Monday, May 30, 2016

My Summer 2016 Reading List

Happy Tuesday, fellow bookworms! I'm going rogue with Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) this week. The topic is beach reads, but I don't really have many new beach read recommendations from last year (you can see those here). We recently moved back to Hawaii and most of my books for the next three years will likely be taken the beach -- so they're all beach reads, right? And since there's no summer to-read list prompt this year, I decided to do it today!

My Summer Reading List:

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: Over the spring I got caught up on the two volumes I hadn't read yet, and now I'm anxiously awaiting volume 6, which comes out in July. If you haven't read "Saga" yet -- even if you think graphic novels aren't your thing -- give it a try! The first couple volumes in particular are really awesome! I'm continually amazed at how much story can be packed into so few words -- and lots of pictures, of course.
The Fireman by Joe Hill: I've only read one Joe Hill book ("Horns") so far but I keep meaning to read more. And I'm totally intrigued by the premise of his new apocalyptic thriller, "The Fireman."

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: I've finally decided it's time to read this one. I know it's long, and I know it'll be emotionally devastating. And I know I hate the cover and that I don't think the plot sounds interesting. But enough bloggers and friends have read and loved it that I'm going to take the plunge.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh: After hating "What She Knew" by Gilly McMillan, I decided to stay away from any book compared to "The Girl on the Train" for a while. But this thriller has gotten a lot of buzz and the plot sounds pretty intriguing, so I just can't help myself!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan: I've had my eye on this one for a while, and I thought it'd be a great opportunity to work something light and fun into my summer reading pile.
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik: I hadn't heard of Naomi Novik until the end of last year when "Uprooted" popped up on so many best-of lists at the end of the year. I finally read it last month and absolutely loved it -- and now I want to try Novik's Temeraire series.

The Moor by Laurie R. King (book 4 in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series): I started this wonderful mystery series -- featuring a brilliant young woman and a semi-retired Sherlock Holmes -- a few years ago now and I'd really like to work on getting caught up.
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny (book 2 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series): I'd been meaning for years to check out the Inspector Gamache mysteries -- which take place in the tiny town of Three Pines in Quebec -- and I finally read the first one at the end of 2015. Like the Mary Russell books, this is a long-running series that I'm hoping to make some progress on.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel: I've been hearing about this sci-fi book for months and I'm so excited to finally read it!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I LOVE all things Austen-related, and I've read and watched so many versions and spin-offs of "Pride and Prejudice," but I've never actually read the original! It, my friends, is time.

Books left over from my spring reading list:

There are seven books I didn't get to from my spring to-read post, but I'm actually pretty proud of myself here! I had 20 books on the list, and I managed to read 13 of them. And I had almost all of these books on hold at my parents' library in Colorado (where I spent a good chunk of April and May as part of our military move to Hawaii) and they just didn't come in before we left. I'll be requesting them again as soon as I get my Hawaii library card! (And if you're interested in hearing more about our move to Hawaii, you can check out this post!)

Monday Musings: Aloha!


Highlight of the week: Well, here we are on Oahu! Unfortunately, Hawaii hasn't gone out of its way to welcome us this go-round. It's been unusually rainy and humid, traffic is even worse than I remember it (partly due to light rail construction) and we're having a bit of a tough time finding a place to live. I will say, though, that it's nice to be in flip-flops again. And the silver lining to the rain is all the gorgeous impromptu waterfalls it creates along the H-3 through the Koolau Mountains!

Reading: I didn't get much reading done at all this week, but I did start and finish "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn. It was a solid 4-star read, and I definitely blew through it once I got into the story. (I actually didn't read much on the plane, like I'd planned, because Delta had on-demand movies in the seatback, which was awesome!) I'm hoping to watch the movie version soon, though I totally cannot see Charlize Theron as Libby. Now I'm reading an advance copy of "June" by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, which comes out tomorow. I enjoyed her first book, "Bittersweet," and I'm expecting to like "June," but I'm not far enough in yet to say. I do love the cover, though!

Watching: We watched a few more episodes of this season's "Fear the Walking Dead." It's nice to have something to watch in our hotel room, and I'm interested, but I definitely don't feel the connection to the characters that I do with the original show. (And every time I catch myself ogling Nick, I remember that he played little-boy Voldemort. Eek!)

Eating: Authentic Thai food, something we sorely missed in Dayton! Our very first meal after we got off the plane Wednesday was pad Thai, spring rolls and Thai iced tea.


Looking forward to: Finding a house! And, even though it means we'll have to move out of base lodging because they don't take pets, I'm looking forward to our kitty, Lily, joining us on Thursday.


I'm linking up with Kathryn at Book Date for her weekly feature, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yarn Along: "Dark Places" and Cap Sleeve Lattice Top

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

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Hello, Yarn Along friends! As you read this, we're on a plane (probably miserable -- I hate flying) to Hawaii, where we'll be spending the next three years. You can read more about our move here!

Reading: I chose "Dark Places" as my airplane read since I fully expect it to be an enthralling page-turner like Gillian Flynn's other books. It's the only Flynn book I haven't read yet and I'm looking forward to another dark and twisted plot with a jaw-dropping reveal.

Knitting: I didn't have much time for knitting the past week with getting my brother moved to his new apartment in Denver, and Jarrod's and my two-day getaway to Walden, the moose viewing capital of Colorado (a couple pictures here), not to mention preparing for the move, but I did make a little progress on the back of my Cap Sleeve Lattice Top (pattern). I'm sure I'll have more to show next week, since we'll be in base lodging while we look for a house and I'll need something to do while Jarrod's at work!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We're Moving to Hawaii!

hawaii collage

Tomorrow morning Jarrod and I will set off for Oahu, Hawaii, our home for the next three years. It's a little tough to be leaving; I'm still missing Ohio (which, shockingly, grew on me quite a bit, especially my library job and our lovely house and neighborhood, and fall... oh, fall...), and I'm sad to be saying goodbye to my home state of Colorado, where I've been hanging out with my parents for the last six weeks while Jarrod took a class in Florida. Luckily I got a good dose of Rocky Mountain air while I was here (and even got to see some moose!) and hopefully that'll tide me over until our next visit.

Before our last three years in Ohio, we were stationed in Hawaii for three years, and just about everyone I know who's never lived in Hawaii is absolutely flabbergasted that I'm not over the moon to be moving back to "paradise." But while living there has plenty of upsides, it's not always easy, and it's not always paradise.

The main reason that I'm not completely jumping for joy, though, is that if I'm going to be so far from family and friends again, I'd rather move to a new place and have three years of fresh adventures; we pretty much did everything we wanted to do in Hawaii the first time around, from just about every waterfall hike in the state to diving with sharks to watching the Pipe Masters surf competition to eating all the kalua pork we could handle (well, not Jarrod; he eats kalua pork for dessert!). Germany, England and Alaska were all on the assignment list this go-round and if we had to do an overseas assignment I'd definitely have preferred one of those.

But, as the adage goes, "Home is where the Air Force sends us" -- and seeing as we have absolutely zero choice in the matter, I'm working on getting excited about it. And, of course, there are plenty of worse places we could be going. And I've got many fond memories from our previous three years in Hawaii and there are definitely lots of things I'm looking forward to. So that means it's time for one of my favorite things... a list!

Looking forward to:
Going to miss:
-flip-flops all year round
-monk seals, sea turtles, humpback whales
-snorkeling at Hanauma Bay
-sunsets over the water
-coconut and pineapple everything
-not changing time
-Leonard’s malasadas (Portuguese donuts – soooo good; my favorite are filled with haupia – coconut pudding)
-plentiful rainbows
-plumeria, hibiscus and birds of paradise
-Mountain Magic shave ice
-watching the surf competitions
-lava flow drinks
-actual flowing lava
-fighter jets flying overhead
-authentic Thai food
-not having to rake leaves or shovel snow
-reading on the beach with my toes in the sand
-li-hing (sour plum powder) margaritas
-hunting for seashells (not that we need any more!)
-chocolate mac nut ice cream from Scoops of Paradise
-Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, Hank’s Haute Dogs
-getaways to our happy place, Barking Sands military beach cottages on Kauai
-dinner al fresco whenever we want
-tan sand, black sand, green sand, red sand
-huge waterfalls
-Maui Gold pineapples
-experiencing four completely different ecosystems on one tiny island
-chocolate-covered macadamia nuts
-showing off my new seahorse tattoo since I’ll be wearing short-sleeves every day
-hiking the Koko Head trail (I WILL get in shape for it this time!)
-our planned trip to Australia and New Zealand
-spending holidays with family
-big parking lots
-concerts (we’ve seen so many shows the past three years!)
-my awesome library job in Ohio
-wearing my hand-knitted hats, scarves, cowls and sweaters
-Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, Chick-fil-a, Jimmy John’s, etc. etc.
-snow at Christmas
-driving past open spaces, farmland and woods every day (Oahu can feel pretty claustrophobic at times)
-road trips
-good barbecue
-watching football while eating wings for dinner (thanks to the super-far-behind Hawaii time zone, football is over by dinner)
-wearing my huge cardigan collection
-curling up with a book, a blanket and a cup of coffee by the fireplace (we loved our gas fireplace!)
-April showers bringing May flowers
-yarn shops
-getting our meat from the local butcher
-cheaper everything
­-not having to battle crazy traffic all the time
-warming up with a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks (I still get them in Hawaii but they kinda lose that cozy factory when they make you sweat!)
-reasonable shipping prices for online orders
-Buckeye Blitz ice cream cones from Graeter’s
-boots (too hot to wear them in Hawaii except at night)
-rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs
-using the heated seats in our new car

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Musings from Colorado #6


Highlight of the week: This weekend Jarrod and I ventured to Walden, Colorado, a tiny town nestled in the north-central part of the state -- which just so happens to the the moose viewing capital of Colorado! One of my bucket list items was to see a moose in the wild, and we definitely checked that off. We saw probably 20 moose, though sadly we didn't glimpse any males. The area around Walden and State Forest State Park is breathtaking. Mountains and stunning, untouched landscape surround you in every direction. We had a wonderful little getaway to the mountains -- my last gasp of Rocky Mountain air for a while, since we leave for Hawaii next week -- and in addition to the moose we saw a coyote, a bald eagle, elk, deer, pronghorns, prairie dogs, and some cool birds.


On a completely different note, my brother graduated college last weekend and on Wednesday we helped him move from Fort Collins to his new apartment in Denver. And while we were up in Fort Collins, I made a point to stop in at The Loopy Ewe, a famous yarn store that had me absolutely drooling. It was huge. And it had just about every yarn brand I've been wanting to try. It was very, very difficult to exercise self-control, but seeing as I have to fit everything I buy into our suitcases, I limited myself to three skeins of (gorgeous) yarn. The Loopy Ewe was exactly the kind of beautiful, organized, cozy, well-stocked LYS (local yarn shop) I dream about being able to frequent and it was hard to leave! I also finally got to try Voodoo Doughnut in Denver. That maple bacon bar was so good! (And I couldn't resist the voodoo doll donut, with raspberry filling and a pretzel "pin.")

yarn and donuts

Reading: This is the first time in a long time that I didn't complete a single book in a week! I finished  (and absolutely loved) "Uprooted" by Naomi Novik last Monday morning, but I don't count that because I had less than 50 pages to go. My current book is "All the Winters After" by Sere Prince Halverson and I'm definitely enjoying it. It takes place in Alaska, which is one of my favorite locales to read about, and I like the writing style. I just haven't had much time to read! (Gasp!) But I have to finish the book by tomorrow night because it's a library copy and our flight for Hawaii leaves Wednesday morning.

I've also got to decide what to read on the airplane. I have a copy of "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn that I brought along, and I've also got a NetGalley advanced-read copy of "June" by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore loaded on my iPad. I guess I'll see what strikes my fancy!

Knitting: I made a bit of progress on my Cap Sleeve Lattice Top this week. I'm a few inches into the lattice that makes up the top five inches of the back and I'm pleased with how it's coming along. I've knit a little more of the lattice than what's in the photo, maybe another inch.


Watching: Jarrod and I watched the first couple episodes of the new season of "Fear the Walking Dead." I'm enjoying it, but I'm definitely not glued to the screen like I was watching season 1. We also went to see "Captain America: Civil War," and while I liked it well enough, it wasn't my favorite of the Captain America/Avengers movies.

Looking forward to: If you're new here, my husband is in the Air Force and we're in the process of moving from Ohio back to Hawaii, with a pit stop at my parents' in Colorado. I've been in Colorado since the second week of April because Jarrod had to take a month-long class in Florida as part of our move. It's been wonderful getting to spend this extra time with my family since I don't get to seem them all that often, but we leave for Hawaii this Wednesday and I'm looking forward to getting the second half of this move over with! I'm pretty tired of coordinating travel and cat shipping and car shipping and trying to decide where to live. I just want to sleep in my own bed again!


I'm linking up with Kathryn at Book Date for her weekly feature It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Yarn Along: "All the Winters After" and Cap Sleeve Lattice Top

Yarn Along is a wonderful weekly link-up hosted by the Small Things blog about two of the best things in life: knitting and books.

yarn along 051716

Reading: I've read the first couple chapters of "All the Winters After" by Sere Prince Halverson. It's about a man who returns home to rural Alaska after two decades away following a terrible tragedy, only to find a Russian woman holed up in his family's cabin. I'm not too far in, but I'm enjoying the writing style and the self-deprecating, slightly humorous narration.

This week I also read "Uprooted" by Naomi Novik, an enthralling fantasy(-lite?) novel that I happily awarded 5 stars. I blew through the entire 435 pages in just over two days. I absolutely could not put it down and I highly recommend it! Before that, I finished "Black Rabbit Hall," my Yarn Along book from last week. Here's my review.

Knitting: I'm making good progress on my Cap Sleeve Lattice Top (pattern from Purl Soho). I'm done with the back stockinette and have started the back lace, which makes up the top 5ish inches. The endless stockinette made for perfect TV knitting, but I'm glad for a change. This sweater is just flying by; I can't believe I'm nearly halfway done already!

Monday, May 16, 2016

10 Great Reads I Picked Up On A Whim -- And Why They're Almost All Older Books

This week the ladies at The Broke and The Bookish have given us a Top Ten Tuesday prompt about books we picked up on a whim. I decided to go the route of books I got from the library or store without knowing much -- or anything at all -- about them, and all of the books below ended up being pleasant surprises. In fact, 8 of the 10 are 5-star reads.

But the prompt got me thinking again about something that's been on my mind lately. Since I started blogging, using Goodreads and working at a library filled with bookish people, I seldom go browse in the stacks, picking up whatever strikes my fancy that day. That's how I always used to do it -- I'd go to the library every couple of weeks, maybe I had a hold to pick up, maybe I didn't, and I'd gander through the shelves and pick out three or four interesting-looking books to take home with me.

Those days are long past. Now almost every book I read is planned, either a new release I've put on request at the library or an older book I've been meaning to get to forever. There's almost a frenzied pace to my reading now, too -- read as many books as I can as quickly as I can. That makes it hard to revisit old favorite authors or continue series. And it makes it nearly impossible to have the happy accident of randomly picking up a brilliant 5-star read off a library shelf -- and I want to get back to those days.

Do tell: What are the best books you've picked up on a whim?

Back when we were stationed in Hawaii and I was working at the base library in 2012, "Unbroken" was on the Chief of Staff of the Air Force recommended reading list. I kept seeing it on our shelves and one day I decided to grab it. I'm SO very glad I did. It was a few years before the movie came out and I had the privilege of recommending it to several people before it started popping up everywhere.
I also discovered "A Discovery of Witches" when I was working at the Hickam AFB Library. It caught my eye, I read the jacket -- vampires, witches, magic, oh my! -- and took it home with me. It's one I probably would've read eventually as the series got more and more notice since it's right up my alley, but it was nice to be able to read it minus any hype.

The single most hilarious book I've ever read is "Let's Pretend This Never Happened," which I'm sure every book blogger has heard of by now with the major hype surrounding The Bloggess's second book, "Furiously Happy" (also good). But I had no clue what awaited me between the pages when picked up "Let's Pretend." I was intrigued by the taxidermied mouse on the cover and the fact that one of the review blurbs on the back contained the f-word. That's how I used to choose books, folks!
I snagged Julia Child's autobiography during the Borders going-out-of-business sale several years ago. Really all I knew of Julia Child was the movie "Julie and Julia," but I was intrigued enough to grab this bargain book -- and what a treat it was! Anyone who enjoys food or France should pick this up.

"Pen & Ink" review

"Pen & Ink" caught my eye while I was processing new books at the library where I worked in Ohio until a month ago (we're in the process of moving again) and just knew I had to grab it. It's full of illustrations of tattoos and, like the cover says, the stories behind them, some of which are in-depth and full of meaning and some of which are a simple line or two. As a tattoo enthusiast who's always wondering about other people's ink, I thought this book was awesome!
I only had a vague notion of what "Outlander" was about when I picked it up for $1 at the base thrift shop in Hawaii, along with "Dragonfly in Amber," the second book in the series (which I still need to read -- especially before watching season 2 of the TV show!). I was totally enthralled by "Outlander," which I'm sure you all know involves time travel back to 1700s Scotland.

"The Secret Keeper" was my first Kate Morton book and I snagged it from the new books shelf at the library where I worked in Hawaii right before we moved. I have a clear memory of lying across our bed in base lodging furiously reading so I could get it turned back in on our last day in Hawaii. It was absolutely engrossing -- the best kind of book to pick up on a whim! And it was a great introduction to Kate Morton; I'm hoping to work my way through all her books.
I came across "The River of No Return" processing new books at my library in Ohio and the cover just drew me in. I couldn't resist taking it home with me, especially since it was a brand new copy, which is a real treat when it comes to library books. It's a time travel novel (to 1815) and a romance, and it was such a wonderful surprise! I keep hoping Bee Ridgway writes a sequel.

"Boo" review

I discovered one of my favorite authors, Tasha Alexander, back in 2008. We were stationed in San Angelo, Texas, at the time, and that was back in the good ol' days when I'd just go browse the library stacks every couple weeks and see what struck my fancy. "A Fatal Waltz," the third book in the Lady Emily series, was calling to me from the new books shelf. I loved it, and I immediately went back and read the first two books in the series. I highly recommend the Lady Emily cozy-ish mysteries to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, mysteries and spunky, badass, ahead-of-their-time heroines. Book 11 of the series comes out this October.
Like "Pen & Ink" and "The River of No Return," I came across "Boo" while processing new books at work. It was a Friday, and I was drawn in by the cover, and I decided it would be coming home with me for a quick weekend read. I really had no idea what it was about, but it ended up being heartwarming, heartbreaking and hilarious. 

Monday Musings from Colorado #5


Highlight of the week: My little brother graduated from my alma mater, Colorado State University, with a degree in business!

Reading: I finished and loved "A Gathering of Shadows" by V.E. Schwab, second in the Shades of Magic series. If you like fun reads, spunky characters and magic, check this series out! I can't wait for the conclusion next Feburary. I also read "Black Rabbit Hall" (review) and thought it was a decent read. It's a dual narrative that falls in the genre of long-held family secrets and crumbling old English manors.

And I started (and have absolutely plowed through) "Uprooted." I had never even heard of this delightful, enthralling fairy tale-esque fantasy novel until it appeared on several blogger's best-of-2015 lists. I can see what all the fuss was about -- I am totally absorbed in the story and I managed to read about 300 pages in two days!

Knitting: I made some decent progress on my Cap Sleeve Lattice Top this week. The part I'm working on now is just straight stockinette stitch, so it's perfect to knit while watching TV. I've only got a couple more inches to go before I start the lacy chest/collar section, which will be knit in cream yarn.


Watching: "The Night Manager," an AMC mini-series based on the novel by John leCarre. I'm enjoying this James Bond-esque spy story, which stars Tom Hiddleston (the very, very attractive spy) and Hugh Laurie (the very, very bad guy).

Listening to: "Wherever I Go" by One Republic.

Looking forward to: We're helping my brother move to his new apartment in Denver one day this week, and I'm excited to finally go to Voodoo Doughnuts and see what all the fuss is about! I'm also looking forward to having lunch at Big City Burrito, one of my all-time favorite restaurants.


I'm linking up with Kathryn at Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
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