Memo Pad: Books – Feb 2017

It’s the end of another month so I’m going to share with you my bookish wrap up. How is it the end of February already? Is time going really fast for anyone else?

I wasn’t expecting to read as many books this month but I’ve done really well with some help from netgalley for approving me for ARCs of the collapsing empire and sea which were both great. I had an unfortunate DNF in there this month too. I’ve also decided to share books I’ve bought this month at the end of these posts as well.

At the start of the year I joined the monster goddess book club which is run by a couple of book bloggers I follow and they have a group on goodreads. This months theme was simply a book that you got for Christmas. I actually read two books that fit for this month, as I got both illuminae and timekeeper as Christmas presents. 

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Read: 5            DNF: 1        Bought: 5

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again!

I think more than anything I got disappointed by the hype. There’s nothing wrong with this book, I just was expecting so much more.

It’s also very annoying to read on kindle. Maybe there’s a trick to zooming in on images (this is narrated through documents so it was all images and no text that could be enlarged) that I haven’t figured out yet but it still would have been annoying to zoom and pan/turn the reader around. I tried not to let it affect my thoughts on the story but it may have done.

Storywise, I found it difficult to connect to the characters, and found the most relatable one was the AI. It felt like the characters were too…. Immature for the story line. But maybe that’s what other people liked about it. I just think it missed the epicness that it could have achieved. I guess this just wasn’t one for me.

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Sea (Huntress #1) by Sarah Driver

In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born. Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka . . .

This is a children’s book that said it was for fans of Philip Pullman which is definitely something to live up to and it didn’t disappoint. It was very magical. The main character had a distinct voice, which I loved but I can see that some people might find it annoying. The story follows a wilful little girl called mouse aboard a ship called the huntress. Moonspirits, whalesong, being able to talk to pet hawks, old myths that turn out to be something more and a healthy dose of magic are all added into the mix to make a brilliant story that I could escape into.

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Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely. It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors. And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve. But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

This was very good but I was expecting amazing. Clockwork, steampunk, interesting characters and brilliant concept of time stopping if clocks break. Unfortunately the main character made so many wrong decisions which was very frustrating. Some wrong decisions grow a character, repeated wrong decisions just make me annoyed at the character. It might make a good story but it made me enjoy it less. Saying that, I started it on Sunday and finished it on Monday so I definitely really enjoyed it anyway but at the same time I felt like something was missing from it.

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The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible — until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars. Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war — and a system of control for the rulers of the empire. The Flow is eternal — but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals — a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency — are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

I was really excited to get approved for this book from netgalley. I’ve wanted to read Scalzi for a while but hadn’t gotten round to it yet so this was a perfect opportunity.

I thought it was going to be really heavy Sci fi and while this is definitely not ya it isn’t scary big or complicated like some space operas are. I loved the characters especially tiva. I also loved how human they all were. It’s not often that you read a book that mentions that yes, actually these characters might be on a big adventure and stuff is happening but they still need to go to the toilet or have their period or be pretty absolutely not badass because some people just aren’t. I loved them all and I’ll definitely be reading the next and more scalzi after this. I did think the ending was a bit of a non ending, it is the first book in a series though so I can excuse that.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

I enjoyed this well enough, I think it would be a really good book for a young person to read. unfortunately I think having seen the movie a while ago and therefore knowing the plot made this not as exciting. The telling is rather simple being a children’s book and knowing the plot before hand didn’t really leave me with much to be interested in.

 


 

DNF

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This is such a stupid premise that I just couldn’t get over it. I DNF’d it at 35%. I wanted to at 20% and the only reason I got any further was created I didn’t know what I felt like reading next. The book itself was well written, I’m sure it would have been a decent book but I couldn’t get over the fact that her whole plan to get the murderous monster who had killed hundreds of women not to kill her after she volunteered to be his next victim was to tell him a story….. That’s the plan? She deserved to die for how stupid that was.

 


Books bought this month: 5

Paper and Fire (The Great Library book 2) by Rachel Caine, A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic #1) by Patrick Weekes, Cracked (Soul Eater #1) by Eliza Crewe , The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh,


 

Timekeeper and illuminae were both books I was mega excited to read and thought would be awesome so I’m a little disappointed even though I liked them both. The month was definitely saved by the arcs I received. How about you, have you read any of these books? How was your reading month? What was the favourite book you’ve read this month? Mine was rather surprisingly sea.

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Pancake day’s my Favourite Holiday

I feel like I haven’t shared any of the new cards I’ve been putting in my shops lately so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone by sharing some pictures and a money off code.

I’m not sure I’m doing this shop thing properly, I think I’m suppose to be doing sales for more normal things but pancake day is MY favourite holiday so for one week I’m offering 10% OFF everything in my shop. Etsy or Conscious Crafties.

All you need to do is use code:

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 ….because it’s 2017 not because I eat 17 pancakes…. I wish.

Anyway, it’s valid from Friday 24th February (that’s today guys, it’s active RIGHT NOW) to midnight GMT Friday 3th March.

There’s quite a lot to see, I’m still adding more and more as and when I can but for now there are some gold packs of three cards, rude and more happy:

Papercut cards including custom birthday cards:

Cross stitch designs:

And the latest cards in my shop are these cute little easter egg cards which are two for £2.

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There are other things in the shop but I think that’s enough photo spamming for one day. But if you do check it out remember you can get 10% off. It’s not an exclusive code either so feel free to pass it along to anyone you think might want to use it.

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TTT: Top 10 books that surprised me; the good and the bad.

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a book tag hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish, there’s a new topic every tuesday and anyone can join in and linkup. I really liked this weeks topic.

Which is: ….Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would

All title links go to the goodreads page. 

 The Good:

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57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G.Buehrlen

I bought this a couple of weeks ago on deal because its published by angry robots and out sounded interesting. I wasn’t ejecting much just a rollicking good time that I expect from any angry robot book I pick up. But it was very unexpectedly a five star read. I loved it, it handles time travel so well.

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

So I don’t like romance books. The whole premise of this should have put me off and I honestly can’t remember why I read it, I think it was one of those ‘I’m bored and feel like reading some trash’ moods (anyone else get those?) but I actually did really enjoy it (why? I still have no idea) and I’ve actually gone back and reread it as well.

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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

This was a netgalley book I got for review and hadn’t heard of before. I was obviously expecting to like it or I wouldn’t have asked for it but it definitely surpassed my expectations. I couldn’t put it down and I think I read it in two days. It was so fast paced and it had magic and dragons and Greek gods. It was very good.

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A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

I think this is the book I read the longest time ago on this list. But I remember enjoying it a lot. It sounds like a light scifi adventure and while I was expecting an enjoyable ride I wasn’t really expecting much more than that. It was a very good book. I can’t tell you much more than that but now i want to read it again.
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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab

Short story from back when I bought my very first kindle; a couple of days after it arrived I saw this book in the kindle daily deals for 99p/ Even from the title it sounded like my kind of book. I’d never heard of it before though (this was a couple of years ago now) but I thought hey, for 99p as long as its alright then that’s still a bargain. Well holy crap was it like the best book ever! Seriously one of the best books I’ve read.

 


 

I actually meant to do this post on ten books that were positive surprises but it turns out it was actually a lot easier to think of negative surprises so welcome to the second half.

The Bad:

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The Child Thief by Brom

I love Peter pan stories, the whole idea is so intriguing and I want something to go deeper and explore how not the hero he is and while this did that it just wasn’t a very enjoyable book to read.

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The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

This is a Sci fi alternate reality adventure about books. Which sounds awesome. And maybe I just had too high expectations but it didn’t live up. It was okay, which is about as much praise as I can say about it. It’s not on the list because I thought it was rubbish, I just thought it should have been better and was disappointed.

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The Final Empire (Mistborn) by Brandon Sanderson

I REALLY wanted to love this book. I’d heard so much about Sanderson, the blurb was really intriguing. The magic system might be one of my favourites ever, kelsier is a brilliant character, there were scenes in this book that ripped my heart out and I still feel it years later but…… Something was missing. I didn’t like the way the story was told with the extracts at the start of each chapter, I felt bored at points and it was a bit of a slog to get through. I’m still mad that this book wasn’t consistently at heart breaking level or maybe I’m mad that it reached heart breaking level and didn’t stay there? I haven’t picked up the rest of the series.

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The 100 by Kass Morgan

I’m not sure what to say about this, this is a Sci fi dystopian but I just couldn’t get over the stupid decisions that the characters make. Like really, above and beyond teenage stupidity. If the person you love more than anything is all about helping and healing people then maybe doing something that risks literally everyone’s lives to win her back isn’t the smartest decision?
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The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien

Okay, don’t stone me. I really don’t like fantasy books that are based on traveling on a quest. We end up getting a lot of scenery and not a lot of character. Seriously where’s the character?! There’s no doubt Tolkien was brilliant and paved the way and blah blah but I found this boring to read. Personal opinion. I struggled to the end of it.

 


So how about you? Any of these books make your list of happy surprises/disappointments? Am I so completely wrong about some of them that you want to shout at me? What’s your best and worst surprise when it comes to the books you’ve read?

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New Cross Stitch Project (SAL)

It’s time for another link up with the stitch along. We post updates on whatever stitching projects we’re working on every three weeks.

Avis / Claire / Gun / Carole / Kate / Lucyanne / Sue / Constanze / Debbie / Christina / Kathy / Susan / Margaret / Cindy / Helen / Steph / Linda / Catherine / Wendy

Check them out as they have some brilliant projects going on.

I finished my project last time around so I have a new start to show this time.
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I’m concentrating on the center of my cross stitch. I’m not sure if you can tell yet, maybe squint? It’s a leaf. And so far I’ve used, neon pink, neon oranges, burnt reds and I’m onto gold! I’m really hoping I’ve gotten the colours right and they’ll look okay when all is done. It was looking quite good for a while there but I’m not so sure about that bright orange in the middle. I’m going to leave (punny) it in until I’ve at least finished this one leaf. I’m hoping it looks better when I add all of the yellow colours.

It actually isn’t as shocking on the fabric as they are in the skeins so hopefully they all mix well and look….leaf like together.

It’s exciting to see things starting to form. I can pick out the edges of the leaf and also the letters of the quote going through the middle. I might add some Green in the next update. I know, who would have guessed I would add green in a pattern full of leaves, right?wp_20170212_19_30_50_pro

I’ve also finally finished the tutorial for the pin cushion I showed you all as my finish last update. And I’ve uploaded the pattern and tutorial to my etsy which you can see here if you wanted to.

And I also thought I would show you the little demo pin cushion that I made for the tutorial because its small and cute.

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Crafty Update

I’ve been doing a lot of bitty things craft wise recently. So thought I’d do a post to update my progress on all of them.

First off I’m crocheting a cowl, ostensibly for my mother but honestly I’ve just really wanted to do this stitch for a while. I saw it ages ago but only recently realised its actually a pattern by a blog I follow. You can see the pattern on Not Your Average Crochet’s blog. I’m doing it a lot smaller as I prefer snug cowls to big ones. Or my mum does? I don’t know, they’re quicker to stitch! Haha.

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I’m using up the scraps of yarn that I had left over from my mums lap blanket as well as a darker red that I have half a ball left of from my stash. Hopefully that’ll be enough for the cowl, if not then I guess I’ll add even more random colours. I’m really enjoying doing this and it is so ridiculously soft, I have to keep stopping and squishing it.

 

I’ve also been testing out stitches/patterns for my dads scarf. I made him one last year and I told you in my new years post that he’d asked for another one in a Christmassy colour. Dark red or Green. The last scarf was a dark blue in a simple crocheted linen/moss stitch and I wanted to do something different.

I originally had planned to do a Tunisian crochet pattern that I’d found on ravelry but after trying it out I’ve realised that I really don’t like doing the Tunisian purl stitch. And the pattern it made wasn’t as nice as I was expecting either so that one is out.

I’ve seen people I follow do the basket weave stitch and had it recommended to me before so I thought id finally try it out for this scarf. The tester I made was pretty good and my dad approved so that’s what I’ll be going with for his scarf. It’s a lot softer than I was expecting for double crochet. I’m not sure I’m doing the edges right as they’re pretty messy but I’ve been looking it up and it looks like if I do half double crochet for the edges it’ll be neater.

My dad has picked out his yarn, it’s a dark green. And I only got 200g to start with because I’m not sure how much I’ll need and I’d rather not buy another 200g ball if I don’t need it. It’s also Aran yarn (which I worked out after googling because the band is very American) and I was originally planning on using DK but dad seems okay with it being thicker than the tester.

I haven’t started it yet, although its definitely calling to me. So far I’ve been good and am trying to finish the cowl before I start this.

 

Something not crochet related in the middle of this post. I decided to try out sewing something else. I made a couple of tote bags from the same pattern last year and I decided to try something else out (in between trying to quilt). So I’m attempting to make a pencil case/make up bag/thing. These are the fabrics and zip I’m going to be using. The plain is for the lining and the pattern is for the outer.

The pattern is pretty simple but it had a couple of new to me things. I’ve never sewn a zip before and I’ve also never used interfacing before. But I thought this was a good way to add a couple more things to my skills…I use that word loosely!

Sewing the zip meant I got to use my zipper foot out of the box of sewing machine feet that I got for Christmas. I have to admit I took quite a while staring at it and at my sewing machine before I figured out how it worked/how to attach it. But figure it out I did. Eventually. My second attempt at using it went well (on my first attempt I accidentally sewed the zipper on upside down!). Then all I had to do was sew it all together. At which point the instructions told me to sew over the teeth of the zip when I was seaming. Apparently that didn’t include the little metal bit at the end of the zip. I was left with one very broken needle. But I replaced it! Go me.

 

You know what I said about being good and not starting any more crochet projects until I’d finished the cowl? Yeah well I lied. I decided to try to make a hat.

A hat.

I don’t do hats. I didn’t knit them when I used to knit and I don’t crochet them now. But you may remember I made a pointy hat for Christmas? Well, while I was doing that I got an idea in my head for a pattern and I couldn’t dislodge it so I attempted it.

It was of my own design, so no pattern to follow (not that I’m good at doing that anyway) I want to let you know that the hat I made for Christmas I had to make twice because I got the sizing wrong. It was way too big (and that was me following a pattern). So it was rather inevitable that I’d get the sizing wrong on this too.

This time it was way too small, not in the circumference – that was okay, but well, I’m sure if anyone has made hats before they know there’s a bit where it tells you how many inches to keep going to make it the right size? Well as I said I’ve never done hats before, and I started decreasing WAY too early. The hat doesn’t actually make it to my ears!

BUT the pattern idea worked! I used some old Aran yarn for the tester but I think I’d rather it was dk yarn as its Tunisian crochet which makes a pretty thick material. So I’m waiting on buying more dk yarn to try again. And this time I’m definitely waiting until I’ve finished the cowl before buying the yarn.


Phew. That’s all the projects I’m chipping away at (If you include the table runner I posted about, and the cross stitching I’ll update you on this weekend). I’m really enjoying crochet at the moment, I fell a bit out of love with it for a while there. Anyone else get that? 

I’d love to hear what crafty projects you are all working on.

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Another Birthday Present

Originally I meant to do this and the last post as one but I ended up splitting them up as it got very long and I’m noticing I ramble on haha.

But this is another present and card that I made recently, it was for a friends birthday just a couple of days ago.

Starting with the card. He’s a big Nintendo fan so it was pretty easy to come up with this idea.wp_20170202_15_06_24_pro

I started the present months ago as it was just an idea and I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out or even if I wanted to make it at all. I teased you with this photo:

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It was a long time ago and I didn’t post any updates since then because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. It went on hold going up to Christmas as there was just so much other stuff to do but I got back onto it in January and here is the finished object next to its rather more expensive twin so you can see what it should look like.
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It’s the bb8 droid from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I used this pattern that I found on ravelry.

I don’t normally do amigurumi so I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It has some weight beads in the base to keep it upright.

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A Birthday Present and Heat Transfer Vinyl

At the end of last month it was my brothers birthday. I didn’t have any great ideas for a present so I ended up asking him if he wanted anything particular. Well he did. He said he wanted a laundry basket… Which might just be the most boring present I’ve ever been asked to buy for someone but he asked if I could stitch something on it like the cushion I gave him for Christmas.wp_20161209_16_46_23_pro

I honestly wasn’t sure how I’d go about stitching on something already made. It would be pretty hard but he’d also only told me about two weeks before his birthday which isn’t enough time for me to stitch anything so I compromised.

I have a bunch of heat transfer vinyl that I got for my last birthday and hadn’t gotten around to using yet so I thought this would be the perfect project to use them on.

After browsing pinterest for a suitably funny quote I went on my computer to design it and then cut it out.img_4747

At this point I also cut out a practice project for two reasons, 1) I only had one sheet of white heat transfer vinyl so I wanted to make sure I could cut it properly without ruining it and 2) so that my mum could practice ironing the heart transfer vinyl onto something before we tried it on the laundry basket.

I had a cheap tote bag that I’d bought over a year ago for exactly this purpose so I fished that out and I didn’t want to spend too long trying to think of something to put on it or spend to long designing it. I knew I wanted something to do with water, be it a swimming pool, the ocean, the beach – something like that as I wanted to use the blue heat transfer sheet I had. Well, I was listening to Jump in the Pool by Friendly Fires at the time so…. That’s what I did! I added a few swimming pool waves underneath to make it a little bit more interesting. Then set it to cut.

Luckily it cut perfectly and was super easy to weed out the bits I didn’t want so I went back and cut out the design I had made for the laundry basket.

Here they are cut and weeded:

Once that was done it was time to iron them on. Mum didn’t have any trouble on the tester so we went on to the laundry basket which was a group effort. It was rather large so dad had to hold it up while mum ironed on the vinyl to the lid. (if your wondering, my part was watching them).

Here it is:
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That’s the only pic I got before we packaged it up again and sent it off to my brother. Suitably funny quote to make it a little bit less boring!

I really enjoyed using the heat transfer vinyl so I’m sure I’ll do more of it.

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I also made my brother a card along the washing theme to go with it. He bought me a Manchester United shirt with my favourite player on the back for Christmas so I included that on the washing line. I don’t think it’s one of my best cards but it’s good to do something different every now and then and it definitely went along with his present.

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