sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

December 31, 2021


transport, time in the kitchen, and billiards
posted by soe 12:53 am

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Rudi took practically all our Christmas presents from my parents with him to West Virginia so I could stay an extra four days and fly home.

2. Mum and I got nearly all the baking we’d hoped to done (today was mushroom turnovers and chocolate snowball freezer cookies).

3. Dad and I got two afternoons of playing pool in. Occasionally I even won. (I’m in a place right now where, much like with bowling, I just want to hit the ball hard. It’s good to understand what you need out of recreation.)

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

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December 30, 2021


into the stacks: september and october 2021
posted by soe 10:45 pm

Getting closer…

Here are the books I finished in September and October:

The Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett: I enjoyed listening to this first-in-a-new-series mystery that features Queen Elizabeth as our sleuth and her assistant personal secretary, Rozie, as her leg(wo)man. When a young pianist dies at Windsor Castle, apparently by suicide, HRH is not convinced and utilizes her young assistant to investigate. Turns out, she’s been solving mysteries since she was a child. The second book in the series came out late this year and I’m looking forward to listening to it.

A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett: Lady Violet Hughes runs a public ladies’ institute, which is a front for a private women’s science club and laboratory. She’s also a brilliant chemist in her own right, currently looking into a scientific problem for the British government. When her life is threatened, her stepson organizes the most trustworthy bodyguard he knows, Arthur Kneland, to watch over her. But he may not have imagined the other type of chemistry that would bond the two of them. Solid feminist historical fiction romance. Recommended even if you don’t normally like all three of those descriptors.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price: In this reimagining of Austen’s most famous work, Lizzie aspires not to find a husband, but to be accepted as her father’s heir at his law office. After all, she routinely solves mysteries, but she never gets to take the credit. But now, she’s heard about a wealthy young man, Mr. Bingley, accused of murder and is in the process of getting him to let her help him — if only his current barrister, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, doesn’t prevent him from doing so. A really enjoyable reworking of the classic.

Class Act by Jerry Craft: In this companion middle-grade graphic novel to the award-winning New Kid, Craft centers his story on Jordan’s friend, Drew, who is now in seventh grade and his second year at the prep school where he and Jordan are some of the only Black kids enrolled. This year, they’ll deal with colorism, remaining friends with someone whose family has a lot of privilege, and the question about why all the Black kids hang out together, among others. Another beautiful story about aggressions and microaggressions.

Heist Society by Ally Carter: This is the first novel of a series about a master teen thief, who tried to leave the family business behind for high school, and her band of fellow young con artists, explosive experts, and grifters. In this story, she’s kicked out of school for a prank she didn’t commit only to learn that her dad has been similarly framed for an art heist — but his accusation comes from a terrorist, rather than an uptight headmaster. Will she and her friends be able to find who actually took the art and return it in time to save her father? Cute, if a little slow, given the number of characters who need to be introduced.

Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck: It’s Oscar’s senior year, and since his grandfather refuses to let him drop out to help full time with their food truck, he’s hoping to coast by with his large block of culinary independent study and persuasive speech class. But his irritating class valedictorian, Lou, has other ideas when she brings him into her final Girl Scout project about food waste and literally dumps thousands of apples in the culinary lab for him to deal with. Will their friendship be as sweet as what he decides to do with the unwanted fruit from the school cafeteria? Adorable.

Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom by Kelly Thompson and illustrated by Jenn St. Onge: In this graphic novel adaptation of the famous young sleuth, Nancy is summoned from River Heights by an anonymous note that hints that her mother’s death years before is more than just an accident. Now she’ll need to team up with her old friends, George, Bess, and Joe and Frank Hardy to solve that mystery, another that dates back to the same time as her mother’s, and some that are much more recent. Nancy Drew meets Veronica Mars. Highly enjoyable.

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December 29, 2021


into the stacks: july and august 2021
posted by soe 12:11 pm

If I’m not going to finish reading any more books this year (and I’m not saying I won’t, but … ), I should at least finish sharing some of the books I did finish earlier. Here’s what I crossed off in July and August:

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala: The first book in a series focusing on a Filipina-American baker, who with her aunts and grandmother, run a restaurant. When her ex, a local food critic and the stepson of her aunts’ landlord, dies there, she and her aunts are the main suspects, meaning that she and her BFF, need to investigate. As with many debut cozies, there are a lot of characters, each of whom need to be introduced, which slows down the pacing, but Manansala seems to have some good instincts, so I could see reading the second book in the series now that we’ve met everyone.

Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly: This is such a ridiculous, fun YA series that I devoured the second book in one sitting. It’s been months since Zoe heard from Digby, who hopped on a bus right after they kissed, off in pursuit of a clue to his kidnapped sister’s whereabouts. But now he’s back — and needing Zoe’s help, even though she’s tried to move on to some sense of normalcy, making some friends, dating the football quarterback, and holding down a part-time job. Her life is about to get decided un-normal once again.

No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox: My parents both recommended this memoir from Fox, an actor and philanthropist, who talks about his Parkinson’s Disease and his generally upbeat approach to life — and how he’s worked hard to maintain the latter as the former progresses. Recommended.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous: A middle-aged writer, in the wake of a divorce and joint custody of her beloved son, copes by doing what we all aspire to do — inventing an alternate persona. I mean, sure, hers is an octogenarian with a lovingly ascerbic wit who lives in a physically impossible fictional town and who attracts Twitter followers by the gazillions. But still. But in the midst of creating this alternate self, she also finds peace with her own life. (Bonus note for the audiobook: Lyle Lovett (who shares a birthplace with the Duchess) reads his own parts of the story.)

Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev: In the third of Dev’s The Rajes series, a modern quartet of novels that reimagine some of her favorite Austen novels, but featuring six Indian-American cousins, we focus on the eldest cousin, Yash, who is running for governor of California. After an assassination attempt which lands his bodyguard in a coma, Yash begins to have panic attacks. His sisters convince him to go and see their dear friend, India, who with her mother and sister, runs a yoga studio and is an expert at helping clients deal with mental health issues. Little do they know that he once long ago fell deeply in love with India, only to end up fake engaged to his own childhood friend. Way less soapy than I make it out to be.

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: In the second book of this trilogy, we find our ragtag group of space force teens fleeing their own galactic police force, as well as the most feared alien in the galaxy, responsible for collapsing a sun against his own people — oh and the zombie aliens who took one of their own in the first installment. They’re captured by — and escape (except for Josh) — Kai’s sister. There’s romance and some odd time-space continuum questions and lots of melodrama — an I’m looking forward to seeing how it wraps up in the final book.

The Runaway Princess by Johan Tro├»anowski: In this translated graphic novel, Princess Robin decides she’s not especially interested in deportment or the royal goings-on and decides instead to set off on a trio of adventures, which bring her into contact with a quintet of brothers, kidnappers, pirates, and a witch, among others. But Robin is bright and funny and will win out in the end. A charmingly old-fashioned story for a modern audience.

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December 28, 2021


#tbtbsanta 2021
posted by soe 1:17 am

For the past few years, I’ve taken part in The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa (#TBTBSanta for shorthand), now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This year, my package came early and I put it aside as incentive to get through the hard days that were coming in December. Just before heading north, I opened it up:

#TBTBSanta Packages

Very exciting so far! We have a sparkly unicorn, stickers, fun socks, and two types of tea! Plus a bunch of packages to unwrap! And at least one of them will be a book!

#TBTBSanta Gifts

Two of the packages were books — and one of those contained a trio of reads! That’s Casey McQuiston’s second novel, One Last Stop, and the first three novels in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series about what the Napoleonic Wars might have been like had there been a squadron of dragons involved. I’ve adored books by both these authors, so I’m so excited to read these in the new year! There’s also some stationery, more candy (mmm! Reese’s!), and a trio of eos lip balms.

Thank you, Bookish Momma! I love it all!

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December 27, 2021


into the stacks: may and june 2021
posted by soe 12:06 pm

Let’s see if I can get quick blurbs in about what I read this year before the year itself runs out:

In May and June, I finished five books:

A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette: This should have been a dream cozy, featuring Bronwyn, the new proprietor of her family’s small-town Ohio ice cream shop, who discovers a dead body late one night. It’s a man she met earlier in the day, who, it turns out also once nearly swindled her family, which makes her Black father the lead suspect. One of her BFF’s is a British mystery fan and insists they should investigate, so they do. The book had a good premise, but needed tightening up, and it could be that the next book in the series improves upon some of the thin spots here. Perfectly fine if you just want a cozy.

Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli: Set in D.C., this is a sweet contemporary novel about a young woman who’s trying to find her way in the world and succeeding on the face of it, with a kick-ass new position at her dream job. But as a first-generation American, she’s struggling with issues with her parents. She’s also having a hard time making friends — and goes on a couple of hilarious friend-dates during the course of the story. And then there’s her love life — there’s the cute photographer from her sister’s wedding, but there’s also the guy she used to be in love with, who’s subsequent marriage has broken up, but with whom she swears she just wants to rekindle a friendship. Multi-layered and well-thought out. Recommended.

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser: Thea, an English woman whose marriage recently ended and who’s just been laid off, learns she’s inherited a Scottish house from a distant relative. She heads up there and discovers her great-uncle was a book collector. In trying to discover the worth of the collection, she meets (and becomes an employee of) a gruff bookstore owner, who happens to be the brother of the charming lord who owns the adjoining property to her family cottage. If you liked Jenny Colgan’s Bookshop on the Corner series, you’d probably enjoy this one too.

Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz: Little Women (the first half of what we’ve come to think of as a single novel) has just been published and Jo March’s life has been turned around a little bit. Her readers are clamoring for more of the same, but she wants to send her heroines off on radical adventures — could her namesake become a pirate? The fictionalized version of her and her sisters’ story is somewhat true, but what came next in real life is too painful. Beth is still alive in the pages of her novel, after all. When an opportunity arises for her to get away to New York City to see Charles Dickens read, she takes it, but Laurie has other plans for what this trip could mean. If you love Little Women, but found some aspects dissatisfying, I’d recommend reading this novel.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert: Eve is the baby of the Brown sisters and has a reputation of being irresponsible and flighty. When her parents try to have a conversation with her about this, telling her that they’re going to cut her off for the next six months to encourage her to stick with some kind of job, she drives off, ends up in a tiny village, and, on a whim, interviews for the job of chef for a B&B (before backing over the up-tight proprietor, which guarantees Jacob can’t interview any more candidates). Eve and Jacob are both more than meets the eye and their friendship — and maybe something more — blooms over the course of the next few months. But will Eve stay on once things get challenging? If you like your romance novels a little more adult (these definitely have some non-PG-rated scenes), the Brown Sisters series are great reads.

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December 26, 2021


happy boxing day
posted by soe 1:09 am

Christmas Trifle

Hoping you and your loved ones had a very merry Christmas and wishing you all a happy Boxing Day, as well! Have a bowl of trifle!

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