Friday, January 30, 2009

What is your go to book?

The other day at school the visual and performing arts department chair was saying how much he enjoyed The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by Dave Wroblewski, which is also an Oprah book club pick. It is currently on my bedside table waiting for me to finish the Enchantress of Florence by Rushdie. As he was extolling the virtues of Sawtelle, we began to talk about books that you can recommend to everyone because they have universal appeal: such as A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. You can pretty much bet that if you give Owen Meany to anyone to read, they will come back raving about it. My husband forbid me from reading it in bed because I laughed so loud I woke him up.

So my question to you is what is your go to book? What do you think has broad appeal to everyone?

Our religion and film teacher and fellow blogger said hers is Water Witches by Chris Bohjalian (reading guide here). She said it appeals to men and women because of the strong male and female characters. The books deals with a world that is moving faster then perhaps the people in it are ready for. It has the age old conflict between old school (finding water through the water witches) and using technology to find water.

I also asked one of our senior students about a book he thinks appeals to everyone and he said Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. He also said that while it doesn't as much apply to our (American) lives, it is an inspiring story. "It puts you in the plot."

Take a moment and let me know what your go to book is. I would like to know!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blood and Iron (Promethean Age, Book 1) Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was looking for a book to take me away from it all while my favorite authors (Saintcrow, Aguirre, Bishop, Harrison, Briggs, etc.) are between books. Blood and Iron filled the bill. There was more of an emphasis on the plot machinations of fae and magi, with a Duke of Hell thrown in. In fact, it is a bit hard to keep all the players together without a list of characters and their relationship with each other. I kept wondering if this was the first in a series, because there seemed to be info that I was missing, people who had died that I should have known. The relationships are given short shrift and that is a shame given that she does her best to create some kickass characters and a great world for them to live in. So while I am recommending the book, it is with reservations as I finished it wanting more. Wanting to feel more for the characters. Wanting the love relationships to have been more achingly real. For heartbreak abounds in this book, but it is a distant heartbreak and it shouldn't be.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dead To Me Dead To Me by Anton Strout

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This lighthearted urban fantasy is not quite a meal, but is a tasty appetizer, sure to whet your appetite for more. Simon Canderous can touch an object and see information about its history. But he is a novice in the secret Department of Extraordinary Affairs and is just learning his craft.

Seems that there is big trouble afoot, dead people who don't know they are dead, magical books that attack on command, a politically correct group of cultists (read Forces of Darkness) and Simon, who has a retractable bat and a hairtrigger temper and who is about to become very annoyed.

View all my reviews.

Coraline is coming!

Oh man! One of my most favorite books and ultimate guide to girl power is Neil Gaiman's Coraline. It will be our in theaters Feb 2009. I was just looking at the website,, where in addition to being able to button your eyes (see photo at right, and if you don't understand, then READ THE BOOK!) you can see fabulous shorts and videos about the making of the film.
I learned that there is a knitter called Althea Crome, who is a conceptual knitter of miniature clothes. Hence the name bug knits! The video of her knitting in Coraline's room (open the bedside dresser table) is incredible. In fact, I'll just link to it here:

Sock it to me!

Saturday I went to a beginning sock class at Fiber Arts in Odessa. Rosalind Moore is the owner, and a finer yarn shop you won't find. There are comfy leather chairs to sit and knit or crochet. As opposed to some Tampa Bay LYSs, she gives crochet its due and fancies with knitting.

Patsy Harbor was our teacher ( You can see her to the right showing off her socks. She was splendid. Our class was small, three people, but either we were smarter than the other clas (ha!) or Patsy had worked out the kinks in the class, we all learned pretty quickly. Except for Jane, who is a die-hard knitter and kept being frustrated by the crochet stitches. I have to hand it to Jane though. She didn't give up and Patsy was right there with her helping through it all.
Here is a photo of my sock, using Patons sock yarn. Patsy taught us how to work a base chain double crochet, which is very hard to understand at first, but quite easy. I'm so glad I took the class, because that stitch alone would have taken me forever to learn. Then we did a row of alternating back and front post doubl crochets, which were very cool. Patsy explained that those stitches are used to cable in crochet. Then it was on to a shell stitch leg pattern. Very very cool.
Patsy brought some of her Crochet World magazines. Her designs are featured at

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

My review
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an entrancing read. It made me stay up late, made me forget to eat, made me want only to finish and see what the ending brought. It does start with a great first line:
The first thing you find out hwen yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say.
And there are you, right in the middle of Todd's head, just like you are in the middle of every man's head in Prentisstown. See, on this world, you can hear everyone's thoughts. All the time, like the tv, internet, radio and movies are all playing loud all the time and there is no way to drown anyone out. There are no secrets....but are there? How does one survive in such a world? And now that Todd is the last boy in a town full of men who are waiting for his 13 birthday so that he can join them as a man, something unexpected happens that forces Todd down a path he never imagined, to find out answers to questions that he didn't think to ask.
This book is beautifully written. It is descriptive and engrossing. The chase and fight scenes are so real as to make your heart race. The choices that Todd faces are heart breaking and I still am grieving for a certain someone. Not only is this a wonderful read, but it is chock full of great ideas to talk about. The nature of silence and talk. How do you really know someone? What makes a boy a man? Is murder in self defence justified? What will happen next, so this is just book 1.
This is a bit of a dark read, but man, is it great.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christmas Is Packed Away

Saturday, it was all about my birthday. We went to lunch at Mitchell's Fish Market with Tom and Julia and then went to see Gran Torino starring the very handsome and still sexy Clint Eastwood. Man. Do a search on google images on Clint and you will get some great eye candy! I was hoping for a happy movie, but Gran Torino ended up being quite a good fit for the day. It was thought provoking and very funny, but also touching and warm. The only false note in the film is the boy playing the priest. He is so awful that you just want Clint to shot him so he won't show up in any more scenes!

We ended the day at Casa Ludovico's at 1710 Alt 19, Palm Harbor, FL (727-784- 7779), which is our favorite fancy dress restaurant. It didn't disappoint. I had the black spaghetti with conch and clams and it had just a hint of spicy and was very tasty.

Sunday was a work day as we finally took down Christmas. There is something so nice about boxing it all up and putting it away. A month is plenty long to have it out and while I am a real Christmas nut, I did sigh in relief as the tree was put out to the curb and I vacuumed up needles. I have a themed tree: I only put up ornaments with chili peppers or cows. Here are a few of my favorite ornaments:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What to do in an economic downturn?

That's easy: crochet through your stash. ALL people who knit or crochet develop a yarn addiction. We go to sales even though we have enough yarn. We buy yarn that looks lovely even though we have no project in mind for it. We buy too much of a yarn and have hanks left over. Anyway you look at it, you always have a stash. Most yarn people have a stash that exceeds their life expectancy. I certainly do.

So, to help save money I can go through my stash and use it up. That will take care of presents (I'm getting good enough now that they don't look like they were made by a 4 year old) and it will stop me from shopping.

So, here's to stashes and using them up and giving handmade gifts.