Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Favourite Reads of 2012

I suppose this post is a bit belated, but at least it's still January.  Without further ado, I give you my "best of" list for 2012.  I've starred my five most favourite books in honour of their outstanding quality (Caveat: these were hard to pick and I may well change my mind in the future.)

(For my favourite books of 2011, click here.)

Published in 2012

Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein*

I bought my copy in February, pretty soon after publication, because the cover had attracted my notice in Blackwell's.  I think this may be my single favourite book of 2012 and perhaps the one I would most recommend.  You should read it because it's a fantastic YA historical fiction novel about espionage, flying, and female friendship in World War II.  This is an emotionally gripping, tighly written, and twisty turny novel that made me absolutely sob at the end.  Also, in recent years, I've become much less of a re-reader, but I think I may need to read this one again soon.  It's just that good.  I reviewed it here.  (YA historical fiction)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow Day in Oxford!

Well, for the first time since we moved to Oxford, we had a proper snowfall.  It came down just about all day and it stuck and it was glorious.  Sort of.

(And now I'm going to wax poetic about snow.)

I hadn't realized just how much I missed winter - and snow.  My little prairie girl heart positively bursts with delight when it snows.  I feel calm, serene.  The world gets softer and quieter somehow.

This was the kind of winter day we dreamt about at home.  Lovely falling snow in just sub-zero temperatures.  I walked home from school (about a 45 minute-trek) and didn't get cold at all.

Also, I think Oxford really deserves more snowfalls.  The city looks utterly lovely under a nice white blanket.  Snow on spires - snow on ancient stone walls - snow falling peacefully over churchyards.

I made sure to take pictures, because I don't know how often I'll see Oxford like this.

Mansfield College

Holywell Cemetary, on the way to the English Faculty


I quite liked how the snow settled on the busts of the old men in front of the Sheldonian Theatre.

The Radcliffe Camera, with All Souls College in behind
The University Church, recently out from under a bunch of scaffolding

And the cemetary at St. Giles, a great place to have lunch with Tim
 Now.  The negative part of the story.  You see, the British don't get snow like this very often.  Today 10 cm/4 inches were expected to accumulate across much of England.  Schools closed.  The Bodleian's library system closed at 3 pm.  Trains and buses were cancelled and delayed.  This is all rather annoying.

Especially since at home everyone just drives slowly and it isn't really a big deal to have this much snow in a day.  The only time parts of the University of Saskatchewan started shutting down during my undergraduate days was when Saskatoon had its worst blizzard in fifty years!

I suppose it all depends on what you're used to.  Thus, I cackle every time I read about how "very cold" it is in the British press.  Cold?  You ain't seen nothing!  It was -2 for most of today in Oxford; tomorrow's high in Saskatoon tomorrow will be -21.  (For comparison purposes, the coldest it has EVER gotten in Oxford is -17...)

So, I hope the snow sticks around (though it does mean I can't cycle down to school while it lasts) and that the weather-related disruptions end soon.  Also, perhaps the government and local councils should look into investing in more winter weather-related infrastructure?