sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

September 21, 2017


end of summer unraveling
posted by soe 1:00 am

End of Summer Unraveling

This week, there’s more of the same in my reading and knitting, but further along in both. Still reading The Mothers by Brit Bennett, but nearing the two-thirds point where everyone in the story is doing stupid stuff, but you care about them remarkably. It Becomes You is a poetry collection by Dobby Gibson, a fellow alum from Connecticut College. I’m only a few poems in, but so far am enjoying it.

On audio, I continue to listen to Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, which has an excellent cast (and will likely do remarkably well at the Audie Awards this year). Because I tend to listen to audio books late at night, though, I find myself drifting off and needing to go back and find where I was, which is hard. I must experiment with the bookmarking option in Overdrive and see if that cuts down on the time spent trying to relocate myself.

Little Pumpkins continue apace. I need one more repeat on the leg, or as it currently appears, umbrella cozy, and then will move onto the heel. I need to decide if I should reorient the pattern to have a single column of pumpkins parade down the center of my foot, as some others have done, or knit it as written, with the wide column of centered knits separating two columns of pumpkins. We’ll see. I’ll go back into the finished projects on Ravelry and see which I prefer. Either way, I’m really liking this combination of yarn and pattern, which I’d paired in my head years ago, and am eager to have the socks on my feet. I’m not positive that the yarn won’t bleed (since I seem to occasionally end up with dark patches on my fingers) and I won’t eventually have brown socks, but I’ll enjoy the “pumpkins and sky” colorway for as long as they last.


Unraveling along with Kat.

Category: books,knitting. There is/are 2 Comments.

September 20, 2017


top ten tuesday: fall tbr
posted by soe 1:53 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish invites us to share ten of the books we’re excited about reading this autumn.

I’ll be honest. I just looked at some of the books coming out this fall and added a huge number to my TBR list in Goodreads. And mostly those are just by authors I’ve already read and enjoyed. It doesn’t even begin to look at books that are already out. So, while it’s hopeless to imagine which books I’ll actually read over the next 13 weeks, let’s give it a shot:

  1. Dear Martin by Nic Stone tops my list, but this contemporary Y.A., which examines violent police interactions against black teen boys through the lens of Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings, is due out in mid-October.
  2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo is in my possession. This title combines the mythology of Diana of the Amazons with Helen of Troy.
  3. Miles Morales, by Jason Reynolds: An alternative Spiderman story. This has been on my radar for so long that when the latest wall crawler movie came out, I was confused about why he was white.
  4. I was really looking forward to S.K. Ali’s Saints and Misfits when it first came out, but it hasn’t managed to jump from my coffee table to my bag, and I don’t know why. But I’d like to give it back to the library read, so I’ll give it a shot.
  5. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterley: My coworker lent me her copy of the book back at the start of the year and I should give it back before the end of it.
  6. I really enjoyed Amy Salig (A.S.) King’s talk on Me and Marvin Gardens, her new middle-grade book, at the National Book Festival a few weeks back and now have a copy out from the library.
  7. People in my book group really raved about The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and keep comparing it to Uprooted, which I loved, so now I have the audiobook copy out.
  8. I have tried to read Magic in Manhattan by Sarah Mlynowski the past two (maybe more?) autumns and I’ve failed to get past the first few chapters. My BFF, Karen, tells me it’s an adorable series, so hopefully this fall will be the charm.
  9. The 13 1⁄2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers is translated from the German and features the adventure of a seafaring blue bear and his family of mini pirates.
  10. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older looks at Caribbean-American ghosts who live in paintings, music, and literature in this seasonally appropriate book I downloaded via the YA Sync program this summer.

How about you? What are you hoping to get to this fall?

Category: books. There is/are 3 Comments.

September 7, 2017


early september unraveling
posted by soe 2:22 am

Early September Unraveling

Look! Knitting! And reading! (Okay, so the books aren’t all that surprising, but, active yarny projects might be!)

The socks are, on the left, Slip Stripe Spiral, my Sock Madness exit round socks from 2016. The first one is all done, and the second is up to the heel. On the right are a new pair of socks I started on Saturday. They’re the Little Pumpkins pattern, which I’ve been wanting to knit since 2008, according to my Ravelry queue. No time like the present, in which they also qualify for a Sock Knitters Anonymous cable challenge! I’m also hoping to spend a little time this weekend working the edging on the shawl I knit last summer. The cool air has me eager to break it out!

On the print book front, we have the first volume (of three) of The Runaways, which Rainbow Rowell is writing a sequel to; The Mothers, which I only began today and so don’t yet have a firm opinion of; and, still, The Tyranny of Petticoats. Oh, and The Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook. Coming up, I’ve got a mystery for the RIP Challenge, and I may work on finishing my Book Bingo card, or I may not worry about it. It’s hard to say.

In the ears, I’m working on The Scam, which is the fourth book in the Fox and O’Hare heist series, and Will Schwalbe’s Books for Living, in which he talks about some of the books that matter to him and the life lessons he’s taken away from them. He has a broad taste in books, ranging from self-help books, mysteries, and kid lit to philosophy, classics, and cookbooks. Since both books expire this weekend, I’ll next be turning to one of the three audiobooks that came off the hold list this week (isn’t that always the way?): Lincoln in the Bardo (which is the audiobook I’ve been looking forward to most this year), Sherman Alexie’s memoir, and Purple Hibiscus, which I’m worried will be too intense in audiobook format.

How about you? Have you been reading anything you recommend? Are you working on any crafty projects, now that we’re into the fall months (only 109 days until Christmas…)?


Unraveling along with As Kat Knits.

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September 5, 2017


national book festival and other weekendy things
posted by soe 3:28 am

This long Labor Day weekend marked the traditional end of summer fun and the recognition that fall is nigh. It meant time at the pool, enjoying the last days of outdoor swimming. It meant harvesting our basil plants from the garden, but still getting to have our traditional Sunday summer supper of caprese sandwiches and corn on the cob. It meant spending the evening at the park, but being home by 8 because you can no longer read outside. It meant buying tomatoes at the farmers market, but also leeks because the idea of hot soup no longer requires taking a nap.

But it also meant the 17th annual National Book Festival, hosted by the Library of Congress, one of my favorite events of the year.

I am not a morning person, so while every year I plan the authors I’d like to see from the first time slot to the final one, I’m not sure I’ve yet managed to arrive early enough to catch the first act. This year was no different, and I didn’t walk into the convention center until noon, shortly before the first panel I’d declared “must see” in my head.

Melissa de la Cruz, Nicola Yoon, and Sandhya Menon

On the YA stage were Melissa de la Cruz (who’s got a Christmas-themed romance coming out this fall, as a follow-up to her Hamilton-themed YA novel), Nicola Yoon (whose The Sun Is Also a Star is the reason I was there), and Sandhya Menon (I read When Dimple Met Rishi earlier this summer — it’s cute) to have a panel discussion about falling in love. While I tend to prefer a single author reading & talking about her/his experiences to conversation-style presentations, this one seemed to work well. All three had interesting things to say not only about love (“You all really love our husbands,” since that’s who the male leads are at least partly modeled on), but also about immigration and diversity.

A.S. King

I tracked down a copy of the festival poster (my collection will someday be framed and will festoon the walls of my home library) and proceeded down to the basement, where the kids’ stages were set up. Amy Sarig (A.S.) King was sharing her new middle-grade novel, Me and Marvin Gardens, about a boy in a town where housing developments had taken over the areas that had once been farm fields and the plastic-eating monster he finds. She used to live on a farm and shared how she raised chickens and would have to plan 20 weeks ahead of when she wanted to send out manuscripts because she’d need to sell enough to cover the cost of postage. She was also really funny with the kids: After she spoke admiringly of Where the Wild Things Are and the librarian who introduced her to it, a kid asked if she’d written it. After clarifying the point, the kid asked if they were friends. “No! I wish!” she said to them, adding to the adult audience members, “That’ll have to wait for later.”

Kathleen Glasgow

Back upstairs I went to hear Kathleen Glasgow talk about her YA novel, Girl in Pieces, about a girl who lives through terrible things and survives them in part by engaging in self-harm. She says she gets a lot of criticism from parents, who feel her work is too dark, and therefore inappropriate, for teens to read. But those are the very stories we need to tell, she explained, so that teens living those dark stories have a place to process them. She also said that it was particularly important for YA novels to offer a glimmer of hope in them (and even better if the protagonist is responsible for creating that hope themselves), because teens without any needed to be able to see that things can get better.

Kelly BarnhillAt this point, it was necessary to pause for lunch and to sit quietly by myself for a bit. I find this helps me deal with the crowds, which are much more oppressive inside than they were when the festival was down on the Mall.

Afterwards, I returned to the children’s stage, where Kelly Barnhill was talking about her lovely fantasy novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, who had a really engaging way of interacting with the kids in the audience. After being joined by Rudi, who hadn’t been able to get in the room where Michael Lewis was speaking, we raced back up to YA to catch my other must-see author, Angie Thomas, who wrote The Hate U Give.

Angie Thomas

Angie’s session was an interview between her and a reporter from the Washington Post, and I don’t think it worked as well as it could have if Angie had just gotten up and spoken. The interviewer asked her about how the main character uses two ways of speaking — one at her predominantly white school and one at home in her primarily Black community — and asked how she’d done that and if she’d thought of Starr as two separate characters. I literally groaned aloud and whispered angrily to Rudi that only a white interviewer would ask such a stupid question. Angie answered more gracefully, explaining the term is called code switching and that she was doing it right then and that it’s a skill many people of color use to navigate in social settings. She spoke about how she found adult books boring, how “reluctant readers” often aren’t so much reluctant to read as reluctant to read what people give them to read, about the upcoming film adaptation, about her second book, about how white feminists are often slow to see their own privilege, and about how you can write outside of your lived experiences, but if you get things wrong, you should expect to be called out on that and to be graceful about it.

Finally, Rudi and I went down to the graphic novels stage for the final authors of the night. Gene Luen Yang shared that the superpower he’d like most is the ability to multiply time so he could make his deadlines, two editorial cartoonists spoke about how they developed their personal styles and about creating political commentary in this era. We also got to see Lincoln Pierce, whose “Big Nate” strips are among my favorites in the Sunday comics. But the highlight of the stage was definitely Roz Chast, whose exhaustion at the end of the day made her very giggly and slightly confused about the prompting messages being held up for the moderator. She shared that living in the suburbs made her far more nervous than living in the city, although she punctuated this by telling the story of a man who had a sink hole open up beneath him as he walked, swallowing one of his legs.

Roz Chast

All in all, another good festival, and I’m looking forward to next year’s.

Category: books,dc life. There is/are 3 Comments.

August 22, 2017


bout of books 20: signup & day 1 progress
posted by soe 8:48 pm
Bout of Books

It’s once again time for Bout of Books:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01 a.m. Monday, August 21st, and runs through Sunday, August 27th, in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

My goal is a low, but excellent, bar: read a little every day.

Yesterday, I took part in the Bout of Books opening day Twitter chat, and read from three books. I finished the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (book bingo challenge: re-read), read some of Bronze & Sunflower (book bingo challenge: by an author from a country I’ve never visited), and started listening to The Scam, the fourth book in the Fox and O’Hare heist series (no challenge; just wanted something light to listen to while washing dishes).

What are you reading this week?

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August 16, 2017


mid-august unraveling
posted by soe 11:18 pm

Mid-August Unraveling

Wednesdays during the spring and summer are home to Rudi’s evening bike ride and happy hour, which means I can take myself out someplace and do what I like, which in this week’s case means knitting and reading.

The sock is the second in a pair, which I hope to have done early this weekend, so there can still be time to finish another in-progress pair before month’s end. I have at least one more that’s languishing on the second sock. I hate the yarn, which explains why they sat so long. It simultaneously feels cheap and insubstantial (in that it requires me to go down to 0s on the foot to get a fabric I feel will hold up to wear), which I hope means it’ll last forever. Whichever pair I pick up next will definitely be one that’s more pleasing to the touch.

The book, Murder on the Ballarat Train, is one I picked up at the library Monday, having remembered last week when I moaned about needing a book that had been turned into a tv series that I was not restricted to American broadcasts. If you enjoy the show, I highly recommend these quick novellas by Kerry Greenwood. You’ll find all your favorite characters from the small screen, as well as a Mrs. Butler to provide delectable meals. If you’ve neither seen the show nor read the books, what are you waiting for? They’re set in 1920s Melbourne and feature a well-off flapper detective and the misfits she befriends (lesbian doctor, Communist cab drivers, savvy police detective). Lots of fun!

I finished Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body on audiobook earlier this week and haven’t yet figured out my next listen. It may be Shadowshaper, which was this week’s YA AudioSYNC download, or maybe something will come off my holds list on Overdrive.

Elsewhere, I’m reading A Tyranny of Petticoats (a collection of multicultural short historical stories), Bronze & Sunflower (a middle-grade novel translated from Chinese), Sleeping Giants (epistolary sci fi), and the illustrated version of Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Check out Kat’s blog for links to what other folks are reading and knitting.

Category: books,knitting. There is/are 4 Comments.