Tag Archives: Hub Challenge 2013

The “Kiss Me, Hardy” Pullover

2 Jul

For a Hub reading Challenge finale, we  can submit a reader’s response to our favorite book.  My favorite was 


Code Name Verity, which I read in December for pleasure. For the Hub Challenge, I listened to the audio, because it also won an Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults award.

There is a  literary movement in knitting, where knitters create pieces related to a particular book or character.  So, I decided to celebrate the book by knitting a sweater.

Julie’s sweater shows up at the beginning of the book, where she tells us she traded 4 sets of wireless codes to get it back. Later, she tells us that the sweater was knit by her French nanny, who unraveled wool from  a sunset-colored suit tailored in Ormaie in 1912. Because Julie had the sweater, Maddie recognized her at the end, when Julie shouted “KISS ME, HARDY! Kiss me, QUICK!”

I did some research about knitting during World War II. The Victoria & Albert Museum has patterns for knitting for British servicemen & Women, and I even found a pullover for servicewomen.

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So, the pattern was chosen. Now I could think about the fun part: YARN. An elegant French suit would not be made out of plain wool. I figured I would need to find a silk blend and decided on Blue Moon Fibre Arts LSS (Luscious Single Silk) in “True Blood” Red. Near the end, when Maddie recognizes Julie she calls the sweater a “flame-colored pullover”, so this seemed to be an excellent color for the sweater.


I started knitting the back  on Saturday. We are having a heat wave, so I have an excuse to bring the bassets into the bedroom and knit in my one air-conditioned room. And think a bit about a book that I love.

2013 Hub Reading Challenge final check-in

22 Jun

reading challenge logo - finisher

The HUB reading Challenge ends today. I finished a few weeks ago, but kept going because there were books on the list I wanted to read. I loved some and had to force myself to finish others. I abandoned a few.  I hope that through my posts about it, you might join the 2014 HUB Reading Challenge. Or, you might just find a really great book to read.

I have a notebook where I record the books I read. This week, I added a new subtitle: Summer Reading. I hope your summer reading experience is as wonderful s I hope mine will be. I’ve posted the list of the books I read for the HUB Challenge below, in case you’d like to add some of them to your summer reading list.


1. Blumenthal, Karen – Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different

2. Green, John – The Fault in Our Stars (audio)

3. Hopkinson, Deborah – Titanic: Voices from the Disaster

4, Levinson, Cynthis – We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March

5. Levithan, David – Every Day

6. Saenz, Benjamin Alire – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

7. Sheinkin, Steve – Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

8. Hoose, Phillip – Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great  Survivor B95

9. Mazer, Harry – Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

10. Hicks, Faith Erin – Friends with Boys

11. Danforth, Emily M. – The Miseducation of Cameron Post

12. Murakami, Takashi – Stargazing Dog

13. Telgemeier, Rania – Drama

14. Pierce, Tamora – Alanna: The First Adventure

15. Paolini, Christopher – Inheritance (audiobook)

16. Pierce, Tamora – In the Hand of the Goddess

17. Pierce, Tamora – The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

18. Pierce, Tamora – Lioness Rampant

19. Lambert, Joseph – Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller

20. Hartman, Rachel – Seraphina

21. Fetter-Vorm, Jonathan  – Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb

22. Andrews, Jesse – Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

23. Bray, Libba – The Diviners (audiobook)

24. Long, Mark – The Silence of Our Friends

25. Wein, Elizabeth – Code name Verity (audiobook)

26. Backderf, Derf – My Friend Dahmer

27. Adams, S. J. – Sparks: the epic, completely true blue, (almost) holy quest of Debbie

28. Brenna, Beverley – The White Bicycle

29. Buzo, Laura – Love and Other Perishable Items

30. Brunt, Carol Rifka – Tell the Wolves I’m Home

31. Newman, Leslea – October Morning

32. Fama, Elizabeth – Monstrous Beauty (audio)

33. Semple, Maria – Where’d You Go Bernadette

34. Hassman, Tupelo – Girlchild

35. Baggott, Julianna – Pure

36. Crockett, S. D. – After the Snow

37. Sloan, Robin – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore


2013 Hub Reading Challenge check in #19

16 Jun

The HUB Reading challenge ends in a week, but I’ve pretty much been done for a while. I met the goal of 25 books weeks ago and had good intentions about reading  all the Alex, Morris & Printz winners, but my enthusiasm flagged a little. I mostly managed one book a week for the last few weeks and now I’m reading my last Challenge book. I saved this one


for last because it is about books and reading. And it got a great review from a friend. I just started it yesterday and i’m not that far in but I’m already hooked.  Mr. Penumbra won an Alex award ( adult fiction great for YA). The main character is a young art college grad who falls victim to the economy, loses his first job and stumbles into a new job at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. The store is not what it seems and I’m just discovering what it’s really all about.

So, adult reader friends, add this one to your summer reading list.

The Families We Make: 2013 Hub Reading Challenge check in #18

8 Jun

This afternoon I’m taking Leroy to the vet to update his shots and get a microchip. We do that for all our dogs.

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Leroy has been on a home stay with John, who will soon sign the papers to officially adopt him. John is 79 and has been adopted by his neighbors who keep an eye on him. In fact, it was because of them that he ended up with Leroy, who, at 10, is also a senior gentleman.

A lot of  YA distopian fiction involves characters, separated from their families, creating new “families” of those they meet along the way. I just started  After the Snow by S. D. Crockett, set in a snow covered world after the oceans stop working.


It tells the story of Willo, who was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family.But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone — he doesn’t have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl — but Willo just can’t do it. And so, they become a sort of family, relying on each other.

All this has me thinking about my friend, Alemash Ambaye, who died December 16th, 2010 at the age of  78.


Her life was distopian. Her husband, a general in the Ethiopian army, was executed and she spent 7 years in an Ethiopian prison. For those 7 years she had no idea where most of her children were. One daughter was in college in the United States but the whereabouts of the other 6 were unknown.  Once released, she eventually found them through the Red Cross and most came to the United States. In spite of these years of hardship she was gentle and kind. She rarely spoke of her experiences, but when she did she always mentioned how her faith kept her strong. We became acquainted because she needed a ride to church. Over time we became friends and she often referred to me as her other daughter. I think she worried about me because I was a single woman and would sometime send me home with injera and her excellent chicken stew (doro wat). I sometimes think I’d like to write a book about her. And I might do so someday.

2013 Hub Reading Challenge check in #17

1 Jun

I have read 2 novels entitled Pure this year.

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The first, by Andrew Miller,  is set in pre-revolutionary France, follows an engineer named Jean-Baptiste Baratte and chronicles his efforts in clearing an overfilled graveyard which is polluting the surrounding area. The book won the 2011 Costa Book of the Year award. It was a wonderful read and had the feel of the 19th century French novels I love to read, even though it was written by an Englishman.

The second, written by Julianna Baggott, is set in post-apocalyptic America, follows a girl named Pressia, who has a doll’s head fused into her hand, and a boy named Partridge, who is a Pure (undamaged by the bomb) and chronicles their efforts in  leading a real resistance. The book was a  2013 YALSA award winner. Lots of similarities here to other dystopian trilogies (this is book 1 of 3). The twist here is that the Pures live in a protected Dome and those outside are all disfigured by the blast by burns, fusings and other scars. It was pretty good, but I don’t know that I’m dying to know what happens to Pressia & Partridge.

2013 Hub Reading Challenge check in #16

25 May

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman


I really wanted to love this books. I liked many things about it. The main character, Rory Hendrix, is very likable. She has a terrible life, but she’s resilient. Hassman’s description of the Calle gives the reader a real feel for the setting Rory lives in.

The problem for me was the writing. Don’t get me wrong, Hassman is a beautiful writer, but at times her creativity gets in the way of the story, and, in fact, seems more important to her than Rory’s story. As I read, I like to imagine the audience for a book. As good as the writing can be and as much as I like Rory, I think the audience for this book is small.

When Terrible Things Happen

18 May

I normally do a HUB Reading Challenge Check in on Saturdays, but I didn’t finish any HUB books this week.We are nearing the end  of the Challenge, I’ve met the goal and it’s that stressful time of the school year when we have to wrap it all up. On top of that I’m coordinating our ESL summer school, so I have work to do to get that organized.

Rather than resting this morning with a cup of coffee and my knitting or a book, I’m off to transport Penny & Bubba

OR22.25994950-2-pn  OR22.25994950-1-pn

to their new home in Prineville. I’m not driving all the way to Prineville; we are meeting in Mount Hood. I am wise & Sheryl, the counselor from my school & a good friend, is coming with me. It’s been a long road getting these two a home. They came out of a hoarding situation and had pottying issues because they’d been allowed to go in the house. And they are a closely bonded pair that we at OBHR were unwilling to split. They’ve been in our care since before the end of last year, when their dad had to be hospitalized, but they are ready for their new home.

Barnaby Brocket had to find a new home too. He’s the main character in  The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne.


Barnaby floats. It alarms his parents, who strive to be ordinary and dull in every way. He spends his childhood on the ceiling or tied to furniture so he doesn’t float away. But, of course, one day he does and so begins his extraordinary journey around the world. Along the way he discovers what it means to be “normal” and “different”. I’d considered tis book for the teacher read aloud book club I’m running at my elementary school, but thought it was a little too much for our kids. It’d be great for middle school and up and could lead to great discussions about being different.

2013 Hub Reading Challenge check-in #14

11 May

I am concentrating on reading the Alex and Morris winners.  Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The William C. Morris YA Debut Award honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. If you are looking for something really good to read, these are two lists to help in your pursuit.

I only finished one Challenge book this week, Where’d You Go, Bernadette  by Maria Semple.


Oh, so funny, and not just because I am a Canadian  or because I am living in the Pacific Northwest. Semple’s Bernadette lampoons both these in such an amusing way. It has family drama and heart-break, but doesn’t get you down because it is wrapped in delightful, satirical writing. I have recommended this to several adults and hope you take the time to read it, too.

2013 Hub Reading Challenge check-in #13

4 May

Once I’d hit 25 on the 2013 Hub Reading Challenge, I decided to try to read one book a week and concentrate on off-list reading. I failed this week because I finished 3, bringing my total up to 32. I have always been a OCD reader.

First, I finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.


Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Mostly because I saw myself in June and my twin sister in Greta. I was the quiet, shy twin & my sister was very out-going. We had our ups and downs and high school was hard because that’s when we really got our own separate sets of friends, just like June & Greta.

Then, my hold on  October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman  arrived at the library.


Also awesome. Newman, who I knew from the elementary school chapter book Hachiko Waits, knocked my socks off. I wish I’d read this during National Poetry Month and I wish I taught older kids because I really wanted to share this with my students. It is beautifully written and made me feel real, anger, sadness and hope. Newman personifies inanimate objects and uses the actual words real people said in love and in anger, while she explores a variety of kinds of poetry.  Very well done.

Finally, just yesterday, I finished listening to the audio versions of  Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama.


I probably would not have picked this one up, but for the Challenge. And it was really good, too. At first I was skeptical of a mermaid story, but this is not Disney’s Little Mermaid. It is dark and horrific (without being scary or graphic enough to make me gag) in places but the reading was riveting. Because the chapters alternate between the present and 1872/3, I kept listening to find out what happened next. I’m glad I listened to this one!


2013 Hub Reading Challenge check in #12

27 Apr

I finished 2 this week: The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna and Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo.

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The White Bicycle is told in the voice of an autistic girl, who at 19, is trying to become more independent. Love and Other Perishable Items is a funny love story.I felt both were just OK. They’d be good summer reads, but don’t go out of your way to get them.  Definitely get them from the library though. They aren’t great enough to add to your home library.

Here are some of my reflections, looking back at my 12 weeks of the HUB Challenge. At first I tried to vary which list I was pulling from, to keep things lively, as long as they were available at the library. I always max out my holds & some have been on hold for a long time. I just got Where’d You Go Bernadette & it’s been on hold almost since the Challenge began. I’m now devoting myself almost exclusively to the Alex & Morris winners.

I think my favorite is Code Name Verity. It totally falls into the kind of historical fiction I love. Aristotle & Dante is a close runner-up. We’ll see if I still feel the same by the end of the Challenge.

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