Books Seasonal

3 Book Series to Get Lost in This Winter

January 11, 2018
3 Series to Read This Winter

I had mentioned that I went above and beyond my reading list for this past Fall and boy did I ever! I’m well into my winter list now (one more book to go!). The difference? I finally, finally got a library card! What’s even better is that my city is really generous with their online library resources as well. I have so many more options now that aren’t Kindle Monthly Deals! Not that those are bad, but the choices are intoxicating here. Here are some new series that I read recently that offer a good distraction on a dark winter evening.

-3 - Series to Read This Winter - Lunar Chronicles

The Lunar Chronicles

So the Lunar Chronicles series is a bit of old news.  Starting with Cinder, the Lunar Chronicles retells the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a new, futuristic way. There is also a fifth book, Fairest, which focuses on the evil queen of the series, though I haven’t finished that one yet. I’ve had them sitting in my kindle library for a while, but only started reading them on a plane ride. They are definitely more of a young adult series, but I have never let that stop me. They deal with surprisingly grown up concepts like matters of diplomacy, racial tensions, plagues, etc… At some points, they were quite stressful to read, just because you were so invested in the characters with no foreseeable happy ending.

I enjoyed the way that Meyer took the source material and adapted it for her purposes. Fairy tale retelling can get pretty old if they’re not original, but felt like this series handled it well. The futuristic, cyberpunk sort of theme was interesting and engaging, and the stories blended into each other in a way that I thought was very clever. I also appreciated that each female character had a distinctly different personality. This book passes the bechdel test, no question! So if you were like me and looking for some diverting travel reading, this series is a great place to start.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Paper Magician

The Paper Magician Series

The Paper Magician series was a kindle deal in the young adult section last month. It takes place around the turn of the century as far as I can tell. In this series, young students train to be magicians, but can only exert their power over one man made medium. Ceony Twill’s dreamed of working with metal, but due to a shortage of paper magicians, she gets assigned to work with paper. At first, Ceony is disappointed by her somewhat ordinary medium, but she soon learns it’s surprising usefulness. 

You will want to do origami while reading this series, so you’ve been warned. It’s really best taken as a whole, rather than 3 separate books, though each book does progress in significant ways. It seems that a fourth book is scheduled for May of 2018, but everything seemed pretty wrapped up by then end of book 3, so we’ll see what that is about.  The only issue is that it involves to teacher/student sexual tension, and I’m not about all that. To be fair, Ceony is not underage at any point in this book. I just worry that this book could be seen as permission for a teenage student to crush on an older teacher, and please don’t draw that conclusion because it is the worst idea. Other than that annoying point, the who series is inventive and entertaining.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Lady Hardcastle

Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

I’m sure that by now my love of murder mysteries is clear. It’s not thrillers, but good, old fashioned who-dun-its that I like. If you’re the same way, I cannot recommend the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series enough! Lady Hardcastle is a lively widow with a knack for mischief. Florence Armstrong, Lady Hardcastle’s maid, is her protector, caretaker, and closest friend. The pair have a long history of working as spies to avenge the death of Lady Hardcastle’s husband. They have moved to a quiet house in the county in the hopes of leaving all of that behind, but they just can’t seem to give up their meddling ways.

The rapport between Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle is delightful. These books would translate wonderfully into a show or movie (preferable starring Kate Beckinsale)! They are far more familiar with each other than a proper lady and her maid should be, but that never stops them. Together, the pair solve mysteries in their little country town and end up finding a much more exciting life than they bargained for.  There’s a good bit of feminism, a lot of humor and of course, many mysteries solved. These books are good for people of all ages, and are excellent when you need a piece of fluff to read. 

Finished Object Knitting

Veronika Pattern Review and FO

January 4, 2018
Veronika

Happy New Year! We survived the holidays (mostly). Both The Hubs and I came down with the winter crud that’s been going around over Christmas, but we’re hoping to be back on our feet soon. The good news is that I was able to finish my Veronika cardigan just in time for Christmas! I can’t wait to show it to you.

The Pattern

Veronika Cardi

I found out about Veronika by Shannon Cook through a knitalong at the Mckinney Knittery. Veronika is designed to use YOTH yarn’s daughter weight. It’s a cocoon style cardigan that features a big cozy ribbed collar. 

The construction of Veronika is like a fun little puzzle. You basically knit the whole sweater sideways. After adding some bottom ribbing and blocking, you fold the thing up like origami and sew two little bitty seams. There’s maybe 6 inches of seaming on the whole garment, which I great, because I hate finishing.

Veronika Cardi

The difficulty level on this pattern is incredibly easy. It’s a very accessible pattern for all skill levels, which is why it worked well for a shop knitalong. It’s also pretty adaptable to individual styles. A quick scroll through Ravelry shows that Veronika can go come cozy and homey to stylish and chic with a quick accessory change. I’m very happy with how mine turned out, and can see it being a great transitional item (though I will admit that it does not fit well inside coat sleeves). 

The Yarn

Veronika Cardi

I used Cascade 220 Superwash Merino in Avocado (number 11) for this project, about five balls in total. Previously, I had used this yarn for my baby yoda hat. I found this to be a great affordable option for Veronika, since I didn’t have room in the budget for YOTH Daughter (even though it’s gorgeous!). Plus, I enjoyed the smoother look of the ribbing done in Cascade 220. It’s very squishy and drapey, which is nice.

Some other knitters were concerned that I wouldn’t get gauge with Cascade. While my row gauge was a little short, it haven’t had any issues with the fit because this yarn grew like crazy when I soaked it. Like, it was a little out of control. I had to do a lot of finagling to coax it into the blocking dimensions on the pattern. Also, I need blocking wires. This is definitely a blocking wire project. 

Veronika Cardi

I will be interested to see how Cascade 220 Superwash Merino wears. Just based on how the yarn behaved while I was knitting, I think it might have a tendency to pill a little. I haven’t seen any serious pilling yet. However, it did shed little bits of fluff every once in a while while knitting. Even it it pills a little bit, Cascade 220 Superwash Merino seems to be an affordable, accessible yarn, and I’m sure I’ll use it again.

 

Books

2017 Winter Reading List

December 14, 2017
2017 Winter Reading List

As the Christmas season approaches, I am forced to let go of Fall and acknowledge Winter. I always have a hard time with this because Fall comes late to Texas, and the leaves are just starting to turn by the beginning of December. But with winter comes the winter reading list! I’m keeping my winter reading list a little lighter and more flexible to account for the business of the holiday season. That being said. I recently got my new library card and I’m drunk with power, so who knows where I’ll end up!

Knitlandia

Knitlandia by Clara Parks

Knitlandia has been buzzed about in knitting circles quite a bit. I suppose we all like to hear about the world through our unique lens. Knitlandia is a memior by Clara Parks that discusses her most memorable travels throughout the world, but from the viewpoint of a knitter. Knitting has so many regional differences, that I’m anticipating a lot of interesting stories. I’m hoping that this book will inspire me when I’m lagging on my knitting projects. It will certainly make a good discussion topic at knit nights.

Murder for Christmas

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Murder for Christmas is described as “perfect for fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.” Well, that sounds like me, and a Christmas themes murder mystery sounded like fun. Mordecai Tremaine arrives at a party at the home of Benedict Grame, but finds that not everything is good cheer. When party goers discover a dead body among the presents beneath the tree, the mystery begins and Mordecai must sort it out before anyone else suffers the same terrible fate. 

Still Life

Still Life by Louise Penney

Sarah Bessey often talks about her love for Louise Penney and her Inspector Gamache books, and frankly, I trust her judgement. Still Life appears to be the first in a long line of Inspector Gamache novels. I’m excited by the idea of adding a new series to my To Read list. This one focuses of the surprising yet rather mundane death of Jane Neal. On the surface, it seems like a hunting accident, but could it be more sinister? Inspector Gamache thinks so. The fact that this book is impossible to get at the library and never goes on sale indicates to me that it’s probably a winner. 

Option B

Option B by Sheryl Sandburg

Since reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg shortly after my college graduation, I have been a fan of her writing. Much of Lean In talked about making your partner an equal partner in household labor so that women could rise to their fullest potential in the workplace. When Sheryl’s husband died suddenly and tragically, I wondered how it would effect her message. Option B is her response. Option B deals with Sheryl’s grief, but also her decision to find joy again. I expect this book to be full of wisdom and hard truths, but also grace an encouragement. I’m excited to finally read it.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See was recommend to me by my boss, who read it for a book club. She told me that it was excellent, so I’ve had my eye out for it ever since. It is a World War II novel that deals with a German boy and a blind French girl on opposite sides of a war that neither of them asked for. I have heard that it is incredibly well written, and so I have high expectations for it.

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Since I liked the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, Heartless seemed like the next logical progession. It’s a fairy tale retelling as well, but this time deals with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland rather than a traditional fairy tale. It goes back to before the Queen of Hearts was queen, when she was just a young woman hoping to find her own way, make her own decisions, and fall in love with a person of her choosing. Somewhere along the way, it seems that something goes wrong to give us the brutal Queen of Hearts that we know today.

Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a traditional Christmas read for me, so it’s natural that it would appear on my winter reading list. Growing up, my family would watch a version of A Christmas Carol every year on Christmas Eve. (The best version is the one with Patrick Stewart and I will fight you on this!) Now that we’re adults, we don’t always watch it on Christmas Eve, but we do always watch it sometime during the Christmas season. Now that I’m grown, I’ve taken to reading it as well. Most of the movies are pretty accurate, but I find that the literary Scrooge is a little more sympathetic and complex.

Of Mess and Moxie

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

I do appreciate a good Jen Hatmaker book, and Of Mess and Moxie is her latest. I find that she is down to earth, but totally earnest and convicting. She doesn’t ask you to do anything that she hasn’t already challenged herself about. Sometimes she gets a little distracted with silly stories, but I love her humor and storytelling style, so I’ll put up with it. I may read this one via audiobook, just to see if I come away with a different conclusion (and also because the audiobook is available through my library).

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven was featured in one of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog posts as a book that she loved rereading. I was intrigued, since I consider rereading to be the mark of a good book. Station Eleven takes place in after the collapse of modern civilization as a result of disease. It include a travelling symphony/Shakespeare troupe, some unique comic books and the life and impact of an aging actor. Just that combinations of factors seems interesting to me, so I’m excited to see what it’s all about.

That’s all that’s on my winter reading list so far! I am looking for recommendations as well. I finally got a goodreads account in hopes of getting tailored recommendations, but I value a personal recommendation much more. What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?