Acadia in Fog

We had a friend visiting us from England this past week, and decided that since we had a few days off, we’d bring her up to Acadia National Park and show her the sights. Day 1 of our trip ended up being very fogged in on the island, but it had a definite quiet beauty to it, muffled as everything was.

We ended up walking all the way around Jordan Pond, which is where the first three pictures are from. Picture 4 is near Thunder Hole, and the last picture is from Sand Beach.


Mister Monday – Garth Nix

Read for the 2009 YA Reading Challenge.

Arthur Penhaligon is a normal boy who was never meant to be a hero. In fact, he should have died, except his life was saved by the sudden arrival a key that’s shaped like the minute hand of a clock.

Arthur discovers that this key belongs to Mister Monday, a stranger with a number of nasty minions that try to take the key back from Arthur, and in the process, bring a plague of sleepiness to his town.

To try and save his town from the plague, Arthur goes to a strange house that has appeared there, a house only he seems to be able to see. He quickly discovers that this house is much more than it appears, and contains not only the cure to the town’s plague, but many, many more secrets.

This is the first book of the Keys to the Kingdom series, and is a great opening to the world of the House. I’m very much looking forward to reading more. This book definitely skews younger than my favorite Garth Nix books (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen), but like those books, introduces an interesting world (which in this case intersects with our own) with a unique system of magic. I’m quite sure I’ll enjoy these books as much as I’ve enjoyed the rest of Nix’s work.

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter

6e50bcefeec371a59374f755351434f414f4141Read for the RIP IV Reading Challenge.

There’s a surprising amount of variety in this slim book of short stories – all of which are retellings of fairy tales, with a modern, adult twist.

The title story is a retelling of the story of Bluebeard, this time set on the coast of Brittany, as a young piano player from the turn of last century comes to live in the castle of her much older, new husband.

I also enjoyed “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon”, one of two Beauty and the Beast retellings in the book. This one involves a father with a broken down motorcar, who happens upon a country estate with a seemingly non-present owner. You can imagine the rest of the story, but the modern setting keeps it fresh.

There’s also Puss-in-Boots, Red Riding Hood, and stories of vampires and werewolves. It’s an interesting mix of stories, and they’re all refreshingly adult-paced. I also enjoyed the author’s descriptive style. “The Erl-King” is probably the best example of this. It’s almost less of a story then a descriptive piece of a brooding forest.

This is the first time I’ve encountered this author, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more of her work.

Night Shift – Lilith Saintcrow

Read for the RIP IV Reading Challenge.

Jill Kismet is a Hunter, trained to keep regular humans safe from Hellbreed. It’s not an easy job. Her teacher was recently killed, and she’s made a deal with one of the local hellbreed leaders that gives her great power, but may be her undoing. In the midst of this, a whole bunch of bodies start to turn up, and Jill’s in for quite the ride to figure out what’s going on.

This is a quick, serviceable, blood and guts urban fantasy story featuring plenty of demons, Weres, and a whole lot of blood. I was reasonably well sucked in by the story, and while there was some back story told in flashbacks, I really wish I’d had a better introduction into the world of this book. I never thought I’d feel like begging for more exposition, but I didn’t have a good feel for the ultimate motivations of the supernatural characters in this book, and it made it a little hard to get into at first. The personal relationships saved it by the end, but it was a close thing for a little while there. I’ll definitely continue the series to see where the personal relationships go, and hopefully I’ll enjoy the world while I’m there, but it definitely won’t be my primary motivation to seek out more books in this series.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: February Lady by Pamela Wynne
Yarn: Knightsbridge by The Fibre Company
Needles: Size 9 (and 11 for bind offs)

Not only have I finally finished a sweater in a season where I can wear it, but it’s the February Lady sweater, so I drank the koolaid by making it. That being said, I totally understand the koolaid. It’s an easy pattern, and looks good when it’s done. I’d definitely consider making it again, if I didn’t have 5000 other sweater patterns in my queue.

I loved working with the Fibre Company Knightsbridge yarn. It’s so incredibly soft, and I like the flecks of color (though this yarn is so dark it’s hard to see them). I’m trying to figure out if it’s still an active yarn, because I’m definitely buying more if I can find it.

I also finished sock #1 of the Rivergrass socks. If we weren’t having out of town company next week, I’m on enough of a roll that I might have been able to finish the pair by the end of the month. I do have the rest of this week, and a partial week once the company’s gone, so I suppose it’s possible, but we’ll see.

The Privilege of the Sword – Ellen Kushner

The Privilege of the Sword is the story of Lady Katherine Samantha Campion Talbert, who is shipped off to live with her uncle, the mad Duke of Tremontaine. He wants to make Katherine into a swordsman. He’ll also pay off all her family’s debts in the process, so Katherine dutifully goes to the city, and finds herself in the midst of the duke’s crazy household.

This a great story, with plenty of humor. Katherine is initially unhappy with the idea of being a swordsman, but as she trains, the lifestyle grows on her. She also meets a number of interesting people along the way.

The story is billed as high fantasy, and it is a great, swashbuckling adventure in a fictional land, but there’s no magic, only lots and lots of intrigue. The story is technically a sequel to the earlier story of Katherine’s uncle (something I didn’t know until I actually had my hands on the book), but I get the feeling you don’t need to know too much of that story to enjoy this one.

Crescent Beach

I went to the Beach today. (As point of reference, my beach with a capitol B is Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, which is, and always will be the epitome of beachiness to me.)

This is normally not a statement of much import, but the last time I was at the Beach was a blustery day in April, when the gates had not yet opened for the season, and I had to hike in over what was in some places a completely snow-covered access road.

In large part because of the June and July that gave us the wettest summer on record, I didn’t make it back to the beach until today. Today, the meadow was dominated by goldenrod and asters. There was a crispness to the air and certain tinge of blue to the sky that you never have in the summer. I know that summer doesn’t end until later in the month, but the seasons have turned, and this can lead me to only one conclusion.

I missed Summer.

There were other beaches, and lovely summer days I spent here in other parts of Maine, but in missing summer on my Beach, I missed something fundamental to that season. I’ve never denied that I love Fall far more than summer, but there are parts of summer I love dearly, like the monarch butterflies feeding on blooming milk weed, and the beach roses fully in bloom. I hadn’t realized the full impact the never ending rain of June and July had, until today. It was definitely a bittersweet visit to the Beach.

Patricia A. McKillip Reading Challenge 1/1/09-12/31/09

I thought I finished the Patricia A. McKillip Challenge yesterday with the completion of a fourth book, but after rereading the challenge rules, I realized I actually finished it back in August, with book three. However, in hindsight, I’m almost positive I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld before, so book four makes up for that potential reread.

I read the following for this challenge:

I still have two of her books (the sequels to The Riddle-Master of Hed) in my to read pile, and a number more of her books in my Paperspine queue. Over the course of this challenge, she became one of my favorite authors, and I definitely plan on reading more of her books whenever I find them.

Something Rich and Strange – Patricia A. McKillip

a33c2949af575f6596862466567434f414f4141Read for the RIP IV and Patricia A. McKillip Challenges.

“She opened her drawing pad and sat there, drawing the stairs she remembered from her dream. They began in the tide, each ebbing wave revealing another step, and then another. As she drew, the mists overhead blew inland and sunlight streaked the water. She made the steps out of pearls and kelp leaf, coral, scallop shells, the first step visible where the first wave broke, and the others sloping down, while the waves scrolled above them. As they descended into deep water, she drew kelp forests and seals and perch, sharks, the great winged rays, the whales that swam along her path. On the top step, she drew the sea hare.

She looked up then, and saw the light glistening, breaking, glistening on something that the waves, stroke by stroke, were excavating like a lost city from the sand. She dropped paper and pen and ran, leaping off the rocks into the shallow surf, splashing through tide, deeper and deeper until she reached the first white step.”

Megan and Jonah live together by the sea. He runs a shop and finds fossils at the seashore, and she draws seascapes that he sells in his shop. On the day that Megan meets a man named Adam, who brings the most beautiful jewelry to the shop that they have ever seen, Jonah hears the song of a strange women and is entranced by it. These two strangers are more than they appear, and before long, Jonah is trapped beneath the sea by a mermaid’s song, and Megan must rescue him.

This is the first McKillip book I’ve read that’s set in the present day. While the language is as beautiful as I expect from any McKillip book, the story over all came across as unexpectedly preachy. Understand, I love the ocean. I’ve lived by it all my life (though by the Atlantic, and she clearly describes the Pacific), and I worry about what we humans are doing to the ocean. This book ended up as a demand to work to fix what humans have done to the ocean, and while I’m completely sympathetic to that idea, there was something about that ending that just didn’t jive with me, and I’m surprised by that. It’s still a lovely book, but as a Patricia McKillip fan, there’s something missing that I expect to find from her, and that ultimately lessened my enjoyment of the book. I’d still recommend it, but with strange reservations.

TBR Lite 2009 Reading Challenge 1/1/09-12/31/09

I’ve finished the first of my year long reading challenges!

I definitely preferred the TBR Lite format to the full TBR treatment I did last year. You wouldn’t think reading 12 books I’d been meaning to read anyway would be stressful, but setting a list at the beginning of the year turned out to be a little more difficult than I’d anticipated. So this year, I did option B of the Lite challenge, which allowed me to read any six books I wished, as long as I’d wanted to read them for at least three months. I liked the flexibility enough I was able to finish in September, instead of holding on until the bitter end of December.

I read: