Dead and Gone – Charlaine Harris

I think the Sookie books are getting a little long in the tooth.   (Though not as bad as the tv show, which I stopped watching a couple of seasons ago.)    In this book, Sookie’s great-grandfather, the fairy prince, comes to warn her that there’s war in the fairy realms, between his faction, which likes humans, and being connected to the human world, and another faction, which wants to close the fairy realm off from the contamination of the human realm.     And people get hurt.    Blah, blah, blah.

Oh, and the werewolves revealed themselves to regular people, which probably should have been the focus of the story, and ended up being the back seat.    I don’t know – I just felt like there wasn’t much substance to this book.    It went somewhere, but I don’t feel like that was particularly memorable.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: The Proverbial Cap by Meg Swansen
Yarn: Naturally dyed wool from somewhere in the Michigan UP
Needles: Size 6 circs and DPNs

So, if you first don’t succeed in making a hat for your brother, you make a hat for his partner instead!    This is for S, and fortunately, this time around, I had plenty of yarn for it.    The pattern is really interesting.    The cables are fun.    About the only place it got tricky was the decreases.    They aren’t hard per say, but this is definitely a pattern that has some expectations that you know what you’re doing, so I had to puzzle through things a bit before I got it.

I enjoyed this yarn.   It has a drier feel than the other skein they gave me, but is still lovely to work with.

So, with that done, I’m on to try number two for a hat for my brother.    Since I already made the other brother a Quest Hat, I figured I’d make a go of it for C as well.    Here’s hoping the yarn holds up!

One Corpse Too Many – Ellis Peters

Read for the RIP VIII Reading Challenge.

Having recently read the two Gareth and Gwen books, which were pretty much modern procedurals put into a medieval Welsh setting, reading this Brother Cadfael book was an interesting contrast, and a good reminder of what a great writer Ellis Peters is.

This book is set within the very real events that happened during the fight for who would succeed King Henry I in England.    Henry’s nephew, Stephen, has come to Shrewsbury Castle, where they are loyal to his cousin, Empress Maud (Henry’s daughter).   The castle falls, and as an example, Stephen has everyone that held it executed.    Brother Cadfael and the other brothers at the Abbey are given the task of burying the dead, and Cadfael discovers an extra body amongst the soldiers.   It seems another man was murdered, and his killer hoped to use the executions to cover his deeds.

There’s other intrigue afoot – the daughter of the castle warden has disappeared, just as Cadfael is brought a boy from the town by his aunt, hoping that the monks can shelter “him” from the fighting.     The whole town is unsure of what will happen as Stephen consolidates his power, and many men have come to take the lay of the land, and see who they should pledge their loyalty to.

This book has such a great authentic feel to it – you really feel immersed in this world, and there are so many great characters with varying stories that show how much this civil war is effecting the citizens of England.     It’s such an interesting story – both the little stories, and the greater story of Stephen and Maud.    I’m really enjoying these books.

Blood Bound – Patricia Briggs

Read for the RIP VIII Reading Challenge.

Mercy Thompson owes a few people some favors.    Since she can turn into a coyote whenever she likes, her vampire friend Stefan asks her to go along when he needs to deliver a message to another one of his kind.    Unfortunately, it turns out that this vampire has a demon riding him, and Mercy’s life is about to get very complicated.

The first thing I need to note about this book is how much the cover irritates me.   (I’ve covered how the covers kept me from reading this series for a while in my review of the first book.)     Mercy’s a mechanic.    At no point does it mention that she prefers to work with her coveralls unbuttoned to the naval so that everyone can see her bra.    I get that this book nominally falls in to the paranormal romance category (if Mercy could get around to making up her mind), but really?    Do we need to keep doing this to covers on these books?

But, cover whining aside, I am enjoying this series.   It definitely skews dark (Mercy goes through a lot tracking down this demon), but I really like that Mercy is in the thick of things, dealing with crap, and doing so in a fairly human way, not withstanding that she’s a shape-shifter.

Paris, Day 16

I need to add a postscript to my trip report.     Our last day was really all about getting to the airport.    Which we did on the RER train, and which afforded us our last great authentic Parisian experience.

Now, I had read up a lot about the petty theft problem in Paris.    I was well versed in the Petition Girls, the Ring Scam, and how to avoid pick pockets.     Since we took the train in and arrived in Gare du Nord, I had made plans to get us the hell out of there as soon as possible to avoid said pick pockets (Gare de Nord is one of the hot spots for them).

So, because I was so well prepared, we didn’t run into anything.   Until we were on the train out of town.     We had boarded on the far side of the line from the airport, so had seats, which ended up having a prime view of the door, and as the train stopped at Gare du Nord, two men pulled the classic one man pretends to trip, blocking the victim so the other guy behind can rifle his pockets scam.     The intended victim was a man from China, who was there for a conference with several coworkers, including an Aussie, who had apparently never been to Paris before, because Chinese guy preceded to give him a rather hilarious break down of what had just gone on (apparently, it’s happened before, so he never keeps anything in his pockets – which really should be rule number one in Paris).     There was also a running commentary to his other two companions, in Chinese, which I really wish I could have understood, because it was apparently hilarious.

So I did manage to get that final, apparently quintessential Paris experience, and better yet, it didn’t happen to me.

Versailles, Day 15: Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet







So by the time of Louis XIV, Versailles was becoming a bit much for the king and his family, so he had a smaller palace built on the outskirts of Versailles, and the Trianons were born.     They’re really quite lovely, and way more opulent than a summer house should be.

The thing about the Trianons is this is where the endurance section of visiting Versailles comes in.    They’re about a half hour walk from the Palace (though there is a shuttle bus).     And once you get there, there’s so much more to see around the Grand Trianon and the Petite Trianon.     We were dead tired by the time we got home, and I felt like we barely scratched the surface of the Trianons.

My favorite place was Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet.    She had it built so she could escape palace life (which she apparently hated) to something simpler.   If simpler involves having your morning milk served to you on a marble table.   I do feel sorry for her.    She thought that this perfect little life was what happened out in the countryside, but it was instead conditions that started the French Revolution, and ultimately cost her her life.  But I swear, it’s really a lovely place to visit, not depressing at all!