What I was up to last month. Aspirational fabrics, fabulous books, food obsessions…
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead [MG Contemporary]
I enjoyed this even more than Stead’s Newbery-winning When You Reach Me. I loved the characters, how believable and messy and wonderful their relationships were, and how perfectly Stead captured the middle-school balance between being a kid and being a teen. So many small perfect details all came into play, and there is a very cool use of second-person POV in a set of chapters interspersed with the main plotline (that of course end up weaving into the main story by the end). Also, this book introduced me to the dizzying world of YouTube hair tutorials…
How I found it: I’d heard about it in passing, but what really made me go and look for it was the SLJ Battle of the Kid’s Books.
This Side of Home by Renée Watson [YA Contemporary]
I was in the mood for a contemporary novel about friendship and home and life and choices, and this fit that perfectly, with bonus exploration of gentrification and racism. I requested it from the library along with a whole bunch of other titles I was interested in, and the voice just caught me and didn’t let me go.
How I found it: I don’t recall where I first saw this referenced, but it’s popped up in enough lists of recommended books, diverse reading lists, and friends’ recommendations that I had it on my radar.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely [YA Contemporary]
A powerful exploration of modern race relations in the US, told in duel POV (a black boy who is beaten by a cop, and a white boy who witnesses the beating, who both attend the same school and have friends in common). Both voices were so powerful. I really appreciated how this book took a topic we see far too often in the headlines and really dug in and explored it on a personal level.
How I found it: Another one that is all around the blogosphere. And with good reason! It was actually a thought-provoking post by author Zetta Elliott that praised much of the book but was critical of one aspect (the lack of black female voices) that really pushed me to go get a copy.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard [YA Speculative]
I don’t know if I could give a thoughtful critique of this book: it basically just compelled me to read it as fast as possible (which, given that I was listening to an audio book, was a challenge! It was a good thing I started it when I was on vacation and spending a lot of time in the car!). I’m not even sure I really liked the characters. I just HAD TO KNOW what was going to happen next!
How I found it: It’s a NYT bestseller, optioned for film, talked-about everywhere.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo [YA Fantasy]
I loved this, and was deeply impressed by it, especially as a writer. Five different points of view that all felt distinct and necessary, amazing characterization full of shades of gray and mysteries and secrets, incredibly rich worldbuilding, AND a complicated, engaging plot. But really, my favorite part (the reason I am desperate for book 2) was Kaz and Inej. Individually, but especially together.
How I found it: I read and loved Bardugo’s first trilogy, set in the same world as this new duology. And I loved the idea of a magical heist novel!
Just So Happens by Fumio Obata [Adult Contemporary Graphic Novel]
Beautiful artwork that swept me into a subtle, bittersweet meditation on choice and grief (which makes this sound like a depressing book, but it’s not).
How I found it: I saw an image of the cover in a blog post somewhere, and the subtle, beautiful quality of the art made me go look it up!
Still on hiatus from actual hands-to-keyboard writing, but doing a lot of mulling of possible projects, until last week when I started reading an awesome nonfiction history book and thought: “I really wish someone would write a novel about this!”
followed by: “Maybe I could?”
followed by: “But it wouldn’t work because of all the pesky FACTS and also I can’t afford a research trip and I wouldn’t do justice to it.”
and then finally: “But what if I made it a fantasy. Then I could add [REDACTED]! [REDACTED] make everything better!”
And now my brain is spinning merrily on that new idea.
(Bonus points for anyone who can guess what [REDACTED] is…)
I started my first felting project. Charlie is dubious:
[Photo of my hand holding a blue-green felted blob as it is sniffed by a cute black-and-white dog]
I’ve also been preparing for some future crafting. My dad donated all of this beautiful fabric, which I am going to use to make some costuming for a new Live Action Role-Playing game I’m working on.
[Photo of an array of brightly colored printed fabrics, mostly in shades of red, yellow, green, cream.]
And in the process of looking at fabric online I fell down a rabbit hole and somehow managed with these two beauties showing up in my mailbox last week:
[Photo of two fabrics, one printed like a blue sky with puffy clouds, the other a blue background with black octopi]
Yes, I am going to attempt my first non-costume sewing. Like, real skirts with zippers that I might wear to work. Updates to come…
This month I discovered that these exist:
[Photo of a vase of orange tulips, with a package of Cadbury Creme Egg cookies in the foreground.]
(The cookies, that is. I was already aware of the existence of tulips). And they are DELICIOUS (well, if you like Cadbury Creme Eggs to begin with, which apparently not everyone does for some inexplicable reason). It is possible there may be several more boxes of them in my freezer now, since they are limited edition. (Very limited, based on my current rate of consumption…)
Also, I am inordinately delighted that someone out there came up with this (link goes to a tumblr image that you may also find amusing if you, like me, enjoy both Waterhouse’s painting Lady of Shalott and puns).