2017 Reading Challenge Plans

Well, here’s another Friday without any Friday Reads book review update. I’ve been reading again this week, but not enough to finish any of the books I’m working on. And it’s come to the point where I’ve determined I’m not going to be completing my 2016 Reading Challenge. I think partly I got sick of reading what the list dictated I needed to read next. So that was a learning experience for me – don’t plan myself into a corner by getting too detailed with my plans. (You may recall from Wednesday’s blog post that I’d been doing the same thing with my knitting.)

Anyway, with that in mind, I have determined what my 2017 Reading Challenge will be. And it will have a lot looser rules than this year (they’re really more guidelines).

Part 1: I will be participating in the Purrfect Reading Challenge 2017. This is hosted by Yvonne over on Blogger (or she started a group over on Goodreads if you prefer that participation format). I will be doing the “purring” level, which means I am committing to read 10 cat mystery books. (The cat needs to be a main character in the book for it to count.) It sounds like fun, and I’ve enjoyed reading the “Cat Who” books in the past, so this should be a good way to find more enjoyable cozy mysteries for fun reads.

Part 2: for every book I re-read, I must read 3 new-to-me books. I’m hoping to use this part to knock down my TBR pile on my bookshelf a bit. I read plenty of new books when I come straight home from the bookstore or the library. But when I go to my bookshelf to find something to read, I’m more likely to pick up an old friend instead of something new… and there’s a growing pile of new books waiting on my shelf for me to read them.

So that’s my reading plan for 2017. I think it will be much more easily doable than this year’s challenge with its many specific requirements. Happy reading!

WIP Weds ~ the fickle edition

I have been knitting again! Yay! I figured out part of what had stalled me: I over-planned my knitting year. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the projects I have currently OTN* (on the needles). But sometimes having a Plan (yes, with a capital P) can take the fun out of knitting even enjoyable projects. Sometimes I want a new project to get the spark of creativity flowing again. In this case, that spark provided by the Dangling Conversation scarf, which I cast on in my Schachenmayr select Tahiti yarn.

I’m really loving the way this is knitting up. The yarn makes a beautiful fabric, with a lovely drape. There is an occasional problem where the yarn gets splitty when I add a bead, but for the most part it’s not an issue. Speaking of the beads, I picked them at random out of my bead stash because I thought they’d compliment the yarn nicely. I think they were a good choice. I don’t remember where I got them, though, so I can’t pass along that information.

The new knitting has been so much fun that I’m also thinking of casting on the December MKAL: Rose Quartz project that Lattes & Llamas is hosting. I do want to also get back to the projects OTN, but only one of them has anything like a deadline (now that I’ve admitted I won’t be finishing the GAL blanket by the January deadline). So I have the time — I hope — to add another KAL in there as long as I can keep the knitting mojo flowing.

* For the record, before the new item(s) cast on, I had OTN: 2 pairs of socks, the 2016 GAL blanket, the Leaving Cowl, the East of the Sun West of the Moon Shawl which I love but whose rows are really long right now, another shawl which is destined for the frog pond because I don’t like the yarn I picked for it, a toy monkey I’m not happy with but might make myself finish, and the Babette Blanket which hasn’t seen any action in a very long time. I’ll get back to them shortly.


Friday Not-Reads

I haven’t been reading much lately. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been too busy, because I’m not feeling like reading the books I’m in the middle of, or because of some other reason or emotion or hidden stress. (I’m not aware of any stress, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.)

So instead, let’s do a quick list. As the Yarn Harlot has said, five things make a blog. So:

  1. It’s snowing on WordPress again. I love this time of year on the blog for purely that reason.
  2. The GAL knitting has kinda stalled out. I lasted longer working on one Knit-A-Long than usual (almost the entire year!) but I don’t think I’m going to be able to finish enough squares in time to enter my blanket in the give-away contest. I’m still going to finish the blanket, but probably not to any kind of deadline.
  3. Thanks to Mr. Scrooge, I tend to think about whether I’m happy in my job more at Christmas time than any other time of year. I won’t bore you with my decisions, but it’s something to think about.
  4. I still love Skyrim. I love the Elder Scrolls games in general, but I love the gameplay mechanics of Skyrim the best. But I love Morrowind and Oblivion too. It’s tempting to go back and play those again after I’m done with Skyrim.
  5. I feel bad abandoning my current books, but I think I am going to go through my bookshelf and look at my comfort reads. The books I re-read every couple of years (or annually, depending on the book). Right now I just need something familiar, I think.

Have a great December!

101 in 1001 ~ update the fifth

It’s time for the 5th update on my 101 in 1001 Challenge! If you haven’t been following along on this journey so far or have any questions about what the challenge is, you can check out this link for details.

It seems like I both got a lot done this month, and nothing at all. It’s been a very weird month. (I took a vacation during it, plus there was the Thanksgiving Holiday, so I guess those things contributed to the weird feeling of the month, but I’m not sure that was all of it.) Anyway, I guess I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves instead of trying to explain them. Here’s this month’s progress:

November 2016
3 items completed this month
22 items currently in progress

Food #31: Bake a pumpkin pie ~ 11/23/2016

Since I hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year, I could choose who would be providing which parts of the meal. I decided I would provide the turkey and the desserts – which meant I had the perfect excuse to bake a pumpkin pie! I used the basic recipe from the back of the pumpkin pie filling for this one. Simple, basic, and pretty good. I will make tweaks to the recipe next time I make a pumpkin pie, because it was good but not perfect. Since I like pumpkin pie, I will be on the lookout for the perfect pie recipe. Hopefully the perfect recipe won’t require me to start from a pumpkin, because that sounds like just too much work. I will make a pie crust from scratch next time, though. (I ran out of time for this one.)

Food #36: Go a month without eating fast food ~ 11/30/2016

When you have a long vacation in places with yummier food options than fast food, this challenge item becomes a lot easier. It helps when you have just finished a show that left you with no time for any dinner options except fast food, and so you are sick of fast food and will go out of your way to eat something different.

Writing #99: Participate in NaNoWriMo in 2016 ~ 11/1/2016

Technically as soon as I started writing on November 1st, this one was done. Didn’t plan out the challenge requirement for this one very well. Oh well, I’m glad I didn’t put anything about word count (especially winning NaNo) for this challenge item, because I had a miserable word count this year. I still participated in NaNo, and I intend to keep going on writing the novel, but it’s going to be a bit slower going than the at-least-close-to-50k in one month that I had hoped for.

Hard to believe there’s only one month left in the year, isn’t it? Hopefully 2016 will be kind to us in December.


WIP Weds – drive-by edition

This will be a super-fast WIP Weds post today, with pictures that are a little out of date, but I felt guilty for not sharing these things on the blog. They need their time to be seen too, right?

Here is the Mortal Kombat GAL square. I haven’t played this game, and don’t intend to play it. However, it is a classic game and the logo HAS A DRAGON, so of course I had to knit the square. (I’m nearly done with the square now, but have been knitting in artificial light, so this is the best picture I’ve been able to get.)

And here is an old photo of the Leaving Cowl. I may have talked about this one a while ago… or I may not. I’m not sure and don’t have the energy to look it up. Anyway, I started knitting it, then started focusing exclusively on the GAL, and then needed a break from all blanket knitting, all the time. So I picked the cowl back up, and started working on it again.

I have made a bunch more progress on it since this picture was taken, but this is a better picture than anything I’ve taken since. Because kitty.

Have a great rest of the week, and happy December Eve!

Friday Reads: The Secret Garden

61tm4fkvqdl-_sl300_The Secret Garden
2016 Book Challenge: a book a friend recommended
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
narrated by Johanna Ward
(children’s fiction, classic fiction)

I somehow managed to avoid reading this one as a child. (I suspect it had something to do with this being “a children’s book”. I was rather proud of the fact that I could read well above my grade level, and so was sometimes kinda snobbish about which books I chose to read for pleasure. However, it could also easily be because this was not a fantasy or even adventure book. Even now, I still prefer to read fantasies, but I will read more mundane books as well. At the time, I almost never elected to read a non-fantasy book. Most of the ones I read were class assignments, and this book was never assigned to me for school.)

Anyway, in my adult life I have had many people recommend this book to me. They find out I never read it as a kid, and it becomes a new “must read”. So eventually, I picked up the Audible version and listened to that.I’m glad I went with the Audible version. The broad Yorkshire used in the story is much more enjoyable to listen to than I suspect it would have been to read. And the narrator, Johanna Ward, does a great job with this book.

What did I think about the book itself? It has certainly earned its place as a classic novel. (Though there are some race-related comments that must be taken in context of the era.) I enjoyed listening to it. This is not one that I need to revisit often, though, I think. I’m glad to have read it, but it won’t be on my keeper shelf. This might be different if I had first read it as a child. I might have associated more with the main characters if I was closer to their age, and therefore it might mean more to me. Coming to it for the first time as an adult, however, it’s an enjoyable book but not one that really speaks to me personally.

So should you read it? If you, like me, haven’t read it before, then yes, I do think you should. Not just girls or women, either; I think boys and men would be equally benefited by the read. I do think this is one best approached for the first time as a youth, though. So I’m more likely to suggest that you read it with your daughter or son, if applicable – there’s a lot in there which can be discussed as a family during the reading of it.

Friday Reads: Eight Million Gods

18730787.jpgEight Million Gods
2016 Book Challenge: a book with a number in the title
by Wen Spencer
(urban fantasy, mythological elements)

This is a book that I have wanted to read since the first time I read the Elfhome book with the first chapter of Eight Million Gods at the back as a teaser. (I think it was Wolf Who Rules, but it might have been Elfhome. I read those two so closely together that I forget.) It sounded like a really interesting premise, and so it went on my TBR list. Well, I finally got my hands on a copy of it and dug in! And the book didn’t disappoint. Very fun romp through Japan – both modern and mythological. (Never having been to Japan or been much involved in Japanese culture, I can’t speak to its authenticity, but it felt right based on the little I do know.)

A very quick, spoiler-free summary: our heroine has hypergraphia, a condition which is characterized by a compulsion to write. In Nikki Delaney’s case, she has become able to turn this compulsion into a productive thing, channeling her need to write into her novels. However, when one of her characters dies in a fashion very similar to a real murder, Nikki must find out quickly whether this is the work of a crazy fan or something more sinister. And when a raccoon in a business suit shows up at her door, she starts to think there’s something very wrong with her sanity.

(See why I wanted to read it? Crazy-fun stuff!)

The book was as fun as I had hoped. One of the things I really enjoyed was getting to see the entire story from Nikki’s POV, even in the instances where it seemed we were reading someone else’s POV. (Read it. You’ll see.) That was a very clever way of doing it. The universe seemed consistent with itself – and, as I said earlier, with the little I know of Japanese culture – and all the characters felt fully fleshed out. This is one I’ll enjoy re-reading in a few years to see if I catch anything new in the beginning chapters now that I know the ending.