Thursday, May 22, 2014

honey do

Sunday, May 18, 2014

what we did sunday #20 and 100th post!

greetings from the starch - we've spent this gorgeous spring weekend with windows open, lounging around and drinking tea, recouping from a bug.

pansies!//waking up from a nap//lots of tea

What did you do Sunday?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

market days

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

ten books i almost put down but didn't

Hello again, greetings, hey, and thanks for coming by for Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish here at the Starch.  Sheba's snoozing on the couch, so make yourself at home, step right up and stay a while.

I'm not the kind of person that will never.ever.ever put down a book.  It has happened many times.  Sometimes it's permanent, other times it means I pick it up a couple of months later.  While it can be a sign that I can't get with the book or writing or whatever, it's not always the case.  Sometimes the books are fantastic but life gets crazy.  I believe it's worth it, on certain occasions, to put the book down and do something better with your day.  When I'm reading for pleasure, it shouldn't feel like I'm forcing myself through it - which is what made this prompt for Top Ten Tuesday challenging.  Most books I've almost put down I...actually do put down.  So here goes - this week's prompt reimagined.  Get your reimagining goggles ready.

Top Ten Books I almost put down and then...did:

The Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham.  I loved this one after I got into it.  I dog-eared and underlined and bookmarked and then...didn't find myself picking it up again.

The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck.  One I would love to finish - Steinbeck is a big favorite of mine.

Boychicks in the Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground by Robert Eisenberg.  After going through the sections on Poland and Ukraine, things got pretty existentially banal for me.  Dim and grim on the book review scale.

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.  I actually had one (terrifying) professor call me out when I commented in an off-handed way that I had once tried and then stopped reading it.  "What do you mean, you 'stopped reading' DOCTOR Zhivago...? Who can't get through Doctor Zhivago?" I think were her exact words.  I know.  Couldn't do it.  Judge away.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  I had heard so many great things about this from every single person I had spoken to about it, both as an example of C.S. Lewis at his finest and as a theological book.  I read pieces of it when I worked in the library in college, and then...I think I had too many things to read that were academic, and so shelved it in favor of fiction.

The Once and Future King by T. H. White.  This one was a gift from my mom.  I think the reason I couldn't get far enough into it was stylistic - maybe I was too young.  Most of what I remember is reading the thing about the hawk...oh, seventeen times.  I have heard it is a terrific series, so I'll have to revisit it.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.  I found it intriguing, and I think if I had gotten the first book and worked through it as a series I may have found it doable, but I had the colossal tome of all in one.  I managed about 300 pages before stopping.

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice.  Another one my mother got for me as a present (...terrible daughter alert) which I really thought I'd love - and did love the first parts, but then...  I was in high school and probably couldn't carry it with me and didn't get wrapped up enough to finish it.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.  Like 1Q84, a book I had picked up and liked reading - I made it through a considerably large chunk of the book and then gave up.  They both were with me around the time I was getting ready to make an international move, so that may have had something to do with why they got put down.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.  Another gift - one day I will take it with me on a trip and get through it (at least the first).

What about you? Are you the type of reader to stick it out, or do you put them aside for later? Have you finished any of these books?

Go check out the other posts at The Broke and the Bookish!

Friday, May 9, 2014

a conspiracy of faith review

Another Friday book review! On a roll (I may fall off this roll soon, but we're here, so let's enjoy it!).  This is the third book in the Department Q series by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  The translations into English have been coming fairly quickly, which is great for fellow Nordic-crime-type book lovers.  This series follows Carl, a disgruntled and grumpy detective and his assistants, Assad and Rose, as they work to find solutions to cold-cases.

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing: 3 - it gets pretty gritty.

Basic plot: The Department Q gang's all back again, after a summer break, and they come across a bottle with a message inside of it, written in blood, asking for help.  They discover that it was from two young boys who were kidnapped and left bound in a boathouse years ago.  Carl, Assad, and Rose get down to it (after a bit of bureaucratic musical-chairs, as the Dept. Q basement has asbestos) and search for a killer who targets large families in religious sects.

Memories from reading: This was a spur-of-the-moment buy after a rather rough afternoon, and I didn't end up really reading it until a month or so later when I went to visit my sister.  Once I got there, I ended up in a bookstore for most of the day, finishing up work, and once I was done I stood, my two heavy bags next to me, and read the whole of this book while my cellphone charged.

Favorite characters: Rose and Ysla.  I didn't really get it, but I loved it.  I hope they are fleshed out more in later books.

Teeth-gnashing: I'm still waiting for the series to be as good as it was in the first.  The second and third books have seemed more glum and less engaging.  Also...I'm not completely sure if Carl is racist or one of his character traits is just being intolerant.  TBD.  Thoughts, anyone?

Weapon of Choice: Paperback.  My favorite kind of book - you can fold them, underline them, accidentally spill things on them, jam them into bags, overhead bins, seat-backs, and coats, and they're still good as ever.

Other titles by this author:
The Alphabet House
The Company Basher
The Washington Decree

Department Q series:
The Keeper of Lost Causes
The Absent One
The Marco Effect

Check out this review and trailer!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

equal justice under law

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art

Hello again! Life here has gone up ten points since I finally found my way to my library for the first time since moving.  I'd mostly been relying on ebooks and audiobooks (shameful, yes, but...well, not really, since it was raining and snowing outside, and once you've been full-body splashed by a car you really don't need to experience it again).  I wandered over, and I am incredibly glad that I did.  I picked up three that I think will be really great for me to read, and I'm excited about sharing them here later on.

But on to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and The Bookish - this week's topic is Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art:

Going clockwise:

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.  I'm a sucker for mountains.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  A door-stopper if ever there was one.  This was the cover on the one I read - paperback, so stuffed that pages fluttered out if you cracked the spine too much.  I read this one on a nearly three-day train ride from St. Petersburg to Sochi.  I'd frame it just for the memory.  I gave my copy to a girl for the plane ride back to the States, and never saw it again (sad but true).

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  This was the cover illustration I grew up with, and again, I'd frame it for the memories.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.  I tried reading it my freshman year of college, but couldn't get into it - I was too creeped out.  I may give it another shot later in life.  I do like a good black-and-white photo, though, and those shoes.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.  Every page of this book could be framed.  So beautiful.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  One that I have been meaning to pick up for a long time.  The cover reminds me of Sammy Keyes for some reason.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  Every time I see this one in the store/library I want to pick it up.  And each time I do, I don't get more than the first few pages.  Maybe it'll get me another time.

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman.  Haven't read it, hadn't really heard of it, but it reminds me of a New Yorker cover.

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.  I have heard many, many good things about Haruki Murakami's books, and would like to find a shorter book of his.  Last year I got about 300 pages into 1Q84 before giving up.  This cover reminded me of my grandmother.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi.  I first heard of Persepolis from the movie that came out, though I have flipped through the book(s) at bookstores.  I really should bite the bullet and pick it up.

This one was tough - I kept thinking of books I liked, or wonderful children's books.  I guess the inside of a book is more important for me, but I get that marketing and covers have an impact as well.  There are some great books out there that I wouldn't necessarily frame.  What about you? Could you think of any off the top of your head that would work?  Go check out the rest at The Broke and the Bookish!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What We Did Sunday #18

went grocery shopping//dozed//admired flowers on a neighborhood walk

What did you do Sunday?

Friday, May 2, 2014

peaches for father francis/monsieur le curé review

Ah, spring.  Moody, angsty weather with sunshine one day and miserable drizzles the next.  In honor of the chill and gloom this week, a review! A book to stay warm inside with (or enjoy outside, depending on the weather's mood) and read in your most comfortable chair: Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris.

Basic plot:Vianne Rocher, roamer and chocolate maker, receives a letter from an old friend, who died years earlier.  She decides to head back to the small town of Lansquenet with her two daughters.  It's been eight years since she's been back, and as she meets with her old friends and neighbors, she discovers that there are newcomers - an intriguing community of North Africans - and someone has tried to burn down her old chocolate shop.

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing: 3.5 - only because of the surprisingly (really) dark and sort of violent turn towards the end of the book. (Does that count as a spoiler?) Until then, I would have given it a 1.5.

Memories from reading: This is one I listened to most in the morning and at the end of the day, and, oddly enough, in the rain.  I have several memories of walking the rest of the way to work with the hood of my raincoat up, earbuds firmly in my ears and umbrella whipping around my head.

Favorite characters: Ammi/Enmi, a fantastic older character in the community who sneaks macaroons during Ramadan and cackles (another downside to the audiobook - I can't find the spelling of her name, have googled and given up) and Mea, with her pink rain boots.

Weapon of Choice: Audiobook again! I really enjoyed the accents of the two narrators - I'm learning more and more that a good narrator can carry a book and a bad one can kill it.  I finally experienced with this audiobook what I've experienced with a physical book - I stayed up late to finish the book.  I hadn't read the other books, but this one made me want to go back into the series.

Other titles by this author: 
The Girl With No Shadow
Blackberry Wine
Five Quarters of the Orange
Holy Fools
Gentlemen and Players

Have you read any books in this series? Any by Joanne Harris? What did you think?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

currently re-reading

"'What's the matter? Never heard of a wizard's duel before, I suppose?'
'Of course he has,' said Ron, wheeling around.  'I'm his second, who's yours?'"
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone