Archive for September, 2008

Reading Update

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Not entirely sure why this has taken me so long, but here we go. It’s been quite awhile since I actually finished some of these (a couple of weeks), so they aren’t all immediate reactions.

253. The Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

I’ll actually be interested to see what Burroughs does to get himself back to Tarzan and Jane after this installment that largely ignores them, in favour of sending their son to discover the jungle for himself. Just as implausible and stereotyped as the others, although with Meriem we do get a woman who can hunt, fight and live the life these men are constantly pulled back to.

254. The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

Ted (who has an unspecified syndrome that reads like Aspergers) and his older sister Kat welcome their aunt Gloria and cousin Salim on a flying visit (literally – Gloria and Salim are about to emigrate to New York) by taking them to the tourist sites of London. Due to the queues Salim goes up the London Eye alone while Ted and Kat watch his capsule round to greet him when he gets off. Except he doesn’t…

This book has obvious links to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, but is its own tale, as well as being a well-crafted mystery. In fact, it’s one of the few such where I would actually have liked to see further mysteries for the sleuthing team, but unfortunately Dowd died shortly after this book was written. I’ll have to get hold of some of her prior works.

255. Cite Them Right by Richard Pears and Graham Shields

Yes, it’s a guide to citing and referencing correctly (not how I do it here!) but I actually did read it cover to cover, and it’s far more readable than might have been anticipated.

256. The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird

This tale of two young Ethiopian boys from Addis Ababa who end up running away from difficult situations after the sickness of their mothers turns their lives upside down is quite fascinating, well written and feels real. Dani is a shy boy from a well off family who does not get on with his self-made father and feels he cannot stay at home when his mother goes to a hospital abroad, while Mamo has to grow up very fast when his mother dies and his older sister cannot afford the rent for the shack they live in. The boys link up, grow and discover themselves, each other, and different ways of life.

257. In Black and White by Dov Haller

I really enjoyed this anthology of several short stories and the title novella. Haller has a grasp of human emotion and how it interacts with our ideals and the way we live our lives.

258. The Wonder Stick by Stanton A. Coblentz

It’s taken since March for this whole book to be read over on Forgotten Classics, (Julie often features other extracts on alternate episodes of the podcast) and at first I wasn’t convinced I liked it much, but it has grown on me a little. It’s not going to be my favourite book ever (I’m far more likely to revisit The Garbage King) but Julie reads well, and makes it worth listening to. Ru is not an especially heroic hero, since he can be vindictive, but then the society of his tribe (this is set in Stone Age pre-history) is not one that shares our morals, nor even those of classic sagas. Ru is clever and inventive, but not at all respected by Grumgra, the Chief, with whom he quickly develops a personal vendetta.

259. Almost A Man by Dr Mary Wood-Allen

I just formatted (in F1) this whole book/long pamphlet over on Distributed Proofreaders and read it as I went, out of a perturbed fascination. (Currently linking to its DP Project Page, but will change that once it’s up on Project Gutenberg.) Anyway, Wood-Allen seems to have made a bit of a name for herself by writing “moral” and “scientific” works for adolescents and their parents about puberty and how teenagers should behave. I wouldn’t say that this book actually tells an adolescent boy anything that’s worth knowing about puberty, because it doesn’t have many facts in it, but then perhaps it was really meant as a way for parents to open up a discussion. It is very clearly pushing a moral point of view, and is open about that.

260. The Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss by Caitlin Friedman & Kimberly Yorio

This is a fun (the cover is Very Pink) but informative little book, that tries to demystify management for those of us who didn’t enter our careers wanting to be managers, but for whom the career path entails a certain amount of it. I amn’t sure how much I’ll really be able to quote it in my management module, but I think it was still worth reading! It is confidence building, which is good.

261. Adventures of a Brownie by Miss Mulock

Another audiobook, from Librivox and this is a sweet and simple series of six adventures of the Brownie and the six children (three girls and three boys) of the household he lives in, during which they veer between the good and bad sides of the Cook, the Gardener, and his wife. It’s short and worth the listen.

Photos, if few words

Friday, 26 September 2008

Finally found my computer cable, but I’m still short on time, so I’m going to recap the end of Bruno’s visit (he’s now on his way to Germany, and the next teddy is coming my way – Luna, by the way, is back in London, but not with me) mostly in pictures, and leave catching up on the books even longer.

These were the directions we found on the way to our train:

Syd is now at least done enough to make friends with, although he is still missing most of his extremities.

We got out into the countryside, and saw some views.

It wasn’t cold, but Bruno did get a bit windswept.

Not gone

Monday, 22 September 2008

My camera cable appears to be, however, so I’ll have another look for that tomorrow, as I have lots to show you…

Bruno and Books

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Another hectic week of not blogging, but there have been lots of books. My flatmate got her thesis in, and the Crochet Liberation Front First Ever Book is out, as of Friday! I haven’t had my copy yet, but it should be here soon, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m a published designer!!!! (If you’re a Ravelry member you can get it at a well discounted price by heading over to the CLF group and looking in the stickied thread.)

Bruno, our visiting travelling teddy, has been providing moral support during the week, helping to welcome our guests over Shabbos, and then coming shopping today. He helped me choose some buttons for the Cafetiere Cosy I finished nearly a week ago,
Bruno and buttons
and encouraged me to finish his belt,
Bruno croppedDSCF0500
once we got home. On the way he took advantage of the sunny weather to climb a tree.
Bruno in tree
cosy cafetiere

I’ve also read a good few books (mostly for children) in the last few days.
248. The Adventures of Robin Hood by Marcia Williams

I really liked Robin Hood stories when I was a child, and this has most of the classic stories of how the known Merry Men joined the outlaws (although interestingly Will Scarlet is in there, but his joining isn’t). The illustrations are fun, too. (The book is in comic strip/graphic novel format.)

249. Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

This one isn’t a standard novel either, as the whole tale is told in first person poems by adolescent Annie, who runs and draws her way through life, trying to make sense of her mother’s pregnancy, her friend and running partner Max’ moods, and her grandfather’s dementia. Annie is basically a happy well-adjusted child who wants to do what she enjoys simply for the enjoyment, rather than being pushed to compete and conform.

250. Arctic Hero: The Incredible Life of Matthew Henson by Catherine Johnson

I hadn’t heard of Matthew Henson before, but he seems a very interesting and inspiring character. He was an African-American Arctic explorer, and possibly the first to get to the North Pole (although it is now considered that the means of ascertaining one’s arrival there in 1909 cannot be trusted – still he according to this book he got as close as was then possible). At the same time, as a Black man in the USA back then his achievements went unacknowledged. This is a short easy biography, but now that I think of it, we may have a longer one in the library. I’ll have to take a look.

251. Kiss of Death by Malcolm Rose

Horror has never been a particularly favoured genre of mine, and though the continuity here mostly works, and it’s a well written tale, with some great and well-researched settings, I don’t think this will be changing my mind. It’s told from the point of view of Seth, whose class in school go on two school trips in close succession, at both of which his twin sister Kim and their friend Wes find and take artifacts they should never have removed. All three end up getting physically ill, to greater and lesser extents, and only Seth can put things right…

252. The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Manhattan District

This was recorded for the sixtieth anniversary of the events described, and it’s well worth listening to if you are interested in World War II, nuclear bombs, ‘Total War’, or the events more specifically. The earlier chapters can seem a bit dry in relation to such an event (although they are most informative), but the last two chapters counteract that tendency, as they are the personal account by a Catholic priest who lived in Nagasaki at the time of the bombing, describing that day and the ones following, with all the personal tragedy and infrastructural catastrophe involved.

And now, seeing as it’s taken me hours to complete this entry, I can show you that I’ve finally got around to stuffing Syd Rabbit, and doing up his body. I’d like to finish him this week (finishing two WIPs today has put me in that mood), and if that doesn’t look likely I might just decide he’s a pear (adding a stalk at the top) and have done!
Syd Rabbit pear

Bruno’s Here!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Bruno with his travel gear
My first visiting Travelling Teddy got here in less than a day, and he’s lovely and silkily strokeable. He comes from Kimmikat, who is very creative, and has made him a set of hat, scarf and bag (my flatmate is jealous…). He also has a passport and journal, and came with fridge magnets for all of his hosts along the way. (Those for his future hosts are peeking out of the front pocket on his rucksack.)
Bruno and friends enjoying almonds
He’s spent this evening making friends with the locals, and telling them about his journey. They wanted reassurance that Luna’s going to be alright while she’s away, and are also getting excited about their own role as hosts. Who knows what they’re all going to get up to together tomorrow while I’m at work?

I read today about something they had better not go anywhere near:

247. Shark Attack by Tom Jackson
There really aren’t very many sharks out there that will actually attack a person, but this book describes the ones that will, some cases where it’s happened in the past, and what to do and not to do to make sure it doesn’t happen to you (stay out of the water if you’re bleeding, be careful where you do go in) and how to survive if it does (fight back).

The book isn’t horrendously graphic in terms of the pictures chosen, but is well illustrated.

Lots to say and show

Monday, 8 September 2008

I have to get back to regular posting – there’s just too much to put in when I leave it!

I’m still waiting for some of the pics to upload, so I’ll tell you about the book first:

246. Probable Sons by Amy le Feuvre

This certainly falls into that Orphan Girls genre I was talking about last week, and it’s by far the most explicitly Christian one I’ve read (or listened to), seeing as I’m Jewish myself. I left out then, since Understood Betsy is one of the exceptions, how the child (Little Lord Fauntleroy being a prime example of this theme) is usually an unknowing very good influence on the disaffected adult(s). The book being so overtly Christian (the title is based on Milly’s mispronunciation of prodigal) her guardian has more lost fervency in his religious beliefs than interest in society, but gets it back under her influence.

Milly is sweet and sad, but she really needs some companions to play with. The reading is good, but this probably won’t be among my rereads. (If it had been longer I probably would have given up before the end.)

Luna in envelope
Luna set off on her travels today (this was the position she chose!) and I realise I didn’t show her getting travel advice before we left Ireland.
She learnt all about carrying your world on your back (that or she was trying to hide from me). (And I might or might not have got an idea for something to make for my mother – this is only half the collection!)

Anyway, Luna is now on her way to Germany, and I’m expecting a little bear visitor called Bruno in the next few days.

In crochet news, I’ve actually finished something for the first time in what feels like ages! It’s still blocking, and I need to obtain and attach some buttons (or something equivalent) but the crocheting’s done, and the blocking is in progress. This is the most comprehensive attempt at blocking I’ve made so far, so I’m going to put the pictures up without my own commentary, in anticipation of advice and suggestions from the more experienced. I used what I had, as I don’t own any specialist blocking tools.
making a blocking template
board, piece and template
checking pinned piece against template
pinned out piece
wetting the pinned piece

Slow words for speed

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Excuses again: I’m working on my mother’s birthday present (which will be late), and so don’t want to put pictures up until she has it. The tablecloth is commuting with me, but hasn’t changed much in the last few rows.

A couple of funny books:

244: Free Air by Sinclair Lewis

This is the book I was Smooth-Reading for Distributed Proofreaders. (I’m linking to the project page for now – you can download it even without being a member – and will link to Project Gutenberg page once it’s up.) Its plot has a good bit in common with the romance in the first two Tarzan books, in my opinion, although the setting doesn’t:

[What follows is most definitely in the class of SPOILERS – no complaints now!]

  • Cultured, gently bred young woman (heroine) goes with her father (who she has to look after) on what for them is a very adventurous journey.
  • Reasonably educated but uncouth-looking young man (hero) sees, falls for, and repeatedly rescues her from trials and tribulations.
  • She repulses his affections for social reasons.
  • Her socially superior (near) fiance publicly stakes his claim.
  • Hero takes pains to learn the skills, clothes and deportment of her social milieu.
  • Heroine’s social conscience still says she can’t be with hero.
  • He saves her once again.
  • She changes her mind.

To be fair, of course, there are an awful lot of other romances out there with the exact same plot, and where they are well written (and preferably contain other interesting plots and subplots) I don’t mind that; it’s rather a classic, after all.

This is a good, light and funny version of the tale, and if I had the time I might consider recording it for Librivox myself.

I don’t, of course, with study beginning again in a couple of weeks, work being hectic already, Braille to continue, crochet to do, and now moderating the European Travelling Teddy Round that is about to begin on Ravelry. (Sign-ups are now closed, I’m afraid.) I’ll let you know when Luna is off!

245. Pugs: G-d’s Little Weirdos by Dave Kellett

The brand new Sheldon book, and I got an Artist’s Edition (with a sweet hand-drawn picture of Oso, of course, on the inside cover). Since this book focusses on pugs, and Oso in particular, some of the cartoons have appeared in the sequential books, but it’s fun seeing them together. I laughed and giggled lots, both of the times I’ve read the book since I received it yesterday!