Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Banana Slug walk

 April 2022

We did that thing where you leave the house and walk around outside - weird!  Lots of great stuff in the Santa Cruz mountains.   It was an especially great day to see banana slugs, 20 in about an hour.  

Trillium, in a couple different colors.

Most of the walk was along the creek

Cool damp conditions made it perfect for the banana slugs to be out and about.

Interesting fungi

Not very well hidden.  They are faster than they look, go back a minute later and they are gone.

Being chased by the paparazzi

Unfurling fern

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Books and fancy flower arrangements Feb and March 2022

-by TJ Klune
Under The Whispering Door:  The cover made me think this was a YA book.  The style/language is, but the content was surprising.  Death, acceptance, change?  Not sure if I liked it a ton, but I did put a hold on his other book.

-by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd:  I love mysteries, figured I should be reading more of the Dame of Mysteries.  This is the book that made people at the time lose their mind.  It's good!  Though not everyone loves Poirot.

-by Megan Abbott
The Turnout:  Thriller, sort of.  Not enough twists for me.  Takes place in the ballet world.  I would have liked it better if the bodily mention parts were edited down waaaaay more.  Maybe that's just me.

-by Michael Lewis
The Premonition, A Pandemic Story:  So Good!  And infuriating.  Details of some of what went wrong at the beginning of the pandemic regarding recommendations at the federal and state levels.  Might make you despair, but good to know that a coherent story is out there.  ML is the writer of Money Ball and The Big Short...both great...I should read more of his stuff.

-by Louise Penny 
A Fatal Grace:  Second in the series-still excellent.  There is now a bit of backstory that will likely go through a couple books.  There is a lot of art and poetry in these mysteries, but sprinkled throughout, I like it.
The Cruelest Month:  Third!  This is the one with the psychic who visits around Easter.  Important part of the backstory. 

-by Emma Donoghue
Room:  Couldn't put it down.  Thriller, but from a completely different view point.  19 yr old girl gets abducted and hidden away for 7 years, escapes.  Told from her 5 yr old son's point of view.  

-by Will Leitch
How Lucky:  Mystery adjacent, but much more a novel.  19 yr old girl gets abducted and hidden away for 7 days, gets rescued.  Told from the person who saw her get into the car.  He happens to use a wheelchair to get around and an iPad to communicate.  
(How is it these 2 happened into my book queue at the same time???  Should I find a third to make a trilogy?)

-by Brit Bennett
The Vanishing Half:  Very good!  Twin sisters.  One disappears from her family and lives a new life passing as white.  The stories of their lives and their daughters.  Family messiness, reminds me of Homegoing, but a much closer look.  

-by Michelle Zauner
Crying in H Mart:  Autobiography, haven't done that in forever.  Messy but loving mother/daughter relationship.  Especially focused on the Korean food her mom made.  Pretty good writing, lots of raw emotions.

-by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo:  Fictional movie star (think Marilyn Monroe-ish) and the true story behind her crazy antics that filled the tabloids.  

-by Richard Osman
The Thursday Murder Club:  A cozy mystery!  A group in the retirement village pools their skills to solve a local murder.  Lots of little improbable twists, likable people, couple points of view, fun read.

-by Jessamine Chan
The School for Good Mothers:  Holy cow this is a disturbing compelling read.  Modern Kafka story.  Maybe don't read it if you are a parent that worries a lot if you are doing it right.

-by Claire G Coleman
Terra Nullis:  Oh wow.  This is sci-fi, but it was hard to read the first quarter, because it didn't feel like sci-fi at all.  But then you get a shift in perspective and I couldn't put it down.

-by Oyinkian Braithwaite
My Sister, The Serial Killer:  okay, I mainly picked this for the title and fantastic book cover.  Delivers as a quick, not too twisty thriller.  Deep dive into the two sisters.

-by Walter Isaacson
The Code Breaker:  The science and people behind CRISPR.  A bit long, had to check it out from the library twice, maybe improved with some editing.  The science is accurate, but not too dense.

Kids books

-by Nathan Hale
The Underground Abductor:  Graphic novel about Harriet Tubman.  Love this guys history-makes it fun and memorable.

-by Lois Lawry
Anastasia Krupnik:  Love this author.  This is lightly silly, similar to Ramona.

-by Susan Cooper
Over Sea, Under Stone:  The kids in The Parker Inheritance loved this series so I gave it a try.  Similar to Narnia (siblings fighting good an evil) but Arthurian based.   Had trouble getting into it, but I can see how if you read it while young you would love it.

-by Johnathan Stroud
The Amulet of Samarkand:  Book 1 in a trilogy that is a magical world-darker than Harry Potter.  The genie gets to narrate some of the story and the sarcastic voice is the best part of the book.  Ok, but not amazing enough to read more. (more YA than little kid book)

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Solvang, March 2022

 A trip to Solvang, a Danish town, with some side trips.  Biggest trip in 2 years :)

First stop, Santa Cruz
Just after sunset, on a bridge, looking out to the ocean

The glow around the houses is magical.

We had a great evening hanging out with our friends.

Road trip to southern California!!
Just off the highway is Solvang, Danish capital of America

Did not have time to visit the museum-next time!

A quick walk around the town-it is now clearly a day trip for those in the LA area.

Christmas all year round shop

Danish clogs!

Lots of windmill/water mill themes.

We did NOT eat at the Tiki bar themed restaurant.  We went classic and ate at the most Danish looking restaurant-excellent sausages and dessert.

A day at Magic Mountain
Goliath-the best roller coaster.  We rode a quite a few, including Twisted Colossus.  It used to be a pair of racing coasters, but they refurbished it into a single long ride where you get to ride both sides of the original.  Super fun.

Funnel cake, the best amusement park treat.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Books and puzzles December 2021 - January 2022

   Pictures are from my latest jigsaw puzzles and a fun Advent puzzle of the day calendar.  

This is the final gift from the Advent calendar

-by Louise Erdrich
The Night Watchman:  Slice of life of 1950s family on an Indian reservation.  Loved the characters, some of the tough stories really stuck with me.

-by Naomi Novick
The Last Graduate: second book, can't wait for the third one in early 2022

Here is the Advent calendar after we finished it.  It was totally amazing, very clever.

Mend Repair:  This was hyped too much, I was underwhelmed.  Super repetitious, especially regarding her own journey.  I didn't even find the illustrations all that helpful.  If I need to review anything practical I would go back to Lily Fulop's book.  I think she is trying to be kind, but it came off as sanctimonious...maybe that's just me!

-by Alice Feeny
Rock Paper Scissors:  Oh no, another troubled marriage book?  Phew!  Totally saved-it is a thriller.  Tons of twists, just what I like.

Detail puzzle pieces, flowers within flowers. 

-by Ashley Hope Perez
Out of Darkness:  Recently popped up because it is being banned in Texas.  Based in East Texas in 1930's Sure, there is some teen sex (purported reason for banning), but racism and ugly people make people uncomfortable.  Couldn't put it down, highly recommend.

-by Jennifer Wiener
Big Summer:  meh.  I was looking for a fun beach read, which this is.  But not the best.  Too much talk of food (but not in memorable detail) and clothes (too much detail).

This is from the magic puzzle company.  These don't work by putting the outline together first, so instead I went with colors.  Rooftops in this case.

-by Louise Penny
The Madness of Crowds:  I picked this up because the review said it was a good treatment of pandemic writing.  It is also the latest in a long line of mysteries.  Set in Quebec province, Inspector Gamache.  Liked it enough to put a hold on the first one.

Still Life:  First book in the series!  Next one on hold.  I like the tiny town and characters, nicely described and I know many of them are going to be there for the series.

-by Alexandra Andrews
Who is Maud Dixon?: Another twisty thriller.  I like our main character because she is just out of college, naive, learning that she is not a special as she grew up believing.  Also about writers.  I caught a couple of the twists, but not all.  Not the best I've read, but not too long.

-by Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs:  First in a series of well loved detective novels.  Bright young Maisie was taken under the wing of the lady of the house.  Then WWI happens.  Maisie becomes a detective. Fun, will read more.

Then I moved the rooftops into place.

-by Annette Gordon-Reed
On Juneteenth:  Loved this history book.  A very personal look at Texas, the origin of the Juneteenth holiday. 

-by Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis
2034:  Future fiction of WWIII.  This is not my genre at all...and true to form I thought this was just okay.  Predictable and leaned on stereotypical characters.  And yet I finished it pretty quickly, well written.  It is good to give things a try.

Adding in the windows.

-by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing:  Loved this!  Character sketches of individuals in a familial lineage. Half on the Gold Coast of Africa and half in the United States.  Starting from the beginning of the slave trade to present day.  Manages to give a very specific depiction of each person and their circumstances in short chapters.

-by Carl Zimmer
Life's Edge:  This is right up my alley.  What is life?  What is alive?  It seems obvious, but all the edge cases highlighted here show it is not obvious at all.  What is the origin of life on earth-you get a layman's explanation of the current research areas

Woo hoo!

Next up, my middle grade YA reads

Tiny puzzle of roses and succulents.  Harder than it looks!

-by Varian Johnson
The Parker Inheritance:  Do you love The Westing Game?  Read this next!

-by Nathan Hale
The Underground Abductor:  Graphic novel about Harriet Tubman.  Love this guys history-makes it fun and memorable.  A Donner Dinner Party is the best.

Next puzzle, a mystical maze. 

-by Jen Wang
Stargazing:  Graphic novel of growing up.  I have managed to read a lot of these (graphic novels about growing up) lately.  It is kind of a trend.

Cute pieces in the maze puzzle

-by Kim Dwinell
Surfside Girls, the Secret of Danger Point: picked up randomly, middle grade surfing girl sleuths.  Cute, but no need to read more.

-by Svetlana Chmakova
Weirn book 1:  Town that is half supernatural folks-kids have their own nighttime school.  I loved her earlier middle grade books, this was okay.  Bet the kids who love series will go for it.

A book I skimmed 
-by George M Johnson
We Are Not Broken:  Biography of growing up with his brother and cousins-the antics they get into and family love.  I didn't read every chapter, but picked up some of them.  I might be a bit burnt out on kids growing up books.