sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

April 30, 2024

ten reasons i’ll bail on or give one star to a book
posted by soe 1:49 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl invites us to share the (petty) reasons we’ve lowered the rating or just failed to finish a book.

I will be honest. I start and fail to finish books all the time. The first few chapters aren’t great. (I rarely bother to enter those into Goodreads at all.) It’s in a bag I don’t pick up for three months. The book is overdue to the library. It’s just not the right fit for my mood, but is otherwise perfectly fine. Goodreads lists my currently reading total as 50 (and my “on-hiatus” tally as nearly 100) for these reasons and more. Probably maybe I’ll get back around to them.

These are not the books I’m talking about today. Today we’re talking about the books that lure me past page 50. That trick me into finishing them or that are so bad that I want people to know I could not bring myself to finish them.

Let’s look at why that might be:

  1. It didn’t seem like it would have a sad ending and then it had a sad ending. Number one reason something gets one star from me on Goodreads. (Spoiler alert.)
  2. I hate the main character. Number one reason I won’t finish a book after investing actual time in it.
  3. Appallingly bad writing, but an interesting enough story idea that I wanted to know what happens (but then didn’t think the ending was done well).
  4. A mystery where I know who does it before I even know what’s been done. (Sometimes, stories are told where you get the narrative from the perpetrator’s point of view as well as the detective. I don’t usually love those, but they are not my complaints here.)
  5. Ridiculously conventional gender roles. (See, often, romances.)
  6. There is no mystery in a mystery novel. (Like, what is this even?)
  7. The author doesn’t know how to end the book.
  8. A mystery where my solution is better than the author’s.
  9. Nonfiction where the author is a pompous ass. (On rare occasion, also true in fiction.)
  10. A romance where I don’t care if the couple ends up together or not.

How about you? What drives you bat-shit crazy about a book?

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April 26, 2024

favorite pup, take me out, and water on
posted by soe 1:49 am


Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Rudi and I got to spend several days looking after my friend Neal’s dog, Naya.

2. We made it to our first baseball game of the season this week. The Nats were not impressed enough by this to win, but their starter did put in five solid, run-free innings before the bullpen doomed his best outing of 2024. Regardless, it was nice to be in the park with our friend Pat and his nearly 20-year-old son, Jack. (We also went with Jack to his very first baseball game oh so many years ago.)

3. The faucet at the garden had been off for the season, which means we’ve been hauling gallons of water from home in our solar shower the last few weeks. Today, after I put the last of the plants we bought two weekends ago into the ground, I found it had been turned on in the past day or so! The garden appreciated a good dousing!

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

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April 19, 2024

doggone beautiful day, help, and date night
posted by soe 1:35 am

Not Just Content to Play Poker

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. We went to a new-to-us garden center just outside the city, and discovered these folks had had the same idea. But I think they might have been hoping for a gigantic garden to dig in, rather than a plant nursery, because they stayed in the car once they arrived.

2. Monday night’s volleyball game looked to be a bit tough. We were facing a decent team, and six of my nine teammates weren’t able to make it. But a fellow coach is in this league and I asked him if I could recruit him and a couple teammates as subs, and Chris got Neal to test out his convalescing shoulder. And we decisively shut down our opponents to remain in second place in the league heading into the playoffs.

3. Rudi and I had spied a movie in London that was about to open and made note that if it made its way to the States, we should see it. Wicked Little Letters is based on a true story from the early 1920s about a series of poison pen letters and the identity of who is sending these libelous, expletive-filled missives. It was a little long (although not according to the clock), but quite an enjoyable costume drama with superlative acting.

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

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April 12, 2024

eclipse, abloom, and compost
posted by soe 1:07 am

Solar Eclipse

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Thanks to Rudi’s planning ahead, I had eclipse glasses enough not only for me, but also to share with my friend Chris. We watched the solar eclipse (87% covered here in D.C.) together at a nearby park along with his wife, Julie, and two of her friends — and a lot of workers sneaking out for a late lunch to stare up at the sky.

2. The dogwoods, wisteria, and viburnum are out, and walking around the neighborhood is a treat for eyes and nose alike.

3. Long ago, our community garden erected a wooden pen to put discarded plant matter into, and periodically, we would dig out the bottom and then someone would climb atop it to condense the rest down to allow for more detritus to fit. We’d sift the extracted dirt and parcel out fine compost for each gardener. Nowadays, we have a three-bin composting system that we mostly use instead, which means the pen was overflowing, having not been dealt with for years. (Periodically animals also move into the middle of the pen, which is really the main reason we’d left it untouched.) So last weekend, we attacked it from the top — hauling sticks and vines off to a dumpster — and the bottom, where I filled bucket after bucket of rich, unsifted dirt for my fellow gardeners to add to their plots. And, even better, there is space again at the top.

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

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April 5, 2024

all that came before, more than numbers, and visitor
posted by soe 1:18 am

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. I pass by two men my parents’ age standing next to a car in front of a nearby hotel. “Thank you,” one says. “This was my first meal with a friend in six months.” And then they hug.

2. Karen and her 13-year-old daughter, Livia, meet up with me for lunch. I haven’t seen either of Karen’s kids since before the pandemic, and Livia has grown from a kid into a young woman.

3. I’m peeling potatoes at the sink for Easter dinner when I look up and spy a turkey just at the edge of the plateau my parents live on. They used to get flocks stopping by multiple times a day, but the turkeys understandably started avoiding their house after they got a dog. We’re hopeful that lone bird will tell her friends to put their property back on the itinerary.

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

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April 2, 2024

top ten rainy books
posted by soe 5:39 pm

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is “April Showers” and I figured I’d share some drizzly titles from my TBR list:

  1. Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell
  2. Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison
  3. Billy Collins’ The Rain in Portugal
  4. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
  5. Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is it Raining? by Laura Broadbent
  6. Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain
  7. When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head
  8. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
  9. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
  10. Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve

Do you have any rainy titles to add to my list? Or would you recommend I quickly hop on any of these titles because they’re just too good to continue to wait?

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