Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This week I finished reading:Here are the books that I have in progress and am attempting to read:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day

Here are the books I received this holiday:

Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack

America’s favorite food photography team, responsible for the covers of America’s top magazines, shows how to create funny, scary, and sophisticated masterpieces, using a zipper lock bag and common candies and snack items.With these easy-to-follow techniques, even the most kitchen-challenged cooks can
• raise a big-top circus cupcake tier for a kid’s birthday
• plant candy vegetables on Oreo earth cupcakes for a garden party
• trot out a line of confectionery “pupcakes” for a dog fancier
• serve sausage and pepperoni pizza cupcakes for April Fool’s Day
• bewitch trick-or-treaters with chilly ghost chocolate cupcakes
• create holidays on icing with turkey cupcake place cards, a white cupcake Christmas wreath, and Easter egg cupcakes.
No baking skills or fancy pastry equipment is required. Spotting the familiar items in the hundreds of brilliant photos is at least half the fun.

I'd put Hello, Cupcake! on my Amazon wishlist to bookmark it after hearing good thing about it from an online friend. My mom thought it was so neat that she had to get it for me.

Knitting and Tea by Jane Gottelier

Crisp lace table linens.
Tinkling silver spoons on saucers.
The billowing steam of freshly-brewed tea.
Skeins of fine yarn on delicate needles.

Knitting and Tea brings together these two hallowed traditions in all their beauty, charm, and poise. The author takes you on a journey from the lush tea plantations of Sri Lanka to the tearooms in the United Kingdom to explore the intertwining history of these two passions. The luxurious photographs of each location entice you to sit and sample the delectable teatime recipes included and to knit designs that evoke classic elegance. From a stately Cricket Sweater to lovely Tea Cozies, an embellished Cupcake Cardigan, and timeless Argyle Socks, the author shows you how knitting and tea can go hand-in-hand anywhere.

I've been wanting this book. See this post.

Sorcery and Cecelia: Or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

A great deal is happening in London and the country this season.
For starters, there's the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. There's also the man who seems to be spying on Cecelia. (Though he's not doing a very good job of it--so just what are his intentions?) And then there's Oliver. Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn't bothered to tell anyone where he is.
Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. And the girls might be in fear for their lives... if only they weren't having so much fun!

I already own The Grand Tour, the book that follows Sorcery and Cecelia, so I was so excited to receive this one. I started reading it this morning.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd

19th century London is brought to life in Peter Ackroyd's retelling of Mary Shelley's classic. In The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, the titular character becomes friends with Percy Shelley while studying at Oxford and Percy (and his wives) become key players in the story of Frankenstein's monster. To fully connect the Shelleys to Frankenstein's tale, Ackroyd brings his characters to Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva to visit Lord Byron and recreate the environment in which Mary Shelley imagined her Frankenstein.

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is neither better nor worse than the original, it is just an interesting take on it. At some points the plot follows the original fairly closely, at others it departs quite significantly (the same could be said of Ackroyd's version of Shelley's lifestory).

Ackroyd portrays both Frankenstein and his monster quite sympathetically (less so, Byron and Percy Shelley). He also does a wonderful job of explaining the science and philosophy of the period, as well as describing the overall atmosphere of that London (complete with resurrection-men). The ending of the novel is a bit rushed, but given the final plot twist it makes sense for it to be that way.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beneath a Marble Sky

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors

In his debut novel, John Shors tells the personal story of India's most famous monument, bringing 17th Century Hindustan to life.

The heroine of Beneath a Marble Sky is Jahanara, daughter of the Shah Jahan I and his favorite wife, the woman who has come to be known as Mumtaz Mahal. A favorite of her father's, Princess Jahanara is asked to oversee the construction of the Taj Mahal after the death of her mother. She falls in love with the architect, but Beneath a Marble Sky is so much more than a love story. The constraints women lived under during this time period, the vagaries of royal politics, loyalty and sacrifice are all themes of this mesmerizing novel.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This week I finished reading:Here are the books that I have in progress and am attempting to read:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ways of Dying

Ways of Dying by Zakes Mda

In Ways of Dying, Zakes Mda's acclaimed first novel, Toloki is a "professional mourner" in a vast and violent city of the new South Africa. Day after day he attends funerals in the townships, dressed with dignity in a threadbare suit, cape, and battered top hat, to comfort the grieving families of the victims of the city's crime, racial hatred, and crippling poverty. At a Christmas day funeral for a young boy Toloki is reunited with Noria, a woman from his village. Together they help each other to heal the past, and as their story interweaves with those of their acquaintances this elegant short novel provides a magical and painful picture of South Africa today.

I'm sad to report that I didn't have any strong feelings about this multiple award-winning novel. The book is full of brutality and dark humor (and dark humor as commentary on post-Apartheid South Africa). Some of the language was quite beautiful. The two main characters, Toloki and Noria, are interesting, but not completely sympathetic (by sympathetic here I mean not easy for readers to relate to). There's a fascinating mythology surrounding Noria, but that is often overshadowed by the horrific events that occur again and again in her life. Despite everything Toloki and Noria are optimistic and that hopefulness, I think, is the message that Mda wants to leave readers with.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why Don't Students Like School?

Why Don't Students Like School?
A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

by Daniel T. Willingham

In Why Don't Students Like School?, cognitive scientist and educator Daniel T. Willingham makes cognitive theory accessible, bridging the gap between theory and practice.

The book is divided into nine chapters, each of which is begins with a question (like Why do students remember everything that's on television and forget everything I say?) and is focused on a fundamental principle and it's applicability to the classroom. The principles are:
  1. People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers.
  2. Factual knowledge precedes skill.
  3. Memory is the residue of thought.
  4. We understand new things in the context of things we already know.
  5. Proficiency requires practice.
  6. Cognition is fundamentally different early and late in training.
  7. Children are more alike than different in terms of learning.
  8. Intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work.
  9. Teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved.
This book was required reading in preparation for our information literacy summit next month. It's geared toward K-12 teachers, but I found it very enlightening nevertheless, particularly the sections in which Willingham dispels certain prevalent pedagogical practices.

My favorite quote from the book is one that Willingham cites in his notes for chapter one: Sir Joshua Reynolds' "There is no expedient to which man will not resort to avoid the read labor of thinking" (17).

The one thing that I didn't like very much about the book was the layout of the text. Willingham includes lots of visual material (charts, graphs, illustrative photographs), but they are occasionally distracting* and the way the text flows around them on certain pages is very awkward.

* This is particularly the case with the image of the author's grandmother on page 123. In chapter three Willingham writes about a 4th grade teacher who had his students bake biscuits as part of a unit on the Underground Railroad (because biscuits were a food staple for runaway slaves). He explains why this wasn't an effective lesson because the students spent more time thinking about measuring flour, etc. than about the Underground Railroad. For me, the grandma photo was like the biscuits. I vaguely remember something about "grandma psychology" but have completely forgotten the broader context.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

book clubbing in December

My book club met a bit early this month because of the holidays.
Our selection for December was The Princess Bride and I have to say that I was surprised how many people in our group hadn't read the book or seen the movie. Of course, I'm the youngest member of the book club, but still. I hadn't read the book before this month, but I've seen the movie many times.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The subtitle of The Princess Bride is "S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure; The 'Good Parts' Version" and in the novel carries on the ruse that he's abridging a classic and the text is full of his commentary on the original work. Usually I have no problem with kind of literary device, but I have to admit that Goldman's digressions really started to annoy me after a while. I have the 25th anniversary edition and I didn't even bother to finish the special "Buttercup's Baby" section at the end because of it (full disclosure: I was sick and so probably more easily irritated than usual).

In any case, book club: like I mentioned above, there were a number of people who were unfamiliar with The Princess Bride. Reactions were really all over the board: some loved it, some disliked it, and some were neither here nor there. We talked about fantasy in general, Goldman's writing style, what we did/did not like about the story, and the differences between the novel and the movie (as well as casting choices).

The Princess Bride is really the perfect jumping-off point for a discussion about movie adaptations because Goldman and director Rob Reiner were able to stay so true to the original.

On a side note, while writing up this post I came across something that referred to The Princess Bride as a Ruritanian romance. I'd never heard that term before so I set out to investigate it. Apparently the term refers to a story set in a fictional country (like Goldman's Florin). British author Anthony Hope (1863-1933) created Ruritania, a fictional country in central Europe, as a setting for The Prisoner of Zenda and two other books.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Given the fact that I haven't posted since Monday of last week it should be obvious that I didn't get much reading done. It's just a hectic time of year.

The only book that I finished reading is Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky.

I am, however, knitting a pair of socks for my dad (Christmas present) from one of the "master" patterns in New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi (sock one complete, sock two in progress) so I haven't been neglecting books altogether.

Here are the books that I have in progress and am attempting to read:

Monday, December 07, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week was a wash. I caught a virus of some sort and didn't feeling like doing anything (reading and knitting included). The only book that I finished reading is The Princess Bride by William Goldman (our book club selection for December). I have the 25th anniversary edition and I didn't even bother to finish the special "Buttercup's Baby" section at the end - that's how unmotivated I've been.

As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the titles I'm actively reading:

Thursday, December 03, 2009

System of Vienna

A book I reviewed for Library Journal this fall is in stores today.

The System of Vienna: From Heaven Street to Earth Mound Square by Gert Jonke

In Austria, Jonke's award-winning work has a reputation for being extremely difficult; outside, he is still virtually unknown.

The System of Vienna is both a collection of short stories (originally and disparately published in 1970 and 1980) and an inventive autobiographical novel. The first-person narrator details his travels on the streetcars of Vienna and through life, starting with his blue-skinned birth and ending with a stony love scene, and belatedly explaining the book's subtitle. Translator Vincent Kling's attentiveness to Jonke's use of language—long, intentionally confused sentences, repetition, and fantastically superlative compound words like darkgreenblackcreepingplantalgaemurky (a descriptor for canal water)—helps retain the book's balance as well as its complexity.

This slim volume is not an easy read, and, while Kling's afterword does make it a bit more accessible, readers who aren't into experimental fiction may want to skip it.

See review in Library Journal...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Last Orders at Harrods

Last Orders at Harrods by Michael Holman

Set in a slum in a fictional East African country, Last Orders at Harrods is both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious. Holman puts the novel's diverse players (precocious street urchins, World Bank presidents, and everyone in between) through the paces all the while shedding light on the state of East Africa today.

Nothing good came of Charity Mupanga, the proprietress of Harrods International Bar (and Nightspot), being mentioned in a Financial Times article. Ever since she's been receiving threatening letters from solicitors representing Harrods in London. She seeks help from Edward Furniver, a British expat and head of the local cooperative bank. Furniver's advice only made things worse and now a visit from the solicitor is imminent.

This storyline, from which the novel's title is obviously taken, is but one of the threads that Holman follows in Last Orders at Harrods. There's an outbreak of cholera. A corrupt politician attempts to assure the outcome of an upcoming election. Fiercely-loyal Glue-sniffing pick-pocketing boys roam the streets alternatively causing mayhem for the authorities and providing protection for those individuals they hold in esteem. NGO employees and members of the foreign press ineffectually complete three year stints in the country.

More political than Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books, Last Orders at Harrods is similarly episodic and slow-paced. Readers of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books may find Last Orders at Harrods a fascinating companion to them, but they may also be turned off by the distinct pessimism of Holman's novel.

Apparently Last Orders at Harrods, Holman's debut, is the first book in a series. It's follow-up Fatboy and the Dancing Ladies was published in 2007 and a third title is expected in 2010.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading:As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the titles I'm actively reading:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody

Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody by Michael Gerber

"Stop that movie," Headmaster Alpo Bumblemore said, "or Hogwash is history!"
Already overrun by brawling, fetid fans of the bestselling Barry Trotter books, Hogwash is certain to be pulled down brick by brick after Barry's new big-budget biopic debuts. So Barry Trotter, Ermine Cringer, and Lon Measly are hauled out of retirement to face their toughest challenge yet. Not only do the twenty-two-year-olds have to elude packs of rabid fans, outwit Barry's sponging godfather Serious, and vanquish their old foe Lord Valumart, they have to face the most powerful enemy of all: Hollywood!

When I first started listening to the book (I received the audio version on tape from a friend) I really hated it and thought that I wouldn't bother finishing it, but because I listen to books-on-tape in the car when I'm more or less a captive audience I ended up listening to the whole thing anyway. While I wouldn't recommend it (it was most definitely not my cup of tea), I will say that I found that the book got better toward the end.

To clarify, I'm not against parodies on principle and I have no problem with the author poking fun at Rowling and Potter, I'm just not the right person to give any kind of review of a book like this as my sense of humor does not tend to jive with that of the general populace (which is why I generally eschew "funny" movies). Barry Trotter and the Unauthorized Parody is not appropriate for kids (mostly because of sexual references), but adults may find it amusing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Women on Wednesday: Orange Prize

The Orange Prize for Fiction is one of the United Kingdom's most prestigious literary prizes. It is awarded annually (usually in June) for the best original full-length novel by a female author of any nationality, written in English and published in the England and/or Ireland in the preceding year. The winner of the prize receives £30,000, along with a 7.5 inch bronze sculpture called the "Bessie" created by artist Grizel Niven.

A relatively young prize, Orange Prize for Fiction honored its first winner in 1996. The founders of the Orange Prize for Fiction (including Kate Mosse) were concerned that many of the most significant literary prizes often appeared to overlook writing by women. To that end, only female authors are eligible for the prize and the competition is judged exclusively by women. The longlist for the prize is usually announced in March and the shortlist in April.

The first Orange of Oranges Prize (a take on the Booker of Bookers Prize) was awarded Andrea Levy for her novel Small Island in 2005 in celebration of the Orange Prize for Fiction's tenth anniversary. Also christened in 2005 was the Orange Award for New Writers with a £10,000 award.

- Posted as part of Women on Wednesday

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I've been looking forward to reading Leviathan since I happened across a copy while browsing at Barnes and Noble. The publisher's synopsis is in this post and if you go to this page and scroll down you can see a really excellent trailer.

Leviathan is set at the dawn of the Great War, but in an Europe much different from our own historic Europe. In the world of Leviathan, Europe is divided between Clankers (powers that employ high-tech steam-driven machinery, ie. Central Powers) and Darwinists (who rely on fabricated animals created through advanced biotechnology pioneered by Charles Darwin himself, ie. Allies). The novel's main characters are Aleksandar, the only son of the murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Deryn, a teenage girl trying to pass as a boy and join the British air force.

I enjoyed Leviathan so much that I read it with conflicting desires: I wanted to get through it quickly to find out what happens, but I also wanted to savor it. I'm very much looking forward to the sequels (apparently Leviathan is the first in a four-book series).

I liked the characters. I thought the story was compelling (and that there was enough meat to it to nourish a series). I was fascinated by the world Westerfeld was able to create. And, I thought Keith Thompson's illustrations were wonderful.

Highly recommended. Russell is reading our copy now and then I'm loaning it to a friend.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading:As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the titles I'm actively reading:

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I mentioned Wintergirls in this post when it first came out. It's been six months now and I've finally gotten around to reading the novel. I have to admit that while I wanted to read Wintergirls, I was a bit leery because of the subject matter. I knew Anderson would have handled the subject well since I'd read Speak, but I knew Wintergirls would be a difficult read and I wasn't sure that I was up for it. After reading it I can report that Wintergirls is not an easy read, but it definitely was not as difficult as I expected it to be.

The novel opens with protagonist and narrator Lia finding out that her best friend Cassie had died the night before ("...body found in a motel room, alone..."). At this point 18-year-old Lia, suffering from anorexia nervosa, has already been hospitalized twice. She is living with her father, stepmother, and younger stepsister and doing everything she can to keep losing weight without letting any of the authority figures in her life catch on.

Wintergirls is written as Lia's interior monologue. As such it is very effective. Things don't always make sense, but that's because Lia's perception of the world (and herself) is skewed. I really liked the way that Anderson represented Lia's self-editing and recurring thoughts.

The novel is haunting and Lia is not necessarily a sympathetic character, but Wintergirls is a well-written and important book. It's a book that you might not want to read, but that you can't help but keep reading once you've started. My biggest frustration when reading the novel was with Lia's father and step-mother. It seemed so obvious that Lia was not doing well, that she was falling into her old patterns, that she was lying and sneaking around, but they were almost willfully oblivious.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

Subtitled "a memoir of going home," Mennonite in a Little Black Dress begins with what is arguably the worst week of author Rhoda Janzen's life. A debilitating automobile crash on the heels of her husband leaving her for a man he met through* is more than she can handle. Janzen decides to recenter herself by spending some time with her family and the Mennonite community from which they are inseparable.

While the narrative is very open and chatty, I found Janzen to be far too self- and Mennonite-deprecating for my taste. The author doesn't portray herself as a sympathetic character. Additionally it seems that that because the Mennonite culture is perceived to be a selling-point, the author felt the need to make that the focus of the memoir. I think the book would have been stronger if I had just been about this difficult patch she went through and her going home (even with all the reminiscences about her childhood). Throughout the narrative, though, Janzen feels the need to make all kinds of witty (or snarky) observations about the Mennonite community in which she grew up. This detracts from the overall story.

I was also disappointed in the ending. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress ends with a strange appendix entitled "A Mennonite History Primer" in which Janzen goes over things that non-Mennonites need to know about Mennonites (many of which had been mentioned multiple times in the course of the memoir). I think the book would have had a better sense of closure without the appendix. The beginning of the appendix looks exactly like the beginning of any of the other chapters so readers are liable to read it as if it is the last chapter (like I did, I didn't realize it was labeled as an appendix until I sat down to write up this book) and as a last chapter it is a bit inexplicable.

This all isn't to say that I didn't enjoy parts of the book and that I didn't laugh out loud at some points, just that I was disappointed. This book seemed to have so much potential so my expectations were high. In particular, knowing that the author is an English professor, I expected the writing to be better.

* Janzen uses the phrase "Bob, a guy he met on" many times (too many times!) during the course of the book.

Friday, November 20, 2009

44 Scotland Street

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

44 Scotland Street, the book and the house, is peopled with a variety of interesting personages: Bruce, a narcissistic junior surveyor; Pat, a 21-year-old girl struggling to find her place in the world before going off to college; Dominica,* an eccentric widow; and Bertie, a brilliant little boy who is plagued by an overzealous, overbearing mother, Irene. Originally published serially in The Scotsman, 44 Scotland Street is the story of those five characters and the people they encounter in their everyday lives.

I enjoyed 44 Scotland Street so much that I've already checked out the second book in the series, Espresso Tales. The story threads were interesting and all the characters full-bodied. Some of them were wonderfully sympathetic and others were irritating, but in that people-you-love-to-hate way. I also loved the guest stars who pop up from time to time.

The nature of serial novels makes them perfect candidates for audio books, I think, because they make it easy to pick up where you left off and to reorient yourself in the book's world even when you haven't had a chance to listen to the book for quite some time.

* I may not have the names spelled correctly as I listened to the audio version

Thursday, November 19, 2009

book clubbing in November

I'd been looking forward to our book club meeting this month because I expected that we'd have a good discussion. It seemed like people were falling at all points in the spectrum in their response to this month's selection, Loving Frank: some loving it, some hating it, and some feeling neither here nor there.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

This biographical novel is the story of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's longtime mistress. Mamah first met Wright when her husband convinced her to have the architect design a new house for their family. She works closely with Wright during the design and construction of the house, her affair with Wright, however, doesn't begin until three years later. Mamah's feelings for Wright and her dissatisfaction with her staid, married life, compel her to leave her husband and children.

Loving Frank follows Mamah throughout her relationship with Wright, from its genesis, through her years with Wright in Europe and her homemaking at Taliesin in Wisconsin. The novel's ending comes as a complete shock to those unfamiliar with Wright's lifestory (like me).

Loving Frank was indeed a good book club book. It gave us lots to talk about. We discussed:
  • what we did and did not know about Wright before reading the novel,
  • how we felt about the main characters (the majority of us found both Mamah and Wright completely unsympathetic),
  • how much Buffalo featured in the novel (not at all really, only references to Darwin Martin loaning Wright money),
  • who Ellen Key (the Swedish feminist that Mamah befriends) was, what we thought of her beliefs, and what her role was in the story;
  • how much architecture featured in the novel,
  • why Catherine Wright (Frank's first wife) doesn't grant him a divorce,
  • how many times Taliesin burned down and whether Wright should not have taken it as an omen,
  • why the author focused so much on the press coverage of the affair,
  • how we felt about Mamah's choices and why she might have made them,
  • the writing (particularly the pacing, how the author told us things rather than showing them to us, and what we perceived as a lack of romance in the lovestory),
  • the reader (of the audio version), and the abridgment (also of the audio version)
among other things.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Women on Wednesday

I'm really keen to participate in the the new weekly meme that my friend Susan is starting on her Rocks 'n Reads blog, Women on Wednesday. This post explains it all, but here's the gist: Every Wednesday, write about a book you loved that’s written by a woman. Celebrate a woman author whose books you love. Talk about a book you’re dying to read.

Today is the perfect day to start as it is the birthday of a certain Margaret Atwood. Canadian writer Atwood turns 70 years old today and is most definitely worthy of celebration.

I have read quite of few of her books (and Moral Disorder is on our book club schedule for February), but The Handmaid's Tale is my favorite (and one of my favorite books overall). I'm looking forward to reading the recently released The Year of the Flood.If you haven't read Atwood yet, I'd definitely recommend The Handmaid's Tale. It's definitely in line with her more recent work with its dystopian themes, but it's extremely accessible (definitely more so than Oryx and Crake).

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading:As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the titles I'm actively reading:


I haven't finished this book yet, but it comes likely recommended from Russell and I needed a nonfiction title for the November book of the month for the student services blog.

Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark

Published in 2007, Starbucked sets out to answer the question of how Starbucks became so popular. More than just a company history, Starbucked is an exploration of America's love affair with coffee.

While author Taylor Clark is not a fan of the coffeehouse chain, it is clear that his journalist roots compel him to strive for balanced reporting. Clark makes an effort to dispel myths about Starbucks and shows how it compares favorably to other infamous corporations like Walmart and McDonalds. This objectivity is precisely what makes Starbucked different from other books about the company, the majority of which are either aggressively pro- or anti-Starbucks.

You don't have to be a Starbucks fan or coffee lover to enjoy Starbucked because economics, cultural change, and quirky trivia are equally part of its narrative.

Monday, November 09, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading:As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the titles I'm actively reading:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Lexicographer's Dilemma

The Lexicographer's Dilemma:
The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to South Park

by Jack Lynch

I wasn't sure what to expect from The Lexicographer's Dilemma. I received through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers. There's so much competition for books that I tend to request any- and everything that I think looks interesting because there's such a slim chance that I'll actually get any individual book.

Descriptivism vs. prescriptivism, that is the lexicographer's dilemma described in the book. Should the dictionary writer describe language as it is actually being used or should (s)he write only of "proper" or "correct" usage?

The Lexicographer's Dilemma is not a quick read, but it is definitely a worthwhile one. Rutgers English professor (and Samuel Johnson scholar) Jack Lynch charts the history of the English language in a surprisingly accessible way.

Lynch describes how the English language has developed and changed over time, focusing specifically on the genesis of our grammatical rules. Lynch also takes a bit of a biographical approach to language, spending numerous chapters on famous lexicographers like James Murray of the Oxford English Dictionary and Noah Webster.

The stories of some of our words, however, are the most interesting bits. Here's an example:
The English had long been using the words swin or swyn (first written down around 725), cu (before 800), and scep (around 825) to refer to common barnyard animals. The newly arrived French speakers, though, used their own terms: around the year 1300, they began referring to the same animals as porc, boef, and motoun. All six of these words, as it happens, have survived into modern English, but now they have different meanings: swine, cow, and sheep refer to the living animals--which would have been the English-speaking peasants' experience of them--and pork, beef, and mutton to the meat that they provide, the only way the French-speaking aristocrats would have dealt with them. (141)
While Lynch does spend quite a bit of time on grammatical problems like the split infinitive, the serial comma, and the inability to distinguish between who and whom,* The Lexicographer's Dilemma is an empowering book. Rather than making readers bemoan their writing skills, the book encourages them to engage with their language. Lynch ends The Lexicographer's Dilemma with this thought:
Speaking and writing shouldn't be a chore; we should resist all attempts to make us feel ashamed of speaking the way that rest of the world speaks. Using the language should be an opportunity for inventiveness, even playfulness. It's the only way to retain our sanity as we grapple with this big, messy, arbitrary, illogical, inconsistent, often infuriating but always fascinating language of ours. (276)

* Lynch has good news for many of us here. He predicts that whom will not last out the 21st century.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

a couple mysteries

Pride and Prescience:
Or, a Truth Universally Acknowledged
by Carrie Bebris

Another Pride and Prejudice spin-off, Pride and Prescience is the first in a series (the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries). It combines paranormal elements with Austen's characters and social milieu.

Caroline Bingley announces her engagement to a mysterious American at the Darcy/Bingley wedding reception, characteristically trying to showup the two brides. After her own whirlwind wedding, however, Caroline begins to act quite strangely. After a number of inexplicable incidents, Elizabeth begins to wonder whether other forces are at work in their small community.

I don't think the book is at all true to Austen (not even Austen's more gothic novel Northanger Abbey), but it was a quick read and can be fun if readers accept Elizabeth as a sleuth with possible psychic abilities and overlook some obvious flaws. The way that the various characters address each other is inconsistent and not appropriate to the timeperiod. Harder to overlook is the fact that the two main American characters are more or less stranded in England because of the war breaking out, one of them suggests that Caroline should be taken to the Louisiana estate to recuperate from her nervous disorder.

Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Landlord is the first book in Harris' Lily Bard series. Unlike the Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connolly series, there's nothing supernatural going on in Lily Bard's Shakespeare, Arkansas.

Shakespeare's Landlord is a cozy mystery, but darker. Lily is a fiercely independent woman who runs a cleaning service and studies martial arts. Shakespeare's Landlord opens with Lily happening upon someone disposing a body with her own garbage cart. Because she doesn't want the police unearthing her own past, Lily withholds the information she knows about the killing and tries to figure out the mystery on her own.

The backstory that Harris gives Lily is horrific and may turn off readers who normally enjoy reading cozies.

Monday, November 02, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading:As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the titles I'm actively reading:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Second Glance

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

I've decided that I like Picoult's early novels best. They don't seem to be unbearably depressing like some of her more recent novels have been.

I enjoyed Second Glance very much. I liked how Picoult focused on the eugenics movement and drew comparisons to modern gene therapy.* I also liked the supernatural elements in the novel and how they were used to tie the past to the present. I thought the twist at the end was particularly satisfying.

* maybe gene therapy isn't the right term, but the right term is escaping me right now

Saturday, October 31, 2009

trick or treat

I got a belated birthday package this week, which contained two books:

Where Three Roads Meet: The Myth of Oedipus by Salley Vickers

In the latest retelling of the world’s greatest stories in the Myth series from Canongate, the highly regarded novelist Salley Vickers brings to life the Western world’s most widely known myth, Oedipus, through a shrewdly told exploration of the seminal story in conversation between Freud and Tiresias.

It is 1938 and Sigmund Freud, suffering from the debilitating effects of cancer, has been permitted by the Nazis to leave Vienna. He seeks refuge in England, taking up residence in the house in Hampstead in which he will die fifteen months later. But his last months are made vivid by the arrival of a stranger who comes and goes according to Freud’s state of health. Who is the mysterious visitor and why has he come to tell the famed proponent of the Oedipus complex his strangely familiar story?

Set partly in prewar London and partly in ancient Greece, Where Three Roads Meet is as brilliantly compelling as it is thoughtful. Former psychoanalyst and acclaimed novelist Salley Vickers revisits a crime committed long ago that still has disturbing reverberations for us all today.

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

Respected financial expert Dave Ramsey offers a comprehensive plan for getting out of debt and achieving financial health. Against a playful backdrop of fitness terminology, Dave gives solid, hard-hitting advice needed to make your goals a reality. Filled with both the hope and the how-to, The Total Money Makeover includes: Useful worksheets and forms Readable and informative charts and graphs The four factors that keep people from getting in shape financially Photos and amazing stories from people who have succeeded following The Total Money Makeover plan

The Total Money Makeover is a necessity for everyone in need of a financial makeover. Readers will learn to live by the The Total Money Makeover motto: If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Find #9

We discussed a graphic novel at our book club meeting on Wednesday (see post). One of our members listened to Nancy Pearl's September podcast on graphic novels prior to the meeting and brought with her a list of the books mentioned in the episode. One in particular jumped out at me...

Stitches by David Small

One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had throat cancer and was expected to die.

Small, a prize-winning children's author, re-creates a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. Readers will be riveted by his journey from speechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist father and scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to his decision to flee his home at sixteen with nothing more than dreams of becoming an artist. Recalling Running with Scissors with its ability to evoke the trauma of a childhood lost, Stitches will transform adolescent and adult readers alike with its deeply liberating vision.

Holy moly! this sounds both horrible and fascinating. I'm hoping our library's graphic novel collection has a copy so I can check it out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

book clubbing in October

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

I wasn't sure how Box Office Poison would go over with the book club considering the fact that we universally disliked our last graphic novel selection (Why I Hate Saturn, see post) and the amount of naked man flesh in Box Office Poison, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that almost everyone at least kind of liked it.

Originally published serially, Box Office Poison is a 600+ page behemoth of a graphic novel. Readers can easily plow through it, but I really do think it would be easier to appreciate if read in installments.

On his blog Robinson shares quite a bit of commentary on
Box Office Poison, which makes for very interesting reading. I think an annotated version of Box Office Poison would be fantastic because there's just so much that readers might not catch as they are reading it.

During our discussion we talked about which characters we liked and disliked, the storyline about Irving Flavor and what it told us about the comic industry, the various characters' happy and not-so-happy endings, the two homeless girls and what their role was in the story arc, Box Office Poison's target audience, and the similarities between Eddie and Robinson (at least how they are drawn), among other things.

future book club selections, 2010-2011

January 2010: The Night Villa by Carol Goodman

February 2010: Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

March 2010: The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint

April 2010: Under the Sabers by Tanya Biank

May 2010: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

June 2010: Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

July 2010: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

August 2010: One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell

September 2010: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

October 2010: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

November 2010: Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster

December 2010: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

January 2011: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

February 2011: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

March 2011: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

April 2011: Wings of the Dove by Henry James

May 2011: The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

June 2011: Blankets by Craig Thompson

July 2011: Jane Austen, pick your favorite title
Sense and Sensibility (1811), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey (1817, posthumous), Persuasion (1817, posthumous)

August 2011: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

September 2011: Buffalo Gal by Laura Pederson

October 2011: Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

November 2011: The Shop of Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

December 2011: The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

For information about how books are selected for our book club, see this post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Dead to Worse

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

I'd decided to stop reading the Southern Vampires/Sookie Stackhouse books after the seventh novel because I thought All Together Dead was far too violent to the point that it seemed out a character with the rest of the books in the series. Yes, the earlier books have violence, but they were not so in-your-face.

However since then I've seen True Blood (the violent and excessively sex-filled television series based on the novels, but departing more and more from them as it progresses) so when I saw From Dead to Worse (the 8th novel) among the New York Public Library's available on-demand audio books, I decided to give it a try.

In any case, in From Dead to Worse things are back to "normal" for Sookie and the usual cast of characters. In addition to the usual were/vampire dramas (and a revelation about Sookie herself early in the novel), there was an interesting plot twist near the end.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading:As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the titles I'm actively reading:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

City of the Sun

City of the Sun by Sarah Bryant

Ravaged by nuclear war and the most terrifying dictator since Stalin, Russia's future lies in the hands of one gifted child.

In the aftermath of nuclear war, Russia cowers in the shadow of Solntse, a dictator with a chilling idea of utopia and a plan to bring it to life. The lynchpin of his plan is Sifte Pierson, a child so gifted that he has gambled his entire future on her obedience. Confined at Institute 1, an isolated school which produces the most powerful minds and bodies to serve Solntse, Sifte has grown up without knowledge of her parents or the life she was stolen from. When a new teacher arrives with a dangerous agenda and clues to her past, Sifte and her closest friends uncover a secret history with the power to destroy Solntse's empire. When the secrets leak to the Socialist rebels in the slums of St. Petersburg, their dreams of revolution begin to take solid form. And as Sifte and her friends work to uncover Solntse's plans for Utopia, she comes to realize that her identity and future are vital not only to Russia's freedom, but to all humankind.

I had to include the publisher's synopsis in this post because when I tried to explain City of the Sun's premise to Russell (I think he'd like the book) it took me ten minutes and the result wasn't particularly coherent.

City of the Sun is one of those novels that defies categorization. It's a political thriller, it's science fiction, but it's so much more. In a way City of the Sun is like a grown up version of Harry Potter with Sifte as Harry, her friends are Institute 1, Dumbledore's Army, and the Soviets, the Order of the Phoenix (at least that's a thought that occurred to me while I was reading it).

I really enjoyed City of the Sun. Of course, I also liked 1984 and it's definitely in the same vein. For me City of the Sun was a page-turner, but a thought-provoking one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Find #8

When I saw this post on Franklin Habit's blog, The Panopticon, this morning, I knew exactly what book I had to feature this week.

The Enchanted Sole by Janel Laidman

Once Upon a Time... Sock knitters yearned for legendary patterns fit for queens, and pixies, and alchemists, yet still wearable for the modern adventurer. Then along came a designer who understood this yearning, and The Enchanted Sole was born. With 20 legendary sock patterns, The Enchanted Sole is sure to please every adventurer on your list.

I follow Janel Laidman through her blog (in fact I even won one of her patterns, Selkie, in a drawing) and have had The Enchanted Sole on my wishlist as soon as I heard it would be coming out.

More importantly, though, I love The Panopticon and Harry, the character who interviews Laidman for the blog. If you haven't checked out the interview yet, run over and read it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ghost Hunter

Ghost Hunter by Jayne Castle

Ghost Hunter is the last of the archives-related romance novels that I was able to get through BookMooch after the archives fiction presentation at SAA (see this post).*

Ghost Hunter is a paranormal romantic suspense novel and the 4th in the Harmony World series by Jayne Castle (aka Amanda Quick, aka Jayne Ann Krentz). I'm not sure why Ghost Hunter was mentioned in the series rather than one of the earlier novels since the archivist character is the series' male lead. Maybe because of the cover art?

The premise is a bit complicated, so I'm going to leave it to the author to summarize. From the Harmony history page of Castle's website:
Late in the 21st century an energy Curtain opened in the vicinity of Earth, making interstellar travel practical for the first time. In typical human fashion, thousands of eager colonists packed up their stuff and lost no time heading out to create new homes and new societies on the unexplored worlds. [...]

The colonists brought with them all the comforts of home – sophisticated technology, centuries of art and literature and the latest fashions. Trade through the Curtain flourished and made it possible to stay in touch with families back on Earth. It also allowed the colonists to keep their computers and high-tech gadgets working.

And then one day, without warning, the Curtain closed, disappearing as mysteriously as it had opened. Cut off from Earth, no longer able to obtain the equipment and supplies needed to keep their high-tech lifestyle going, the colonists were abruptly thrown back to a far more primitive existence. [...] Two hundred years after the closing of the Curtain, the descendants of the First Generation Colonists have managed to claw their way back from the brink to a level of civilization roughly equivalent to our own modern day Earth.

Here on Harmony, however, things are a little different, especially after dark. There are the creepy ruins of a long-vanished alien civilization, a mysterious underground rainforest, and a most unusual kind of animal companion.^ In addition, a wide variety of psychic powers are showing up in the population. Seems that something in the environment on Harmony is bringing out the latent psychic talents in people.
This same text also serves as the introduction to Ghost Hunter.

The archivist in Ghost Hunter who worked as an archivist/librarian (he's referred to as both) as a cover for his real job (I don't want to spoil anything, learning what his real job is part of the plot of Ghost Hunter).

Overall I enjoyed Ghost Hunter very much and want to try to find copies of the other books in the series. The world Castle has created in this novel is fully conceived. Elly, the series' protagonist, is spunky and interesting. Cooper, the male lead, comes out of his shell in Ghost Hunter (leading to the couple's first sexual encounter). And I just love the fact that dust bunnies are actually live creatures what some people have as pets.

* Other books I got were Overnight Male by Elizabeth Bevarly (see post) and How to be a "Wicked" Woman (anthology, see post).
^ dust bunnies!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund

Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund by Blaize Clement

Former police officer Dixie Hemingway now owns a pet-sitting business. Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund opens with Dixie walking elderly dachshund Mame through a rich neighborhood. Mame catches an interesting smell and loses Dixie in her rush to investigate it. When Dixie catches up to Mame, Mame has a human finger in her mouth...

Duplicity is the second book in the Dixie Hemingway series (after Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, see my post). I enjoyed Duplicity as much as Curiosity and definitely want to continue reading the books in the series.

The books are cozy mysteries, but they are extremely well done. Dixie is a multifaceted character. The animals all have personalities. The stories are full of detail and rarely use plot devices.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading one bookAs always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the two that I'm currently reading:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Find #7

While browsing at Barnes and Noble over the weekend, Russell pointed out to me a display on Steampunk fiction. There were a number of interesting titles (including The Grand Tour by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede, which I already own; interestingly enough when I asked about Sorcery and Cecelia: Or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot, the book The Grand Tour follows, they were completely clueless, none of the stores had it in stock and there was no note in the system that the two were in a series), mostly YA despite the fact that the display was not in the young adult section... one in particular, though, struck my eye.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.

Apparently Leviathan is the first book in a planned four-book series. I really love Scott Westerfeld, so this title is definitely on my must-have list.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I only finished reading one book: The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff.

As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the two that I'm currently reading:Also, if anyone was wondering what I decided to do about the book of the month for the student services blog after reading this post, I'd like to report that I chose Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card, a book we read for book club in June 2007 (see this post), in honor of Columbus Day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Russell and I wild released 34 books today.

Wild releasing is the act of leaving books out in public somewhere for others to find them. For more information on BookCrossing, check out the FAQs.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Garden

I was thinking of using The Garden as the October book of the month for the student services blog (because it's in the libraries' collection and because I always like a good excuse to read YA fiction), but have to admit that I'm shying away because it is one of those extremely divisive books. It's just as well, though, as now I can write about it more informally.

The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff

In The Garden, a novel geared toward young adults, first-time author Elsie Aidinoff provides another perspective on the story of Adam and Eve. Things are not so cut-and-dry in Aidinoff's version. Her Eden is lush, but restrictive. The act of eating the apple is one of conscientious rebellion and the Serpent may not be encouraging Adam and Eve to do it...

The Garden is not the most well-written book, but it is engaging and thought-provoking (it would be a great book club book - divisiveness leads to good discussions, usually). Its focus is really on exploring issues of free will and personal responsibility. Eve is the novel's protagonist and it is she, and the Serpent, who are the most well-developed characters. God and Adam, unfortunately, are more like stock characters.

In her author's note, Aidinoff explains her inspiration for the novel and is quite open about her biases. If you're not sure whether The Garden is a book for you, read the author's note first.

To some extent I wish we could take away all the baggage of The Garden being about Adam and Eve and the Fall and just view the novel as a work of fiction for young adults (though I know, of course, that that's impossible). Aidinoff's Eve is a character that teens can really relate to: her curiosity, her questioning of authority, her confusion about who she is and her place in the world. The real strength of the novel, I think, is its depiction of rape and its aftermath (how does one recover from something so horrible). That being said, I'm not too crazy about how sexual relations are handled in the novel otherwise. I don't really like spoilers and I've spoiled enough already so I'll just leave it at that.

One last note: the cover art is fantastic, isn't it?

Friday Find #6

My friend Nancy introduced me to a new* book-related blog this week...
Judge a Book by its Cover.

Its authors showcase amusing, crazy, over-the-top, and downright horrible cover art with commentary. They have recurring features like "Mammary Mondays" and "Phallic Phridays." Check it out, Judge a Book by its Cover is definitely worth a look.

* not new, but new-to-me. Here's a link to the blog first post from March 2007.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

word: tenebrous

I've been reading The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff and tonight I came across a lovely, evocative word.

tenebrous (adj.)
Full of darkness; dark; murky.
It can also mean obscure or gloomy.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Georg Letham

A review in Library Journal last month.

Georg Letham: Physician and Murderer by Ernst Weiss

Originally published in 1931, this is an account of a crime and its aftermath, interspersed with flashbacks that may illuminate the cause of the crime and the root of the perpetrator's moral defectiveness. The title character is the novel's unreliable narrator. Letham, who describes himself as "a physician, a man of scientific training of certain philosophical aspirations," is ever a medical researcher and taxonomist, categorizing his fellow men impassively as either frogs or rats. After murdering his wife, Letham is sent to the yellow fever-ridden penal colony C, where he is able to continue his epidemiological work and questionable experiments. The author, Jewish physician Weiss, is often compared to friend and contemporary Franz Kafka, but Weiss's work is more realistic, clearly influenced by his own life and work in the medical field.

Read the full review at Library Journal...

Monday, October 05, 2009

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This past week I finished reading:
- Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson (this is our October book club selection so expect a post later this month)
- War and Peace, Book 1 (Librivox audio available here)

As always I have loads of titles waiting in the wings, but here are the two that I'm currently reading:
- The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to South Park by Jack W. Lynch (received through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program)
- War and Peace, Book 2 (Librivox audio available here)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

birthday books take 2

A late birthday present arrived... two knitting books!

Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson

Discover a new approach to sock knitting with Wendy D. Johnson and Socks from the Toe Up. This approach, made famous by her popular blog, will turn even the most reluctant knitter into a toe-up nut. Knitting a sock from the toe up saves yarn and always gives a perfect fit. And? No grafting Wendy provides all the how-tos, tips, and techniques you need, as well as the pros and cons behind all of the cast-on, toe, heel, and bind-off options, gleaned from her years of experience.

With more than 20 fun and beautiful patterns, Socks from the Toe Up has a sock for every foot. Whether you like bold textures or hearts and flowers, delicate lace or Bavarian cables, you (and your feet) will be covered here. Even if you're casting on your first sock, or have been a top-down sock knitter for ages, you'll find patterns and projects here that'll keep your needles humming. Socks from the Toe Up is the hands-down best guide for toe-up socks.

I'm really pleased about getting Socks from the Toe Up. I like toe-up socks and have knit Johnson's patterns in the past. Maybe I'll even try those trilobite socks.

Knitting in the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter

Knitting in the Sun is a compelling collection of garments and hand-knitting projects ideal to complete and wear when the weather heads over 70. There are offerings for the beginner to the advanced, and for all tastes. Readers will find:
* Accessories including: a sun hat, a summer cloche, a beach bag blanket, a lace shawl summer aran wrap, an ocean waves wrap, a vining leaves scarf, a driving scarf, and even a knitted beach chair.
* Sleeveless confections including: a square neck shell, a ribbon tie tunic, a convertible sheath, a smocked tube top, and a split leaf shell.
* Beautifully-constructed garments featuring Short Sleeves including: a ruffled surplice top, a cap sleeved top with lace panel, a pullover with lace detailing, and a top-down shaped t-shirt.
* For those chilly evenings, Long Sleeved garments including: a lightweight hooded pullover, an openwork cover-up, an empire sweater with elongated stitches, and a ripple stitch tunic.
* A few summer-weight Cardigans: cables and lace sideways knit cardigan, an eyelet rib shawl, a collared cardigan, a cardigan with lace panels, a happi-style jacket, a tube sleeved shrug, and a lace bolero.
* Compelling Coordinating Pieces including: a gored skirt, an openwork skirt, a summer sleep set, and even a bathing suit.
* Top-notch Contributions from popular designers including: Eileen Adler, Sarah Barbour, Heather Broadhurst, Rachel Clarke, Carol Feller, Faina Goberstein, Stefanie Japel, Janine Le Cras, Dawn Leeseman, Lisa Limber, Anne Lukito, Marnie Maclean, Jairlyn Mason, Jillian Moreno, Kendra Nitta, Amy Polcyn, Susan Robicheau, Sarah Sutherland, Julia Trice, Katherine Vaughn, and Tonya Wagner.

Knitting in the Sun made it on to my wishlist after an Amazon recommendation, I think. I'm intrigued by it.