Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Tom Doherty Associates, 2010 (first edition); 304 pages

If you’ve read much Austen or Heyer, you’ve come across most of the plot of this book before, so I’ll leave off any detailed description of that quarter. But the similarity to other books doesn’t really detract from the entertainment value of this book.

If I had to guess, I’d say this book is set during the Regency era. It’s mostly true to historical facts, with the exception of glamour, which is magic that is used to create illusion. Glamour is used to decorate houses, to create works of art, and to generally make things appear different than how they really are. Using glamour to deceive others for one’s own benefit is frowned upon, however. Using glamour to improve one’s looks is viewed just as using makeup was in the past: deceptive and unnatural. There’s also the issue of using glamour to beautify oneself with the purpose of getting a husband; when the day comes that one cannot keep up the illusion, how will he feel to know that his beautiful wife isn’t what he thought?

My only real criticism of Shades of Milk and Honey (besides the fact that I have no idea what the title means), is that the ending covers too much ground too quickly and then ends abruptly. It really doesn’t fit with the graceful flow of the rest of the novel.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring in the Backyard

It's finally starting to look like spring, barring the occasional late snow-shower like we had last week. The yard is a carpet of violets, the magnolia at the corner of the house is actually almost past its prime, and the house is filled with vases of daffodils.

There are three Mallard ducks, two males and a female, who come to our bird feeder every evening to eat the seed that the other birds drop. The outdoor cat watches them from a distance, and they watch him with sidelong glances. The ducks pretend to be nonchalant, while the cat crouches low to the ground and pretends to be invisible. Each knows the other is there and each pretends not to care.

The squirrels look thin and drawn compared to their wintertime chubbiness. They like the bird seed too. We had raccoons at the bird feeder during the winter, but they haven't been around lately. There was a possum the other day, though, looking mean and tough. He didn't stay too long.

We've been out in the back part of the property every day, checking for wild mushrooms and tame asparagus. Both pop up, expected and yet unexpectedly. It's likely been too dry yet for the mushrooms (after all of winter's snow, "too dry" seems like a joke, but mushrooms are finicky), but the asparagus should appear any day now. At least we know where to look for it, on the north border of the garden, in a neat row planted over 20 years ago when we first moved here. The mushrooms could be anywhere, hiding under remnants of dried fall leaves or new spring grass.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Re-Launch, of Sorts

So I've been neglecting my blog. Again. I'm just not terribly good at making myself write stuff down. I have plenty to say, but not so much time.

Anyway, here are some projects I'm working on at the moment that will likely turn into blog posts:

I'm trying to read 100 books this year (and I'm behind)

I'm starting up my reading of Calvin's Institutes again

I'm looking for an apartment

I'm organizing my bookmarked recipes

I'm planning some art projects

And other stuff that I'm blanking on at the moment

I'm off work tomorrow and planning a reading day, so expect to see some book reviews in the near future.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids, and cicadas,
Give praise with the hum of bees,
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over.

~Anne Porter