship, this bookstore has found it's home in a Dominican Gothic church from the 1200's. After the Napoleonic invasion, this church has housed a great deal of different things, from car shows to bicycles to boxing matches. After extensive renovations, the church was reopened as a bookstore in 2006. You can read more (and see more pictures, including the one above) here and read more here

Barter Books, Alnwick, Northumberland Books can take you places, so an old train station is the perfect location for this bookstore, which is one of the largest used bookstores in Europe. The store was opened by Mary and Stuart Manley in 1991, and the train station was built in 1887 by William Bell. In 2000, an old propaganda poster from the Second World War was found in the shop, featuring the words "Keep Calm and Carry On." The poster is now a cultural icon. You can see a fantastic video about the poster here, which includes brilliant footage of this lovely shop. More information can be found at the store's official website. The picture above is by Dave Morris.

El Ateneo Bookstore, Buenos Aires, Argentina This theatre house was built in 1919 and called The Great Splendid. Now housing books instead of plays, this store holds a huge collection of books, with private boxes converted into reading rooms. While the English selection of books is minimal, this store is high on the WOW factor and certainly one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. More information can be found here. Picture by CPX de Mex. You can also read about a theatre turned into bookstore in Toronto here

Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colorado First opened in 1980 and called Book Rack, this store changed its name to Old Firehouse Books when it moved into the town's historic firehouse in 2009. You can read more here. Pictures by kurki15.  

Red clay soil

red clay soil,
hardened into ceramic—
with a trowel
I attempt to chip
my way out of this drought

—August 2011

For more than a year, we were in a state of "exceptional drought." The times were strange and trying in a variety of other ways too. I remember squatting down by the ground last August and trying to chip through a small area of hardened sandy loam and clay. Eventually, things got better, though not before getting worse.

Review: Mockingbird

Title: Mockingbird
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: January 10th, 2012
Genre: Junior Fiction, Contemporary

Caitlin used to depend on her brother Devon to tell her how to act and what was normal, but now that he’s dead she feels lost. Life is usually difficult for Caitlin, since she has Asperger’s. After the loss of her brother, life is even more hard and confusing than ever. Caitlin’s dad isn’t coping and everyone at school is affected by the loss of Caitlin’s brother. There are so many things that Caitlin doesn’t understand, from making friends to understanding what people are feeling. What Caitlin wants most is Devon back, but she’ll settle for finding closure. As an avid user of the dictionary, Caitlin knows exactly what closure is. However, she has no idea how to find it and no one else seems to know. Caitlin is excellent at drawing, but she prefers to draw in black and white, since it’s easier. However, as she struggles with moving on she realizes that colour is an important part of life and that it makes things complete.

This simplistic story about coping with grief was well written and moving. The writing style was unique and I honestly believed that the story was being told by a ten year old with Asperger’s. Caitlin was a very realistic and likeable. She was a great character, and I found all the characters to be well written. It was surprising how I could relate to Caitlin’s struggles, even if we are completely different. I think most young people have problems with empathy, although not on the same scale as Caitlin. I liked how we got to see how her mind worked and how often she was misunderstood. The plot was simple but worked well, since it was well paced and never boring. I would recommend this book to be read in book clubs for younger readers. There was a lot to discuss and I think it had important messages, especially about grief and people who are different. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to young girls. One of the greatest things about books is being able to look at the world through someone else’s eyes, and never is that more true than in Mockingbird.


“Books are not like people. Books are safe.”


I am hollow with petals of August.
My thoughts form deadened fields,
even before the sun is opened full.

The air hangs humid, in tarry slabs.
Bricks of heat are savage
against backs, across faces,

While garden plants lie listless—
fading, faded—their lips pursed.
At least rain threats bring variance.

It hasn't always been like this:
There were years the sweat would tap dance
on vulnerable skin, not cling.

But now the world's awry;
and the Texas summer doesn't quit, 
just blurs itself into the fall.

—Pebble Lake Review, Summer 2005

Augusts can be brutal here, even when we're not officially in a state of drought. Two more months, two more months, I tell myself.

#271: East Race Rafting

The clouds have cleared, and once again, it feels like summer here in the Bend.  Good thing, because we're on the cusp of the start of a new school year.  Next week, students from IUSB, Notre Dame, Saint Mary's, etc will return.  Enjoy your last weekend of congestion-free Grape Road, and celebrate with a popular summer activity distinctive to South Bend: rafting on the East Race waterway.

Part of the South Bend Parks system, the East Race opened in 1984 after two years of construction, and more than 200,000 have enjoyed its almost 2000 ft stretch of whitewater.  While you can find expert paddlers testing their skills on the East Race any day of the week, on the weekend the Parks Department opens it to the larger public with basic equipment for rent.  For $5 a 'ride', you receive an inflatable kayak or raft, paddle, helmet and life jacket to brave the rapids.  If you have no experience on whitewater, don't worry -- the rapids are only class 2, enough to provide a bit of thrill but not strong to toss anyone out of the raft.

This is the last weekend that the rentals are available -- don't let another year go by without experiencing one of South Bend's greatest attractions!

When: Saturday, 12-5pm; Sunday, 1-5pm
Where: Park and buy your tickets in the parking lot opposite Seitz Park, between The Emporium and AM General Building
Cost: $5/ride.  Rides generally take about 5 minutes.

TIPS:  Cash only.  You must wear close-toed shoes (no flip-flops), and although no one actually goes into the river, you will get soaked.  Dress appropriately.

Kids are welcome -- the first ride might be intimidating, but they'll be hooked after it! -- but must be at least 4'6".

There's an ice cream truck and sometimes a climbing wall on site, but Corby's and the Emporium are probably your best bets to dry off and cool down afterward.

The New York Public Library

Earlier this year I spent a few days in New York, and the first place I went after checking into my hostel was the Stephen A. Schwarzman  building at the New York Public Library. Located at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, the branch of the New York Public Library opened in 1911. The lion statues guarding the building are calling Patience and Fortitude. The building is beautiful architecturally and was featured in movies like Ghostbusters and Sex and the City. 

The library also features special exhibits, including the original stuffed animals owned by Christopher Robin Milne, which inspired the Winnie the Pooh books. Pictured above is The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, and below is a reading room. This is certainly a library you could get lost in, with a massive selection and beautiful architecture. While it's definitely not an obvious choice if you're in New York City, it's free, beautiful and near Times Square. 

Sinking deep

sinking deep
into memory foam
if most impressions I make
are as temporary

Notes from the Gean, 4:1 (Summer 2012)

That foam felt really good several months ago, after I royally did my back in.

Review: Ruby Red

Title: Ruby Red (Edelstein Trilogie #1)
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Colt & Co.
Publication Date: 2009
Genre: YA, Supernatural Fantasy

Gwyneth Shepherd lives in London with her eccentric extended family. The time travelling gene runs through the female bloodline of Gwen’s family, but luckily for her, her cousin is to be the time traveller in the family. Charlotte has been prepared her whole life to travel into the past, from being given fencing and dancing lessons to extensive history lessons. Any time now Charlotte will travel into the past and start her life as a time traveler. Gwyneth is one day younger than her cousin, and is happy she gets to be a normal person who doesn’t have to worry about slipping into the past without any notice. She gets to spend her time watching movies with the best friend Lesley, while Charlotte doesn’t have time to make friends. Just as everyone is expecting Charlotte to time travel, it happens to Gwen instead. One moment she’s walking down the street to buy some sherbet lemons, the next she’s standing on the same street in the early 1900’s. In one day, Gwen travels back into the past three times, and it’s clear to her that was some sort of mistake and she’s the time traveller in the family, not Charlotte. She is soon introduced to the mysteries of her family and their travels in the past. With Gideon, another time traveller, Gwen learns a way to travel back to a specific time instead of being thrown somewhere randomly. Gwen doesn’t know who she can trust, and she finds herself amidst the pages of her history books. Only days ago Gwen was a practically ordinary school girl, but now she’s a time traveller who is essential in a mission set out by a Count hundreds of years ago. All of a sudden, anything is possible.

Ruby Red is the first book in the trilogy by German writer Kerstin Gier. I’d heard good things about this book, and when I saw it at the library I decided to give it a chance, since I love time travel. Reading the back excerpt, I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t look like anything special, but first impressions are often incorrect (see Pride and Prejudice.) But once I finally started reading Ruby Red, I couldn’t put it down. Only 20 pages in, I was hooked. Overall, I thought that this book was amazing. Gwen was a believable and compelling protagonist, and before reading this book it felt like it had been a while since I could connect with the lead character in a book. Even though we don’t get to see as much of her, I loved Lesley and her enthusiasm for everything. She believes Gwen no matter what, and what more could you ask for in a friend? When they were at school, the girls did seem a bit younger than 16, but most of the time Gwen seemed like a mostly typical London schoolgirl. If you had told me beforehand that Gwen would not only be able to travel through time but also see ghosts, I would have said that would be just too much. Surprisingly, it worked very well and provided some of the comic parts of the novel, as well as a few sad moments. I’m sure this ability will come to be more important in the later books. The plot was fast paced and full of suspense and mystery. In a way this book was more of an introduction to time travel and the plot points, but at the same time it still felt complete. I’ve read time travel books before where it just kind of happens, but Ruby Red was interesting because the time travellers are usually prepared their whole lives to travel to the past. The family history was very interesting and one of the strongest aspects of the book. I’d definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. If the next book in the series was out in Canada right now, I would have honestly gone straight to the bookstore after finishing Ruby Red. Getting caught up in a new series is the best feeling, and I can’t wait to see what happens in this exciting and original series.


#270: A South Bend RV Trip

The RV industry is very important to the economy of northern Indiana.  Ever wonder what the region looks like from the perspective of "recreational vehicle"?  Check out today's guest post featuring  someone who knows a thing or two about RVs, Joe Laing, Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals.  He also contributes to Monty's Musings RV Travel Blog.

Take an RV trip to South Bend, Indiana for a vacation filled with outdoor fun. You will discover so many activities for the whole family to make it a getaway worth remembering. This will be an appealing trip, especially in an RV. You will have your "home" right along with you so in between adventures you can relax surrounded by the familiar and comfortable things you love.

If coming from Chicago, enter Indiana on Interstate 80 heading east. Follow I-80 and after passing Gary, Indiana, you can take a short side-trip on the Dunes Highway. This will take you to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. An amazing and enchanting time awaits you here, with a sandy beach, miles and miles of trails to hike and wetlands and forests to explore. The visitor center is open from 8 am to 6 pm in the summer and from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in winter months.  Be sure to visit the West Beach with only a fee of $6 per car per day.

Further on, you will find a great golf course so you can perfect your game. At Michigan City Golf Course you'll discover a lovely 18-hole course in a beautiful wooded setting. Any level of skill is welcome. Browse the pro shop for a full choice of equipment. If you don't play golf, now is surely the time to take it up as a thrilling hobby.

Cut back over to Interstate 80 and on your route to South Bend, stop at Hudson Lake. Get out on the lake on your personal watercraft, and go fishing. You'll catch some largemouth bass or bluegill or both. You can also make this spot your home base for your trip to South Bend. Find RV camping at Lakeside RV Resort. Here you will find a boat launch, horseshoe pits, a swimming pool and much more. You're right on the lake with great views.

Next stop is South Bend, Indiana, your actual destination on this RV vacation. Tour the downtown area by enjoying a horse drawn carriage ride. Catch a ride any Friday evening from 7 to 10 pm. Another popular stop is the East Race Waterway, an artificial whitewater course. Here on the east side of the St. Joseph River, you can ride the rapids. If you are visiting South Bend anytime between 9 June and 12 August, don't miss this special adventure. It is open on weekends only from 12 to 5 pm on Saturdays and 1 to 5 pm on Sundays.

Throughout South Bend you'll find many parks where you can get out into the sunshine. Go to Wheelock Park or Merrifield Park in town. This latter one has a number of sports fields and an Olympic size swimming pool with water slide. If kids are with you (or even if there aren't children on this trip), you will love this park.

Thirty minutes to the west, you will find Bendix Woods County Park. Here is a popular place to go to see wildflowers in bloom during the springtime. Hike the trails and stretch your legs. Enjoy the historic sites available to visit too, such as the original clubhouse and the famous Studebaker pine tree sign. If there in March, stop by the Sugar Camp Days Festival (see 365-SB post #150). Hours vary for this park so call when planning your trip. The number is 574-654-3155.

Other places of interest are the Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve in South Bend and Potato Creek State Park about twenty-minute drive to the southwest. But you can't neglect the many festivals that are held in and around South Bend all year round. Events in and around South Bend can fill in the times when you need a little change from all that physical activity. In June there are two favorites, Notre Dame's Cleveland Shakespeare Festival and the South Bend Blues & Ribs Festival (see 365-SB post #202).

If coming to South Bend in August, you simply must include the South Bend Reggae Festival on your itinerary. Held annually at the Saint Joe County Fairgrounds, this fest is the best for live entertainment and great food. Gates usually open around 2 pm, and kids under 12 are free.

A South Bend, Indiana RV trip will prove to be quite an entertaining excursion, with all the outdoor recreation you can imagine as well as some history and festivals thrown in. The time will be memorable and you are sure to have experiences that you will share with future generations.

Review: Inkspell

Title: Inkspell (Inkheart #2)
Author: Cornelia Funke
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 13th, 2005
Genre: Junior Fiction, Fantasy

It’s been a year since Meggie met the characters of the book Inkheart, which her father Mo magically can read out of the pages. Meggie has found that she holds the same power. After ten years apart, Meggie and Mo have been reunited with Resa, Meggie’s mother, who spent nearly a decade in the Inkworld. Resa is not able to talk, but through her notebook she tells Meggie everything about her time in the world in the book. While there were many terrifying things in the Inkworld, there is also so much beauty. Meggie cannot help being enchanted with the world and craves a chance to visit it. When Dustfinger finally finds a way back to the Inkworld with the help of a man named Orpheus, Farid wishes to follow him. When he asks Meggie to send him there, Meggie decides to go with him. Meggie just wants to see the Inkworld for herself, and she knows a way to send herself back home once she’s there. Together, Farid and Meggie set out to the Inkworld to find Dustfinger and protect him from the evil Basta. When they arrive, they meet up with Fenoglio, the original writer of Inkheart who is disappointed with how things in his story have changed from his original design. Fenoglio’s words have sparked even more troubles when Mo arrives and is mistaken for a robber from one of Fenoglio’s newer tales. While the Inkworld is just as beautiful as Meggie imagined, it is also full of cruelty and the same dangers that threatened Meggie’s life a year ago. One thing is for sure: words have a power that is greater than anyone imagined.

Boy, am I thankful that this book gave character descriptions in the preface. It’s been a year since I read Inkheart and these character descriptions helped remind me of what happened. Meggie is now thirteen and is enchanted with the world in the book Inkheart, from which her father accidentally brought characters from its pages to our world. Now Meggie wants to temporarily visit the Inkworld to experience the world that Dustfinger wanted to return to so badly. Using her ability that she inherited from her father, she manages to find a way inside the book, where her adventure begins. Inkspell was fast paced and full of creative world building. I like Funke’s writing and so many parts were beautifully phrased. This book, like Inkheart, raises many interesting questions about the books we read and the fantasy worlds we love. If you had a chance to enter your favourite book, would you? This book is mainly about the power of stories, and that mixed with the fantasy elements make it original. Funke took the ability that Meggie and Mo possessed in Inkheart and expanded on it and looked at the different things that could come from it. As a sequel, there wasn’t more you could ask for, since this time we get to go into the world of Inkheart, whereas in the first book we only got to meet characters that had once lived within the book’s pages. The stakes are much higher in this book. While the characters felt realistic, at the same time there so many of them and we didn’t get to know any of them that deeply. The length of the book made it feel like it dragged on forever. At the same time, this book was well written with a well-developed plot and fantasy world. Inkspell is really about words and Funke chooses hers well.


“Stories never really end...even if the books like to pretend they do. Stories always go on. They don't end on the last page, any more than they begin on the first page.”

He warned me

he warned me
he came with baggage,
not seeing
the hefty knapsack
I lugged around myself

Ribbons, Spring/Summer 2012

art copyright Karen A. Smith

Bay Used Books, Sudbury

Sudbury is an industrial city in Northern Ontario that doesn't usually get a lot of love. I do recall a line in the movie Passchendaele, about how you never have to have been to Sudbury to hate it. Home of the Big Nickel,  Sudbury is actually where Margaret Atwood choses to spend her Birthday every year, since she sees it as a symbol of how a place that was once so environmentally harmful can turn itself around (x). I lived there for three years when I was in University, and a few people on tumblr are also from Greater Sudbury. While there were a lot of things I didn't like about living in the Bury (the weather) there were some things I loved (The Laughing Buddha.) One of these things is Bay Used Books at 124 Elm Street.

From the outside, this shop might not look like much. Inside, it is utter chaos, and I mean that in the best way possible. There are a lot of bookstores I love for their clean charm, but no used book store is as fun to spend the day in as Bay's. There are books everywhere, and the store seems almost endless. The first time I missed the back room, and the second time I discovered another room behind that. With a basement as well, there are books everywhere in this store. The prices are usually great, especially with the classics. This is the type of bookstore where you never know what you might find. In a way, this shop is kind of like the city it resides in. Is it the most beautiful shop? Definitely not, but it's the kind of bookshop that takes you by surprise and has become one of my favourites. I always stop here whenever I drive through (or near) Sudbury. 

They don't tweet

they don't tweet
they don't do Facebook—
my band
of faceless friends
with nothing to say

Notes from the Gean, 4:1 (Summer 2012)

art copyright Karen A. Smith
Well, not all my friends and family members are faceless—I'm not either—but a good many are, and adamant about it. Though Facebook may come close to violating a few personal principles of mine, I must admit it can be a convenient tool and an endless source of fascination. I haven't gotten into tweeting, though. ;)

Note about the artist, Karen A. Smith: I became acquainted with Karen more than 15 years ago. I'm pleased she agreed to produce this drawing for use at twigs&stones. "Joe Goodbuddy," the recurring character in her artwork, is a regular person wandering the halls of Corporate America. Joe's been seen at various other places too, such as on the walls of a solo exhibit (68 pieces) at Darke Gallery in Houston, Texas, and at the Big Show 2006, Lawndale Art Center, also in Houston. 

Watch for Joe's return at twigs&stones a few days from now. This next time he'll arrive with baggage.

#269: The Oliver Gardens and the Center for History

Many kids read the story of “The Secret Garden”. Mary, an orphan, moves from India to England to live with her distant relatives. She is unhappy, but soon she befriends her crippled cousin and a local farmboy and together they discover the aforementioned secret garden, a wild place full of flowers, broken swings, and imagination. I remember loving the book and subsequently loving the idea of a formal, flowery garden just around the corner.

Part of the formal gardens (plus cameo on the left!)
This might be a heavy-handed segue, forgive me, but I thought of “The Secret Garden” when visiting the Center for History last month. We’ve written about Copshaholm and the West Washington Historic District as a whole previously on this blog, but I have to confess that I, personally, had never spent much time on the Center’s campus. And lo and behold, I found my own secret (or rather unknown) garden. I had been scouting locations for my upcoming South Bend wedding and someone suggested the Oliver Gardens adjacent to the Center for History and attached to Copshaholm. When I visited, it was one of the hottest days in June (we’ve had many more since), and I was immediately charmed by the lush loveliness of the gardens. A green lawn spreads until it reaches a gazebo followed by a stretch of roses in a formal, sunken flowerbed and then the open lawn in front of the mansion. The gardens are in the process of being restored to the original landscaping from 1915 when they were used by the Oliver family for entertaining and relaxing. I can see how enjoyable they must have been as a wealthy family’s backyard. In my opinion, they, themselves, are a reason to make the trip out to West Washington.

The front lawn
And if you do choose to visit, you’ll find yourself with the ability to view much more than the gardens. The Center for History is currently hosting several interesting exhibitions (one called “Gizmos, Corsets, and Concoctions caught my eye) alongside their more permanent ones such as “Girls Who Played Hard Ball” focused on the women’s baseball league that inspired the movie “A League of Their Own”. You’ll also have access to the mansion itself (which we have featured previously). Just make sure to spend some of your summer afternoon in the gardens.

For directions click here.

For more information about the Center for History click here.

For ticket information click here.