Category Archives: Reading

So many books

A book casually left on the table... Johannes Cabal, The Necromancer

I’ve been listening to the Johannes Cabal (Jonathon L. Howard) audiobooks. They’re excellent listening: sarcastic, drily hilarious, often gross, sometimes sad, suspenseful. The Kid noticed the audiobook cover open on my phone and was interested momentarily. Now we have the first in the series in paper, lying casually on the table. He hasn’t picked it up yet. No surprise. No problem – I want them around for me to reread or lend out.

A Christmas to Remember , Betty Neels. A two-fer edition. Romance, medical setting, that old-fashioned feel. When the hero kisses the heroine, the heroine finds it mysterious. (The longer first story was published in 1997, the second 1976.) I quite liked the first one (The Mistletoe Kiss). The second was not as interesting a story, especially read right after the first, except that the heroine is a charge nurse (of course I can’t think of the UK term) and her work reminded me of my supervisor’s stories working in a London hospital. And then I remembered the Sue Barton books. I think I only ever read one, probably Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse, years and years ago. Funny thinking about it now – some of the scenes are still stuck in my head. The slip and the director, the puppy with a wire too tight, the newspapers laid down under the nursing bag for cleanliness, her brilliant suggestion of a career as chauffeur to some poor guy oh look how well he drives… I’m certainly not a nurse now because of that book (and didn’t think of nursing as a possibility until I was about done with my unrelated BA, not a childhood dream). Pretty funny remembering this is the only one I read, and I’m a public health nurse/visiting nurse. It’s all a coincidence! I swear!

Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold, a novella in the Five Gods series. So good, a quick satisfying bite. Fantasy, solid world-building without constant explanations. Some of the others in the series are pretty hard reads, emotionally. This is not. It is charming. (I like this series a lot.)

Silver on the Road by Laura Ann Gilman, the first and only out so far of The Devil’s West series. Fantasy, road trip with horses, learning power, a bit of mystery solving. I liked it so much I’ve re-read it already and I pre-ordered the next. Not a cliff-hanger ending, but clearly part of a larger story arc. Because I liked this one so much, I read the first two of her Retrievers series, but they didn’t work nearly as well for me. Oh well.

Sailing to Sarantium and The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay. Interesting books, compelling characters. But I can’t read many books that make me weep, and even though this may be fantasy, it’s fantastical historical fiction (yeah I see La Reconquista in the Lions, not to mention those Romans in Sarantium) and well, there are no Happy-Ever-Afters here I think. I won’t read the next Sarantine Mosaic book.

Act Like It, Lucy Parker. Great fun! And nicely written. Contemporary romance (the HEA is here), West End theatre, relationship for the purpose of public relations.

The Thin Woman, Dorothy Cannell. (Oh, look! The first in a series.) I enjoyed it mostly, struck me as odd. Not quite sure if on the madcap side or just plain odd and a touch depressing. Cozy mystery maybe?

The Kraken King, Meljean Brook. Adventure! Romance! Steampunk! A touch of zombies! And a dash of politics! Well-written, solid world-building. Not quite a Must Buy As Soon As Possible author, but I always get around to reading her books. Her steampunk world may be my favorite, and in large part because it’s not steampunk tech for the sake of steampunk tech, and steampunk is not the only thing happening. Also, some books have angst. And again, angst not just for the sake of angst. (Hey, I like some angst here and there too.) (Angst sure is a funny looking word now.)

And so many more books.


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Message in a Bottle

I’m slowly reading Jean Sprackland’s Strands: A Year of Discovery on the Beach. I just finished the chapter SOS to the World, about two bottles she found with messages, the same message. And of course about messages in bottles in general and why and what happens and stories.

Why would anyone write this stuff? What kind of disturbed person keeps throwing messages into the sea? How can it be normal to send letters to people you don’t know? Eventually someone with a sense of irony writes, ‘Aren’t all blogs just nothing more than messages in a bottle?’

And suddenly, I need to write a blog post.


Dry blue jelly
Walking along, not really looking, I thought this was a used condom. But there was another, and another, and then several all together. Seemed like an unusual quantity of used condoms on the beach. And they were blue. With sails,
Another sry blue jelly
Seaweed air sac
Messages everywhere.
Harrington (Carrington?) at Foothill
19th Ave at International

Jean Sprackland writes lovely and powerful (sneaky powerful) poetry. Of her poetry books, I have Tilt and Sleeping Keys. Maybe because I’ve spent more time with Sleeping Keys, I keep returning to it. It Occurs to my Mother that She Might Be Dead. In. Last Resort. The Birds of the Air. Taking Down the Scaffolding. Supra-Ventricular Tachycardia. (Looking for that one poem, turn a page and “oh, that one too!” and turn another page and “and this one!”) I want to share them all with you (wherever this message washes up). Look for the book.

The end of In:

She hadn’t reckoned on resistance. Happiness, then,

is not some delicate gift, but a locked and stubborn thing

you have to break open. Now for a sleepless night

of rain and wind before the making good.

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Filed under Excursions, Oakland, Poems, Reading

A Life in Stitches

I spent some time talking to Mom today about books.  You know how easy it is to complain about irritations in a book?  I find it much harder to explain why I like a book so much. I usually resort to pushing it on everybody I know.

A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter by Rachael Herron is one of those good books.  All I can think to say sounds like gushing uncritical praise.  I think you should read it, and not just because I like Rachael for real, and I’ve been reading her blog for years.  Memoir essays.  Not memoir about her knitting, but with knitting.  I know a few stories from the blog, but in the book they are in finished form – smooth writing, strong voice, thoughtful and self-aware, substantial.

I think you should read this book.  If you don’t even know what the hell knitting is, you should read it.  All you need is an interest in people.  You might not like it, but it won’t be for the knitting.

I think you should read this book.  It’s really good.

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Check that date!

Oh, for heaven’s sake!

Rachael Herron’s reading at Barnes and Noble in Emeryville was tonight, and I couldn’t make it.  Luckily, she’ll be at the Borders in Alameda soon!

Too bad I can’t figure out the right date for love or money.  It’s Saturday, June 5.  But go here to make sure.   I wouldn’t believe me if I were you.  In fact, I don’t believe me.  I’ve already had it wrong twice!

(I didn’t get to tonight’s reading, but I’m about to order something or other online to support the good cause.  Just don’t ask me to remember that name right either!)

Oh, and one of the needles I’m using for the lace scarf broke.  US#2 bamboo longish straights.  Honestly, I’m happy they lasted this long.  I need to figure out safer transport.  Nuts.

But it’s not been a bad day!  Perfectly nice, other than broken needles, and the one day this week I’m without my raincoat, it dumps rain.  Again.  And it’s nearly June!  In Oakland!  But I’m in a reasonably upbeat mood.  Phew!

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Filed under Excursions, Knitting and more knitting, Reading, Uncategorized

Another Reading for Good Work!

I hope I can go, but it being a weeknight… (wee knight?)

If you didn’t know, Yarn-A-Go-Go wrote a book!  It’s published and everything!  (I know a real writer!  And not just of textbooks).  How To Knit A Love Song, by Rachael Herron.  She’ll be at the Barnes and Noble in Emeryville Thursday night for a book fundraiser – go read what she says about it.

Did I read the book?  Of course I read the book!  What do you take me for?  Someone who doesn’t read?

Lessee…  Contemporary romance, with knitting.  I’m a great fan of fantasy, of all kinds.  And I don’t mean specifically the fantasy genre, but fantasy in a broad sense.  This is fantasy for knitters!  I think there might have been some sex, too.  And humming alpacas.  And a car chase.  Go read it.  It’s a fun book!  And it’s the first of three, I think.   I’ve been passing it around, to general enjoyment.

If I can’t make it Thursday night, maybe I can go to Borders in Alameda (next!) Saturday evening (June 12).  But that won’t be a good fundraiser.  Hmm

(I’m about exactly 1/3 through the lace scarf.  3 repeats and 9 rows.  Goes fast, when I work on it.  Someday, I will stop being surprised at how much I can do when I do what needs doing.)


Filed under Excursions, Reading, Uncategorized

June 19, 7pm

Are you in the Bay Area?  Then put this one in your calendar.  And get other folks to go, and talk about it.  Be annoying.  (that’s my strategy.  Annoy into compliance!)

Joshilyn Jackson will be at Books, Inc (1760 Fourth St, Berkeley) for a benefit for Building Futures with Women and Children.  Go here for info.  Don’t worry!  I won’t let you forget (ominous music here)…

She’s one of my favourite authors writing now.  Kick Ass books!  (and goofy and hilarious and human and some days even serious in her blog)

(If you can’t come, read one or two or three of her books.)

Which reminds me…  I should write up a coupla good books I’ve been reading.

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(Wouldn’t you know it? I’m on theme for the weekend!)

I pulled out my old Strunk and White Elements of Style.  I haven’t looked at it in ages.  Had the APA format most recently for nursing papers, and I don’t remember what for Spanish lit (in Spanish, naturally) or all those other papers I stayed up nights writing.  I wrote my name across the top – handwriting (and name) indicates high school or earlier.  Open it up, and find some love from my Bopa.


Read this book!

Use this book when you write!

It is a lifetime companion!


Xmas 1988

I love finding notes in my books.  I really should remember to do the same when I’m giving them as presents.  I miss my grandparents, all of them, even the grandfather I don’t remember.  I miss knowing them now I’m an adult and to know them as adults (less so with Mema, but I wish…).   This grandfather, Bopa, we share words.  We used to write limericks to each other.  I’ve got one around here somewhere written by him, involving Frisco and Crisco (on his head).

Oops.  Kiddo is clamoring for our bit of Olympics-watching.  Time to suffer through prime-time NBC and watch what they think is good for us, in between commercials.  (I’m livid about the broadcasting of the Games.  Livid!  Possibly even rabid.  Definitely grouchy.)

Happy New Year!


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