Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Yarn Along: Gilmore Girls MKAL Cowl

Yarn Along is a wonderful weekly link-up hosted by Ginny at the Small Things blog about two of the best things in life: books and knitting.


I'm working on the Gilmore Girls mystery knit-along pattern by Marinade Knits! The four clues were released Thanksgiving through Sunday; it's meant to be knitted while watching "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life," but I really wanted to finish my re-watch of the last couple seasons before diving into the new episodes, so I'm working on my cowl while watching season 7. (And this way I can really focus and savor when I'm watching "A Year in the Life.")

I really like how it's coming along! I tried to conceal the meat of the pattern in the photo in case anyone happens upon this post who's not done the first three clues yet, but you can see it'll be a long cowl with some colorwork segments (and it does have a unique construction for a cowl).

I'm so glad I splurged and bought the accompanying yarn kit from Knitted Wit on Etsy... it was way more than I would normally spend for yarn (especially for just a cowl! -- and especially for a cowl that I won't be able to wear for the next 2 1/2 years!) but it was my birthday present to myself.

Being from Colorado (and missing it!) I was totally drawn to the main color yarn, which is called aspen forest. The kit also came with four mini skeins of yarn in purple/fuscia, lime green, deep red and bright orange. I'm not really an orange person, and though I hate to stray from the kit and its gorgeous, soft, yummy yarn, I may substitute a teal for the orange. Teal is my favorite color, and it'll fit in great with the other jewel tones. (The yarn colors are so much richer than the photo shows, but we're having an uncharacteristic stretch of gray, rainy weather here in Hawaii and that was the best lighting I could muster.)

There's no book in my photo today -- gasp! I've definitely been reading up a storm (last week I read "Turbo Twenty-Three" by Janet Evanovich, "The Fifth Season" by N.K. Jemisin and "The Christmas Town" by Donna VanLiere) but I'm not too sure if I'm going to continue my current book, a YA fantasy novel called "Nevernight" by Jay Kristoff. (You can see my bookstagram photo here.)

I'm only about 25 pages in -- and I am intrigued by the plot -- but reading Kristoff's writing is like hiking up a mountain over boulders and through sucking mud -- so hard to plod through. It's ostentatious to begin with, there are about 100% too many similes and metaphors, and there are even verbose footnotes! It took me somewhere around 45 minutes just to read those 25 pages, and I'm typically a pretty speedy reader.

I'm not a big fan of YA books because the writing is often too simplistic and the stories lack depth, so I can hardly believe this is a young adult book. I've read my fair share of pretentious literary fiction and yet this YA fantasy novel might be too much for me!

P.S. For the most part, I utterly despise my weekly trips to the military commissary (grocery store) but something I do like is that they stock a handful of products from other countries, especially during the holidays. They had a huge selection of German cookies and confections, and I couldn't resist a box of those butter cookies. They're like animal crackers for adults -- and taste so good dunked in a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Books to Buy For All the Readers on Your List

It's officially Christmastime -- and gift-shopping time! As a devout bookworm myself, I love to buy books as presents but sometimes it can be hard to choose the right book for certain people. Hopefully this list will help you shop for both the booknerds and the reluctant readers on your list! I've read and loved almost all the book below -- and the few I haven't gotten to yet are highly recommended. They're mostly newer releases with a few older books thrown in. Happy shopping!

(I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish to share my list. Head over and check out hundreds of other gift guides there!)

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (in a tie for my fave book of the year)
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (an awesome Jane Eyre re-telling)
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (I haven't read this family saga yet but I've heard so many good things about it!)
The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron
 Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthoney Doerr
The Lasts Days of Night by Graham Moore
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
The Fireman by Joe Hill 
The Passage by Justin Cronin

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
You by Caroline Kepnes
The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

 A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (witches, vampires, daemons)
Written in Red by Anne Bishop (shapeshifters, vampires, elementals)
 A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (early- to mid-1900s Russia)
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (late 1800s Washington state and Alaska)
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (1920s Kenya)

In the Woods by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #1)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #1)
Still Life by Louise Penny (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Detective Hodges #1, more of a detective story than a mystery, but I wanted to make sure it got on the list and this was the most appropriate place)
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (Lady Emily #1)

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (all of Kate's books fit in this category!)
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
My Life in France by Julia Child
Delicious by Ruth Reichl 

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the America City by Matthew Desmond
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Grunt: The Curious Life of Humans at War by Mary Roach
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

 One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
Let's Pretend This Never Happened A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (the funniest book I have ever read)
You Have to Fucking Eat by Adam Mansbach (perfect for parents of toddlers!)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (great book for people who don't read much fantasy, also good for teens)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (ditto above)
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
 (Here are some great lesser-known titles that the bookworm in your life might not've read yet.)


 Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer (mystery set in Scotland with an autistic protagonist)
The Daily Coyote: A Story of Love, Survival and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming by Shreve Stockton (woman moves to middle-of-nowhere Wyoming and adopts an orphaned coyote; amazing photos!)
Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre (a phenomenal war story written by an Iraq veteran)
The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne (memoir by a reference librarian and strongman with Tourette's)
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy (American comes of age in 1950s Paris)

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

(Because, let's face it, there are lots of books geared toward women. But I've read nearly all of these and I can tell you with certainty that they're unisex!)

guys collage 2

If there are any kids on your shopping list, this book is ador-a-ble! (I love the entire Bear series. The board book of "Bear Snores On" is my go-to baby shower gift.)

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