Friday, July 31, 2015

What I Read: July

July was a good reading month for me! I'm still sticking to my summer reading list (I only read one book this month that wasn't on it). There's actually a decent chance that I'll complete my list this year, which would be awesome and a testament to my stubbornness (it would be nicer to say persistence, but let's call it what it is). As always, click on the title to read my Goodreads reviews.

Emma, by Jane Austen. This was my third or fourth time rereading this one. It's such a lovely story! Austen always writes memorable characters, but this one is especially full of them: Emma, Miss Bates, Mr. Woodhouse, Jane Fairfax, etc. And let's not forget Mr. Knightley. I can finally admit that I prefer Mr. Knightley to Mr. Darcy.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Another reread! I love this book. That's all.

I Kill the Mockingbird, by Paul Acampora. A fun middle grade book about three friends who hatch a plot to get more people to read Harper Lee's classic. I really enjoyed it. The three main characters were great and I'd love to be friends with them. :) The plot was the slightest bit underdeveloped, but it's a short book so that's understandable.

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee. While I only actually enjoyed the first third or so of this book, it's still worth reading and it's fascinating to see what the story of To Kill a Mockingbird began as. I did a whole review/discussion post of this one.

Unsinkable, by Debbie Reynolds. I wouldn't consider Debbie Reynolds to be one of my favorite classic film actresses, though she does happen to star in one of my favorite movies (Singin' in the Rain). But last year I read her first memoir and really enjoyed it. Her life story is depressing because apparently she's unlucky at choosing husbands (all three of them cheated on her and/or left her broke), but both of her memoirs are interesting and very readable. I liked this one less than the first one, because the first half is about her life from the 80s until present day (so no old Hollywood stories), and the second half is a recap of her films (and most of the interesting stories there are repeats from her first book).

The Year the Swallows Came Early, by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. This was a cute book. I enjoyed it, but it was just a standard middle grade read...not particularly memorable.

Since You've Been Gone, by Morgan Matson. I was so pleasantly surprised with this one. Honestly, I don't usually like YA contemporary at all...stories about modern-day teenagers tend to get on my nerves. But I enjoyed this book so much! It was a lot of fun, and the emphasis on friendship was nice. The main character, Emily, is shy and introverted, which was refreshing. Since this book lived up to all of the good things I'd heard about it, I'll definitely be picking up more of Morgan Matson's books.

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date, by Katie Heaney. I've been wanting to read this memoir for the longest time, though I was worried it would be disappointing. It was. I expected a light, fun read that I could fly through, but it slogged at times. Also, there was a lot of bad language (which is one of my pet peeves). I could relate to the author at times, but sometimes that wasn't a good thing because whatever she was saying would be a bit ridiculous, and I would think, that how I am? Anyway, mixed feelings on this one. (Also, the subtitle is misleading. Maybe she's never been in any actual relationships, but she definitely describes going on dates in the book.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: Wildwood, by Colin Meloy. I read this book about three years ago, and I was slightly disappointed with it. But I loved the second book in the series, and I've been wanting to read the third and final book, so I've decided to read the whole trilogy. (I don't like reading the next book in a series without rereading the previous ones, especially if it's been several years. I feel so lost!) Hopefully this one will be better the second time around. :) The illustrations are gorgeous, anyway, and there are definitely some quirky, memorable elements to the story.

Knitting: A Nurmilintu shawl in Tosh Sock, in the Jade colorway (which happens to be the most perfect shade of green I've ever seen in yarn). As I mentioned last week, this is my first time knitting lace, other than little easy lace details on a couple of previous projects. This time I'm actually reading a chart, and those things have always intimidated me. But so far, so good! I finished the first lace section, and I only made one mistake. Thankfully, it was on the second to last row of that section so it was easy to fix. I don't have enough yarn to knit the shawl as written, so I'm going to have to figure something out by the end. But I'm trying not to think about that yet. :) One thing at a time!

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Knitting: Antler cardigan.

It's hard to get motivated to take pictures of completed knitting projects in the summer. But it likely won't be cooling down for another two months at least, so somehow I found myself buttoned up to my neck in a wool sweater in 90 degree heat. But it was worth it, because I love this sweater.

I cast on for this cardigan in the middle of June and finished it three and a half weeks later. This is my fourth sweater for myself, and it's definitely my favorite. The whole process of knitting this sweater was such a pleasant experience! I didn't hit any snags and the small changes that I made worked out perfectly. I think I've learned something with every sweater I've finished, and all of those things just came together in this one.

When I ordered the yarn (KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Tweed in dill heather), I was planning on knitting this sweater. But by the time I got around to starting it, that pattern just seemed kind of boring to me. I finally decided on the Antler Cardigan, even though I technically didn't have enough yarn. I was worried about running out, but I ended up using at least 200 yards less than the pattern called for, so I had two skeins left over!

I was exactly between the medium and large sizes. Knowing that most of my sweaters turn out too big (and that this yarn has a tendency to grow with blocking), I went with the medium. That worked out perfectly, though I did decide to knit the large size at the hips and then decrease down to a medium.

As for the changes that I made, they were pretty minor. Because I did a larger size at the hips, I had to do some "waist shaping" to decrease down to a medium. (The pattern originally doesn't have any waist shaping.)  I changed the sleeves a bit (they were too big) and made them an inch longer, and shortened the length of the body by an inch. Also, I didn't want a big, loose neckline, so I did an extra cable repeat in the yoke. (I probably could have done that again, actually, and maybe even added some extra decreases.) I went into more detail on my Ravelry project page.

With a sweater called the Antler Cardigan, you have to use antler buttons, right? I ordered buttons from this Etsy shop and I love them. They're made from deer antlers, so they're all slightly different but consistent enough to match.

When I first tried on the sweater after blocking it, I was disappointed because it had grown a bit and didn't fit exactly like it did before. (Sometimes I think that worsted weight and bulky sweaters might not be the most flattering on girls who aren't thin. But then I wonder if that's just me and my self-esteem issues and how most of the time things don't fit like I wish they would. I don't know, but my next sweater is going to be sportweight, so we'll see if that makes a difference.) But when I look at this sweater compared to my first one, I've come such a long way! This is the best fitting sweater I've knitted so far, and I'm proud of it. :)

Ravelry project page.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Beautiful books.

I love pretty books. Obviously I don't base what I read solely on what it looks like, but I'm definitely more likely to pick up a book if I like the cover. I've also been known to buy prettier editions of books that I love to replace ugly editions.

I've wanted to do a post like this for a while now, but this video inspired me to finally do it. I could only fit in so many books this time, so there will likely be more of these at some point. :) Coincidentally, all five of the books I mentioned here are classics. Classics seem to get more pretty editions than any other books, mostly thanks to Penguin (the absolute best at tempting you to buy multiple copies of the same book).

This copy of Little Women is probably one of my favorite books that I own. (I need to reread this one, by the way. I liked it, but I've only read it once and that was probably seven or eight years ago.) It's just so adorable. It's the Puffin in Bloom edition, and they've only done four books in these editions so far: Little Women, A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, and Heidi. (I have those first two and will probably get Heidi at some point...I've never read that one before. I already own a different copy of Anne of Green Gables.)

This book is quite small, but it's really chunky because Little Women isn't as short as most children's stories. I just love the typography and the illustration style and the spine and those sweet endpapers.

I also really love these little Puffin editions. They're basically like children's versions of the beautiful Penguin clothbound books. The colors are nice and I love the repeating motifs on the covers. I own a few of these, and I found them at the bargain bookstore in town. (So if you're looking for them, keep an eye out...they might unexpectedly turn up cheaper somewhere!) The Matilda one is gorgeous, and I like the Wind in the Willows one, too.

Nice editions of Jane Austen's more popular novels are everywhere, but it seems harder to find Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. All of her novels are available in these Vintage Classics editions, and ironically Pride and Prejudice (my favorite) is the only of the covers that I don't like! (Those pinkish-red zigzags just aren't very appealing to me.) I love how this version of Northanger Abbey is somehow somber and whimsical at the same time. It's a sweet, small paperback copy with French flaps, and the inside covers match one of the other Austen covers (in this case, Emma).

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books, and this is my favorite edition that I own. It's a 1943 edition that is sort of oversized and features these creepy wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg. The illustrations are so haunting and unusual, and they fit the atmosphere of the book perfectly. I had seen pictures of this edition online, and then several years ago, I found a copy at Goodwill for about $2. (One of the best bookish thrift store finds ever!) They also published a matching edition of Wuthering Heights, but you know how I feel about that book.

You guys have probably seen enough of this book around the blog lately! It's the Penguin Threads edition of Emma. These editions are so incredible...the original pieces were embroidered, and the covers have a great texture to imitate the embroidery. The inside covers show what the back of the embroidered piece looks like- a lovely detail. These editions also have French flaps and deckled edges, which I happen to like (though I know some readers disagree).

What are some of your favorite book editions or covers?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Natural dyeing {onion skins and hollyhock}.

Over the past two weeks, I finally did some more natural dyeing. In 2013 I experimented a lot with several different plants, but last year I didn't really do any. I didn't realize how much I missed it!

On the first day, I used onion skins. My mom and grandma have been saving their onion skins for me over the past year or'd think that would be plenty, but the skins weigh so little that it takes a lot of them. I also had a small bag of garlic skins that I added in. The process took most of the morning, so I sat on the front porch and spun some yarn (that's the white yarn above) while keeping an eye on the dye pot. It was a surprisingly nice, cool day and I enjoyed myself so much...that's when I remembered how much I missed this. It's funny how I have memories stuck in my mind about different dyeing days. I remember sitting outside a couple of summers ago, watching my dye pots and rereading Jane Eyre, when a thunderstorm rolled up. It felt so appropriate to be listening to rumbling thunder while reading that particular book. :) Now I'll remember this morning, and how I listened to the laying hens cackling and a mockingbird singing, which again, was fitting because I was rereading To Kill a Mockingbird then. And how it smelled like something was cooking when the onion skins were steaming...probably because there were some little pieces of garlic floating in the water that had been hidden in the garlic skins. A day of spinning and dyeing and fiber stuff: that's basically my dream job. If I can start actually making money from it. :)

I used alum as a mordant, and though I was hoping for a darker shade, the yarn turned out really nice. It's a light orangey-yellow, similar to what you get from biden. When I was reskeining it, I found several knotted spots in the yarn (places where a ply had broken and been tied back together). So instead of one large skein, I had to break it up into several smaller skeins. The yarn will likely be available in my Etsy shop soon. (Yes, I've been talking about this forever. I meant to open it a couple of months ago, but it won't be long now, I hope!)

On the second day, I decided to finally use my hollyhock. I planted black hollyhock two years ago. It doesn't bloom the first year, so last summer and this summer I collected all of the blooms I could and dried them...which only came to a total of 28 blooms. Last summer, rust got my plants and only one made it through the winter. That one was fine until a couple of weeks ago, when the rest of the buds started drying up without even blooming (I think this time it was insects).

Instead of using the instructions from Jenny Dean's Wild Color, I used the ones from Harvesting Color (probably my favorite natural dyeing book, though it is lacking in east coast plants). I was only two blooms short of the amount I was supposed to have, but it didn't exactly result in a soft, greenish-blue like the book shows! When it was in the pot, I was so disappointed because it just looked gray. But the color has grown on me a lot since then. The last photo is most's sort of a greenish-gray that reminds me of the ocean. It's not exactly what I hoped for, but I really do like it now. I'm going to be keeping this yarn. I was planning on that all along, since it's some KnitPicks Bare Stroll that I bought to dye for myself. Since I had such a limited amount of hollyhock (and since it was such a long time coming!), the yarn is pretty special.

So now I'm very excited about natural dyeing again. I have plans for the rest of the summer and fall: biden, goldenrod, black walnut, pokeberry, sumac...maybe I'll even try to use that bag of zinnia blooms I have in the freezer. :)

{You can find my older natural dyeing posts here.}

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: The Year the Swallows Came Early, by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. I've just started this one so I don't know much about it yet, but it sounds like it'll be a cute middle grade read.

Knitting: A little progress on a sock is all I have to show this week. I finished a hat a couple of days ago and I'm going to cast on a Nurmilintu shawl soon. (My first project involving real lace! I'm sort of nervous about that.) Being in between projects at the moment, I've been knitting a couple of stripes on this sock (which is usually my car knitting).

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My thoughts on Go Set a Watchman {discussion & review}.

(Just a little warning: there will be spoilers for Go Set a Watchman in this post. I can't write about it without doing that, and besides, I think basically everyone has read about the only real "spoiler" anyway.)

Several years ago, I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time. It's such a well-known classic that I knew I'd probably be able to appreciate it. But I was surprised by how much I loved became one of my favorite books.

The setting and characters were believable and memorable, and even though the story is rather simple, it's so impactful. I really like Harper Lee's writing style. She's just writing about a girl's childhood, but it's told in such an engaging way. I never feel bored reading her writing. Even with most of my favorite books, there's a point where the story drags a bit, but not so with this one.

I also love the humor in To Kill a Mockingbird. For a book that addresses serious issues, I was surprised by how hilarious it could be. There are so many one-liners that make me smile (Scout can be sassy). I like how the story seems to be told by Scout when she's older, because it combines her innocence as a child with the maturity and wisdom of an older person. Basically, the book is beautifully done and unlike anything else I've ever read.

I'd been wanting to reread TKAM (I'll probably be using abbreviations for the titles a lot in this post, because otherwise it would be even longer than it already is) for a while now, so it seemed like the perfect time with Go Set a Watchman coming out this month. I was glad to find that I enjoyed the book just as much the second time around.

So now I'm going to talk about the newly published Harper Lee book, Go Set a Watchman. I'm sure everyone knows about this book now, but just in case you don't, here's a brief overview: Lee wrote this book first. When she submitted it, an editor suggested that she go back and write about the main character's childhood instead (Jean Louise, aka Scout, is 26 in the book). She did just that, and that childhood story was published as To Kill a Mockingbird. This original story was (supposedly) just found recently by Lee's lawyer, and someone decided to publish it. There's been a lot of controversy surrounding the publication of the book: did Harper Lee want it published now or ever? She's almost 90 years old. Some people say her mind is perfectly sound and she's happy about the publication, and others say she's senile and that her lawyers are taking advantage of her. Then, a day or two before the book was published, a new sort of controversy leaked out...but more on that later.

First of all, I'm going to try to explain how I felt about the book simply as a book. It's pretty difficult not to connect it and compare it with To Kill a Mockingbird, but I'll try. I loved the first third of Go Set a Watchman. Here I go comparing again, but the writing style felt very similar to TKAM, which of course I appreciated. The story was lovely and intriguing in its simplicity: a 26 year old daughter coming home to Alabama from New York for her annual visit, worrying about her aging father. My favorite part was definitely the childhood flashback of Scout, Jem, and Dill "playing revival," which features Dill wearing a sheet as the Holy Ghost...oh my goodness! That cracked me up. It felt so accurate to how kids reflect their life experiences in their imaginary play. (And if you have any experience with churchgoing in the South, especially revivals, then you'll get it, too.)

But then things changed. This is the point that everyone has been talking about: Atticus Finch is apparently a racist. When Jean Louise finds out about her father and Hank (her boyfriend) attending that meeting, everything changes. The writing style is even different: it becomes a lot more scattered and less cohesive and simple. From then on, the story is basically Jean Louise struggling mentally with this revelation for a day or so before she finally confronts her father.

I found the book harder to read after that. And I'm not talking about it in terms of its connection with To Kill a Mockingbird. It got pretty political. (Also, the language got worse, which is something that personally bugs me.) I got the gist of what they were talking about, but a few things were fuzzy for me (example: I had never really heard about these community meetings, so at first I was a little baffled as to why it upset Jean Louise so much...until I heard what the speaker at the meeting was saying). A lot of people are saying that this book is ironically timely and applicable to what's happening in our country now, and I get that. I know that it shows how racism can exist even in subtle ways, and even in good people. And I can appreciate the theme of not worshiping a person: it's not realistic to expect someone to be perfect, even if it's your mentor or someone you really look up to. These are good lessons to take from the book, but in terms of actual enjoyment of reading: I liked the first third much more than the rest.

Okay, so now I have to say I felt about the book in connection with To Kill a Mockingbird. I still love that book. I still love Atticus Finch. My appreciation for TKAM isn't lessened in any way, and Atticus' reputation isn't "tarnished" in my eyes. Here's why: Go Set a Watchman isn't really the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, no matter what it's been called. It was written first. It's a first draft of the story. Characters and parts of it (in some cases, entire paragraphs, like the history of the town) were taken and molded into To Kill a Mockingbird. You can't logically read it as a true sequel to TKAM because the stories don't match up. Hank (or Henry) supposedly grew up with Scout, Jem, and Dill, but he doesn't exist in TKAM. The court case that is so important in To Kill a Mockingbird is completely different in Go Set a Watchman (and it has a different outcome), but the details are so similar that it obviously doesn't refer to two separate cases. And remember Francis, the cousin that Scout fought in TKAM? In Go Set a Watchman, he's mentioned as Aunt Alexandra's son, not her grandson.

Our Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird is still the same. He doesn't become the Atticus of Go Set a Watchman. I just can't call a book a sequel when it doesn't match up with the previous one. (Also, on another note, Atticus' racism in GSAW is much different than I expected. From what I'd heard, I was expecting some sort of hateful monster. Of course, his views sound wrong to us today, but his attitude was probably very realistic for that time and place.)

I personally read Go Set a Watchman as the starting place for To Kill a Mockingbird. It made me thankful for the different direction in which Harper Lee took the story. The editor who suggested she go back and focus on Scout's childhood was a genius, because the flashbacks are the most vibrant parts of this book. I think that rather than seeing GSAW as a sequel to TKAM, it's more of an alternate universe. They're like two versions of the same story: one the more idealistic, hopeful, simple version, and the other a harsher reality of what could have been. Preferring one doesn't discredit the other.

From what I've read about Harper Lee's life, Go Set a Watchman was probably very autobiographical. It definitely seems that way, from the extremely visceral reaction that Jean Louise has in the book. It feels like Lee was writing from experience. Basically, it's a story worth telling and worth reading, in my opinion. It's different, and I'll always prefer To Kill a Mockingbird because it's so much more of an enjoyable read. But I'm still glad I read Go Set a Watchman.

I also wanted to mention another book that's connected to these. In between these two, I read a little middle grade book called I Kill the Mockingbird. It was such a fun, addicting read! It's about three best friends who decide to pull a stunt to get their classmates excited about reading To Kill a Mockingbird. The plot could have been a bit more developed, but for such a short book, it worked nicely. I loved the main characters- I would love to be friends with them! :) They were quirky and smart but still realistic. And there's a budding romance in the story that was pretty adorable, too. If you love TKAM, or just appreciate books in general, you'll probably enjoy this one.

If you've read Go Set a Watchman, what did you think of it? If not, are you planning on reading it?

Friday, July 17, 2015


When I was thirteen or fourteen, The Village was one of my favorite films. I think I saw it about four times at the theater and later watched some more of M. Night Shyamalan's films. A few weeks ago, I caught part of The Village when it was airing on wasn't as amazing as I remembered, but I still liked it. And that made me want to watch Signs again, so I did.

I'm not (very) embarrassed to say that I still love this movie. :)

I don't do scary films. Hitchcock is about as close to "horror films" as I get, and I do love children's stories with a creepy factor to them (think A Series of Unfortunate Events- I love humor with a darker undertone). But Signs is right up my alley. It's just sinister and suspenseful enough to make me uncomfortable, but not bad enough to keep me awake at night.*

The opening credits really set the mood with that bizarre music that's just like something out of a Hitchcock film. And the whole movie just has this bleak, eerie feeling.

My favorite character is definitely Merrill. It cracks me up how he is so skeptical about the alien theory at first but he's basically the first one to get sucked into it once things start happening. This movie has some hilarious moments, and most of them involve Merrill: the cursing scene near the beginning, the aluminum foil hats, etc. But also, he's just a good guy. He helps his brother through hard times and takes care of his niece and nephew, but he's not afraid to tell Graham when he thinks he's wrong.

The idea of being in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere (surrounded by corn fields) while aliens are attacking is pretty terrifying, if you ask me. :) But I'm always sort of disappointed when we actually see one of the aliens up close at the end. It looks cheesy. The brief glimpses of them earlier in the film and just the anticipation in general are a lot creepier than the actual aliens.

And even though it's a bit overdone, I really like the overall theme of there being no coincidences and that everything happens for a reason. (I'm a Christian, so I believe that. Just because I can't see the whole story yet doesn't mean it's not there.) Though I feel like it doesn't usually happen in such a neatly packaged way as it does in this film. :)

*Not usually, that is. The night that I watched Signs, we had a bad thunderstorm and then, just before I went to bed, our power went out. Of course. I never sleep in complete darkness, and I was a little jumpy after watching this it took me longer than usual to fall asleep, ha.

Have you seen Signs? What do you think of it?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: Go Set a Watchman, of course! At the beginning of the week, I heard (along with everyone else, I'm sure) some discouraging things about the book. I was a little worried, but so far I'm about a third of the way in and really enjoying it. (After I finish it, I might do a post about my thoughts on this one and To Kill a Mockingbird.)

Knitting: I was knitting a hat...actually, since taking this picture I finished the hat. Then I realized that it had turned out too large, even for my big head. I should have seen this coming, because I was trying on the hat as I went along and it was looking exceptionally baggy (not slightly slouchy, which is what I was going for). So, sadly, I'm going to have to start over...probably with a different pattern. It's discouraging, but this yarn was a bit of a splurge and I want to love the end result. (It's pretty special yarn because the alpacas live in Virginia, and so do I.)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sock Scrap Blanket {Months 3 & 4}

Progress on my blanket has been slow over the last two months! That's okay, though. I just finished knitting a sweater and some other smaller projects, and soon I'll be starting to knit for craft fairs this fall. So I expect the blanket will become less of a priority for a while.

- 9 squares added (45 total squares now).
- 3 squares from my own scraps.
- 4 squares from mini-skeins from Andi.
- 2 squares from purchased mini-skeins.

All of the new squares are repeats, except for the one I added from my mint chocolate chip socks leftovers and the purple one, which is from a "Seedling" I purchased in Tennessee (plum colorway). I haven't bought any new mini-skeins lately, since I still have quite a few scraps left. And while cleaning up and organizing my sewing/crafting room recently, I found leftovers from a couple of other projects that I didn't realize I had...those will be added into the blanket soon.

My blanket is currently 5 squares tall by 9 squares long. For now I'm just going to keep adding to the length until I think it looks long enough, and then I'll start making it taller.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: The release of Harper Lee's new book Go Set a Watchman snuck up on me! I'm planning on buying it on the release date (Tuesday), so I need to squeeze in a reread of To Kill a Mockingbird before then. Though I've only read TKAM once, several years ago, I consider it one of my favorite books. I hope it's as amazing as I remember. (And I hope the new book will be good, too, even if it's not as good as this one.)

Knitting: My cardigan is nearly finished! I'm working on the second button band. I ordered some buttons and they should be here tomorrow, so hopefully the sweater will be completed and blocking by the weekend. (I keep trying it on because it fits so well and I love how it turned out! I'm really hoping it doesn't grow any with blocking- I'm going to be very careful.) Anyway, after contemplating casting on some socks last week, I started a new pair because my sweater was getting too big and bulky to lug around. I love self-striping sock yarn, so I'm using some of the Felici that's currently available from KnitPicks. This colorway (Wizard) is a bit more pastel than I usually go for, but there are some darker colored stripes, too.

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Unpopular opinions {book tag}.

I often write about my favorite books. But today, for something a little different, I'm going to talk about books that I don't like. (I'm stealing this tag from Cait over at Paper Fury.) Sometimes it's oddly enjoyable to discuss books that you dislike. :) Of course, everyone has different opinions so please don't be offended if one of your favorite books makes the list.

For as many of the books as possible, I linked to my Goodreads reviews so you can read more of an explanation, if you're interested.

1. A popular book or series you didn't like. Wuthering Heights. (I know it's considered a classic, but it's so depressing and features some of the most unlikable characters ever.) The Casual Vacancy. (I'm not too sure how well-liked it is, but it was a huge disappointment for me.) I was also really disappointed with Divergent and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, given how popular they've been over the past few years.

2. A popular book or series that everyone hates but you love. The only thing I can think of is The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry. I know that a lot of people love The Giver but don't enjoy the other three books. Son especially seems to get very mixed reactions, but I loved it. It was probably my favorite of the series.

3. A love triangle where the protagonist ended up with the person you didn't want them to be with. If I'm remembering correctly, Cassia in the Matched trilogy didn't end up with the guy I preferred. But to be honest, I didn't like either guy too much so it didn't exactly bother me. (Add the Matched trilogy to my list of literary disappointments.)

4. Popular genre you hardly read. I don't read much contemporary. Also, I rarely read fantasy. And I've never read any of that vampire/paranormal/etc. YA that was so popular several years ago. :)
5. A popular or beloved character that you dislike. Heathcliff! That guy is a nutcase (see the link above in the first question). Also, I know I've said this before, but I don't like Frodo. At least, I don't like's been a long time since I read LOTR so book-Frodo might not be quite as bad. Bilbo Baggins is a hero. Sam is a hero. Movie-Frodo is a complete wimp.

6. A popular author you can't seem to get into. I had heard such good things about Sophie Kinsella, so last year I read one of her books. It was kind of dull and there was a ridiculous amount of profanity. (Do people seriously talk like that?) Then there's Neil Gaiman. I want to love his books because I love the idea of them. And maybe he doesn't count because I haven't read any of his adult books yet. (I really want to try Stardust.) I've read Coraline and Fortunately, the Milk and while they were both cute, I wasn't blown away. But I will give him another try.

Also, I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't like John Green. I liked The Fault in Our Stars when I first read it several years ago, but looking back, I think that my favorable reaction was because of how emotional the book made me. Plus maybe I was riding the hype that the book was getting at the time. (And both of those are not good reasons for supposedly liking a book. I need to read it again sometime to decide what I really think.) I've read more from him since then and didn't like it. I know that so many people love the VlogBrothers, but there is just something about John and Hank Green that irritates me. They are always preaching tolerance and thinking for yourself, but they don't seem very understanding towards people who don't have the same beliefs as them.

7. A popular trope you're tired of reading. Love triangles. Also, characters always being beautiful. This seems especially common in Christian historical fiction, strangely enough. The female character is always described as being stunningly pretty, thin, small, and elegant. As someone who is none of those things, it makes me roll my eyes. (Alas, few authors write about awkward female leads.) The only exception to this I can think of is A Distant Melody, by Sarah Sundin. Both of the main characters are described as being rather plain, which was refreshing. (That whole series is pretty amazing, by the way.)

8. A popular series you have no interest in reading. The Outlander series. Game of Thrones. The second and third books in the Divergent trilogy.

9. A show or movie adaptation you liked better than the book. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, just because it is so difficult for me to get through those books! I appreciate Tolkien's imagination and attention to detail, but goodness. The Princess Bride (the book didn't make me laugh...those lines are just so much funnier coming from the actors). I like the Cranford and North and South mini-series better than Gaskell's books. I didn't enjoying reading Divergent, but I was surprised by how much I liked the film. And one of the biggest examples of a film being so much better than the book: The Thin Man. Unfortunately, book-Nick Charles is not very charming.

What are some popular books that you don't like? Also, I'd love to hear about any movies you prefer to the book...

Friday, July 3, 2015

What I Read: June

I started June off by making good progress on my summer reading list. In the first two weeks or so, I checked four books off my list. But near the end of the month, I got distracted by a couple of yarn books that arrived in the mail. :) In total I read six books and almost finished my reread of Emma. As always, click on the title to read my review on Goodreads.

Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent. I'd been wanting to read this book for quite a while, and thankfully it didn't disappoint! The writing was beautiful and the story was engrossing, even though it was rather slow-moving. I didn't go into it expecting to feel so much sympathy towards Agnes. The book was very atmospheric, and now I'm even more fascinated with Iceland.

A Tale Dark & Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz. This was a reread to refresh my memory before I picked up the third and final book in the trilogy. And after reading all three, I can say that this is my favorite of them. It feels the most cohesive. I love how the story of Hansel and Gretel is seamlessly incorporated into other more obscure fairy tales!

In a Glass Grimmly, by Adam Gidwitz. This one, the second book, was also a reread. I love Frog and Eddie and the humor they bring to the story, but as a whole it just feels a bit too disjointed.

The Grimm Conclusion, by Adam Gidwitz. I finally got around to finishing this trilogy. I enjoyed the third book, but I didn't love it as much as I hoped to. Maybe it was just too much to try to read them so closely together? Like with A Series of Unfortunate Events (or other middle grade series), there are some repetitive aspects that feel a bit overdone when you read the books one after the other. Anyway, the devil and his grandmothers were definitely my favorite parts of the whole series (that makes so sense at all unless you've read the books)...they were hilarious.

Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. There is some good practical information (and knitting "recipes") in this book, but overall I didn't enjoy it as much as her books of essays. Those are just funnier and more relatable. At times I almost felt like she was trying too hard to be funny in this one.

Adventures in Yarn Farming, by Barbara Parry. This was such a beautiful book! There are lots of gorgeous pictures and the book itself is just really pretty (it's compact and dense and the pages are nice and glossy). As someone who's very interested in raising a couple of wool sheep (soon, hopefully!), this was an interesting look at life on a fiber farm.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: Yeah, I'm still reading Emma. I'd forgotten how I seem to read Austen novels at a slower pace than other books. That's a good thing, really, because sometimes I think I have a tendency to rush through books. (Probably because my to-read pile is so big and intimidating.) I'm a little past the point when Mr. Elton gets married, so I'll probably finish it over the next few days.

Knitting: My cardigan is coming along nicely! So far it's been mostly stockinette, but last night I joined the sleeves together with the body and next I'll be starting the cabled yoke. Lately I've been itching to cast on a pair of socks (despite saying not too long ago that I was going to take a break from sock knitting). I'm trying to wait until I'm almost finished with my sweater so the socks won't distract me from working on it. But I'm thinking it's a good idea to always have a pair of socks on the needles, even if I'm not working on them very consistently...right?

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}