Little Catch Up

It’s been a while since I last posted on here.

Happy New Year to you all!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and managed to get a lot of crafting in. I haven’t managed to get much crafting done at all lately.

Christmas kind of takes over everything, but I’ve also started a new job in the last month and since that was in retail…well, you can imagine how manic that got over December!

Honestly, I simply haven’t had the inclination to sit down and knit and it’s been kind of nice to step back away from the crafty side of things for a little while.


I’ve been doing some reading lately. With all the books I’ve been buying people I racked up 10 stamps at Waterstones which means a free book! I chose The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix.

It’s set in the early 80’s (in an alternate 80’s) and is about the coexistence of the Old World and the New. Our heroine Susan is caught up in an adventure after witnessing Merlin, who is a Left-handed fighting bookseller, kill a crime boss with a silver hatpin…

I really can’t explain it anymore than that! I enjoyed the book as a fiction read that wasn’t a science fiction book by Isaac Asimov (which feels like all I’ve read over the past 3 years!) and it was an interesting concept.

The writing style was almost a little too simplistic. And the heroine was mostly swept up in things rather than participating in a lot of it. I guess it felt more reactive than active until the very end.

Some things could have been explained or detailed a bit more. And the relationship between Merlin and Susan could have been expanded upon.

But overall, a good read.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned this into a film…

I’m currently reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott...it’s about the art of writing. Some writing and life advice. It was going OK, until she started mentioning God every 3 pages and made a comment about France losing the war! I can’t get that throwaway comment out of my mind and it’s coloured the whole book now, haha!

So, we’ll see if I can finish it!


I thought I’d show you some of the crafty bits and bobs I got for Christmas…

I got some fabric. Denim in dark blue and yellow/ gold. I’m thinking a bag or a skirt. Not sure yet!

You can just see the yellow and blue denim in the background below…I couldn’t get the other pics to upload, internet just went funny at the crucial moment!

I also got a set of gorgeous dark red Christmas fat quarters. The colours are a lot darker in real life. I’m saving them for next year as the desire to make ANYTHING festive has completely left me.

My brother bought me a wool winder and since I’ve treated myself to 3 new balls of wool today and all of them are in hanks and not balls…well, that’s going to come in useful!

And the wool I bought?

Some 100% British Wool by West Yorkshire Spinners (Jacob in Aran weight) on the right of the pic below. I bought 2 balls of that, thinking it would be good for a hat or as part of a Fair Isle yoke for a jumper I have in mind to start soon.

And I also bought just the one ball of Washted Malabrigo (684 Chameleon colour).

You can get that one here from Wool Warehouse if you like the look of it(the one on the left). It’s really squishy and soft!

And for Christmas I got some more wool by West Yorkshire Spinners in brown and cream colours for the jumper I just mentioned above…so I’m all ready to start measuring and designing my first ever top down jumper!

And these are natural fleece colours…no nasty chemicals or fixatives, just pure wool as it came off the sheep! So…an eco-friendly option!


And finally…

The next post will be looking at my 2022 crafting goals. And then, hopefully back to blogging with a vengeance in January and beyond.

Last year in February I did a 30 day blogging challenge and I’m thinking of doing that again this year. Last year was about crafting, not sure what the topic/ theme could be for this year. Maybe a specific craft like knitting or crochet?

I was almost thinking of sharing a small business or a pattern I’ve enjoyed every day…something like that? Not sure! What do you think?!


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2021 Reading Goals

I can’t believe the year is almost over! Just under 2 months left to finish my reading goals for the year.

I’ve got out of the habit of reading. In fact, I haven’t read any books for a good few months.

So, it’s a good thing I only have 2 left to read then!

I’ve read all of the books on my shelf apart from these 2.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Forward The Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Both are my 2 of my favourite authors of all time. Yes, I like science fiction…

I like the style of Margaret Atwood’s writing and add that to the fact that it’s dystopian future fiction and it’s a match made in heaven. I love end of the world type stuff…don’t ask me why, I just do!

The Testaments is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, which I read years ago. I need to refresh my memory for that book as I haven’t been watching the series on TV.

I’m sure I’ll pick up where the original book left off though.

And for the Isaac Asimov book? Once I read this, I’ll have read the whole Foundation series, as well as the Robot series. Just got the Empire trilogy to go (which I might ask my brother or parents to get a book or two for Christmas!) and then that’s the lot.

Hands down one of the best series I’ve ever read. And the last book in the series ends with one of the biggest cliffhangers in literature. When one character is wondering who the true enemy is and you see another character staring at him *gasps*. I want to know what happens next! Want? No! I HAVE to know what happens next. But I never will as the author died in the 90’s.

Once I read these 2 books, then that’s one goal of the year complete. Unless I buy another book for myself of course, but that’s unlikely between now and Christmas!


[This post contains affiliate links which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small commission of that purchase at no extra cost to you! The links for the books above will take you to the Waterstones website who I’m an affiliate for.]


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War and Peace

Finally. After several years of looking at this TOME, this BRICK on my bookshelf, I have finally found the willpower to get stuck into this book. And I have to say, I should have read it years ago. I understand now why it is such a classic.

It was surprisingly easy to read, considering it was published from 1864-1869.

I did find the fact that so many of the characters had similar names a little confusing, but I stuck with it and am glad I did.

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a book about the futilities of war, and yes, of course that is true. But if you want to read that kind of book may I suggest Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. THIS book is more about the fact that history is not made by the big men, but by the little. And that war is not fought by generals and kings, but by the soldiers on the battlefield who are not the only people to suffer in war – so do the people those soldiers leave behind and (hopefully) come back home to.

One point I found particularly interesting was the point about how people can change, that we are not the same person throughout our lives, for example Dolokhov, who is challenged by a duel by Pierre because he had an affair with his wife, is badly wounded by Pierre and who later apologises to Pierre for what he did to him. This shows an incredible character growth from a minor character who we assume to be a villain, but who eventually saves Pierre and other prisoners of war. Dolokhov and Anatole were two characters I wanted to know more about after the book ended.

Instead of talking too much about the plot and the history I thought I would share a few of my favourite quotes from the book – if you want to know what the book is about, you can search for that yourself!

“…As it is, we’ve been playing at war – that’s the nasty thing, we act magnanimously and all that. It’s like the magnanimity and sentimentality of the lady who swoons when she sees a calf slaughtered; she’s so kind, she can’t bear the sight of blood, but she eats the same calf in sauce with appetite. We’re told about the rules of war, about chivalry, about parleying, about sparing the unfortunate, and so on. It’s all nonsense…

…War isn’t courtesy, it’s the vilest thing in the world, and we must understand that and not play at war…”

[Prince Andrei talking to Pierre on the eve of battle – page 775]

“…Napoleon, during all this time of his activity, was like a child who, holding the straps tied inside a carriage, fancies that he is driving it.”

[Page 1008] I love this picture of Napoleon!

“Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it’s only here that the new and good begins. As long as there’s life , there’s happiness. There’s much, much still to come.”

[Pierre to Natash, page 1118]

I recommend this book to you all. Don’t let the fact it is over a thousand pages long put you off. It is worth your time and patience! I promise you! x

Robots and Empire – Book Review

Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

I have just finished this book and I couldn’t put it down!! That’s the first book completed from my reading list.

This is the last book in the Robots series by Isaac Asimov and sets up the beginning of the Galactic Empire series (I think there’s only 3 books for that…so maybe it’s a trilogy and not a series?!) and after that, it becomes the Foundation series.

book

I started with a book called Foundation last year, read the last 5 of that series (not realising there were 2 prequels to the Foundation series), and then went right back to the start of the Robot series.

Have you seen a film called I, Robot with Will Smith in? The film was loosely based on the book of the same name (mainly the idea of having robots and they kept some of the character’s names – otherwise it was not the book at all!).

The robots series starts on Earth. People have created robots to help make their lives better, but end up suspicious and distrustful of them. Humanity starts to expand into nearby systems and the first 50 colonies are formed. People who live on the colonies are called Spacers.

There is tension between Earth and the Spacers. The Spacers use robots all the time for everything and it’s the opposite on Earth. People on Earth live mostly underground in what are called the Caves of Steel and are terrified of large open spaces, leaving the robots to do all their farming for them.

The Spacers live long lives with better technology. Some of the robot books focus on an Earthman called Elijah Baley and his robot friend R. Daniel Olivaw. They solve a few murders together, all the while Daneel is pondering the 3 laws of robotics – basically that a robot can’t harm a human.

By the start of the book I have just read, Robots and Empire, which is the last in the robot series, the people of Earth have started to expand again into new areas of space, onto new worlds, and they are known as Settlers. These are young worlds that need terraforming and only have a few million people on them, if that, whilst Earth has 8 billion. The Spacer worlds don’t have that many people on them and is one reason why they are so afraid of the people of Earth.

This book focuses on a descendent of Baley and one of his past loves, who is a long lived Spacer, as well as Daneel and Giskard, 2 robots.

Giskard has some mental powers, which is important in the Foundation series. Basically, the 2 humans are focused on finding out what happened to the people of one of the Spacer worlds (a planet called Solaria) and the 2 robots are trying to stop the end of the world. If you have read the Foundation series, especially the last book Foundation and Earth, then you will know whether they are successful or not.

I love these books. Although parts of the series were written in the 1950’s, this last book, Robots and Empire was written in 1985 (which is the year I was born *coughs*) and I have to say the whole series has aged quite well, I have read a lot of sci-fi in the last 3 or 4 years or so from the 50’s and 60’s and I just love it!

And the author, Isaac Asimov was a fascinating man himself. An actual scientist, he actually knew what he was talking about! Apparently he wrote and published over 500 novels, articles, papers, short stories etc. He was prolific! And I think I am right in thinking he coined the word ‘robotics’.

There was not one of the books in both the robot and Foundation series that I could not put down. Even though there aren’t really individual heroes as such, I read somewhere that it is SOCIETY itself that is the real hero of the series. This means there isn’t a lot of character description or even development sometimes. In Robots and Empire, the 2 robots tend to reason out the plot and subplots to themselves a lot. You pretty much know that Daneel looks humanoid whilst Giskard simply looks like a robot and that’s about it for the description of them.

If you love your vintage sci-fi then Isaac Asimov is definitely the place to be…I can’t believe it took me so long to read any of his books! Also, one of the streaming sites are making a TV series of the Foundation books soon, so get ahead of the game now and start swotting up!

Rating: 5*

Next up on my reading list is Prelude to Foundation…also by Isaac Asimov. Good times ahead! 🙂

On my To Read list

I have always loved reading ever since I was a little girl. It will be my favourite hobby for the rest of my life.

Books are friends and full of adventure. As a result of reading so much my spelling and grammar has always been pretty good too (watch as I now make tons of mistakes!).

I like science fiction and fantasy, in particular the cyber punk type science fiction from the 1920’s to the 1960’s…ish. You know, the ones where it’s either psychedelic drugs or atomic power at the heart of the story.

In the past 3 or 4 years or so I have been working my way through the classic sci-fi of the last century, focusing on authors such as Ray Bradbury (although I still have to read The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man) and Philip K.Dick.

This past year I have been working my way through Isaac Asimov, in particular his Foundation series. I just have the 2 prequels to read for that and then finish my way through the Robot series and then start the mini Empire series. They all interlink somehow, first the Robot series on Earth, how we created robots then started to spread out into nearby solar systems. After that, there was a huge expansion into a great Galactic Empire millions of worlds strong (the Empire series) which then fell, and was reborn into the Foundation.

The books fascinated me from the get-go and I couldn’t put them down. It took me reading a review of Foundation to realise one key point about the series…there isn’t an individual hero of the series, instead it is society itself which is the hero here.

And the ending. OMG the ending of the last Foundation book, the last paragraph when we realise who the real villain is and that actually, there are so many stories yet to come. That the story isn’t even finished yet, not by a long shot.

I also have the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – The Testaments. It’s been quite a while since I read The Handmaid’s Tale, but I love dystopian fiction of any kind and Margaret Atwood is one of those writers I just get. So I’m sure I will like the follow up…

The only other book that doesn’t fall into the sci-fi category that is on my to read list is War and Peace…funnily enough when I had another blog this was on there too years ago. I just haven’t felt like I had the head space to concentrate on it so far…but the thing is a TOME. I’m not kidding I could kill someone with it, it is so thick and heavy. To be perfectly honest I want to read it for 2 reasons: 1) because I can say I have read it and 2) so that I can make some space on my bookshelf!!

So here are the unread books on my shelf I want to read this year:

  1. War and Peace
  2. Robots and Empire
  3. Prelude to Foundation
  4. The Testaments

Only 4, but I want to re-read some non- fiction too. I have a whole shelf of reference books such as small business, blogging, writing, productivity etc and I want to have another look at some of them.

So, that’s it. A short and sweet list but some good stuff on there nevertheless.

What’s on your reading list?