Etiquette and Espionage – Gail Carriger

This series is set about twenty five years before Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate books, with the same zany steampunk atmosphere and sense of fun.

In this case, it’s set at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.   Sophronia is sent there when her mother despairs of ever turning her into a lady.     Problem is, Sophronia would much rather be tearing around the stables, deconstructing the dumbwaiter, or generally figuring out what’s going on.

Sophronia is horrified by the idea until she gets to school – it turns out they’re teaching spying, assassination, and other generally unladylike things (in addition to all the arts necessary to fit into polite society).

Sophronia has soon made some friends, some enemies, and found herself in the middle of a plot of find a mysterious missing prototype.      It’s all good fun, as I expect Carriger’s books to be.    (I think I may actually like these books better than the Parasol Protectorate.    The school setting is a hoot.)

Knitting Notes

Another cool thing about the new camera?    I can take evening shots, and reasonably expect the picture to come out in a usable format.

I actually finished this about two weeks ago, but had been hoping to block it before I wrote about it.    That hasn’t happened yet, so since it’s the last day of July, I figured I better get a note up before I miss the month.

This is the Arianrhod shawl for my sister, started in March.     I’m really looking forward to blocking it so I can see what it really looks like.

Cockpit Confidential – Patrick Smith

I used to read the Ask the Pilot column on Salon, so when this book came up on the Kindle Daily Deal list, I jumped on it.    I’d always enjoyed the author’s columns, so figured I’d enjoy this too.

It’s basically a primer in all things commercial aviation – from how pilots train, to a rundown of common procedures during flights, and even a discussion of air disasters.

Interesting stuff if you’re curious about how your flight’s really working behind the scenes.   I suspect it’s old news to anyone with any familiarity with the industry, though.

Moon Flash – Patricia A. McKillip

I thought McKillip only had one scifi book – but it’s actually three.    Moon Flash (and its sequel, which I have not yet read) could be mistaken for fantasy at the beginning, but turn out to be scifi as the story moves along.

Kyreol is the daughter of the village Healer, in a simple land ruled by the River.      At the end of the River is the Face, and the Moon Flash happens there once a month, governing all that the River people do.

Kyreol’s mother disappeared long ago, but she and her father do not believe her dead.    When Kyreol is betrothed and moves to her bethrothed’s house, she’s suddenly seized b y the urge to follow in her mother’s footsteps, to see what lies beyond the end of the river.

What she finds is that the river doesn’t end, only flows through many other lands, and at the end, she may just find her mother.    (That’s where I’ll stop – half the fun of this book is trying to figure out exactly what really is going on – the author holds that very close, throughout the course of the story.)

Garden Notes

So remember how I snapped off about half of one of my tomato plants while I was getting the cages on, and really wasn’t sure if it would pull though?

Well, it’s now the heartier of the two plants, both of which had to go to tier two of the tomato cages today.     I also bit the bullet and got the steel fence posts in while I was at it.

I don’t know what kind of crack that particular farm feeds these seedlings, but they’ve got me as a customer for life because of it.

Fort Williams – Cape Elizabeth, Maine










More fun with the new camera – combo of macro, zoom, and playing with the ISO/aperture.   (This was after work, so the sun was starting to head down in the sky, and the light was definitely different.)

What I love about this camera is I have two custom setting available on the setting dial, so I can set one for the macro, and have it go right back to non-zoomed, already set for macro with regular ISO/aperture etc, with just a twitch of the dial.

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

I’ve been sitting on this book for a  while – my only other experience with this author was the movie version of The Remains of the Day, which I loathed.    (I think that was a case of seeing something with the wrong expectations or in the wrong mood – it’s been long enough I can’t remember exactly.)      Still, I was really intrigued by the premise of the book, so finally made myself take it off the shelf.     I am really glad I did, it’s wonderfully written, and treats what could be a very depressing story with a light, thoughtful hand.

The basic premise is that a woman named Kathy is looking back on her life growing up in what first comes across as an English boarding school.      But as she goes into more detail (or if you’ve heard enough about the book beforehand), you know there’s something special about this place.     What first comes across as a bunch of orphans in a home are actually clones, bred to provide organ donations, and Hailsham is one of the places where they’re brought up.

You can tell that there’s something special about Hailsham – Kathy gives you enough clues up front so you realize all clones aren’t brought up this way.      Hailsham seems to be an experiment to raise the clones as whole people.

So what you get is a meditation on growing up, and finding your place in this world, despite the fact that Kath and her friends have a pre-ordained place.    It’s just a really lovely story – makes you think a lot about growing up, and becoming the people that we are as adults.

I probably won’t see the movie on this – I think the interior mediation you get from the book was far more meaningful to me.

Calling on Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede

I have to admit, I’m a little sad I only have one book left in this series.   I know I can count on these books when I want to be amused and entertained.

The Wizards are up to their old tricks with the Enchanted Forest, and since Queen Cimorene is pregnant, everyone else is trying to make sure she doesn’t overdo it.     So the witch Morwen and the Sorcerer Telemain are more or less in charge in this book, with Kazul, Mendanbar and Cimorene there to help.

What I enjoyed most in this book are Morwen’s cats.    Now, they’re not proper witches’ cats, as there’s more than one of them, and none of them are black.     What they are is a raft of sarcastic siblings, and I love them.       Morwen’s the only one that can actually understand them, so their asides about the other characters are wonderful.      Honestly, the cats make the book.    I don’t even care what happened so much, because I was getting a kick out of the cats.