101 in 1001 ~ update the thirteenth

It’s time for the 13th 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’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for over a year now! Crazy. It does show something about me, though: if I can make a tracker for something, I’m a LOT more likely to keep doing it. I have a tracker for the challenge in my Bullet Journal, and also have an Excel sheet I’ve been updating with progress. And you know what? Unlike (untracked) New Year’s resolutions, this one I have been keeping up with.

Here’s this month’s challenge progress:

July 2017
1 item completed this month
27 items currently in progress

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Blog #22: Refresh my list of Favorite Blogs, and find at least 10 new blogs to include ~ 7/27/2017

I have all of the links to these new blogs in the official challenge post (which is a sticky post at the top of the blog), and I enjoy visiting them. I’m just glad they ended up being blogs on a variety of topics – usually when I go looking for new blogs I end up finding bunches all on the same topic and don’t branch out at all. Granted, most of the blog topics in my list of new blogs-to-follow are one of a few things, but hey, those are my interests, right? It only makes sense that most of the blogs I read would be about things I’m interested in.

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In any case, even with little in the way of completed tasks this has been a good month. Have a great August! Can you believe we’re already to August?

Friday Reads ~ in which we have another review catch-up

I had previously finished reading Xenation: Draw the Line and Farstep Station, both by Lazette Gifford. At the time, I didn’t have the time or energy to write book reviews for them. I’ve since found both time and energy, though. The reviews for each book can be found in the links in their titles above.

And a quick update on the 2017 Reading Challenge: I have finished reading 5 of 10 Cat Mystery books, and have started my 6th. I’ve also read 81.4% new books this year, which is over my 75% goal for the year. I guess I haven’t been as tempted to re-read books as in years past! We’ll see if I can keep that up, though. All it will take is getting into one long series of books I’ve already read to throw that off… and I’ve been considering re-reading The Chronicles of Prydain this year. That would mess up my percentage right there.

WHAT I READ

This week I finished reading Doctor Who: City of Death by James Goss (full review is here). It was enjoyable, though not a new favorite book. (Mostly because it’s not a favorite episode of Doctor Who.) The writing was good and the humor was great, though, even if it isn’t my favorite story plot.

I also finished the audio book Split the Party, the second of Drew Hayes’ Spells, Swords, and Stealth series. (The review is here.) Love it! This one is a new favorite book, and it (as well as the first in the series, NPCs) is in the running for Favorite Book Read in 2017.

WHAT I’M READING

As soon as I finished Split the Party, I started listening to Going Rogue, the third Spells, Swords, & Stealth book. There’s a fourth one coming out either later this year or next year, though the release date hasn’t been announced yet. I suspect this 4th book will be an instant purchase for me, too.

I also started to read Black Cat Crossing (A Bad Luck Cat Mystery #1) by Kay Finch. This will be another book for my Cat Mystery Reading Challenge. It’s amusing so far.

For ebooks, I just started Lazette Gifford’s Beware the Wrath of Bunny Hopper, mostly because the title made me laugh. I haven’t gotten far enough into it yet to tell you what I think of it other than that.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

My next audio book might be another non-fiction book. I’m thinking it will be the Great Courses book The Search for Exoplanets by Joshua Winn. I’m not positive yet, though.

And my next paper book will almost certainly be Bellwether by Connie Willis. It’s been all I can do to not start reading it (even without having finished my current paper book) ever since Amazon delivered it to me.

WIP Weds ~ in which there is shawl progress

Remember when I mentioned casting on a new shawl due to having some waiting room time and wanting an easy project to keep my attention? Well, here is the progress on that shawl:

This is approximately one week’s worth of knitting time on the shawl. It’s been a lot of fun to work on.

The shawl in question is Reyna, by Noora Laivola, and I’m knitting it in Queensland Uluru. I got the yarn from a friend’s destash; I loved the color and halo, but wasn’t sure about the yarn content. (It’s a cotton-acrylic-polyester blend, and I don’t think I’ve knit with anything like it before.) Well, I love working with it, too.

There has been other knitting, too. There’s been a row or two of GAL square progress, but I don’t have any pics of that (since there wouldn’t be much to see, anyway.) There has also been more work on the Vanilla is the New Black socks:

Very nearly to the toe decreases for this one, and then it’s all over but the Kitchner.

The VitNB socks are another gift for this year, and I may also give the Reyna shawl as a gift. (It depends on whether I like it too much to give up, even though it would be given to a local family member so I would still get to see it.) I am glad that this year I’ve gotten A LOT more of my gift knitting done early than usual, but I also want to work on something for me.

Maybe when Reyna is done I’ll pull out the East of the Sun, West of the Moon beaded shawl I have in progress for myself, and work on that. The rows are long, but it’s a very fulfilling knit as well. And I still haven’t decided who the Minecraft socks are for. (I don’t have too long to figure that out. I want to work on those after I’m done with the Vanilla is the New Black socks, so I’ll need to decide soon.)

Have a great rest of the week!

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Books I Liked More/Less Than I Thought I Would

Let’s do another Top Ten Tuesday! They’re still on hiatus until August 15th, so we’re going to revisit an old topic, Top Ten Books I Liked More/Less Than I Thought I Would. I’m going to try to give five of each… we’ll see how that goes.

One note on these… in general, these books will be relatively recent reads. This is not because I’ve never read anything that was surprisingly good or surprisingly bad before this year. It’s only because the recent reads are fresher in my mind, and so are what I think of first.

Books I liked MORE then expected:

  1. NPCs by Drew HayesI expected to enjoy this book. I ended up loving it; I think it’s my favorite read of 2017 so far.
  2. Norse Mythology by Neil GaimanI picked this one up expecting it to be a less-dry-than-usual mythology book. Instead, Gaiman wrote this to read more like fiction than mythology, and yet still be myth.
  3. Glitter & Mayhem anthology of short storiesWhen I snagged this ebook, I thought I’d like the story I bought it for, and that’s about it. I didn’t expect to enjoy many of the other stories, and so I was thrilled when I did.
  4. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L’EngleI know I read this book when I was younger… or at least, I know I started to read this book. I always considered it my least favorite of the Time Trilogy (which is now the Time Quintet) because I couldn’t remember the ending. I suspect now that I never got that far. In any case, I re-read it last year because I’d already re-read A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, so I figured I might as well finish out the set. And I really liked it this time around! So glad I picked it up!
  5. City of the Lost by Kelley ArmstrongI really like Armstrong’s urban fantasy novels, but I haven’t enjoyed her thrillers much before. I picked this one up because Armstrong has finished her paranormal series, and so I decided to give this new suspense-thriller series a chance. I liked it so much more than I expected! This series is now on my “to read” list as soon as a new book gets announced.

Books I liked LESS than expected:

  1. The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola CarrI wanted to love this book, I really did. Instead I barely liked it.
  2. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules VerneI knew this would be written in something other than the modern style, but I still expected it to be READABLE. I didn’t expect a listing of different types of fish instead of an actual adventure novel. (DNF)
  3. The Seventh Bride by T. KingfisherTo be fair, most of what I enjoyed less than expected about this book was the narration. In order to make her main character sound as young as appropriate, the narrator’s other characters all sounded a bit out of place.
  4. Nozy Cat #1 by Lyn KeyI can’t speak to the actual plot in this case. I couldn’t get past the writing style in order to enjoy what sounded like a good premise and fun characters. YMMV, and if you enjoy this writing style more power to you… but it wasn’t for me. (DNF)
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisOkay, not one book in this case, but seven. I grew up LOVING this series. Absolutely adoring them. I wanted to go to Narnia. I wanted to be Queen Susan. So imagine my surprise (and horror) when, this time around, I was a bit turned off by reading them. They weren’t as fun as they were supposed to be. The books had a lot more less-nice stuff than I remembered. (And not the intentional less-nice stuff like war and betrayal. The unintentional less-nice stuff like sexism and racism.) I’m not sure I will be able to re-read these again any time soon, if ever. I’ll just remember that I loved them once, and that they didn’t age as well as I’d hoped, and maybe I can leave it at that.

Misc Monday ~ in which I try a new BuJo layout

As you have read in prior blogs, I am into Bullet Journaling. I really love it; for me, this is one great way to keep on track. I can record all of my plans and goals in one place, and know that it’s all where I need to see it.

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I recently moved from a Rhodia webnotebook into a Scribbles that Matter journal. I love them both for different reasons, but one thing I love about both of them over much of the competition is that the paper is fountain pen friendly. (The Rhodia has better paper than the STM, but both are better than other journals I’ve tried so far.) I can use my fountain pens on both, with no bleed-through and minimal ghosting. I can even use regular ink stamps in them without difficulties.

(For comparison, I’ve tried Moleskeine journals, and while I love their wide range of covers, if I want to use my fountain pens AT ALL I can’t use these journals for anything where I want to write on both sides of the page. I’ve also tried Leuchtturm 1917 and while they are much better, I still have to be careful with my broad nib fountain pens and I have to use a chalk stamp pad instead of the ink pads I prefer.)

In any case, when I changed notebooks (because I ran out of pages in the Rhodia), I tried transferring my spreads directly over to the STM journal. Only to find out that the number of squares per page is slightly different. If I remember correctly, they have the same number across the page, but the vertical count is different. Not a huge deal, but it did mean I wanted to vary my layouts a bit.

And then I realized that my weekly spread wasn’t really doing it for me anymore. There was too much duplication between my weekly and daily spreads. So I’m now testing out a new weekly layout, and here’s the basic premise of it for anyone who has a BuJo and wants to test it out for themselves:

Weekly BuJo

This coming week will be my first using this spread, so we’ll see how I like it. (I drew it in Excel for the week following, so that I could see how the spread worked across months.) I’ll be using stamps for the hydration tracker, the weather, and my moods… and possibly my cleaning tracker, if I have stamps that work.

I like the way it looks so far, but I’m not positive how useful it will be. That is one thing I like about the Bullet Journal system, though: you can use whatever helps you at the moment, and change it up when it’s no longer helpful.

Have a great week!

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I haven’t used them in a while, but the links to Amazon are affiliate links. There’s no extra charge to you if you decide to purchase anything using the link.

Friday Reads ~ in which I finish a few things

Well, I finished a few things, but haven’t written any reviews yet. I’ll hopefully catch up to that again soon.

WHAT I READ

I finished my ebook read of Xenation: Draw The Line by Lazette Gifford. I really enjoyed that one. It had a great plot and alien lifeforms. There were more typos than there should have been, though, so I’m not impressed with that aspect of it. (Makes me wonder if Gifford had a different editor for this one than for Kat Among the Pigeons, because that book had few typos by comparison.)

I also finished listening to The Medieval World (Great Courses lecture series) by Dorsey Armstrong. There was more background history than I expected, though now that I think about it I’m not sure why this was the case. There should be history in this lecture series. I guess I had expected more about everyday life and the arts and less about the history. (There were lectures on those aspects too. Just not as many as there were on history.) The lecturer also has a lot of places where she stumbles over a word and then says it again – as you would expect in an actual lecture, but not generally considered to be ok for an audio book. (This aspect really annoyed me.) And in addition, she reads a lot of quotes from period manuscripts. (This makes sense.) She tends to read them in the original language and then translate them into modern English. This made sense the first few times, but gradually came to feel like showing off that she speaks and can translate Old English. (It probably isn’t, since I know the original language has nuances that translations don’t, but it got annoying.) Anyway. It’s a good series of lectures with a lot of information in them. But maybe space them out and only listen to one lecture at a time instead of letting the audio play through multiple lectures at once.

WHAT I’M READING

I am still reading my same paper book – Doctor Who: The City of Death by James Goss and Douglas Adams. It’s enjoyable, but isn’t adding as much to the show’s plot as I had hoped. There’s a little more depth than the TV show, but not as much as I wanted. Oh well, it’s still a fun romp.

I just started listening to Split The Party (Spells, Swords, & Stealth #2) by Drew Hayes. I really liked the first one of these books, so the second will hopefully be fun, too.

And I am still reading Farstep Station by Lazette Gifford on my eReader. Haven’t gotten far enough in it yet to have too much of an opinion on it, so I’ll save that for next time.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

I have a couple of eBooks queued up, but I’m not sure in which order I’ll read them. It could be:

  • Dragon’s Egg by Robert L Forward
  • Wool by Hugh Howey
  • The Video Game Plotline Tester by Michael Atamanov
  • Schooled in Magic by Christopher Nutall
  • Glory by Devin O’Branagan
  • Once Upon a Coffee by Kait Nolan

… or it could be one of the book samples I have (Shadowbound by Bec McMaster or Dark Desires by Eve Silver). I’m really not sure yet, but it will be something I already own. (I hope.)

My next audio book will either be another crack at All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (I only got about 1/4 the way through on my first attempt) or something else fun. Perhaps The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pendian or perhaps I’ll buy the third Drew Hayes book in the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series. (I think that’s Going Rogue, but I don’t own it yet.)

My next paper book – which I should be able to get to soon – will be another cat mystery book. Maybe Rest in Pieces (Mrs. Murphy #2) by Rita Mae Brown.

Have a great weekend!

WIP Wednesday ~ in which it’s all about that GAL*

Okay, it hasn’t been all Geek-A-Long knitting this week. There has also been Reyna, and the Vanilla is the New Black socks. But all I’m going to talk about this week is the Geek-A-Long blanket.

2016 GAL Blanket Progress

The 2016 GAL blanket (per the official GAL rules) is technically 24 squares. I have knit 21 squares, and am on my 22nd. That means I’m about 88% done with the official blanket. However, since my blanket is knit with smaller yarn, it will be a smaller blanket than the official one. Also, since the official 2016 GAL is over, it doesn’t matter if I make my blanket to the official size.

Another thing I have to consider is that I am including more than just video game squares in my 2016 GAL blanket. (The 2016 theme was video games, for anyone who isn’t aware.) And as such, I have all of the 2017 squares (superheroes) and the 2014 squares (general geeky themes) to choose from. I could even use the 2015 squares if I can find some that are easy to adjust in size. (The 2015 squares were a different size.) And if I wait too long, I’ll likely have 2018 squares as well. So, that leaves me with a bunch of options and I’m not likely to want to leave any favorites out. I currently have at least 15 squares on my radar as possible inclusions to this blanket.

2016 GAL Blanket Progress

But… I would like to eventually finish it, and not leave this as a perpetual, never-ending project. In fact, finishing the GAL blanket is one of my goals for the 101 in 1001 Challenge I’m in the middle of, so I’ve set myself a goal of finishing it by 4/8/2019. That means I have to start looking at how big I truly want this to be, so that I can determine whether or not I’m on track for finishing it by spring of 2019.

I know for sure that I want to add at least one more row and one more column. That would be a total of 30 squares, meaning I’d have 8 3/4 squares left to knit. I’m not sure that’s enough. I am thinking that this will be a sofa lap blanket, so maybe one more column and two more rows? Meaning 35 squares total, or 13 3/4 more. I think that might be a good size. I will also eventually have to decide on orientation – aka is the top of the blanket the shorter side or the longer side? – but that is a decision which can wait for later.

2016 GAL Blanket Progress

*Yes, this did make me think of the song “All About That Bass”. However, not the original version. I didn’t think much of the song one way or the other until I heard the Postmodern Jukebox version, which I love. If you haven’t seen that one yet, you can find one take of it here (they have different casts, so sometimes songs get repeated), and it is awesome.