First Finish of the Year

I’m starting the year off with a finish and no, it’s neither of the blankets I was working on last time I shared my crochet projects. Whoops! Instead I started a new blanket from the yarn I received from Christmas because it was new and exciting. 

My initial idea actually didn’t work as the yarn I bought has colour changes a lot shorter than I expected from the picture and ended up looking muddy and messy. So I frogged it all and had a think.

I decided to follow this pattern from raverly which is a corner to corner linen stitch. One of the projects actually used similar colours to what I had so I copied that and…..

Ta da….

The new idea used two instead of the the three yarns I was originally planning to use so it’s smaller. A good sized lap blanket.

I love the colours and the way it goes from rainbow to monochrome.

The pattern says it’s square /rectangle deepening on which you want but I’m not certain it truly is. It might be if I were to block it but currently it lies a little skewed. But then, it’ll be draped over someones lap when in use so it really doesn’t matter much!

Now that’s finished I should get back to those two linen stitch square blankets I need to finish, right? Well, ummm, I may have started a completely different blanket from more of the yarn I got from Christmas! Double whoops!!!

Too early to share it yet but the yarn, scheepjes colour crofter, is SO SOFT it’s actually ridiculous. It’s DK and pretty cheap especially considering how gorgeous it feels!

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New Year, New Project (SAL)

It’s a new year, and with finally finishing the stitching on my Christmas project (which no, I haven’t finished up properly yet), it’s also time for a new project.

I’ve only just got this started and is going to be a really simple design. A Latin quote, big letters, nothing fancy except I’m stitching it on black fabric for the first time (18 count aida, my go to).

The letters are really big (like 3 inches high) and I might do a smaller version to use up some of the left over fabric as the scraps are a bit too small to use for anything else.

I think the black would look amazing with bright colours like I’ve seen a few of the other stitchalongers do but I thought I’d keep it simple for my first time stitching on black but also because I haven’t had time to design anything else!

Here are the links to everyone else stitching something for the SAL:

Avis // Claire // Gun // Carole // LucyAnn// Kate // Sue // Constanze // Debbierose // Christina // Kathy // Margaret // Cindy // Helen // Steph // Linda // Heidi // Jackie // Sunny // Hayley // Megan // Catherine // Connie // Clare

Welcome back to Mary Margaret, and hello to our new stitchers Renee & Jenny !!

We post updates for all our individual projects every three weeks

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My Year in Books 2018

2018 is over which means I can finally get to my year in books. I didn’t want to share stats or best of lists until I knew they wouldn’t change. So here we are. 2018 was my most successful reading year yet in terms of books read. I set my annual goal at 52 books again, knowing I could meet it but I did even better than my personal best of 63 from 2017 by reading 68 books!

It is swayed by the fact I did read a handful of novellas (and one short story) as well as a few writing craft books which are both shorter and quicker to read. My pages read is actually lower than 2017 but only because for some reason The Queen of Air and Darkness is showing up as 350 pages instead of its 950 pages reality which would easily bring my to the top. It also means that the second longest book I read is showing as the longest.

But onto the most interesting stat, at least I think so. My average rating for 2018 was 4.1 stars. Which is much higher than it use to and i think this is for two reasons, 1) I’m getting much better at judging which books I will like and am more fussy about my picks, and 2) I’m getting less fussy about my 5 stars, I used to feel like only the best books ever should be rated 5 stars but have realised books can be brilliant 5 star reads without being my all time favourite.

My rating chart is also skewed because if I do end up reading something that I think will be 1 or 2 stars I DNF it (life is too short and there are too many books to read!) and I don’t rate DNF’s.

So 68 books read. An average rating of 4.1 stars, 23 of which were 5 star reads. All this means that my Best Books of the Year list was even harder to narrow down than usual but I did it. Here are my favourites of the year….

Best Books of 2018:

1. The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn – Tyler Whitesides

Adult fantasy

The Lies of Locke Lamora but with dragons

Ardor is a cocky con artist asked by a priest to steal the kings crown to save the world. Science-y Magic system but more chemistry than physics based which is something I’ve never seen before (except maybe in Mistborn). Its basically different types of powdered dragon poop that explodes. It’s so much more awesome than that sounds I promise. The book is very long but there’s no boring info dumping or world building and Ardor’s & Raek’s friendship is Goals (brotp). Recommend it for fans of Locke Lamora or ADSoM or Mistborn.

2. Darkling & Undertow (Port Lewis Witches) by Brooklyn Ray 

NA contemporary fantasy novellas

It’s Witchy & atmospheric & queer. The MC is trans male and it has a M/M friends to lovers romance. The second novella switches POV to the boyfriend. Theres going to be a whole series of novellas each with a different MC. And I can’t wait. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are real and amazing and the covers for the whole series so far are my favourite covers of the year. A queerer and more adult Raven Boys.

3. Isle of blood & Stone by Makiia Lucier

NA Fantasy

Map makers & explorers & sailors & all things wanderlust. It has 19 yo MCs (yay for older YA) with only a very minor romance subplot (nothing explicit) which is a plus from me. A cartographer goes on an adventure to solve a riddle about 2 missing princes. The friendship between Elias (mapmaker) & Ulises (the king) is everything. One of my favourite friendships ever not just in 2018 and the setting and wanderlust are palpable.

4. Baker Thief – Claudie Arseneault

Adult fantasy

About a fat bigender Baker by day/ thief by night & the cop who wants to catch her as they both investigate magic users going missing. It has a cool mix of science based magic, based in a French-Canadian inspired setting. Really great aromantic & demisexual rep but also lots of other queer & disabled rep in the supporting cast. There’s also lots of baking that WILL make you hungry. And cats….

5. Starship’s Mage series by Glynn Stewart (I read books 2, 3, 4 & 5 in 2018 and they are all amazing so I’m putting the whole series here)

Adult sci fi

This is my favourite sci fi series ever. All of the books are amazing (the first was originally written as four novellas and it’s all self pubbed). The MC is in his 20’s but this reads more like a YA adventure than a heavy space opera. I’d describe it as the navy fleet of star trek mixed with a YA harry Potter all overseen by space royalty (and space pirates) and there’s little to no romance plot through out the series.  I can’t wait to read the next books.

6. Paper and fire (The Great Library #2) – Rachel Caine

YA alt-historical fantasy

The library of Alexandria never burned down so it now, obviously, rules the world. There are huge automaton statues that protect books & chase/kill people. Jess is a thief who loves books. Do you see the problem? Anyway, it has a diverse cast of amazing characters, non-stop action and amazing settings (Alexandria, Rome, London…)

7. Lost boy, Found boy – Jenn Polish

Scifi novella

Futuristic fully queer Peter pan retelling where Peter is trans and in an M/Enby relationship at the start.(And Tink is a gay AI whose computer code extracts reminded me of illuminae). But when Peter’s partner enlists in military service that will kill them just to be able to fly Peter creates neverland for them. The writing is gorgeous and there are so many little nods to the original story, including Peter having the same ambiguous childish morals but with a different twist….

8. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Scifi novella 

About a socially anxious security droid that has to save other humans on a strange new planet with things that want them dead. MC is so relatable it’s hilarious. It is short but felt the perfect length for the story with no unnecessarily long description of backstory to slow things down and it’s the first in a series.

9. Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli 

YA contemporary 

Adorable and fluffy read and I loved the email extracts between Simon and Blue. In fact all of the relationships in this are so good. It’s a coming out story where both families are accepting and loving and it has zero secondhand embarrassment which normally scares me off YA contemp.

Plus special mentions:

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty, A Court of Mist and Fury & A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah j Maas, The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Quick Fire Round:

Favourite Character: Either Jess Brightwell (The Great Library) or Damien Montgomery (Starship’s Mage)

Favourite Friendships:  Ardor & Raek (The Thousand Lives of Ardor Benn) and Elias & Ulises (Isle of Blood & Stone)

Favourite World/setting: The Great Library or Isle of Blood & Stone

Favourite Magic System: Dragon Poop from The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

Most Heartbreaking Book: I didn’t read any absolute heartbreakers in 2018 but there were plenty that had moments like The Poppy War or The City of Brass or The State of Grace

Happiest Book: Simon vs The Homesapiens Agenda

It was a good year in books. I’m looking forward to more amazing books in 2019 which brings me to…

Book goals for 2019

  • My annual Read 52 books challenge which you can keep track of on my goodreads if you so want. (I will because goodreads is the only way I have any clue what I’ve read!)
  • I’ve also made a “What to buy next” shelf which was me going through all backlist books (ie books that were released in 2018 or before) and picking the ones I most wanted to read. This ended up in a top 50 so this will be a rough 2019 TBR. I’ll hopefully be reading most of those books this year.
  • And finally but very importantly, I want to keep my owned books under 50 on my kindle.

Have you read any of my top books from last year and if so, what did you think? What was the best book you read last year? Hard question, I know, and it’s also unfair of me to ask because I really can’t pick one off my list. They were all so good! And what are your reading goals for the year?

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New Year, Same Me

I hope everyone has been having a happy holiday and I’m wishing you all a very happy new year. I got a load of yarn and books for Christmas, no surprises there, right? I love them anyway and I had a very exhausting but happy Christmas. I’m not going to show you the yarn, you’ll have to wait and see what I make with it (Hint: Blankets, it’ll all be blankets!)

Photo 03-12-2018, 3 52 24 pm

I kind of hate resolutions. Especially the ones that say to do something different. New year new you. Those never work for me but I do like seeing goals. Things I want to achieve which are normally a continuation of what I’m already doing. I guess my biggest struggle is to keep doing things not start (anyone who knows me know I start too many things!!). And goals help to keep me motivated and not give in.

But before we get onto 2019 I’m going back for a quick look at last year. I’m not actually going to go through the goals I wrote last year (they’re here) as I didn’t stick to most of my small goals instead I’ll focus on what happened. I did set one big one though and that was to focus on writing which I’m going to put a big tick next too even if the goal morphed throughout the year.

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2018 Happenings:

  • Finished writing my first ever proper book and edited it
  • Got feedback on my writing for the first time and learnt so much
  • Shelved that book which is an achievement for me to step away from something that was not making me happy
  • Wrote and edited a whole new book that I love so much (I’m getting feedback on it at the moment)
  • Moved back home (goodbye beautiful guernsey) and made our house ready to be put on the market (26 years worth of clutter and Wear and tear) but now we are just waiting for it to go live.
  • Got my autism diagnosis. The understanding it brings has already made such a difference to me
  • Read 67 books (I’ll go into this in my next post) 
     

So that’s my 2018 over. To be honest I’m really proud of myself. I’ve learnt so much and endured where it came to my writing without giving up. The feedback and doubts are hard. And I’ve also learnt where I should step back for my own sake. A lot of it hasn’t been easy but I wouldn’t trade other parts for anything!

Goals and Happenings for 2019

Again my main goal is going to be too focus on my writing. To keep going. To keep growing and not let myself give up. I love it so much but parts of it can be so very hard. I want to edit #ExcitingSpaceWIP based on the feedback I get. I want to get more feedback, edit it again and see where I end up. I want to also at least write a draft zero for my next story idea at some point during 2019 too. I’m not going to say I’ll write the first draft though as, while that may happen, it’s too far away to predict.

I’ll also be setting reading goals as always and also, as always, I won’t be setting it so high that is difficult for me. I like enjoying reading! My reading goal will be 52 books again and I want to keep the books I own on my kindle under 50. (Cross your fingers for me!)

The biggest event this year will be moving again. Only this time the plan is to move to Lanzarote. Finally. After so many years of planning. Which is all very scary right now with brexit happening so soon and so badly.

Linked to this is making ANOTHER attempt at learning Spanish (I think I’m on attempt 7 now? Edit: I just worked it out and this is attempt 8) I’ve downloaded a new app and am going to try to keep at it (again).

This year is going to be scary I think with the move and with brexit happening but it’s also very exciting. I have no idea what my look back at this year will look like!



So what about you? What are the biggest events of 2018 for you and what are you most proud of? I’d love to hear about them! I find that sometimes it’s the small things that we can be happiest about. My diagnosis is definitely up there for me. And what about next year? What plans and goals are on store for you?

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