Monday, December 26, 2011

One Book, Two Book

It's been nearly a year since I last posted here. Time to resume personal blogging, I think.

I thought I'd ease back in to blogging here with a book meme. I've read much more this year year, or "read" if you don't count audiobooks as reading. I count audiobooks as reading. I have one more to read to reach my goal of 26 books for 2011. I will post a list when I have finished. And now for our meme.

1. The Book (books!) I'm Currently Reading
The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon; From Amazon: London, 1760. For Jamie Fraser, paroled prisoner-of-war in the remote Lake District, life could be worse: He’s not cutting sugar cane in the West Indies, and he’s close enough to the son he cannot claim as his own. But Jamie Fraser’s quiet existence is coming apart at the seams, interrupted first by dreams of his lost wife, then by the appearance of Tobias Quinn, an erstwhile comrade from the Rising.

Like many of the Jacobites who aren’t dead or in prison, Quinn still lives and breathes for the Cause. His latest plan involves an ancient relic that will rally the Irish. Jamie is having none of it—he’s sworn off politics, fighting, and war. Until Lord John Grey shows up with a summons that will take him away from everything he loves—again.
 

Bizarre Botanicals: How to Grow String-of-Hearts, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Panda Ginger, and Other Weird and Wonderful Plants by Paula Gross and Larry Mellichamp; From Amazon: Gardeners love tulips, lilies, and pansies — the common, but beautiful, plants found in the average garden. But there are realms in the plant world far beyond these familiar favorites. In Bizarre Botanicals, plant experts Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross take readers on a curious botanical journey of weirdly wonderful plants that can be grown at home.
Bizarre Botanicals features over 75 astonishing plants that have extraordinary abilities — from pyrotechnic spores that can burst into flame when ignited to flowers that lure insects to their deaths. Each plant profile includes essential care and cultivation information. A difficulty scale alerts gardeners to how easy (or difficult) it is to grow the plant at home.

There’s no reason to forsake lilies and petunias. But after reading
Bizarre Botanicals, gardeners will want to take a walk on the weird side and try a few of these peculiar plants for themselves.    
 
 
2. The Last Book I Finished
The Magicians by Les Grossman; From Amazon: Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren't black and white, and power comes at a terrible price. [Note from Rachel: I really despised this book. Having just read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, I recognized this book immediately for what it was--a complete 1-to-1 rip off of Lewis's work. If you're going to write derivative works, then for goodness sake make it a good derivative work.]

 
3. The Next Book I Want to Read
I'm torn between these two: 

The Knitter's Book of Socks by Clara Parkes; From Amazon: 
A sock is a work of wonder. No other knitted garment has as many structural demands or endures as much wear and tear. The humble sock must defy gravity, suffer the confines of our shoes, and endure being trampled on all day long.

All too often, the root cause of a sock's triumph or failure is the yarn itself. In The Knitter’s Book of Socks, Clara Parkes shows you how to knit socks from yarn up, following the sock yarn life cycle from its foundations to its final moments on a proud foot. By understanding a sock's basic needs—elasticity, strength, and moisture management—you’ll learn how to play with these tools like building blocks, confidently combining fiber, twist, ply, pattern, and clever stitch tricks to construct your perfect pair of socks.

To help put these principles into practice, The Knitter’s Book of Socks also offers 20 fresh, original patterns from today’s sock-design luminaries, including Cookie A, Cat Bordhi, Ann Budd, Nancy Bush, Anne Hanson, and Melissa Morgan-Oakes. The socks presented here run the gamut from simple knit-and-purl combinations suitable for beginners to innovative designs with lush colorwork, swirling cables, and delicate lace.

Understanding the elements of yarn is the first step on every successful sock knitting journey. With this book as your guide, you’ll learn how to make any sock yarn shine and love every pair of socks you knit.

  
Or
Divergent by Veronica Roth; From Amazon: One choice can transform you. Pass initiation. Do not fail! Thrilling urban dystopian fiction debut from exciting young author. In sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior's world, society is divided into five factions -- Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) -- each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a "perfect society." At the age of sixteen, teens must choose the faction to which they will devote their lives. On her Choosing Day, Beatrice renames herself Tris, rejects her family's group, and chooses another faction. After surviving a brutal initiation, Tris finds romance with a super-hot boy, but also discovers unrest and growing conflict in their seemingly "perfect society." To survive and save those they love, they must use their strengths to uncover the truths about their identities, their families, and the order of their society itself.


4. Last Book I Bought

Zone One
by Colson Whitehead; From Amazon, In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.

Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuild­ing civilization under orders from the provisional govern­ment based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One—but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety—the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives.

Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams work­ing in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.

And then things start to go wrong.

Both spine chilling and playfully cerebral,
Zone One bril­liantly subverts the genre’s conventions and deconstructs the zombie myth for the twenty-first century.
 
5. The Last Book I was Given
Weekend Hats by Cecily Glowic MacDonald; From Amazon: Embrace the hottest head-turning fashion accessory: the knitted hat

The clever designs of Weekend Hats will have enthusiastic knitters everywhere rejoicing in year-round hat style. Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre have brought you the best in designer knit hat patterns from 21 amazing designers, all in one beautiful and fun-loving collection. Inside you'll find:

  • Expert advice to spark the interests of a variety of skill levels with special attention paid to exploring cables, lace, color, and texture.

  • Twenty-five contemporary designer hat patterns that range from the distinctly feminine to the sporty gentlemen, including cloches, berets, beanies, tams, snoods, and more!

  • Tips and tricks on how to maximize the use of specialty yarns and accessories to add a little panache to your designs.

All the designs in Weekend Hats are ideal projects for travel, gifts, or sneaking in between larger knit projects. Whether you're interested in comfort, style, or just knitting enjoyment, Weekend Hats is your all-in-one resource for creating want-to-wear knitted caps.