sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 24, 2017

into the stacks 2017: three books from january
posted by soe 3:08 am

I love sharing books with you! Honest! It’s just … slow …. writing about them!

I’ve only shared four (!) of the 27 books I’ve read thus far this year with you. Let’s see if we can at least cross the remainder of January’s books off the to-do list, shall we? Here are three of them, and I’ll share the other three later in the week:

Black Panther: A Nation under Our Feet, Book 1, by Ta-Nahisi Coates with artwork by Brian Stelfreeze

If you watched the last Avengers movie, you may be aware of Black Panther, a comic book character first created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1966 as the first black superhero in mainstream comics. T’Challa (Black Panther’s day-to-day identity) is a genius and the leader of the fictitious African nation, Wakanda, a country rich in the mineral vibranium, which allows its people access to advanced technology.

My forays into the Marvel universe have mostly been limited to the Avengers solo and group films, The Agents of SHIELD tv show, and the Ms. Marvel comics, so I had little exposure to this character prior to encountering him in the last Avengers film. When I heard Ta-nehisi Coates was going to write the story for the latest comics arc, I decided that I was sufficiently intrigued to follow up. What I failed to realize, though, was that because this character had 50 years of history before this arc that I should have boned up on the world into which I was walking. At the very least, I should have consulted a wiki to give me a basic understanding of the setting and characters, because this story arc is not an introduction to them. There is an assumption you have a certain amount of knowledge, which I failed to gain before reading the book, and it affected both my comprehension and enjoyment of the book.

Critics of the comic industry often point out that while there has been some effort to represent women and people of color in their work, nearly all of them have been written and drawn by white guys. Since this is both written and drawn by Black men, I do think this iteration of Black Panther is a worthy place to jump into a superhero comic. However, I’d suggest doing a little reading prior to cracking the spine.

Pages: 144. Library copy.

Tell Me Three Things, by Julie Buxbaum

A cute YA romance about a teen girl, Jessie, whose father suddenly and without her knowledge remarries and moves her from Chicago to Los Angeles, where her new step-mother enrolls her in the fancy private school her son attends. She is having an utterly crappy first day at school when she gets an anonymous email from someone at school (signed Somebody Nobody) who offers to guide her through things, so long as she’s willing to keep things anonymous.

While trying to navigate a new living situation and process the anger she has toward her father for not even telling her he was dating, let alone getting married, Jessie also continues to grieve the death of her mother, cope with the physical and emotional distance with her best friend back home, and deal with classmates who seem far more image- and income-conscious than she’s used to. Being able to share her life with Somebody Nobody becomes cathartic, and she finds herself predictably falling in love with this anonymous schoolmate, who also seems to be opening up to her, but not so far as to give away his identity.

The plot is nothing new in this YA contemporary romance, but the added storyline of a parent acting irrationally in the face of grief and causing lasting repercussions for his daughter gave it layers. Sweet. Recommended to those who like Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Pages: 328. Library audiobook copy, listened to via Overdrive.

The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

One hot summer day in New York City in the summer of their junior year, Natasha, a science-loving Jamaican immigrant trying to save her family from deportation, and Daniel, the poetic son of Korean immigrants who are counting on his becoming a successful doctor, meet. He immediately falls in love; she’s not even sure she believes in love, but certainly not at first sight. With the help of a security guard or two, karaoke, and a jerk of a brother, Daniel sets out to prove Natasha wrong. The clock is against them, but it isn’t known as a New York minute for nothing.

Highly praised when it came out late last year, the book is deserving of its praise. Told from alternating perspectives (mostly by our two protagonists, but also, occasionally, from more peripheral characters), the story explores parental letdowns, art vs. science, and race relations, as well as putting a human face on a topic of current political interest — illegal immigration. With nearly the whole story taking place in a single day, the action is taut, and short chapters and frequent narrative shifts remind at least this reader of the pace of New York. And the final five pages may be my favorite of any book.

One of my favorite books of the year (still). Highly recommended to everyone.

Pages: 348. Library copy.

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May 19, 2017

visit from afar, cooling off, and birthday party
posted by soe 2:52 am

Splash Fountain at City Center

If it’s Thursday, it’s time to look back on three beautiful things from my past week:

1. We Skyped with John, Nicole, and Juliet for the first time since they moved out west. John and Nicole look good, and Juliet has blossomed in these months since her first birthday, adding recognizable words, basic sign language, walking, and carrying things to her repertoire since we last saw her.

2. It’s been in the 90s the past two days, so yesterday at lunchtime I walked over to the park area with the splash fountain and stood in it and read for a bit.

3. A small group of friends gathered to celebrate Rudi’s birthday. We ate cold pizza (it’s a long story, but Turkish thugs prevented me from bringing it home quickly) and cupcakes and sang maybe the most atonal version of “Happy Birthday” I’ve ever heard. We really appreciated that they were able to come over to ring in his 44th with us.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world recently?

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May 18, 2017

mid-may unraveling
posted by soe 1:33 am

Mid-May Unraveling

This week’s knitting is due for some literal unraveling. Here you see the beginnings of a baby blanket. Unfortunately, eight years happened between the first repeat and the second, and I knit far more loosely now than I did then. I’d hoped it was obvious only to me, but Rudi could pinpoint where the change in gauge occurs, so rip I shall. While I’m going to see the parents-to-be later this month, baby isn’t due to arrive himself until July, so there’s time to do it right.

I continue — still — with Word by Word, which I’m enjoying, but slowly. I also began Finding Wonders, a non-fiction, middle-grade book in verse about the lives of three female scientists, which I picked up after reading Raidergirl3’s review. I was familiar with two of the scientists and had even written about one of them for work, but the format of the book allows for different information to be conveyed. I finished my mystery novel and my audiobook expires tomorrow, so I really need a new piece of fiction. The Hate U Give is overdue, so it really ought to be that. We’ll see…

Unraveling with AsKatKnits.

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May 16, 2017

2017 maryland sheep & wool festival
posted by soe 10:22 am

This year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was just over a week ago, part of a a surprisingly damp and chilly first week in May. As usual, I went on Sunday, always less crowded and, this year, a far drier day than Saturday.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the weather was conducive to knitwear and finished weaving in and trimming the ends on my Partridgefield Cowl (you’ll get a better picture later in the week after I’ve blocked it) before heading out, so it could get its debut this spring, rather than having to wait until next fall.

Partridgefield Cowl Debut at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival 2017

This led me to get a later start than I would have liked (this seems to be a recurring refrain for me with this event), and I didn’t arrive until 2 p.m., giving me three hours until the festival closed.

I started with the sheep barns: (more…)

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May 15, 2017

mid-may garden update
posted by soe 1:04 am

Mid-May Gardening

The recent rains have left my garden lush and green, filled with unruly violet leaves and impertinent creepers, and I’m sure a new crop of broken glass (a prolific crop in any urban community garden) is pushing forth into my plot.

I hadn’t visited in two weeks. Since they’ve been cool and rainy and I expected nothing to be ripe, the only real risk to a prolonged absence was that the weeds would overrun the plants I wanted to grow. When I’d last been down there, we’d harvested our cauliflower and some of the sorrel, which has shown its displeasure by becoming even more overgrown. When I head down again this week, I’ll need to make sure to bring a bag big enough to pick several handfuls.

Pea Flowers

Pea To Be

The tallest shoot of my peas has grasped its way to the height of my waist, and others are climbing up our string trellis in fast pursuit. The vines are strong and covered with flowers, with one transforming into a pod.


It’s impossible to tell I pulled out violet leaves at the start of the month to give our strawberries more light, but it doesn’t seem to have harmed them any. All of the plants I could see had early berries on them, which means they should be red by Memorial Day.

Whatever seemed to be munching on my bok choy has moved on, and all three plants are looking good. The basils, too, are solid, as are the rest of my herbs. And even this 42 Days tomato, the lone one we’ve planted so far (my Sheep & Wool plants remain in my hallway), is thriving, with yellow flowers cheerfully promising fruit to come.

Tomato Flower

Later this week, I’ll need to head back down and plant tomato and pepper seedlings, beans, and potatoes, but for now I’m pleased with how the garden grows.

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May 12, 2017

repaired, stress relief, and healing garden
posted by soe 10:00 am

Hospital Healing Garden

Three beautiful things (belatedly) from my last week:

1. Rudi’s surgery was a success and he’s in significantly less pain than he was before his hip replacement. He’s home, and the cats and I all appreciated being able to curl up next to him in bed last night.

2. After a combination of irritating and exacerbating events over a long day, there were Samoas to eat, Sarah to reassure me, and a door to slam really, really hard.

3. The hospital where the surgeon Rudi wanted to use has operating privileges is 45 minutes away (as opposed to the four hospitals within 10 miles of our house). But they also have a healing garden, which is a far nicer and safer place to take a mid-operation nap than any of our urban hospitals can offer.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

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