Groove

Y’all, have I showed you eleventeen pairs of garter rib socks yet? Because I have surely knit approximately that many. It’s my standard reliable sock pattern.

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Perfect for some train trips and watching the Tour de France.

Also from the department of reliably awesome, I’m still working my way through The Company books. So often I find myself thinking, “Why is there a whole long series? *sigh*” But if you have characters who live forever I guess it’s not like you could fit it all in one book.

(I am actually coming around to series when there is good worldbuilding. I mean, if you’ve gone to the trouble of inventing a whole universe it seems fair enough to go back and play in it some more. And it’s not like I’m legally required to read them all.)

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The Tropic of Serpents

A while back I read A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan and was charmed by the premise. Dragons! World travel! Old timey natural history expeditions! Hey, I have dragged friends to museums to look at dinosaur bones on several occasions, which is kind of like studying dragons. So when the sequel The Tropic of Serpents came out, I was in. It’s more of the same – dragons, adventures, near death experiences. I tend to burn out on series that keep offering more of the same; I like a series that keeps stepping it up. But it does take a while for me to get sick of dragons.

Speaking of formidable beasts, I knit some elephants:

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I’m working on writing up a pattern. And by “working” I mean “procrastinating.”

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Lockwood & Mittens

Have you ever found yourself wondering what Ghostbusters would be like if they were kids in London? Actually, I can’t say I have, but luckily Jonathan Stroud has preemptively answered that one in The Screaming Staircase (Book 1 in Lockwood & Co.) I love Ghostbusters! Good times.

Also, I’ve been knitting mittens:

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Which, given recent sweltering temperatures, started to seem a bit silly. But then Lockwood reminded me how ghosts bring their own cold, so I’m really just being prepared.

(If I should meet a ghost this summer there is approximately a 100% chance I will have neither mittens nor iron filings with me.)

Specs: The Grind Mitten, knit in Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK

Happy Canada Day eve y’all. We should just start pouring the beer now, right?

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Goblins, No Mittens

Y’all, I have mittens I’ve been meaning to show you, but camera batteries, blah, blah, excuses, and I still haven’t taken any pictures.

In the meantime, I’ll distract you with Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. This is one of those books it seemed the entire internet read en masse and loved, which is usually a sure sign I won’t love it as much as everyone else. I think because too much enthusiasm just raises my expectations to the point where no book will ever meet them ever, so I am inevitable disappointed. I’m pretty sure the only reason I enjoyed Harry Potter is that my mom bought me the first book before I’d ever heard of it and said “I hear this is what all the cool kids are reading these days.”

(You will note that apparently my mom was a cooler kid than me.)

Anyway, I don’t mean to be all parade-rainy because I did enjoy the book. For those of you who don’t spend your internet time on book reviews, it’s about Maia (who is only half goblin) who unexpectedly inherits the throne after his father and brothers die in an airship crash. So he has to move to court and start acting imperial and using the royal we.*

The thing that brings it down for me is that Maia himself is kind of bland. It’s one of those books that says “Dear Reader, You are a nice person, yes? You try to do the right thing? You have no idea what’s going on or who any of these people are? Why this dude practically is you! Step into his shoes and let’s explore this world and it’s politics.” Which is just not my favourite approach. I don’t want to become my protagonists, I want to wish I could invite them for a beer. Surely Maia would be perfectly nice in that scenario and try not to accidentally say something embarassing, but I ask a little more of my drinking buddies. The secondary characters are much more interesting; I find myself wondering why this book isn’t about, say, Maia’s star-gazing half sister. She seems cool.

*Although it’s not actually the royal we since everyone uses the first person pleural to be formal and it took a good hundred pages for my eye to stop twitching at the sight of it. Similarly, I also hate the singular vous in French. I’m trying to be respectful; I don’t think you are five people.

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When the Internet is a Book

So, I kind of love the internet. I mean, endless cat videos, knitting patterns and nonsensical memes piped into my living room more or less by magic. What’s not to love?

But actually, I don’t love staring at a screen all the time. My eyes kind of glaze over after a while and I skim through a lot of stuff I totally mean to come back to and look at properly. I know people grumble about blogs to books but it works for me because, let’s be honest, I was never going to read that article from last year online.

Of late I’ve been reading What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton, which is a collection of her posts about books and reading, mostly science fiction but sometimes not. So often books about books are about Classics or Serious Literature which I have usually read or am deliberately not reading (surely someone out there shares my disinterest in Margaret Atwood), so it’s fun that there are books in here I haven’t heard of and I should look some up in the library catalogue. (You know, a little later. I’ve been at the computer for a while…)

Also, you should go read her book Among Others, which is also full of books, among other things.

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Delicious Lemony Deliciousness

When I went to Venice last year we had one dinner where they gave us little glasses of limoncello afterwards. Thinking back fondly, I made up a batch, then remembered I don’t actually like sipping liqueurs. I just liked it that one time because I was sitting on a patio in Venice, which is, alas, hard to recreate with lemon peels and cheap vodka.

But I am a pretty big fan of ice cream and related frozen deserts. (Venice also reminds me of some excellent gelato.) And it also so happens that I inherited an ice cream make from my parents a couple of years ago. (I can’t quite get over how they had it stuck in a cupboard for years. If you have an ice cream maker and aren’t making delicious ice cream, something is wrong.) So when I happened upon a recipe for limoncello sorbet, well, the universe was trying to tell me something, right?

Limoncello Sorbet (adapted from Wild Rosemary & Lemon Cake by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi)

3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup limoncello
1 cup lemon juice

Heat the water with sugar. When sugar dissolves remove from heat. (I did this in the microwave.) Let cool.
Stir in limoncello and lemon juice.
Pour into ice cream maker and carry on like you’re making ice cream.

Eat while daydreaming of Italy.

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Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Do you ever pick up books that you kind of expect to hate? I don’t, as a general rule (no, I haven’t read 50 Shades) but then one day my fondness for unsexy vampires trumped my aversion to gimmicky premises and I picked up Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.

So, one great thing about going in with low expectations is that you can easily be pleasantly surprised. It works better than I would have expected. And if I’m skeptical of “Add monsters” as a plot device, I’m actually a fan of “Fit a story in around history.”

Most of what I know about Lincoln and the Civil War comes from movies. (In my defense, I am Not American.) It goes “Something, something, Emancipation Proclamation, something, something, Gone With the Wind, something, something, reenactment with Confederate flags” right? I find myself wondering whether, if I had more background, I would find the book more clever and amusing or if obvious discrepancies would get under my skin. Although obviously the biggest discrepancy is right there on the front cover where it says Vampire Hunter.

(Unless you consider this a true story. In which case, I’m not quite ready to subscribe to your conspiracy theory.)

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