I'm having a lot of fun learning about felting. This cloche was both easy and fun to do.
Miss Buncle’s Book, by D.E. Stevenson
A classic and a delight. I’ve had this book on my list for a while, after people in my Georgette Heyer group recommended it. I loved it. It’s 1930s, in a small village in rural England and Miss Buncle is in need of money so she writes a book based wholly on her neighbors. Her publisher can’t decide if it’s satire or sincere, but it doesn’t matter because the book is a hit. Except in her neighborhood where those who look the worst in the book (because they are the worst in real life) are out for blood, trying to determine who among them is the snake that exposed them. The story is hilarious and has a lovely ending.
Pumpkin, by Julie Murphy
This is to be the last entry in Murphy’s Clover City trilogy, and it follows Dumplin’ (wonderful) and Puddin’ (so great). Waylon is a fat, openly gay boy just about to graduate from high school with his twin sister, Clementine. When he is nominated for Prom Queen, and his sister’s girlfriend, Hannah, is nominated for Prom King, they decide to run with the joke and go for it. As part of the process, he is teamed up with Prom King nominee, Tucker, who is a long-time frenemy. But turns out Tucker might have some secrets of his own. Just like the other two books in the series, this is highly readable story of an outsider making it and reading along as Waylon truly comes into his own was a pleasure.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire
This is the origin story of Jack and Jill, two of the main characters in McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway. Jaqueline was raised to be a girly girl while her identical twin Jillian was raised to be a tom boy, neither of which was who they really were. When they step through a doorway into the world of the Moors, they get to become who they most are, which for Jill is not so good. This was an interesting addendum to the original novella. It seemed to drag for me as the story was a lot of explaining and not much action. I think it was meant to read as a fairytale, but that got lost in the twee language and its length.
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers
I have been very excited for this fourth installment in the Wayfarers series. It did not disappoint. The story takes place just after the action in A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and includes the character Pei who is a minor character in that book. She is staying at a small enclave during a layover between space hops along with a few other disparate species. When an atmospheric accident strands the travelers along with their hosts for a few days, they learn about each other, their differences, and how they can overcome them to be friends. A lovely, quiet sci fi book. A perfect ending for this beloved series.
Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, by Jess Kidd
And on to a horror-ish book. This is an odd one to describe. It’s a thriller, a ghost story, an odd couples story, and a story about grief and guilt. Maud is a caregiver to the elderly and her latest project is Cathal Flood who has a reputation for scaring his caregivers off within a few days. Yet, he and Maud find a balance. Maud’s life is circumscribed, going only to work and visiting with her agoraphobic landlady. She also sees and interacts with Saints who flit in and out of her life. Maud uncovers a mystery surrounding Cathal’s long-lost daughter that seems to mimic a tragedy in Maud’s life and she becomes obsessed with discovering the truth. I liked this one a lot. Tons of stuff going on, but nothing that doesn’t add to the story. It left me with lots of thoughts, which is a good thing.
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, by Jose Antonio Vargas
A short, bittersweet somewhat memoir about Vargas’s life as an undocumented Filipino immigrant. He was brought to the U.S. as a 12-year-old and had no idea about his status until he was 16. He describes his life as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist while constantly fearing his deportation. It is a worthwhile book to read that everyone should read. This quote towards the end stuck with me: “Home is not something I should have to earn. Humanity is not some box I should have to check.”
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, by Dawnie Walton
This book is written in an interview format with passages identified as “Editor’s Notes.” It is a retrospective on the lackluster start and meteoric rise of the (fictional) early 1970s pop punk duo known as Opal & Nev. Researched and written by a music journalist, Sunny, who has a tragic connection to the duo, the story examines the history of singer, provocateur Opal (black) and the pop songwriter Nev (white), their work together, including the tragic death of their drummer, and the aftermath of their work together. Along the way it morphs into a story of Sunny’s own connection with Opal and how the racism Opal dealt with in 1972 is still occurring today. The format made this a difficult read for me, but the ending was so so satisfying.
The month started off slow, but I wound up finishing a whole bunch of books. There were some much anticipated new books from favorite authors, and even a nonfiction book on the list.
The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
I haven’t read any Ishiguro and this one was apparently not the one to start with. It was a major slog to get through. It wasn’t a long book either. It takes place in medieval England which is plagued by a loss of memory from a spell. The story follows an old couple who remember their son and set off from their village to find him. In the process they witness the animosity between Saxons and Britons, meet a knight, meet one of Arthur’s aged knights, search for a dragon, and have many other adventures. And it was so boring. Each character was constantly talking, repeating themselves, and talking over each other. I really can’t recommend this book.
Victories Greater Than Death, Charlie Jane Anders
This is Anders first foray into young adult. I really liked her two adult speculative novels and this one is just as good. Tina is an alien child that was hidden on earth to save her life. When her beacon is activated, she becomes embroiled in an intergalactic war against a faction that wants to break the peace. She brings along several brilliant earth kids and they travel the galaxy on a death-defying adventure. Well-imagined, representative characters with some fun world building.
The Guest List, by Lucy Foley
I listened to this one and it was really good. It wasn’t as spooky as I’d been hoping for, but it was an excellent mystery. The story takes place on an island off of Ireland with an old manor house that is hosting a posh wedding. The story starts the day before the murder and ends with the body being found. We get the viewpoint of a several of the guests and the bride as the story builds up to the murder. By the time it happens there are numerous people who would want the victim dead (and you will too). A very original, very well written mystery.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown, by Talia Hibbert
The third (and final) book in the Brown Sisters romances. This time we get the story of Eve, the youngest sister who can’t seem to get her act together. After an argument with her parents, she goes on a long drive and comes across a B&B interviewing for a chef. One of her numerous accomplishments is as a cook and on a whim she interviews for the job. It doesn’t go well and then she hits the owner with her car and suddenly has to manage the inn while he goes to the hospital. She ingratiates herself with the guests as the cook, even while knocking heads with the handsome, controlling owner, Jacob. This was just as fun as the other books in the series. I think my favorite was the second one, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, but all three are a delight.
The Book of Old Houses, by Sarah Graves
An audio. The description of this book was misleading, at least to me. I didn’t realize this was the tenth entry in a long-running mystery series set in Maine. I just saw the bit about an ancient book hidden in the walls of an old house and figured it would be a mix of my favorite themes—scary, gothic, books. It was not, but it was fine. The series sounds like fun, but I’m not interested in reading any more.
Natsume’s Book of Friends, vol. 21-25
Finally caught up with my old favorite. Natsume and Nyanko-sensei had more adventures. I still really enjoy this series after ten years of reading it.
Sabriel, by Garth Nix
I was watching a show or movie that inspired me to reread Sabriel. I haven’t actually read the book in a long time. I listened to the audio a whole bunch (so much so that Tim Curry’s narration was in my head as I read), but even that I haven’t listened to in a number of years. It is such a good book. The magic, the odd collision of the Old Kingdom with Ancelstierre (our world), Sabriel’s rapid growth, and the non-stop action make this book worth reading again and again.
My pandemic, stay-at-home craft of choice was primarily embroidery. Now that things are somewhat returning to normal, I've got a lot of hat projects in mind.
This was my first attempt at crochet felting. I crocheted the hat and other bits and then felted them via washing machine. I'm fairly happy with how it turned out and have ideas on how to improve my technique in the future.
I crocheted this beret a while back and finally blocked it for shape. The stand doesn't do it justice. It's super cute when worn.
I really don’t know what happened to March. Seriously. Where did it go? It was such a blur. I only finished six books. Although, I had five or so in the works when the month ended. No nonfiction this month, but I’m working my way through a very long, very dense biography. It might be a while before I get another nonfiction book finished.
Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby
I really loved Ruby’s 13 Doorways and this one had a lot of buzz when it won the Printz award. Finally got around to reading it. It is a beautiful book. It starts a bit slow but that allows you to get really invested in the characters. The story is about beauty—what is, what isn’t, who is, who isn’t—and what it means when someone has no concept of facial beauty. The story follows Finn and Roza. Roza showed up at Finn and Sean’s house one stormy night and brought joy to their lives for a short time before she was kidnapped. Finn witnessed her kidnapping but couldn’t identify the attacker. No one believes him and think that Roza has run off. Roza is, in fact, being held against her will. It’s up to Finn to find a way to bring her home. Highly recommend this book.
Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero
As you may be able to tell by the title, this is a take on Scooby Doo. Thirteen years ago, a group of kids solved a mystery surrounding a house in the middle of a lake in Oregon. The kids were famous locally for uncovering mysteries involving the supernatural, which always turned out to be a man in disguise. Now, all grown up, the “kids” have different problems. Yet, they all seem to stem from their famous last case. They return to the small Oregon town to face up to what happened years before. This turned out to be an eldritch horror story with humor and chills. The author’s writing often got a bit “purple” but overall I had a lot of fun with the story.
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Classic! Norton Juster died last month. I’d been thinking about rereading his seminal work, so it seemed like perfect timing (plus, someone left a copy in my Little Free Library so I didn’t have to go searching for my copy). This book is brilliant. Silly and serious with word play that Shakespeare would be jealous of. Always worth a read.
Star Wars: A Crash of Fate, by Zoraida Cordova
A young adult novel set in Black Spire Outpost—the place where Disneyland’s Star Wars area is meant to be—this was an OK read. There wasn’t much action and was more of a romance/longing to belong story. The plot of was decent and if you’re into Star Wars, it’s worth a read. [This lackluster review is not meant to reflect poorly on the author. I really like her own stories.]
Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett
This was the first Discworld novel I read 20-ish years ago. I enjoyed it the first time having absolutely no context for the recurring characters. Now, it was probably better than the first time. It follows Polly, who disguises herself as a boy to enlist in the army of Borogravia, a small, rural country that is constantly at war with its neighbors. Polly enters the regiment managed by Sargent Jackrum, an almost mythical soldier who has seen all the major action for the last fifty years. There is a lot more gender-bending than just Polly, though, and this regiment of the unusual has the key to winning the war. Another can’t miss Discworld novel.
Space Dumplins, by Craig Thompson
A middle-grade graphic novel that I read years ago when it came out. I reread it in anticipation of sending a copy to my friend’s boys. Super fun space story. There are space whales that devour whole planets, yet their poop is the source of energy for all beings. Young Violet gets caught up in a plot where scientists have given a whale severe diarrhea that is causing havoc in space. Her dad is a trucker stuck in the catastrophe, so Violet and her friends set out to find and save him. Weird, silly fun. Perfect for young readers (and me).
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