Sunday Coffee – Changes

IMG_5706So remember last week, when I said we’d decided to move across the country? We had a plan worked out. The boys would go up at the end of this month, and Jason and I would follow in October once we got all the house projects and such finished. We’d even booked the truck for the weekend we planned to move.

Earlier this week, we received some very bad news that is not my news to share, and so I won’t discuss the details publicly. This news changes our plans heavily, because we have a much greater need to get up to Wisconsin a lot sooner than October. And so for the next two weeks, we’ll be working our butts off to finish the house, pack everything, and coordinate our move. We will all be moving up to Wisconsin at the end of this month.

Because of the much-condensed schedule, I’m taking a break from blogging for the next little while. Unlike other breaks I’ve taken in the past, which were for my sanity or when I got sick and tired of blogstuff, this is a forced break. It’s too easy for me to sit here writing and writing when I’m stressed and worried, and instead I need to be working on the house every minute I can spare. Which means no sparing minutes for blogging. This is kinda like the equivalent of putting myself on a book-buying ban. I’m on a blog-ban!

Likely I’ll be back, at least partly, around when RIP starts. Until then, though, I hope y’all have a good rest of the summer, and I apologize for not being here for posts, comments, reading your posts, etc. See y’all in a few weeks! And please wish us luck and send all the positive vibes you can our way.

Posted in Personal | Tagged | 6 Comments

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by Jack Thorne

Cursed Child(based on a story by JK Rowling, and in collaboration with John Tiffany)

Many years after the end of the Harry Potter series, a new story starts centered on the children of several characters of the original series. In play form.

I have mixed feelings about this play. On the one hand, it was fun to hear more about What Comes Later. I didn’t mind the epilogue of Book 7, and I liked seeing what it was like for the future generation of the wizarding world. On the other hand, there was a lot of this story that felt off. For example:

  • There was too much revisiting the old series, down to full-on dialogue, with a few tweaks. I would have preferred fewer scenes simply regurgitated from the books, and I would have preferred those that were revisited to be revisited faithfully, without liberties taken in dialogue.
  • The characterization and writing felt very not-Rowling. I won’t go into details because it would involve spoilers, but there are definitely things I never would have expected certain characters (like Voldemort) to do. I have a hard time believing it.
  • This doesn’t read like a play. This reads like a play that has been semi-novelized for reading purposes. I know that most people probably appreciate that, but I’ve been reading scripts on their own since my mid-teens, and would have just preferred a straight-up script.
  • A lot of the story was very predictable. There were a few surprises – mostly because of the liberties taken with certain characters – but mostly it was easy to predict in advance.
  • There were also some serious consistency issues, especially regarding some of the time-travel stuff. Again, can’t say more without spoilers.
  • I didn’t feel like I got to know the new characters very well at all, and I really would have liked to, especially Scorpius.

Despite all that, I did enjoy the play somewhat, especially in the second half. I just felt like it could have been so much more, and it fell short of that mark. I’m unlikely to reread the book, but at least for awhile, I plan to keep it snuggled up to the rest of my Harry Potter series.

Posted in 2016, Children's, Drama | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Top Ten Books I Read Before Blogging

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a Rewind: Choose any topic from the past that you didn’t get to participate in before. I had a couple years of only on-and-off blogging, so I thought I’d choose a post from that time. Back in April 2013, the featured topic was our top ten books read pre-blogging. Awesome topic! While I’ve read many wonderful books since I began blogging in Feb 2008, there were some great ones before then as well. Some have been reread and reviewed since then, and others will likely be reread and reviewed in future years! In no particular order:

  1. Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson: Perfect atmospheric bliss!
  2. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov: Creepy and brilliant.
  3. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway: I think I’ve read this a dozen times now.
  4. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath: Gets better with each reread!
  5. Possession – AS Byatt: Picked up on a whim, became my favorite book…
  6. The Awakening – Kate Chopin: I read this at just the right moment to pierce my heart.
  7. The Painted Veil – William Somerset Maugham: Maugham = wonderful.
  8. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller: You’ve got flies in your eyes!
  9. Harry Potter – JK Rowling: Yes, all of them.
  10. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte: I can’t believe I didn’t read this until I was almost 29.
  11. (Bonus novella) The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka: Kafkaesque is one of my favorite words.

Hmm. Is it obvious I read mostly classics pre-blogging?


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Posted in Book Talk | Tagged | 8 Comments

Sunday Coffee – Another Adventure Begins

IMG_5681The decision has been made. We are indeed moving to Wisconsin. And soon. That’s the new part. Original talks circled on prepping our house to go on the market next spring, and moving up next summer, after the boys were out of school. Jason really thought it would be easier on the boys if we moved sooner rather than later, however, and sooner it will be. (The boys agree with this decision.) As in, the boys will go up to live with their grandparents for a bit at the tail-end of August, after my sister’s wedding but before school begins on September 1st. They’ll go to school for one week here, giving them a chance to say goodbye, and then we’ll drive them up to start on time there. Jason and I will stay here to finish prepping the house to sell.

How do I feel right now? STRESSED. And RUSHED. And WORRIED. I know this is the right decision, but I’m a careful, cautious planner, and fast changes tend to ramp up my anxiety. This is the sort of place where Jason thrives, though – he’s so much better at handling on-the-moment coordination – so I’m just putting my faith in him and doing what I can to keep myself together. This involves a lot of list-making (“All the Things that Must be Done Before We Move” etc) and a lot of personal projects (mostly crochet – prepping a supply of winter clothing and using up yarn, but mostly so I have something under my control to focus on…). I’m not sure how much I’ll be reading, blogging, etc in the upcoming months, but hey, given my past habits, who knows? Maybe I’ll start posting six times a week again, just to deal with the stress!

In any case, wish us luck. We have a few weeks left before the first lot of us head northward, and a few months left until we’re full Wisconsinites. Deadline is mid-October, max, when Morrigan’s sixteenth birthday rolls around. We’re not going to miss that!

Posted in Personal | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia

bellweatherA dilapidated hotel. A November weekend. A pair of elfin-looking twins. A sociopath music director. A missing girl. A volatile conductor. An a cappella boy band. A legendary murder-suicide celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. A blizzard that traps everyone inside.

This book was awesome! I heard about Bellweather Rhapsody from Kristen, who had mixed feelings about the book. I put it on hold at my library, thinking I’d probably read a few pages and send it back. This was especially so after I saw on GoodReads so many mixed reviews, mostly positive, saying the book was interesting and/or weird but didn’t really come together at the end. But you know what? I have absolutely no idea what those GoodReads reviews were talking about! Everything most certainly came together, and in the best ways possible! Yeah, the book was strange, but in a good way. Everyone seems to have a different take on how to describe it, and here’s mine: this was like reading Edward Gorey, if Edward Gorey wrote novels instead of drawing graphic short stories. And personally, I adore Edward Gorey, and I loved the snot out of this book!

The writing was phenomenal. The point of view switched from person to person, section by section.** Every word felt deliberately atmospheric, without feeling like Racculia was trying too hard to get across a particular tone. I’ve read other books that read the same way: Lolita, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Notes on a Scandal, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, etc. Most of them, however, are told from first person POV, and this was third person. That made for an absolutely fascinating dynamic, where the narrator isn’t really a part of the story, but shapes the tone for the entire book.

I love tonal, atmospheric books with brilliant, unique voices. Once again, this book was AWESOME.

I kept waiting for the moment when nothing would come together and I’d be disappointed. And hey, maybe because I was waiting, because I was expecting the book to fall apart, I was pleasantly surprised instead of disappointed. Honestly, though, I don’t think it was just that. Even without the forewarning, I have a feeling I would have loved the snot out of this book no matter what. I want to hug it and read it six more times, and see it on my shelves and smile as I remember all the little details.

Now, I don’t think the book is for everyone, the same way I don’t think Edward Gorey is for everyone. Not everyone likes morbid comedy, and again I saw some reviewers talk about how the funny and the horrifying didn’t really mix. For me – a huge fan of morbid comedy and psychology and mysteries that aren’t really mysteries but are really more emotional puzzles – it all fit together seamlessly. And mixed with all the pop-culture references from the 90s, not to mention music and literature references all throughout (I grew up in a house of professional musicians), this really added up to the Perfect Book For Amanda. And as you can see, I kinda want to become a crusader for this book, shoving it into people’s hands, telling you all THAT IT WOULD BE A PERFECT SELECTION FOR WHEN RIP*** STARTS THIS SEPTEMBER, and…well, you see. It’s lovely. Please read.

**Except one bizarre section that switched twice in about a page, the only time in the book to do this, and which really annoyed me because I hate when things are out of place, though at the same time, it made my brain start traveling down other avenues of thought, questioning identities of certain characters, and while I wasn’t questioning the identities of the right characters, my thoughts had led me in the right direction for a later twist, which was very satisfying!

***Ooh, maybe I’ll see if there’s an audiobook version available to listen to for RIP! I’ll bet this could be awesome on audio, if it’s done right.

Posted in 2016, Adult, Prose | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

July Yarn Art

stress-crochetI admit: with so much construction going on this month, not to mention heat, medicine issues, the boys’ camps, Jason traveling, blah blah blah, there’s been a lot of stress, and with all the stress, I’ve coped with copious amounts of crochet. Considering the tons and tons of yarn I had sitting around, it was probably good to use some of it up. I’ve also been quite pleased with the results, and so yes, I will show them off here!

07 Nat's hatFirst up, I made a beanie for my good friend Natalie. I used the same pattern, from One Skein Wonders, as the beanie I made back in March. I loved that beanie so much, and Nat gets cold easily, and the colors in this particular color-changing skein reminded me of her. Ambrose is modeling the beanie above.

07 Moms candle holdersMy mom’s birthday was in early July, so I decided to crochet some candle-holder covers for her. The boys and I went down to our local thrift store and bought jars – eight votive candle holders and two mason jars, as well as a basket to hold them all. Then I used a couple different tiny-sized yarns to make the covers. Each was unique, making up my own pattern. Some came out better than others.

07 asymmetrical bagThis was another One Skein Wonders pattern, an asymmetrical-close bag. This was an extremely simple and quick pattern to follow. It only took a couple hours to put together, and it’s all one contiguous line, with no need to join or sew lines together. The mesh bottom of the bag is sturdy and stretchy, making the bag a perfect size for a trip to the library, a quick grocery run, an individual swim kit, or an overnight bag. On the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of the asymmetrical handle. It’s kinda cool that it slips through to close, but I’d rather have two long handles. The good news is that I had enough of this blue shiny yarn (thanks Karen!) to make another this size with two longer straps! (not pictured)

lovebatLove-bat. Story behind this one: When Ambrose turned 10, Jason and I found this bizarre stuffed pink thing that looked vaguely baseball bat shaped at the thrift store. Ambrose has always loved the feel of crocheted things, so we bought it for him. You can see, in the insert, his marvelous reaction, and he still owns and loves the item alternately known as the pink worm, pink maggot, and love-bat. I crocheted a purple love-bat to match it for his 14th birthday! At his party, he pulled out both bats and began a kind of pillow fight with them…

yarnbagI have a lot of extra yarn lying around, mostly leftovers from older projects, and I wanted to start using it up. I also have a lot of yarn in general, and wanted a bag to hold a bunch of it. I’ve seen various pictures of granny-square bags around, and yarn-bags, so I decided to cobble together my own. The above is the end-result. The majority of the grannies used the pattern found on this blog, modified to add another layer for edging. Then, ironically, I joined the squares using methods not featured at that link. Ha! I learned a lot about joining and blocking on this project, and in the end, it holds probably a third of the yarn I own (yes, I own too much!). Plus, it used up 6-7 leftover skeins and a big chunk of several others. And granny squares always remind me of my maternal grandmother, so this bag makes me happy every time I see it!

The follow three pics are just further dragon-egg dice bags and tarot bags that I made throughout the month. I really like little projects like this! Very quick and satisfying.

07 dice bag
07 tarot bag  dragon egg

Everything else I worked on in July is gift-related, and so I’ll save all that until after said gifts are received!

Posted in Crochet | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Coffee – July Belongs to Other Stuff*

IMG_5592July was not a bookish month. I read three books, which split out like this: One – listened on audio while crocheting and barely remember. Two – read quickly right after the audio and barely remember. Three – took three weeks to read despite it being simple and I had to keep reminding myself that I was in the middle of it, and then I didn’t really even like it. I’m not in a slump, not exactly, but I don’t see the non-book trend ending** before RIP season starts in a month. And honestly, this is normal for me at this time of year. Last year, when I hit an actual slump in mid-September, I wrote this:

Usually, I don’t read a whole lot in the late, super-hot summer months. I enter RIP-season full speed ahead, ripping my way (pun intended) through tons of books in September and October. I crash at the end of October, and read almost nothing in November and December.

Last year was odd for me, because I read tons and tons through July and August, crashing in mid-September. This year was more typical, with my heavy-reading months going from mid-April to mid-June. Generally, the huge reading months come after a giant influx of TBR, physical or virtual, and then I speed-read/cull my way through the pile until there’s only a tiny handful left. This leaves me without any desire to read for a few months. Coupled with extreme heat and the kids being home for the summer, this works out perfect for me. I return refreshed for RIP, which I didn’t do last year and hope to do this year!

In the meantime, I’ll keep crocheting (big yarn-art post coming tomorrow), binge-watching Downton Abbey with my boys, and counting down the days until school begins (three weeks to go!!).

*When I had Ambrose in 2002, the hospital had a display of “July is…” holidays. One of them was “July is National July Belongs to Blueberries Month” which was just bizarre but totally memorable and totally real.

**With the exception of two books: Sandlands by Rosy Thornton, her newest released that she sent to me for review. I adore Thornton’s writing, and look forward to checking out her short stories! And of course Cursed Child, which I will go pick up this morning. Sadly, I didn’t attend any release parties. I barely get enough sleep these days as it is without staying up super late… (she says at 6:30 am after being up for the last hour…)

Posted in Book Talk | Tagged | 4 Comments