Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman

The Witch's Trinity The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was another quickish read, about a small German village in the 1500s where the crops have failed and everyone is starving. The problems are blamed on witchcraft and the culprit is sought.

False accusations start to fly and an innocent woman is tortured and burned because she is the village's eldest resident and also the healer so she must be a witch. When her death changes nothing, the villagers start whispering to the friar about who it may be and others are sentenced on the flimsiest of evidence.

I enjoyed this book. The descriptions of the hungry people are quite harrowing at times, with them eating snow because there is nothing else. The torture using boiling water you can almost feel and the despair of the accused is very well described. It is frightening to think that so many women were put to death in those days on the most tenuous of reasons.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

More than just books

Other stuff has happened recently apart from reading. Last weekend my parents came up to visit. My step-dad has just retired and had a significant birthday so a cake was called for.

This was the first Victoria Sandwich I have made in probably over 20 years! Came out pretty well though I do say so myself.

On Sunday morning we went for a walk around the Walls and when we got to the weir there were several herons on the water. My zoom lens got this photo from quite a distance (I've cropped it quite a bit so the detail has been somewhat lost).

A bit further on we were aiming for the Racecourse as my ex-boss was competing in the Chester Half Marathon but the heavens opened and we made a quick dash into town to Caffe Nero for much needed coffees. He managed 2 hours 10 minutes, we heard later.

This morning I finished off my Flutter-by Socks. The second half of the skein had some really dark bits pop up in the purple bits so they aren't the same now, but its not really a problem just a bit of a shame. It may come out in the wash. It is a really easy and fairly quick pattern to knit.

Pattern: Flutter-by socks
Yarn: Wild Fire Fibres Fantasia from the May sock club, colour Rhododendron
Needles: 2.5mm Addi lace circs
Mods: Decreased to 30 sole stitches after the gusset.

I'm not sure what I want to cast on next, perhaps I should revisit those WIPs!

Well my review of Pride & Prejudice had mixed responses. Linz - it was nice to know I'm not the only one who didn't like it, I really thought I was after talking to a few people I know. Anonymous - yes, I do know who you are AND I know where you LIVE, hee hee!!! P&P isn't the only "classic" I have read, I enjoyed Dracula and Frankenstein but not P&P or 20,000 leagues. I didn't study English Literature after the age of 14 so I don't really know how to "read" a book in the way that you do. I like to read for enjoyment of the story, and that is enough for me. If it doesn't float my boat, I'll move on. I don't really want to get into the analysis of the writing or the period it was written, but I respect the fact that other people do. (I will just say that on your recommendation I have started the first chapter of Emma, but if I find I'm not enjoying it I will not plough on this time.) Everyone has their own tastes in books and that is why there are so many different books out there.

On that subject I am currently reading The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman a story about a witch hunt in the search for the reason why the crops are failing and everyone is starving in a tiny village in the 1400s. There is a gruesone trial of an old woman with a test which she cannot possibly pass which proves she is a witch when she isn't. And this stuff really went on! Scary.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remind me not to read any more "classics"!

Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have finally finished listening to this unabridged version of Pride & Prejudice and am going to give my honest opinion, at the risk of causing an uproar! Let me first say that Yes, I do realise it was written nearly 200 years ago and that “that’s how things were then”. I am SO glad I was born when I was and not back then. Ok, here we go.

I DIDN’T LIKE IT. There, I’ve said it, it is out in the open! I didn’t like Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. The characters were awful, the story was dull and OMG did it drag on. I didn’t have a print copy of this but I can’t imagine how many pages were taken up each time someone had the tiniest thing to say but dragged it out over at least 10 minutes! GET ON WITH IT!!! I know they didn’t really have much to do in those days (the rich people anyway, I'm sure the poor were working very hard to make ends meet - but then they didn't have "ten thousand a year") but they must have done some things quickly. Oh yes, deciding to marry someone when you’d only just met them, they did that pretty quick!

Mrs Bennet was shallow, all she wanted from life was to see her daughters married to the richest man possible and when she despaired of that happening she just wanted to get any of them married off. Jane was far too sickly sweet and believed everyone to be the same. Lydia – what an airhead! And who was the mysterious Mary?

Mr Collins, I wanted to smack him in the chops. His proposal to Elizabeth was priceless, not once was there a mention of love, only what it would mean to his standing in the community to be a married man. How Lady Catherine Debourg (?sp) could talk to Elizabeth the way she did near the end when she thought she was going to marry Darcy. How rude!!!

Overall, I thought they were all a bunch of posh snobs who were all looking out for themselves. Elizabeth had a bit of something about her, at least she didn’t get a headache and stay bedridden for two weeks like her sister, but I still didn’t particularly like her either.

Please do comment if you like, I’d really like to know why this is such a much loved book!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A novel in letters

Ella Minnow Pea Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a very quick read, the second time I have read this book.

It is very clever, the way the author also has to use less and less letters as the story progresses. Did he start with the ending, using the very limited number of letters and work backwards? How did he choose which letter went next in order to still have enough letters to make coherent words?

I wonder why the shorter sentences that were discovered at the end have not become common usage though?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Case Histories

Case Histories Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really liked this book. The writing style flowed very easily, it is a style I would like to write in, almost a stream of consciousness at times but following a story - several stories - too.

At first it seems that the stories are completely separate but they all come together at the end in various ways. Not all the ends are tied up and the others are not necessarily in ways you would expect. There are some good twists. You learn a lot about the characters and some of them learn things about themselves along the way.

I shall definitely be reading more Kate Atkinson.

Edited 22.5.09 to add: This was also a lovely book to read because of the actual pages. They are made of really thin paper that just flops open so that you don't have to constantly be straining to keep the pages open. Nice!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Be afraid, be very afraid!

Disclaimer: Please ignore the inane expressions on my face in the following photos. I took them all several times and could not get a decent one! I was taking them by holding my phone at arm's length and couldn't concentrate on doing that and looking like a human being at the same time!

Anyway, when I got up this morning I looked like this - 9 months of not getting a hair cut is not a pretty sight.

So off I went at 9am to the hairdresser. Becca had given me strict instructions to have it cut short enough that I couldn't drag it back and put it into a hair clip. We'd looked at some hair magazines in Borders last night while we were at knitting group and picked out a few styles. Of course you never end up looking like the pictures in those, but I got an idea of what I thought I might like.

By 10am I looked like this

It definitely had a bit more body and bounce in the hairdressers but by the time I got home it had gone flat. I had popped into Morrisons on the way back and bought some Shock Waves wax so after a quick dab of that, I had it looking like this

I didn;t bother having a colour done, I quite like my little grey streak at the front now that my parting is further over. I may get a cheapo one and do it myself at some point though. (And if you are wondering - no I can't get it into a hair clip!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Red Dahlia

The Red Dahlia The Red Dahlia by Lynda La Plante

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book was ok, but I felt it was written with an eye to a TV adaptation.

The confession came all of a sudden, in one paragraph the person was refusing to talk, and a couple of paragraphs later the detective was explaining what the person had confessed to him and it seemed like there was a big chunk missing. There were quite a lot of typos throughout the book too, which I find quite irritating.

If you like TV police dramas you will probably like this book, but I don't think I'll read any more La Plante myself.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Butterflies flutter by

I have come to a decision about chocolate. After years of not liking dark chocolate I watched the two series of Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory and Willie's Chocolate Revolution and decided it would be better to eat dark chocolate. After quite a bit of practicing I have decided that I do like it, and that is what I will eat from now on. I know, what a revelation for a Sunday evening!

Colin went up Snowdon yesterday with a group of people as part of his ongoing fundraising for cancer research.

So I settled in and got a good head start on my Flutter-by socks. I finished the first one this morning. This is a pic of the detail of the "butterflies". It is actually a very simple and quick pattern.


After 3 weeks I have decided I love my iPhone. I am not using it to anything like it's potential but some of the applications are amazing, AND I can watch BBC iPlayer on it at any time. You know when you are watching TV or in a shop and a piece of music comes on and you want to know what it is? There is an app where the phone listens to 30 seconds of the song then off it goes into its little brain or the interweb or somewhere, and tah-dah, it tells you what the song is, a biography of the artist and where you can buy it online! I must say though that Becca showed me a game that is a bit addictive and sometimes when I close my eyes all I can see are little cat, dog, cow, pig, hippo and bear heads!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

This just tickled me!

It's just the look on it's face!!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Serenity cardigan

Serenity is finished, blocked and modelled! I really like the little collar, even though it was a pain having to sew it on and then pick up stitches along the edge through TWO layers of knitting. I think I made a pretty good job of it though.

Pattern : Serenity from Rowan Studio 15
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton - 5 balls with inches to spare!
Size: 10
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony circ -5.5mm and 4.5mm (pattern called for 5mm and 4mm but as I didn't use the recommended yarn these are the needles I got gauge on.)
Modifications: I added 8 rows of stocking stitch to the length of the sleeves.

I'm sure someone clever could adapt this to be knit top down in one piece, I could have done without all the mattress stitch, but at least in a cropped cardi they are shortish seams!

Saturday, May 02, 2009


This is my first installment of the Wild Fire Fibres sock club. The yarn is called Fantasia, and is a 100% merino. The colourways this month are all based on British flowers - each person in the club gets a different colour (you can see others on this ravelry page) - and mine is called Rhododendron.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Trafford Centre

Colin decided it was time he had a day off so yesterday we decided to go over to The Trafford Centre as we both needed clothes. Now, I have mentioned before that I hate clothes shopping so I wasn't holding out much hope of coming home with anything to be honest but it turned out to be not too bad.

I think it helped that the place was virtually empty. The credit crunch was certainly evident, either that or no-one wanted to go out in case they caught swine flu! So at least I didn't have to try to squeeze past people in narrow gaps between clothes displays, or queue for changing rooms. I didn't actually try much on, and came home with a pair of trousers, a cardi and 3 tops (one of which is going back because it is too small). Add to that the 6 t-shirt type tops I got in M&S on Saturday and that's me done for probably another 12 months!

While we were there I popped in to John Lewis as I needed a red button for my Serenity cardi - just the seaming and the collar to go now, should be done over the weekend - but as usual I didn't really know what size to get. I got a selection and I ended up with these.

Wow some buttons can be expensive! The six matching ones weren't too bad at 30p each but the other two! The larger one is glass I think, and was £1.30 for one! The other I think is also glass and that one was £1.45! Yikes. Good job i didn't need 6 of each of those. So now I will choose which to use and keep the others for something else. I'm bound to make something else in red another time.

I had a quick look at the knitting yarns, specifically at more of the Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton that I am currently using for the cardi. I was shocked. I bought mine for £1.99 a ball in Stash, John Lewis were selling it for £2.90. Is that allowed? (Edit: Hmmm, just looked at Stash's website and they have it for £2.90 too. Odd!)