Slam – Nick Hornby

715802d6d72307f597759415551434f414f4141Read for the 2009 YA Reading Challenge.

Sixteen-year-old Sam’s life is going pretty well. School’s not bad, he’s actually starting to think about what he might want to do with his life, and he’s dating Alicia, a really cool and pretty girl who he wouldn’t have thought he had a chance with. And then she gets pregnant, and she wants to keep the baby.

What follows is Sam’s journey to fatherhood. It’s a great little story, with genuine emotion: there’s plenty of denial before Sam is able to step up to plate and take responsibility for his actions. There’s a bit too much skateboarding for my tastes, but it makes Sam a more believable character. He’s a very real teenager, and his journey makes a good story.

This is actually my first Nick Hornby read, though I’m well familiar with the movie versions of a number of his other books. If he’s this good at capturing the voice of his main characters, I’m looking forward to reading his adult fiction.


Hanging Out with the Dream King – Joseph McCabe

Read for the Dream King Reading Challenge.

This book would be an interesting read for anyone that wants a peek instead of Neil Gaiman’s creative process. It features interviews with 27 of his collaborators: editors, artists, inkers and other authors. (It was published in 2004, so you’d need to take that into account for any expectations of who will be in the book.)

The interviews are an incredibly interesting mix of experiences working with Gaiman, though there’s naturally a heavy leaning towards people that worked on Sandman. In fact, I now feel like going back and reading through the entire run of Sandman again. It’s been a while since my first (and so far only) read through, and there was so much mentioned in the interviews that I didn’t remember, or remembered, but feel like I need to go back and read again.

I’d definitely recommend this book to any Gaiman fan. You’ll get some insight into his mind, his creative process, and the creative process for a number of other talented artists. Definitely a fascinating read.

Knitting Notes

This was meant to be a post about two new projects, but only one that I cast on this weekend decided to stick. I’d cast on some socks for either my father or C’s Christmas present (fortunately, they’re the same shoe size, so I can decide after I’ve made them who gets what), using some yarn I had in my stash, but I found I didn’t like the color (too girly). So I’m a Knitpicks order away from starting their gifts.

I also cast on a Haruha scarf, using my much abused Malabrigo Solis sock yarn. I suspect I’m going to be doing a fair amount of cheating and knotting between the desperate mini-skeins, but that there are two in the little bit I’ve done above, and the knots seem to be hideable, so I think it’ll end up being alright. We’ll see. Should be interesting, if nothing else.

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

It’s time to wrap up the RIP IV challenge for the year. I decided to do Peril the First, which was to read at least four books in the challenge genres. I hit four pretty quickly, so figured I’d see how many more I could read before the end of the challenge. I’ve now cleaned out what I have available in my house, and my Paperspine queue has decided not to cooperate and send me anything else challenge related in time for me to read it, so I’m wrapping up today. As always, it was great fun, and I’m already looking forward to what I’ll be reading next year.

This year, I read the following:

Dead as a Doornail – Charlaine Harris

138bea46ec0c5e3597a594a5641434f414f4141Read for the RIP IV and Vampire Reading Challenges.

This is the fifth book of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and it’s quite as enjoyable as the ones that have gone before.

One thing I’ve grown to appreciate about these books is Charlaine Harris’ ability to weave together at least three separate plot lines that by the end of the book may or may not be actually related. It’s always a fun ride to see where things are going to go.

In this book, Sookie’s brother Jason has become a were-Panther (but only in the half-man, half-panther sense, since he was bitten, not born that way), just in time for someone to start shooting and occasionally killing the local shapeshifters. Sam’s shot, though not killed, but out of commission enough that he pulls in a favor from Eric and borrows a vampire to serve as temporary bartender at Merlotte’s while he’s healing. The substitute vampire is a pirate, and ends up staying with Sookie, when someone sets fire to her house. And finally, the werewolf pack leader of Shreveport has died, and as a friend of the pack, Sookie is witness to the contests to pick a new pack leader. Seem convoluted enough yet? There’s actually more, but those are the highlights. And it all works.

What I also appreciate about these books is they’re all a light read. I started this one last night, and had to go to bed with only two chapters left, only because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. There are way too many vampire themed novels (not that this series hasn’t started to branch outside the vampire genre) that take themselves way too seriously, but you’d never be able to accuse these books of that. I love these stories because Sookie is a real person (who happens to be a telepath), dealing with her imperfect love life (sure, all her exes happen to be supes), and her crazy neighbors (ok, so many of them are also supes). These books have a really refreshing air of realness around them, even amongst the supernatural mayhem. They’re just great fun.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Traveling Woman Shawl by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Claudia’s Handpainted 55 Fingering Silk, in the Marooned colorway
Needles: size 6

When I cast this little shawl on on Sunday, I certainly didn’t think I’d be done with it in under a week. Granted, I did have the week off, but I didn’t work on it every much outside of my normal goofing off hours. It’s just a lovely, simple pattern – a complete joy to work through. I would not be surprised if this isn’t the last of these that I make.

I enjoyed working with the silk yarn, but I don’t think I’ll necessarily be in a hurry to buy more of it. I think I actually prefer something with a slightly lower silk content (the Schaefer Heather I made a scarf with earlier in the year springs to mind). I enjoy working more with wool, but like some silk to take the edge off of the wool. So I’ll definitely keep that in mind for future purchases.

Blood Pact – Tanya Huff

Read for the RIP IV and Vampire Reading Challenges.

This book is best summed up as: Henry and Mike fight over Vicki, now with the undead!

Undead joking aside, this book was clearly the source material whenever anyone on the TV show needed to deal with Henry and Mike’s prickly relationship, and it’s great fun.

Vicki’s mother has passed away, and the boys have to set aside their mutual distaste to be supportive during this difficult time. It doesn’t help that Vicki’s mother knew she was dying, and never told Vicki. Things ramp into high gear at the funeral, when it’s discovered that her mother’s body is missing.

The books of this series unfold with parallel stories of team Vicki and the bad guy de jour, so the reader always knows what’s going on, even if Team Vicki hasn’t figured it out yet. What makes this book great is that the bad guy isn’t a demon or a mummy, or any of the other supernatural bad guys available in this world. Instead, it’s a group of university researchers that have figured out how to reanimate dead flesh, and are going a little bit too far in the pursuit of scientific inquiry. Catherine, the slightly off balance grad student that discovered the means of reanimating the dead, is a beautifully drawn character, and the most fun of that bunch.

However, the bad guys are really the side story here. This book is about Vicki, and her inability to choose between Mike Cellucci and Henry Fitzroy. I dare say that she would never have been able to choose between the two of them, until circumstances forced a choice. And I definitely didn’t see those circumstances coming at the end of this book. I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens next, and knocked the next book in the series up to the front of my Paperspine queue in record time. It’s definitely the relationships between the main characters that make this series, and things on that front are really getting good!

Fall At Mackworth Island

Somewhat to my chagrin, I finally made it out to Mackworth Island, for the first time this year. I’ve therefore missed the flowers and the warm breezes, but it’s still lovely out there in the Fall, and today was an extremely lovely day.

I should preface my remarks about the above pictures by mentioning how few trees comparatively have actually turned over to fall colors. There are spots of amazing color here and there, wherever you go, but there’s also still a good deal of green. Most of the pictures above are of the beach roses. Who knew they’d have the best foliage colors on the island?

Really Old Classics Challenge 11/1/2009 – 2/28/2010

This reading challenge immediately caught my eye. I have a number of classics in my reading queue, and it seemed like the perfect excuse to dust off that portion of my virtual TBR pile. The challenge is to read just one book. (There’s a higher level to read four books, but I tend to read classics slowly, so I won’t be going that route.) There’s also an extra credit to read a retelling of a classic story. That idea intrigues me, so if I find any interesting books in that vein, I’ll do the extra credit portion of the challenge.

The following are the books I have in my Paperspine queue that would fit the challenge. We’ll see which one of them shows up first:

Ecclesiastical History of the English People
The Decameron
The Journey Through Wales
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
The Heptameron
Troilus and Criseyde
Orkneyigna Saga
History of the Britons

Knitting Notes

I think I only lasted a grand total of 24 hours on the enjoying having only finished projects thing. Yesterday evening was cold and rainy/snowy, and my hands were itching for some more knitting. So I cast on a Traveling Woman shawl with the Claudia’s Hand Painted Silk yarn I bought last time I was up in Manchester, VT. It’s going pretty fast through the increases right now.

I’m enjoying working with the yarn, but I can already tell I probably prefer working with a yarn with slightly less silk content. It feels beautiful, but is just a bit too slippery and splitty for my tastes. But I can also tell it’s going to make a beautiful finished product.