Posted in Book review

Book review: Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez

Salvation CitySalvation City by Sigrid Nunez
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Before we get started, let me clarify the two-star rating….Salvation City is not poorly written, has believable characters in believable situations, and is an interesting way to spend several hours. But ultimately — and given the way Goodreads’ ratings criteria are defined — two stars and “it was okay” is all the enthusiasm I can muster. I’d read a three-star “I liked it” book again. I have no desire to read this one again.

In the near future, 12-year-old Cole Vining has been orphaned by a flu pandemic more devastating than the 1918 outbreak. After a stint in the hellhole of a public orphanage, he is taken in by Pastor Wyatt and his wife Tracy and brought back to Salvation City, Kentucky, the small evangelical Christian enclave where they live. The overt religiosity of his new surroundings is completely foreign to Cole: his father was an atheist and his mother was a non-practicing Jew; as a result, Cole has had no religious training whatsoever. Emotionally fragile after his own illness and loss, in this new atmosphere, Cole questions everything his parents had ever taught him about the world.

Cole suffered memory loss as a result of his illness and, as his memories gradually return, he wrestles with a multitude of overwhelming emotions: loss, anger, bewilderment, confusion…but chiefly guilt. He feels guilty he survived, guilty he can’t return the obvious love Pastor Wyatt and Tracy express for him, guilty and disloyal at feeling any kind of affection for them, guilty for wondering if his parents went to Hell as his new knowledge of religion teaches. On top of all this, he has entered puberty with its attendant urges and feelings, and he develops an unrequited crush on his erstwhile cousin Starlyn. Cole’s journey through this morass of guilt and emotion to arrive at a peaceful self-understanding and sense of place is well-drawn and satisfying.

Again, this is not a bad book, and not a waste of time. The pacing is leisurely, almost majestic. It’s beautifully written, with a spare elegance and delicate touch. Nunez portrays the fundamentalist Christian community with grace and compassion, seeing it almost entirely through Cole’s adolescent eyes. I enjoyed reading it, but not enough to keep it around for a re-read.

Many thanks to Goodreads Giveaway Program for the opportunity to read this book.

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Posted in Book review

Book review: Fated by S.G. Browne

FatedFated by S.G. Browne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did you know that various immortals watch us at every moment? They do, and they report to God, who prefers being called Jerry, by the way. But they’re not supposed to interfere with us humans. In fact, Rule Number One is Don’t Get Involved.

Fate, however, has broken Rule Number One. He’s fallen in love.

Fate, who prefers being called Fabio, has grown tired of watching all of us screw up and wander off the paths he assigned us when we were born. This creates new work for him, assigning us each new fates, which we proceed to blithely ignore as well. Jerry damn that free will thing. But every now and then, Fabio runs into an individual whose path he cannot see. And when he runs into Sara repeatedly — by Chance, at first, and then deliberately — he knows she’s on the Path of Destiny, and he can’t see her future, but that doesn’t matter. In fact, it makes her even more appealing….

And so, there goes Rule Number One. Which subsequently leads to breaking other rules, such as Rule Number Five, Never Materialize In Front Of Humans, followed closely by Rule Number Six, Never Dematerialize In Front Of Humans. And so forth.

But it’s when Fabio breaks Rule Number Two, Don’t Improve Anyone’s Assigned Future, that things really start to get hairy.

The thing about Destiny is she’s a nymphomaniac.
The thing about Lady Luck is she has ADD.
The thing about Jerry is he’s omnipotent. But busy.
The thing about Gossip is…well, you know.

And the thing about S.G. Browne is he’s following in Christopher Moore’s footsteps, and doing a bang-up job of it. Which is why I hadn’t even finished this book before I went out and bought his other title, Breathers.

Many thanks to LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers Club for the opportunity to read this book.

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Posted in Book stash, Miscellaneous

FO Friday — the book club edition

So I deliberately have not picked up any hooks, or needles, or yarn since Monday. Instead, I finished reading one book, then started and finished reading another.
And, being a good little book junkie, wrote reviews of them. If you’re interested, you can click the book cover to read the review.

And click the badge to see what everyone else finished this week.

Posted in Book review

Book review: In The Company Of Angels by Thomas E. Kennedy

In the Company of Angels: A NovelIn the Company of Angels: A Novel by Thomas E. Kennedy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bernardo Greene is a survivor of torture. Michela Ibsen is a survivor of domestic abuse. In The Company of Angels is the story of their respective healing journeys, alone, and then together. Thomas Kennedy’s spare elegant prose touches lightly on their sorrow, their pain, but this light touch reveals the depth of their damaged lives, and the damaged lives of the people who surround them. Bernardo struggles in solitude, opening up slowly, in fits and starts, only to his psychiatrist, and only to retreat once again when he feels he has revealed too much, until a chance meeting with Michela elicits a moment of hope, and this moment is a seed in frozen soil, until the spring when it thaws and pushes its tender shoots out of the ground into the light. Michela, on the other hand, has a lover, has a father, has a mother, all of whom hurt and continue to cause hurt, whether intentional or by happenstance, until her meeting with Bernardo allows a solitary ray of hope to enter her dark existence, and she begins to find her true self beneath the layers of lies she’s accepted as truth. And in the end, no one is too damaged to find some measure of salvation, some measure of peace, even if it’s only for a brief moment of clarity.

This book received through the Early Reviewers Giveaway at LibraryThing.

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Posted in Crochet, Work in progress, Yarn stash

WIP Wednesday, and revealing the stash

My friend Amy wanted to know how much yarn I really have. So I dragged it out of the bins and arranged it on the floor for picture time. Ready?

Somehow it doesn’t seem like all that much when it’s all gathered into one place like that…But there’s a total of 293 separate skeins in various weights, brands, and colorways. I didn’t include all the partial skeins. Or the cotton thread. I have no idea how much cotton thread there is….it’s scattered all over the house. Guess I really need to get on those crochet lace tablecloths and bedcovers I promised my mother and sister.

In other news, WIP Wednesday features the still unassembled Moorish Mosaic Afghan.

All the pieces are done thanks to a marathon session over the weekend. Don’t think I’ll be doing that again anytime soon…at least not without giving myself a bona fide sleep break. Speaking of breaks, though, I’m taking a short one from yarncraft to read a book or two. Or maybe three. We’ll see.

Click the badge to see who’s working on what this week.

Posted in Book review

Book review: The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor

The Anatomy of GhostsThe Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Books are not luxuries. They are meat and drink for the mind.”

This quote from John Holdsworth, a major character in The Anatomy of Ghosts, is a simple truth. And The Anatomy of Ghosts is a twelve-course feast.

Holdsworth is a widowed bookseller, haunted by his failures as a parent and husband, eking out a living in 18th century London selling used volumes from a handcart. One day he is approached by the emissary of Lady Anne Oldershaw, offering him the position of curator of her late husband’s library, with the obligation of cataloguing and placing a value on its contents in anticipation of its bestowal upon university. This seemingly simple task has a corollary obligation: return Lady Anne’s son Frank to sanity, and thus restored, to London.

Young Frank has been committed to a sanitarium because he insists he has seen a ghost while at school in Cambridge. Holdsworth retrieves him from the hospital and sets him up in a secluded country cottage. While Frank whiles away his time in the fresh country air, Holdsworth is delving into the fact of the ghost…for Frank’s ghost was Sylvia, the deceased wife of Philip Whichcote, and the circumstances of her death are questionable, at best.

Holdsworth is a reluctant sleuth, bound by contemporary conventions of place and social structure, but his curiosity is driven in part by his unresolved guilt over the deaths of his own wife and son, and he oversteps his bounds so carefully those above him in social strata barely notice. He uncovers a secretive society whose chief object is debauchery and blasphemy, and sniffs out a connection between young Oldershaw, the deceased Sylvia, Whichcote, and numerous other players of high rank in the small theater that is Cambridge University. Everything, everyone, is connected, whether or not they are aware of the connection.

Andrew Taylor tells his multi-layered story with clarity and precision. His attention to detail, his ear for dialogue, his creation of character, all are wicked sharp. This sentence, for example, tells the reader everything one needs to know about both individuals mentioned: “The doorstep was whitestoned every morning by a gangling maid named Dorcas, a poorhouse apprentice who feared Mrs Phear far more than she feared Almighty God because He at least was reputed to be merciful.” Sights, smells, sartorial details — all lovingly exposited almost to the point of wishing for a kerchief of one’s own to hold to one’s nose. The Anatomy of Ghosts is a rare treat for a lover of historical fiction and a lover of mysteries. Both are exquisitely contained within this one volume. If I had to make a comparison between them, I’d say with The Anatomy of Ghosts, Andrew Taylor has outdone Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.

Thank you to LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers for the opportunity to read this book.

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Posted in Crochet, Miscellaneous, Work in progress

All the bits and pieces…

So it took every bit of 24 hours — less the 4 or 5 hours I spent asleep — to finish all the pieces for the Moorish Mosaic Afghan. And here they are in all their messy and stringy glory:

Last Wednesday, I had all the large motifs save one finished, which means between Thursday and now, I’ve crocheted one large hexagon motif, 20 square motifs, and 16 triangle motifs. I’m sick of crochet right about now. In fact, I think I’m sick of yarn right about now. I think I’ll let all the bits of pieces of this afghan and everything else rest for a few days, and read a book.

Posted in Crochet, Miscellaneous, Work in progress

Progress report

Four hours left in the knit marathon…I have six more triangles to make and then assembly can commence. It looks like the afghan is the only thing that will even approach being done. I’m awfully bored with holding a crochet hook and really really really want to pick up some knitting needles, but I’ve promised myself I will at least get all the motifs made before doing so.

Pics will be posted as soon as the triangles are done.

Sooooo tired.

Posted in Crochet, Miscellaneous, Work in progress

What? Hmm? No, I’m not sleeping!

Really, that wasn’t me who wimped out and crawled into bed around 6 am. It was some other knit marathon lunatic who looks like me.

Actually, when I visited Cheryl Marie‘s blog after my last entry to see how she was doing, I saw she had given herself permission to sleep. Somehow I missed that part of the rules. And so, four hours later, I actually feel human again. I’ve got a pot of coffee on, and a bowl of oatmeal and a couple of scrambled eggs waiting.

Bring on the yarn! I’m ready again!

Posted in Crochet, Miscellaneous

Approaching the end of hour 12

Productivity has slowed down immensely. Since my last post, I’ve only managed to complete five triangles. Now, these triangles take a grand total of about 20 minutes each. But I keep nodding off. In fact, I curled up under the blankie in the recliner for close to an hour along about 2:30 am.

And I’m a bit peeved with BBC America at the moment. They had been advertising all day the other day about a Being Human marathon, leading up to the premiere of the new season at 9 PM Monday night. At least, I thought it was Monday night. Apparently my brain is fuzzy because now I can’t remember when it was. It’s certainly not on now, which is when I thought it would be. Instead, we have BBC World News. I can’t handle news and legitimate information at the moment. Grrrr. Guess it’s back to Stargate SG-U.

It may be time to make a pot of coffee…