Archive for March, 2009

Book Update

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

I know that at the moment people are probably more interested in a crochet update, but some of these books were read literally weeks ago, and I’m actually enthusiastic about discussing the more recent ones, so on we go:

12. Eldest by Christopher Paolini

In this book both the story and Paolini’s writing skills widen and improve. He brings in several additional points of view and threads to the story, which add interest and excitement during Eragon and Saphira’s long training period. That is important for the ongoing tale, but Paolini was wise enough to recognise that he wouldn’t have been able to spend so long on it, or to go into so much depth with it, if that’s all that had been happening in a large portion of what is supposed to be an adventure story.

I amn’t going to claim that Paolini has matured into a a brilliant author in either this or Brisingr (see below, presuming I catch up that far tonight), but the steady improvement gives me a lot more hope for the promise he shows than Eragon did alone.

13. Explaining Cerebral Palsy by Sarah Levete
14. Explaining Asthma by Angela Royston
15. Explaining Autism by Robert Snedden
16. Explaining Diabetes by Anita Loughrey

This is a fabulous new series for teenagers on a relatively common selection of medical conditions and disabilities. It is intelligent, with accurate information (where I or my co-readers had expertise enough to tell, which was enough to assume similarly for the rest) about the medical impacts, and positive honesty about the social impacts. Unlike some other series on these issues that I have come across, it is aimed just as much at the young person directly or indirectly affected by the condition in question and his or her friends and siblings, as at their young researcher doing a science project.

Many an underinformed adult could do with reading these clear and comprehensive non-othering volumes.

17. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Mostly as above, but I think Paolini could still work on his consciousness of his less major but important characters, and where they’re coming from as people. Too often they are ciphers, and motivation for others rather than the motivated themselves. (Plus one poor woman seems to have been heavily pregnant for two or more solid books, while another is visibly pregnant (to herself and her husband at least) within about a week. So maybe it’s the timings he needs to work on…)

18. Explaining Blindness by Lionel Bender

This covers a variety of visual impairments. I’ll have to find out have they made it – or even better the others – available in any more accessible formats (e.g. large print, Braille, or electronically).

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Hm, I assumed I’d reread this last year as well, but apparently not. It’s a comfortable but still intriguing go-back-to, and I think I was in the mood for that at the time (yes, it was weeks ago). It retains the capability to be very thought-provoking even after several readings, as much about the craft of the writing as about the chronologically mixed up lives of Henry and Clare. I thought about going through it sometime, in strict chronological order for either one of the pair, but Niffenegger has obviously put so care into how things are presented to us that I didn’t do that this time.

20. Explaining Down’s Syndrome by Angela Royston
21. Explaining Cystic Fibrosis by Jillian Powell
22. Explaining Deafness by Sarah Levete
23. Explaining Food Allergy by Carol Ballard

More good and useful books. I’m glad I read them all, but they’re easiest to describe as a series.

24. The Youngest Bride by Menucha Chana Levin

A well-written novel (slightly let down by the ending round-up for me, but not badly) set in the Jewish communities of 19th century Russian domains. The period is well explained, as are the emotions of the main character. It’s sweet, but in no way sickly.

25. Maggid Stories for Children: Holiday and Around the Year by Chaviva Krohn Pfeiffer

I started flicking through this, and stopped and read it from cover to cover. The stories are deftly retold from the author’s father’s anthologies for adults, and accompanied by lovely pictures. The layout and text font and size are well chosen for both reading to a young child or group of children, and for a newly confident reader to enjoy alone.

26. Chocolate Liqueur by Sarah Kisner

This was very obviously a magazine serial story, although the smoothing for the novel version has been well done. It isn’t bad, and actually didn’t fall exactly into what I anticipated being the fairytale ending from page 16. However I did wonder why that obvious possibility was never even considered. There are unaddressed class issues in this book. (The addressed ones are made much of, then skimmed over.)

27. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Another comfort reread (I couldn’t sleep at all a few nights ago) I’m surprised I didn’t return to last year. As well as not reading much at all so far this year (I was in the 80s, not the 20s, last March) I seem to be challenging myself less. I am reading more for my studies this year, but rarely a whole book through, so that stuff doesn’t show up here, of course…

Anyway, this isn’t a winter book for me, just a sweet one with lots of funny moments. It doesn’t shy away from giving characters very hard backgrounds, although we tend not to be told more of these than we need to understand the character.

28. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

There’s definite influence from the Harry Potter novels here, but instead of the downfall of magical, and thus world society, being threatened in England and Scotland, this time it’s in and around Dublin. I didn’t find it all that culturally Dublin or Ireland, but spotting places was fun. (And I would point out that the Wax Museum and the Municipal Gallery are literally around the corner from each other, if not on the same block. Apparently the Wax Museum is about to move, and thus presumably won’t be as downtrodden as in this book, but that’s how it was in 2007 and for much of the previous decade or two.)

Anyway, this was an enjoyable romp, and made internal sense. Stephanie is a likeable, self-confident (but not arrogant) twelve year old with a definite mind of her own. I would read the sequel if it came my way, I think.

And apparently I’ve caught up! Which is good, but I really should read more…

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Feeling Ill

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The clues have been going up day by day, and I’ve done loads of crocheting, but caffeine simply doesn’t agree with me at all, even in chocolate! Will aim to show you pictures tonight.

Lofty, the latest Travelling Teddy (actually a lion) arrived on Tuesday, which was Purim. And no, it’s not alcohol that’s playing havoc with how I feel.

Not missing days

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Game instructions have been going up on time, but I missed out on posting a blog entry yesterday, due to running late to get to work in the morning, and since I went to the Knitting Etc group straight from work, so that by the time I actually got home I wasn’t up to much more than cooking and eating a late supper.

Anyway, by Tuesday my own game project had gained crab claws:
NatCroMo 2009 back of project with 2 claws

By Wednesday she had become a little character in my head, and had taken up either skipping or dowsing – I haven’t decided which!
NatCroMo 2009 holding thick grey 'rope' with red bow

Quite a few other people are blogging their own projects, and I’ll aim to link to them tonight when (I hope) I get to show you tonight’s update. And now I’d better get going for work today!

PS I got up to halfway on my mother’s belt, presuming I’ve remembered her preferred length correctly!
Half Belt

Crochet comes into everything…

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Today’s inspiration/instruction is up, and I have a picture of what I came to for yesterday’s. It is definitely worth checking out those of other people (mostly on Ravelry), as there are some really beautiful creations already.
Red circle, with lacy 'tongue', bordered by pale mauve petals

And it really is time I told you about some of the books I’ve been reading this year again. The first I actually read a couple of weeks ago, but it has crochet in it, so it certainly ties in here.

11. Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo by Heather Wardell

Go follow that link, because HW has made this book free to read in PDF format, and it’s good. The book begins with Candice and her husband Ian separating temporarily at the local airport, for him to work on a month long project, and for her to work out what has been going wrong between them. This isn’t necessarily a genre I would have picked up in a shop, but I enjoyed the book, and Candice’s thought processes, and how we get a good sense of how she fills her time (with work, friends, her cat, polar bears and crochet), without having to hear every minute of it! (Sorry – this book is about 250 pages long, and tells the whole story very satisfactorily, and I’m still frustrated by some of the unnecessarily long novels I’ve read lately.) Of course there are unforeseen upsets and moral quandaries, life changes, and a bit of beautiful crochet.

March 2 – There’s lots to crochet!

Monday, 2 March 2009

I’ve just put up the second day’s inspiration, but haven’t fulfilled it yet myself. I’ll have that for you later.

I did start Tracey’s Mystery Shawl for NatCroMo, and am enjoying that too. New pattern instructions for that only come up each week, so this will have to last us. If you’re doing it, and don’t want to see the first section done, please look away now.

Dum…

…de dum…

…de dum…

…de da-da-da-da.

(It’s the beginning of a jazz canon our choir sings for fun and round practice.)

NatCroMo 2009 1st clue: square in Opal Hundertwasser sock yarn in light blue and brown shades, with good stitch definition

It’s March: NatCroMo 2009 is here!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

March 1 clue: round of brown and red trebles (UK), in front of two apples

The first clue of the second edition game is up already, and I’m giving you clues on here as well. Please join in and enjoy it!

We’ve got a discussion thread over on Ravelry as well, or comment here with your suggestions and thoughts.