Sunday Stuff

Sorry guys, I’ve been in a reading (and writing) slump lately. I’m working my way slowly through a nonfiction book on climate change, and books from the library are starting to pile up – and I just haven’t been reading much. I did finish Rin Chupeco’s The Shadowglass, the conclusion to The Bone Witch trilogy, so I’ll be writing about that soon, and I should also actually review the first two books in the Greywalker series (the second of which I used in the Friday 56 the other day).

But blargh. It doesn’t help that summer has hit, and our office is the warmest room in the house, so I haven’t wanted to spend much time up here writing. I’m hoping to get a laptop in a month or two, so I won’t have to be up in the warm office.

I have been doing a lot of research for our upcoming trip to Toronto – we’re actually taking a real vacation for our wedding anniversary this year, and I’ll be leaving the country for the first time since I was a very small child. (I can only vaguely remember a trip to the west coast of Canada.) So that’s exciting. And I’ve been given my husband’s blessing to go full Amy and make a binder with all the information I dig up on places to go and hotels we’re staying at and routes we’re driving! So that’s fun.

We’re also going to the Arbutus Arts Festival today, a gathering of food and vendors and entertainment that’s been going on for almost fifty years, every third Sunday in May. I can’t wait to see what sorts of things they have!

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Sunday Stuff

Today is my birthday! I’m now 37 years old, and I have a few friends coming over today to play board games and hang out. Yesterday my husband and I went to the airshow at Andrews Air Force Base, and had an absolute blast. It’s the first time in twelve years that the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels have been at the same show, so it was really exciting. I used to go (or rather, get dragged to) airshows all the time when I was younger, but haven’t been to one in almost twenty years. I loved the Blue Angels when I was little, so it was really neat getting to see them again. My husband, despite being in the Marines for five years, had never been to an airshow, so it was neat both seeing him at an airshow for the first time, and getting to hear his stories about some of the aircraft we were seeing.

I took SO. MANY. PICTURES. I know I got some good ones. I’ll add some of the best to the end of this post.

After the airshow, we came home, and three of our friends came over to play a few board games, since they probably won’t make it tomorrow. (Mother’s Day and all.) Which means that at midnight on my birthday, I was laughing myself silly. Tears running down my face and everything. It was a great start to my birthday.

I’m a little sunburned from the airshow, despite putting sunscreen on and wearing long sleeves. It could be a lot worse, though. It was actually perfect weather for an airshow – semi-blue skies while the Thunderbirds (white planes) were flying, and overcast in time for the Blue Angels (dark blue planes) to fly against the light gray background. We managed to almost get to our car before the rain started, so all in all, great timing.

Photos!

jet lineup

A shot you don’t see very often. First show in twelve years to have both teams at the same time!

C-5B

A C-5B Galaxy. The nose cone opens up as well as the gate in back, to allow loading and unloading of massive amounts of freight and vehicles. Like tanks. Husband flew out of Afghanistan in one of these and did a combat landing in Kyrgyzstan. Which is amazing given how MASSIVE these things are.

rocket truck

This was a rocket truck racing a small plane, with pyrotechnics. I wasn’t expecting the pyrotechnics, so this was a really lucky shot!

Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds against a spotty sky.

Blue Angels Wedge

Blue Angels against a more overcast sky, three hours later. I thought I got better photos, but it appears some of them didn’t upload to Google Photos. I’ll have to look through my phone when I have some more time!

planes

One of the other performance teams doing a cool scattering maneuver. 

Book Review: The Bride Test

the bride testThe Bride Test
by Helen Hoang
Romance
300 pages
Published May 7, 2019

I received The Bride Test on Saturday, a few days before today’s release date, through Book of the Month. I’ve been really excited about this one, because it’s another adult romance with an autistic main character, like the first book, The Kiss Quotient. (The author is also autistic.) There’s actually a lot of #ownvoices representation here; Hoang has an author’s note at the end talking about how much of Esme’s personality and struggles are based on her own mother, who immigrated from Vietnam as a refugee at the end of the Vietnam war. I love that in writing the book, Hoang grew closer to her mother as she learned about her history. Definitely don’t miss the author’s note at the end of this book, if you read it!

I have mixed feelings about this one, but unfortunately the part I really have mixed feelings about is very spoilery, so I can’t talk about it without ruining major plot points! Overall, I did really like the book, and Khai showed a lot of the same traits my husband does. The first book’s autistic character is female, so it was nice to see a character so similar to my husband this time. The characters from The Kiss Quotient do make a token appearance in The Bride Test, and I’m hoping Hoang will finally write Quan’s story next! There is an untitled third book in the series due out in 2020, so I’m crossing fingers for Quan!

I absolutely adored Esme in this book. She is hardworking and strong-willed, and knows what she’s worth. I wish she’d been a little more honest with Khai, but I can understand being too afraid to be fully honest with someone who could have such control over your future. I did really enjoy this sequel, and I can’t wait to hear what the plot will be for the third book.

From the cover of The Bride Test:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but he doesn’t experience big, important emotions like love and grief. Rather than believing he processes emotions differently due to being autistic, he concludes that he’s defective and decides to avoid romantic relationships. So his mother, driven to desperation, takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect mail-order bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity to marry an American arises, she leaps at it, thinking that it could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working . . . but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who believes he can never return her affection.

Esme must convince Khai that there is more than one way to love. And Khai must figure out the inner workings of his heart before Esme goes home and is an ocean away.

Sunday Stuff

Are there any readathons or major themes for May? April was Autism Pride Month, and Ace-Spec April, so I was reading books for that (even if I’m not actually fitting my review of White Stag in this month, look for that early May). June, obviously, is Pride Month, and it’s going to be a VERY queer month of reviews here! But is there a theme for May?

If there isn’t, I might just wind up fitting in all the random stuff that’s been catching my eye otherwise. And maybe some more gardening books! I’d also like to find a couple of books on climate change that aren’t too terribly dry. Climate change for the layperson. Hm. Might have to do some research there, unless someone has recommendations!

Sunday Stuff (and a new book list)

So. Climate Change is happening. There are maps showing the zone hardiness maps (zones across the country to help gardeners know what grows in their climates) changing over the next ten years as the country gets warmer. There are people talking about the twelve years number, and how climate change is actually probably going to happen faster than that. Articles on sea level rise, and temperature rise, and projected food shortages and mass extinctions.

quarter acre farmAnd my low-grade general anxiety is sitting over here making me research permaculture and edible gardening. Because I like to eat. And we just bought this house, with almost half an acre of good, south-facing land. So I’m learning. I’m reading about swales and rain gardens and water collection, and food forests and tree guilds and helpful species. I’m paying attention to what species will continue to be hardy in this area as the climate changes, and how to provide shelter and food for beneficial insects and animals.

I feel a little bit like a Doomsday prepper. Which is…uncomfortable. But like – I’m not planning on building a bomb shelter, or having shelves upon shelves of food in cans and crates of MREs. I’d just like to be a little more self-sustaining. I’m really sad we don’t have the roof space to put in solar power; Baltimore County laws mandate setting the panels in three feet from any edge, and we have several small sections of roof so there’s nowhere big enough to put more than a couple of panels. Baltimore County laws are also preventing me from getting chickens – no chickens on less than an acre of land. People are lobbying to get that changed, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

All this is to say, I’m reading a lot about permaculture, native plants, and edible gardening, so I’ve made a new book list to keep track of Homesteading books. I’ll try to get more reviews up of the ones I own, since I’ve only reviewed a few of those here on the blog. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Even going by the original twelve-year number – I’m going to be 49 in twelve years. And the science says our whole world is about to go to shit. We’re already seeing effects in the number and severity of storms. I’m lucky to be in the position I am – in a fairly well-off country, owning enough land to grow food on. Being chronically ill could really suck, if my medicine supply gets disturbed, but other than that, I’m not in a bad situation to be facing this. A lot of people are going to be a lot worse off. It’d sure be nice if our government took steps to help instead of actively making things worse….

Book Review: The Weight Of Our Sky

weight of our skyThe Weight Of Our Sky
by Hanna Alkaf
Young Adult/Contemporary Fiction
277 pages
Published February 2019

I’ve seen this book absolutely raved about online, as an amazing, diverse book with an #ownvoices author, and I knew I wanted to read it, I just kept having other things come up with higher priorities. I finally settled down to read it, and….it’s exactly what everyone has said. Absolutely fantastic.

Melati, our main character, is struggling with OCD, but as this is set in 1969, it’s never diagnosed. She thinks a djinn has taken up residence in her brain, and is giving her horrifying visions unless she does his will. And then riots break out and she and her mother are separated. This book covers an event we were never really taught about here in the US; in 1969 politics in Malaysia reached a boiling point and massive riots broke out between the Chinese and Malaysian populations. It’s an event that rips Melati’s world apart, and that she fights to survive in this book, while still fighting the djinn in her own head.

The Weight Of Our Sky is a young adult book, but it covers some very weighty topics. Between Melati’s mental illness, the death and violence that surrounds her, and the prejudice and bigotry driving it, it’s a book to read mindfully. The author includes a content warning at the beginning of the book, as well she should. The detail with which she describes Melati’s experience (both in her head and outside of it) is stunning.

Melati is Malaysian, but she somehow finds herself with a Chinese family, and together they confront the tensions between the two groups of people, both their own prejudices and the violence from the roving mobs outside the little house they’ve holed up in. All the while, she’s trying to hide the counting and tapping that keeps the djinn quiet in her head. The book is an extraordinary look at untreated mental illness, and the toll it takes to act normal when your brain is lying to you.

Fantastic book.

From the cover of The Weight Of Our Sky:

Melati Ahmad has imagined her mother’s death countless times. Plagued by gruesome thoughts she believes are put into her head by a djinn, Melati has developed an intricate set of tapping rituals to tame the monster within and keep her mother safe.

But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.

With a twenty-four-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.