Friday, October 16, 2020

Our Library Bag: October 2020

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Library days are always good days.  

Our library bag, as always, is overflowing with books.  This month we also borrowed some movies.  After reading all of the Hunger Games books last month I was curious to re-watch/watch them.  The ever-present bibliophile complaint, that the movies can't even begin to compare to the books, holds true--but overall I thought that they were done fairly well. 



Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

I intensely dislike when authors let you inside the characters' heads until they make the final deduction.  After 850 pages of being privy to so very many of Robin and Strikes' private thoughts, being excluded for the denouement is just . . . irritating and insulting.  Also, enough with the "will they/won't they" relationship!  That being said, Galbraith knows how to tell a story and I am already looking forward to the next book.     

If you're curious, I totally finished in time. 


Steelheart Book Cover

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

I had a little bit of difficulty immersing myself into this book at first.  Last year I read, and really enjoyed, the Renegades Trilogy.  (It made my Top Five Books of 2019.)  This book felt oddly similar early on.  (In fairness, Steelheart came first.)  I did get into it eventually and am now looking forward to continuing the series.


Fall Picture Books

The kids and I are enjoying all of our old fall favorites while discovering some new ones!  Sarah Mackenzie's September and October picture book lists are fantastic.  Based on how many holds are placed on these books once Sarah's list hits my email, I know that there are other RAR devotees local to me.  I'm tempted to put little notes into the books saying something to the effect of, "We like the same books, let's be friends!" But I worry that it might be too bizarre . . . 

What is in your library bag this month?

Our Library Bag Collage: With Fall Picture Books, Steelheart, and Troubled Blood

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Our Library Bag: September 2020

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Our Library Bag by The Philosopher's Wife Logo including clip art pictures of: dragon, castle, pig, earth, books, science beakers, unicorn, frog, and crown

Last month was all about making new literary friends, while this has been about revisiting old favorites.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I was very excited when I saw that there was a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy coming out!  I placed myself on the library wait list and had to patiently avoid all spoilers for a couple of months.  I did see some vague posts of saying that you'll either love it or hate it.  I fall into the first category.  I thought that it was great!  I loved the way that various details of the original books were given history.  Who doesn't love backstory?  I appreciate that Snow doesn't come out of it as a sympathetic villain -- he consciously made his choices.  Even though the book is significantly over 400 pages long, I wanted about another 150 . . . or more . . . pages of story!  I've seen rumors of a squeal, I hope that comes to fruition!  (Random tangential note: I've been to the state forest where some of the Hunger Games was filmed!)

Of course, once I finished Ballad, I simply had to follow it up with a re-read of the entire trilogy.  (Not actually from our library bag, as I was gifted a beautiful hardback set.) I immensely enjoyed this re-read.  One of my favorite-people-that-I've-never-met-in-real-life, Sarah Mackenzie, has an awesome podcast titled, "Why Re-reading is Possibly the Best Reading".  While she might be mainly referring to children the sentiment and reasoning is sound for grown ups too.  My bookshelves are filled with books that I fully intend to re-read, and some I honestly plan to read more than once.  Who wouldn't want to spend time with old friends? 

Do you make plans to re-read certain books?

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Our Library Bag: August 2020

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Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

Summer reading is about to give way to autumn reading. I've been busy preparing for the school year, but since so many things are cancelled (like our Disney Annual Passes), I've been able to squeeze in some extra reading time.  My last Library Bag post was June, but never fear, we've been keeping our dear librarians busy. 

I'm curious: how is your library currently operating? Are things "back to normal"? Is your library even open yet? Can you place holds?  Inter-library Loans?  Pay fines?  We have reduced hours, a three day holding period for returns, most (but not all) branches are open, limited resources, and large sections of the library are blocked off from patrons.  However, I did just get an email that fines will be re-instated for overdue books starting Monday, so I wonder if other things will be returning to normal operations. 

Cover of Skyward by Brandon SandersonCover of Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward and Starsight

My husband recently introduced me to the writings of Brandon Sanderson.  As soon as he finished reading Skyward he told me that he thought it might be one that I would enjoy.  Thirty-six hours and over 500 pages later . . . well, he was right.  Of course, I devoured the squeal, Starsight immediately afterwards.  I was more than a little disappointed to learn that the third book isn't due to come out until Spring of 2021.  

Cover of The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List

Lucy Foley's telling of this tale is masterful.  I saw someone say it was better as a retelling of "Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie than the original story.  I was dubious, because Christie is in a league of her own; however, I must say, it is very good.  It's a twisting whodunit, while also being a who's-going-to-get-it.  It's an incredibly entertaining thriller.  (It's definitely a grown up book though, with very adult themes and probably could use some trigger warning labels.)

Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Fall of Marigolds

With its vivid characters and gripping story this is an engaging read.  A modern day American scholar interviews an elderly woman about her WWII memories.  Most of the book is the story of Emmy trying to find her place in a torn apart world. (I may have geeked out a bit when Susan Meissner commented on my Instagram post!)  

If you follow me on IG, then you might have seen another Meissner book, A Fall of Marigolds.  This book had me in tears.  For whatever reason, this book was hard to pick up, but once I did I couldn't put it down.  It also had a modern and a historical story line: one character from 1911 who lost a loved one in the tragic Triangle Park fire; the second character is from modern times and lost someone in the horrific 9/11 attacks.  It's all tied together by a marigold scarf.  While I thought both books were good, I think Marigolds is a bit better: the intertwining stories were more developed.

That's all for now, the children are going to go wild if we don't go swimming right this minute.  Ah, summer!  (And spring, and fall, and even winter . . . we live in Florida.)  

What have you been reading lately?

Our Library Bag logo with The Guest List cover, Secrets of a Charmed Life cover, and Starsight cover for August 2020

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

WIPS: July 2020

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I always have several yarn-y projects going concurrently.  (Let's just ignore the poor projects that have been started and are languishing in boxes and bins.)  This month I have a few bigger ones that I'm determined to finish!  And maybe even weave in all of the ends . . . 

Knitting Needles and yarn with a partially finished sweater

The Hylan Sweater is delightedly simply to knit.  It's very relaxing.  I've been catching up on some of my Netflix and Hulu shows while knitting this.  I'm using yarn that I found on super clearance from Hobby Lobby.  

I'm also knitting a Traveling Woman Shawl.  This project has a bit of a story behind it.  Originally this yarn was going to be a hat (a Mont Royal). I even had quite a bit of the hat completed, but then we moved to Florida.  Then we bought a house.  Then there was a box that sat in my craft area for a long time.  Then I rediscovered the half-done hat. I considered frogging this project and even blogged about it. I found it again, and decided that the yarn wasn't being showcased as it deserved so I frogged the hat on the spot. (No second guessing myself!)  Then I cast on a shawl . . . And here we are today!  No regrets.

Yarn ball on knitted fabric with variegated yarn

I've decided to go ahead and begin to crochet my Sophie's Dream afghan.  Dedri is hosting an anniversary MAL and I've been itching to start this project for a couple of years, so why not now?  (This won't be a project to finish in July, but I'd at least like to get it started!)

Finally, I am determined to finish the Elwood sweater for my middle child. (I shared a beginning photo on Instagram.) It came off the needles a month or three ago and he immediately wanted to try it on.  He then proceeded to wear it around the house and it has even gone through the wash.  There is at least one end that hasn't been woven in and it's missing buttons.  (Also, we live in Central Florida, so there's certainly no pressing need to wear an unfinished sweater!)

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What is on your hooks and/or needles this month?  

Friday, June 19, 2020

My Disney Musings: Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

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In early March, before the stay at home orders swept the nation, I spent a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Once again, it was a solo trip.  I wanted to check out the brand new ride, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway Marquee

I got there early, arriving at the park not long after six in the morning.  I knew that opening would be pretty intense with both the Rise of the Resistance boarding group rush and the just opened Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.  The crowd was allowed through the turnstiles just after 7 AM for an official park opening time of 8 AM.

I headed straight to the Chinese Theater and followed the Cast Member's directions as I worked my way through the serpentine queue.  The line was long, however, it rarely stopped.  I'm not sure when the first riders boarded, but I know that it was early, probably around 7:30.  I boarded the Railroad at 8 AM.  (Unfortunately, this was the exact time that the Rise of the Resistance boarding groups opened.  Luckily, my husband was able to grab one for me.  You must be physically in the park in order to get a boarding group, but if you are there anyone that shares your My Experience App can get the boarding group for you.)

Hit or Miss? Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway

Was the ride a "hit" or a "miss"? I love that there is finally a Mickey and Minnie ride at Disney World!  It honestly shocks me a bit that it's the first.  I will note that the animation used throughout the ride is based on the recent award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts, NOT what *I* would consider the classic animation.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed they didn't use a more classic animation.  However, in the past months we've had the opportunity to watch the shorts on Disney+ and I'm slowly coming around.  I wonder if my kids will think of this newer animation as the "regular" style . . .

Example of the seating for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

My biggest critique, or complaint if you must, is that the the ride is too short.  The official ride length time for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is 4 minutes and 30 seconds. (That does not include the mid-queue pre-show.)  This ride replaced The Great Movie Ride which clocked in at 22 minutes.  At a park that doesn't have many options for everyone in the family, this experience doesn't do quite enough to fill the void.  (This is one of only two rides in the entire park that infants and toddlers under 32 inches can ride.  Check out my post on What can I do With Little Kids and Babies at Hollywood Studios? for more information on this.)

Three things to know about Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

The ride uses a trackless system, and it's pretty fantastic.  There are waterfalls, tornadoes, and even a tango!  It's not perfect though.  There are a few places where I felt there was a little too much reliance on straight up screens. The scene changes, and there are a few of them, are a little abrupt and disjointed.  I would like to note here that the ride is not a roller coaster or a thrill ride.  My personal classification of this ride would be "mild".  (Intensity-wise I would put it in a similar category to Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at Magic Kingdom.)

Light from the queue of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

There are so many details to discover!  Hidden Mickeys are everywhere, both in the queue and on the ride.  I heard one cast member telling a family in front of me that there are several hundred.  Hundreds!  I love how they kept some of the original Chinese Theater elements in the lobby, the "Classic Hollywood" vibe is still alive!

I rode it three times in one day.  It's eminently re-ridable.  (Of course, I'm quite fond of having an Annual Pass, so I find most of the Disney experiences worth repeating.)  There's a little homage to the ride's predecessor, The Great "Moving" Ride, in the carnival scene, which I thought was particularly great.

Overall, I thought Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway was a lot of fun and I look forward to enjoying it with the whole family!  It's a hit for me!

For those who would like a little more information about the rest of my day at Hollywood Studios:

I was at Hollywood Studios until about 4 PM.  It was a last minute decision to go, so I had no FastPasses scheduled.  It was pretty crowded, so few "good" one popped up, but I was still able to have a blast on most of the headliners:

  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  • Tower of Terror
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway
  • Rise of the Resistance 

Both times I rode Smugglers Run I went through the single rider lines, one time the wait was about 30 minutes the other closer to 45.  Both times the posted Stand By wait time was over 80 minutes.  

I also utilized the single rider line for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, but that one didn't go as smoothly, I actually think I would have been better off in the regular Stand By line. 

Toy Story Mania was a FastPass that I picked up while in the park.

I was boarding group 99 for Rise of the Resistance, which wasn't a "guaranteed" group, but it was called around 3:30. 

I actually did manage to score a Slinky Dog Dash FastPass for around 5, but I decided to call it a day and head home for some food. 

The posted time for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway seemed to be inflated each time as well.  In fact, I think it was roughly half of the posted time. 

All in all, it was a great day!

Where you one of the lucky few to ride Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway before the shut down?  If so, what did you think of it?  If not, are you excited about it?  Do you wish they had left the Great Movie Ride alone? 

Must have items that I bring to Disney World:

Being local and an Annual Passholder, I go to Disney fairly often.  I always bring a portable charger, an insulated bag, a water bottle, and a protective case for my phone. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Our Library Bag: June 2020

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Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

Yikes, my last Library Bag post was in March.  How can life be so busy when I barely leave the house?  Our library began curbside pick up last month and we have truly appreciated it.  (I'm uncertain if my local librarians love me or hate me . . . )  Here's a small sampling of what we've been reading: 

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I had found this book for my daughter, but due to her encouragement I have now found myself enthralled with the series.  

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon
This novel is loosely based on the real life, and unsolved, mystery of Judge Crater who went missing from the East Coast in 1930.  Gangsters, speakeasies, corruption, and intrigue all weave together for an enjoyable page turner.  I thought this was a very clever "possible" solution to the disappearance.

Lassie: Come Home by Eric Knight
My oldest read this for one of her literature classes this year.  (We used the Memoria Press study guide.)  Having never read this particular classic before, I enjoyed reading it along side of my daughter.  It's a sweet story of love, loyalty, and determination.

Bedtime Math: An Excuse to Stay Up Late
My kids are really enjoying the whole Bedtime Math series, especially my middle child.  It's silly little stories mixed with math questions.

I really love houses.  I love to see the different architectural features that make a home special.  I follow Facebook pages like For the Love of Old Houses somewhat religiously.  (Seriously, I try to vote in their polls almost every night.)  All this is to say, I was very excited to see a biography about Frank Lloyd Wright in the form of a picture book.  The kids and I had quite an enjoyable time discussing the various styles of homes. 

Parting Questions!
 I am doing really well on my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge.  I'll be honest, I didn't aim very high (for me), with a goal of forty books.  I've already finished 31 books so I am quite a bit ahead of schedule.  Did you have reading goals for this year?  Are you on track to reach your goal?  Have the recent current events helped or hindered you reaching your goal?

Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the internet!  

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Another Crochet Project: Virus Shawl

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A Virus Shawl is a rite of passage for many crocheters.  The pattern had been languishing in my "Want to Make" queue for years. I made my first one just last year, I don't know how I managed to go so long without making one! When I found some discounted Caron Cakes Yarn I knew I would be crocheting another one soon.

My local Michael's had the Rainbow Sherbet variety on clearance so I scoured the shelves and found three of the cakes.  It's such a cheery colorway!  I'm a bit undecided on my overall opinion of such yarn: it's really nice to have color changes without actually having to change the yarn, but the abrupt changes only work well for certain types of projects.  Happily, I think this type of yarn works really nicely with the Virus crochet pattern.

I followed Julia Marquardt's pattern, which can be found on this page for free.  There is some debate about the origin of the Virus pattern, some argue it's been around for ages especially in non-native English speaking areas, but it certainly owes a large part of it's resurgence to Jonna Martinez and her Virus Blanket Pattern.

This was my first complete project using a Furl's Crochet Hook.  This hook is certainly a luxury hook.  I was a little hesitant to put it on my birthday wish list, but after using it I quickly added more to my Christmas wish list!  I was honestly surprised at how much I loved it.

UPDATE: I wanted to give an update on how well this yarn is holding up after many months of use and washing: it still looks great! The color hasn't faded and it's softer than ever.  It has "fuzzed" a little, but certainly not excessively.   (November 2020)

Have you crocheted Virus Shawl?  Or a Virus Blanket?  Did you enjoy the crochet experience?

Thank you for visiting! 
You might be interested in these
free crochet patterns:
A girl is wearing a crocheted hat looking off to the side.

A boy in a red shirt is wearing a crocheted green backpack.  There is wooden fence in the background.  The boy's face is hidden.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Free Resources: Crafts & Books

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Life is a little unusual right now.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of companies, large and small, offering free resources.  I love crafts and I love books, so I thought that I would share these two with you!

Craft More Happy Moments
Craft More Happy Moments with Bluprint's FREE Creativity Care Package March 26, 2020 through April 9, 2020!  You can watch over 1,300 creative education classes on topics including: sewing, cooking, family crafts, and so much more!  You will need to register; however, you will not need to enter any credit card information.

Audible Stories
Audible has launched a new service for while schools are closed.  As far as I can tell, there is no log in or registration needed and it doesn't look like there are limits.  However, the overall collection does seem a bit limited, but maybe they will add more!

Have you discovered any new and notable resources?  
I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Our Library Bag: March 2020

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Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

My library closed!  This bothers me more than most of the closures happening right now.  There are a lot of amazing online resources available now though, with more popping up every day!

What I've been reading:

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin
This was my book club book of the month.  (Of course, book club was also canceled.) Mistress of the Ritz is a novel based on a real life couple set mostly during the German occupation of Paris during World War II.  The glamorous Ritz, with all of the rich and famous, became the stomping ground of the Germans.  The story revolves around the marriage of the hotel propriety and his wife.  (SPOILER ALERT.) It's not exactly a very good marriage. But, oh, the ending!  What a punch in the gut!

Lucky in Love and Listen to Your Heart both by Kasie West
I read both of these while cuddling a sick child.  Both books were delightfully sweet YA romances.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
(This accidentally tied into our current homeschool studies about Africa, which was rather awesome.  Here's a running list of some of the picture books about Africa.)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This thriller had me furiously turning the pages.  So many lies.  So much mystery.  Deeply flawed characters.  Unreliable narrator.  Who can you trust?  Yourself?  Your memories?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
This wasn't actually a library book--we own multiple copies--however, since I just finished a re-reading I feel compelled to share it here.  Every single time I read this book I love it a little more.  It's just so good. I mean really, really, really good.

A few notable picture books from this month:

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
We all loved this book!  Katherine Johnson was an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race.  Guess who was pivotal in getting Apollo 13 home?  You guessed it, Katherine!

Out of School and into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade
As it's name implies, this is a picture book biography about naturalist and artist Anna Comstock. She was a pioneer in encouraging nature study as a part of a child's education. 

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner
This picture book is an adorable look at the ecosystem of a mountain pond.  It's super sweet, very informative, and just an all around great picture book. (I'm adding this book to my Amazon Nature Book List!)

Let's talk!
Do you have some extra time to read this month?  What's on your list?  Is your library open?  How long will it be closed?