Feb 05

Books Again!

Books/Writing, Life 3

I finally got some books finished! After a bit of a stall with one I had started and simply could not get up the will to finish, I remembered Terry Pratchett had a new book out and promptly went to Barnes and Noble and bought it. Then devoured it in about 4 hours. A couple other books were finished this weekend too.

10.  Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds, by Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant and photographed by Kate Baldwin

11. Snuff, by Terry Pratchett

12.  Treehouses: View from the Top, by John Harris

Not doing too badly. I seem to be averaging about 2 books a week. I should easily reach 75, then…famous last words. We’ll see. 😉

The book I simply could. not. finish, was Alys Clare’s “Out of the Dawn Light.” The story, while moving along somewhat, was just very forced and the attempt at writing as a 13-year-old was really bugging me. I got slightly over halfway and still had no real idea of what, exactly, the whole point was…so the book was tossed on the floor to return. If I had more time to read at the moment I might have finished it, but as I don’t, if I’m not truly interested in or enjoying a book, it goes back.

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Feb 04

First Week of Mail

Life 0

Well, I started out with good intentions but fell -splat- on the first day. I sent a note to someone I generally don’t write to (but would like to), but forgot to take a picture! It was a lovely Letter Writer’s Alliance card too. Ah well, here is the rundown.

February 1: LWA card mailed to a family member I’d like to write letters to, but not sure if she will write back.

February 2: A birthday card to my littlest sister-in-law. I’m horrible about remembering to send cards, so I’m glad this challenge is helping me with that. At least for this month. 😛

February 3: A letter to a pen-pal in the Netherlands.

February 4: Postcrossing! Postcard ID: US-1522981. A lovely picture of what it can sometimes look like around here in the autumn.

And a big thanks to Picnik for the lovely photo editing tools that allow me to share my mail without making the contents public (yay for “smudge”). I will be very sad when it is retired in April, and hope Google is smart and comes up with something decently similar to replace it.

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Jan 30

February: a Month of Letters

Books/Writing, Life 0

I’m really just a little bit excited about this.  The idea belongs to Mary Robinette Kowal (whose books I must now go read), and described in this post. I write and send quite a few letters and postcards as it is, and I love the idea of trying to send something every day. I’m not sure if my postman will love me or hate me. On the one hand – job security! On the other, my mailbox is one of only two I’ve ever seen in my building that actually has outgoing mail, so I think it’s something of an oddity or rarity for him. Maybe both.

I think I shall try to take a picture of my outgoing mail every day, and post it here a couple of times a week. With the weekends and holidays figured in, there are 24 days that the mail runs in the US during the month of February. 24 things can’t be that hard, right? I know I have some thank-yous that need to be written, and usually a letter or two to reply to. Maybe I’ll send some notes or a teabag to some people I don’t hear from often, or who wouldn’t expect to get something in the mail from me. I love getting and sending special things in the mail! As much as I love technology (iPhone, Nook, and gamer laptop FTW!), something tangible is so much…well, more real. You can definitely get to know people online, and some of my best friends I’ve met that way, but letters are much more intentional. Permanent, even.

Anyone interested in receiving a postcard from me? Feel free to leave a comment with a way to reach you (e-mail if you’re not comfortable leaving your address) and I’ll do my best.  🙂

This means I absolutely must stop at the post office tomorrow, because I am *gasp* completely out of stamps. There are some really pretty new ones out, too! Now just so long as I can find enough to match all my stationery. No, not anal retentive at all.

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Jan 22

More Books

Books/Writing 0

Well, I managed to get more reading done this week than I thought, again. This time I think it was due to limiting how much I browse on the web in the morning before work, and then the wrist injury I got at work on Friday that kept me from any knitting this weekend. 🙁 Typing is still slightly uncomfortable, but I wanted to get the books down because they’re going back to the library. So here we are. The bonsai book was a bit meh, but Remarkable Trees was awesome. Lots of photos, but lots of history and interesting facts, more than your usual coffee table book.

A Great Deliverance is the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth George, and I really wish I’d been a bit more prepared for the ending. I suppose that’s my own fault for not reading closely, but I was expecting more the typical cozy mystery whodunit ending, not the psychologically disturbing one there was. I finished it a few hours ago and still feel a bit ill. On the other hand, I loved her character and would really like to know what happens to them. They grew throughout this book and have so much more potential. After I recover from this one, I’ll probably read the next in the series.

7.   Remarkable Trees of Virginia, by Nancy R. Hugo and Robert Llewellyn
8.   Growing Bonsai Indoors, by Brooklyn Botanic Garden
9.   A Great Deliverance, by Elizabeth George

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Jan 08

75 Books in 2012

Books/Writing, Life 0

I’m fairly sure I read at least this many books or more within a year, but I’ve never seriously (I don’t think) tried to keep track of them all, except maybe by reviewing, which I recall quickly deciding was to much effort unless a book was spectacularly either good or bad. This time I’m just keeping a list. I’m not defending my choices of books or subject matter, though of course I’m happy to discuss with anyone who wants to know my opinion. 😉

Anyway, here’s the beginning of my list. I think I’ve already forgotten one that I finished last week…if I remember it I’ll come back later and add it. 😛 Also, I’m not including books I’ve just skimmed. Anything on this list has actually been read, cover to cover. Well, with the exception of the indexes.

  1. Paganism: an Introduction to Earth-centered Religions, by Joyce and River Higginbotham
  2. The Deeds of the Disturber, by Elizabeth Peters
  3. Herbs in Pots: a Practical Guide to Container Gardening Indoors and Out, by Rob Proctor and David Macke
  4. Indoor Bonsai for Beginners, by Werner M. Busch

EDITED: I remembered the first one!

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Aug 07

Bookish Socializing

Books/Writing 0

So…there is Shelfari, where I’ve had a mostly inactive account for a couple of years now, and GoodReads, which I somehow wasn’t aware of and yet seems to be the most popular site. My goal in using a book socializing site is to be able to converse with friends and acquaintances about what they’re reading, their opinions on books, get ideas for new reads, etc. I’m interested in opinions on the two sites. Which do you like better, and why? What is your interest in using such a website?

I like Shelfari, and have been trying to use it more lately, but it seems a bit dead. As in not very many people actually use it actively, which sort of defeats the whole purpose. I do find a few of its features annoying, such as the “I own, do not own, want to own” option…I’m not looking for a personal library catalog system, I just want to be able to share and discuss what I’m reading, even if most of what I’m reading comes from the library. So I leave the boxes blank, and that annoys me because then my profile for that particular book seems unfinished. I haven’t tried GoodReads enough yet to know if the same issues are present there.

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Aug 16

Book Review: A Murder Hatched

Uncategorized 2

Why I Read It: I love mysteries, and books with good, laugh-out-loud humor. Jen of Magpie Knitter recommended the author, and had it not been that I admire Jen’s own writing style and sense of humor (as evidenced by her posts on Ravelry) I would never have read it after a glance at the cover and the names of the other titles in the Meg Langslow series, because…

First Impression: Birds?!? No offense to any bird lovers out there, but I have a deep dislike and slight fear of birds of all sorts with the exception of hummingbirds. Probably because those are not only beautiful, but also too small to mess up my car or balcony. Not to worry, I wasn’t far into the first book when I heaved a sigh of relief since the heroine doesn’t seem to particularly like birds, she’s just always getting tangled up with them.

Overview: I really enjoyed reading this book, which is actually a reprint of the first two books in the series (Murder with Peacocks and Murder with Puffins). I blew through it in one afternoon and promptly went to the library for the next books, but alas – they somehow skipped a couple in their collection (which meant I had to wait for them to arrive from Amazon). Donna Andrews has a delightfully dry sense of humor, and her main character Meg is sympathetic and interesting. Meg’s family of eccentric and slightly loony but endearing characters adds to the book’s color. In the first book, Meg has allowed herself to be talked into being the maid-of-honor for three weddings within a few weeks of each other. With a Bridezilla, her mother, and best friend all demanding all her spare time and the relative of one of the grooms turning up dead, everyone seems to be falling apart. Her father, who still does all her mother’s yard work despite their being divorced for five years, reads too many mystery novels and insists on trying to catch the killer himself. At least one groom seems to have a serious case of cold feet, and the brides (of course) keep changing their minds on everything.

The mystery element of the series is on the cozy side, despite the murders that occur. Andrews stays away from anything too gritty or stomach-turning. The main characters have brushes with death now and then, but they never feel very serious. Personally, the draw for the rest of the series was the laugh-out-loud aspect of the books, not the suspense or intricate nature of the whodunit, which I didn’t find all that enticing. I also love all the scrapes Meg manages to get into (will she ever learn not to be creeping into dangerous places without anything heavier than a cell phone or flashlight?) and wondering just how she’ll get herself out this time. Andrews seems to have also managed to mostly stay away from stereotypical characters, with a couple exceptions, and her secondary characters are just as amusing and enjoyable as the reappearing ones.

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 for light, amusing reading. 🙂

Random Comments: Linking to Donna Andrews’ website here, and to her awards page instead of the home page because there is a rather big spoiler for the first few books right smack on the top! So if you even think you might read these, don’t click on the home button. 😛

Also, I am most disgusted with all three of the local library systems I use, as they somehow manage to have the first two and the last five books of the series, which means I will have to buy the others in order to read them – not something I usually mind, but with the present job situation…whoever heard of having the beginning and end of a series but not the middle?

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Jul 13

Truth Beneath the Rose

Musings 2

Give me strength to face the truth
The doubt within my soul
No longer I can justify
The bloodshed in his name

Is it a sin to seek the truth, the truth beneath the rose?
Pray with me so I will find the gate to Heaven’s door
I believed it would justify the means
It had a hold over me

Blinded to see
The cruelty of the beast
Here is the darkest side of me
(Forgive me my sins)

The veil of my dreams
Deceived all I have seen
Forgive me for what I have been
(Forgive me my sins)

Pray for me ’cause I have lost my faith in holy wars
Is paradise denied to me because I can take no more?

Has darkness taken over me
Consumed my mortal soul?
All my virtues sacrificed
Can Heaven be so cruel?

I believed it would justify the means
It had a hold over me
(Forgive me my sins)

Blinded to see
The cruelty of the beast
Here is the darkest side of me
(Forgive me my sins)

The veil of my dreams
Deceived all I have seen
Forgive me for what I have been
(Forgive me my sins)

I’m hoping, I’m praying
I won’t get lost between two worlds
For all I’ve seen,
The truth lies in between

Give me the strength to face the wrong that I have done
Now that I know
The darkest side of me

How can blood be your salvation
And justify the pain
That we have caused throughout the times

Will I learn what’s truly sacred
Will I redeem my soul
Will truth set me free

(Forgive me my sins)

Blinded to see
The cruelty of the beast
Here is the darkest side of me
(Forgive me my sins)

The veil of my dreams
Deceived all I have seen
Forgive me for what I have been
(Forgive me my sins)

—Within Temptation (watch/listen to it here)

I heard this song for the first time a few months ago. It immediately resonated with me, and it really seems to capture some of the struggles I’ve had in the last couple of years. Most of the beliefs and teachings I was raised with, I no longer hold to. I feel bitterly disallusioned, cheated, but also afraid. While I don’t believe they are true, a little voice keeps saying “what if?” The speaker in this song seems to have the same fear – she knows what she used to be, used to believe, is wrong and has hurt many people, but she doesn’t know what’s right or how to make her wrongs right.

There’s quite a bit of chatter on the internet about what the song actually means, or what it’s writer intended for it to mean. I’m not sure that matters so much as interpretation of the song to each person. In fact, I would guess that is why the writer didn’t make a big public to do over the meaning of the song (couldn’t find it in a casual search of the internet, just lots of speculation) – so that each person that hears it could relate to it. I certainly did. It sounds to me like it’s referring to the Crusades undertaken by the organized church in the Middle Ages, and the singer has realized that these “holy wars” aren’t really saving anyone, they’re actually hurting thousands of people.

It’s that thought I relate to so strongly – I’ve seen modern day holy wars, not undertaken with guns and swords but with manipulation, deceit, and suppression. The results are just as bloody, and perhaps even more dangerous because the victims for the most part, look fine on the outside. Those that become uncomfortable with or question these modern day holy war tactics are guilted and threatened into silence and submission.

Is it a sin to seek the truth, the truth beneath the rose?

Maybe that is a bit angsty. Oh well. I love that song.

Oh, and just for the record, while Sharon den Adel usually has amazing dresses/costumes in their music videos, she seriously needs to lose the black feathered wrist bands. Ugh.

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