Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Musings

grandma wedding

Highlight of the week: We spent Thanksgiving in Indiana with my grandma. Of course I loved gorging myself on our massive feast (at least my taste buds did!) but I really enjoyed looking through some of her old photos (yet again). Above is my grandparents' beautiful wedding photo from 1957. I love photos for the memories they capture, and that's why I have approximately 17 billion photo albums. I also had fun addressing my Christmas cards and setting up my mini Christmas tree over the weekend.

Reading: I finished "The Lake House" by Kate Morton (pretty good!) and then cruised through "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline. It'd been on my to-read list forever and I'm so glad I finally got to it! Last night I read the first couple pages of "The Beautiful Bureaucrat" by Helen Phillips. I'm going into this book totally blind. A friend at work told me to read it a couple months ago, and I've totally avoided any reviews or even the cover blurb -- so I have no idea what it's about!

Knitting: I finally(!!!) finished my BlueSand Cardigan! It had been languishing on the coffee table for two entire months, waiting for me to stop being a lazy bum and sew up the pockets and weave in the yarn ends. I procrastinated for good reason -- it took me over two hours to sew in all those pesky yarn ends. It's currently blocking, and I'm really excited for it to dry so I can try it on! (I did notice I knitted one sleeve slightly shorter than the other. Oops.) I'm also working on a purple Molly Hat for my friend Jessie.

Watching: "Homeland" season 4 on DVD. We've only got one disc left... I can't wait to find out what happens! (But I'm not looking forward to waiting almost a year to watch season 5. Sigh... the trouble with watching shows from the premium channels!)

Listening to: "Stressed Out" by Twenty One Pilots. And "Sound and Color" by Alabama Shakes, which I finally Shazamed from the iPad commercial because I liked it so much. Incidentally, my husband was griping last night about that iPad commercial he hates because of the annoying song -- and of course he meant the one I liked enough to find out what it was!

Eating: Sooooo muuuuuch foooood! I'm especially enjoying my grandma's apple dumplings! She makes the best ones.

Following: Two new-to-me blogs, Three Good Rats, written by a fellow bookworm and knitter, and Adventures of a Bibliophile.

Looking forward to: Hopefully (maybe?!) finally going to see "Mockingjay" this week. And going to cut down our Christmas tree next weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yarn Along: "Orphan Train" and Molly Hat

Yarn Along is a wonderful link-up -- hosted by the Small Things blog every Wednesday -- about two of the best things in life: reading and knitting!

yarn along

Reading: I finally finished up "The Lake House" by Kate Morton Monday morning. It took me over a week to read, which is a rarity, but it was 500 pages and we had a busy couple of days with buying a new car, so that's my defense. Last night I started "Orphan Train," a book I've been meaning to read for a long time. I only got a few pages in, but already it's different than I expected -- in a good way.

Knitting: My friend Jessie saw the picture I posted for Yarn Along a couple weeks ago of my teal Molly Hat and asked me to knit her one. I'm more than happy to oblige! She asked for purple yarn... which turns out to be remarkably hard to photograph. It's more of a true purple than it looks in the photo; there's not as much of a bluish tinge to the real thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all you U.S. bookworms and knitters! I count plentiful yarn and endless reading material among the many things I have to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I'm Thankful For... Books!


Hello, fellow bookworms! Can you believe Thanksgiving is upon us? I don't know where the last few months went... I feel like it was just Labor Day! Today's topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Thanksgiving -- any top 10 list related to Thanksgiving will do. Sounds easy, but it was surprisingly tough! I have so very much to be thankful for (a wonderful family, a job I actually like, a new car, a beautiful home, on and on) but I decided to focus on books. What are you feeling grateful for this Thanksgiving?

10 Bookish Things I'm Grateful For:

1. Easy (and free!) access to books. 

2. Parents who read to me when I was little; they happily bought me books (Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, Babysitter's Club!) and took me to the library (hello, Nancy Drew!).

3. Some awesome teachers who encouraged my love of reading and writing.

4. My library job, where I get to talk books every day with co-workers and patrons.

5. All the best cold-weather reading comforts: a fireplace, a warm blanket, plenty of fun mugs to fill with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, and a cat to snuggle with.

6. Book-based movies and TV shows that are really well-done, like "The Hunger Games," "The Martian," "Gone Girl" and "Game of Thrones."

7. Up-all-night page-turners.

8. My amazingly comfortable hammock -- my favorite summer reading spot.

9. Fellow booklovers with creative streaks who have come up with all kinds of awesome bookish products for me to buy -- art prints, t-shirts, mugs, bookmarks, etc. (I love you, Etsy!)

10. A continuation of my favorite fictional world in the new J.K. Rowling play and the movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Musings


Highlight of the week: We bought a new car on Friday! It's a 2013 Ford Edge. I'm still not 100% sold on the exterior (I think it's a bit too reminiscent of a minivan) but the inside is sooooo nice. It has everything we wanted and so much more! Heated leather seats? Ok. Dual climate control? Yes. Huge sunroof? Can't turn that down. Nice sound system? Check. Ambient lighting in your choice of five or six different colors? Well, sure. Looks like a minivan? Ehh, who cares!

Reading: "The Lake House" by Kate Morton... which is what I was reading last Monday! I can't remember when I last took more than a week to read anything, and I'm loving "The Lake House," so I don't know what the hold-up is! I think it must just have to do with it being a busy week, and me falling asleep reading in bed every night. I hope to finish it soon, because my pile of unread library books is starting to multiply again!

Knitting: I finished my Woolly Wormhead mystery hat knit-along this week. I'm not totally in love with the hat, but I am besotted with my huge, fluffy faux fur pompom. I'll post pictures of the hat as soon as the pattern is released and they'll no longer be considered spoilers.

Watching: "Trainwreck" (ok) and "Self/Less" (also just ok). Hoping to see both "Spectre" and "Mockingjay" in the theater soon!
Looking forward to: Well, Thanksgiving, of course! And scouting out some good Black Friday deals (on the computer, while I'm wearing sweatpants and gorging on pie -- you couldn't pay me enough to go shopping at an actual store!).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Yarn Along: "The Lake House" and Mystery Hat Knit-Along

Yarn Along is a wonderful link-up -- hosted by the Small Things blog every Wednesday -- about two of the best things in life: reading and knitting!


Reading: "The Lake House" by Kate Morton. I'm about 100 pages in and totally transfixed. I read Morton's "The Secret Keeper" back in 2013 and have been wanting to read more of her work every since; I really think she has the potential to become one of my favorite authors. "The Lake House" is sort of a literary suspense novel with dual narratives in past (1930s) and present (2003). Morton is such a talented writer; her characters are so rich and the sense of atmosphere (London, the English countryside, a decaying old mansion, a famous writer's cozy home) is wonderful. I see a 5-star rating in my future...

Last week I finished "A Curious Beginning" by Deanna Raybourn (wonderful) and then read "Mr. Mercedes" by Stephen King (a terrifying page-turner!).

Knitting: Yesterday I knitted the final clue of my Woolly Wormhead mystery hat knit-along and today my project is making a faux fur pompom for the top. I've got mixed feelings about my hat... it's not my favorite, but I'm hoping it all comes together when I add the pompom. Alas, that's the excitement of a mystery knit-along -- you have no idea what you're going to end up with! (No picture of the hat this week... I wanted to put my Yarn Along picture on Instagram, and we're not supposed to post spoiler pictures there until next week when the MKAL is over.)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday Musings

chicken outfit

Highlight of the week: My best friend from middle and high school, Jaymee, came across the above photo and sent it to me on Facebook. She was in several different dance classes and that's me in her (way, way too small) chicken costume. Also, I'm wearing sky blue nail polish. It was 1997 or 1998 (seventh or eighth grade), after all. I probably took off JNCO jeans, an oversize Winnie-the-Pooh t-shirt and Airwalk sneakers to put the chicken outfit on. Ah, the good ol' days of passing specially-folded notes written with Gelly Roll pens, begging rides from Jaymee's older siblings, and crushes on boys I'd never even talked to.

Reading: I finished "A Curious Beginning" by Deanna Raybourn (loved it!) and blew through "Mr. Mercedes" by Stephen King (loved it too!). Now I'm reading Kate Morton's new book, "The Lake House." I'm only about 50 pages in but guess what -- I'm loving it as well! What did I do to deserve three awesome books in a row?! Hopefully this doesn't mean the next three will be duds!

Knitting: I'm doing the Woolly Wormhead 2015 mystery hat knit-along. Clue 3 comes out today and I'm looking forward to seeing how the hat finishes up!

Watching: This week we watched "Inside Out" (cute!) and "Pixels" (ugh!).

Listening to: "Hello" by Adele. Still.

Following: landlopers on Instagram. I started following this travelogue account a couple weeks ago but only started paying attention to the posts this week. Sometimes it's hard to force myself to read several paragraphs of writing on an instant-gratification photo site, but landloper's captions are always interesting and educational.

Looking forward to: At the library we all get an extra day off at the end of the year (called "rewards and incentive" time) and I decided to take Thursday off. I was planning to go see "Love the Coopers" at the movie theater, but it didn't get very good initial reviews so we'll see.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I Judge Books By Their Covers: "The Adventuress"

Hello, my name is Lindsay, and I judge books by their covers.
Confession: I always judge books by their covers. A book's appearance -- from the artwork to the font to the colors to the texture to the weight and cut of the pages (I like the ragged-edged ones) -- is very important to me. And there are certain kinds of covers I like and certain ones I'd never pick up unless I was already planning to read the book. It's fascinating to see how covers change between editions -- hardcover and paperback, or U.S. and international -- and it's so fun to see who prefers what!

U.S. cover // U.K. cover

Tasha Alexander is one of my favorite authors. I've been reading her Lady Emily historical mysteries for years and they're still going strong. Last month the latest installment in the series, "The Adventuress," came out. I haven't read it yet, but I recently discovered the series' vastly different U.K. covers and I thought it'd be fun to discuss!

The covers for most of the other books in the series (this is the 10th) are really super-duper different in the U.K. This U.S. cover is a bit of a stylistic departure from the usual artwork -- I like this one a lot better than most of the previous books' covers -- and I find it interesting that these two covers actually have quite a bit in common. They're both made up of blue tones with a pop of red/pink, Lady Emily is in profile overlooking a water scene to her right, the hat and the umbrella create similar silhouettes, and Emily is wearing a blue gown in both covers.

So which one do I like better? For the majority of the past novels' covers, it'd be hands-down U.K. I'm usually a fan of artistic covers over realistic ones. But something about the U.S. cover keeps grabbing my attention. Maybe it's that the tones are warmer, or the turquoise water, or the Eiffel Tower? In any case, while I really like the overall style of the U.K covers...

The winner: U.S. cover!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Yarn Along: "A Curious Beginning" and Woolly Wormhead Mystery Hat

Spoiler warning!
**If you're doing the Woolly Wormhead 2015 mystery knit-along and don't want to see clue 2, read no further!**

Yarn Along is a wonderful link-up -- hosted by the Small Things blog every Wednesday -- about two of the best things in life: reading and knitting!

yarn along 2

Reading: "A Curious Beginning" by Deanna Raybourn, the first in her new historical mystery series featuring Veronica Speedwell. It's set in 1887 England with the most delightful heroine! This is my first Deanna Raybourn read, but I've been meaning to check out her Lady Julia series forever. So far I'm absolutely loving "A Curious Beginning." If you like historical mysteries, give this one a try! In the last week I finished "Lair of Dreams" by Libba Bray (meh) and on Friday afternoon I read the entirety of the YA novel "Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon (not bad -- review here).

Knitting: The Woolly Wormhead 2015 mystery hat knit-along. Clue 2 came out this week and I'm really enjoying knitting it. I've just got one more repeat to go and I'll be ready for clue 3. The sort of mock-cable design is achieved by ascending 2-stitch cables to make a swirl pattern. Very clever! I've already decided to top it with a faux fur pompom.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When Books Go to Hollywood: The Good and the Bad

The ladies at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us faithful list-loving bookworms to talk about upcoming book-to-movie adaptations we're excited about. But I actually did that back in June (you can see that post here), so I'm putting a bit of a spin on the topic. (Before I digress, I must say that I'm excited about "The Devil in the White City" becoming a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and that Jennifer Lawrence is supposed to star in "The Rosie Project." And Emily Blunt is set to play Rachel in "The Girl on the Train." All good news!)

Movies are hardly ever as good as the books they're based on, but I usually find them to be acceptable representations, especially when I have some distance from the book. Sometimes, though, the movie tragically butchers the book. And other times -- very seldom, but it happens -- I actually find that I enjoy the movie more than I did its literary counterpart. Below are 10 examples:

The movie/show was painful:
1. "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella
2. "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan
3. "Horns" by Joe Hill
4. "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini
5. "Under the Dome" by Stephen King

Ugh. Just ugh. I was embarrassed to have dragged my husband to see "Percy Jackson" at the theater, and I spent all of "Horns" (which we suffered through on DVD) explaining the plot to him and picking out the many differences. I haven't actually read "Under the Dome," but I somehow stuck with all three (increasingly awful) seasons of the show. I know a few people who've read the book and they assured me that the show (which all of them abandoned) was nothing like the book.

The movie/show was significantly better:
1. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. "The Casual Vacancy" by J.K. Rowling
3. "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

4. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson
5. "Sherlock" based on stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

Shocker! Every so often, Hollywood turns a mediocre book into an awesome film. I didn't really like "Eat, Pray, Love," I hated "The Casual Vacancy," I struggled to relate to Hazel and Gus in the book version of "The Fault in Our Stars," I was bored by "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and I couldn't finish "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." But I liked the first three movies and I loved the Swedish "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" (really, all of the Swedish Stieg Larsson movies are excellent). And "Sherlock," one of my all-time favorite shows, needs no extra explanation.

Which books do you think Hollywood has butchered? Are there any movies you vastly prefer over the books?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday Musings


Highlight of the week: To be honest, it wasn't an awesome week. As I mentioned last week, we recently found out the Air Force is sending us back to Hawaii this winter/spring. Most people seem to think a move to Hawaii is something only a lunatic would complain about, but I'm actually not entirely thrilled to be heading back. And there are a LOT of things we have to do before the move. That, plus some other random crappy moments, have made for a stressful, grouchy week. There were a few bright spots, though: I got mail from my mom and my best friend, I enjoyed a Starbucks peppermint mocha and I signed up for my first-ever book/goodie swap through The Broke and the Bookish blog.

Reading: Unfortunately, I spent most of the week bogged down in "Lair of Dreams" by Libba Bray, the sequel to "The Diviners." While I enjoyed "The Diviners," I really didn't love installment 2 and I might not even continue the series. In any case, it was definitely not the book I wanted to be reading when I needed some escapism! I also read "Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon (in a little over 3 hours on Friday afternoon -- review here) and I started "A Curious Beginning," the first in a new historical mystery series by Deanna Raybourn. Luckily, this book seems to be a total winner so far! (Sidenote: I hit my Goodreads 2015 goal of 65 books this weekend!)

Knitting: I started a mystery hat knit-along by Woolly Wormhead. Clue 2 comes out today and I'm looking forward to it.

Watching: I finished up season 1, volume 2 of "Outlander." It was excellent, but man were there some scenes that were hard to watch! Not sure why it needed to be quite so graphic... and I'm not one to be easily overwhelmed or offended. We watched "Southpaw," the Jake Gyllenhaal boxing movie, this weekend and I really enjoyed it. (And Jake is ripped! It made me think about the crazy things actors do to their bodies for movie roles.)

Eating: My best friend Katie sent me some Bailey's Irish Cream truffles and they are delicious! It was nice to have a splurge this week, since Jarrod is doing a no/low-carb diet and most of our dinners the last 10 days have consisted of meat and a green veggie (plus a baked sweet potato for me). Maybe the lack of pasta and garlic bread in my life is contributing to my grumpy mood!

Listening to: "Hello" by Adele. Constantly. Because whenever I listen to it, it gets stuck in my head on repeat. (But I still love it.)

Looking forward to: A better week!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Book Review: "Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon

"Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon
First published in 2015
306 pages
My rating: 3.75 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:
This is a short, simple novel with only a small handful of characters and a straightforward premise. Madeline is sick, and if she steps outside she could die. So what's she to do when the love of her life moves in next door? This is good, pure storytelling and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Long Of It:
I'm pretty sure I was on little kids' chapter books the last time I read a novel cover-to-cover in one sitting. But yesterday was a gloomy Friday and I had a free afternoon, so I snuggled up under a blanket and dove into "Everything, Everything." It only took me a little over three hours to read this entire YA book, which has three things working in its favor in that regard -- it has an interesting premise, it's well- and creatively-written, and it's pretty short. It's 300 pages, but some of those pages only have one sentence or an illustration.

Eighteen-year-old Madeline has no hope of a normal life. She's got a rare immune system disease and has not set foot outside her house since she was a baby. Going outdoors would likely be fatal. An air lock guards the front door, and the few people who are ever invited inside must go through a decontamination process and are strictly forbidden from touching Madeline. She goes to school online. She doesn't have any real-life friends. Her only companions are her devoted mom and her loving nurse -- and her books.

Madeline has resigned herself  to her half-life -- until Olly and his family move in next door. Olly is a handsome, smart, funny parkour athlete with an abusive father, and his bedroom window just so happens to be right across from Madeline's. The two begin communicating online, and as their blossoming friendship shows signs of becoming something more, Madeline starts to question everything she accepted as immutable fact about how she's going to live her life and what she wants from it.

For a young adult book, "Everything, Everything" was a pleasant surprise. Nicola Yoon is a good writer, and I enjoyed the spice she added to the novel in the form of e-mails, drawings, pretend dictionary entries and more. The story was compelling; can you imagine never leaving the confines of your home in nearly the entire 18 years of your life? How about falling in love with someone you're not even allowed to touch?

I was very interested  in the story and I liked and admired Madeline, but I wanted more: more info about Madeline's childhood, more insight into Olly's personality and past, just a little more depth overall. But that's typical of young adult books -- and that's one of the reasons I don't read them all that often. But "Everything, Everything" is definitely worth the short time it takes to read it. The characters are likable, the premise is intriguing and unique, and the resolution is satisfying. (P.S. That cover! Gorgeous!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Yarn Along: Mystery Hat MKAL and "Lair of Dreams"

Yarn Along is a wonderful link-up -- hosted by the Small Things blog every Wednesday -- about two of the best things in life: reading and knitting! 


Knitting: Last night around 10 p.m. I got the hankering to knit something. I'm still putting off finishing up my BlueSand Cardigan like a total lazy bum, so I decided to take a quick browse on Ravelry and what do I find but the Woolly Wormhead 2015 Mystery Hat Knit-Along?! I've participated once before and got one of my favorite hats out of the MKAL.

I dug around in my stash and found a gorgeous skein of Malabrigo in Azul Profundo. The pattern intro mentions an optional pompom, and I've really been lusting after those faux fur pompoms popping up everywhere this fall. I thought the beautiful dark blue yarn would just go perfectly with one of those fur poms. Since it's a MKAL, I can only show you the yarn, not the progress on my hat. This week is clue 1, so all I've knit so far is the brim.

Reading: "Lair of Dreams" by Libba Bray, the second book her Diviners series. This is a long book -- over 600 pages -- and it's taken me some time to get into the story. The first book came out a couple years ago and I only have the vaguest memory of what happened. I was having a hard time feeling interested in the characters, but now I'm about a third of the way through and the plot is picking up. It's a young adult book (sort of in the paranormal realm, with dreamwalkers and object readers and talk-to-the-dead-ers, set in 1920s New York City), so hopefully it'll go fast from here. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

10 Awesome Debut Authors

Today's topic for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is debut authors we loved (and we're counting the days until their next book comes out) or authors whose second book was even better than their debut.

7 Debut Authors Whose Second Works I'm Anxiously Awaiting:

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway // The Martian by Andy Weir
I'm almost certain there will be a sequel to "The River of No Return." There better be! Weir is already working on a second book, called "Zhek," which is much more sci-fi-y than "The Martian." Apparently it's got aliens and telepathy!

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple // Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
Both of these books made me smile -- and laugh out loud -- and I can't wait to see what the authors put out next. (Ok, so I just double-checked Goodreads and it turns out Maria Semple has written one other book, back in 2008. But it doesn't have very good ratings and I will probably never read it. So we'll just say I'm anxiously awaiting her follow-up to "Where'd You Go, Bernadette! It's cheating, but oh well.)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern // The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Both hauntingly good books by talented writers. I will definitely check out these authors' next books!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
So, yes, this was the cliched "Gone Girl" of 2015. But I enjoyed it, and I'm curious what Hawkins' next story will be about. Will she stick with the unreliable narrator/psychological thriller or branch out to something new?

3 Authors Whose Sophomore Works Were Even Better Than Their Debuts:

Golden Son by Pierce Brown // The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
These are both second books in a series and both were among the very best books I've read this year. "Red Rising," Pierce Brown's first book, was stellar, while "The Bone Season" by Shannon was decent. Both sequels were awesome! There's only one more book in the Red Rising trilogy, but there should be five more books in the Bone Season series. I'm looking forward to them all!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Hillenbrand's wonderfully readable non-fiction debut was 1999's "Seabiscuit." Great book, but "Unbroken" was phenomenal. It took her 11 years to publish her second book, so I guess we can expect her third work in 2021!

Monday Musings


Highlight of the week: We spent most of last week on vacation in the Smoky Mountains to celebrate my 30th birthday. The leaves were stunning, and as always we felt refreshed and revitalized after our relaxing time in the mountains. I also had a blast dressing up at work for Halloween. Here's a look at my Hermione Granger costume.

Reading: I finished "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield (amazing) and started "The Lair of Dreams" by Libba Bray, the second book in the Diviners series. It's decent so far, but the first book came out a couple years ago and I hardly remember what happened, so it's taking some time to get back into the story.

Knitting: Nothing. :(  This needs to be rectified.

Watching: Black bears, falling leaves, raindrops and Krispy Kreme donuts that magically migrate from the box to my mouth. Not much TV and no movies.

Eating: Vacation food -- donuts, blackberry cobbler, barbeque; all the good stuff.

Looking forward to: Putting out Thanksgiving decorations! And scouring the clearance racks for short-sleeve shirts and tank tops. We just found out we're moving back to Hickam AFB in Hawaii this winter, so I've got to stock up on summer clothes!

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