Sunday, September 4, 2011

I've moved!

Keep following me at

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Wow, I'm really astoundingly awful at maintaining a blog, aren't I?

I need to make up a real post (with pictures!) because I've actually been doing a lot of knitting recently. I just haven't been talking about it. Mostly it's been for Rina's Epic Wedding Shawl Adventure, which so far hasn't actually been much of an adventure at all. Which is good! "Adventures" usually involve lots of swearing and possibly throwing things across the room. So, yes, quiet is good.

I'm making one of the 100th anniversary EZ pi shawls for her, the one that uses the travelling vines pattern and the gull wings pattern with a ring of hearts around the edges. I'm just up to the second repeat of gull wings, so... somewhere between a third and halfway done? I don't know; I tried to run through rough stitch counts in my head but as we all know, I'm awful at math.

I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming out so far. Although, if I had to do it over again I'd probably go up a needle size to make it a bit airier and lacier, but I really can't complain. Of course, it is sort of hard to tell without blocking, because all unblocked lace looks like ass. So I may end up being happy with my needle size. I did swatch for this, but I made this mistake of swatching all the lace patterns together so it mostly looks like a garbled mess, and it's rather hard to judge how the finished shawl will look from that. The Big Day is November 5th, and I'm pretty sure I'll be done by then. I mean, I know how I am with deadlines and all, but I'm making good progress so far and I've got a little over two months. I can do this!

Monday, May 2, 2011


So, as you may have figured out by now, I've abandoned my 52 books in 52 weeks goal thingy. This is both good and bad, however. Bad because I've completely abandoned posting reviews of them here. I ended up getting on and have been using that to keep track of it. The good bit, however, is that here I am at the beginning of May and I'm 39 books in. So I've upped my goal to 100 books . And since I don't fancy writing up that damn many reviews, ya'll will just have to live without. Shouldn't be too hard, since I don't think anyone reads this. (Except Jason. Hi Jason!)

Anywho, moving on...

I'm going to have to throw together an actual knitting post soonish. Haven't been knitting too much, but I've nearly completed a pair of socks. Woo socks!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Book 17: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress

In most cases, juxtaposition is a good thing. It adds an unexpected twist or a fresh perspective to something that might otherwise be bland and boring. When it works, it works well. When it doesn't, we end up with a book like this.

Ten-and-a-half-year-old Alex is a precocious young lady who often possesses a greater degree of insight and maturity than the adults with whom she interacts. The story is told from a third person limited POV, centering on Alex, and the narrator could not be any farther from the heroine. The narrator reminds me of a hyperactive five-year-old, bouncing cheerfully between thoughts and ideas, picking up or abandoning trains of thought on a whim. I found it highly distracting. However, I can see how this might appeal to a much younger person. Though the book is categorized as Teen Fiction, it seems more suited to children.

Rating: D

Book 18:
XVI by Julia Karr

This is the sort of distopian novel that Matched strove so hard to be. As with Matched, we have a young girl raised in a futuristic society whose eyes slowly open to the truths of her world. However, unlike the main character of Matched, the heroine of XVI actually has a reason for opening her eyes. The awakening isn't spontaneous, and thus makes sense to the reader and so feels more believeable. This novel also has a romantic interest, but it isn't the sole driving force behind the plot.

Rating: B-

Book 19:
The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi There is an incredible amount packed into such a small book. In less than a hundred pages, Bacigalupi manages to fit an incredibly detailed and well-developed world along with an intriguing plot complete with a number of twists. Yet it was short, saying what it had to say and having done with it. I am always in awe of authors who can successfully pen novellas and short stories, because, as a writer, I know how great the temptation is to drag it out, to add more plot with more twists and more details. But Bacigalupi is able to do what I've never been able to: he pares down an entire world to tell one chapter of one man's story. I loved this book, and will definitely be seeking out more by this author.

Rating: A

Book 20:
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron

Every so often we read the right book at the right point in our life, and it changes us. This is the right book, but unfortunately I read it at the wrong time. A poingant coming-of-age story, this is exactly the book that would have profoundly changed me if I'd read it a decade ago. As it was now, it was a thoroughly entrancing story of a young man's struggle to find his own feet beneath him and figure out which path they will carry him down. I absolutely cannot say enough nice things about this book.

Rating: A+

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book 16

I selected this book based solely on the cover art. And, when combined with the title, who on earth could possibly resist?

Set in nineteenth century London, this novel is an interesting combination of science fiction, steampunk, and mystery, with a bit of fantasy and a touch of horror thrown in for good measure. Because the sci fi and steampunk distorts London to something far removed from what it actually was in the 1800s, Hodder appears to attempt to recapture some of that lost ambiance by mimicking the syntax and style of a novel actually written during that time period. However, I feel that he goes a bit too far with it so that some of the over-the-top exclamations and descriptions edge close to absurd. But this actually works for the book as a whole, as the entire setting is over-the-top enough to become close to absurd itself. This was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and unexpected books I've read in a while.

Rating: B

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Books 12, 13, 14, 15

Book 12 - Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

I really enjoyed this book. It started off a bit slow and gradually built up anticipation. The long build-up really worked well, and by about page 200 the story really took off with a bang and I had a difficult time setting the book aside at all. Marillier does a brilliant job of foreshadowing, and she sets (and sticks to) a slow but relentless build-up to the climax that I found to be very effective.

Rating: B+

Book 13 - Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

To save on time, I'm just going to recommend my earlier review for previous book in the In Death series. I don't have anything new to say about the writing, but Robb is an absolute beast when it comes to pumping out the fiction.

Rating: B

Book 14 - Bar None: A Tale of Chilling Suspense, Apocalyptic Beauty, and Fine Ales by Tim Lebbon

A very intersting take on zombie apocalypse with a supernatural twist. At just under 200 pages it was a very quick read. The main character marks important moments of his life with different ales, much as other people do with songs, which I found interesting.

Rating: C

Book 15 - The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip

I loved this book. The world had depth, the characters were intriguing, and it was some of the most beautiful writing I've encountered in quite some time. The descriptions were phenomenal.

Rating: A

I feel like I fell down on these reviews somewhat, but I didn't sleep well last night so my brain is about fried. Might come back and edit later if I remember.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

finally, some knitting!

For a blog with the word "knitting" in the title, I sure haven't posted much about that lately! Haven't been doing much knitting lately, but there's enough to scrape together for a post to prove that I haven't completely abandoned my needles.

Sooo, let's go back. Waaay back, to shortly after the Christmas Knitting Marathon. As we left off, Jason's big stripy blanket was steadily growing bigger and stripy-er. I've actually kept up a decent amount of momentum on that, and am now more than halfway done with the striped portion of it. Then it'll be relatively fast to use up all the leftovers on a quick and easy dc border around the whole thing. Jason seems to like it so far, and I'm rather pleased with the progress.

New year's resolution re: The Stash is, erm, going. I've been mostly good about not adding to it. There was a point in late January when I did buy a little yarn. I scored two skeins of Dream in Color Baby yarn (in Happy Forest and Blue Lagoon) which I'm very excited about. At 700 yds of laceweight each, I'm pretty sure I can squeeze a pair of lightweight summer cardigans out of them. The third skein I didn't really have an excuse for other than I wanted it. Tosh sock in a lovely bronzy orange colorway aptly named Copper Pennies. I'd been eyeing it since the beginning of December and had heard such lovely things about Madeline Tosh that I had to give it a go. I'm planning to make an Age of Brass and Steam kerchief out of it, and that'll be one of my next projects, right after I finish my current kerchief/shawlette thingy.

I'd wanted to start using the Tosh Sock right away, but it was just before the Super Bowl and I'd already committed to going out to a bar with friends to watch. A bar that allows smoking indoors. So, it's perfectly understandable that I didn't want to take my lovely brand new skein of not-even-wound-into-a-yarn-cake-yet sock yarn into a bar where it would become stinky with cigarette smoke. Instead I rapidly wound up my two skeins of Knitpicks Imagination in Mermaid Lagoon, snagged the easiest pattern I could think of, and ran out the door.

The result is this partially-finished Baktus. Pattern is dead simple and works rather well for showing off the variegation of the yarn. I like how it's coming out, and really need to get it finished up so I can actually wear it.

As you can see, the colors are quite pretty. They're a bit more jewel-toned in person, but this is a decent shot of them. And aside from one patch of fairly unattractive pooling, they're spreading themselves out fairly evenly.

The other thing I've been working on is a hat. You may recall me whinging back in January about a hat. Yes, we're still dealing with that. After starting it over twice, because the designer couldn't be arsed to list a fucking gauge on her fucking pattern, I sat down and did the math on adding another column of cables. The numbers came out right, so I knit the brim, increased the extra 6 stitches to get up to the right number for cabling, and knit on. I didn't bother to try it on because I DID THE MATH. And the numbers I got told me that the hat should fit. SHOULD, of course, being the key word there. When I was halfway through the crown decreases, I went and tried it on.


It's still too tight. Not uncomfortably so, but just enough that if I wear it for a little bit it begins to ride up and make me look like I've got the most gigantic oblong head ever. How do I know this? Because I've knit another hat that was just a smidge too tight and I don't wear it any more because I hate having to tug it back down every five minutes. (Also, I botched part of the lace on it, but that's neither here nor there.) I don't want another hat that I don't wear because I don't want to tug it back down every two minutes. And this one will be every two minutes. Why? Because, despite having six stitches less (at my gauge, that's just over an inch) than the body of the hat, the ribbed brim is, quite inexplicably, too loose.

So I give up. That's it. Obviously the universe does not want me to have this hat. So out came the ball winder, and I frogged that sucker with a vengeance.

The yarn is now in timeout so it can think about what it's done.

I'm next going to start on a sweater, since, ya know, I've committed to knitting 11 sweaters this year and (surprise!) haven't even started one. I'm going to take another crack at a top-down raglan and actually try using a pattern this time to see if it helps. And using the Top-Down Raglan Pattern Generator, which makes up a pattern based solely on math, hopefully will end up with a finished project that actually fits.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Books 9 and 10 and 11 (oh my)

Book 9: The Romance of Tristan and Iseult - Published 1945, New York, NY

This is one of those stories that I've read a dozen times, and will probably read a dozen times more. This review is not going to address the story; rather, I will talk about this particular translation.

While this is not my favorite interpretation of Tristan and Iseult, I did enjoy it. It read less like a medieval romance (or indeed, a romance at all) and more like a fairy tale from The Brothers Grimm. As with any Grimm fairy tale, very little detail is given. The language is very plain. I thought it was very interesting to read this epic tale of treachery and battle and adventure and romance and suffering (oh the suffering!) and have the prose remain so stiff and detached throughout. It has the same feel as a Grimm fairy tale... I am especially reminded of "Briar Rose" (aka Sleeping Beauty) where the hedge of thorns that has grown around the castle is described, and it says how many suitors tried to break through the thorny barrier, only to have the thorns hold fast to them, "as it were with hands" and they could not break free. "They died wretchedly," is added almost as an afterthought.

Rating: B

Book 10: Naked Heat by Richard Castle

This is the second novel by the fictional character Richard Castle, which comes from the very awesome tv show Castle. For those who haven't seen the show, it's about a mystery writer who tags along with a homicide detective, seeking inspiration for his new series of books. The first one was entertaining enough that I picked up the second.

For a book supposedly written by a New York Times bestselling author (albeit a fictional one) the writing was pretty sloppy in parts. The writer/editor in me was constantly adjusting syntax and swapping diction in my head. It wasn't sloppy enough to really impact the enjoyability of the story (here's looking at you, Stephenie Meyer!) but it was just bad enough to be noticeable.

The story itself was pretty good. It had an over-the-top pulp fiction detective feel to it that I really dig. Whoever wrote the book did a great job of evoking feelings of that genre without going overboard on it. Mad love to them for it. Also, more love for the Firefly references.

Rating: B-

Books 11 and 11.5: Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English and Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing, both by Patricia T O'Conner

These were both pretty quick reads so I'm bundling them together in one review. As a writer, I am always looking for ways to improve my writing. The primary way I do this is by reading as much as I can. Occasionally I'll read books that are actually about writing.

Words Fail Me was, for the most part, unhelpful. The first section of the book focused on the methods for writing, overcoming writer's block, etc etc. I've already got my methods down, so that didn't do anything for me. The rest of the book focused on a lot of the nitty-gritty writing details of writing. Clarity, sentence structure, using strong verbs, so on and so forth. It's mostly things that I knew already, but it's good to be refreshed every once in a while. And as for the few things I hadn't realized, well, any improvement is welcome, no matter how small.

Woe Is I focuses exclusively on grammar. I am in kind of an odd position when it comes to grammar. I was never formally taught anything about grammar in all of my years of schooling. However, I am and have always been an avid reader and, as a result of learning grammar only by reading properly constructed sentences, my grasp of grammar is based solely on what "sounds right" to me as opposed to any of the rules or reasons behind it. So, it's intersting to me to read about why a correctly structured sentence is correct.

Both books were written with a straightforward attitude, a dash of humor, and (obviously) grammatically correct sentences abound.

Rating: B

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book 8

Ah, Simon R. Green. Words alone cannot express the deep and profound expanse of my admiration for him as a writer, nor my deep and unabiding love for him as a reader. A Hard Day's Knight is yet another installment in his Nightside series, which, in this reader's humble opinion, has yet to grow stale. The constant parade of interesting and unusual characters coupled with Green's ability to do the unexpected keep it fresh while Green's history of killing off important characters adds just enough real danger to the tale.
This book in particular deals with Arthurian legend. I am a huge nerd about any and everything related to that particular subject, so I was particularly eager to get my hands on a copy of this book and see exactly how Green interpreted and then distorted those old tales. I was not disappointed.
Rating: A

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books 6 (for real!) and 7

Book 6: Matched by Ally Condie

This is a young adult book. I admit it, I read young adult books. Some of them are very very awesome and perfectly able to be enjoyed by adults (Garth Nix, to name one. For all of you who have not read Sabriel I would highly recommend it!)

I read Matched because I noticed a lot of people at the Library requesting it, and was curious. Please don't make the same mistake I did.

General impression of this book is a cross between a poorly-written Giver and a watered-down 1984. It's about a young girl in a utopian society, her eyes are opened and she breaks free of the brainwashing. Yada yada, you know the drill. However, the characters have no depth, the dialogue is wooden, and the plot meanders aimlessly without accomplishing anything. The main character continuously makes little side comments about the way things used to be, etc etc, that are entirely inappropriate for a character who was raised in that society. Yes, I get that Condie wants to contrast how things are vs. how things were, but it's entirely unnecessary for the main character to do so; we know how things "were" because we, the readers, are living in that world now. Events happend with no foreshadowing and no buildup. Characters were introduced and then never mentioned again. There were inconsistancies galore. The nicest thing I have to say about this book is that it only took me 2 hours to read.

Rating: D-

Book 7: Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

I enjoyed this book. The plot was light on the action, but the writing is solid, the characters were well-developed, and the descriptions were very good. The world was extremely well-developed. Though it wasn't much of a page-turner and I didn't eagerly await the next twist of the plot in between readings, I did find it overall to be a very pleasant read.

One thing that I especially liked a lot was that while it did edge close to the cliche of small-town gal grows up, embarks on adventure and does Great Things, it didn't quite fall into it. The main character starts out knowing that she's going to do Great Things because she comes from a long line of rich and powerful people, though she is in exile. She doesn't know how powerful she will become, but the potential is already laid out there. I found that somewhat refreshing, and it felt more believeable than "random child becomes a great hero." I will certainly be seeking out more of Shinn's work to read.

Rating: B+