Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Hat #2

Christmas Hat #2
Originally uploaded by my_weezy
Pattern: An Unoriginal Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in Aran
Needles: US 10.5

Love this pattern and it knit up very quickly. Warm and cozy. Need one for myself. This one is going to my other sister in law.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Hat #1

Christmas Hat #1
Originally uploaded by my_weezy
Pattern: Adjusted Hot Head Pattern from Stitch N Bitch
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb Pride's Bulky in Aran, scrap Malabrigo Bulky in Sealing Wax
Needles: US 10.5

I collected all my bulky yarn scraps, half skeins and full skeins and started seeing what I could do with them. First hat completed was this variation on Hot Head. Edged with scrap Malabrigo bulky in sealing wax for a little splash of color. Pattern was used for stitch count and style, not color. Crown decreases changed to continue ribbing to the top.

I quite like it. Hopefully, so does my sister in law. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Vacation Reads

I flew out of Austin yesterday and am now in California for the holidays once again. The all important decision making of which books to bring with me happened late Wednesday night. I am hoping that I made the right decisions. So, here is what I brought with me...

Sense and Sensibility and Sea MonstersSense & Sensibilty and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

This one was sent to me a couple months ago from the publisher and have been meaning to get to it. Read some on the plane yesterday. All I can say so far, is poor Colonel Brandon. Not only is he old at five and thirty, but now he has a face covered in tentacles. 
<---- Check out that cover.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas FlamelThe Alchemyst by Michael Scott

I picked this one up months ago at Half Price Books and have yet to read it ( along with a whole other huge stack of books). Thought it would make a good easy read while out of town. I have been wanting to start this one for quite awhile. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage)The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

This was one of my Amazon purchases on Cyber Monday. I had read so many good reviews and it just sounds like a book I would enjoy. I had to bring it along with me. Last Christmas I read In The Woods by Tana French and enjoyed it. Figured this would also make for good vacation reading. I love a good mystery.

Knit the Season: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel (Friday Night Knitting Club Novels)Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs

I had to bring along at least one holiday themed book. This one I got as a prize during the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. The perfect book for me. It has everything I love...knitting, Christmas and Ireland. :) Now, I have not read Knit Two. Is that going to be a problem? Anyone know if I should read that one first before reading this one?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review- Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi

Zoe's Tale Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi

I am really glad that my first book into the hubby's Sci Fi collection was this one. It is a standalone story that parallels Scalzi's Old Man's War series and told by the teenage adoptive daughter of the main characters from those books. This book follows Zoe from Huckleberry to Roanoke, the new colony her adoptive parents are heading. Her history and importance to another alien race make her all the more interesting.

Not being familiar with the other books was not a problem. I had no trouble getting into the story and never felt lost. I did ask questions of the hubby when I started but all the questions I had were answered eventually in the book. Zoe was an easy protagonist to like. She is a strong teen girl with a sarcastic sense of humour and a good heart. Her story and the way she told it was quite engaging.

I really want to read the previous books now. I am very interested in the world built by Scalzi. It is an interesting one with interesting characters. Lucky for me, the books are right down stairs.


AtoZ Challenge


Monday, December 14, 2009

New Reads

I have been having very quiet weeks lately in the mail department. Books haven't been coming in as quickly, but this week has been very different. 5 books have come into my house. 

In the mail from Amazon, bought on Cyber Monday, were Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. 

Also in the mail were a couple of giveaway wins... Flowers in the Attic/Petals on the Wind Combo book by VC Andrew (from The Chick Manifesto) and Run for Your Life by James Patterson (another win from the Read-a-Thon).  Thank you!

I also bought myself a paperback copy of Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I have been picking up myself copies of the books as they come out in paperback. Now, I just need Breaking Dawn.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Sunday Salon

This has been quite a busy weekend. Friday was our holiday staff party that I hosted at my house. Saturday I spent all day baking cookies with a friend to bag up for coworkers and families. We finished an hour before some other friends were to get here for a dinner party. I got the lasagna, that I put together the afternoon before, into the oven right after the last batch of cookies. I managed to shower, make a drink, and toss the salad right when our first guests arrived.  Fun weekend, but exhausting.

So, now it is Sunday and I am still in my pajamas, eating left overs and watching a Doctor Who Marathon on BBCA. Very nice to sit and do nothing. I did pull out my knitting. I have a few more gifts to finish before Christmas. Can't rest too much, unfortunately.

Today I reached 100 Followers! Thanks to Padfoot and Prongs, my 100th Follower, I will be having a big giveaway to celebrate. Be sure to keep an eye out for it later this week. 

Here's to a great week and hopefully some great reading. One book read last week. One book for the month and it is already the 13th. I am well on my way to the worst month totals. :) 


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

This was my first time participating and I am so glad I decided to join in the fun this year. My wonderful Secret Santa sent me some lovely gifts. Thank you, thank you!

I received Knitorama by Rachael Matthews, a really cool bookmark that is a replica of a rug from China, a cute note pad and some M&Ms all in a really awesome bag.

(Sorry no photos. Camera is dead at the moment.)

Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review- Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

Vanishing Acts Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

I am still not really sure what I think about this book. It is only the second Jodi Picoult book I have read, the first being Salem Falls, which I really enjoyed. This one...I am just not sure. I liked it, but there were things about it that I didn't.

The premise was definitely interesting. I can't imagine what it would be like to find out as an adult that you were kidnapped at 4 years old by your father and the mother you thought was dead has really been searching for you for over 20 years. I thought it a nice touch that Delia, with her dog, work for search and rescue. She looks for those who are lost as someone once did for her.

I think my problem with the book was that, on top of this very big and full plot, it also dealt with alcoholism and child abuse, a love triangle and a suicide. There were just too many unnecessary characters and side stories that took away from the main story line. It would have been so much better had it stuck to the story of Delia and her father's reasoning for kidnapping her and how it affected the lives of all involved.


AtoZ Challenge


Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Movies to Watch (December 13th)

The Christmas Secret
I thought some of you might be interested in this. I have not seen them before but am looking forward to seeing them now that I have read The Christmas Secret. (You can find my review here.)

On December 13th, the Lifetime Movie Network will air the following television adaptations of Donna VanLiere's first three books in her Christmas Hope Series:

4PM ET: The Christmas Shoes
6PM ET: The Christmas Blessing (LMN Premiere - one telecast only)
8PM ET: The Christmas Hope (Premiere)
10PM ET: The Christmas Shoes (Encore)

12AM ET: The Christmas Hope (Encore)

***Check local listings for scheduling changes.

In December, will post an excerpt from THE CHRISTMAS SECRET and an original essay by VanLiere. The site will also sponsor a contest to win signed copies of the "Christmas Hope" books. Details will be forthcoming on

More information about THE CHRISTMAS SECRET and Donna VanLiere's work can be found online at, including:

-About Donna VanLiere:

I love holiday movies. A Christmas Story is definitely my favorite. What is your favorite holiday movie?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

November Wrap Up (TSS)

Well, November turned out to be a low book month. Only 5 books read! That is my lowest in a really long time. I was sure that my book count would be better than that.  This isn't helping my Challenges either. Already a week into December and I still don't have a book to add as read.

86. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
85. The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere
84. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
83. Tithe by Holly Black
82. Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer

Too much to do... christmas gift shopping and making, cookie baking and parties. I don't know how many books will get read this month, but here is what I have planned...

For atoz challenge:
Vanishing Acts by Jodi Piccoult
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi

Any ideas for Q, W and X? Shorter ones, preferably.

For Serial Readers Challenge:

The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer


Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Lots of books and so little time.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review- Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

One of the critiques about Julie Powell I read while checking out reviews of Julie & Julia was that she is too self-centered. Well, this book is a memoir, which in itself means that it will be all about her, right? I actually really enjoyed reading about Julie’s successes and mishaps while attempting to make all of Julia Child’s recipes in her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in one year.

Julie came to notoriety through her blog that she kept throughout her year of cooking. It garnered a lot of attention and made her a bit of a minor celebrity. I must admit, I don’t remember any of it. I first came aware of her with the release of the movie of the same name. I wish I had known about the blog, though. Her writing style, her humour and the content would have all kept me reading.

The book had me laughing out loud, but what was most funny to me were the parts that had nothing to do with her actual cooking. I related more with her love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Silence of the Lambs, of her liberal and honest views of the world, and her take on her blog readers’ reactions to her posts. The parts of the book focused on her cooking was just as funny as well.

Julie & Julia was really enjoyable, laugh out loud funny, a great look into the life of an Austinite living in New York. Which reminds me, the Austin references were fun to read as well. One other thing, I know I have complained a bit in the past about the overuse of profanity in novels. Well, there is quite a bit in this one as well, but it didn’t bother me in the least probably because it seems realistic, part of Julie Powell’s personality. Just be forewarned.


A to Z Reading Challenge


Monday, November 30, 2009

Winner of The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Secret  Congrats, Toni!

You have won yourself a copy of  The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Since I only had 11 entries I put all your names in a cup and pulled one out the old fashion way. :) Toni- please email me your mailing information to marireadsATyahooDOTcom.

 Thanks to everyone who entered and those of you who are new followers. 2 more to go and I will reach 100 Followers. When that happens I am planning on a big giveaway.  Be sure to check back soon!

Also, if you would like to buy yourself a copy of The Christmas Secret, click on the link above. I recently started an Amazon store. Thought I would try it out and see how it goes. :)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge Completed

I have had a great time participating in The Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie of The Written Word. I am a big fan of all things Austen so this was an absolutely perfect challenge for me to take part in. Thanks Stephanie for hosting!

Heres my Completed List:

1. Read Northanger Abbey
2. Visit the Jane Austen Center in Bath! (lots of pics)
3. Watch Lost in Austen
4. Read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
5. Watch Sense and Sensibility
6. Went to play of Pride & Prejudice

I really wanted to knit the Mrs. Darcy Cardigan for the challenge but I just don't have the time with all my Christmas knitting that needs to get done. Perhaps next year will see me knitting this great sweater.

The Challenge began on the 1st of July and ends on the 1st of January.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What is it about the name David?

So, I am reading Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and come to a part where Julie is explaining her friend Sally's weird obsession with Davids. She dates a lot of guys named David, and this little tidbit just got me laughing. 

Do you remember the episode of Friends when they discuss their "freebie lists"? The one with Isabella Rossillini? Well, my "list", if I made one, would include all Davids! No kidding. I hadn't realized my like of so many David's until the hubby pointed it out a couple days ago. My absolute favorite male celebrities:

David Borreanaz (Angel/Bones)
David Duchovny (X Files)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode)

Okay, back to enjoying my book. :)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday Books in the mail

It has been quiet around here. Not many books showing up, which is actually a good thing. I have a stack of books here all waiting and needing to be read. I have been going through them, trying to decide which ones will be accompanying me to CA over the holidays. There are a lot to choose from.

There were a couple new books in the mail in the last couple weeks that I can share with all of you and both are perfect reads for the holidays.

The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere arrived last weekend for review. I have already read and reviewed this one and am having a giveaway for an extra copy. Go and enter before next Sunday!

Also in the mail, Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs. A win during Dewey's 24hr Read-a-Thon in October. Thanks to the lovely folks who hosted and to Lydia at Putnam Books for sending it my way.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Are there any holiday books you can recommend? I am feeling more and more in the mood for the holidays.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page


Book Giveaway: The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

When a struggling young single mother saves the life of an elderly woman, she sets into motion a series of events that will test her strength, loyalty, and determination, all the while setting her on the path to finding true love. Christine Eisley is the mother of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley. Her ex-husband provides little, if any, child support and makes life difficult for Christine by using the children as pawns. She works long hours as a waitress to make ends meet, but her job is in jeopardy because she’s often late to work due to the unreliable teenaged sitters she’s forced to use. When Christine saves the life of a woman who works in Wilson’s department store, the owner of Wilson’s wants to find her, to thank her, but Christine has disappeared, losing another job once again. He sets his grandson, Jason, to the task of finding the mysterious “Christy.” Jason, an accountant by trade who has lost his job to downsizing, thinks he is “above” working at Wilson’s. Soon, he discovers that this new task gives him more than he bargains for. The Christmas Secret is a novel for anyone who wants to see how love is a gift that keeps giving back; that hope is a treasure that never runs dry, and that faith is a miracle that is reborn with each new day.

I have a copy of The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere to giveaway thanks to Anne and St. Martin's Press. You can check out my review here. A wonderful read for the holidays.

To enter, leave a comment on this post and an email address where you can be contacted. You have until midnight CST on Sunday, November 29th. Giveaway is open internationally.


Book Review- The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Secret The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

What a sweet, warm-hearted story for this time of the year. This is the first book I have read by Donna VanLiere and quite different from the books I usually read.The Christmas Secret was a pleasant surprise.

It is the story of Christine, a single mother struggling to keep her head above water enough to give her kids a nice Christmas. Things just don't seen to be going her way until an unexpected emergency changes everything. And it is also about Jason, who has decided to work at his grandfather's store over the holidays to make some much needed money since being laid of from his accounting job. He feels the job is beneath him but with the influence of his grandfather's goodness and the people he meets he finds something better than making lots of money.

The way the lives of these two characters and the others intertwine was believable and completely engaging. This was a hard book to put down. It was a quick, light read that made for perfect weekend reading.


Source: Publisher (St. Martin's Press) and Anne (Thanks)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Play Review- Pride & Prejudice (UT Drama Department)

On Thursday, I went to see the student production of James Maxwell's Pride & Prejudice at the B. Iden Payne Theatre on the University of Texas campus. A friend of mine has been reading and seeing all things Jane Austen lately and invited me to go along with her. It was the perfect way to end my Everything Austen Challenge with.

The students did an amazing job. First, the set design and the costumes were quite good. The creative use of the set pieces and costumes during scene changes was really fun to see. I can't tell you how many times I saw Lizzy put on and take off her bonnet and coat but that one simple change of costume during her monologues worked well to set up the next scene.

The play itself was also quite enjoyable. Austen's words and wit were all present and the actors did a great job of portraying these very familiar characters. I wasn't a fan of the monologues between scenes but I understand why they were needed. The play would have been much longer than the two hours had they not been there to move the story along. The actors who played Bingley, Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Collins were very memorable- very funny and completely in character. We felt the actor that played Mr. Darcy wasn't serious enough. There was some interesting silliness and faces made with Mr. Bingley during one of the dances. Cute, but not in the true character of Mr. Darcy.

All in all, I was quite impressed and was thoroughly entertained. I would be interested in seeing more of the productions put on by UT.

Eveything Austen Challenge


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Classics Challenge 2009 Wrap Up Post

Well, here it is. My first failed challenge. I began the Classics Challenge for 2009 with high hopes and came to the end of the challenge with only two books read. I really enjoyed this challenge last year and hoped to finish as I did. Unfortunately, this was not my year for Classics.

Here is what I did read:

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Congrats to all of you who finished and thanks to Trish for hosting. I had some good books on my reading list. I hope to get to them soon.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review- The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

The Lacuna: A Novel The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

I have not read all of Barbara Kingsolver's books but the ones I have read have all been amazing. The Lacuna is no exception. I enjoyed picking it up every night for my daily reading before bed these past couple weeks and it has been the perfect read for me here in Lajitas, TX down near Big Bend National Park. This was a book I enjoyed reading slowly, being sure to take it all in and not miss anything by trying to get it finished quickly.

The Lacuna is a novel written as journal entries by Harrison Shepherd from the time he was a young teenager into adulthood. They recount his adventures through Mexico in the 30's and 40's and into his adult life in America. I felt like I was there experiencing his encounter with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and the life he led working for them in Mexico City. Harrison and everyone he meets throughout the book are so fleshed out and real that I kept forgetting that this was a novel and not a memoir.

Beautiful prose, epic storytelling, and intriguing characters. I couldn't ask for anything more. Loved it. It has become a new favorite.


AtoZ Challenge

Source: Publisher (Harper Collins), Palley Promotes (Thanks, Lisa!)

Barbara Kingsolver is one of the many great authors taking part in the Miami Book Fair this week. It comes to an end this Sunday so get out there while you still can.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

YA Quick Reviews- Artemis Fowl #5 and Morganville Vampires #4

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl, #5) Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer

Another really great book in this series. I love the character arc that Artemis has had throughout the books. He has gone from a ruthless, criminal mastermind to a trustworthy ally of the People. In this installment, Artemis is on the hunt of some time skipping demons that need help. Working with Section 8 of the LEPrecon, Artemis, Holly, Foaly and Mulch are reunited to save the demons. One surprise- another young human genius is trying to get a hold of the demon, and it just so happens to be a very attractive young lady.


Serial Readers Challenge

Source: purchased

Feast of Fools (The Morganville Vampires, #4) Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine

Claire is finally acting a bit more grown up. She is finally using her intelligence, or rather it is being used for the greater good of the vampires. I actually really like this part of the story. Claire graduating from high school early and being sent to a JC instead of Harvard never really made sense to me. So, her smarts being used to help the vamps made up for it. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the pace of Feast of Fools. One little thing I didn't understand... why the need to move Claire's parents to Morganville? Seemed an unneeded addition to the plot. Perhaps it will make more sense in the next book.


Serial Readers Challenge
eBook Challenge

Source: purchased


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review- Ethnic Knitting Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and The Andes by Donna Druchunas

Visit my book blog to see my review of Donna Druchunas' book Ethnic Knitting Discovery.
I am participating in Eco Libris' Green Books Campaign.

Green Books Campaign- Ethnic Knitting Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and The Andes by Donna Druchunas

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.
Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on the Eco-Libris website.

I am very excited to be a part of Eco-Libris' Green Books Campaign-"It's Time for a Green Book": 1 Day, 100 bloggers, 100 green books, 100 reviews. My book choice, Ethnic Knitting Discovery, was printed on 50% post consumer recycled paper and processed chlorine free as part of the Green Press Initiative.

Now, on to the review.

Donna Druchunas is a well known name in the world of knitting. Her book, Arctic Lace is quite popular with knitters and is one that I have wanted to get since beginning to knit lace. Ethnic Knitting: Discovery- The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and The Andes share the patterns and techniques used in the countries and regions above. Ethnic knitting doesn't give you traditional patterns that I am used to seeing in most knitting pattern books. Instead we are given a sort of workbook. You plug in the numbers and you get yourself the number of stitches needed, gauge, and inches for length/width of the different sweaters and smaller projects.

The author states that Ethnic Knitting doesn't usually include "line-by-line instructions" so you will not find that here. This book is definitely for the more experienced knitter, one willing to leave the written patterns behind and ready to try something a little different. So, if you are that knitter pull out your circular needles and some yarn, find yourself a copy of this book and get started. It will also give you the techniques needed to help design your own sweater.


I wanted to knit something from the book to share with you all, but with the little time I had and my fear of steeks (cutting the knitting) I decided to take on one of the smaller projects, a Danish nightcap. The book gives three pattern options for knitting: Visual plan, Worksheet and Step-by-Step. I went with the worksheet. I picked my yarn, needles and picked the stitch patterns I wanted to use from the Danish pattern stitches shared. Here is what I ended up with: