TBR 2008 Challenge

ETA: View my final list here.

Even though I can’t sign up until the 15th of December, I’ve decided to post my choices for the 2008 TBR Challenge, because it’s pretty easy to do. I already have a TBR list going (I’ll be moving it up the page a bit into my list of challenges), so I’m just going to read any 12 books from that list that were added before 2008. This list is currently expanding, as I’m pushing to get more of our book collection on LibraryThing, so as I find things that are already in the house, I’m adding them to the list with no date. Any book added in 2008 or later will be labeled as such, and will not qualify for the challenge. The nice thing about this is I don’t even need to think about a list of alternates, and I can pretty safely say I won’t need to share books with any future challenges, because there’ll be plenty to read.


Thanksgiving – Ellsworth, Maine

I spent my Thanksgiving at my father’s house in Ellsworth. Thanksgiving itself was a foggy day, and we went for a walk in the Woodlawn Park nearby. It was incredibly atmospheric in the fog, though my camera doesn’t nearly do it justice.

I’m quite full of turkey, and flush with family togetherness. This is the first Thanksgiving both my parents have attended since their separation, and I’m thankful that they have been able to allow bygones to be bygones enough to make this event possible. It was a lovely couple of days.

King Arthur – Frank Thompson

0786890835-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_This book is a novelization of the movie starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley that came out four or so years ago. It’s a movie that didn’t received overly great reviews, though from what I’ve seen in my DVD extra viewing, and from the differences in the theatrical version and the director’s cut DVD version, many of the bad reviews are somewhat explained by the fact that the movie was envisioned and filmed to be an R rated movie, but the studio then forced them to release it as PG-13.

I have this weakness for movies that seem like they had great potential in their storylines, but for whatever reason did not live up to this promise when the movie was actually made (I’ll admit here to my rather enormous Highlander addiction). There’s something about these stories that gets my creative juices flowing (and for my own stories, oddly enough).

I actually liked this movie as soon as I saw it (in the director’s cut version initially). I thought it was an interesting take on the Arthur legends, and while I admit it wasn’t the greatest movie ever done, I thought it was definitely interesting, and I’ve watched it again several times.

I actually picked up this novelization at a used bookstore. I find novelizations can be helpful in explaining movies that didn’t seem to live up to their story’s promise, since they’re often based on an earlier version of the script. I thought the best thing this novel brought to this story was that Guinevere was actually Merlin’s daughter, which I thought explained her role in the climatic battle a bit better than in the movie.

Would I have purchased this book full price? No. Am I glad I took the three hours to read it last night, after the Thanksgiving festivities were over? Yes.

The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye – A.S. Byatt

606feeeb4a68d6059306b445351434f414f4141I came to read A.S. Byatt by way of her novel Possession, a book I very much enjoyed. I was extremely intrigued to note that she also writes fairy tales, five of which are featured in this book. The first two are actually in Possession, which initially gave me an incredible sense of déjà vu until I went and read all of the original publication information and realized why they seemed so familiar. These two stories fit the Victorian setting of that novel well. It’s the other three stories that offer the greatest contrasts of the book.

“The Eldest Princess” is apparently a semi-autobiographical story, at least in that the author is an eldest child, and that had long worried her, because the eldest children in fairy stories are seldom the happy heroes of the tales. It’s an idea that had never occurred to me (I’m an eldest child), but was definitely thought provoking (especially after reading her notes about the story.)

“Dragon’s Breath” was a bit of a disappointment. I admit to not seeing the point of this story. There were three main characters, but I’m not sure what they were there to do, and the device of the dragons was somewhat mystifying.

“The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye” was an enjoyable story, a fairy tale set in the modern world, and a very interesting take on the traditional story of the genie and three wishes.

I read through these stories in only one day, and had my mother and sister reading out of the book when I was done. Very highly recommended.

Strange Candy – Laurell K. Hamilton

0425215210-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_I admit to being intrigued by a number of Laurell K. Hamilton’s books, but somewhat off-put by how they seemed to be mostly marketed for the sex content, more than the story. (It’s not that I’m a prude, I just like a certain amount of, hmm, plot in the books I read.) However, some of my friends have read them, and liked them, so I’d been looking for something to ease me into her oeuvre. A book of short stories seemed the perfect entry point.

I did enjoy this book. It had an interesting variety of stories, and only one that featured sex, so I take that as a fine portent of her ability to plot a novel. (That and they actually carried some of the seeming worst offenders at my library, so surely they can’t be that bad.)

My two favorites were “Selling Houses”, about the real estate market in a world where vampires are legal citizens, and “Here Be Dragons”, the only sci fi story in the bunch, which was a positively creepy look at the psychology of sociopaths.

The Weirdness of November

It snowed today. Now, this is notable because I have done next to no raking so far this year.

As anyone that lives in leaf country can attest, it’s pretty much pointless to rake until all of the leaves are off the trees, unless you’re a masochist that enjoys constant rework. As I look out my back window, I see one tree that barely looks like it’s dropped a thing, two trees about half done, and two trees hanging on to the last of their leaves. And this is typical all around town. It normally looks like this in the middle of October.

So, it’s snowing today, on my lawn, where I’ve only moved some leaves around in order to accomplish some yard clean up. Thankfully, the little bit of snow that did stick should be gone tomorrow, but if this isn’t a testament to the weirdness of New England weather, I can’t come up with a better example.

Craft Notes

I forgot to mention it a couple days ago when I completed them but, I have socks!

The second one came out slightly large than the other. (I’m apparently starting to relax out of the beginning knitter’s propensity to knit tightly. Wish that hadn’t happened mid project, but that’s ok.) I also need to find a better explanation of kitchener stitch. Both of my sock books demonstrate it on two colored threads instead of still on the needles, and it just seems like a waste of time to use some waste thread when both books also say you should do it on the needles. So I’ve bookmarked a couple of online demos for future reference.

Since I finished those (and because I don’t currently have the needles to do any of the other projects that interest me, and will have no opportunity to buy them for at least a week and a half), I cast on the socks for my sister. I really love the colors of this yarn. I’m hoping I have as much left over as I did with my socks so I can figure out something to make for myself so I can still look at it.

I had really wanted to play around with one of my landscape quilt ideas today, but between the demands of family togetherness, and the rest of the holiday cooking I need to do, I’m not sure that will happen. I’ve optimistically put the stack of fabric on the dining room table (aka my work table), so we’ll see if I can make that go anywhere. This is the one thing I hate about taking vacation when my whole family is around. I love them dearly, but it’s my vacation, and I want some downtime for me. I don’t think I’m unreasonable for wanting that, but I’m also the only introvert in a family of extroverts. Oh well.

Fluke: Christopher Moore

006056668x-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_I do enjoy Christopher Moore’s books. He comes up with the most random assemblage of characters and somehow manages to weave them into a cohesive story that actually makes whatever crack-brained idea he’s dealing with in the current book work.

This book is about whales. He captured a pretty decent picture of the whale scene in Hawaii. From reading one of his afterwards, he apparently did about two years of research for this book, though he skirted much of the actual science he learned for the sake of the story. I definitely respect someone that does that amount of research for a speculative fiction book, since you know they often barely use any of it when all is said and done.

I will say, the eventual conclusion of this story was not at all what I was expecting. His explanation of whale sound, and all of the other interesting things that we’ve been trying to figure out for years about whales was certainly inventive.

Weekend Notes so far

I have one and 2/3rds pair of socks! Which leads into the fact that my Nanowrimo novel is pretty much dead in the water. I decided to start with this story idea because I’d finally refined it to the point where I figured it was focused enough to pound out. Turns out I’ve focused it too much. I need a couple of side stories, and I need some time to let that idea percolate in my brain. I’ll still try to write on it, but I know there’s pretty much no way I’m going to get to 50k words this November. Oh well.

I’m finally to the point in my reading where I was ready to head to the library again. I was smart this time, and picked two books for the Armchair Traveler’s Reading Challenge, so if I hate one of them again I’ll have immediate backup. I also picked up some fun fiction (in my books in progress list, since I tend to read those right after another due to the library’s oppressive only one renewal policy).

I have all of next week off, but that’s because my sister is coming in from CA, and my older brother is coming in from MI. I really need to get some garden clean up done, and I have to go to the dentist on Monday, but other than that, I have no idea what I’ll actually be getting accomplished this week.