Friday, 31 July 2015

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Started: 16th July
Finished: 27th July



This was one of those novels that I felt I 'had' to read; Chris told me that he'd read it at school, but we didn't, and I'm kind of surprised that it's taken me until now to get around to it. I'm also surprised that I've managed to avoid any spoilers for it over the years.

I knew it was about Atticus Finch, a lawyer, representing a black man in court, and I knew it was narrated by his daughter, Scout. But that was about it. I thought the whole story was just about the court case, and all the implications of that, but obviously there's quite a bit more to it.

There isn't really anything I can say about this novel that hasn't already been said, is there? I enjoyed it, I can understand why it's such a critically acclaimed work, I can see why Atticus has always been hailed as one of the greatest fictional characters ever written.

Yes, I enjoyed it. No, I don't want to read Go Set A Watchman.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Exciting Crochet News!

There has been a frisson of excitement around here just lately!

Firstly, I have actually designed my very own crocheted item - a shawl (/scarf)! I've designed it, written the pattern, made my own version of it to make sure it actually works (it does), and I have uploaded it to Ravelry.



To coincide with this, I've started a new blog - HookyHare - which I intend to use mainly for everything crochet/yarn related. I don't want to stop using this blog (although it did cross my mind), so I'm just going to try and manage them both together.

I also have a shop on Folksy - I've had it for a while, but the only things for sale have been a few facecloths. I'm going to make things and pop them in there for sale, as and when I get chance. I read somewhere that if you're trying to sell crocheted items, you should make what you enjoy, rather than just what you think will sell. Well, I really enjoy making blankets! All shapes and sizes! But obviously, they take a bit longer than a facecloth, so I think it will take some time for my shop to get stocked up. However, I have made this cute little Sweet Pea Blanket which is currently for sale:


I've just finished a second one, my Highlighter blanket, which you can read more about here.



As previously mentioned, I've started using Instagram a bit more, but that's mainly going to be for crochet/yarn related things too. There's a 'follow' link in my sidebar. Once my month-long self-imposed ban on Twitter and Facebook is over, I'm going to try and do a bit of promotion on there too. I have a Facebook page (also called Hooky Hare) where I post photos of my crochet, and link back to my Folksy shop.

The big problem that I have is that I'm terrible at the whole 'self-promotion' thing! Maybe when I have more things in my shop, I'll feel happier about directing people to it, but it's very sparse at the moment, to say the least. I also have very low self-confidence - on the one hand, I do have a lot of faith in the things that I make, but on the other hand, I doubt whether they are 'good enough'. But, I'm going to persevere, because what's the worse that could happen? If I don't sell anything, I'll end up with a house full of crocheted blankets, and that's not a bad thing, is it?

Friday, 17 July 2015

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

Started: 30th June
Finished: 10th July


So after not really enjoying Harvesting The Heart, what did I do? I chose to read another Jodi Picoult novel, primarily about a mother and child.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Again, there will be spoilers!

Willow was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, otherwise known as Brittle Bone Disease. After an accident at Disney World, her parents seek legal advice to see if they can sue, but instead the lawyers suggest that they may have a case for 'wrongful birth'. Willow's mum, Charlotte, is keen to pursue the case, as winning it would ensure financial security for the rest of Willow's life. However, it would mean that she'd be suing her obstetrician, who is also her best friend, for malpractice, as she failed to spot a very early symptom of OI on an ultrasound. More significantly, going ahead with the case means that Charlotte would have to stand up in court and say (in effect) that she wished her daughter hadn't been born.

Willow's dad doesn't want to consider the case, and in the end offers to be a witness for the opposing legal team, and even files for divorce, as he can't comprehend that Charlotte is willing to suggest that she'd have had a termination had she known about the OI early enough.

Meanwhile, six-year old Willow is acutely aware of what is going on, and feels that it's her fault that her family is breaking apart, and her older sister Amelia is virtually invisible to her warring parents, as she slowly sinks into a spiral of self harm and bulimia.

All very morally and emotionally traumatic so far. And now for the big spoiler.

Charlotte wins the case, and is awarded damages of $8 million. They never get around to cashing the cheque. And then Willow goes outside one day, and because she's never been allowed (or able) to skate on the frozen pond at the back of the house, she slowly crawls onto the ice on her hands and knees. And the ice breaks. And she drowns. And Charlotte puts the cheque in the coffin with her. And why the hell did I read this book?! Why did Willow have to die in the end? It all seemed like such a waste, all the anguish and heartache they went through, and it was for nothing. I can understand why Charlotte wanted to make financial arrangements for the future, every parent wants to know that their child will be taken care of, but I can't help feeling that she'd have been better off spending her time enjoying her children - both of them - while she had the chance.

I know, I know, it's just a fictional story, but ooh that ending really annoyed me!!


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Sun Hat

We had a bit of a struggle at first to get Junior to wear a sun hat when he's outside. I think it was just the novelty of having something on his head, he kept wanting to take it off and look at it. We persisted though, and eventually he seemed to get used to the idea, and he's really good at keeping it on now. He even wears it indoors occasionally ;-).

Of course, the crocheter in me kept thinking "I could make him a hat!"... so I have.

I chose the nearest colours I had to his original hat, hoping that he wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I made it up as I went along, but really it's not difficult because you just make an increasing circle until it's big enough, then stop increasing for a bit, and then start again at the brim. I used his other hat for measurements.


Ta-dah!

The brim is maybe a bit curlier than I would've liked, but otherwise I'm really happy with it. He'd gone to bed when I finished it this evening, so he hasn't tried it on yet. It should be near enough the same size as the other one, or if anything slightly bigger, so it should fit him at some point. I just hope he likes it! If it's a success I might make another in different colours.

I used Patons 100% mercerised cotton, so it has a smooth, cool feel to it, perfect for the summer months!

Halfway...

Well, we're half way through the month, and I'm happy to say that I'm still sticking to my self-imposed  Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest ban.

Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off my email notifications, so I'm getting fairly regular emails telling me what I'm missing - Facebook is the worst, they are almost daily. I'm just deleting them straight away.

I wouldn't say that I'm really missing them, but there are times when I'm more aware of their absence. Since making it a resolution a couple of years ago to try to avoid the news, it's surprising how much I find out about what's going on in the world through Twitter, and I suppose I miss that a bit. For example, after watching a few of the later rounds of Wimbledon, I ended up not watching the men's final, and I didn't find out until Monday morning who had won. If I'd been on Twitter, I'd have probably seen a live update straight away.

There have been one or two occasions where I've had a query about something crochet-related, and I've thought, "I'll ask on one of the crochet groups on Facebook" before remembering that I can't, but it's nothing that I haven't been able to figure out on my own, so that hasn't been too much of a hardship.

I don't use Pinterest much, so I haven't missed that; I only deleted it because I knew I'd start using it in the absence of the other two!

The times when I miss them the most are those when you're just 'killing time', or when you're waiting for something else. Sometimes if I'm in the kitchen making tea, I'll take my Kindle in with me and have a nosy through Twitter while I wait for the spuds to boil, that kind of thing. When I get up and have my breakfast, I used to sit at my laptop and scroll through Facebook, and it feels a bit weird not having that to look at. I find I'm checking my blog list a lot more frequently in the hope that there will be a new post to read (or several).

As expected, I've started to use Instagram a lot more. I've had an account for a while, but never really done much with it. I've started to follow a few more people, and I've decided I'm going to try and use it for taking photos of all my crochet. I'm still getting the hang of all the hashtags though, and the general 'netiquette'.

So let's see if I can last till the end of the month!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Harvesting The Heart by Jodi Picoult

Started: 26th June
Finished: 30th June


I've always been a big fan of Jodi Picoult, I always say that you can't go wrong with one of her novels, you know it'll be a good read. But I wasn't sure about this one, actually...

*SPOILER ALERT*

I might reveal some spoilers, so be warned!



The central character, Paige, has left home at 18 after having an abortion. She dreams of going to art school, but after a whirlwind romance with an ambitious cardiac surgeon, they marry and she falls pregnant. Her own mother abandoned her when she was just five years old, and that lack of a maternal figure in her life, coupled with her previous abortion, lead Paige to doubt her own abilities as a mother. So what does she do? She leaves her three-month old son and drives off into the sunset (well, she hires a private investigator and then goes off in search of her mother).

And this is where I fell out with the book. I guess it's because I'm now a mother myself, but I just can't comprehend how someone can just leave their baby behind. I know it happens in real life, not just fiction, and people will have their reasons, I'm just saying that I couldn't do it. Paige's husband was so career-driven that he didn't support her in looking after Max, and I sympathised to an extent with the feeling of having to do it all on your own, but when she left home, I lost all sympathy for her.

So all in all, I didn't enjoy this book as much as some of Jodi Picoult's others.



Monday, 13 July 2015

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Started: 13th June
Finished: 24th June



Well, what can I say? Second time around, I loved this book! I recalled in this post that I'd had a copy of this book (albeit with it's UK title of Cross Stitch) years ago, but couldn't remember if I liked it or not. Funnily enough, I was looking back at an old blog that I used to write, and in the very first post I mention that I'm reading Cross Stitch; in fact, this is what I wrote about it:

I'm currently reading a book called 'Cross-Stitch' by Diana Gabaldon. It's a thick 'saga' type novel, set in the Scottish Highlands (which is why I bought it in the first place, while on holiday there myself). A woman, in 1946, steps into the middle of a stone circle (like a smaller Stonehenge) and is transported back in time 200 years, to around the time of the Battle of Culloden. It's ok, but it hasn't really gripped me. I'm wanting to read it, but only so that I can finish it and start something else, rather than because I'm enjoying it, which isn't great, is it?

No, it isn't great at all! And that was in 2009, so definitely not too young to appreciate it!

So yes, Claire Randall is a 20th century nurse who travels back in time through a stone circle to 18th century Scotland, where she is taken in by the Clan Mackenzie, who initially think she is an English spy. Her nursing credentials eventually earn her some respect, but the more senior members of the clan can never fully shake off their suspicion and doubt. Mourning for the husband she has left behind 'in the future', Frank, Claire is shocked to encounter a man who looks just like him; she comes to realise it is Frank's ancestor, Captain Jonathan 'Black Jack' Randall - 'black' refers to the colour of his soul. Captain Randall wants the Clan Mackenzie to hand Claire over to the British Army - the only way to avoid this is if she marries one of them, and with little choice in the matter, she is married to a young man called Jamie, who himself is wanted by Captain Randall, for personal reasons (Black Jack is a sadistic homosexual, it turns out) and also because he is a fugitive from the British Army.

This is a really great novel, with well-rounded characters, most of whom are very likeable. I'm usually happy to read a book and use my imagination to picture the characters, but in this case I'd just watched the first series of Outlander on Amazon Prime. However, I didn't mind that at all, as I thought the series was perfectly cast, and it really helped to picture each character as they were in the series, especially Claire and Jamie.

I was very tempted to read book 2, Dragonfly In Amber, straight away, but I've decided to pace myself and try and read some more of my 'real' books, as opposed to Kindle books first. 

(Stupid blogger won't let me change the font size back to normal)

 


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