• Books

    The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    Honestly, this book is required reading. I wish I had read this book when I was younger. It covers so many complex issues of race, culture, activism, and socioeconomics in a nuanced yet candid and genuine way.

    Everything in the book felt real and sincere. It felt more authentic than a lot of teen fiction I’ve read in the last ten years. To be fair, I have not read a lot of teen novels, but this is one of the best I can recall in recent memory.

    The dialogue is wonderfully crafty. There were definite moments in this book when I felt I was watching a TV show. I knew the characters so well by the last third that I could imagine it playing on screen. It is being adapted into a movie and I wish it could be a longer limited TV series. The amount of real character interactions and time spent with the protagonist Starr should warrant more than a two hour movie.

    The book discusses some very deep and complex issues in the USA and the west today. At no point did it feel corny or trite. A couple of things were so messed up (such as Seven’s parentage) that makes me wonder if Thomas had taken it from real life. A lot of the other stuff on gangs, drug dealing, police brutality felt very real and familiar based on what I’ve read and heard.

    It was a sad read a lot of the times. It was uncomfortable and upsetting too. I am not black and I could not completely know how Starr felt but her emotions, her thoughts, and her actions were believable. Very good storytelling.

    This is the kind of young adult book I think most teens should read. I wish I knew of a teen I could give this too!

    Great read.

    Read March 28, 2018.

  • Knitting & Crafting

    FO: Snow Queen Sock – 2/6 2018

    Snow Queen Sock

    My second finished project of the year! This was suppose to be my 2018 Winter Olympics knitting project but I don’t think I can knit a pair of socks in two weeks like I use to back in 2010. It was a stretch, but I have learned my lesson. It’ll be easy scarves or hats for next Olympics challenge.

    Since I bought two skeins of this yarn for P’s socks, I had more than enough leftover for a pair for me. I wanted a fairly easy pattern for the challenge and I prefer ribbed or plain knit socks now since I use my wool socks when I run outdoors. This pattern has been in my queue awhile and I think I almost made it earlier. However, I was not satisfied with the way it was written. The heel turn was unclear which would make it confusing for a beginner or novice. I was able to wrap and turn as I normally would, but it’s not a good heel. Secondly, the toe was not good for magic looping so I changed that as well. The stitch count after the heel also meant I had to shift the stitches too. Something I never like with magic loop, but that’s more on me than the pattern.

    Snow Queen Sock, started February 9, 2018, finished March 25, 2018. Ravelry Project Page
    Pattern: Snow Queen Sock by Emmy Coplea Ravelry Pattern Page
    Size: US 6.5/UK 4/EUR 36
    Yarn: Lang Yarns Jawoll Aktion Color – 132.0370 – 75% Wool, 25% Nylon (420 meters / 100 grams)
    Needles: US 1/2.25 mm – 40″/100cm long circulars for magic loop
    Modifications & Notes:

    • Shortened leg
    • Modified heel turn
    • Changed toe to be standard dec 4 sts every other row until 16sts

    Cost of Project: Each skein was about $12CAD.
    Would I knit it again? No.

  • Books

    The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

    With this book, I am done with Gregory. I owned this book and the two others I previously reviewed. I tried The Queen’s Fool briefly but I decided to dump it a couple weeks ago.

    All in all, I do not think Gregor is a terrible writer and I think this novel is better than The Boleyn Inheritance and it has elements which makes it almost as entertaining as The Other Boleyn Girl.

    Elizabeth Woodville is an interesting historical person and as a fictional character, Gregory was able to make her interesting for a little while. She was a woman who loved her husband King and had enough ambition to enrich her life and those of her loved ones.

    I did find the book tiring because of how much political unrest there was in the book. People kept turning their loyalties every chapter. I felt sorry for Elizabeth and her children especially knowing the tragic ending of her two sons, the Princes in the Tower.

    This book also had sympathetic male characters like her brother Anthony, her older sons, and King Edward himself was not always so bad as Gregory paints the Tudors.

    The ending of the book annoyed me as Gregory made Elizabeth of York (The White Princess) act like an ingrate to her own mother for keeping them all alive in sanctuary and secondly, for falling in love with her uncle Richard. That is not only incestuous and creepy, but Gregory seems to make it happen without any evidence or credit to Elizabeth. It makes Elizabeth a real idiot. Richard stole her own brother’s throne, declared her father a bastard (and as a result, herself and her siblings), kidnapped and imprisoned her brothers, and possibly had them murdered. Gregory hypothesizes that Richard did not murder the two Princes in the Tower and points the finger at the Tudors. That is a good hypothesis, but it makes no sense why Princess Elizabeth would still trust her uncle let alone fall in love with him. She could have ended the novel with Elizabeth reluctantly being a pawn in the game, but for her to be willing is very creepy and makes the character stupid beyond belief.

    Even remembering this detail has made me want to downgrade the book and not read more of Gregory books. I am fine with fictionalizing of characters and embellishments or changes to history for fiction; however, I can’t justify character motivations being changed unreasonably and without much reason to plot either.

    Read March 19-21, 2018.

  • Books

    The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

    This novel’s pacing was not as well established as the The Other Boleyn Girl. The switching between the three narrators dragged the book down. I saw some more weaknesses of Gregory’s writing in this one.

    On the positives, I liked reading about Anne of Cleves and her character in history and in this story are very sympathetic. Many women in these novels are, but Anne in particular managed to escape the scaffold and be a friend to her momentary royal step children.

    Gregory is also good at narrating from characters who are not the most clever. She really made Katherine Howard sound like a teenage idiot. It was understandable, but also a bit aggravating.

    As for Jane Boleyn’s narration, Gregory attempted to make her at least somewhat mad. I could see where the writing was going but it felt clunky.

    All the men in this book are not good except for maybe Anne’s ambassador Dr Harst. All the rest are either lecherous, vain, dangerous, or all of the above. I understand these are Feminist historical novels and it’s rather sad that all the men in these women’s lives were basically assholes. However, I do wonder if there are any decent men in Gregory’s universe of the Plantagent and Tudors!

    I have two more Gregory novels. I will read them and dip my toes into the Plantagenet novels as well, but I am not sure how much longer I can take the melodrama.

    Read March 2nd-12th, 2018.

  • Books

    The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

    I remember when this book and Gregory’s historical fiction series was very popular in the Aughts. I managed to find this one and three others from the series in a used book sale. In an effort to minimize space, I am trying to go through all the books that I own but have not read. Afterwards, I will donate them unless the book is one that I absolutely love and would read again. That’s been my usual process for books that I have come to own.

    As it is winter and a post-work day read, I wanted something a bit more on the cozy and low thinking side. This fit the bill because it has a great pacing and reads very well. I liked the first person narration and I find the character of Mary Boleyn relateable even though she was not as clever as anyone else in the book. I liked her straight forwardness. In general, I liked Gregory’s characters. The dialogue was not always the most illuminating but it worked.

    I didn’t really care about the romances in the book. I know enough English history to understand that Gregory played fast and loose with some aspects. I know Gregory does a lot of research for her books but she also picks and chooses theories. I am fine with it since this is a novel. I prefer to read accurate history from a history book. I appreciate the focus on women and female characters. To me, this book is chick lit and speculative history.

    I have already started the sequel which is not as engaging. I think this book worked well because Gregory put a lot on the narration of Mary Boleyn and creating the dynamic she had with her siblings and they with each other. Without that, this book would have been much more boring.

    Read February 26-28, 2018.