Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Weekly Read: 4

This is my last week reading exclusively from the Lost Lit List, but there are still a few I didn't get to. Hopefully in February, I will have time!

READ: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass | Lewis Carroll
I'm surprised it took me this long to read these books: they would have been right up my alley as a kid. There are several episodes of Lost which reference these books, most notably two episodes titles: "White Rabbit" and "Through the Looking Glass". Also, the underwater station is called "The Looking Glass", possibly a reference to how to is a sort of gateway to the Island.  I found Alice to be both strange and fanciful.  It was funny, because while most of the scenes from the Disney movie were taken exactly from these books, the inherent nature of animation makes them more whimsical and less ridiculous. Playing croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs seems cute and silly when animated; On the other hand, reading the same scene in the book seems outrageous and bizarre. Overall, though, I did really enjoy reading this one. Alice is a funny little girl, with a fascinatingly diverse imagination. I enjoyed Looking Glass a bit more than Alice, if only because it had more structure and seemed to have more of a connection to Lost. Like the Looking-Glass world, the Island seems to exist in a place where strange and fantastical things can happen, where explanations for mysterious things tend to only bring more questions.

READ: Slaughterhouse-Five | Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five has never appeared in any episode of Lost, but owes its place on the Lost Lit List due to the distinct similarities between Billy's moments of being "unstuck" in time to those Desmond experiences throughout Season 3. The main difference between their time travelling moments is that Billy accepted the Tralfamadorian view of time, that you can see all past and future events but cannot change them, while Desmond was intent on changing his visions of the future. This book differed greatly from my expectations - I assumed it was entirely about war. That is true, it is about war - the inhumanity of sending children off to die, the ridiculously arbitrary unfairness of who lives and who dies - but in the end, it is about way more than just war. Simultaneously funny, sad, and shocking, Billy's travels through time become a coping mechanism to help him deal with the tragedy and injustice of his wartime experiences. And it's not just in his head - how could he has predicted his own death otherwise? The ability to see all the events in your life and choose to live in the happy ones is a vitally important part of Billy's psychologically well-being, and is a good lesson to all of us on how to survive through difficult times.  This is a frankly truthful tale of war, but the uniqueness of the telling seems to cushion the sharp edges of the actuality of war, life, and death.

STARTED: Watership Down | Richard Adams
Bunnies! I'm sure if someone had told me that this book starred rabbits, I would have read it as a kid. :) I'm only about 20% in to this one, but so far, it is interesting. This is another one from the Lost Lit List: Sawyer is seen reading this one on the beach several times; Apparently, Boone brought it with him to read in Australia.

I'm happy that I was able to read so many books from the Lost Lit List this month! Other than The Strain for my book club, they were all from the List. :) There are still a few more from the List that I want to read soon, but I will have to put those on hold for the next week, including finishing Watership Down, because I have to read some books that are due back to the library on Saturday! So on the schedule for this week are The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, and Flow by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim. Happy reading! :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Play With Your Blocks: Watermelon!

Yesterday, I went with my mom & aunt to a class by Sandy Bonsib, a friend and fantastic quilt teacher. This is from her brand new series of classes/patterns called Play With Your Blocks. The concept is this: before every class, Sandy sends you a black and white layout diagram of the blocks and setting for the quilt, and you get to color in and design, but with value and color, your own quilt using those blocks. Each quilt will only have 1 kind of block in it, which will really showcase the versatility of block - quilts will look different based on the color and value placement. For this first class, Sandy used a quarter square triangle block. Ahead of time, she sent us a picture of her top, and told us she used 2 different colors of mediums (grey and gold) and a light (light grey/cream). For mine, I decided to use greens and pinks along with some white background cute prints. :) It reminds me of watermelon candy.

I could set them any way I like - into stars, square, lines, zig-zags. I decided to stick with the layout Sandy used with these, as I thought it was fun and whimsical - there will be multiple rows of pinwheels. In the column on the left, you can see the pinwheels in the contrast between pinks and greens. In the middle column, you can see a white pinwheel on a medium value background, and then in the right column, you can see a pink and green pinwheel on the light background. This isn't the whole quilt - in the end, it will be 10 blocks by 12 blocks - but you can see the concept, I hope!

In other exciting news, I have some new additions to my fabric stash - Munki Munki pajamas by Heather Ross! I finally broke down a few weeks ago and bought some of these adorable fabrics on Etsy. I had been to so many TJ Maxx and Marshall's stores looking for them, and hadn't had any luck.

Munki Munkis!
Wouldn't you know, the SAME DAY I got these in the mail, I decided to head up and check a Marshall's north of my work, and not only did I find the sushi print pants, but a whole pajama set of the aliens, my favorite print of the whole line!!

I was so excited, I literally gasped, and had to contain myself from jumping around the store and squealing in delight! My only dilemma now is that these are actually in my size. I will definitely cut up the top to use in quilts, but I am tempted to use the bottoms as actual pajamas. Hmm... we shall see!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Weekly Read: 3

This week: more from the Lost Lit List! :)

READ: A Brief History of Time | Stephen Hawking
A Brief History of Time took a surprisingly long time to read (5 days!), despite it's short length, but only because the subject matter is so complex. I'm still not sure I really understand particles, quarks, and all that stuff - I think I would need to re-read this 10 or more times for it really to sink in.  My favorite parts were the ones about time travel, worm holes, and black holes. It makes me wonder what sort of time travel exists in the Lost universe - one that they current have a theory for, or something completely different. It seems as though Daniel Faraday was at first operating under the consistent histories approach - if time travel into the past is possible, you could not go back in time unless history showed you had already been there, and while there, had not committed any acts that would conflict with your current situation in the present (aka, kill your grandfather). You also wouldn't be able to change recorded history. Although he changed his mind about that possibility, I don't think he meant that the alternate history hypothesis was true - that by going back in time, they entered a history that differed from recorded history - an altered history, ala Back to the Future. But maybe he did. Maybe when the bomb went off, all of those that were in the past will be suddenly transported to the 2009 time of an alternate history, where the plane never crashed on the island? :D  I could talk about Lost theories forever, though, so I'll stop that here. If you are a fan of science fiction, whether it be books, tv, or movies, you need to read this book. That is all.

READ: Everything That Rises Must Converge | Flannery O'Connor
Everything That Rises Must Converge is the newest addition to the Lost List. At the end of season 5, this is the book that you see Jacob reading right before Locke falls 8 stories at the hands of his father, the event that puts him in a wheelchair.  The dysfunction of family relationships is a major theme throughout Lost, in part demonstrated through Locke's perpetually disappointing relationship with his birth father.  This theme is echoed through all of the stories in this collection - what we expect from our family and what we get are often very different things.  Each story is beautifully written and compelling, full of sorrow and unexpectedly mundane despair. None of them felt truncated, probably because they all revolved around a specific theme, and therefore, you could feel the relationship between them as you turned the page.  In addition to family relations, each story also deals with the convergence of classes - racial, social, economical.  Normally, I don't like short stories, but clearly, I have been reading the wrong kind of short stories.  I can't wait to read more of O'Connor's work. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, not just fans of Lost.

STARTED: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass | Lewis Carroll
There are quite a few Alice references in Lost, and so this one is a must-read from the Lost List. Surprisingly enough, I never read this one as a child, so I am excited to finally read it, and see if it really is as strange as people say. :) Plus, I want to be all prepared for the new movie coming out this spring! :D

That is it for this week. Next week: finishing Alice, and then Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Watership Down by Richard Adams, both also from the Lost Lit List. Happy reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Modern Tradition Blocks: for Melissa

January blocks - for Melissa

On Thursday night, I finished Melissa's blocks for my Modern Tradition Quilt Bee. These take some time to make because there are lots of seams, but they are much fun! I can't wait to see all of Melissa's blocks together - they are so much fun!

Next up: Leanne's blocks for February: Log Cabin! We are having a sew-in next Sunday at our house, so I'll probably work on those then. Maybe February's blocks from Flossybossy in the UK for A Spider Bee will have come, too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Modern Tradition: Test block for Melissa

Test block for Melissa!

Melissa picked this cool block for our first month at the Modern Tradition Quilt Bee, and here is my test block in my colors for my sampler quilt. :) Yay! I love the way it came out, and I love these fabrics. :) I'm so excited, and can't wait to to make Melissa's blocks for her.

Monday, January 18, 2010

grey | blue | red


Aren't these colors fabulous? I've made a red/white/black/grey/aqua quilt before, but I've really been wanting to do a quilt with grey and this sky blue, with bits of white and red. I'm planning on it being way calmer than I might normally make. The reds will be minimal, most likely.

Right now, I planning on doing the center of my round robin in these colors. Also, though, I'm planning on using this color palette to make an extra block each month from my Modern Tradition Quilt Bee. At the end of the year, I'll have twelve blocks of various sizes that I can put together and remind me of the year! Yay! :) I dug through my stash tonight and pulled out everything that could work. I don't actually have that many sky blues - I normally gravitate towards brighter or more greeny blues. Uh oh! I might have to get a few more. :P

grey | blue | red

I'm hoping to start making quilt bee blocks this week, both one for me and 2 for Melissa. I figured I can make the one for me first, to make sure it comes out right, and then Melissa's will be perfect. :)

A Spider Bee blocks - for Anna!

I'm in 2 different quilting bees this year, and I am super excited about them! This first bee I am in is A Spider Bee. Everyone in this group will be doing these cool Spiderweb blocks - what will make them different will be the color palettes and settings.

Spiderweb blocks for Anna

January's blocks are for Anna. For hers, Anna send us the center kites (a tea-stained muslin), as well as a selection of random scraps. She asked us to add scraps of ours to what she sent and put them together, anything-goes style. It was super fun! :) I can tell these are going to be addictive, and I'm looking forward to doing more every month!

ready to make Spiderweb blocks

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Weekly Read: 2

This week was a big one for the LOST Lit List. Yay! I can't wait to get through more of the list.

READ: The Third Policeman | Flann O'Brien
The Third Policeman is on the Lost Lit List because Desmond appears to be reading it when the Hatch is first infiltrated by the Losties at the start of Season 2. The book is visible on Desmond's bunk in the Swan. I spent most of the week reading this one, not because it is long ("only" 200 pages), but because it is so dense, both with descriptions and ideas. It is so weird, and strange, and confusing, but still entertaining and amusing. My brain hurt for the majority of the week because I was trying so hard to understand what was going on. The end was so mind-blowing, though, that when I got to it, it's as if I put on a pair of glasses and suddenly, everything was in focus. Everything made sense, in it's own strange little way. The narrator spends much of the book talking about the theories of a strange man named de Selby, who is a fascinating character, despite the fact that he doesn't actually make an appearance in the novel. And the policemen's Atomic Theory is hilarious! I don't want to spoil anything for you, because you should read this book! But don't read the introduction, because they stupidly put major spoilers in it.

READ: The Invention of Morel | Adolfo Bioy Casares
The Invention of Morel is on the Lost Lit List because Sawyer is seen reading it while living at the Barracks during Season 4. This one is a read-in-one-sitting sort of book. I started it before going to bed one night, and ended up staying up an extra few hours to finish it. Not only is it short (103 pages!), but the action and quick-paced writing draw you in and keep you hooked. This is the diary of an unnamed man, living alone on a deserted Mediterranean Island. Well, he is sort-of alone, which is part of the delicious mystery.  People eventually come to the island, but who are they? Where are they from and how did they come to the island? The answers to this are mind-bending and fascinating. I would definitely recommend this one to the Lost fans out there.

STARTED: A Brief History of Time | Stephen Hawking
A Brief History of Time is on the Lost Lit List for a couple reasons. The first time it appears is during Season 3, when Alex, Kate and Sawyer go to rescue Karl from his brainwashing session. The man guarding the bunker, Aldo, is reading a chapter from it on black holes, highlighting it and making notes. We also see a copy later on in Season 3 in Ben's house at the Barracks.  This is another short book, but one that takes some time to read because the subject matter is so complex. So far, Hawking has done a fantastic job distilling the details of such complicated science down into something that someone like me, with almost no science training, can mostly understand. But man, it has been a LONG time since my high school chemistry and physics classes. Some of this stuff I vaguely remember, but I'm sure most of it we never even touched. The hardest thing to wrap my mind around so far has been particles, atoms, neutrons, quarks, and the like. Luckily, I just hit the fun stuff: Black holes!

STILL READING: Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt | Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby and I had a fight this week, and subsequently, I had to put this one down for several days. Normally, I have no problem with people preferring one genre over another. Don't like romance novels? Cool, don't read them. Not a fan of science fiction? Whatever, that's your decision. But when Hornby stated that he was trying to expand the type of stuff he reads by trying something he never would have picked up before, I expected him to at least give it an honest try. He picked a science fiction novel (Excession by Iain M. Banks), was embarrassed to be seen buying it at the store, tried reading maybe 20 pages of it, and then abandoned it, saying it made him feel stupid. I'm sorry, but that's a cop out. Seriously? You just read 20 pages, and then gave up on it?  That's not really trying. Plus, if you found Banks' work confusing, there are millions of other sci-fi books to try, many of which aren't also speculative fiction, which is inherently a bit confusing. Overall, despite the fact that he claimed the "metal-heads" who read sci-fi are smarter than him, Hornby's overall attitude in response to his limited contact with one sci-fi novel was very condescending.  As a reader of science fiction, I feel personally offended.  In fact, I had kind of gotten over my annoyance, and had even read a few more of the essays, but writing this blurb has stirred my frustration back to the surface, and so I'm officially saying: Nick Hornby, we're still in a fight.

That's it for this week. Next week will feature more from the Lost Lit List. I will have hopefully finished A Brief History of Time, and plan on reading Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll as well.  Happy reading!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Weekly Read: 1

Here's the first installment of my weekly reading update! I've decided to do this every week this year, to better keep track of not just what I've read (Goodreads does a good job of that), but my reading experience.

READ: The Strain | Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
My main goal for this first week of reading was to finish The Strain, as we are having our book club meeting for it tonight! Also, once I finished this one last Thursday, I didn't really want to start any new books, so that this would be fresh in my mind still.  My first reaction to The Strain was that it reminded me quite a bit of Michael Crichton, with a mix of science, history, and myth. The first part is a bit slow-going, as you try to figure out what's going on: what does a myth about a giant man have to do with a death camp during WWII? And what do those have to do with the mysterious deaths of 200+ people? Once things started to connect, though, I was hooked, and couldn't stop reading!  The myth and virus are both fascinatingly original takes on what has become standard fare in recent years, and the characters are engaging - you really start to care about what happens to them. I can't wait to read the next 2 books in this new series.  The only thing I disliked: like many books in a series, The Strain didn't really have an *ending* - it just sorts of stops and waits to be picked up in the next book. I find this to be incredibly frustrating, as there are no real conclusions, but I tend to be slightly more forgiving of this when I like the book. So I will just say, it annoys me, but I'll live with it, and read the next books when they come out. :)

READ: The Hunger Games | Suzanne Collins
This was one of my favorite books that I read last year, and I have been patiently waiting until the new year to re-read it. It is just so heart-breaking and touching and energizing and interesting. And I find it's a hard book to tell people about, because at face-value, it sounds so sad: in a dystopic future version of America, kids from across the 12 districts are send into a horrific game in which they must kill each other to survive. All of this is televised for the enjoyment of those who live in the luxury of the Capital. But really, it's about fighting back, standing tall when people try to push you down and control you.  It's about surviving through experiences that would cause others to collapse in despair. It's about finding people to care about, and then sticking by their side, no matter what.

STARTED: Housekeeping Vs. the Dirt | Nick Hornby
I never really run out of things that I want to read, but I find these essays by author Nick Hornby about what he is reading to be fascinating.  Last summer, I read his first collection of essays The Polysylabbic Spree, originally published in the monthly magazine The Believer, and found them to be funny and smart, just as Hornby's novels are.  His book recommendations are compelling, because he not only tells you about a book, but describes his experience while reading it and why he likes it. After reading his first book, I immediately wanted to read this second one, but it got pushed down the stacks for a while. This one is a great one to read bits of here and there. I stick it in my purse, and end up reading it everywhere. Stuck at a read light? Waiting for a print job to process at work? Bored during a commercial break? I pull this out and read a paragraph or page or two. So far, I've read the first 2 essays, and I've added the following books to my to-be-read list, as well as to my nick-hornby-recommends shelf on Goodreads:
>> Fatherland - Robert Harris
>> Little Children - Tom Perrotta
>> Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell
>> Early Bird - Rodney Rothman

That's it for last week! Next week, I will be digging into my Lost Lit List, starting with The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien, The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Wish me luck! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


me, 1 month old

Today is my birthday! At 8:30 this morning, I turned 29 years old. It's hard to believe it, really, because I still feel like a teenager sometimes. But here I am, with one year left until I turn 30. Let's hope it's a good one! :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reading Resolutions for 2010

After thinking about it for a few days, I finally came up with some reading goals for 2010.

1| Read 100 books.
I contemplated not counting re-reads, but really, reading is reading, right? I still want to focus on reading new books, I'm just not going to exclude re-reads from my total count.

2| Read longer books.
While trying to complete challenges, it is tempting to look for shorter books to read to be able to get through more books. Not this year! This year, I plan on finally reading Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy, as I have an excellent translation on hand. I will also read The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Outlander by Diana Gabalon.

3| Read from the LOST Lit List in January.
Speaking of The Mysterious Island, this February begins the last season of my favorite TV show, LOST, and I want to read as many books as possible from the LOST Lit List this year. To start this out, I am going to try to read exclusively from that list for the month of January, up until the season premiere. I do have a few book club books to read, so I'll be throwing a few other books into the mix for variety, but the vast majority will be for LOST! :)

4| Read a Russian book every month.
Speaking of Anna Karenina, another goal is to read at least one book by a Russian author each month. Since my major in college was Russian Language/Literature, I always feel like I know so much about Russian lit. I haven't read any Russian books in ages, though, and a lot of the stuff I read in college has faded. So, I want to renew my knowledge and love of Russian lit this year! And reading things for pleasure vs. reading them as an assignment for class is a really different experience, so I'm looking forward to it!

5| Write weekly reading updates.
I keep tracking of all of my reading on, but I thought it would be fun to write a blog post every week, talking about what I have been reading. It seems like it would be a fun and interesting way to look back over the year and see what my reading experience has been.

What about you? Do you have any reading goals for 2010?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

More green tumblers

green ducks. or maybe swans?

more green tumblers

Yesterday, I sat down and trimmed up the rest of the tumblers blocks I had and finally counted them. Turns out I have 234, and I only need 240! Yay! Only 6 more needed! Although that is quite frightening, because that means I actually own over 200 fabrics. Eek!

Now, I'm setting up my machine so I can work on my block exchange from this past fall. Only millions of tiny half square triangles to go!

my 2009 block exchange: partial

Friday, January 1, 2010

102 Books Read in 2009!

102 Books read in 2009!

The reading goal I set for myself in 2009 was to read 100 books. I'm happy to say I met that goal! I read a lot of great books this year, re-read some of my favorites, and struggled my way through a few stinkers.

My reading was majorly rejuvenated this year by 2 things.

First of all, I bought a Kindle! I thought at first that I might miss the feel of holding a book in my hand, turning the pages, smelling the ink on the page. For the most part, that isn't true at all. Reading on a kindle screen is so much like reading ink on a page that most of the time I hardly notice the difference. Add that to the fact that my Kindle is thin and light enough for me to take it everywhere with me, and that I can have 1,500+ books on it at one time, and I am more than just sold on the idea - I am thrilled! I do still check books out from the library - not everything is available on Kindle yet - and I read those at home.

Second of all, I found this great book-tracking site called Goodreads that allows me to keep track of the books I've read, what I'm currently reading, and what I want to read. I can keep track of when I read things, write reviews, and rate books, so in the future I can remind myself of my opinions. I've tried to do this by myself in the past, and just didn't have any luck, so this system is perfect for me. Plus, a lot of my friends have signed up as well, so we can share book reviews, see what each other are reading, suggest books for each other. I've also found a challenge group on there that has really helped me push the boundaries of what I was reading.

If you feel like signing up for Goodreads, you can add me as a friend here. You can also check out a list (with links!) of the books I read this year. :)

I think my reading goal for 2010 will be 100 books again, but this time, not counting books I've previously read. We shall see. :)