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 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 4, 2017

unraveled in early may
posted by soe 1:38 am

Unraveled in Early May

What you see there is the Points of Light baby blanket I began making nearly a decade ago. Clearly the 8-year old no longer needs a baby blanket and a new baby is entering our greater collected family this year, so I’ve pulled it out of storage. I have the intention of putting it back on needles and getting moving on it in the hopes that it’s done before he is. (Obviously that did not work so well the last time.) The pattern has been rewritten since I last worked on it (thank you, Ravelry, for housing updates for me) and now has a chart, so I’m hoping that will make things faster/easier.

I finished The Girl from Everywhere tonight, so am about to begin The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I continue to read and enjoy Word by Word, but I’ve found it’s the sort of book I don’t want to power-read through; I want to consider her points and digest the information. In my ears, I’ve been listening to Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. Obviously I’m only part of the way through, but it has the feel of a book that Bridget or Nan would enjoy. (I actually assumed I’d found it through their recommendation, but instead it was through Largehearted Boy.) It’s about an 85-year-old woman who goes out for a walk on New Year’s Eve 1984 in New York City, where she reminisces about her life as an ad woman, poet, and flâneuse.

Unraveling with Kat.

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April 27, 2017

Late April Unraveling
posted by soe 1:15 am

I’m still working on the books I showed you in my last update, although I listened to a whole audiobook on this weekend’s road trip and started a new one, Zac and Mia, in an effort to finish one more of last year’s AudiobookSYNC books before this summer’s downloads begin today. Tonight I’ve read some more of Word by Word and The Girl from Everywhere. The former is due back soon to the library (where holds prevent me from renewing it) and the latter is the furthest along I am in any of the current selection of books, making it the best contender for returning to the library this weekend. The Hate U Give will also be due back to the library soon, with a long list of people waiting for it, so I’ll need to get moving on that one this weekend.

Jeremiah & Tonight's Reading

On the knitting front, I’m down to the ribbing before the bind off on my cowl and I’m looking forward to completing that imminently. A friend is coming to town for her baby shower at the end of May and I’d like to have some knit things to hand off to her. One will be a hat that she started many years ago and then left with me when she moved away. Her notes don’t match the pattern she gave me, so I’ll need to figure out what was going on in order to preserve her start — it seems like a nice thing to give the baby his mother’s knitting, right? And from me I’m hoping to resurrect/restart a blanket I began for a baby who’s now finishing kindergarten. (So many of my infant projects go that way. I have sleeves for a baby sweater for a different kindergartener…)

However, I do have some finished knitting to show off:

Dad in His Hat

This is the Violet Waffles Hat I owed Dad from Christmas this year. I bought skeins of yarn at A Great Yarn in Chatham, Mass., last summer on our family vacation with the intention of making gifts for Mum and Dad to commemorate our family trip. This is HauteknitYarn’s Superwash Merino in worsted weight in Chatham Yarn’s The Finest Hours colorway (the name references a book (and later film) about the 1952 rescue of the capsized SS Pendleton by the town’s Coast Guard). The yarn has a very nice hand. It’s very soft and squishy and played nicely with both wooden and metal needles. (Should Dad he decides he hates it, I’m totally taking it back and wearing it myself after adding a pom pom to it.)

I made a longer ribbing section so the bottom could be folded up for more warmth in the winter. I went up a needle size from what was recommended on the body of the hat because I had size 7s available and they seemed to work.

Dad's Hat

I finished the hat in the wee smalls before driving north and, thus, forgot to take a photo of it. I also nearly forgot to take one of Dad wearing it, so Mum literally popped it on his head as I was making lunch just before heading back home. Dad’s bemused look shows just how much he loves his daughter and her quirky need to document her knitting.

You can find more books and knitting at AsKatKnits’ Unraveled Wednesday.

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April 25, 2017

spring ninja book swap: still a mystery
posted by soe 1:55 am

I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in Bex‘s Ninja Book Swap once again this spring and got a great package at the start of April.

The box was bulging and after I pulled off the tape, a fun pillow sprang into my arms. This is what I found beneath it:

Ninja Book Swap Presents!

My swap partner sent me a ton of stuff, each carefully and decoratively wrapped. The cats really enjoyed getting to take part in the unwrapping as little balls of tissue paper were batted all over the apartment.

Eventually, though, nearly all was revealed:

Spring Ninja Book Swap Goodies

In addition to the pillow, there were two books off my to-be-read list, Radio Girls and The Brontës Go to Woolworths, both of which are historical fiction I’m really looking forward to! There were notepads galore, several of which have already been put to good use and have been tucked into my various bags, colorful pens, literary buttons, and chocolate.

And there were three new nail polishes, because in the Twitter chat, someone had remarked you should remember your partner’s list when you go shopping or else you’ll only recall they like nail polish and then you’ll have to send them a package with just that. And I replied that that sounded like a very fun package!

Easter Nail Polish

The stickers were mine, but as you can see, they work really well with the other three! (Yes, it’s starting to chip, but it’s 10 days out from when I painted them, so, actually, it lasted a really long time undinged!)

This package was great, but one mystery remains: the identity of my swap partner! Usually a card or something contains a little note, but all I have are the return address details from the box. I had held off posting this, hoping my query on Twitter would reach my partner and she would reveal herself, but so far no further information has been forthcoming. I didn’t want to wait any longer in case she wasn’t on Twitter and was worried I either hadn’t received the box or wasn’t over the moon about its contents. Therefore, I’m hoping Em from California is reading today and can see how grateful I am for all the goodies she sent!

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April 20, 2017

unraveled in mid-april
posted by soe 2:06 am

As usual, I’ve got several books going at once:

Mid-April Reading

As noted the last time, I’m reading Kory Stamper’s Word by Word. She’s an editor for Merriam-Webster, which I now know is located only half an hour from my folks. If you love language, I’d recommend this book about how and by whom a dictionary gets made.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig is about a teen girl aboard a time-traveling (sailing) ship. She was born in Hawaii in the 1860s to a father born in New York City in the 1950s. Her mother died in childbirth, and now her father is looking to go back and save her. You’ve seen Back to the Future. How does this end?

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel was the the book I picked up at my office’s new give-a-book, take-a-book shelves. (Confession: I did not give a book, but I did reorganize the shelf area to make it more browser-friendly, so I’m not going to feel too guilty.) I’d been reading this during lunch breaks when I take them, but was feeling that horrible sinking feeling at the end of each chapter when it was time to put it down and go back to work. So I brought it home to spend larger chunks of time with it. It’s a science fiction novel written in an epistolary format with interview transcripts, news articles, and journals telling us the story. It opens with a young girl falling into a hole in the woods and landing in what turns out to be a gigantic hand. She will grow up to become a physicist investigating the hand and other body parts unearthed. Thus far the team includes the scientist, two military pilots, a teenage linguist, and a shadowy mystery man pulling the strings.

I’m tired, so I decided not to pull out the knitting I just put away just for the photo. Trust me that I’m nearly done with the cowl and with another project, which is good, since a pregnant friend will be in town at the end of next month for the final time before having her first child, so I should get on the ball with her gift.

Joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday.

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