Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Notes: The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

The Reluctant WidowThe Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is not Georgette Heyer's best.

That said, there's a lot to enjoy here anyway, especially the exquisitely foppish Francis, who turns out to be much more than the overdrawn dandy he first appears - but NOT, let us be clear, the hero of the piece! (Any fellow Bujold fans out there think he might be a pattern plate for Byerly Vorrutyer?)

The actual hero, Carlyon, and his heroine, Elinor, aren't very exciting, but they're both lovely anyway, and exactly the sort of people you'd be happy to know in real life. And Carlyon and his two brothers compose one of the best-drawn and affectionate FAMILIES Heyer's ever brought to life.

What doesn't work? Sadly, it's the plot. More mystery than romance, the hidden-papers plot drags and drags and draaaaaags. I came for the romance, and there just wasn't that much.

Still, for Heyer fans, there's still a lot to love: clever dialogue to laugh at, a pleasant household to warm the heart, and a bit of cloak-and-dagger work to chill the blood.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Links! Samwise, Dangerous Chemicals, New Books, and more!

"The Choices of Master Samwise, and Calling, and Going Against the Grain":
In another way, we are not operating against the grain of our nature when we are called, even when our call seems outside of what comes naturally to us. We are called to our true nature. Sam's service to his master leads him to the veriest outreaches of the world, very far from the natural element of his garden. But it doesn't make him less of a gardener, cook, and personal servant. He remains Samwise Gamgee throughout all the battles and choices. He is often uncomfortable, but hardly ever outside of his comfort zone, defined as operating based on who he is and what his role is. 
"Things I Won't Work With": - a chemist explains what substances are so terribly dangerous he doesn't even want them in his lab. Dryly hilarious.

"Wesley on the Christian Life: the Heart Renewed in Love": a new book from Fred Sanders - yay! You can read my review of his book on the Trinity here; I'm excited to read his book on Wesley.

"Book Review: Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch": Ann's review makes me really want to read this book, too.

"When God Says to Get Drunk":
Go ahead and lose control. Go ahead and get intoxicated, but get drunk in the love and passionate pursuit of your wife. What wine does to your body, let your wife do to your affections and desires. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crocheted Finished Object: Giant Pineapple Doily!

Okay, I'm so, so happy with this one. It's just so pretty. All that symmetry. All those points.

All that math that I didn't have to do myself. :)

In the picture it's pinned out and blocking. Tomorrow, after it finishes drying, I'll unpin it and wrap it for its intended recipient.

(The pattern is free, and you can find it here. My Rav notes are here.)

Yay for handicrafts! Yay for beauty that just appears when you follow the instructions! There's something so lovely and predictable about doily patterns. Such a nice antidote to every day life.  :)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, August 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. A Facebook friend posted a video filled with things Southern women say*, and remarked that it hadn't occurred to her before that most of those sayings were Southern - that not everyone 'round the country uses them.

Which has me pondering what I say that's particularly Californian. (Other than "like" and "the 5".)

All I came up with is that we're pretty media-centered out here, and our speech is often filled with movie quotations, internet memes and online acronyms.

But I don't know. That might be universally American these days. What do you think? Do other areas of the country communicate through RiffTrax quotations and say things like "brb" as if they were actual words?

("Enjoy my back.")

2. On the other hand, all those might not be a sign that I'm Californian. They might just be a sign that I'm a bit of a geek.

3. The other sign that I'm a geek - visible in quick take #1 - is that I insist on using "quotation" instead of "quote" to indicate the noun. "Quote" is a verb, people!

4. Do non-Californians end their remonstrances with "people!"?

5. Clearly, I need to travel more.

6. If I traveled more, it wouldn't be to dry washes in Utah to capture footage of flash floods. That said, this is still pretty awesome.

7. Finally, here's my cat in a frying pan. I swear it was his idea. And I promise I didn't cook him.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jenn over at Conversion Diary!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*Language warning on the video.

Knitted and Crocheted FO's: an afghan, a pair of socks, and some gloves

Well, I've been neglecting to post craft progress here on the blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy!

I haven't quite caught up with photographing my finished objects (two rather large projects still need to be washed and blocked), but here are a couple of smaller - and one not-so-small - bits of handiwork.

These gloves are to replace my previous ones, which were just a bit too short at the wrist and knuckles. Rav notes here.

These socks are just plain ol' vanilla socks. Rav notes here, for those interested in yarn details.  
This afghan is probably the most fun: it's entirely made out of yarn recycled from thrift store sweaters. Most of it is laceweight, and I held the yarn double/triple/quadruple/+ stranded throughout, which let me switch out one strand at a time to get that ombré effect. Rav notes here.

Now if only the weather would cooperate and give me some cool days to go with all these wooly wonders!

Peace of Christ,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Links - the Little Mermaid, Boggle, Child Sponsership, and more!

"Musings on Characters: the Little Mermaid":
I am currently in the middle of a two weekend run of The Little Mermaid Jr., a shortened version of the Broadway musical based on the Disney movie (loosely adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale). The songs are loads of fun but I have come to realize that the Disney version of the story is filled with characters who are either lousy people or lousy at their jobs.
"Boogle is Better Than Scrabble": so, so true.

"Want to Change the World? Sponser a Child":
"This is … amazing," was all I could mumble. We tried slicing the data different ways, but each showed significant educational improvements. You could beat this data senseless, and it was incapable of showing anything other than extremely large and statistically significant impacts on educational outcomes for sponsored children.
"Starship Mine": I found this terribly amusing. Which maybe says something about my taste. But . . . may it brighten your morning, too. :)
 Petulant Teen Picard will play his music as loud as he likes.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: "Catch a Falling Star" by Beth K. Vogt

Catch a Falling StarCatch a Falling Star by Beth K. Vogt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so happy I discovered Beth Vogt! I enjoyed her first novel, "Wish You Were Here", and I think I enjoyed this one even more. She just gets better. You know, there are times for reading about hard topics, challenging topics . . . but there are also times when you just want to read something sweet and thoughtful, engaging and fun.

That's this book. This romance follows Dr. Kendall Haynes, a pediatric allergy specialist in Colorado Springs, through her encounters with military pilot Griffin Walker. I liked that the protagonists were older than most of the couples I read about in romances, with pasts that added a unique flavor to their current interactions. And I love romances that include a strong sense of place, and "Catch a Falling Star" really made me want to go visit Colorado Springs again sometime.

Anyway, I don't want to say much more, because the fun of this book is experiencing the everyday events of their lives alongside the characters. But every time I sat down to read another chapter or two of this book, I enjoyed myself. If you're a romance lover looking for a pleasant weekend read, I think you'll enjoy it too.

View all my reviews

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell