sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 8, 2020


into the stacks 2020: march
posted by soe 2:14 am

Here’s what I was reading way back in March, just before the pandemic shut things down locally. I finished the third read that month the day we were sent home “for the next two weeks” and in time to return it to the library the weekend it closed down.

And then I didn’t finish anything else for a month.

But that’s a story for another day. Today, I’ve got three books to talk about:

New Kid, by Jerry Craft

In this graphic novel, artistic seventh-grader Jordan is embarking on his first day at a prep school across the city (and the world) from his Washington Heights neighborhood. For his first day, he’s picked up by his student liaison, whose father tells him to lock the car doors while he rings Jordan’s doorbell. This is just the first of many microagressions that Jordan is going to face as one of the few students of color at a school that features an auditorium named for his student liaison’s family. Middle school is tough even without that baggage, but Jordan is going to get through it. But he’s going to have to do that while dealing with teachers who call him by other Black kids’ names, hearing about fancy vacations, navigating city bus rides to school through neighborhoods where no one looks like him, wishing he could attend art school instead but not being able to convince his parents, and listening to taunts from the kids he grew up with about why he thinks he’s too good to hang out with them now.

Middle school sucks, but inevitably we find our way forward and through. We find our group, we find the classes where we excel, and we find teachers who see our potential. And this is true of Jordan, as well. The universality of this transition makes it easy for us all to connect with Jordan’s story, but the specificity of his struggles will either reflect a shared experience to some or provide insight for others. Either way, this is a great book for anyone to read, and I highly recommend it. It’s got the Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Kirkus Prize to prove that I’m not the only person to endorse it. (“Don’t just take my word for it…”)

Pages: 256. Library copy.


A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny

In the second of the Three Pines series, we find Inspector Gamache and his wife on Boxing Day having a look through cold cases of another precinct. When his wife finds the recent murder of a homeless woman they recognize, he agrees to look into it. Meanwhile in Three Pines, a horrible woman who is cruel to her daughter and husband and spitefully mean to artist Clara, dies while watching an outdoor curling match with the whole village present. Gamache is summoned to the scene and must begin piecing together the truth from the beloved cast of characters from the first book, the woman’s family and paramour, and a trio of old women, one of whose yoga studio has the same name as the dead woman’s self help business. He is joined by his faithful #2, his devoted team, a new, local sergeant, and the hapless and disgraced sergeant he dismissed the last time he worked in Three Pines. Is her return a sign of trouble to come from police headquarters in Quebec? And how do they relate to Gamache’s past?

When I had the chance to hear Louise Penny speak, she described the series like a new friendship. The first book is getting coffee. The second is drinks. The third is a meal. And soon after that you’ve got in-jokes and shorthand and are old friends. And she’s right. Her character-driven series is solid, and if you could be convinced that you won’t be the one murdered, you might really aspire to live in the charming Quebecois village.

Pages: 311. Library audiobook copy, via Overdrive.


Brown, by Håkon Øvreås, Yvind Torseter (illustrations), Kari Dickson (translation)

Rusty’s grandfather has just died and Rusty and his family are struggling. His mom is sad and anxious, and Rusty misses his grandfather. One night, after bullies destroyed the fort that he and his friend were building, he awakens to the sound of his grandfather’s broken pocket watch ticking. He realizes that this means he’s supposed to take on the role of being a superhero and seek vengeance on those who’ve wronged him. So, dressed in a hodgepodge of brown clothing and armed with brown paint from his grandfather’s garage, he heads out to paint the bike of one of the bullies. And the next day, the bully’s father comes to ask if Rusty and his family know anything about this. “Brown” is joined, after a few nights, by other young superheroes, “Blue” and “Black,” (who closely resemble Rusty’s friends, Lou and Jack) in exacting revenge. Each night, as he is returning home, he meets his grandfather’s ghost, who counsels him, until one final night.

I’ll be honest; I’m a little fuzzy on the details of this one after several months, but I liked it a lot in the immediate wake of reading it. I’d recommend it to those early chapter book readers who might be fond of notebook novels or someone grieving for a loved one.

Pages: 136. Library copy.


Book totals: 3
Page totals: 703
Authors’ profiles: 1 American (Black), 1 Canadian (white), 1 Norwegian (white)

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July 7, 2020


top ten authors i’ve read the most works by
posted by soe 12:05 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl invites us to consider the authors we’ve read the most works by.

Hmm… Let’s see… These are probably not in accurate order, but they’re all authors I’ve read more of than Jane Austen, which is six novels, since I’ve only read her finished novels. I’m stopping now at 14, rather than 10, but I’ll probably add a couple more in the comments tomorrow after I have that head-smacking moment recollecting some important-to-me author I left off the list:

  1. “Carolyn Keene” or the conglomerate represented therein for all the Nancy Drew books I read.
  2. Dr. Seuss
  3. Richard Scarry (These top 3 I’m guessing at. Mum and Dad, you’re welcome to chime in in the comments if you think there are other authors we read more of when Josh & I were kids.)
  4. “Kathryn Kenney” and the other anonymous authors of the Trixie Belden series
  5. L.M. Montgomery (I used to buy Trixie Beldens and L.M. Montgomery titles at the Waldenbooks in the Meriden Square back when it was actually still a quadrangle.)
  6. Jasper Fforde
  7. J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith
  8. Louisa May Alcott
  9. Madeleine L’Engle
  10. Rainbow Rowell
  11. Barbara Kingsolver
  12. Cynthia Voigt
  13. Shannon Hale
  14. M.C. Beaton

How about you? Who are the authors you’ve read the most books by?

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July 2, 2020


first of july unraveling
posted by soe 1:38 am

First of July Unraveling

I really need to get to the park before dusk, because then I would actually be able to spend some time knitting on my heel flap. Once you get past the gusset decreases of a top-down sock, you’re practically home free, because even if, as with this sock, there will be patterning on the top of the foot, it’s stockinette on the bottom and therefore takes less time to knit.

I am eager to reach that point on these socks, but before I can decrease, I have to increase and I’m not quite there yet.

After enjoying the last Rick Riordan imprint I read, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, I decided pick up another, Carlos Hernandez’s Sal and Gabi Break the Universe. This was highly recommended by my friend Rebs, and she rarely steers me wrong. It’s about two younger teens who attend an arts school. One of the two is an aspiring magician, who, after his mom dies, discovers he can perform real magic, and the other is a would-be journalist and lawyer. I’m still in early days, so am eager to find out how the story evolves after the author finishes introducing the characters and setting the scene.

Head over to As Kat Knits for what others are reading and crafting.

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June 30, 2020


top ten upcoming new releases
posted by soe 1:29 am

This week at That Artsy Reader Girl, we’re invited to share our Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases from the Second Half of 2020:

  1. Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas (latest in my favorite series)
  2. Jasper Fforde’s The Constant Rabbit (another standalone from my favorite author)
  3. Troubled Blood, by Robert Galbraith (Yes, I know JKR has said some bigoted and truly hurtful things about trans people and I shouldn’t want to read any more in the Cormoran Strike series. But I do.)
  4. Faith by Julie Murphy (She writes the best job writing working class YA)
  5. Kind of a Big Deal by Meg Cabot Shannon Hale (The main character starts getting sucked into books — literally!)
  6. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (Highly imaginative fantasy from a great world builder)
  7. Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library (What if you could read the story of what happened if you’d made a different choice? What if there were a whole building filled with those stories?)
  8. Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (The follow-up to her Dear Martin)
  9. Brandy Colbert’s The Voting Booth
  10. Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

How about you? What books are you looking forward to coming out over the next six months?

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June 25, 2020


quintessential summer viewing
posted by soe 1:21 am

Since moving to D.C., each summer has brought outdoor summer films. It used to be a handful of movies shown on the Mall and then, as inflatable screens and other tech became cheaper, you could spend five nights out of seven somewhere in the area watching a movie. I literally built it into my annual movie plans — “Oh, there’s no need to see that at the theater; everyone will be showing Jumanji: The Next Level this summer, and it will be fun to watch it under the stars.”

But despite setting summer movie schedules way back in February and early March, the only places I hear about still doing outdoor movies this summer are out in the ‘burbs, where they can run them as literal drive-in’s, but charge $40 a car. I’d be willing to throw something in the kitty, but not $20 a person.

So, now I’m thinking Rudi and I should do our own weekly summer movie festival this summer and watch some seasonal favorites (in addition to whatever new releases come our way).

Here are some of the movies I associate with summer:

  • Dirty Dancing
  • the Indiana Jones movies
  • Beach Blanket Bingo and its sequels
  • Stand by Me
  • The Parent Trap
  • Mamma Mia!
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Got any quintessential summer movies you recommend we add to my list?

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June 23, 2020


top ten series i want to start
posted by soe 12:51 am

Today is the tenth anniversary of the bookish meme, Top Ten Tuesday, hosted first by The Broke and the Bookish and now by That Artsy Reader Girl.

To celebrate, Jana has invited us to consider two options, including a past TTT topic you wish you’d done, but didn’t get a chance to do.

I’ve chosen week #134 (more than seven years ago), which allows me to focus on my favorite in genre fiction, mysteries and fantasy:

Top Ten Series I Want to Start, but Haven’t Yet:

  1. Earthly Delights (Corinna Chapman) by Kerry Greenwood (by the same author who writes the Miss Fisher storise)
  2. Delicious (The Marsdens) by Sherry Thomas
  3. A Winter’s Promise (The Mirror Visitor) by Christelle Dabos
  4. Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet) by Roshani Chokshi
  5. Brilliant (Kick Keswick) by Marne Davis Kellogg
  6. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
  7. Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
  8. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
  9. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
  10. His Majesty’s Dragons (Temeraire) by Naomi Novik

Do you recommend any of these series? (Or, conversely, do you recommend against any of them?)

How about you? Are there series you’ve always meant to read, but that you just haven’t gotten around to yet?

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