Category Archives: Books

Twilight

In between knitting socks, working and toddler time, in the last few weeks I read the Twilight series. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The Host, also by Stephanie Meyer was a really good book – brilliant sci-fi and completely un-put-downable, but there had been so much hype about Twilight that I was sceptical about it.

It turns out that there was no need for scepticism. I loved reading them – I haven’t devoured a whole series like that since I found Trudi Canavan’s Magician trilogy. It is a pity that they are so well known, because I already went into them knowing the whole vampire/werewolf/human aspect (and now you do too – sorry). The suspense of the reveal of each of the characters would have been interesting  without notice.

The thing that I found most interesting was the struggle for morality. What is good and evil? Who has a soul? How much danger can you put someone you love into? I liked that Meyer redefined her vampires and werewolves – they don’t follow all the classic rules, so you never quite know their limits. I’ve given the books back to the person from book group who I borrowed them from. If not, I think I might have to read them through again to see what I missed the first time.

Anyone else read them? What did you think?

Fickle, fickle, fickle

So my sister is not getting a pair of socks on her birthday. Thank you for your comments – some very good ideas. I have one complete sock and two inches of toe. This will blatantly not have transformed into a completed sock by morning, so I am going to keep them until I can give them to her in person (about 3 weeks time). Three weeks to complete the sock will still take some fairly serious concentration, so why do I feel the need to start a new scarf? I’ve spent the evening watching The Devil Wears Prada and knitting in a rather lacklustre fashion on the sock.

I have diagnosed the problem: a serious case of second sock syndrome. This is a well known knitting malaise, here combined with an oncoming attack of startitis. You see, I’m what the Yarn Harlot calls a process knitter. Knitting for me is all about learning new things, figuring out a new technique and mastering it. Why knit something twice? Am I going to learn more on the second sock? Perhaps – it has the slight interest of having a mirror-image of the spiralling pattern of the first sock, but I’m not sure that is enough. The finished object is rarely of great interest.

I have another single sock completed – this one being a complicated multi-cable-stitch pattern. I decided to postpone casting on the second one so I could meet the deadline of my sister’s birthday. Who was I kidding?

Fickle, that’s what I am when it comes to knitting. Can’t the world understand that the Moebius cast-on is much more exciting than plain knitting in the round with the odd increase here and there?

In other news, I am having a bit of a children’s literature theme. I’m loving reading Winnie the Pooh to Rusk and I’m also reading the Chronicles of Narnia ‘for work’.

Academic Writing

I’m sitting in my office/spare room, surrounded by piles of books. The dissertation is nearly at an end, but the final few days are proving to be hard going.

Since I can think of nothing else to write about that won’t take up valuable thinking space, here are the books that have reached the top of various piles of stuff on my desk:

  • Deadly Innocence: Feminism and the Mythology of Sin – Angela West
  • Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives – Phyllis Trible
  • Birth Traditions & Modern Pregnancy Care – Jacqueline Vincent Priya
  • The Book of Common Prayer
  • Families in Britain  – Ed. R.N. Rapoport et al

A question: Can you guess the topic of my dissertation?

Just saying

There is some irony in having spent an afternoon this week in a ‘caring for self’ session and then having a preliminary to-do list of 10 items that absolutely must be done today before it turns into the study day it is meant to be. This is of course because the time I would normally do a good many of these things was the afternoon I spent in that session. Ah well. It was a good session and I was reminded of much interesting and useful information (such as the benefits of setting aside time to study). Still a little frustrating.

In case you were wondering, blogging is not on the list of 10 things. I am doing that as a nice extra, since 5 of the 10 things are done or delegated.

Today would also be the day that my copy of the new Diana Gabaldon book, An Echo in the Bone, arrived. Despite not being published here until January, there was a deal with the UK publishers that if you pre-ordered a copy from Amazon or similar  and sent them your receipt, they would send an export copy at the same time that it was published in the US. There is absolutely no chance of getting to read it today (well maybe if I write 500 words of dissertation this afternoon I might read a chapter or two… or three).

So knitting – Daisy asked for a picture of the hat. This will be forthcoming in due course, as will a work in progress picture of my Strictly socks. Not socks to be worn while watching Strictly Come Dancing, but socks to be knit in the bits where you don’t actually need to watch it. With half an hour of Strictly It Takes Two to watch every weekday, as well as the weekend shows, these are growing nicely and the Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock is doing something very pretty and spirally with the colour variations.

While on the subject of Strictly, my favourite Strictly results site has moved to here: http://bit.ly/VhoCR. Why not go and have a look?

Update on No-Cake Month. One cake of pastoral necessity eaten and three biscuits (including one malted milk that I was tricked into eating). I think I might make it – only 4 days to go.

OK back to sorting out things for Church tomorrow. I have just ordered a book of intercessions that has emergency intercessions written for each Sunday, all tying into the lectionary Gospel reading. This will make last minute changes of plan and personnel easier to cope with, but will not help with the intercessions for Sunday evening since a) there are no more postal deliveries before then and b) I am not using the lectionary reading. Lord, in your mercy…

Knitting again

I have spent this evening partly re-reading Michael Ramsey’s The Christian Priest Today and then, as a reward for doing theology reading on my day off*, I have been bringing my Ravelry page up to scratch, uploading photos and updating project details.

The knitters among you may be surprised to hear that yesterday, for about half an hour, I had NO works in progress. Not one. I have finished the mittens, the clapotis and even the miniature stocking that was for my sister at Christmas last year. Don’t worry, I started another miniature stocking in a different pattern so I would not be fretting unduly in the night.

Future knitting plans include a hat to accompany the mittens (it gets quite chilly here and we don’t heat the church building for morning and evening prayer). I say ‘accompany’ rather than ‘match’ since the colours couldn’t be more different. We’ll see. I may make more mittens to match at some point. I also have plans for more socks – some in a toe-up pattern so I can see just how long a skein of Shepherd Sock will go and some using fairisle.

Anyway, here are some pics of the stuff I have recently finished.

Clapotis + Esme

This was Esme helping me to lay Clapotis out pre-blocking.

Broad Street Mitten open

And here is a mitten. You can see the mitten top that folds over the fingers when needed.

It was a bit tricky taking pictures of both mittens, given that one hand was needed to operate the camera shutter, but I found the timer switch and here you go. Never realised how pretty the radiator was before…

Broad Street Mittens

Clicking on any of the photos will take you to many, many more photos of yarn of various sorts. Feel free, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In final knitting-related news, the dpn that I lost during the mittens turned up  down between the (non-removable) sofa cushions this evening. I’ve only looked there about 20 times already. Anyway, much rejoicing.

PS Day 3 of no-cake month complete. Still 5 cakes of pastoral necessity remaining

* I have a study morning on it tomorrow, led by the Bishop. I just thought it might be wise to do a bit of revision.

Feeling moved

What a week! Finally back on the internet at the other end of the country. Just five more boxes of books (all on theology – how will I ever have time to read them?) to unpack (and a few other odds and ends).

Mr F and Rusk are adjusting well to the new place. The cats are somewhat bemused, but Esme has finally figured out how to jump stairgates so she is generally happier.

Those of you who pray, please remember us over the next couple of weeks as I am ordained deacon and start working here. Please also pray for these parishes!

Book looting

Some time ago, an item appeared on the local news. The lease on a warehouse full of books had expired and the company had disappeared, leaving it full of books. The landlords were inviting the locals to come and remove any they pleased.

This sounded like something not to be missed. I have never looted before, although this was sanctioned looting so not quite the same thing. It was a depressing sight. I went on the second day. On the first day people had taken most of the shelves, discarding piles and piles of books into mountains on the floor.

Interesting dilemma: Can I tread on books? Even to get to other, better books? I overcame my scruples and did some scrambling to get a couple of gems I spotted.

I was hampered by a couple of things from making the most of this opportunity. First, I had Rusk in his pushchair with me. In order to make this less of a problem, I had brought two bookloving friends with me who had promised to take it in turns with me to mind him while the other two of us scavenged. This meant, however, that there were 3 people plus Rusk & pushchair to fit in the (quite compact) car before we even started to fit books in.

Nonetheless, the loot was worth it. I ended up with I think about 16 books. Some (Penmarric by Susan Howatch) I had been looking for, some I had wondered about and decided not to spend money on (Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab, The Rotter’s Club by Jonathan Coe) and some completely new to me.

It was a bizarre environment. It was quiet, like a public library. People were concentrating hard. One guy (a book dealer?) had driven his transit van in and was stuffing it full. Others had brought suitcases. There were quite a few mums with pushchairs. Some were carrying the baby, while the pushchair was stuffed with books.

All in all a very weird day. Thinking back (this was now a few months ago), I still don’t feel quite right about the whole thing – not sure why. Nearly all the looted books that I have read have gone back into the system now via local charity shops.

RC 13 – 21

Ah, yes. Lent has now been over for quite some time, it being Ascension day tomorrow. This whole not-blogging thing turns out to be quite addictive. I have been doing various things that may be blogged at a later date, but here are some brief highlights.

Rusk will be 1 in a couple of weeks. Where did that year go? He is now an experienced crawler (read ‘fast’) and spends most of the day practising standing up. Mr F is getting into being a house-husband and he and Rusk are having a whale of a time while I am stuck in my little study trying to write stuff for my dissertation.

There will be posts to come on knitting, vestments (maybe even with pictures), moving and many more things. I think the important thing is to concentrate on the books though.

RC 13-16
So you want to be a wizard
Deep Wizardry
High Wizardry
A Wizard Abroad
All of these by Diane Duane. Books from my childhood I unearthed over Easter. Pretty classic children’s fantasy.

RC17
The Biographer’s Moustache by Kingsley Amis
A free book from my booklooting (post to follow) expedition. Wouldn’t have read it otherwise, but it was quite entertaining. Kingsley Amis is one of those authors I had always meant to read and never got round to. This is a book all about character development and class. I love his use of language and the pictures he paints of upper class England.

RC18
Friendly Fire by Patrick Gale
Coming of age novel set in an English public school (loosely based on Winchester). Told through the eyes of one of the few female students, it relates the story of a group of kids growing up together, discovering and exploring sexuality, occasionally going out into the real world, but mostly set within the school.
I loved it. It has a feeling of Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris about it, but is much less creepy.

RC19
Debutantes by Charlotte Bingham
Utter rot. This was another free book. The implausible tale of three debutantes who just happen to become friends during their season. A subplot of humiliation and revenge. The most annoying and shallow character I have read in a long time. Just don’t bother.

RC20
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Absolutely loved this book. Told through the eyes of three women several decades apart. Compelling opening – a small girl seemingly abandoned on a ship going to Australia. The stories of the three women are very cleverly revealed. A very sad story.

RC21
Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan
Trudi’s 7th book, the first in the prequel trilogy to the original Magician’s trilogy. Fairly predictable, but I love this world so loved reading it. Despite what it says on the cover, it really isn’t a good introduction to the series. You need to read the original trilogy first.

I’m sure I’ve left some out. I will go home and scrutinize the pile of books next to my bed and see which should also be on the list.

Quick post

I should NOT be blogging, rather I should be writing a sermon. However, things are increasingly busy (who would have thought I would find a social life?) so I thought I would stick a quick post up to get some things out of my head.

So, I have been reading quite a bit. In brief:

RC3 – The Folklore of Discworld. Christmas present. Fantastic. Like the APF (annotated Pratchett file) but written by someone with access to PTerry. Looking at all the folklore which has inexplicably crossed dimensions from our world to the Discworld.

RC4 – The Shack. Yes, I finally succumbed to it. Although not the most literary thing I have ever read, it was a pleasure. The story chugged along nicely (was going to say happily, but actually little could be further from the truth) and I really enjoyed the Christology embedded in the narrative. Nice to have a different perspective on things. Doctrine is really much easier to grasp through story. There were times when it was rather trite and the characters might not always have the full three dimensions, but it is worth reading.

RC5 – Nation (Terry Pratchett) Another Christmas present. I think this is one of his best books yet, certainly his best young adult book. I have told my sister (an English teacher) to read it because I think she will be teaching it before too many years are gone. Note: this is NOT a Discworld book. This is set in a world very, very similar to our own.

RC6 – Valley of Strength (Shulamit Lapid) This was a free book I got in the LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway. It is a new translation (first in English I think) of an Israeli classic. It is about a young Russian Jewess who arrives in Israel sometime at the end of the nineteenth century (I think, may be the early twentieth – I don’t have my copy to hand to check). The book describes her struggle to survive and raise a family in a harsh environment. It was a good book, but I don’t think I would ever have read it if it hadn’t been free. At times it was repetitive and I could really have done with a glossary and a character list. As a love story it was good, but there were times when I wanted to shout at the characters: just TALK to each other and things would be so much simpler.

RC7 – The Way of Shadows (Brent Weeks). Impulse buy this week. I was in Waterstones looking for a new fantasy trilogy and this one inspired me. It was really rather good, but horribly dark, being about assassination. Fairly classic hero journey, but good characters, compelling universe and nice use of magic. I did lose Thursday though since I couldn’t put it down once I started.

OK I must focus. I’m into the big stint of writing my dissertation so I probably won’t be around here much until after Easter, unless procrastination strikes.

RC 1 & 2

Last year I really enjoyed reading Auntie Doris‘s posts detailing the books she was reading. Although I probably won’t manage to keep tabs on it as well as she did, I’m going to have a go for a couple of months and see how it works out.

In case you were wondering, I won’t be detailing all the books I read for essays, dissertation and New Testament Greek; maybe just the really interesting ones. These are novels and other books I read for fun, you know, in all that free time I have.

RC1 Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon

This was actually read between Christmas and New Year. The book is a collection of 3 short stories (although for Diana short is a relative concept), 2 of which I had read before. The new one, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier is set in 18th century London and, like all the Lord John stories, involves investigation into sinister happenings among the military/civil service. Here the focus of the investigation is the outcome of a battle on the continent and in particular the malfunction of a gun. Lord John is up before a tribunal and things are never as simple as they seem.

I rather wallowed in this on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, taking advantage of Rusk being in his own room and so being able to read before sleeping. I have to confess that I don’t now remember very much, except that it was as interesting and gripping as Diana Gabaldon’s books usually are.

RC2 Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead

I blogged a while ago about my love for Arthurian stories. This is the first of a series I read when I was about 14 and I had been wanting to read again for a while. I picked up copies of the first and third books in a charity shop just before Christmas and now discover, looking on Amazon, that there are 5 books in the series. Hurrah! I only read the first 3.

Taliesin weaves 2 stories together: the fall of Atlantis and the waning power of Rome in mid-Wales. One thing I had completely overlooked at the time I first read them is how overtly Christian they are. The Christian theme only appears towards the end of the first book. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Anyway, that aside, I really enjoyed reading it. The stories are very well placed together, with neither strand dominating. Each set of characters has a great world created around them. I have a particular soft spot for that part of Wales, so seeing it described so many hundred of years ago was lovely. I’m not sure the Atlantis that Lawhead creates is as lovely as Tolkien’s Numinor (have I remembered that right?), but it was convincing.

Right, I can’t blog RC3 until I finish reading it. Just a few more pages. Also I need to get my knitting together for tomorrow. I’m going on a quiet day so I should be able to finish a sock.