margaret atwood

Library Chicken Update CABIN-EXTRAVAGANZA 2017 : THE PREQUEL


Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!

CABIN-EXTRAVANGANZA, THE PREQUEL: Every July we pack up the cars for our annual family trip to Boone, NC (chosen because it is roughly halfway between Atlanta and my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Virginia Beach), where we stay in a rental “cabin” that, with three levels, a hot tub, excellent wifi, and an assortment of widescreen TVs, bears zero resemblance to any of the actual cabins I camped in during my outdoorsy youth. However, it is built of logs and there’s a nice fire pit in the back (not to mention a boulder-filled creek with a very convenient swimming hole) so I guess it’s sort of cabin-ish. Boone is a great little college town (Go Appalachian State Apps!), with unique restaurants, fun and funky shopping opportunities, and an assortment of great outdoor activities, so as soon as we’ve unloaded, we head inside the cabin and do our best NEVER TO GO OUTSIDE AGAIN. The family’s goals are to catch up on what’s been happening in our various lives, play board games from the truly impressive collection we’ve built up over the years, and nap as much as possible. MY goal is to read as many books as I can, even while being distracted by my loving family and their attempts to engage me in conversation and so-called bonding activities. As you can imagine, during the week prior to the cabin trip there is a flurry of last-minute housecleaning, packing, and frantic calls to make sure we remembered to get someone to take care of the pets. Meanwhile, I’m upstairs reading all the books that have to go back to the library and in the process not quite finishing the Library Chicken Update I was supposed to turn in before we left.


Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary With the Bard by Laura Bates

I’ve been trying to read more about our prison system, and in particular I am interested in education behind bars, both in terms of the men and women who choose to do that work, and the effects on the inmates who participate. Professor Laura Bates spent years teaching Shakespeare to maximum security inmates. Her memoir of that time exposes a world that few of us ever see, but I was surprised by her choice to focus almost exclusively on one particular student, Larry Newton, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole while still a juvenile. Bates has clearly been deeply affected by Newton, who she describes as extraordinarily talented and insightful, and there’s some fascinating stuff here, but I became impatient with her concentration on Newton’s story and their relationship and was disappointed not to learn more about her broader experience with the dozens of inmates she worked with over the years.
(LC Score: +1)


The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death by Colson Whitehead

Whitehead wrote this memoir of the time that a magazine staked him to play in the World Series of Poker several years before his novel, The Underground Railroad, won the Pulitzer Prize (and everything else), and gee, I sure hope he’s feeling better these days. His writing is smart and funny, but the tone of this memoir—written in his persona as a native of “the Republic of Anhedonia”—is cynical half-joking despair that never lets up. Ha? It’s hard for me to laugh when I’m worried about whether the author is eating and sleeping okay and whether someone is regularly checking up on him.
(LC Score: +1) 


By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

Tommy and Tuppence mystery #4—and my favorite so far (with one left to go). Tuppence, now a grandmother, gets suspicious when an elderly woman seemingly disappears from an old folks’ home. This one is by far the best-plotted of Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence novels (yeah, okay, maybe there are some plotlines that don’t quite get wrapped up but what’s a loose end or two between friends?) and of course I always enjoy hanging out with the Beresfords.
(LC Score: +1)


The Old English Peep Show by Peter Dickinson

This is Dickinson’s second mystery novel starring the fabulously named Inspector James Pribble and I think I’m hooked. In 1960’s England, Pribble is sent to the country estate of a famous and wealthy family to explore the suicide of an old retainer, but all is not as it seems, especially since a large chunk of the estate has been converted into an Olde Englande theme park experience. With man-eating lions, which just you know isn’t going to end well. (Insert your favorite Jurassic Park quote here.)
(LC Score: +1)


The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

You know, I have loved books that everyone else hated and hated books that everyone else loved, so I get that reading is subjective. I generally try to be as positive as possible even when I didn’t particularly enjoy a specific book, and when it comes to official fanfic—like this “New Hercule Poirot mystery!”—my expectations are not high. But in this case, I kinda feel like I read it so you guys don’t have to. (In fairness to Hannah, I thought her Poirot was okay, it was the rest of the book that didn’t work for me.) (LC Score: +1)


Vermilion by Molly Tanzer

ARRGH. I loved loved LOVED the beginning of this book. Our heroine, Lou, is a Chinese-American psychopomp (essentially a freelance exorcist) in an 1870s San Francisco populated by ghosts, assorted undead, and sentient bears. Tanzer, you had me at the bears, but when you threw in SENTIENT SEA-LIONS (!!!) I immediately logged into the library system and put everything else you’ve ever written on hold. Unfortunately, the beginning just sets the stage and the main plot has Lou leaving San Francisco behind (the sea-lions, Lou, how could you leave the sea-lions?) to investigate why Chinese men are going missing in Colorado. And yes, there’s a Mysterious Sanatorium and other supernatural things to come, but I just didn’t find it as interesting as the initial set-up. Plus, once we got into the main plot I started having major issues with story and characterization. Mostly I just desperately wanted to go back to San Francisco. (Dear Ms. Tanzer, I will happily read an entire series of Lou’s psychopomp adventures in San Francisco—and please can she have a special sea-lion buddy?) Anyway, I’m still going to look for Tanzer’s other novels, but this one broke my heart a bit as it went from 'My New Favorite That I Must Tell Everyone About' to 'Flawed But With Some Great Ideas.' 
(LC Score: +1)


Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

This is the second Lauren Beukes novel I’ve read (after the equally excellent Zoo City) and I would just like to say that she is amazing. Moxyland is a near-future modern-cyberpunk tale of the corporate-ocracy told by four alternating narrators (one of whom is an art student who allows herself to become, via a sort of nanotech tattoo, a literal walking advertisement for a soda company). It is original and energetic and I couldn’t put it down. Now I just need to work up the courage to read her most recent novels: The Shining Girls (about a serial killer targeting bright young women throughout time) and Broken Monsters (about murders where human bodies are seemingly fused to animal bodies). (Beukes is great and I really want to read her latest books but all the reviews talk about their “brutal and disturbing violence” and I’m kind of a wimp and keep chickening out.)
(LC Score: +1)


The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan 

After Fagan’s end-of-the-world story The Sunlight Pilgrims I expected this earlier novel to also be science fiction, but there’s nothing otherworldly or futuristic here—it’s the story of a 15-year-old Scottish girl who’s been in and out of foster care and who is now in a group home waiting to see if she’ll be charged with murder. The storyline is bleak and violent, but surprisingly I didn’t find it a particularly bleak or depressing read, in part because Fagan allows the humanity of her protagonist to shine through and even leaves us with a tiny smidgen of hope.
(LC Score: +1)


The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Atwood’s retells The Odyssey from the point of view of Penelope and the twelve maids who were murdered by Odysseus upon his return. Short and entertaining (if a bit grim, topic-wise), and would make a great high school side-by-side read with the original.
(LC Score: +1)




Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

I have loved everything I’ve read by Helen Oyeyemi (White is for Witching, Mr. Fox, What is Not Yours is Not Yours) and this novel was no exception, but I struggled a bit getting through it. This was my second attempt and even with a running start I got stuck for a couple of week about a third of the way through. I hasten to add that this is a me problem, not a problem with the book. In this, her version of the “wicked stepmother” story, Oyeyemi deals with uncomfortable issues of race and parenting that made it a challenging read at times, though well worth it.
(LC Score: +1)


Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

This guide shares tips and techniques that the Goldstones have learned after years of hosting a series of book clubs for upper elementary and middle school students. I’ve found it a helpful resource when thinking about how to begin discussing literary analysis with middle-grade readers, and I picked it up for a reread to get ready for the middle school literature this fall. (Though clearly I’ve been hanging out with Amy too much, because every time the Goldstones talk about teaching the kids to be “book detectives” who find the meaning hidden within each book by the author, I think to myself, “The Post-Structuralists might have a bone to pick with you about that.”) HOMESCHOOL RECOMMENDED (despite those wacky post-structuralists).
(LC Score: +1)


The Great Brain is Back by John D. Fitzgerald

While working on a recent Summer Reading post I discovered that there was an 8th Great Brain novel I hadn’t read, published after Fitzgerald’s death, and of course I had to find a copy. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s a necessary addition to the series; posthumously published works are hit or miss to begin with, and in this particular case, I really struggle with the character of Tom (the Great Brain) as he gets older. From a parental perspective, Tom does some terrible things to his siblings and friends (which, I have to say, did not bother me at all when I read and reread these books growing up), and in his first adventure here he ends up cheating his brother and taking a loss because he can’t stand the idea that little brother J.D. might actually have gotten the better of him this one time. As Tom enters teenagerhood that behavior stops being funny and clever and just-maybe-acceptable and starts to look a wee bit sociopathic. (I was comforted to read that the author, John D. Fitzgerald, also struggled with this as the characters aged, feeling that it was past time for Tom to mature and permanently reform, while the publisher insisted on his adventures continuing just the same as always.) Please do continue to pass along the original Great Brain books to any upper elementary readers in your vicinity, but I think it’s okay if you give this last one a miss.
(LC Score: +1)


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier written by Alan Moore, art by Keith O’Neill

This Week In Comics (Part 1): Previously on Library Chicken, I reported on Scream for Jeeves, a Lovecraft-Wodehouse crossover. One might think that we had covered all the Cthulu/Jeeves mash-ups available, but not so! In Black Dossier, a collection of League histories from its earliest 17th century incarnation onwards, one short story has Bertie Wooster telling us about the time Lovecraftian monsters attacked his Aunt Dahlia’s home, Brinkley Court. (SPOILER: Gussie Fink-Nottle’s brain gets removed, but no one notices.) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for those who are unfamiliar, is a group of Victorian heroes, including Mina Harker, Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, and Dr. Jeckyll, documented in a series of comic books by Alan Moore and Keith O’Neill. (There was also a truly awful movie adaptation that you should feel free to ignore.) This graphic novel brings some of the characters forward to 1958 (when, in this universe, Britain is just coming out of its 1984 Big Brother era) in a framing story where they must steal the files containing the history of the League. WARNING: I love the concept and all the literary references, but Black Dossier and the other comics in the series would qualify for a hard R-rating (violence and <ahem> quite a bit of sexual content) and are definitely NOT for kids.
(LC Score: +1) 


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl & the Great Lakes Avengers

This Week in Comics (Part 2): This Squirrel Girl collection, made up of material from before the current run of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, consists of a few miscellaneous appearances plus her adventures with the Great Lakes Avengers, most of which spoof Marvel Comics and their occasional grimdark tone. WARNING: While the GLA issues can be funny and entertaining, they are also cynical, violent, occasionally mean-spirited, and sometimes come awfully close to being outright offensive (all the while playing it up with cute little comments like “Look how offensive we’re being! Oh, that’s terrible! We’re going to get letters!” so that we can be sure to appreciate how clever and ironic they are). Plus: Deadpool guest-stars! Despite the incredibly adorable cover, these comics have a very different tone and spirit from the current run and are definitely NOT appropriate for young SG fans.
(LC Score: +1)

Library Chicken Score for 7/18/17: 14
Running Score: 72


On the to-read/still-reading stack for THE CABIN:

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (a mystery within a mystery)

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette, did NOT love This One Is Mine

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (squabbling adult siblings, my favorite)

The Vacationers by Emma Straub (more squabbling family members—on vacation!)

Book Nerd: Library Chicken Weekly Scoreboard (5.30.17)

Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!

Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!

Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend and are getting ready for some summer reading! We’re done with homeschooling for the school year so now I can get serious about checking things off the TBR list. It’s the most wonderful tiiiiime of the year… (Except for the miserable Georgia heat and humidity of course, but I solve that problem by never leaving the air-conditioned house except to go in the air-conditioned car to the air-conditioned library.)

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

I was a science fiction junkie growing up. And the first sf I fell in love with was hard sf, from the likes of Asimov, Heinlein, Niven, and Clarke. In hard sf, science is the star—the pleasure is in exploring scientific and technological problems, imagining what it would be like to live on this sort of planet, or how to build that sort of spaceship. Characters often exist primarily as tour guides to show you around, with a plot to move them from one piece of the carefully-constructed, scientifically-accurate set to the next. This novel, first in a trilogy by Chinese science fiction master Liu, is firmly in that tradition, exploring the repercussions of a first contact situation with a fascinatingly original alien race. All the while, the narrative voice remains calm and detached from the action—I’m not sure if that’s Cixin Liu’s individual style, or if it has more to do with Chinese literary tradition (being as I’m pretty much entirely ignorant of Chinese fiction). These days, I generally ask a bit more from the plot and characterization in a novel (and I may have less patience for pages of scientific explanation), but a novel like this hits all my nostalgia buttons and of course I’ll have to find out what happens next. The aliens are coming, after all.
(Bonus modern-day hard sf suggestion: Andy Weir’s The Martian.)
(LC Score: +1)


Paper Girls Vol. 2 written by Brian K. Vaughn, art by Cliff Chiang
Lumberjanes Vol. 3 written by Noelle Stevenson & Shannon Waters, art by Carolyn Nowak
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 written by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson

This Week In Comics: Last week I was excited about Paper Girls and Lumberjanes, so this week I want to rave about The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. <deep breath> OMG SQUIRREL GIRL IS SO AWESOME! Buddies with Iron Man, victor over Marvel’s biggest-baddies including Doctor Doom and M.O.D.O.K, friends with the crush-worthy Chipmunk Hunk, she is the BEST and the MOST PERFECT and y’all should run out and buy her (on-going!!!) series right now. Seriously, this is funniest comic I have read in years (my husband kept coming over to see what I was giggling about) and it’s appropriate for ALL AGES, so send your favorite 5-year-old an issue or three to get their comics habit going. I know I’m using a lot of all-caps here, but check out her adventures with sidekick squirrel Tippy-Toes and tell me I’m wrong. The only problem I’m having with all these wonderful comics collections is that I read them too fast—I go through ‘em like a bag of chips and ending up craving MORE immediately.
(Bonus cheer-you-up-if-you’re-having-a-bad-day suggestion: google ‘Squirrel Girl cosplay’. You’re welcome.)
(LC Score: +2, Lumberjanes borrowed from daughter)


Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Atwood is such a Giant of Modern Literature that it feels slightly blasphemous to critique her work in any way, but I have to admit that I don’t often enjoy her writing. I find her work compelling, important, fascinating - but a fun read? Not so much. This retelling of The Tempest, though, was a very pleasant surprise. Shorter than usual for an Atwood novel, her Tempest involves a prison production of Shakespeare’s Tempest, created by an unfairly ousted theater director as a vehicle to get vengeance on those who wronged him. It’s a satisfying, enjoyable, and occasionally very moving read.
(Bonus homeschool suggestion: This would make a great side-by-side read for anyone studying The Tempest. HOMESCHOOL RECOMMENDED.)
(LC Score: +1)


The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

I haven’t yet read Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Underground Railroad—I know it’s going to be difficult so I’m working my way up to it—but I was excited to pick up this novel, his debut. Set in an alternate recent past, where the highly respected calling of Elevator Inspector is divided into opposing camps known as Empiricists and Intuitionists, we follow the career of the first black female inspector as she navigates a professional and personal crisis. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird when I say it, but you should go read it anyway. Whitehead is exploring issues of race and gender (and elevators, I guess?) and I would never have guessed it was a first novel - clearly the man knew what he was doing.
(Bonus zombie-novel-authored-by-Pulitzer-Prize-winner suggestion: Whitehead’s Zone One. And if you know of any other zombie novels authored by Pulitzer Prize winners, please let me know ASAP because I will read the heck out of ‘em.)
(LC Score: +1) 


Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

This book, which came out in 2016, is important and perspective-changing and everyone should read it. In clear and readable prose, Kendi untangles the confusing and contradictory ideas fueling/created by American racism, from the early colonial days through the Obama presidency. It’s not a short book, and the material is emotionally challenging, but it’s an absolutely necessary read for those of us who missed out on ‘the history of racism’ in school (meaning pretty much all of us) and want to understand what’s happening today.
(Bonus suggestion: PLEASE READ IT, I MEAN IT. Which I guess isn’t much of a bonus, but I feel strongly about this.)
(LC Score: +1)


The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Still catching up—y’know, I can’t think of one book, nonfiction or fiction, that was required reading in my high school lit classes that was written by a person of color or had a person of color as the protagonist. I’d say 'oh, look how embarrassingly backward things were 30 years ago,' but my daughter, who just finished her sophomore year at the local high school, not only has never had a person of color for required reading, but she’s yet to read ANY female authors. And the only female protagonist(ish) was Lady Macbeth. (When they can pick a book from a list, the authors are fairly diverse, but in terms of required reading that every single student has to get through before graduating? So far, ALL white guys. BURN IT ALL DOWN, PEOPLE.) ... Anyway, sorry, got distracted. This slim volume is a classic for good reason—I’m glad I had a better idea of the context from Kendi’s work.
(Bonus side-by-side reading suggestion: one of the essays here is a letter from Baldwin to his nephew that would be really interesting to read side-by-side with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s letter to his son, Between the World and Me. HOMESCHOOL RECOMMENDED, of course.)
(LC Score: +1)


Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Are you looking for something to fill the Harry-Potter-sized hole in your reading heart? Do you want to provide your middle school/YA readers with a more diverse bookshelf so that they don’t end up exclusively reading books by white guys about white guys for their entire educational career? (Not that I’m BITTER over here or anything.) I’ve got the book for you! This fantasy novel is about 12-year-old Sunny, born in America to Nigerian parents who have since moved Sunny and family back to Nigeria, where she discovers that she’s a Leopard Person, heir to certain magical abilities. Like Rowling, but in a completely different setting, Okorafor creates a magical world existing next to and within our own, and we get to see Sunny explore this world, making friends, finding teachers, and shopping for magical items. (Is it weird that I LOVE the magical-shopping parts in fantasy novels?) It’s a great read - highly recommended.
(Bonus long-awaited-sequel suggestion: Akata Warrior comes out this October!)
(LC Score: +1)


The Way It Was in the South: The Black Experience in Georgia by Donald L. Grant

Looks fascinating but it’s due back and I really do need to take a break from Georgia for a minute. RETURNED UNREAD.
(LC Score: -1)


  • Library Chicken Score for 5/30/17: 7
  • Running Score: 39


On the to-read/still-reading stack for next week:

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (since I enjoyed Hag-Seed so much, thought I’d check out Atwood’s version of The Odyssey)

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (more SPACE OPERA for my summer reading) 

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (and some fantasy so that my sf/fantasy pile doesn’t get too unbalanced)

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward (follow-up from Baldwin)

Stuff We Like :: 3.31.17

home|school|life’s Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

I have to be honest: Most of what I’m doing this week is trying to finish the spring issue of the magazine! Still, you know what they say about all work and no play.

around the web

So true: Kon-Mari for homeschooling moms

This article really hit home with me—I love the easiness of the LIKE button, but I miss the conversations we’ve given up because of it. (Toward that end, I’m setting up a little forum for subscribers that I hope to have ready to roll out with the spring issue — but we’ll see!)

When I read The Handmaid’s Tale, I seriously thought it was the scariest book I’d ever read. It seems even scarier now. I’ve often wondered how Margaret Atwood feels about her dystopia in light of current world events, and now I know! (Aside: Are you planning to watch the TV adaptation? A year ago, I would have been all-in, but now I’m worried that it will just freak me out.)


at home/school/life

on the blog: It’s your last chance to vote for the MOST HOMESCHOOLERY THING EVER.

one year ago: Ideas for celebrating every day of National Poetry Month

two years ago: 3 Fun Ways to Welcome Spring to Your Homeschool

three years ago: Sentimental flashback: How this magazine got started


reading list

Colors of Madeleine update: I finished The Cracks in the Kingdom and am moving on to A Tangle of Gold. As soon as the spring issue ships. (I guessed the big twist — I made Suzanne tell me that I was right — but that didn't make it any less brilliant. I'm enjoying these books so much.)

My poor abandoned children, who are cruelly forced to entertain themselves while I am in get-this-issue done mode, are reading The Wingsnatchers and say, “It is really good, which you would know if you were reading it with us.” So parenting fail, but at least they are reading something good!

Meanwhile, in academic reading: Ancient Greece: From Prehistory to Hellenistic Times, The Scarlet Letter, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, A Room of One’s Own


at home

I have discovered this British version of House Hunters on Netflix, where people shop for houses in the English countryside, and I tell you, it is like balm for the soul.

Again this week, we are subsisting on Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken and takeout Mexican, and we did not actually make cookies this week. (We bought the frozen macarons at TJ’s instead.) This is how all my big deadlines end up. 

I’m thinking of making this Amaretto Olive Oil Cake for Seder this year. But there has to be something chocolate, too, right?

Stuff We Like :: 9.2.16

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

This week's Stuff We Like is brought to you by Suzanne, who always finds the best stuff!

Around the Web

So, did you hear the one about the racist sexist trolls trying to take over science fiction’s Hugo Awards because the awards are sometimes given to non-white non-male authors writing on topics that the trolls aren’t interested in?  No?  Well, count yourself lucky (it’s not always easy being a sf fan <sigh>), but read this heart-warming article anyway: How a Self-Published Writer of Gay Erotica Beat Sci-Fi’s Sad Puppies at Their Own Game (I’m serious!  It’s heart-warming!  You’ll thank me!)

Just Say No: How to Actually Talk to a Woman Wearing Headphones

Laughed so hard I did a spit-take with my morning mug of ‘Man Tears’: Today’s Vagenda

It’s been kind of tough out there lately, so I like to remind myself that sites like this exist: Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life


Reading List

More Neil Gaiman!  I’m sloooowly reading my way through The View From the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction because I want to highlight every page and write “Yes!  I feel the same way!  That’s it exactly!” in the margins.

Favorite dystopian-near-future-of-economic-and-environmental-collapse novel of the month: The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber.  Runner up: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.  LEAST favorite: The Mandibles: A Family 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (NOT recommended, boo)

For when you’re sick and tired of reading about a dystopian near future of economic and environmental collapse: Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files

Favorite podcast-turned-into-a-novel: Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor


At Home

Were you wondering what Thor was doing during the events of Captain America: Civil War?  Us too!  So the whole family had to stop what we were doing and watch this: Team Thor

We would also definitely watch this version of a Full House reboot: Avengers: Full House (with an Olson sister and everything!!)  

Are you a fan of Harry Potter? And podcasts about critical analysis? Would you enjoy a discussion of Hagrid and performative masculinity? OF COURSE you would, you right-thinking person you, so I can recommend this podcast, which I’ve been enjoying immensely: Witch, Please (NOTE: I would highly recommend this podcast to interested tweens and teens, but please be aware that the delightful hosts use four-letter words when appropriate and sometimes discuss adult situations.)

Dragon Con is this weekend!  I won’t be there this year (though I did attend the very first one in 1987), but by the time you read this assorted friends and family will be in downtown Atlanta hobnobbing with superheroes, aliens, and cartoon characters. If you can’t make it to the Saturday morning parade, you can watch it live on Atlanta’s local CW station, as it’s being televised for the first time ever!  YAY, NERDS!


at home | school | life

on the blog: I’m pretty intrigued by Rebecca’s review of Layers of Learning—I’m always looking for things my 9-year-old and 14-year-old can do together!

on the website: Now’s the perfect time to recharge your homeschool with our workbook. (It’s free in the subscriber library, but you can also pick up a copy here.)

in the magazine: Group subscriptions are open! Now through September 30, you can subscribe to HSL for a bargain $10 per person if you subscribe in a group of at least 20 people. (This is such a good deal! You should get your homeschool group to sign up!) Email us if you're interested!

one year ago: We rounded up readalikes for The Mysterious Benedict Society.

two years ago: Shelli and Amy met up at the NASH conference. 


notable sales has some awesome discounts going, where you can save big if you buy multiple yards. (This Amy Butler floral print seems to have jumped into my shopping basket.)

This Carol Feller shawl kit is on my birthday wishlist. (In espresso and coffee, please!) Her gorgeous Mendel sweater is one of my all-time favorite knits.