Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Musings


My week: Well, it was another week in the same vein as all the rest of the weeks the past couple months: it was full of puppypuppypuppy, work, a bit of reading, and desperately trying (and, of course, failing) to keep on top of the housework and errands.

Alohi has been going to puppy playtime at our local Petco the past few weeks and, since they were having a special, we decided to sign her up for some puppy training classes there. Saturday was our first hour-long session, followed by half an hour of puppy playtime. Alohi is the most exuberant, enthusiastic, sociable dog and she will go-go-go, but the second we got into the car she was out like a light, as you can see here:


Reading: I finished the first volume of "March" and started the second. It's a graphic novel trilogy written by Georgia Congressman John Lewis about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s and the books are fantastic! (I do have to say, though, that the only other graphic novels I've read are the Saga series, and I miss having color illustrations; March is just black and white.)

Then I read "Exit West" by Mohsin Hamid (part Middle East country on the brink of civil war, part love story, part magical realism), which turned out to be a lot different than I had expected but still decent. Then I read the memoir "Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World," a book I'd been anticipating for months, but it was kind of a let-down. Reviews to come soon for both of those.

Now I'm just beginning "The Wanderers" by Meg Howrey, about the first manned mission to Mars.

Crafting: No time this week for knitting, or for trying out one of my new embroidery kits. :(

Watching: We watched "Fences" this weekend. I was impressed with the acting, but the story was so sad and depressing. And I didn't love seeing Denzel as an unlikable character! I also watched two more episodes of "This Is Us," including the Thanksgiving episode. It made me nostalgic for the holidays!

Eating: Every time I go into Starbucks the cheese danishes in the pastry case catch my eye, and I finally decided to whip some up myself. I used the cheater version with Pillsbury crescent roll dough and they came out ok... I'm not a huge fan of crescent rolls, so I should've known they wouldn't be quite as good.

Making: This pretty wreath for my new rotating genre display for work. The wreath was made out of paper bags, paint and hot glue, and I'm so pleased with the way it came out! The whole display turned out just about how I had envisioned it, which is such a wonderful feeling! Even my very-amateur hand-lettering looks ok. Every month we'll highlight a different genre, and the genre is written in chalk so it should be easy to change. I had SO much fun researching and brainstorming memoirs to display; I was especially interested in including some that wouldn't just be in biography section. Now I'm thinking about what to do next... it could be as broad as mysteries or as specific as WWII novels. We shall see!



Looking forward to: Afternoons free! Starting today, my schedule at work is changing. Instead of working three 8-hour shifts, I'll be working four 6-hour shifts. I'll be getting off at 3 or 4 instead of 6 or 7, and it'll be so nice to have some time in the afternoons to get stuff done! Plus, Jarrod's schedule is about to change too and it would've meant a lot more time in the crate for Alohi. This way, she'll still only be by herself for a few hours a day.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

I Judge Books By Their Covers: The Wanderers

Hi, my name is Lindsay, and I judge books by their covers.

I recently picked up "The Wanderers" by Meg Howrey at the library and I'm so looking forward to reading it! The blurb likens it to "Station Eleven" plus "The Martian," and it's about the first humans headed to Mars. Can't get more up my alley than that! It'll be a bit before I get to it, though, and in the meantime I thought it'd be a great time to do a cover battle. 

U.S. // U.K.

This is an easy-peasy choice for me: I choose the U.S. cover hands down, a million times over! I love covers that feature starry night skies, and covers that have a pop of red. It's gorgeous! The U.K. artwork, though... ugh! If you cover up the bottom half, the top really isn't horrific. Maybe if the ombre title were on a different background I could get behind that part, but as a whole there's nothing that draws me to this cover. The lurid colors remind me of some clothes I wore as a kid in the early '90s, and what is with that random digital-graphic house?

Do tell: which cover do you prefer?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

"Swimming Lessons" by Claire Fuller
First published in 2017
350 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

The Short Of It:

A well-written, character-driven novel about the life and death of a marriage.

The Long Of It:
Despite being a sort of quiet, understated novel -- not to mention character-driven as opposed to plot-driven, something I struggle with at times -- "Swimming Lessons" grasped hold of my attention and wouldn't let go.

Fuller is a talented writer, which I knew from her first novel, "Our Endless Numbered Days," but her second effort is even better. And the book has several things I like in novels: an English coastal setting, an author, books, letters and a relatable protagonist, plus it's told in dual-narrative format.

On the surface, the novel details the inner workings of an ill-fated marriage between a professor and his student, a girl who all-too-quickly becomes a mother, and who eventually vanishes and is presumed drowned. There's so much more going on, though. It's about love, motherhood and sisterhood, betrayal, grief, regrets, whether it's better to know the awful truth or to be left with a chance to hope, and that shocking revelation we get as we become adults ourselves that our parents had lives completely apart from being Mom and Dad. There's some levity and quirkiness, to be sure, but don't let the artsy, bright cover fool you -- this is not a particularly happy story.

"Swimming Lessons" is told both in present-day as the now-elderly Gil -- professor turned famous author -- is in the throes of illness, and through letters secretly written by Ingrid, his wife, in the early 1990s just before her disappearance and tucked in some of the books in Gil's massive collection. The modern-day chapters introduce us to their adult daughters, free-spirited Flora and uptight Nan, and I enjoyed getting to know them. But it was Ingrid's beautiful, raw letters -- for Gil to maybe find one day or not -- that carried the novel for me. Her letters detail her marriage from the moment she met her husband and explain to readers how everything went so terribly wrong. Ingrid is quite flawed, but so very real.

This is not an action-packed thriller, and there's not even much of a mystery. Instead, it's a beautiful, sad portrait of a family, and every member has his or her own issues to conquer. It's a good choice next time you want a contemplative, well-written story. It won't have you on the edge of your seat, but it'll get you thinking nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Release: Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

"Gone Without a Trace" by Mary Torjussen
First published April 18, 2017
352 pages
My rating: 2 out of 5

*I received a free advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Short Of It:
Another run-of-the-mill, predictable psychological thriller. Blah.

The Long Of It:
I've finally come to terms with the fact that, with the exception of a few standouts like "Gone Girl," thrillers are just not for me (so if you typically adore them, you might want to disregard my review). They're so often formulaic: someone goes missing or is killed, there's some build-up, and then comes the inevitable plot twist -- often in the form of an unreliable narrator. After I cottoned on to the formula, it's been hard for me to enjoy these books because they're so darn predictable -- plus, good writing is pretty important to me, and in this genre it typically takes a backseat in favor of fast-paced action.

"Gone Without a Trace" fell short in quite a few ways for me, right down to to the repetitive, uninspired writing. There was so little actually going on that I skimmed nearly the entire thing and read it in a day. I felt zero connection to our protagonist, thirty-something Hannah, who comes home from work one day to find her boyfriend has vanished and erased every part of himself from her life, even going as far as deleting pictures of himself from her phone and taking every single one of his possessions. Hannah becomes obsessed with tracking him down and discovering why he left her -- and alternately wanting to give him an earful and hoping he'll grovel to come home. After the "twist," I liked her even less.

I do have to give props to Torjussen for one thing: the vanished person is a man! So many of the thrillers I've read involve a kidnapped child or a missing woman. Unfortunately, though slightly fresher than normal (and I do admit, the initial premise was intriguing), the story was kinda weird and just didn't work for me.

Another random issue: the cover. The artwork looks to me like a woman walking down a path to the sea... but I don't remember the ocean ever once being mentioned.

So, yeah, if you've got thriller-fatigue like I do, definitely skip this one. But if the genre is your thing -- and it is for a lot of readers -- you may like it much better than I did.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

10 Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read A Book

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is a pretty open-ended one: what qualities make us instantly want to pick up a book? (Or at least look it up to check reviews, or add it to my to-read list.) My list is pretty random, but below are 10 things that never fail to make me take a look at a book!

1. A pretty cover. Oh yeah, I'm a cover-judger. I'm a very visual person and a beautiful cover will always get me to pick up a book and read the blurb. I especially love covers with illustrations (as opposed to pictures of real people) and pops of bright colors.

2. Books about books/libraries/bookstores. What reader doesn't appreciate a good bookish book?! Books are one of my favorite things in the whole wide world, and it's nice to read a book once in a while in which the main character is just as much of a bookworm as me. (Some favorites: "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin, "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield, "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.)

3. Set in England, France, Ireland, Scotland or Russia. These are all places I desperately want to visit, and usually books set in these locales are imbued with a wonderful sense of atmosphere! (Some favorites: anything by Kate Morton and Tasha Alexander, "In the Woods" by Tana French, "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles, "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon, the list goes on and on.)

4. Set in Colorado or Hawaii. Because it's fun to read books set in places you're familiar with, and these are the two coolest places I've lived! (I've only come across a couple, so I'd love some recommendations!)

5. WWI/WWII. Despite my husband's military career I'm a bit of a pacifist, so I don't know what it is that draws me to war novels, but some of my all-time favorite books have been set during the world wars. Maybe it's that most of the stories feature themes of courage, strength and perseverance. (Some favorites: "All the Light You Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr, "I'll Be Seeing You" by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan, "Letters to the Lost" by Iona Grey.)

6. Dogs. I'm a dog mama, and books about dogs (or with a dog on the cover) will always catch my eye. (Some favorites: "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein, "Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him" by Luis Carlos Montalvan, anything by W. Bruce Cameron.)

7. Sci-fi/fantasy. It's funny, a few years ago I'd probably never picked up a book in one of those genres, but now they're quite possibly my favorites and I actively seek them out. Any well-recommended sci-fi or fantasy novel (especially if it has to do with something like magic or time travel) catches my interest. (Some favorites: "Red Rising" by Pierce Brown, "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline, "Uprooted" by Naomi Novik.)

8. Set in a cold place. This gets me every time! I love reading books that take place in locations like Alaska and Antarctica! I wouldn't actually want to be one of the book characters freezing my butt off in rugged remoteness, but I definitely enjoy living vicariously through them. (And I do totally want to visit Alaska and take an Antarctica cruise one day.) (Some favorites: "To the Bright Edge of the World" by Eowy Ivey, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple, "Burial Rites" by Hannah Kent.)

9. Recommended by a trusted fellow reader. I have a couple friends (plus my mom) and follow of a few bloggers who have pretty similar reading tastes to me. And if they love a book, I'm 100% going to check it out.

10. 4+ stars on Goodreads. If I type in the title of a book that intrigued me and it pops up with a rating of over 4 stars, it almost definitely goes on my to-read list. Of course I don't always agree with other readers, but generally a rating over 4 stars means it's going to be well-liked by almost every type of reader.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Musings


My week: Just another blur of a week here! Saturday we took Alohi to her weekly puppy playtime and signed her up for some training classes that begin next week. And she had her first trip inside Lowe's!

Did you do anything for Easter? Usually we at least make a ham and some yummy sides (and up until last year I made Jarrod color eggs with me) but Easter totally snuck up on me this year and we didn't do anything Easter-y at all. We did take a couple fun pictures of Alohi in an Easter hat during her first trip to Petco when she was just eight weeks old and teeny-tiny (she had her four-month birthday yesterday; where does the time go?!), which I had planned all along to save and share for Easter. Meet Alohi-Bunny!

alohi bunny

Reading: I finished and enjoyed the Australian mystery novel "The Dry" (review) and I was excited to see that it's going to be a series! The main character was a dynamic detective I could get behind and I'm looking forward to having a new series to keep up with! (I'm good at reading newer series as the books come out, but I have a terrible time reading all the books in older series.)

After that I read "Swimming Lessons" by Claire Fuller. I really liked Fuller's first book, "Our Endless Numbered Days," and while the plot of her new novel is very different it's just about as dark. Don't be fooled by the cheerful cover -- it's mostly about the inner workings of a failing marriage, which doesn't sound like something I'd normally pick up but Fuller is a talented writer and it definitely held my interest.

Then I plowed through the psychological thriller "Gone Without A Trace," which releases tomorrow. I saw going in that it had mixed reviews and, since thrillers have not been my thing lately, I would've skipped it if I hadn't committed months ago to reading an ARC. Sadly, this book continued my downhill streak with thrillers and -- unless you really, really enjoy the genre -- I wouldn't recommend it. (Uninspired writing, formulaic plot, predictable, weird...)

Yesterday I started the first book in the graphic novel series "March," about the civil rights movement, by Congressman John Lewis. It's a super-short book and I should be done quickly; then it's on to "Exit West" by Mohsin Hamid, a new book I've been looking forward to for a while!

Crafting: I didn't do any knitting this week, but I did start on a project for work, a wreath made out of paper leaves.

Watching: We finally watched "Moana" and it was so cute! Definitely fun to see while living in Hawaii. We also watched this week's "Designated Survivor" and an "Elementary" from a couple weeks ago. And while Jarrod was at his Saturday-night poker game, Alohi got her first introduction to Harry Potter! I've been craving a Potter movie and I chose "Half-Blood Prince" because I've seen most of the others more recently. If Alohi were under the Sorting Hat, I'm 100% positive she'd be put in Gryffindor!

I'm excited to start watching "The White Princess" on Starz, based on Philippa Gregory's book. I haven't read the novel (I haven't picked up anything by her in a few years) but I loooooved "The White Queen" miniseries and I'm excited to watch the sequel.

Listening to: "In Cold Blood" by alt-J.

Looking forward to: Beginning an embroidery project! The three kits I mentioned on my MM post last week arrived and I'm excited to choose one and get started.

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

"The Dry" by Jane Harper
First published in the U.S. in 2017
326 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

The Short Of It:

A solid mystery novel. I enjoyed the Australian setting!

The Long Of It:
Crime fiction has been inundated with psychological thrillers the past couple of years, and it's been a while since I've read a good, straightforward contemporary murder-mystery. "The Dry" fits the bill and managed to skirt the formulaic storyline mysteries sometimes fall into. I was pleasantly surprised that I was never able to guess whodunit, and that the richly described setting (rural Australia) played an important role in the story.

Aaron Falk works for the federal police in Melbourne as a financial investigator and it's been years and years since he's been home to remote Kiewarra. He has no choice but to go back, however, when his childhood best friend, Luke, commits a heinous crime. Of course, all is not necessarily as it seems, and these horrific current events may be linked to a dark time in Luke and Aaron's past -- the reason Aaron and his father left Kiewarra and why the townspeople are none too happy to have Aaron in their midst once again. Really, readers get two mysteries in one -- and you'll be guessing the whole time whether there's a connection between the past death and the present ones.

The story was intriguing and I really liked Aaron as a person and a detective. He was investigating off-duty in this novel, but I was excited to see there will be another book -- presumably with Aaron officially on the case -- next winter. I also appreciated how much Australian feel was woven into the book, both in the dialogue and the setting, and how Harper conveyed the rugged vastness of the bush, the agonies and benefits of small-town life, and an overall feeling of hardship and loneliness. If you're curious about the title, it's called "The Dry" because Kiewarra is suffering from a terrible drought -- a disaster that's got everyone in town on edge.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New Release: Sputnik's Children by Terri Favro

"Sputnik's Children" by Terri Favro
First published April 11, 2017
360 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

*I received a free advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Short Of It:
A unique, quirky story involving a comic book writer, parallel universes and growing up in the time of the atomic bomb.

The Long Of It:
Debbie Reynolds Biondi grew up in a version of Earth very similar to ours, with one key difference. In Atomic Mean Time, WWII never really ended and the world is trapped in a nuclear arms race, with mutually assured destruction a daily threat.

Now Debbie resides in Earth Standard Time, our version of the world, and she makes a living as the author of the popular "Sputnik Chick: Girl With No Past" comics, which feature an ass-kicking heroine. The thing is, Sputnik Chick is based on Debbie's own experiences -- and the time has come to finally tell her origin story.

Though her flashbacks, we learn how Debbie was tasked with saving the world from nuclear free-for-all and imminent catastrophe, all while navigating life as a teenager in the 70s. She's from a small industrial town called Shipman's Corners in Canusa (the area around Niagara Falls, sort of its own nation in Atomic Mean Time) where the military-industrial complex is in full swing. Bomb manufacturer ShipCo has its hands in ever facet of the town, right down to the special calming grapes used to make ShipCo wine (helpful in keeping everyone's minds off the horrors of nuclear war).

"Sputnik's Children" is in large part a coming-of-age story; Debbie matures from a child into a woman over the course of the book, but I'm pleased that it didn't come across at all YA-ish. I especially enjoyed her teen romance with John Kendal (and her reaction to the flak they got over their interracial relationship in a time when it was taboo). And Favro paints an fascinating picture of what it'd be like to grow up when the world could literally end any day at the push of a few buttons.

Favro also creates a wonderful sense of time and place in her novel. She makes it so easy to picture Shipman's Corners, and there are plenty of fun '70s references. I also loved all the little details that set Atomic Mean Time apart from the world as we know it.

I've read a few other books dealing with parallel universes lately ("Dark Matter," "Maybe in Another Life," "All Our Wrong Todays") and, like those, this one feels wholly original -- and it's also got plenty of fun and quirk mixed in with the serious bits (you know, saving humanity from itself). That said, I did have a couple gripes. It was a bit draggy at times, and I desperately wanted to know more about adult present-day Debbie and more science-y details about how exactly she went about saving the world. Still, this genre-bender is definitely worth a read!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

10 Of The Most Unique Books I've Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is unique reads. The books below are unique for various reasons -- format, plot, narrator -- and for the most part they're all novels I'd recommend. What's the most unique book you've read?

unique books

1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders This much-hyped new book is unique in two ways. The plot, which is about a grieving (and haunted by the war) Abe Lincoln visiting his son Willie's grave, involves a bunch of wacky ghosts stuck in purgatory. And the format is by far the most unconventional I've encountered. Chapters with dialogue are written almost like a play script, and other chapters are full of excerpts from primary sources (like other books, first-hand accounts, etc.) -- except some of them are made up, and there's no way to tell which are true and which are fiction!

2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi "Homegoing" was my favorite book of 2016 and I urge you to read it! I really enjoyed the format of this generational saga. The first two chapters introduce readers to two half-sisters (unaware of each other's existence) in 1700s Ghana. One is captured into slavery and the other is forced to marry a white man. The subsequent chapters alternate between each sister's descendants, with one chapter each per generation -- basically, vignettes that capture a moment in time for each family. It's a bit hard to describe, but it just worked so well and was so perfect for the (amazing) story Gyasi was trying to tell. (my review)

3. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins Weird, weird, weird -- but fascinating -- plot! Definitely not your typical "librarians"! (my review)

4. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal I've never read a novel before in which the story main character is not the focus of the book. Only one of the eight chapters is written from her perspective; the rest are told by people around her. Definitely a unique way of telling a story, and I enjoyed it. (my review)

5. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey Along with "Homegoing," this was one of my favorite books last year. It's about an expedition to Alaska in the 1800s and told in journal entries, articles and letters between Lt. Col. Forrester and his wife, who's back in Washington state having adventures of her own. Bits of Native American mythology is woven into the tale, which was interesting, and the book also featured a handful of photographs and illustrations, which is always a delightful enhancement to the story. (my review)

6. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
Gods Apollo and Hermes make a bet about whether animals given human intelligence could possibly die happy, and the story follows the fifteen dogs kenneled at a Toronto vet who are the subjects of the bet. It's told from the suddenly-much-smarter-dogs' perspectives, and as a dog owner I found it to be fascinating! (my review)

7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
"A Monster Calls" is about a teen boy coming to terms with his mom's breast cancer with the help of a monster who takes the form of a yew tree. It's an illustrated novel (not a very common thing!) with pictures every few pages and the black and white artwork perfectly complimented the sad story. It's illustrated by Jim Kay, the artist behind the new illustrated Harry Potters, so it's no surprise that the artwork makes the story. I know I wouldn't have liked it nearly as much without the pictures. (my review)

8. Boo by Neil Smith Eighth-grader Oliver "Boo" Dalrymple is at his locker one minute, and the next he wakes up in "Town," a quirky version of heaven just for 13-year-old Americans. This is a totally under-read book -- it's funny, it's sad, it's wholly original! (my review)

9. Room by Emma Donoghue I'm sure, between the book and the movie, most of you are familiar with the plot of "Room." What made it special for me was that it's narrated entirely by a young child, and Donoghue somehow managed to make that work.

10. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs The reverse of creating illustrations to compliment the story, this eccentric book is based around actual old, strange photos the author collected. (my review)

Honorable Mention:
11. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (epistolary novel + aliens!)
12. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (alternate-universe travel!)
13. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel + star-crossed lovers + interplanetary travel + an adorable little girl + lots and lots of wonderfully bizarre stuff!)
14. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (the first book I ever read narrated by a dog)
15. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips (addicting + creepy + short enough to read in one sitting; not my favorite, but must be mentioned when talking about unique books!)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Musings


My week: I had a busy week at work getting things around for the April/May wall display in the kids' section. It's April Showers Bring May Flowers and I made a bunch of big paper flowers, paper clouds and a grass border. It's mostly done; I just need to add some paper butterflies, bumblebees and ladybugs at work today. (Not-great picture below that I snapped in a hurry right before close Friday. I'll post nicer ones once I get it totally finished.)

Otherwise, it was puppy, cleaning, errands, a bit of reading... Alohi got to go on a few car adventures this week. Thursday night after work we decided to go to one of our favorite places for dinner, but then we just couldn't bear to put Alohi back in her crate so we ordered it to go and took her with us to pick it up. She's not spoiled at all! ;)


Reading: I had just started "The Weight of Feathers" this time last week; I had to read it for the adult book club I co-host at the library where I work. And ugh -- I hated it! The plot, which is can be summed up as blood feud + traveling performers + star-crossed lovers + magical realism, sounds like it might have potential but... it was painfully slow-moving, I didn't feel the slightest bit connected to the characters, the plot was a weird and the writing was overly ostentatious, like the author was trying way too hard to write a "beautiful" novel. When I went to rate the book on Goodreads (2 stars for me, by the way), I was shocked to see how many of my GR friends had marked it to-read. I'd say pass!

At the end of the week I finished up my advance copy of "Sputnik's Children" (out tomorrow), about a comic book author, alternate universes, growing up in the '60s and '70s under the threat of mutually assured destruction via nuclear weapons, and saving humanity. It was a fun, quirky read, and I'll have a review up this week.

Now I'm reading "The Dry" by Jane Harper, a mystery set in Australia. I'm about 100 pages in and so far, so good! It's a fast read, and the mystery is intriguing -- I've got no idea yet whodunit!

Knitting: I worked a little bit on the Newt Scamander scarf this week, but I'm really itching to dive into a more interesting project and I've got my eye on a sweater pattern that I saved a while back. Maybe I'll do a little online yarn browsing this week.

Buying: One of my goals for 2017 was to take up a new hobby and, after being inspired by friends on Instagram, I'm going to try embroidery! I ordered three kits from Etsy; two are regular flat embroidery (a colorful puffin and a cheerful fox) and the other is a little stuffed raccoon. I'm soooooo excited for the kits to arrive in the mail!

(From Etsy)

Watching: We finally saw "Passengers" and, while it was ok, I'm so glad we didn't spend money to see it at the theater. It wasn't nearly as intense or mysterious as the preview made it seem. I also watched an episode each of "Grey's Anatomy" and "This Is Us" from the DVR, and we're caught up on "Designated Survivor."

Listening to: "Year Zero" by Moon Taxi, a new addition to my playlist thanks to Discover Weekly on Spotify.


Looking forward to: Memorial Day? I could desperately use a three-day weekend! (Also, it's kinda crazy to note that Memorial Day is actually less than two months away already!)

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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I Judge Books By Their Covers: Lincoln in the Bardo

Hi, my name is Lindsay, and I judge books by their covers.

I read the much-hyped "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders a couple weeks ago, and I haven't yet written my review (and maybe won't ever get around to it) because I haven't quite sorted out my feelings about the book. On the one hand, I totally appreciated the VERY unique and creative format once I finally got used to it, and the story was interesting, but I was sorta left wondering just what I was supposed to get out of it. Definitely a different kind of book, and really a reading experience. But would I recommend it? I'm not entirely sure. What I can talk about with some authority, though, is which cover I like better!

U.S. // U.K.
Holy cow, I think we have one of the rare instances in which I actually like the U.S. cover better than the British one! I often gravitate toward botanical covers, and I don't dislike the U.K. version, but I do find the bright green to be slightly incongruous with the sepia portrait of Willie Lincoln. It's like it's both too busy and too bland at the same time: the tilted "Lincoln" and the vines going every which way make it look a bit messy, but then nothing really catches the eye either. I also don't love the mix of serif and sans-serif fonts here. (I will say, I have a feeling this one might be better-looking in person than it is on the screen.)

On the other hand, the U.S. cover is much more visually appealing to me. I like the teal tones and the eye-catching white handwriting-style font, which is a bit more clean-looking than the U.K. font. The only problem I have is that the cover gives you no idea whatsoever what the book is about. What is that scene, even? It sure doesn't look like a cemetery in Washington, D.C. However, on aesthetics alone, I'd definitely be more likely to pick up the U.S. book.

Do tell: which cover do you prefer?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

12 Magical Harry Potter Items on Etsy

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is a fandom freebie, and I decided to combine two of my favorite things: Harry Potter and Etsy! All the items below are from my Etsy faves. (Beware: typing "Harry Potter" into Etsy is a black hole that's very, very hard to get out of!)

Etsy shop: NatalieAndrewson
7 (gorgeous!) postcards

Etsy shop: RiddlesTeaShoppe
3 Luna Lovegood postcards
$ Not sure, since shop is currently on a break

Etsy shop: TheRootedPair

Etsy shop: MMPaperCo
$35+ for set of 3

Etsy shop: Boutiquable
$9.54 (should be $9.34, duh!)

Etsy shop: gabigabiheyshop

Etsy shop: Wonderflies

Etsy shop: HighlandBluffStudio
$18 (not bad, but shipping is killer!)

Etsy shop: AndersAttic

Etsy shop: RiddlesTeaShoppe
House-themed teas

Etsy shop: AlisonWunderlandAcc

Etsy shop: Aslidesign

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Musings: Happy April!


My week: Work, puppy, cleaning, ordering Thai because we didn't feel like cooking, ordering pizza because we didn't feel like cooking, puppy, puppy, puppy.

Reading: I finished "Murder of Crows," the second installment in Anne Bishop's wonderful urban fantasy series. While it wasn't quite as good as the first book, I'm totally itching to dive into book three!

After that I started an advance copy of "Sputnik's Children" by Terri Favro (out April 11), which is about a comic book author, an alternate universe (that split off at the creation of the atomic bomb) and saving the world. Its quirky tone and parallel worlds theme reminds me a bit of "All Our Wrong Todays," one of my favorite reads so far this year.

I only got about a third of the way into "Sputnik" before I had to set it aside to work on the April book club selection for work, "The Weight of Feathers" by Anna-Marie McLemore. I'm soooooo tired of reading YA books for the club (good news -- we did choose four adult books to alternate in the rest of the year!) and, though I'm not very far in, this one is just not doing it for me. It has to do with feuding performing families (think Hatfields and McCoys + the circus) and I'm having a very hard time with the italicized Spanish and French words every few sentences. Très distracting!

Listing: My next 10 reads! I love lists, but I've never made a bookish list quite this specific before. I was feeling slightly overwhelmed with library books, upcoming holds, ARCs and book club books, so I decided to lay out an order in which to read them. I instantly felt better! Now to see if I can stick to the list!


Knitting: Still nothing. Though I'm dying to pick up my knitting needles!

Watching: "The Girl on the Train." I desperately wanted to see it in the theater, but it just didn't happen. Turns out that's ok, because it wasn't anywhere near as good as the book. The edge-of-your-seat intensity and and gasp-inducing twist just didn't come through in the film version.

Listening to: "Save Yourself" by Kaleo. (They're from Iceland, but their name is actually a Hawaiian word for "the sound.")

Making: A massive 3-D cloud out of papier-mache and polyester fiberfill for my April Showers Bring May Flowers display at work. UGHHHHHHHH! About five minutes into the project, I wondered what the hell I had been thinking. I haven't papier-mached anything since at least middle school, and guess what -- it's no fun and and super messy and insanely time-consuming, especially when the thing you're papier-macheing is like four feet long. I taped 20 balloons together. That is the size of this whopper of a thing. And since it's too messy and space-consuming to make at work, I don't even get paid for the crazy amount of time it's taking me. Next time my mom says, "Why don't you just make clouds out of butcher paper?" I am going to LISTEN to her!

Selling: Some clothes and shoes on the base online yard sale Facebook page. My second WTF was I thinking?! moment this week. I have a pair of worn-twice designer jeans and some almost brand-new leather riding boots to get rid of and I figured I would try selling them before donating them, and then I thought I might as well throw a couple other nice things from the donate pile on the listing as well. With the exception of the jeans, the boots and a pair of Converse, everything is $5 or less -- and guess what? A few bucks is not worth the massive hassle this has turned out to be!

Lessons learned this week re: above: Always listen to your mother, and just take the damn clothes to the thrift store.

Buying: Two books! I almost never buy books since I work at a library, but I've been looking forward to reading "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers this year and my library doesn't have it, nor does the public library. So I ordered it from Book Depository (bonus -- the U.K. cover is sooooo much prettier) and while I was there I got this pretty Vintage Classics copy of "Pride and Prejudice," which I am finally going to read!

Blogging: (Not much!)
Monday Musings
Turning the Page on March 2017

Looking forward to: Getting to read "Bleaker House" and "Exit West," two books I've been looking forward to for months, and which just came in for me at the library!

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