Grey Sister – Mark Lawrence

I really appreciated the notes at the beginning of the book that went over the highlights of what to keep in mind if you’d read Red Sister a while in the past. And I particularly appreciated that the author specifically called out that Keot did not appear in the first book, because having Nona have a ride along devil who would talk to her and occasionally try to influence her actions definitely would have confused the heck out of me if I hadn’t known he was new to this book.

I enjoyed seeing how much Nona and her friends have grown since the first book, and also how they have to deal with the wider world, now that they’re closer to actually being Sisters.

One thing that remains true in this book as well as the last is that we have a couple scenes of Nona when she’s older, and is a full sister, so you know she survives the book. But man, the author is really good at making you unsure how the heck he’s going to pull that off. The last part of this book was tense! I’m definitely interested to see how the story ends.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Cellarium by Rachel Illsley
Yarn: Swans Island Ikat Collection Watercolors in the Indigo/Teal colorway
Needles: Size 2 circs and 3 circs and DPNs

The cables in this pattern kicked my butt at first, for no really good reason.    Once I was able to visual what they were supposed to do, I was fine, but I did have one rather dicey rip down back to the ribbing edge that I am SO glad I managed to make work.     Overall, great pattern – I really enjoyed it once I got into a rhythm.   

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking – T. Kingfisher

Mona is a 14-year old baker, who happens to have a magic gift with bread.

This is a story about how even what seems like small magic can save the world, and also that being a hero can really suck. (With a healthy dose of adults may not always be in the position to do the right thing, and that doesn’t make them a bad person.) I’m adding this to my comfort reading virtual stack – it was definitely the uplifting kind of read I’ve been looking for lately, with a nice dose of reality blended in.

In an Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire

Katharine Lundy is a middle child, and even worse, the child of her school’s principal. She’s always been good at following rules, so she quickly becomes invisible, since no one wants to risk friendship with the principal’s daughter.

That’s when she first finds the door to the Goblin Market, where there are a few simple rules to live by, above all that you give Fair Value in all you do. And Lundy (which she’s known as there, because one of the other rules is to guard your true name) knows she’s found a home. But in fairness, the Goblin Market never holds the children that find it permanently – they must go home at least once before they decide to stay forever.

I have to say, this story definitely got me – I’m one of those rule followers, and seeing Lundy’s struggle to decide between a place where the rules are so clear, against a place where they are not, but there are people there that love her, was really relatable. I had to highlight the following passage:

“Let us speak, for a moment, on the matter of sisters. They can be enemies to fight or companions to lean upon; then can, at times, be strangers. They are not required to be friends, or to have involvement in one another’s lives, or to be anything more than strangers united by the circumstances of their birth. Still, there is a magic in the word “sister”, a magic which speaks of shared roots and hence shared branches, or a certain ease that is always to be pursued, if not always to be found.”

Garden Notes

Well, step #1 toward our solar installation is done. The tree on the east side of the house is down. I don’t take cutting down a tree lightly, but this was a junky tree – that side of the house is constantly littered with small branches. Plus, it’s a Norway maple, so it’s been sucking all the nutrients out of the ground there since it sprouted.

So now we’ll be doing a little wait and see to see what it’s going to be like over there. The neighbor’s fence means it takes a little while for the sun to get there in the morning, but it does seem to get a fair amount of sun for a chunk of the afternoon. So there’s a possibility for more garden space there. Or, it’s a place we could put some sort of evening gathering spot – it’s way better shaded at dinnertime than our deck currently is.

The Forest Unseen – David George Haskell

This is an interesting book. A biologist spends a year going back to the same small patch in a Tennessee forest, and you get a slice of the seasonal things happening there.

He relates a lot of the tales out to the larger world, and you’d be surprised how many stories you end up getting out of small patch of land. I definitely recommend this – it’s not at all dry (which some science based books can be) – the author’s a good story teller.

A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik

Loved this book.

Galadriel is at an international boarding school for young wizards. They’re basically trapped there for four years, and constantly under threat from a whole bunch of nasty, evil beasties, but everyone keeps coming because it’s safer than being out in the real world at that age. Graduation is when you fight your way out of the school at the end of your senior year. Not everyone survives. El’s Dad didn’t – he died to save her mother, and the baby they had just realized they would be having.

Speaking of El’s mother, she’s good. You never actually meet her, but her personality just shines through El’s narrative. You see, El was basically born to be as evil as they come – everyone naturally avoids her. Except her mother. Who through sheer force of personality has raised El to be a good person, against some pretty stacked odds.

The story is basically about the end of El’s junior year, and I think it’s better read than described. I can’t wait to read the next book. I may actually buy a physical copy.

Garden Notes

The garden’s coming along very nicely – it filled in quite a bit while I was gone.

Of course the bad of being away for a week is that my peas went over while I was gone, so I didn’t really get to use those quite as well as I would have liked to. So those have been pulled out. The plan is to get garlic in there in a few months. I’m thinking of some hopefully quick growing things I can put in there in the meantime, but we’re in the middle of a heat wave, so that’ll wait until after this heat breaks, at the least. Nothing I have in mind is going to like what’s currently going on outside.