#ProjectKnitspeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

#ProjectKnitspeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream


A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a bit of a strange play – lots of fairies and magic and (as is standard in Shakespeare plays) misunderstandings. It also has one of my favorite lines in Shakespeare:

And though she be but little, she is fierce.

The associated project is Frances McCarthy’s Midsummer Night, chosen obviously because of its name. I did not knit the contrasting edging or add beads. Ravelry page is here.


#ProjectKnitspeare – Romeo and Juliet

#ProjectKnitspeare – Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is finished. This was my first Shakespeare play, which I read as part of my freshman year high school English class. I had either forgotten or never realized how funny Shakespeare is (maybe because a lot of jokes are sexual innuendos, which probably isn’t something you want to discuss with a bunch of 14-year-olds). I remember being incredibly annoyed by Romeo and Juliet at the time, but evidently I’ve become more forgiving in my old age.

This was a good place to start with Shakespeare – the story is incredibly familiar and ingrained in Western culture. At one point, I was knitting the accompanying hat while listening to Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (fun fact: I’ve played both of those pieces!).

The associated project was Natalie Larson’s Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, using these modifications. I selected this project because of the name – Romeo and Juliet are referred to as ‘star-crossed lovers’ in the famous prologue of the play. Ravelry project page is here.

Onward with #ProjectKnitspeare!

Review | Kingsman: The Secret Service by Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons & Matthew Vaughn

Review | Kingsman: The Secret Service by Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons & Matthew Vaughn

I love spy things. I grew up watching James Bond and adore the TV show Archer. I only heard about Kingsman: The Secret Service when the film with Colin Firth came out recently. I put the graphic novel on hold, fully intending to read it and compare it to the movie.

Haven’t seen the movie yet. And now I’m not sure I want to.

Based on the trailers, the Kingsman movie appears to deviate significantly from the source material. That, obviously, is very common in movie adaptations (I’m looking at you, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies…). But I really enjoyed this graphic novel, which was written by the creator of Kick-Ass and illustrated by one of the creators of Watchmen. I’m concerned that the movie will lose the important themes of the graphic novel.

The Secret Service follows the adventures of Gary. He’s grown up on a London estate (low income housing, for my fellow Americans who haven’t watched a lot of British television) and his life is basically going nowhere. He, his younger brother and his mom live with her drunk, abusive boyfriend and Gary spends his nights stealing cars and wreaking havoc with his friends. That is, until his uncle (and renowned secret agent) Jack London shows up. Taken under Jack’s wing, Gary is trained to be a spy. The story of his espionage education is woven into a larger mystery concerning disappearing celebrities (including Mark Hamill, David Beckham, etc.).

Because of Gary’s background, class distinctions are discussed throughout Kingman. Environmental concerns prove to be a driving force behind the plot. The media and the culture it creates are critiqued as well. These topics are not necessary fleshed out to the degree I would like, but the story is contained in only one volume, so space is limited. Gary’s mom is a pretty realistic depiction of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, but any other female characters are few and far between.

Overall, this graphic novel somehow combines a fun spy coming-of-age story with themes of class struggle, environmentalism and media culture. 4 cups of tea.
4 Cup

Review | Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Review | Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

If you watch Lainey (gingerreadslainey) on BookTube, you’ve no doubt heard of the Falling Kingdoms series. I listened to the first book, Falling Kingdoms, on audiobook from Hoopla, which is a streaming media service through my library (shameless library service plug). I’ve always enjoyed listening to audiobooks on roadtrips, especially the Jim Dale-narrated Harry Potter ones. Falling Kingdoms was well-narrated, though the voice the narrator used for Magnus reminded me a lot of Kit Harington’s Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. (Not really a bad thing.) What I didn’t like was that the description of the book revealed as semi-twist concerning Lucia.

The plot centers around the continent of Mytica, which is divided into three countries: cold, pious Limeros in the north, sunny, properous Auranos in the south and the dying nation of Paelsia in between. The four main characters are divided among these three nations: Cleo is the Princess of Auranos, Jonas is a poor Paelsian wine merchant’s son and Magnus and Lucia belong to the Limerian royal family. Their stories are woven together gradually, finally colliding at the end of the book. This is clearly a set-up book and I’ve heard good things about the sequels (there will be six books in the finished series).

Falling Kingdoms has been described as the YA version of A Song of Ice and Fire; it is full of political intrigue and death. But – perhaps because I’m familiar with fantasy tropes and the plot twists – I found Falling Kingdoms very predictable. I was able to predict all but maybe one or two plot ‘twists’. I was also sometimes able to predict the next sentence or word before the narrator said it.

This predictability is not necessarily a bad thing – I definitely enjoyed the book. The characters are interesting. I feel this series would be an excellent starting point for someone looking to get into fantasy. The writing is approachable (if a bit repetitive and using modern phrase), without any of the specialized jargon that often comes with fantasy. There’s plenty of twists and action to entertain a more seasoned fantasy veteran as well. I liked all the characters and wanted to find out what happened to them next, but didn’t have a particular favorite.

Overall, I give Falling Kingdoms 4 cups of tea. It’s a fun, fast-paced YA fantasy that is approachable for non-fantasy readers. I’m interested in continuing the series, but don’t feel the strong desire to dive into the next book like Mistborn or the Winner’s Trilogy. Maybe someday.

4 Cup

Review | The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Review | The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I enjoyed the first book in the Winner’s Trilogy, The Winner’s Curse, and gave it 4 stars (or cups, using my new blog rating scale). Maybe 4.5. The writing was absolutely beautiful and I loved the characters, but I wanted more world-building. I didn’t feel like I could completely ‘see’ Herran and Valorian society.

Well, I definitely got my wish in The Winner’s Crime. There’s a map, which everyone knows is vital to a good fantasy novel. If possible, the writing is even more beautiful. The characters continue to be amazing and the world has been wonderfully fleshed out. Also – can we take a moment to appreciate that women in Marie Rutkoski’s world are not just princesses and maids? They are engineers and bookies and skilled dressmakers and soldiers.

This book made my heart hurt. So much of the conflict in The Winner’s Crime is internal and Marie Rutkoski’s beautiful prose only makes the character’s doubts and inner turmoil all the more poignant and heart-wrenching. This series is dark. The romance is important to the story, but it is just as complex as the plot with all its betrayal and war and torture.

I adore Kestrel as a character. She is strong, but not in the traditional female warrior way. She is smart and clever, but she’s still naïve. She makes mistakes, she gets caught, she harms the people she loves both accidentally and intentionally. She is complex and real in a way that more YA protagonists should be.

I also love Arin, who is just as complex as Kestral. He faces similar challenges, but their goals and methods don’t always align and that causes great turmoil for this couple. Their love is a slow burn, with the potential for great destruction – for themselves and their nations. It’s glorious and heart-breaking to read.

To sum The Winner’s Crime up: I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. If you haven’t checked out this fantastic YA fantasy series, please do. It’s dark and beautiful. Not sure how I’m going to survive until next year, when the final book comes out. 5 Cups of Tea.

5 Cup