Sunday, June 12, 2011

Books - Second Quarter - Part 1

So, I as I mentioned in my Books - First Quarter post, I am reading a ton of books this year.  I figure that I need to read about one book every 3 weeks or so.  I go in spurts where that is all I do is read, where my nose is in a book every free second of the day, to not picking up a book in over a week.  I figure that summer is where I pick up my slack and I always travel at some point during the year and an airport and plane are the best places to read large chunks at a time.  I am off to a slow start this quarter, but I will make it up.  I will start the numbering from where I left off, so I can better track what number I'm on.

To keep this post fairly breif, I will post my books in two parts.  Here is part one.

I usually rate them (and I encourage debate, if you feel my rating was not enough or was too high) on a 5 thumbs-up scale.  One being the lowest and five being the best.

5. This book I borrowed from a friend at work.  It takes place over 100 years ago in England and Brazil.  This book is told by both the husband, Thomas, who was a naturalist that studied butterflies as a hobby and his wife, Sophie, that encouraged his hobby.  He gets the opportunity to travel to Brazil's rainforests on an expedition with several other men who study botany, insects, wildlife, and birds as scientists.  He goes and leaves Sophie behind for 6 months while he tries to find a certain specimen of butterfly that has been told to him as a myth.  While she is dealing with his intermittent letters home he is thrilled to have such an opportunity.  This thrill is turned into obsession with finding this butterfly and horror at the actions he sees while in the rainforest.  He comes back home mute.  Sophie cannot understand why he won't speak and goes to much length to help him.  At the end of the book, you find out why he came home mute and it is shocking.  While this book is fiction, some of the accounts are base on a true life story, which is why the ending is surprising.  A very good read.  I rate it 3.5 thumbs up.

6. Here is my first classic novel since college.  I thought I would go to Jane Austen's first book, even though it may not be her best work.  I wanted to understand her from the beginning.  It took a bit to read and get the flow of their speech, but it was not as bad as I thought!  It takes place in rural England in the 1800's.  It is about a young girl, Catherine, 17 years old going to Bath, England with a rich neighbor couple.  She is introduced into society only knowing the etiquette that she learned growing up, so she was very naive when interacting with other adults.  She would not realize when someone was being sarcastic, etc.  Once you see this is happening, she gets herself into a situation where she likes a guy named Henry (finds him "most agreeable") and is tryng to run into him at the social hall ("Pump Room") and the theater.  Meanwhile another guy named John that she finds most disagreeable is trying to win her affection but is doing it by sabotaging any interaction she may have with Henry.  But she is not entirely naive because she befriends Henry's sister to get closer to Henry.  You go girl!  Although some parts were dull and the end was a bit hurried and did not go into a lot of detail of some scenes that may have warrented further chapter and verse, it was a novel that started Jane Austen's writing career so one has to respect it.  I rated it 3 thumbs up.

7. This book was recommended to me from Vince's mother.  She has his entire book collection.  This book is filled with characters that crave power.  It starts out in the 1800's with a diamond boom in South Africa.  A Scot leaves his home country to try to tap into those diamonds.  This book takes you on a journey of greed, deception and ultimate power.  Each generation of this Scot's heritage is hungrier than the previous.  The lengths that they will go to to win the game they play with money and people are beyond reason.  The book is a classic suspense tale of what happens to each one as the greed to posses takes hold.  The character string is Jaime McGregor starting in South Africa, almost dying.  He marries the daughter of the man who almost killed him, Margaret.  Meanwhile he builds an international corporation.  They have two children, one is killed and the other, Kate, goes on to take over the buisness.  She marries her father's right-hand man.  They have a son, Tony.  Tony is manipulated by Kate each day of his life and makes him her puppet.  He marries and has twin daughters, Eve and Alexandra.  Tony attempts to kill Kate when he sees what she has done to his life and is commited to an insane asylum.  The twins are to inherit everything.  Eve is the greedy one and attempts to murder her sister starting from age 5 to obtain her sister's inheritance.  Eve is disinherited and Alexandra does not want the corporation.  Alexandra marries a doctor and has a son, Robert.  In the end, Kate is still trying to mold the perfect heir to the corporation. This book was very intriguing and hard to put down.  I rated it 4.5 thumbs up.

8. This book was written by a local Floridian author.  This book I have had on my book shelf for a few years and it is a signed copy.  I usually give my books away when I am done, but not my signed copies!  This mystery takes place in Key West.  The main character, Alex, is a beach bum that discovers that his ex-girlfriends are being murdered on the island.  The first serial murder is a woman that looks like his current girlfriend, Annie.  Alex is a freelance photographer and often takes jobs photgraphing crime scenes and this is how he finds one of his ex-girlfriends, dead.  He then figures that maybe Annie should have been the first victim.  This book throws a ton of characters at you all at once, so it was hard remembering who is who in this who-done-it.  Since Alex works with the local police, he has contacts who let him know some of the clues and then he tries to find out on his own who is killing these women so he can clear his name.  Meanwhile he finds out that Annie is sleeping around with a sleezy lawyer.  This sleezy lawyer is involved with these murders along with a detective and an old aquintenace from Alex's past.  Alex's ex-girlfriends are also connected to these men which Alex is slowly figuring out.  Alex travels to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and even Georgia to snoop out clues on these guys.  I don't think that I am describing this story very well, but you get the gist of it: Murder, old girlfriends and deception.  It was an interesting read.  I rate it 3.5 thumbs up.

9.  This is a mystery that I bought at a library book sale in St Pete.  It takes place at the turn of the 20th century in London, England. The main characters are William Monk, a former police detective turned private eye (aka an agent of enquiry) and his wife Hester Monk, a hospital volunteer who is crusading for cleaner and more educated health care facilities.  A man seeks out Mr. Monk for his enquiry ability in finding his missing fiance.  This novel is very Sherlock Holmes-ish and takes the reader into the rural working class of London to find the missing fiance only to discover a murdered coachman and hidden secrets that the found fiance would rather be unjustly hung for the murder than share with anyone.  This novel is one of the many tales with William Monk written by Anne Perry.  Very intriging; would read more of this series.  I rate it 3.5 thumbs up.

I will be taking a break from blogging for the next few weeks but hope to finish a few more books and knit a baby blanket before June is over.

I may post some pics from my vacation, but I'm not promising anything!  See ya in a few week!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fix It - Summer Lovin' Sweater

I bought this fair isle sweater at a yard sale because I loved the color work on the yoke and ribbing at the neck.  The color work is done in the knitting style called fair isle.  Knitting this would take me forever because you have to knit different colors in the same row.  Not a beginner technique but not impossible.  So when I saw this I appreciated it, even though it was not hand knit. 

Fair Isle

I did a spring cleaning in my closet this weekend.  I also went through my craft to-do pile to weed out the items that I realistically will not work on.  I came across this sweater and knew I wanted to tweak it but was undecided how.  This, and in conjunction with wanting to wear it soon, I decided to make this a short-sleeved sweater. 

Monkey arms, not to mention clingy!

The arms on this beauty were so long, that I knew that the only way I would wear it soon (um, wool sweater in the summer?) was to chop them off.  In addition, the arms were very itchy.  These had to go!

See ya, Sleeve-o!

I took my cutting mat and rotary cutter and positioned the sleeve so it laid flat and cut about 2 inches from the last color stitch.  It is a bit unnerving cutting knit, but once it is sewed, it won't fray. 

Colorful pins won't get lost in the bulk of the sweater

I folded the cut edge under until there was about a quarter inch of dark pink showing. 

Aerial view

I chose a ballpoint needle and used a zig-zag stitch and stitched just beyond the last color stitch to make a folded-over edge.  I can go back later with a serger and finish the raw edge to prevent fraying.  I have to hand wash this sweater, so the fraying should be minimal, but it is always nice to finish a raw edge for a professional look.

Summer Lovin' Sweater!

This is how it came out.  I love it!  The ribbing on the neck is very stretchy and I can have a wide neck or an off-the-shoulder look by pulling it down more.  It will also look good with a denim jacket.  Very chic! 

I have the sleeves leftover; so I cut off more of the edge so they are straight.

Homeless Sleeves

Now that I have made orphans of the sleeves, I was trying to think of something fun to do with them.  I had put them aside and was cleaning up from sewing and Vince was looking at my new Summer Lovin' Sweater and asked where the sleeves went.  I went over to where I put them and they were gone! 

I looked at Vince and he had thought of something to do with them...

Leg Warmers!!

We had a good laugh at that!  I think they will look cuter on me but why rain on his parade, right? lol

I will put them aside with my winter wear and pull them out in December.  Hopefully, the retro 80's fad is still in; I can't wait to wear 'em.