I loved Craft Activism. For starters, the focus of this book is not necessarily on the crafts themselves but truly about the Community of crafting. Th...moreI loved Craft Activism. For starters, the focus of this book is not necessarily on the crafts themselves but truly about the Community of crafting. There are sections on crafting to send a message, honor the past, supporting causes, recycling/repurposing and build communities. In each section there are stories of artists on what they do, how they came to do it and why. Then there are projects that the reader can do. There is also a nice resource section.
I found the artists' stories to be very interesting and many of them were inspiring. I haven't done any of the craft projects myself... yet. I borrowed this from the library and will be purchasing a copy to own, and then I will be trying out some of the knitting projects. (I love the bicycle lane statement cardigan.)
I won Kathleen Ernst's The Heirloom Murders in a Goodreads giveaway. I had not read the first the book in the series, so all the characters were new t...moreI won Kathleen Ernst's The Heirloom Murders in a Goodreads giveaway. I had not read the first the book in the series, so all the characters were new to me, but that did not hinder my enjoyment a bit. I loved this. I loved the main characters -- I can't decide who I love more, Roelke or Chloe. I also enjoyed the backdrop of Old World Wisconsin and so much detail given to things like gardening and antiques. It was very interesting. The story was very full of intrigue and at times suspense. Not everything was obvious, which is a must for a great mystery. Needless to say, I'll be reading the rest of the series. I can't wait to go back and read the first.(less)
Knit, Swirl! is the book that inspired me to grab my needles after an almost decade hiatus from knitting. I can't remember how I stumbled upon Sandra...moreKnit, Swirl! is the book that inspired me to grab my needles after an almost decade hiatus from knitting. I can't remember how I stumbled upon Sandra McIver's book during my searching/browsing Amazon, but the gorgeous cover photo and promise of "Uniquely Flattering, One Piece, One Seam" required that I look inside. Once I did, I knew I had to buy it. When I received my copy I was not disappointed.
First, the book is beautiful. It's hardbound with gorgeous photographs of the stunning jackets worn by pretty women. It's a coffee table book that is almost too pretty to use -- almost.
The patterns themselves are a feat of engineering. They are knit in the round, partially bound off and then worked flat to create the arms then seamed. They are worked in decreasing welts in pattern stitches are simple enough that even beginners need not be intimidated. In fact, a swirl jacket makes a wonderful first foray into knitting wearables. The patterns are well-written with useful charts for the reader/knitter to understand the construction. Note: the first edition does have some errata, so be sure to check the website [...] for the corrections before you cast on. The author herself has been available to the Ravelry group of Knit, Swirl! Fans [...] to answer questions and offer advice on technique, gauge, yarn substitution and selection, etc.
So onto the swirl jackets. The book promises Uniquely Flattering, and what is most amazing is that this is true -- no matter your shape or size, these jackets look good on every body. There are guidelines given for which type of swirl works best for your particular shape (centered or off-centered circles or ovals) and the patterns vary in length, collar volume and yarn-weights, but generally can be worn by anyone. The web is full of stories about how the jackets have been tried on by women of all shapes and them looking great -- and photographic evidence can be found on blogs and on Ravelry. Some of the jackets even have the flexibility to be worn upside down (for a jacket worn shorter with a larger collar/cape/hood.)
I truly believe that Sandra McIver's book Knit, Swirl!: Uniquely Flattering, One Piece, One Seam Swirl Jackets is going to become a classic among knitters. A basic pattern premise that looks good on everyone? You betcha! Simple to knit? Yes! Oh, they are time-consuming projects (as are most knit sweaters and jackets) but overall simple. There are enough variations in shape and fabric that knitters will find themselves wanting (needing, lol) more than one. There are heavier warmer jackets and even jackets with sheer barely there striped panels. I am working on my first Swirl, but I already have several more that I plan to also knit. (less)
I won White Heat in a Goodreads giveaway. I must have entered because the description sounded intriguing, and I wasn't disappointed. White Heat is a m...moreI won White Heat in a Goodreads giveaway. I must have entered because the description sounded intriguing, and I wasn't disappointed. White Heat is a murder mystery set in the Arctic, with a compelling main character in Edie, an Inuit guide.
I really enjoyed White Heat. The writing was beautiful, but at the same time sparse in a way, which I felt suited the Arctic backdrop and the simple, traditional ways of the Inuit community. I know very little about this part of the world and its people, and found many of the details quite fascinating.
The plot was full of intrigue, action, and twists. There were several things revealed which I didn't see coming, and that makes for a good mystery in my opinion.
My favorite aspect of McGrath's book, however, its protagonist. Edie is a strong yet flawed woman, and I found her very refreshing. She's stubborn, smart, and determined. She's an alcoholic who struggles with sobriety and the politics of both the town and the family she abandoned. She can put people off or win them with her blunt honesty and charm. I hope the author will write more for this character.(less)
I won Jeanne Darst's Fiction Ruined My Family in a Goodreads giveaway. I mostly enjoyed Jeanne Darst's memoir, and I applaud her frankness and bravery...moreI won Jeanne Darst's Fiction Ruined My Family in a Goodreads giveaway. I mostly enjoyed Jeanne Darst's memoir, and I applaud her frankness and bravery in telling her story. Lucky for me, I can't imagine the difficulty of dealing with her parents and her unconventional upbringing. She relayed stories that were both entertaining and mortifying and owned her demons. I didn't always like *her*, but I don't think I would have rated this as high if she herself were more likable. (less)
I won Stephen Wetta's If Jack's In Love in a Goodreads giveaway. This is the coming of age story of Jack Witcher set in the South in the late 1960's....moreI won Stephen Wetta's If Jack's In Love in a Goodreads giveaway. This is the coming of age story of Jack Witcher set in the South in the late 1960's. He's twelve-turning-thirteen, and he's in love with Myra Joyner -- a situation complicated by his family's social standing and, later on, the possibility that his older brother Stan may have killed Myra's older brother.
Being a Witcher means being a social outcast. The Witcher house is in a nice neighborhood, but theirs is the run-down smaller one with junk in the yard. Jack's father is described as being of hillbilly upbringing, with an intermittent employment history and explosive temper. But he's able to charm women. Jack's mom is intelligent and was raised proper, but she's homely and -- even worse -- an atheist. Stan inherited his father's temper and way with women. In fact, Stan's having dated a higher class girl was the impetus for the Witcher-Joyner feud that is central to the events of this novel. With the entire neighborhood of proper families aghast at the idea of one of their own young women dating a Witcher, Gaylord Joyner successfully wooed her away from Stan. Their mutual hatred results in numerous confrontations.
While Jack is getting romantic advice from the middle-aged Jewish jeweler (pretty much his only friend) and embarking on his quest to get Myra to agree to be his girlfriend, the tension between Stan and Gaylord -- really with Stan and anyone in the neighborhood -- keeps rising. Then Gaylord goes missing.
If Jack's In Love is a masterfully written story of a young boy discovering first love and dealing with public scorn and his own suspicions about his father and brother. I loved the writing. I loved the characters and the portrayal of summer in the 60's South. I found the story compelling. I hope If Jack's In Love becomes the classic I feel it should be. I've already passed this to my teenage sons, hoping they will enjoy this as much as I did. (less)
Disclaimer: I have yet to try the Forty Beads method, so I can't comment on the efficacy of the method itself, but I do find myself intrigued and like...moreDisclaimer: I have yet to try the Forty Beads method, so I can't comment on the efficacy of the method itself, but I do find myself intrigued and like the book. The author's candor and humor made it very relatable and an enjoyable read. I appreciate the purpose of the method -- to remove some of the pressure to perform when both partners aren't in sync when it comes to being in the mood, and to inject some anticipation, fun and romance back into the relationship. I think the Forty Beads method is a way for both partners to get what they want out of the relationship and feel more connected.
This book makes me wish I had more time for knitting. Usually in knitting books I only find one or two patterns that I want to try to make, but there...moreThis book makes me wish I had more time for knitting. Usually in knitting books I only find one or two patterns that I want to try to make, but there were several in this volume -- probably the majority, in fact. Not only are the projects lightweight and perfect for warmer weather months, but the patterns seem simple enough even for non-advanced knitters. Though I personally find knitting wearables daunting, there are tshirts and lightweight sweaters that I definitely feel are within my abilities.
Projects I want to try most: Bardini (summer cloche) Anacapa (summery aran wrap) Bordeaux (lace shawl) Cinnamon Bay (beach bag blanket) Ludington (smocked tube top) Tofino (top-down shaped t-shirt) Puget Sound (drop-stitch sweater) Bridgetown (lace-paneled cardigan) Saint Augustine (tube-sleeved shrug) Vernazza (summer sleep set)
There are others that I like -- including the bikini (but I'd never actually wear the bikini, so it's not on my list.)(less)
**spoiler alert** I won Helen Schulman's This Beautiful Life in a Goodreads giveaway. I was already interested in reading this, forgetting that I had...more**spoiler alert** I won Helen Schulman's This Beautiful Life in a Goodreads giveaway. I was already interested in reading this, forgetting that I had entered, when I heard an interview with the author on NPR (perhaps Fresh Air? I forget.) I made a note to myself to put this on my to-read list when I arrived home, but when I did I found the package with the book already waiting for me. I'm still rating this a 4 (probably more a 3.5ish, but I'll tip it to 4) but I found it didn't quite meet my expectations.
I'll start with the good. I found the story very interesting, especially as the key event of the plot is something that can happen to any family, even more so now than a few years ago when the story takes place. I was definitely intrigued and couldn't put the book down. I also liked the writing, particularly the author's language and her presenting the chapters from the different characters' points of view.
I did say that This Beautiful Life fell short of my expectations, and the main reason is my dislike of some of the characters -- particularly Liz and Richard. I didn't feel as sorry for Liz and her situation as I think I was supposed to -- boohoo, you've found yourself with few responsibilities, many luxuries and many opportunities, poor Lizzie. She's displaced from her former life and she's lonely, but her biggest struggle is balancing her daughter's social calendar. I can't feel too sorry for her, and I guess in that way I am like Richard. But I also can't sympathize with Richard, who may be too focused on his career and who loves Liz but doesn't entirely respect her.
I think the best written character is Jake. I genuinely felt his embarrassment during the party and the guilt he felt over the poor judgment he showed. His punishment was not very severe and the situation was essentially allowed to blow over, allowing him to finish school but not really making him take too much responsibility over his actions. He basically ruined a girl -- no matter how promiscuous her behavior or inappropriate and wrong her actions, it was his action that betrayed her and made it so she had to leave school and she would forever be "that girl who...." His parents understandably were concerned with doing what they could to take responsibility from his shoulders and avoid having his life ruined (after all he didn't ask for the video, etc...), but in doing so showed themselves not to be worthy of his respect. He struggles with the guilt over his poor decision and heinous action, but can't openly talk about the guilt, because in order to get past this barely scathed, he has to also be made to be a victim himself, with some blame placed on the girl. His parents were only doing what they could to help him, but Jake knows that isn't exactly the right thing. This ultimately leads to troubles later in his life.
If I didn't hate Liz so much, if the plot had been minus Coco's reenactment, then maybe I'd have rated this higher.
If I were rating based on the first two parts of Blood, Bones and Butter, then I would have given this five out of five stars. I can't quite put a fin...moreIf I were rating based on the first two parts of Blood, Bones and Butter, then I would have given this five out of five stars. I can't quite put a finger on why, but for me the "Butter" didn't flow as easy as the rest, despite having some of my favorite chapters.
Gabrielle Hamilton's writing is beautiful -- lyrical and descriptive. She also is brutally honest. I appreciate candor when it comes to memoirs, though some might find hers and her profanity at times offensive. Some of her experiences are quite shocking, and I was never uninterested in the details of her past.
I found myself fascinated by Hamilton's upbringing and her hypnotic dreamy descriptions of food, preparation of food, and events centered around food. I found myself starving throughout my read, and if I ever get a chance to dine in Hamilton's restaurant, I'll jump on it. (less)
I give Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother 3.5 stars for being an enjoyable and interesting read. It was good, but the writing fell short of what I'd give...moreI give Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother 3.5 stars for being an enjoyable and interesting read. It was good, but the writing fell short of what I'd give 4 stars to. I'm not grading based on my opinion of Amy Chua's parenting methods.
I appreciated Amy Chua's candor and I agree with some, though not all, of her parenting methods. I like strictness, making a kid stick with something, and having high expectations. I believe parents should be parents first (save friendship for when they're grown and don't need a parent.) I don't agree with screaming matches nor what some would possibly consider emotional abuse. I believe there is a middle ground that allows parents to raise successful, well-adjusted children. I do think the author is working on finding that and on tolerating her youngest daughter's rejection of her methods. Sadly for her, I don't think either Amy or her children (or husband and other family) were able to enjoy the precious times while her children were young. Sure, they will go to top-notch schools and be successful, but neither daughter plans to pursue music professionally, and I'm certain at least some of those long practice hours are to be regretted.
But, hey, Amy Chua has her dogs. In them she seems to have found some unconditional sort of acceptance and is able to give affection freely and fully enjoy her time with them -- well, at least once she was able to accept that they'd never be the best trained dogs ever. I'm sure her daughters love her and appreciate her, and I'm certain she loves her daughters (even more than she loves living through them,) but I can't help but think that the dogs got the best part of her.
Overall, I found this to be a quick and enjoyable read, and it definitely made me think about my own parenting philosophy.(less)
I read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym for the first time when I was nine years old, after receiving a volume of the Complete Edgar Allen Poe as a...moreI read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym for the first time when I was nine years old, after receiving a volume of the Complete Edgar Allen Poe as a gift. While I devoured the short stories and the poetry multiple times, this, Poe's only novel, was read by me once, and I'm not even able to remember if I finished it. I picked this up to read in preparation to read Mat Johnson's satire, Pym (excellent, 5 stars btw.) Man, did I ever hate this. It was so excruciating to read, whether by design (to demonstrate the dual-authorship as described in the preface gimick) or just because Poe didn't "get" the concept of a novel, I couldn't really tell.
The thing that frustrated me most, was the long boring descriptions and tangents that read more like encyclopedia articles. As if Poe, perhaps unable to break out of his short-story-mentality, was creating "filler" to draw out his work into the length suitable for a novel. I think at one point he described storms or something (I really lost focus, it was so boring) for about 20 really long paragraphs, and in the next killed off 13 people in the course of four sentences. That's the exciting part that should have been expanded, Edgar! Maddening!
And Pym and Augustus -- what idiots they were! It was comical how stupid they were. That's actually what probably saved this from being a one-star review. I would read, get all infuriated with how preposterous they were and/or how Poe totally barely touched on the interesting stuff in favor of boring crap I could care less about, and it made me laugh. Like I said, I don't know if Poe wrote it this way on purpose, but I think I almost respect it more if he did. I drove my husband nuts telling him what crazy thing the idiotic characters did, or how deranged Poe must have been while writing certain sections.
Anyway, I'm glad I reread it so I'd have a better foundation before reading Johnson's Pym, but I'm unlikely to ever read it a third time. I've always been a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe, but his only novel (and thank God there was only this one!) was, for the most part, not a pleasant read.(less)