A Small Embroidery
I made this to go in the Advent calendar I made for my mom. It is a 2 inch patch (now made into a magnet). It's an inside joke. It is the Purple Pimpernel from one of our favorite movies, Danny Kaye's The Court Jester. Below is a screen grab from the film. She absolutely loved it. I kind of want to make one for me too.
November 2022 Reads
The Halloween Tree, by Ray Bradbury
I’ve been meaning to get around to this story for ages and finally checked out the audio from my library. It’s a really good history of Halloween while being a touch scary too. I could see how this book has influenced other storytelling since it was published, while I could also guess some of Bradbury’s influences. I think more than anything, The Halloween Tree is an interesting story in where it sits in 20th century fantasy/horror. I wouldn’t say it’s a great story, but definitely influential.
Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man, by Emily J. Edwards
This is a darling mystery set in 1950 New York City narrated by girl Friday to a famous detective, Viviana Valentine. Short, clever, and so well-written, you feel like you’re a city girl making her way in the world. When Viv’s boss disappears, she sets out to solve the case he was working on and finding the identity of the dead man found in his office. Highly recommend.
The Book Eaters, by Sunyi Dean
True to its title, this book is really about a clan of people who eat books and gain the knowledge contained within. The book eater families are mired in tradition—one in which woman eat fairytales and men eat any book they want. Devon grew up thinking she was a princess until the families’ traditions break her heart. When her son is born a mind eater, she will do whatever it takes to give him a life. Even if it means taking down all the book eaters. Very odd story, but very well-told. It’s really about what family demands of us and what mothers will do to take care of their children.
The Art of Prophecy, by Wesley Chu
Epic fantasy set in a fantasy ancient China-styled world. When the Eternal Khan dies, the boy who was prophesied to kill him becomes persona non grata after being raised as a prince. An old warrior saves his life for she believes that the prophecy might still come true. After them are all sorts of elite assassins who want to kill the prophesied boy for their own reasons. The way the action in this is described is like watching a 1970s martial arts film. It’s fantastic. Story is good but a little long. Especially considering there will be at least two more books.
Ghost 19, by Simone St. James
Third audio of the month and second one set in 1950 New York, but upstate this time. Aspiring actress Ginette is recovering from a breakdown in a small town. There she becomes obsessed with watching her neighbors from the back window of the house she’s renting. But there is something sinister in the house, something that won’t let her leave. Is she losing her mind or is the house really haunted? This was a great story. The perfect amount of scary and the perfect amount of surprise.
Chilling Effect, by Valerie Valdes
Irreverent space thriller filled with laughs and nerd references. I loved it. This is the book that Ready Player One wishes it was. If you are a fan of spaceship action stories, you’ll love this one.
Natsume Book of Friends, vols. 25-27
I’ve been reading this series for like 12 years. Any new volume is like visiting with old friends. Plus Nyanko-sensei. If you know, you know.
October 2022 Reads
I read like a fiend all month long and only have eight books to show for it. Between September and October I read 50 to 100 pages of about a dozen books for awards committees I was working on. I will finish some of those books, so reviews will be forthcoming, but many will definitely stay by the wayside where I tossed them unceremoniously.
Singer Distance, by Ethan Chatagnier
This is a gorgeous book that is more insightful than sci-fi. I’m not going to attempt to give a plot summary as there is too much going on to do it briefly. The story follows Rick, an MIT grad student, as he longs after his girlfriend, the math genius Crystal Singer. It’s about the fallout from being internationally famous, the longing for the one who is too brilliant, and making family where you find it. A meditation on family, genius, and longing. It’s more of a cozy sci-fi than actual sci-fi, and that’s why it was really great.
The Witches of Moonshine Manor, by Bianca Marais
A fun listen about five elderly witches who are facing eviction from their storied mansion and property. Each lady has her issues and there are deep secrets from these lifelong adopted sisters that work against them. But sisterhood bonds are stronger than any of the outsiders that seek to do them harm. Fun and funny, I love to see old ladies having a blast.
Augusta Hawke, by G.M. Malliet
The beginning of a new mystery series, Augusta Hawke is a famous mystery writer whose neighbors go missing. She and her friend, the head of the neighborhood committee, decide to investigate the disappearance themselves. When their hijinks turn serious, Augusta uses her extensive knowledge of crime and crime fighting skills to save the day. A fun mystery that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Daughters of Harriet, by Cynthia Parker-Ohene
More poetry. I’m trying to add more to my reading list. This work had some great poems and then a lot of experimental stuff that didn’t quite gel with me. There were two that really stuck out for me. One about Virginia Woolf’s servant with no room of her own, and one about the author’s mother working as a school lunch lady then having to take care of her own family. Overall an interesting work.
The Bishop of Hell, by Marjorie Bowen
Horror stories from an early 20th century writer. Some great stories in this collection which was originally published in the 1940s. My favorite was The Derby Crown Plate, but there were others that were fun to read and a little subversive, that I now find myself thinking about. The horror is fairly mild. Definitely worth a read.
The Pallbearers Club, by Paul Tremblay
I was really looking forward to this new book by Tremblay, but it was a bit of a letdown. It’s written as a memoir about a decade’s long friendship by a man, Art, who starts the Pallbearers Club in high school to make him stand out on his college admissions. A strange girl joins his club and they become fast friends, until Art freaks out thinking she’s a vampire. Decades later, they meet again and rekindle their friendship only to fall out again. What makes this story interesting is that the friend is reading Art’s manuscript and making notes of her own, telling the story as she sees it. The overall story was good, but I would have liked a little more horror than in the last five pages.
Nothing but Blackened Teeth, by Cassandra Khaw
A horror novella that was good, but not great. This one got a lot of buzz when it came out, but for me, the story felt forced. A group of friends who are all fans of horror, gather at a historic haunted house in Japan to have a wedding. Tensions run high between the friends as they wait for the legendary ghost of a bride. When elements of Japanese folklore begin to appear, they are in for much more haunting than they expected.
Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends, by Francine Pascal (Nicole Andelfinger)
A sugary sweet graphic novel to end the month. I loved Sweet Valley High books as a tween, so thought I would revisit Jessica and Elizabeth in this graphic novel about their middle school years. It was a nice story. One that will definitely be popular for the kids who like Babysitter’s Club series and Raina Telgemeier books.
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