June 30, 2016
late-june yarning along
posted by soe 2:18 am
Look! Color changes! Thirteen more teeth than last week! This continues to be mindless knitting easily worked on during tv, meetings, and baseball games.
I realized late last week that I really wasn’t enjoying Big Magic. I may skim a few sections later in the book to see if she ever gets around to something that resonates with me, but otherwise I may give it up. (Giving up a book during the library’s summer reading program is painful, but that really ought not to be a reason to keep reading a book that sprains my eye-rolling muscles.)
Instead, I’ve turned to two books relevant to my summer holidays. Summer of the Gypsy Moths is written by a woman from and takes place in the Cape Cod town where we vacationed earlier this month. We’ve started out the book with a dead (of natural causes) body (which two pre-teen girls are going to bury in the garden), so it definitely catches you.
Modern Lovers has appeared on every summer reading list I’ve seen this year and focuses on a group of college friends in their forties. How could I, in the year of my 20th reunion from college not at least give it a shot? I’m looking forward to getting started on it tomorrow.
(Apologies for the glare-filled shot. I dozed off on the couch after volleyball tonight and am too tired to retake it.)
What are you reading these days?
Yarning along with Ginny at Small Things.
June 29, 2016
top ten tuesday: best books of 2015
posted by soe 4:26 am
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish was DIY, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to finally jot down the top ten books I read in 2015.
I read 68 books last year. Seven of those were audiobooks (listened to via Overdrive) and of the seven, four were re-reads. I re-read only one book in print.
Non-fiction: 9 (5 memoirs (2 of which were graphic in format), 1 picture book biography, 2 sports’ish books, 1 history)
Here are the best of the bunch:
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik: In this retelling of a Polish fairy tale, Agnieszka and the other girls in her village have been brought up knowing one of them will be taken by their local wizard, the Dragon, to live with him for ten years when they became a teenager. And everyone knows that he will choose Kasia, Agnieszka’s best friend. But then he chooses Agnieszka instead, and neither girl’s life is ever the same. Great girl power themes and celebration of female friendship. Published as adult fantasy (and probably a decent example of the new adult sub-genre of fantasy), it’s fair game for mature teens.
- Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Link: A middle-grade novel that explores what happens when 12-year-old Sophie and her parents move from their Los Angeles home to her great-uncle’s rural farm after he dies. Sophie’s dad is unemployed, leaving Sophie’s freelancer mom to write enough articles to pay the bills. Written as a series of letters to her beloved abuela, who also recently died, and, later, to her great-uncle and a local farm, Sophie shares her loneliness, her frustration with the changes in her life, and, eventually, her surprise at some rather unusual livestock she finds on the farm.
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: A dual tale about two children, one a blind French girl, the other an orphaned German boy, living through World War II. Marie-Laure escapes Paris with her father, who works at the Museum of Natural History and who’s been charged with carrying a replica of one of the artifacts to safety. Werner, who is an expert at fixing radios, is sent away from his mining community to an officer training school and ultimately the French town where Marie-Laure now lives. Short, alternating chapters speed you through the narrative, but also ramp up the stress level, because, let’s face it, no one ever wrote a happy story about World War II where everyone survives. Harrowing, but excellent and well-deserving of its Pulitzer Prize.
- The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman: Emily’s parents have a blog challenge of living in all 50 states. Emily’s a little tired of it, to be honest, but she’s happy to find herself in San Francisco, home to her hero, Garrison Griswold, the inventor of the Book Scavenger website/game. Just as they’re arriving in town, and hours short of a large planned announcement, though, he’s attacked and left in a coma. Emily, with the help of her new friend James, try to figure out what the game he was going to announce would have been, as well as who would have wanted to harm him. If you liked the Mr. Lemoncello series, The Westing Game, Roald Dahl, Greenglass House, or literary games, I recommend you pick this middle-grade contemporary up.
- Dietland by Sarai Walker: Plum is an overweight and friendless ghost writer answering teens’ letters to the most popular fashion magazine in America. She’s nearly reached her goal of putting away enough money for weight-loss surgery (at which point she plans to start living her life) when she notices a strange woman observing her. Concurrent to her unraveling why she’s being observed, a guerrilla group known as Jennifer is attacking powerful misogynists. Could her boss be next? Feminist revenge fantasy meets Cat Grant meets social commentary. Destined to be read in women’s studies classes and feminist book clubs everywhere for decades to come.
- The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde: In the penultimate book of his middle-grade quartet about Jennifer Strange, the indentured orphan manager of Kazam, a house of wizards available to hire for magical jobs, and the long-awaited last dragonslayer. In this book, Jen must travel to the neighboring Cambrian Empire to find a rare jewel and pay the ransom for one of their wizards. She’s accompanied in her task by the wizard she likes, the princess of the realm (enchanted by her mother into the body of a maidservant as a life lesson), and a 10-year-old guide. If you like Fforde’s other series (and who doesn’t) and have a young person not quite old enough for them, this charming and humorous fantasy series may be their speed.
- The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin: A heartbreaking middle-grade story about Suzy, whose best friend recently drowned. Seeking to prove that her friend was attacked by a particularly rare and debilitating species of jellyfish in an effort to make sense of the event, Suzy stops talking, but starts planning how to make her case, starting with a rogue trip to the world’s leading expert on the species and looking back on her final months with her friend.
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander: A hip hop verse novel focusing on basketball phenom Josh and his equally talented twin Jordan, growing up and apart, their father’s health, and more, all told with the cadence of playing ball. A verse novel for those who don’t like verse novels, a sports book for those who don’t like sports books, and a well-crafted example of how stories are universal.
- Ms. Marvel: Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson: A Muslim Pakistani-American fangirl growing up in Jersey City sneaks out to a party one night only to experience a weird mist that leaves her able to shape shift. Kamala Khan has become a superhero straight out of her favorite comics, but, with the exception of her best guy pal, no one knows she’s no longer just the slightly rebellious high school student she’d always been, but now someone who’s got to balance homework, curfews, religious education with fighting criminals, including one threatening the teens of her community. With a film version planned for later this decade, if you like The Avengers movies, Supergirl, or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and haven’t already read this, pick up this graphic novel/comic collection now!
- Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead: Bridge and her two best friends, Tabitha and Emily, are navigating seventh grade and all the changes it brings. Their stories, as filtered through Bridge, who’s not quite ready to grow up yet and abandon her cat-ear headband, is interspersed with those of a high school girl, skipping school and feeling desperate on Valentine’s Day. As the stories approach each other in time, we’ll find out how they connect — and how they all navigate the trials of friendship.
June 24, 2016
yellow, sunny, and old friends
posted by soe 2:19 am
Three beautiful things from my past week:
1. The bedroom where we stay on vacation is a cheerful yellow. It’s like waking up in sunshine.
2. My favorite meals of vacation are breakfasts in the full sun of the deck.
3. On our trip home from vacation, we get the chance to see ECN and Erica, two of my favorite college friends. We eat ice cream and watch the sun set over the Hudson and catch up.
(Speaking of our vacation, I’ll have photos to share with you this weekend.)
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?
June 23, 2016
early summer yarning along
posted by soe 2:45 am
Summer reading continues apace. I finished three books last week while on vacation and one since returning home. These are the two I’m currently working on:
Big Magic I’m reading for the #TBRTakedown on Twitter. One of the challenges was to read a book outside our comfort zone and self-help by an author whose first book I didn’t particularly like definitely qualifies. Lots of people put it on their best-of lists last year, though, including some who didn’t love Eat, Pray, Love, so I figured I’d give it a chance. The Unexpected Everything is a recent release YA contemporary featuring the daughter of a Connecticut senator and her father the summer he experiences a scandal at the office. The first couple chapters were long and slow, possibly because my head was still wrapped up in the ending of Carry On, the book I’d just finished prior to starting it, but I hear it picks up. (It’ll count for a book from my most recent haul in the Takedown if I finish it this week.)
While I read a lot on vacation, I didn’t knit much. I’ve only got seven Hitchhiker teeth so far, but I’m approaching the end of the red, I think. I’ve got a meeting to sit through tomorrow and a film tomorrow evening if the rain holds off, though, so I should get a couple more teeth done before the weekend.
Yarning along with Ginny
and her new baby.
June 22, 2016
ten things on this summer’s bucket list
posted by soe 2:21 am
So neither of my go-to Tuesday memes interested me today especially: I listen to audiobooks while knitting, driving, and doing the dishes, but prefer baseball games on the radio or music for most other tasks, and while I’ve read seven 2016 releases this year, I have yet to hand out five stars to any of them.
So instead, I’m going to answer the meme I was too busy vacationing last week to write about: 10 Things on This Summer’s Bucket List:
- Visit Theodore Roosevelt Island. It’s three miles from my door (maybe less). I’m finally getting over there. Related: Visit Kingman Island on the other side of town.
- Make ice cream, yogurt, or popsicles once a week. Related: play volleyball regularly.
- Get to the pool or beach every week.
- Take in an outdoor movie at least every other week, preferably every week. (This is my favorite way to catch up on recent releases to “video” and classics I’ve missed. Pending more weather, we’re catching Mister Roberts in our local park later this week.)
- Read in our hammock. (I need to check if there are rules stating I can’t suspend things from trees in our closest park. I know I can take the portable stand one up there if I can dig it out of our building’s storage closet.)
- Attend an outdoor concert. Something big would be nice, but I’d settle for one of the free Fort Reno shows.
- Freeze fruit (and maybe veg) for the winter. (I like the idea of canning, but really need to work with things that require minimal storage/equipment.)
- Eat picnic suppers outside once a week. Perhaps in conjunction with the movies, but maybe not.
- Go to the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the book version of the script of the new West End play.
- Finish two knitting projects. Any two.
How about you? What are you hoping to cross off your list this season?
June 17, 2016
cone, view, and three quarts full
posted by soe 12:42 am
Three beautiful things from my past week:
1. My friend Shawn surveys us to ask who’s interested in ice cream from the nearby parlor. I expect he’s going to get something for us to share, but instead he arrives back at the blanket bearing cones for each of us.
2. The house my brother rented for our family vacation has a view of the harbor.
3. Before we leave town, I freeze the strawberries I have in the fridge and end up with three quarts of berries for later in the year.
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?