Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review Tuesday

Whoa – it’s been 8 weeks since my last Book Review Tuesday. I wonder how many novellenas I’ll have to do for that? (Yes, that’s my idea of a joke – don’t worry if you don’t get it!) OK, so what have I been up to in the last 2 months?

1. The Preacher, by Camilla Läckberg (Patrik Hedström #2). In the fishing community of Fjällbacka, life is remote, peaceful, and for some, tragically short. Foul play was always suspected in the disappearance twenty years ago of two young campers, but their bodies were never found. But now, a young boy out playing has confirmed the grim truth. Their remains are discovered alongside those of a fresh victim, sending the tiny town into shock. Local detective Patrik Hedström, expecting a baby with his girlfriend Erica, can only imagine what it is like to lose a child. When a second young girl goes missing, Hedström's attention focuses on the Hults, a feuding clan of misfits, religious fanatics and criminals. The suspect list is long but time is short—which of this family's dark secrets will provide the vital clue?

The Bug Says: As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had already read books 1, 3 & 4. I like the characters, and the backstory that Läckberg always provides – these mysteries almost always begin many years before the actual murder takes place. I gave it 4 stars.

2.  The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century.

The Bug Says: I love love loved this book! I don’t know why it captivated me so, but I made Dr. M listen to it when we drove to NC just so I could listen to it again. I highly recommend it for pure fun. I gave it 5 stars.

3. Don't Make Me Say Goodbye: Stories, by Mary Moon. Mary Moon explores the landscape of long-married life—the hidden hurts and disappointments that lead women to consider leaving, and the tender weight of shared history that prompts them to stay. In “Into the Light,” a wife and mother finds the idea that she might legally choose the moment of her death comforting, but how will she balance the finality of that choice against the little joys and inevitable tragedies of living? And in “Missing the Boat,” a couple on a cruise vacation share very different ideas of how to spend their days, with unforeseen results. MARY MOON lives in the small village of Lloyd in North Florida with her husband. She has four grown children and tends a very small flock of chickens and occasionally an even smaller flock of grandsons. She blogs about her life and anything else she feels like discussing at http://blessourhearts.net

The Bug Says: I read Mary Moon’s blog so I was interested to see what her fiction would look like. I really enjoyed the two stories. My only complaint is that there were only two! We need more from her. I gave it 4 stars.

4. Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

The Bug Says: We read this book for book club. It was interesting, but in the end the only character I cared about was Bee. All of the adults in her life were crazy and/or annoying. I gave it 3 stars.

5. The Innocent (Vanessa Michael Munroe #2), by Taylor Stevens. Eight years ago, a man took five-year-old Hannah from her school and spirited her over the Mexican border, taking her into a world of a cult known as The Chosen. Now, the childhood survivors of The Chosen turn to Vanessa Michael Munroe for help, knowing that she is the only chance of stealing Hannah back.

The Bug Says: What’s interesting about these Munroe books is that she is a flawed, fragile, and fierce person. The stories are fascinating, but getting inside Michael’s head is what draws me back to the series. This particular one tackled the question of what is really a cult, and what is it like to be a child inside those walls. I gave it 4 stars.

6. Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor (Jane Austen Mysteries #1), by Stephanie Barron. Readers love her as an author, now they'll embrace her as the sleuth in Stephanie Barron's new mysteries. Not long after Jane Austen arrives at the estate of her friend, the Countess of Scargrave, her elderly husband, the Earl, succumbs to a mysterious illness. The widow then becomes the target of some sinister accusations. Jane attempts to get to the bottom of this complex puzzle, putting herself in the gravest jeopardy as she follows a trail of clues that leads all the way to the House of Lords.

The Bug Says: Unlike the last fake Jane Austen book I read in April, this one was interesting & involved actual detective work on Jane’s part. It took a while for me to get into it, but the chapters were short, so I made myself read one each night until I finally had to finish the book all in one go. I will probably read the next one at some point. I gave it 4 stars.

7.  Hush Hush (Tess Monaghan #12), by Laura Lippman. The award-winning New York Times bestselling author … brings back private detective Tess Monaghan, introduced in the classic Baltimore Blues, in an absorbing mystery that plunges the new parent into a disturbing case involving murder and a manipulative mother. On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes committed the unthinkable: she left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car while she sat nearby on the shores of the Patapsco River. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Freed, she left the country, her husband and her two surviving children, determined to start over. But now Melisandre has returned Baltimore to meet with her estranged teenage daughters and wants to film the reunion for a documentary.

The Bug Says: I loved the Tess Monaghan series & was so excited to see a new book! It both met my expectations and disappointed me. I still love Tess and all the people in her life, but I didn’t really care about the mystery. The mother in the book just wasn’t sympathetic to me, so I felt like too much time was spent on her (I know, I know – she was the main character other than Tess). I gave the book 4 stars (for nostalgia, mostly).

8.  The Collected Short Stories, by Dana Stabenow. Edgar-award winning author Dana Stabenow is best-known for her Kate Shugak novels, but the unifying protagonist of almost all her writing—be it crime, fantasy, horror, or science fiction—is Alaska. This genre-spanning collection of 16 short stories features familiar characters like Kate and Jim, Liam and Wy, and Bill and Moses, but also ranges farther afield than many readers will expect, leaping from modern-day Anchorage to 22nd-century Mars to the fantasy kingdom of Mnemosynea. Remarkably disparate, but indisputably Stabenow, whose fertile imagination is anything but predictable.

The Bug Says: Dana Stabenow is one of those authors who could make a grocery list interesting (and slightly sinister). I love her Kate Shugak series, and I loved her Liam Campbell series (too short!), so I was very happy to come across this collection containing stories I hadn’t read yet. There are a few extras too (including the two set int Mnemosynea that I’d love to have more of). I gave it 5 stars.

I would probably have had one more book to report, but I decided that I really needed to listen to The Martian again (well, actually, this was the first time that I listened to it – I read the Kindle version last time). The movie is coming out in November (with Matt Damon!!) and I wanted to refresh my memory with its fabulosity. It was still fabulous. :)

Currently I’m listening to Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway. It’s a rather bizarre sort of steam punk/science fiction book set in London (very similar to Kraken). I’m about halfway through and totally hooked. On my Kindle, I’m reading Full Dark House (Bryant & May #1), by Christopher Fowler, but I just started, so I have nothing to say about it.

What are you guys reading?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

2015 Project 365 – Week Twenty-six

What a week! And I’m not talking about what has happened on a national scale (but I’m pretty darned happy about most of it). It’s the time of year when I start apologizing for posting too many pictures. And the sad thing is that they’re often pictures of the same things (lilies, daisies, moon…). That is especially true this week because I am too sleepy to be discriminating (and after I finish this I have to go gazelle because we were travelling today so I didn’t walk).
Sunday, June 21st  
I noticed our first daylily this morning as I was leaving for church.

Dr. M captured this fabulous shot. We thought it was pretty special, but apparently these butterflies love our daisies, as you’ll see later in the week.

The moon!

Monday, June 22nd   
Lilies and Rosie…

Tuesday, June 23rd             
Lilies again. Love that Easter lily!

Dr. M stalked some water fowl.

A toad!

Wednesday, June 24th     
For some reason this doe and rabbit make me think of a Disney movie.

See? Lovely!

Lilies (those are the last ones this week).

We had Relay for Life luminaries at work. I couldn’t do one for everyone in my life, but I picked five people to honor this year.

The moon!

Thursday, June 25th     
Last night I finished square #4 of pattern #12, but waited until today to take its picture.

After work Dr. M & I headed up to Lake Erie. I caught him mid-lecture :)

When we got there I took a quick walk around the motel.

Friday, June 26th
Today I finished up square #4.2 of pattern #12 (I had skipped one of the patterns for this particular blanket so I made two different versions of pattern #12. Isn't it wild how the same pattern looks so different when you add another color?).

We headed to one of our favorite lakeside parks to sit and crochet (me) & take pictures (Dr. M). But there was a roadblock.

I took a walk before I settled in to crochet. I noticed that it was pretty windy & the lake was very splashy (technical term). Cue sinister music!

After hanging out there for a while we visited “our” lighthouse at Marblehead.

Here are a handful of Dr. M’s pictures from the day.

It was a good day!

And I finished square #1 of pattern #13!

Saturday, June 27th                
We knew that it was going to rain today & had planned to do some shopping & indoor activities. But there was a LOT of rain and a LOT of wind & there ended up being flooding & power outages.

We decided to drive out to some of our favorite wetland areas since it was already so wet. Of course, I went charging off down the path only to find it blocked. But it was a beautiful drive – lots of birds and dramatic skies.

When we got back to our motel we discovered that our parking lot was ankle deep in water! Dr. M dropped me off & then parked the Bugly in a dry(ish) spot & slogged back to our room (thanks sweetie!). And we spent the night listening to the wind & being grateful for our 2nd floor room. (Side note: The hotel actually called our home phone at 9:00 p.m. to say they were relocating folks, but we had checked our voicemail earlier in the evening & didn’t get the message until we got back home. And then when Dr. M checked out this morning, the person at the front desk said that they’d checked us out last night. So we were squatting! Ha! But we were warm & dry & the view of the crazy lake was well worth the slog through the parking lot). 

To be continued...

Hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

So What's Pinterest All About Anyway?

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who embrace the Pinterest & those who are still scratching their heads about it. I'm a modified embracer. I shall explain.

Pinterest is the digital equivalent of a wishbook. Remember cutting home decor ideas out of a magazine & pasting them in a scrapbook? Or keeping a folder of household cleaning tips? Me either. (If you visited my home you would probably say that perhaps I could have benefited from such a wishbook.) Anyway, Pinterest is a place to go look for ideas and also a place to save an idea when you come across it on the world wide web. I mostly do the latter.

Here is what the home page looks like when I log on:

If I wanted to, I could just keep scrolling down & looking at stuff. Or I could search for something in particular. But Pinterest, like Wikipedia, is created by the masses. If you see something that interests you and you click on it, the link may or may not take you somewhere helpful. I mostly ignore this page (although isn't that baby hat adorable?).

Here is MY page, with my boards (folders):

As you can see, I had so many links to crochet patterns that I had to split them up. So, how do these pictures get here? I come across something of interest (let's face it, it usually involves yarn). I think to myself, "Self, I would like to make this hat/scarf/blanket later." So I click on the little Pinterest symbol on my toolbar :

And a window pops up asking me which board I want to put it on:

Then later I go into Pinterest to my boards, and select the one I want (here is my scarves board):

I scroll down until I find the one I want & click on it. That takes me to the original website which has the pattern:

Back in the bad old days I had dozens of links to things I wanted to keep, saved as bookmarks on Internet Explorer (those WERE the bad old days!). Which was fine for articles or exercise tips - I could name the bookmark well enough to know what it was. But once I started collecting crochet patterns, without a picture attached, I would usually have to click on each one to find the one I wanted. I mean, really, I'm supposed to remember what the Dazzle Scarf looks like six months from now?

Pinterest, as a repository for all my crochet patterns of interest, works really well for me. And saves paper too - I can access it on my phone & pull up a pattern on the fly wherever I am. And frankly, that has been the biggest selling point for me, especially with all of these granny squares I'm making. I can pull up the pattern wherever I am & see how mine compares to the original.

Clear as mud? Did I convince you of its worth?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

2015 Project 365 – Week Twenty-five

Before we get to the pictures, a couple of other things. First of all, Happy Father’s Day to my dad. I know full well all the things you’ve done for me and I am so very grateful. Love you daddy!

Second, I wouldn’t feel right doing a blog post and not mentioning the tragedy in Charleston. I am hoping and praying that the perpetrator doesn’t get his wish of a race war – and not only that, that the opposite happens. How about a love-fest instead? Can we just love one another? I think that Someone told us that was kind of important…

And now, my pictures for the week. Last week I said, “This week was all about crochet and growing things…” Well, this week was all about crochet and growing things. Heh.

Sunday, June 14th
This morning at church we said goodbye to a parishioner who is moving to Pennsylvania to be near his daughter. We’ll miss you Jack!

I worked on a couple more preemie hats. As you can see, I’ve figured out how to size them.  

Monday, June 15th  
Dr. M saw a rainbow on his way to school.

Tuesday, June 16th            
Dr M took pictures around the yard. Things are hopping around here!   

Ms. Pinky is almost there…

We found what we think is a sunflower growing in the yard.


I finally finished this prayer shawl yesterday, and took a picture of it in the sun today. When I posted it on Facebook I got a lot of compliments, but one of the reasons that it took me so long to finish it is because I wasn’t very excited by the color combo. Ha!

Tonight I finished square #1 of pattern #12. I’m almost halfway through the afghan project!

Wednesday, June 17th     
I’ve done a terrible job of keeping up with my zen calendar. Today I was trying to get current & this one made me pause. Food for thought!

Ms. Pinky!

Thursday, June 18th     
Square #2…

Around the yard… I told Dr. M that it looked like Pinky was giving him the finger. Heh.

Friday, June 19th
Daisy Nation.

Square #3 – this pattern is a lot of fun and fast.

Saturday, June 20th                
My daily walk, at the cemetery. I amused myself by noticing the road sign “Veterans Dr” & thinking, “That’s nice.” And then noticing the graves with all the flags on them. Ms. Oblivious – that’s me!

Hope everyone has a great week!

2024 Project 365 – Week Twenty-three

As I had hoped, this week was a bit less chaotic – I worked a lot of hours, but they were orderly and I made headway on some of the tasks on...