Saturday, 2 June 2012

Books 2012, # 21 - 26

My plan to read more classical books by choosing short ones with authors I recognise got as far as stage 1 - go to library and take out some short books. Stage 2 - read those books - has not been so successful. Plenty of time though eh?

For those of you who like to track the books you read and perhaps see recommendations from like minded readers, I would recommend GoodReads. I've been using it since the autumn and it has come in very handy - especially since I am the human goldfish when it comes to remembering what I read last week. It's free and very easy to use. I am, naturally, littlelixie on there so 'friend' me if you also like cats-solving-crime books. I just logged in to get the URL to link to and saw a new (to me) knitting murder series one of my 'friends' is reading which I have duly added to my own 'to read' list. Will have to see if it has a cat in it too. Although to be fair this lot are a little more diverse than previously and start off with something that was a first for me and came as something of a surprise... (as usual click on the images to go straight to the page)

#21 Watchmen by Alan Moore

This is my first proper graphic novel or comic or whatever you want to call it. If you have seen the film (which is awesome) then you may think it isn't worth reading the comic but in my opinion you'd be wrong. In fact if you liked the film or at least found it vaguely interesting I would strongly encourage you to give this a go because it adds a whole new dimension to what the film did. Jonesy lent this to me and I asked his advice about how to read a graphis novel. He looked at me witheringly and told me to just get on with it. So taking his advice to heart I did. Reading a graphic novel is just like reading an illustrated children's book except the words and pictures are muddled up and people rarely have sex and cut other people's arms off in children's books. Not the ones I read anyway. I know they start everything younger now though so it's possible "Spot's First Corpse" is now a bestseller. 

The film did follow the comic pretty exactly until about the last 30 or so pages when in Jonesy's opinion it ends in a better way than the film and in my opinion the ending was worse. Let me know what you decide. But as well as the main story you get several sub-plots which they couldn't have translated to film and one of which was really pretty disturbing. Hands up - I cannot do horror and got scared when watching that classic horror film "Speed" - but it was still ok for me to read and very compelling. I would definitely recommend this.

#22 The Silent Pool by Patricia Wentworth
Yes another Miss Silver. I think her niece Enid's children must have been like that greeting card child stuffed into layers and layers of handknits with its arms out at right angles. But nonetheless she knits her way through another set of murders. It's mistaken identity time again as an ageing glamour puss is seemingly in danger from her family. Philandering husband, saucy mistress, dowdy wife, young couple who broke up over a misunderstanding and will be reunited by the end - all the usual elements. And all very well balanced in this one. 

#23 Full Moon by PG Wodehouse
I picked this up from the second hand bookshop next to the Buddhist place in Bethnal Green as I had an hour to kill and had forgotten to bring a book. As a youth I was greatly influenced by Jeeves and Wooster and I think those along with the Margery Allingham "Campion" books explain a lot of my vocabulary. This is a real corker, as one might say. Twice winner of the 'fattest pig' medal, the Empress of Blandings, plays a key role in bringing two young people together. Fiendishly simple plans go wrong in the most complicated ways with the intended fiance managing to tip the duchess, mother of his intended popsy, with a half crown on mistaking her for a cook while asking her to smuggle a love letter into the house. Dog biscuits play a key role. It's just great. All libraries everywhere carry a few Wodehouse books. You've got no excuse not to give one a go. 

#24 Cat's Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown
Some rotter on amazon has given this one star. They must be a dog person. My favourite cat-solves-crime genre and my favourite writer within it. This one goes a bit religious when a statue at the local monastery (which has never been mentioned in the elenty billion previous books in this series but has apparently been there all the time with one of the main character's uncles living in it) starts crying tears of blood. That doesn't sound so bad but then someone is found kneeling in front of it in a snow storm and dead. If you're thinking "well they could have just died of exposure" then my friend you are not of my ilk. Obviously it will seem natural and then turn out not to be. Overall this one took a while to get going but was then one of the best in this series. 

#25 Anthem for Doomed Youth by Carola Dunn
I found the cover of this book quite annoying. The author makes a point of describing Daisy (our amateur sleuth) as well rounded and a lover of cakes. Plus she has had twins which is not known for its slimming properties. So then the publisher goes and puts that vapid sylph on the cover. Well, whatever. That's not really the point. In the previous books Daisy has got mixed up with her now husband's cases as he is a Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard. In this one he's off solving one crime while she ends up caught up in another. It worked quite well as a concept but the swapping between the two made it difficult to fully engage with either. That's not to say it wasn't a good read though but I wouldn't start with this one if you are going to give this series a go. 

#26 Sh!t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
As you can probably tell from the title this is not one for people who dislike swearing. What started as a twitter feed (and which I absolutely adored from day one) grew into a book and then a TV series with William Shatner as the Dad. This is essentially a biographical series of episodes in the author's life and how his Dad reacted, advised and got involved in them. This is very much a bathroom book. Put it next to the toilet and read it as and when. You'll laugh, everyone else who picks it up will laugh and then one day you'll give it to a charity shop or jumble sale and the cycle will begin again. And now for a few of my favourite tweets...
  • "The baby will talk when he talks, relax. It ain't like he knows the cure for cancer and he just ain't spitting it out."
  • “You seen my cell phone?...What’s it look like? Like two horses fucking. It’s a phone, son. It looks like a phone."
  • "Don't ask for my opinion then. I said congrats on the car, just saying nobody's panties are getting wet from a fucking Honda Accord."
  • "War hero? No. I was a doc in Vietnam. My job was to say "This is what happens when you screw a hooker, kid. Put this cream on your pecker."
In the UK we have a 4-day weekend to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. I am very keen on such things so will be out and about tomorrow for the Thames regatta thing. On my way home last night I saw about 40 canal barges docked and waiting to take part in the Canary Wharf docks. The forecast says rain (after the sun and heat of the past week - such a shame) but I have my fingers crossed it will hold off. 

Thursday, 31 May 2012

On a Productive Streak

In a recent email exchange a friend mentioned "You seem to be on a productive streak." My first thought was 'not really' when I suddenly thought that in the last couple of weeks I've made umpteen pincushions, knitted a whole pair of socks, made a load of jewellery and kits for my etsy shop, produced a comparison list of knitting software, made a skirt, adjusted two others (one not so good, the other perfect and has been worn), baked, made bunting and generally continued with a cross-stitch design I've got brewing. I think like a lot of us I take crafting in my stride and don't really notice when I've done a lot. 

The skirt is from one of the tablecloths I picked up last weekend. Naturally it is red polka dot. 
I didn't have a zip handy so I went for button closure. While playing around I considered that I am not short of buttons (don't ask me to guess how many thousand my collection now contains) and so chose a whole series of mismatched vintage ones to go the full length of the skirt. 
Did you know it's quite hard to photograph red buttons on a red background? 

The socks came off the needles pretty quickly and I am reasonably happy with them. 
I have noticed the right leaning spiral is a lot more pronounced than the left. A difference in tension with my decreasing I guess. These were done entirely without a cable needle though which has given me the confidence to try an actual cabled garment with the aim being to complete it without one as well. I've chosen the Livingstone Cardigan from the Winter 2011 Interweave. I did a swatch but still decided to start with an arm - plain stocking stitch mostly - just to check as comments on Ravelry (beloved Ravelry) suggest it comes out large. I'm doing the smallest size which is always nice but had to frog my first attempt as I'd been automatically reading the instructions for the second size. Cue uninteresting progress shot. 
Told you so. 

Monday, 28 May 2012


Britain is having a little heatwave. I am enjoying every minute of it - even on the Underground - since I suspect it may be all we get in the way of summer this year. This was Saturday in Greenwich Park.
Tree Branches
I had a picnic in the Park and spent some time lolling on the grass looking up at the amazingly blue sky through the branches of a very green tree. I also spent some time noticing that my iPhone camera is a lot better than my actual camera. Such is technology.

On Sunday I set off for Battersea Boot Sale which I discovered after years of bemoaning London for not having that kind of thing. I do like a good boot fair.
Battersea Boot Sale
It was pretty big and had just about everything you would expect from such a place. I was particularly after skirts since every thing in the shops is either mini or mid calf. Neither of which suit the Byrne physique. Result? Two skirts prime for altering and two tablecloths prime for making into skirts. Hubba!

On the way back I was very excited to see this:
Thunderbirds Lorry
It was assembling a crane at Vauxhall bus station but isn't it awesome? It's wheels are off the ground and it has a cab at both ends and it positively screams THUNDERBIRDS! As a lifelong fan I couldn't help but admire it.

Over the weekend I also added to my Etsy shop. Mainly necklaces this time...
Heart Necklace
...but also a few stitchmarkers.
Cutlery Stitchmarkers
The shop is a bit diverse at the moment but I figure I'll narrow down what to sell over time. I'll have some new kits to add soon too. I like the kits idea - try something new without having to buy lots of stuff to experiment with. Certainly would have saved me a lot of money and storage space over the years. 

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