Dead to the World – Charlaine Harris

77f17080a198e92597763375577434f414f4141Read for the Vampire Reading Challenge.

The fourth installment of the Sookie Stackhouse novels has Sookie involved in a war between the vampires of Shreveport, and a coven of witches (who also happen to be Weres) that move in and try to take over the vampire’s territory. The vampire’s leader, Eric, has lost his memory because of the witches, and it’s up to Sookie to keep him safe, all while she’s also looking for her brother Jason, who’s managed to go missing.

Having now seen nearly all of two seasons of the tv show based from these books, and now being four books into the series, I can’t help but compare the world of the show to the world of the books when I read. I read the third and fourth book after having seen at least part of the show, and with both books, I’ve been surprised by how quickly the action goes by. There’s nothing like seeing how a writing staff fleshes out a story to make it into a full television season to contrast the pacing style.

It’s also strange seeing the character development, as the tv show has now gone enough off story that it’s hard to see how it could follow the path of the novels. I’m admittedly a couple of episodes behind in season two, so I’m not sure how it’ll end, but Sookie and Bill’s relationship in the show does not seem to lend itself to the progression of events that lead to Dead to the World.

Turning back to the book, I enjoy the portrayal of the Weres and shifters in the story. Their society is well fleshed out, and it’s fun to see the differences between an outed supernatural society (the vampires), and one that is still trying to maintain the secrecy of its existence. The witches in the story seemed a bit of a throwaway device, but I’m their presence will be expanding on later, because some of the basic things they did have interesting possibilities.

All in all, this was a good, quick read, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.


R.I.P IV Reading Challenge 9/1/09 – 10/31/09

I know time is flying when it’s already time to start the R.I.P. IV Reading Challenge.

This year, I’ll be doing Peril the 1st, which is to read at least four books in the mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror, or supernatural categories.

So far, I’ve got the following queued up or in my TBR pile, but we’ll see where I actually go with this.

Blood Pact – Tanya Huff
Tamsin – Peter Beagle
Something Rich and Strange – Patricia A. McKillip
The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
The Secret History of Moscow – Ekaterina Sedia
Fevre Dream – George RR Martin

Elvenblood – Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey

Elvenblood is the sequel to the Elvenbane, and I went into this read thinking it was a reread, but as I read along, I found I really didn’t remember where the story the story was going, so I think this was the first the time I read this book.

After rereading Elvenbane earlier this year, I was a little disappointed with what I remembered as a better story. After reading Elvenblood, my respect for Elvenbane has gone back up a notch. Elvenbane had a grander scope, with hints of lost civilizations and secret weapons that could help the humans regain what was gone. Elvenblood features many of the same interesting characters we met in the first book, and even adds a few more, but the epic scope is gone. They do meet a lost tribe of free humans, which is a fairly interesting storyline, but the essential conflict of this story is entirely too pat, and happens way too quickly. I didn’t hate this book, but I was left with a vaguely disappointed feeling when I was done.

There is another book in the series (Elvenborn), which I’ll have to get ahold of. Here’s hoping that the last book can recapture the epic scope and bring a satisfactory ending to the story.

Knitting Notes

I actually cast on this Asherton Scarf a couple of weekends ago, but due to the heat wave, haven’t worked on it very much until recently. I’m using some kettled dyed Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, which I initially feared would be a bit too rough, but now that I’m a ways into things, it feels like it’ll do quite nicely. I’m getting a much more panelly look out of the pattern, which has something to do with the rows that are knit or purled almost the whole way across. They don’t look that way in other pictures of seen, but I’m following the pattern, and that’s what I’m getting. It’s certainly not bad looking, so I’ve kept it up, but I’d really like to know what I’m doing wrong.

I’m doing this scarf for the Red Scarf Project. I’m getting to the point where I have more interest in trying new things than people to give the finished results to, and I decided some charity knitting was the next logical step. I am enjoying doing this scarf for someone that won’t be expecting it, and will hopefully really appreciate receiving it.

Frenchman Bay, Maine

Last weekend (aka the beginning of the heat wave that stole my desire to use my brain, much less go anywhere near a computer), we headed up to Ellsworth to visit my father. The highlight of the trip was a boat ride across Frenchman Bay to Bar Harbor for dinner. It was absolutely gorgeous out on the water, and we saw a number of sea birds, and either a dolphin or a porpoise (we saw plenty of fin, but no head). It’s a much faster, pretty pleasant way to get onto Mount Desert Island.

We had dinner at Cafe This Way. I highly recommend the Littlebit appetizer (which we plan on replicating), and their fish and chips was amazing. The BF, my father and I all ended up ordering that, because it just looked so good. C got the pecan crusted halibut, which was one of the most enormous pieces of fish I’ve seen in a while. The restaurant itself is just a great setting. They have several huge doors they can open on the front end of the building, and they’re tucked in a little cul de sac, so despite the heat everywhere else, it was quite lovely and breezy there.

We rounded out the trip the next morning with a game of golf croquet at the regulation croquet court near my father’s house. C and the BF won, but Dad and I didn’t do too badly. I actually managed a wicket by myself.

And finally, for the first time I can remember, I came out of the Big Chicken Barn with less than half a dozen books. Three still seems like a pretty respectable number (and really, it’s not like I need to add to the pile on my bureau), but it was vaguely disappointing to not find very much. It did look like they had quite a bit of new stock in their prep area, so I’m looking forward to my next trip. We have a friend coming over from England next month, and figured we’d be idiots not to bring her up the Island since it’ll be peak weather, and off peak tourist season. So I’ll be up there again before I know it.

Off the Tourist Trail – Eyewitness Travel

LibraryThing Early Reviewer Books

I have to admit that I requested this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s selection list because I saw the name Bill Bryson on the cover, and I’ve always enjoyed his books. I figured a new Bill Bryson book was worth checking out, and something about places off the regular tourist trail sounded interesting. Imagine my surprise when I received a rather large package that turned out to hold a coffee table sized book with only the forward by Bill Bryson. The rest of the book is chock full of pictures and suggestions for unusual places to see.

I was immediately intrigued by the structure of this book: identifying a popular tourist destination, pointing out its highlights and warts, and then giving a few other ideas of places to go that are similar to this famous location, but that you may never have heard of before.

There are sections for Ancient and Historical Sights, Festivals and Parties, Great Journeys, Architectural Marvels, Natural Wonders, Beaches, Sports and Activities, Art and Culture and Cities. Each chapter is filled with photos of the various destinations. (I’ll admit I wanted more photos of most of the locations, but this book is really more about whetting your appetite. I now have several ideas of places to seek out I hadn’t known about before.)

This book isn’t going to tell you where to stay, or where to eat, but it is going to give you some new ideas about interesting places to visit. And if you’re not into traveling, this is a great survey of some really interesting places thorough the world, a number of which I’d never heard of before.

I’m pretty sure I’ve found one of my go-to gifts for the impossible to buy for on my list. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t enjoy this book.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

Read for the Dream King Reading Challenge.

Coraline is the story of Coraline Jones, who discovers a secret door in her new home that leads to a mirror version of reality where her Other Mother is waiting to welcome her. Naturally, all is not as it appears, and the adventure begins.

I’m afraid that since I saw the movie version of this story before I was able to read the book, this review is going to be mostly about my impressions of the book versus the movie. I was actually surprised by how different they were. Coraline the movie took a tight story and expanded it into a visual masterpiece.

I have to characterize the book as a tight, creepy story. Once the action starts, Coraline is very quickly thrown out of her real world, and it’s entirely up to her to save the day. There aren’t as many characters in the book as in the movie, and many of those that are in both have far less action in the book. I’m very impressed by how the moviemakers were able to take these characters and expand them to fill up the screen. I won’t say I like the movie better than the book, because I think they’re atmospherically very different, and what’s in one should not be compared to the other. I’m more in awe of how different the two stories are, considering how much the same they are as well. I know this sounds strange, but I’m having a very hard time trying to put my impressions of the two stories into words.

I think I’d have to recommend reading the book before seeing the movie. I’m a little sorry I already have a mental picture of Coraline’s world in my head, because I suspect it would have been different if I’d read the book first. But regardless, this a great story that lead to a great movie, and I’m glad to have experienced both.

Winter Rose – Patricia A. McKillip

Read for the Patricia A. McKillip Reading Challenge.

“They said later that he rode into the village on a horse the color of buttermilk, but I saw him walk out of the wood.

I was kneeling at the well; I had just lifted water to my lips. The well was one of the wood’s secrets: a deep spring as clear as light, hidden under an overhang of dark stones down which the brier roses fall, white as snow, red as blood, all summer long. The vines hide the water unless you know to look. I found it one hot afternoon when I stopped to smell the roses. Beneath their sweet scent lay something shadowy, mysterious: the smell of earth, water, wet stone. I moved the cascading briers and looked down in to my own reflection.”

Thus begins Winter Rose, the lovely fairy tale story of sisters Rois and Laurel. Laurel is the practical one who manages their father’s house and is engaged to be married to her childhood sweetheart. Rois is the wild one, who takes after their long dead mother, and roams the forests around their home.

It’s Rois that first sees Corbet Lynn, last heir to a cursed line. Corbet has returned to his ancestral home to rebuild the family hall, and his return brings back the long dead gossip of his family’s past, when Corbet’s father killed his own father and then disappeared, followed by the curse that was his dying father’s last words.

Rois is fascinated by the curse, and in digging for more information, finds much more than she bargained for, and Corbet and Laurel’s lives will shortly hang in the balance. It’s up to Rois to save them, and discover secrets of her own past in the process.

This is a lovely book, and may just be my favorite McKillip book of all. The language is so beautiful, and the story, while it has echoes of Tam Lin, and of many other fairy tales, is unique, and stands alone. I enjoyed every word of it, and was sorry when it ended.

Pineland Farms, New Gloucester, Maine

Yesterday’s impromptu road trip was to Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. They have a lovely fenced in garden right on the main road, that you might not even know was there when you drive by. We had the place to ourselves while we were there. It’s a lovely little spot with a number of benches (and a great bench swing) in the shade.

I’ve decided this year is the year of the day lily. They’re seemingly everywhere, and so many different colors than they ever had before. I’m used to the tall orange day lilies growing wild on the roadsides out in the country, but there are tons of yellows, pinks and whites in so many gardens. I’d love to have some myself, but don’t really have the room to let them spread, and letting them spread is the fun of having day lilies.

1. cosmos 2. balloon flower 3. day lily 4. bachelors buttons 5. bachelors buttons 6. cosmos 7. day lily 8. day lily 9. cardinal flower 10. great lobelia. 11. black eyed susans 12 day lily


It occurred to me this morning that I’ve written next to nothing about my garden this year. That can be blamed solely on the craptacular weather we had for June and July this year. (August is for the moment finally behaving like real summer, but I keep expecting it to start raining excessively at any moment.)

I’ve barely touched anything since I did my yearly planting back in June. Everything got more than enough (really too much) water with no intervention on my part. I also fortunately put down plenty of mulch in June, so despite all the water (and probably in some cases because of it), the weeds have remained pretty well under control.

My side garden is doing pretty well. My basil was a failure, but the parsley and sage look great, and I’ve enjoyed not having to purchase a huge bunch of parsley when I only need a handful. The phlox and liatris are just coming into bloom, and the coreopsis is a gigantic ball of yellow goodness, like usual. I’ll probably need to divide some things, most notably the coreopsis, mini iris, and the Russian sage, but I’d like to find someone to take them first. I may put the word out on Freecycle and see what kind of contact I get.

I can happily report that the lilac has come back after my landlord’s depredations of last Fall. I need to find a way to get rid of the useless limb on the right (I don’t keep a tree sized saw around), and the poor thing has mildew, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot that doesn’t have mildew right now, so I don’t think that’s a bad thing. (I actually am not sure how my phlox doesn’t have mildew. They’re terribly prone to it, and there’s been so much water it really should have it. I didn’t think I’d gotten one of the mildew resistant cultivars, but I’m beginning to think I did.)

The back yarn pot garden looks pretty good when you step back. The impatiens and the lovely red flowering begonia I bought are doing well, and adding a lovely splash of color. The poor hostas, however, are riddled with slug holes. The coleus are also suffering from the slugs, and it was cool enough with all the rain that they’re about a third of the size they’d normally be by this time of year. Still, everything back there is healthy enough that it should come back next year and do fine. I just hope we get out of this pattern of wet Junes and Julys before too much longer. It’s thoroughly depressing, and it’s not like we can guarantee good weather into October to compensate for it.