Monday, 30 April 2012

On the Bookshelf: A Dance With Dragons

It's an accepted fact by everyone that knows me that I love to read.  I've never really reviewed books and there's no real answer as to why, and so here I am, although I am cheating, this particular book can't be reviewed properly without giving away many spoilers for the series, and so it's just going to be a general review on the series itself.  (I know people like spoilers, and there are sites out there specifically for that, but I don't like them so I can't see them appearing on here).

George R.R.Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series has recently hit the big time as far as fantasy books go, with the first book being turned into a TV show (Sky only, I have yet to watch it) named after the first title, A Game of Thrones, the second series (based on the second novel) is currently being aired.  I'm half hoping this means that we'll get the next books faster as Martin is well known for taking his time with this series.

I can't recommend the books enough, in fact I had an immense surge of happiness recently when a friend succumbed to my nagging and purchased A Game of Thrones for her Kindle, only to find she then purchased each book as she finished the last until she overtook me.  Although I have to tut and say that the reason she finally read it after downloading it a month before, was due to watching the TV show.

Westeros, where the book begins, is a country torn apart by greed for the throne, with the death of King Robert Baretheon, a fight for the crown begins, there's the Queen and her family, the Lannisters, and the Starks of Winterfell, throw in the late King's brothers and... boom!  There are some terrible bad guys and women that nightmares are made of, and some awe inspiring heroes of both sexes, but I think the best part is that I can never seem to decided which side I am actually on.  I'd like the goodies to win, of course, but each character is so well written, and strong that I actually rather love some of them, flaws and all.  I also despise some of them, but they are multi-faceted which is exciting to read.

I never thought I would say that I find myself unable to chose whether a small tomboyish girl, a lonely bastard-born boy, or a dwarf is my favourite.  However Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Arya are all right up there.  I love that there are strong female characters, I kinda wish there were some more though.  Daenerys Targaryen is in a class of her own, an inspiring, determined girl who bloomed into womanhood before my very eyes as I've read each book.

If I had to compare Martin to another fantasy author, of course it would be Tolkien, however in my opinion Martin's writing style is obviously more modern, and thus less flowery and easier to read but still as detailed and beautiful.  They both absolutely have their places, but people who found Tolkien hard going, should find this easier.  These are not quick reads, the books get bigger, and two of them are two-parters, nor is the series complete, the waits for the next book can be horrifically long, and yet I will still be patient once I've finished these two books that make up A Dance of Dragons.

Martin was my favourite author I discovered last year, and I read a lot by new to me authors last year!  If you like fantasy, aren't scared by huge books, then buy A Game of Thrones now... you can thank me when you resurface.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Lucy Lovin'

I've been reading the Attic24 blog for a while now, and I love Lucy's eye for colour, in fact her home is beautiful from all the pictures I've seen, and her chatty style of writing is like sitting next to a firm friend over a cuppa, both of you with hooks in hand whilst chatting happily.  Her blog simply exudes warmth.

She has some pretty damn fabulous tutorials on there, and due to being so talented has inspired online stores to sell packs of the yarns she uses.  I would have liked the Lucy pack of Rico cotton but wasn't able to find it instock anywhere and Rico have discontinued some of the colours, so instead I ordered the Stylecraft pack of acrylic that she used for her Granny Stripe Blanket.

This pic is *not* true to colour, it's my instagram pic.

I'd just like to rave about the service I received while doing so from Country Crafts, I couldn't seem to find postage information on the website so I phoned them up instead.  I intensely dislike phoning strangers, but the lady at the end of the phone was friendly and knew exactly what yarn pack I was squeaking about!  She also told me that she, herself, enjoys Lucy's blog a lot.  Postage costs were the exact price they paid to send it by Royal Mail 1st class, no hidden inflation at all.  The best part?  That was at about 2pm yesterday and before 24 hours were up I had a rather large package in my hands.

As for the yarn, I confess I was a bit dubious, my preference has always been for natural squishy fibres, but I don't find the feel of the stylecraft too bad so far, although I haven't worked with it yet.  Not sure about the colours either, I can't help but think the greens are wrong, and there should be a truer purple in there, along with another yellow.  However I do love Lucy's finished blanket, so this could just be my eye for colour not being anywhere as close to talented as Lucy's is.

The biggest bonus?  I paid less for all of these 100g balls (17 of them!) than I have for 200g of pure wool in the past.  It's not anywhere near as beautiful, but it is durable, and I do not like the way varigated yarns look worked up in crochet.  So I am happy, and will certainly be chaining a new crochet project soon!

Monday, 23 April 2012


It's been a while hasn't it?  Let's just say, computer insurance does not always mean a quickly fixed PC...

So whilst I was computer-less, again, I've been a busy bee doing some of these pretty birdies...

And I've started granny squaring to make a blanket for my chair.

I also got some photos taken of my children by a local photographer (this is just a freebie sample one).

I did a little bit of embroidery and sorted through my floss...

Plus I had a Christmas all of my own when a very nice lady on freecycle decided to give me bags of yarn and knitting mags with patterns...

I went to my local knitting group for the first time and met some lovely folks, alongside my friends, here is one of them crocheting up a lacy blanket square

And finally, I started knitting up a shawl this weekend, a very simple one, but I can't wait to bind off and wear it!

I also discovered instagram for my android phone, hence where most of these came from.  I'm thrilled to be back though, and able to check out blogs once more.