Monday, December 31, 2012

My Top Ten Books of 2012

I've been reading many blogs that have year end lists of the best of this and best of that when it comes to books (some of them quite interesting - best books you didn't expect to like, best bad boys in books, etc.).  Not all of these books below were published in 2012 - my 'to-be-read' pile is rather lengthy, and some of these books (The Mortal Instruments series in particular) had been on my radar for a while.

Without further ado, these are the top ten books I read in 2012 (in no particular order):

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Holy cow did I get sucked into this one!  I bought this one on a whim because it was the Barnes and Noble Book of the day for $2.99.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, and I can't wait to pick up the sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight. 
2. For Darkness Shows the Stars

What can I say about a story that had me crying in the halls of the YMCA only 40 pages in.  A re-telling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, it had me emotionally charged the entire journey.  I found out today that Peterfreund is planning a sequel, Across a Star-Swept Sea, set in the same world, but a re-telling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and it is supposed to be published in 2013. 
3. Cinder

Okay, I may have picked up this book initially because of the cool cover, but I didn't regret it one bit.  A re-imagining of the Cinderella story - where Cinderella is a cyborg... 
4. City of Ashes

This is the kind of book I find myself reading past 2am when I know I have to get up at 6am to go to work - and do it anyway!  I love that this fantasy is still firmly enmeshed in the mundane world, and am so excited that I still have at least 3 books ahead of me in this series, in addition to Cassanrdra Clare's companion series of The Infernal Devices.
5. Gunmetal Magic

I was so apprehensive about this book!  I love Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books, and I was worried that making another woman the protagonist in Kate Daniels' world would just mess it up somehow.  Boy, was I ever wrong!  And Rafe, who honestly didn't do much for me in the Kate books, shines in this one and the scenes between him and Andrea set the book on fire.
6. City of Bones

Another book I picked up as Barnes and Noble's deal of the day for something like $1.99.  As I mentioned above, the series is already five books in, so I figured I would try it out and was under no obligation to continue if the book didn't excite me.  Well, consider me excited - and even better yet - the first book is coming out as a movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes, in 2013.
7. A Discovery of Witches

This is another book that I head heard so many people talk about that I felt compelled to read it, and was so glad that I did.  I also read its sequel, Shadow of Night in 2012, but unfortunately, was not nearly as enthused with the sequel as I was with the first book.
8. The Midnight Court

This book has to qualify as having the best cliffhanger ending of any book I read in 2012.  I read the last few pages with tears in my eyes and my mouth wide open, thinking "Nooooo!"  This is the second book in Kindred's The House of Arkhangel'sk series, and I love how the story winds together so many aspects of Russian folklore and Romanov history in a fantastic epic fantasy.
9. Insurgent

This is one of many books I read with Willow this year, and while I am sure that she and I are getting completely different things out of the book (Well, hello there, Four!) - I love that there are great YA books that she and I can share and discuss.
10. Unholy Ghosts

I was so conflicted by this book.  Chess, the heroine, is such a hard character to wrap one's head around.  Plain and simple, she's a drug addict who turns to drugs for almost every emotion she feels.  However, I was fascinated by the world she lives in (and trust me, the drug comfort is not limited to just Chess in the series), and her place in it - not to mention still trying to figure out what happened to make her world the dystopic place it is now.
I managed to read 88 books since April, so I would hazard to guess that I read about 100 books altogether this year. I'm quite pleased with that - I know my reading suffered over the last two years with a newborn and toddler. Piper sleeps through the night most nights now, and that makes reading into the wee hours of the morning easier to do. I'm trying to set a goal for 2013 - 120 books, perhaps?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vacation Recap (Um, summer vacation, that is...)

I'm really bad about posting our vacation pictures - part of the problem is that I end up taking 200+ photos, and by the time I wade through them all, edit as needed, come to some sort of game plan... it is four months later. This past August, we traveled to Hornby Island, a small island off the coast of a bigger small island (Denman Island), off the mid-east coast of Vancouver Island. I had never been to Hornby Island before, and we had a wonderful time, despite the fact that Piper came down with strep throat and a scarlet rash. Rather than write an extended travelog, I'm just going to post pictures. Enjoy!


Piper walking back from Tribune Bay.


Driftwood sculpture on the beach on Tribune Bay.


Close up of one of the driftwood logs - I think it looks like a camel.


My Mom and Dad walking down the rock formations.


The rock formations - it looks like a moonscape.


Willow and Keeva, my aunt's dog.


Yes, I even managed to find yarn on a tiny island!


Whaling Station Beach - yes, it did get more crowded than this in the afternoon, but it still would have looked empty compared to the Delaware beaches.


Piper and my Mom walking down to the little beach near our cabin to go rock-hunting.


Yeah, ignore the fact that her eyes were closed - I thought it was such a good picture at the time. Even though it was mid-August and 80'F +, there is still snow on the peaks behind her on Vancouver Island.


My Mom, Piper, and Willow wading in the water at Tribune Bay. The water was shallow and clear for so far out.


The view from Tribune Bay, facing Vancouver Island's hills.


The only bit of Native sculpture I saw on the Island. I am not sure Hornby had a big Native presence - it doesn't have it's own natural water source - hence the huge painted water tanks around the island:

DSCN0061 DSCN0047


Andrew, me, Willow, Mom, Piper, Dad, and my Gram It was a gorgeous island, and the night skies were breath-taking. I had never seen stars horizon to horizon before. This was the first vacation I had had in a long time (baby illness notwithstanding!) that felt like an actual vacation. I want more vacations and experiences like this.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!


(Have I mentioned recently how much I love my new camera?)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Finished Object: Super Secret Honey Cowl

I can finally reveal the supre secret Christmas present I was working on - because it is now in the recipient's hands! Or, around her neck as the case may be. My friend, Cindy, is moving away to colder climes, and I am going to miss her immensely. She has been a huge source of knowledge at work, and I am really afraid of floundering when she leaves in the new year. I hope this soft and warm cowl keeps her comfortable in her new surroundings.

Cindy in her Honey Cowl

Cindy wearing her cowl in The Corner Bistro.


Close up of the drape of the cowl. I may hate blocking things, but it is undeniable what it can do for knitted items.


Close up of the pattern.

The Particulars:

Pattern: Honey Cowl by Madelinetosh (Rav link)

Needles: Size 8 Aero circulars - 32"

Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Green Grey - 2 skeins

Would I knit this pattern again? Absolutely - it is a simple pattern and I really love the results. There was not much variegation to this particular Malabrigo color, but I would love to try this again in a color with more changes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Fierce Green-Belted Girl

Willow passed the green belt test in Tae Kwon Do this afternoon - look out purple, she is coming for you next!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quickie Book Review: For Darkness Shows The Stars

For Darkness Shows the StarsFor Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. For Darkness Shows the Stars is based on my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion, so I knew that I would be interested in the story, even if just for comparison's sake - but 40 pages into the book I was crying, just like I had with the original book. Peterfreund's setting, world, and history-building intrigued me, and I really wish maps had been included so we could find out where this post-ERV civilization lives. My heart hurt for Elliott in this book, and I think it is a credit to Peterfreund how much I wanted to pull Elliott and Kai together so they could just talk about what happened when they were younger and see how much they mean to one another. I know Persuasion doesn't have a sequel - but part of my wishes this story could continue the Cloud Fleet's adventures and see what remains of the world.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Tree Is Up!

Our tree is up!


Willow and I started decorating last night, but we came to the conclusion that we couldn't put up the glass ornaments. Between the over-inquisitive toddler and cat, they wouldn't even make it to Christmas. However, without all my pretty glass ornaments, the tree was quite bare. We were in Michaels' last night, and picked up a container of 50 shatterproof balls - so we finished our decorating this morning.


Piper and Willow worked very well together to put up the new ornaments.


The two troublemakers - you can see all the balls clustered on the bottom - that was Piper's contribution.


Two seconds later the cat snagged one of the balls, and Piper scooped it up and gave it back to me. She looks so innocent, doesn't she?!?!


This one? Not so innocent. Kept looking for low-hanging fruit and made decorating a much longer process than intended.


My new ornament - normally I don't like ornaments with dates on it, but he's a penguin! And he has knitting needles and a ball of yarn!


One of my favorite ornaments - I know it is a cheapo disco ball, but the little mirrors reflect light really well and look so pretty at night.


Willow and the tree. Piper was supposed to be in this pic as well, but she decided she had better things to do (pulling out all of the hurricane lamps - sigh...).

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Quickie Book Review: The Haunting of a Duke

The Haunting of a DukeThe Haunting of a Duke by Chasity Bowlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this story - part Gothic mystery in a Jane Austen-like setting, part paranormal romance, it had engaging characters and a smart heroine. The author had me guessing until the end who the murderer was, and I hope that the introduction of the hero's friends means that there will be additional books following this one.

I won this book in a blog contest from

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Finished Object: Piper's Little Sister Tunic (take 2)

All I wanted was a nice picture of Piper in the tunic sweater I finished for her last night - still and smiling at me. This is what I got:

Piper climbing the footstool, threatening to jump down.

The action pose

Refusing to face me, but at least you get to see the back of the sweater.

Punkin! Mama punkin! (She later tried to bounce the pumpkin like a ball...)

Okay - she's standing still, but I am not sure with the bereft look on her face.

All laid out on a pillow.

The Particulars:

Pattern: Little Sister Dress (Rav Link)
Needles: Size 3 16-inch circular
Yarn: Joann's Sensations Breeze
Would I knit this pattern again? Definitely! This is the second time I have knit this pattern for Piper, and I really like it. It is seamless, topdown, and allows for many adjustments in style, length, and yarn.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Finished Object: Willow's Washcloth Shawl

If you have been following along on Facebook, you know that I recently had an issue with bugs in my acrylic stash. I am not sure when this started, but am beyond grateful that I normally bag up my more expensive wool, so that stash was not really touched by my purging a few garbage bags full of yarn.

This project wasn't touched by the bugs (which I believe to be carpet beetles, but the bugs guys will tell me for certain next week), but seeing as that it hasn't been bagged and has been languishing on the needles for 4 years, I thought I had better just cut my losses and change what was supposed to be a lap blanket for my sunroom into a shawl for Willow.

We went down to the Wilmington Riverfront yesterday to have lunch at Iron Hill Brewery and play at the Delaware Children's Museum, and took advantage of the great scenery for the pictures.  The light was not fabulous in this direction, but it was the only way I could get Willow to open her eyes. I need to start carrying around sunglasses for my special snowflake or I will not get any decent pictures.


This was the first picture attempt (after much cajoling/teetering onto yelling on my part, she agreed to have her picture taken with her eyes closed) - with better light.


Wilmington in the background - it isn't the prettiest city on the East coast, but like the rest of us, it is attractive at the right angle.


The Particulars: Pattern: Grandmother's Favorite Washcloth (Rav Link) - completed about halfway.
Needles: Size 10.5" 36" circulars
Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun, 2.5 skeins in a blue/green/grey colorway
Would I Knit This Pattern Again? As a washcloth, sure! As a blanket (as this project was originally intended) or a shawl... eh, maybe not. The monotony got to me after a while, and Homespun isn't my favorite yarn to work with.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Better Finished Object Post - Nichole Cardi

This is not a new finished object. In fact, this is a sweater that I completed back in May - but at that time, it ws much too hot to wear, and it was a bit too big for Piper. So, it was washed and folded, and put away for a cooler day.


Well, that day was today!

Piper telling me that Merlin (our neighbour's great dane) is barking.

I'm actually accomplishing two things here - taking better pictures of Sam's great sweater pattern, and playing with my new camera! Andrew gave me a Canon Rebel EOS T3i DSLR - this was my anniversary, birthday, and Christmas present all wrapped in one. Oh, I love it :)

Watch me climb the stairs!


Dog dog! (The playground is near the dogpark and there are always dogs walking by.)

See see! (There was an airplane in the sky.)

I love swings!

November with girls
Me and my beautiful girls.

If you would like to see my original blogpost about this sweater, you can follow this link. If you would like to find the pattern on Ravelry, it is called the Nichole Cardi and it is a great, quick knit.