30 January 2012

I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore

This is a book which I first heard about when it was being transformed into a film. I saw the trailer and wanted to go and see the film. I never saw the film at the cinema but still hope to see it.

I then came across the book at a Charity shop, this was very late December when I was stockpiling books for the reading challenge and didn't anticipate being able to read it for over a year. But I wanted to know the story so badly that I still had to pick it up.

I'm glad I did.

I was enraptured.

I've had a tough couple of weeks trying to get through my latest reading challenge book, Austerlitz, and I Am Number Four created a very welcome break which definately helped my motivation. I read it in less than 24 hours. Possibly less than 12, I'm not sure.

It is a fast-paced book, packed with action, but it's not only that which makes this book special. You can empathise with the characters, you can feel genuine joy, pain and fear.

It definately deserves it's description as the next in the legacy of Harry Potter, I feel it's a series which will leap from strength to strength. My only criticism is that perhaps talent comes too easily to the protagonist, perhaps he has too many strengths and not enough weaknesses.

Read it. You'll enjoy it.


26 January 2012

Book Three: Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford was the third book I read for the reading Challenge. I finished it on 16th January, in just 2 days. This is mostly because I'd anticipated it being about 400 pages long, but hadn't read the cover of the book which said 'and selected short stories' of which there were six, so the actual story was only 150 pages long.

Cranford is a very traditional type of place. The book doesn't seem to have a strong theme or story arc but is more a compilation of short stories about the life of the women living there.

I really enjoyed reading it, and you can read my original post about it here.


25 January 2012

Book Two: Fanny Hill - John Cleland

Fanny Hill was the second book I read for the challenge. I finished it on 14th of January

I have little to add to my original review except to say that it really is the single most explicit and dirty book I've read in my entire life. I would still recommend it, but not to anyone a little bit delicate :)

Hope you're enjoying my updates. There's still many more to come.


Book One: A Room With A View - E.M Forster

Did I mention that a Friend and I were having a book challenge? We plan to read 52 books over the course of a year, that's one book a week. Not unheard of, but all of these books are planned and selected from the 1001 books to read before you die. I've planned the order of my first several books to hopefully give me some motivation to get through some of the duller ones.

A Room With A View was my first book which I finished on 5th January and I posted a review of it on our challenge blog here.

I have nothing to add to my review and can only reiterate how funny I personally found it :)


Money Matters

While I was growing up the economy was pretty much stable. Nothing bad ever seemed to happen to it, my parents both had stable jobs, with my dad in the same one he'd had since he'd joined the workforce age 18.

When I was 14 the first recession in approximately 17 years struck. Apart from the week or so following the Twin Towers disaster the economy had seen very few tremors of a serious nature in a very long time.

I guess human nature crept in and people started to gamble. They thought they were safe and the recession hit. In the past four years I have seen the world I grew up in, which was a safe and stable environment where it was fairly likely you'd be able to get a job, transformed into a crumbling wreck. Part of this is simply the veil of childhood being lifted from my eyes. I can see clearly what was there all along, but that certainly didn't lead to the fairly solid town centre I knew turning into streets of boarded up windows and crummy seasonal stores which seem to be the only things which survive, perhaps due to the fact that they emerge already with a limited duration.

When the recession first hit people said it'll recover quickly it's strong. And then the second recession hit so we're now in a place where no matter what qualifications you've got you'll struggle to find a place as a newcomer in an already developed world. I know this, despite being qualified my boyfriend has been struggling to find permanent work for three years now, relying on a series of temp jobs and hoping to come across something he can keep. In the past year it's looked hopeful he's had a series of longer term temp jobs with smalller breaks in between them.

As of today however the future looks bleaker. It was today announced that the UK economy has once again shrunk. Shrunk at a smaller rate than previously, but none-the-less a negative turn after the apparant growth over the previous quarter. It could be a turning point, with the economy shrinking less it is only to be hoped that soon it will pick up and begin to grow again.

That is all I can hope, because if not, then in three or four years time I'm going to leave university with a degree which may be all but worthless and enter a world of work unable to find a job which is worth the hours of study put in to earn it.


23 January 2012

My First Quilt - The work of 2011

These are the squares for my first Quilt which I managed to get finished last year. 
The centre of this one was actually from the lid of a Jar of Jam my boyfriend bought me.

There will be 23 of these hearts.

There will be 24 of these friendship stars.

This centre was some curtain fabric my mum was sampling.

This centre was some curtain fabric my mum was sampling.

This heart is the wrong way round, I made a piecing error, but I think it'll add some quirkiness that I at least will love to look for.

This centre was some curtain fabric my mum was sampling.

I have no idea where this centre fabric came from but I used to use it to make barbie things as a child learning to sew.

This block will be unique in the quilt as my signature block, My thread ran out and I really should get round to finishing it, it's just laziness as there're only about 3-5 loops of chain stitch to complete it. It's the crest of my Guild in World of Warcraft, which I happen to think looks really pretty.

It doesn't look like it at the moment but I'm actually hoping the quilt will be primarily bluey green. Hopefully it will tend that way more with the completion of the heart and star blocks. Also I'll hopefully also become more selective with the fat quaters I pick.


20 January 2012

My First Quilt - Project 2012

Just over a year ago, maybe a fortnight before the end of 2010 I decided I wanted to sew something worthwhile that I could take around and use to destress a bit. Enter major, over-reaching Idea, I wanted to make a quilt. Would any old quilt do for me, no, I decided I was going to handsew a king-size quilt, because people were doing it for hundreds of years so there's no reason I couldn't right?

As a kid I liked to sew, we used to go to my grandparents every morning before school and I had my own sewing box there, it sat on top of my Nan's. I started all kinds of projects, the only ones I really finished were some cross-stitches and some dolls cushions. But my Nan used to cut up table cloths and tea towels for me to mess around with. I loved sewing them together and seeing what I could make. In hindsight perhaps my favourite part was embroidering, I did some samplers, but was somewhat hampered by only knowing two stitches.

Fast-forward about a decade from my first learning to sew and my project has evolved into 214 6 inch quilt sqaures which I planned to make during the next year. This went less well than anticipated, I got through about 30 of them, not bad, but not nearly as well as I'd planned.

So this year my project is to at least finish the front of this quilt, I plan to make approximately 3-5 a week, and hopefully show them off on sundays.

I hope you enjoy seeing what I've done.


8 January 2012

Day Five - Something you Wore

This is something I wore. It's something I wear everyday. It's important to me and sometimes when I need it, it gives me a little bit of extra focus.

It was a gift from my boyfriend for our very first Christmas together, and I've worn it pretty much everyday since the first day I was given it.

The thing I like about it in this photo is that it's out of focus and has gone sparkly.


Day Four - Letterbox

This is our letterbox at home. It's pretty boring, pretty standard, pretty much the same as any other letterbox in the country. One thing about it is that it's much more efficient than the type of letterbox we have at uni.

It's a bad photo, but it's a letterbox, and what can you do with a letterbox??


4 January 2012

Our Challenge

My friend Clarissa and I decided to do something a little bit different this year. We're going to read 52 books in a year off a preplanned list. We're doing this to raise money for Charity.

Each of those books has come off the list of 1001 books to read before you die. We will each post a review of the books as we've read them to our blog-based tracking system which can be found here.

I will also be posting my reviews of the books on this blog with hopefully the added feature of a linky at the bottom of the post which will be open until the end of the year from the time I've finished reading the book.

I hope you find time to join in if just for one or two books, or even are able to donate to the Charity we've chosen to support.


Fall of Angels - L.E.Modesitt Jr

I need to start by saying that L.E Modesitt Jr is one of my all time favourite authors, I love the way that he writes and the detail that he puts into the worlds he creates. I've only read books from two 'series' by him, but every single one of those books I have loved!

Fall of Angels is the sixth book in the Saga of Recluce. I was a little bit apprehensive about reading it because the first five books were all very much of the same mould, so much so that they were criticised for it and thereafter none of them were published in the UK, causing a bit of a palava when I wanted the sixth one and had to order it from the USA.

It's surprising, to me at least, that the sixth book wasn't published here, because it's definately something different. It's the same writing style, however this novel is set much earlier in the world of Recluce, and even contains some sci-fi elements.

The book is about the crew of a spaceship which basically jumps to somewhere it would be irretreivable. They manage to land it in the only part of the 'impossible' planet which happens to be nearby, that most of them would be able to survive on. They still get attacked by the locals because they are primarily female and are attracting abused women from all over the continent. They eventually reach a truce at the close of a costly battle in which they effectively massacre thousands of local soldiers.

It was epic and I could barely put it down.

My favourite part of the story, in a bizarre way, was a side story, in which the main protagonist has his good nature taken advantage and is used to artificially inseminate several of the women as pretty much the only male. He doesn't realise until three of the children are born and they have too many similarities to his daughter he knew about to be anyone else's.

It's definately a book or even a series I would recommend to anyone whose looking for something a little bit different in fantasy and enjoys nice established worlds.


Winter Cushion

I mentioned a while back the Autumn cushion that I'd made as a Christmas present, and the three I intended to make to go with it, well I did make them, borrowing my mum's machine to speed up the process a little.

This Cushion is basically the same layout as the Autumn Cushion, and the tree is intended to be the same. I made a few errors while piecing so that some of the patchwork squares are in the wrong places, but overall it turned out well.

Instead of a pile of leaves the focal point of this cushion, and what makes it signify winter is the snowman. However I did the snowman using a blanket stitch, to try and imply snowy spaces, and the connecting stitches slid to the inside. 

Giving my snowman a rather spiky look.

Even so I'm pleased with it as I think you can still tell it is a snowman.


Day Three - Something You Adore

Something I adore is the countryside. This Photo embodies my local countryside for me. It also gives me a feeling of being something very small as a part of something very big.


2 January 2012

Day Two - Breakfast

A little more punctual with day two!

I'm not a conventional breakfast eater, I was when I was younger, when my mum was in complete control of my dietary habits but I would definately say I am no longer. Breakfast is one of those meals which just doesn't sit well. I can stomach it if it's a cooked breakfast, if it is leftovers or if it is cake. On occasions I can stomach toast, but I need to have been up for a while and I often don't have leftovers or cake to eat, so more often than not I skip it, despite the fact that I adhere to the belief it is one of the most important meals of the day.

I always try to eat it when I'm working, because in my job we don't sit around and do nothing all day and lunch is later rather than earlier, although roughly in the middle of our working day, we start late. I also always try to eat it if I have an exam or a day which is particularly packed with lectures.

My breakfast today however was leftover lemon tart which was made for New Years Eve celebrations with my godparents, I was still there for the evening meal part of the day.


Day One - You

I've decided to join in with Fat Mum Slim's January Photo Challenge which although I'd read the original post I'd forgotten about until seeing this post by Caitlin of Caitlin's Happy Heart. Which is why this post is going up a day late and with a photo which technically wasn't taken by me, but was more or less the only focused photo from a slightly tipsy New Years Eve celebration out. It was taken before midnight.

I really like this photo, despite it's blurriness and my slightly overdone eye make-up, because it was a great night out with some great friends. Also my eye make-up seems a little less over the top as it and the bangle visible were the only colour I had on, and we were headed to a nightclub where it was practically subtle anyway.