Thursday, October 23, 2014

Even More Magical

Book Review:  The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud

4 stars

Man, that magician kid is even more of a twit than ever now that he's in a position of authority in the government!  But the obligatory "strong female character" has been (re)introduced in Book 2 of the series, and she's pretty much excellent (of course!).  The demon character seems a little bit less completely amazing seeming than he was in Book 1, and I don't know whether I've simply gotten used to him or if he's being overshadowed by the girl character or what -- in any case, he's still amazing enough.  As a bonus, the plot of this book is stronger than Book 1, I think.  Definitely was an enjoyable one.

What to Wear While Visualization Templates Don't Pull the Right Data -- Thursday, 10/9/14

Yep, another "magical" day of training, this time discovering that the tables and templates that the consultant put together for us are now working, after he spent the previous evening updating his stored procedures to bring over additional tables into our database.  But now they are giving us the wrong data!  (For example, they pull the value for demographic variable X from the table in the database for X whereas for reasons lost in the mists of time, we store the version of X we care about somewhere entirely different from everybody else in the country who uses this product.)  Still, going from seeing no data on our screens to the wrong data is progress.

I wore this outfit with my navy ponte knit blazer most of the day.  Most people in the training were more bundled up than the previous day -- the consultant added a pullover sweater to his ensemble.

* Heather blue 3/4 length sleeve knit top with floral neckline detail (thrifted, Macy's)
Navy pants (Dockers)
Blue pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)
* Blue/green/"pearl" necklace (Target)

Shiny!  Sparkly!  (Keep your inner magpie under control while viewing this photo.)

Target had a sale on accessories, buy one get one 50% off, so I bought....well, more than one, more than two.  As you will see in the days to come.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Like Magic

Book Review:  The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

3.5 stars

Accidentally walking through a portal to a parallel universe, being ensnared and englamoured by the Fey--who really do not want anything good for you at all--being rescued by the wizard version of a particularly misogynistic Mr. Darcy, trying desperately to learn enough magic to stay alive and get back's still better than graduate school for the protagonist of this story!  

It has a similar feel to the Deborah Harkness All Souls trilogy, and I thought it was not as good as the first one but better than the latest (last?) one in that series.  [Hah, I just noticed that Deborah Harkness provides the quote on the front cover!]

I also think this one was not as good as City of Dark Magic, a book I read a couple of months ago and enjoyed a lot.  I saw on that Amazon page that there is a sequel out called City of Lost Dreams that is now in my library queue.  (Nice to see an immediate, concrete pay-off to writing these reviews on my blog.)

What to Wear When Learning SQL Server -- Wednesday, 10/8/14

This was Day 1 of a 3 day, all-day training session to support the launch of our new data visualization portal in January.  Spent the morning being chilly in the training room and writing SQL queries on the snapshot of the mirror of our big-ass database.  After lunch (in my office), I put on the black moto jacket I'd worn in to work that morning in the high 30s temps.  Spent the afternoon being less chilly, still writing SQL queries.  (These pants look wonky in this photo, but they're OK, and more importantly, they are super-comfy.)

We discovered all kinds of weirdness with our database that our consultant/trainer would have to deal with that evening.  It was not quite like magic...or maybe it was.  Difficult, quirky, and operating according to principles that we don't really understand, yielding unpredictable and frustrating results?  If that's magic, then it was just like magic.

* Grey/maroon striped button up shirt (thrifted, Kohls)
Grey wide-leg pants (thrifted)
Grey leopard wedges by Cole Haan
Grey big ball necklace (Macy's)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Straight Up Teen Fiction

Book Review:  Winger by Andrew Smith

4 stars

Like everyone else on the planet, I've been inhaling all the dystopian young adult fiction series featuring "strong female characters" lately (The Hunger Games, Divergent, Uglies) and the occasional one where the point-of-view character is a boy (The Maze Runner).  But I really don't read much (any?) straight up teen fiction.  I came across a recommendation for this book somewhere, and thought, What the hell, I'll try it.  At first, I disliked the main character -- not like the shithead doctor in Summer House With Swimming Pool hated, but did not find him very interesting or sympathetic.  OK, he's a fourteen year old boy who goes to boarding school and plays rugby; he is not the hero of a SF/fantasy novel who is too busy learning spells, defeating evil, etc., to be kind of obnoxious about girls.  And he's two years younger than his peers, so he's particularly immature.  But I kept reading, and the story grew on me.  This book is not very plot-driven, but after I had the opportunity to recalibrate my expectations about this smart yet dumb-ass kid, and I got interested in his relationships with the other students, I was into it.  Even his initially-annoying way of rating the hotness of all the girls he meets at school on various ludicrous hotness scales was kind of funny by the end -- especially once you realize that other than the woman (it is not possible for me to resist calling her matron) who supervises his Dorm For Fuckups, he thinks all teenage girls and women are hot.  There is one scene that is one of the funniest things I read last month.  I almost cried, I laughed so much.  The ending was kind of...meh.  But overall, I enjoyed it, and it was worth my time.

A Different Sort of Scarf -- Tuesday, 10/7/14

I read a different kind of book; now I'm wearing a different kind of scarf -- a square silk scarf that I bought at the Goodwill boutique.  It's from the Art Institute of Chicago, and it's way pretty.

At first I was going to wear the navy top and sweater with grey pants, but the scarf has brown in it, so I went with brown pants.  (Pro tip: If you don't know what color to wear something with, let the masters at the Art Institute of Chicago figure this out for you.)  I'm still partial to navy with grey, but I liked trying something different.

* Navy knit shirt (from my mom)
* Navy open weave cardigan/shrug (thrifted, 89th & Madison -- an unfamiliar brand)
Medium brown pants (Kohls)
Brown wedges (thrifted, American Eagle)
* Navy/white floral scarf (thrifted, Art Institute of Chicago)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Good (And Bad) Things Occurring in Twos

Two books I started to read but just could not capture my interest:

(1)  The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman -- It really felt like I should have enjoyed this book based on its description and the reviews, but even after reading several chapters, I wasn't feeling it at all.  I liked reading the 1-star reviews on Amazon just now and concur with the general opinion of these reviewers: the characters are uninteresting, nothing seems to happen.  Bored now.

(2)  Summer House With Swimming Pool by Hermann Koch -- I sort of liked his book The Dinner (3 stars), but I could not get into this one.  I think much of the problem was that the protagonist seemed like a major-league asshole without any compensating features like being really interesting or unusual in some way.  He's a doctor who hates people, especially his own patients, and talks about that in a very tedious manner for a good while.  (I was basically repulsed by his repulsion by the myriad ways in which his patients' bodies are imperfect.)  Then he orchestrates a camping vacation with his wife so that he can hit on one of his patient's/friend's wives (a dickhead move).  I couldn't make myself continue reading even to figure out where the whole murder things comes into it.  That patient/friend apparently ends up dead, and the doctor is accused of malpractice, but maybe it was murder...ah, who the fuck cares what this douchebag is up to.

Grey Leopard, A Reprise -- Saturday, 10/4/14

I know these curvy-fit jeans are dangerously close to Mom Jeans territory, but I can't be bothered to care.  Getting jeans that fit my bod is tough, and the whole skinny jeans (and now boyfriend jeans) kick the fashion world is on is not friendly to me. 

I wore the same grey leopard scarf and flats are I did earlier in the week with the blue-green button up shirt and made it weekend-happy with jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a fun jacket.

White long-sleeved t-shirt (Lands End)
Black moto jacket (JCP)
Grey jeans (Kohls)
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious (
Grey leopard scarf (Target)

Scarf and Necklace, A Reprise -- Monday, 10/6/14

I could not resist the opportunity to do my signature "simple necklace with tie-like scarf over a button up shirt" again.

And I'm pairing stripes with dots.  Happy happy pattern mixing.

*Blue/aqua/white/black striped button up shirt (thrifted, JNY)
Black 5 pocket pants (thrifted, Rafaella)
Blue polka dot scarf (Target)
Single strand pearls (Macy's)
Black pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Have you guys been playing this game?  Rick posted a link on FB and I've been addicted to it ever since. 

My high score so far is 17240.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Little Bit Wild

Book Review:  Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

3 stars

I found this book rather difficult to get into, but eventually did get interested enough that I read the whole thing, but it was...I don't know, frustrating in some way.  It kind of reminded me of the Kevin Kline movie Consenting Adults, in which Kline's character agrees to a secret, middle-of-the-night wife swap with his neighbor and oops, the woman turns up dead the next morning.  The plot doesn't work like that in this book, but it has that same kind of "person performs an out-of-character, morally-questionable/wrong risky sexual act and then has all hell to pay afterwards" feel to it.  (And without the compensations of watching Kevin Kline be handsome and Kevin Spacey be psychopathic.)

Joining the Barbie Army -- Friday, 10/3/14

But you can tell I'm not Barbie myself (despite the bright pink pants) because my feet are designed to be worn with flat shoes, not high heels.  Those flats may have gold glitter toes, but they are flat.

*Pink/green "watercolor" top (thrifted, Kohls)
Bright pink pants (Dockers)
*Olive military jacket (thrifted, Maurices)
Cream scarf
Cream captoe flats by Anne Klein

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jane Would Never Wear This Outfit

Book Review:  Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

3.5 stars

This is a pretty entertaining mystery.  A Paris-Hilton-esque teenage party girl (called Janie by the press) is convicted of killing her mother, and when she is released from prison 10 years later on a technicality, she decides to investigate who really killed her mom and learns the truth about her mother's past.  The plot is inventive and the narrative is funny, sharp, and clever.  Well, too clever, really.  I mean, yes, we are given to understand that our protagonist spent a lot of time in the prison library reading widely while looking for mentions of a word that she thought was the key to figuring out the identity of her mom's murderer, and no doubt this bright girl picked up a lot from that, but the Harvard-educated author out-did herself at times with language and references that simply did not ring true to the character at all.  Witty pop culture references, even references to 1980s SF movies like Star Wars ("these aren't the drones you're looking for") -- I am totally on board.  But other things were just too implausible.  For example (I wish I had written down the actual quote but this is the gist), the protagonist refers to a bunch of improbable things "sigma-ing up to inevitability."  Instead of using the much more typical language "adding up to," she displays an unbelievably high level of mathematical and conceptual sophistication by referencing the Greek letter used as a symbol for summation.  The author put just a bit too much of herself into her party girl character.  Of course, I much preferred the book erring in this direction.  A mystery novel written from the perspective of a total airhead would not be a book I could finish reading.

The Scarf + Necklace Combo -- Thursday, 10/2/14

How to wear a scarf and necklace together was a reader question last month on the Already Pretty blog, and it was amusing to me to realize that I do not struggle with how to do this.  I mean, I'm not saying I do it in any kind of super-fashionable way; merely that I feel like it is easy to do to my own satisfaction.  (Other things in this category of "fashion-related things some people find challenging but I do not": pattern mixing, wearing flats with dresses/skirts, putting colors together.  Things I do find challenging: how to wear boots, what color of tights to wear, how to wear not-skinny pants/jeans without the '90s and the '00s wanting their bottoms back.)

I really like wearing a button-up shirt with a pendant, pearls, or other subtle necklace in the v of the neckline with a long scarf worn under the collar, tied loosely, and left to dangle sort of like a slouchy men's tie.  And fall is the perfect time of year for this combo so here ya go:

 And here's the whole outfit:

*Blue-green 3/4 sleeve button up shirt (Kohls)
Grey pinstripe pants (thrifted, Dockers)
Grey leopard scarf (Target)
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious ( [Double dose of leopard, but the shoes are subtle, I think]
Silver pendant (thrifted)