• Books

    Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

    This series is quite highly ranked on GoodReads, and I hadn’t read a young adult book in a while. I also wanted something lighter after Walden.

    The premise of teenage spies and the lighter tone of the book was an adjustment. I also wonder that the older I get, the less I can relate to teenagers and thus, find it harder to read these kind of books. There was a lot of talk about boys and kissing. There was also an excessive use of the word “hot”.

    Still, the book is rather light and had its fun moments. It moves rather quickly and I read the book in a couple of hours. It is as good or better than Meg Cabot’s YA books. The protagonist is not annoying and the book does place good emphasis on friendship.

    I did not realize until about halfway through the book that this is actually the third book in the series and not the first. I must have returned the first awhile back thinking it was the third one. In any case, I was not too confused by the back story. Knowing I have read the third book makes me more likely to read the last and fourth book especially after the cliffhanger.

    Read April 13th 2013.

  • Books,  Fitness

    Sunday Salon – April Showers

    Sunday Salon

    This past week, I finished Walden, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter, and the Brief Encounter screenplay. Both of the latter will be tomorrow and early in the week.

    I have been very busy the last couple of weeks working two jobs and still trying to find time to do some of my hobbies and socialize. As a result, reading has been put off. Today, I do plan on reading some of Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night A Traveller.

    I also plan on doing a run today. I’ve had to miss my Saturday morning running group’s 6KM runs, but for the last couple of weeks, I’ve done two 4KM runs after work in the weekdays. Hopefully today I can do at least that and maybe more, but the weather has been quite bad lately. There was ice pellets and hale on Friday and it’s been very wet.

    Either way, I’m going to make a run to my favourite French bakery soon and get some pastries. It’s become a tradition for every other week.

    This week, I’ll try to read, knit my socks, hopefully doing a WIP Wednesday post, and work out a bit more.

    What are you doing this week?

  • Books

    Walden by Henry David Thoreau

    Walden

    I have mixed feelings about this book.

    On the one hand, I think Walden’s ethos and philosophy is largely positive and relatable for me. His views on the appreciation of nature, solitude, and civil life are good and important. I think more people should do the things he recommends.

    On the other hand, this book was hard to read. Much harder than I thought it would be. I realized that not many people I know offline and online have read Thoreau’s work. Yes, he is often cited for his subversive views, but how many people today actually do read Walden? I’m sure some people gave up, and I almost did a couple of times.

    I liked the content, but I was bored by the style and delivery.

    I read this for the Classics Spin and it took me ages. I put it away for nearly a month because it did not engage me. Philosophy in general can be hard to read, but he is sometimes less forthright cut about it than Plato or the Enlightenment philosophers. I think this book would have been improved if there was a plot or more concrete examples. It was as if I was reading a long diary entry in Thoreau’s life. He meanders and his style changed.

    Most of this book is not actually about civil disobedience or vegetarianism, it’s largely about nature. Long, overwrought passages on nature. I actually don’t think Thoreau is a bad writer, but there was something incredibly dull about most of this book. Too much waxing poetic. I remember many a number of pages on lakes and ponds and rivers.

    In the beginning of the book, I did find Thoreau was erudite, intelligent and true, but at the same time, I found him florid, pretentious and bourgeois. This was the first 10% of the book, the rest he just talk about nature, solitude, and his neighbors. I am not sure if it was the time frame, but that should not be a problem since I have read so many nineteenth century books, but not necessarily philosophy. There was sometimes a feeling of insincerity in his words or slight arrogance about his knowledge of the world. He was only about 30 when he wrote this and I can see that his relatively young age can have contributed. He had not travelled very much and it shows in this book. I also suspect he was sarcastic at times.

    Should other people read it? I think parts of the book and certain quotations make provocative reading such as the last section of Civil Disobedience. I think it is also a good book about history and the setting in which he wrote it because Thoreau is clearly intelligent. In terms of reading this for fun, I really do not know many people who should actually enjoy this book.

    Or maybe I am blind to how good his prose was, but for me, this was not the most memorable reading experience even though I did agree with Thoreau at times.

    Read on Kindle from February 27th to April 12th 2013.

  • Knitting & Crafting

    FO Fridays: Amstel Hat

    Amstel Hat

    When I saw this in the magazine, I thought it would be really suitable for my friend G who had requested a hat for her belated birthday gift. She really liked it and even has a wool scarf of the same colour.

    This hat took one lazy Good Friday to make as I watched several shows. This was a true stashbuster as I used Patons Classic Wool leftovers from some legwarmers I made for another friend. I don’t look very good in orange so if G hadn’t like this hat, I’m giving it away to someone else.

    Amstel Hat

    Amstel Hat, started March 29th 2013 AM, finished March 29th 2013 PM.Ravelry Project Page
    Pattern: Amstel Hat by Courtney Kelley from Interweave Knits, Fall 2012.Ravelry Pattern Page
    Made for: G
    Yarn: Patons Classic Wool – old yardage: 223yds/100g – Paprika – had 56g (124yds) and used all but 2g.
    Needles: #8/5.0mm for body and #6/4.0mm for brim long circs
    Modifications & Notes:

    • Techknitter’s Disappearing Loop Cast On
    • Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy BO
    • No other mods, but my gauge was tighter, probably 18 sts = 4”/10cm so it is a small beret.

    Cost of Project: None as the yarn itself was a gift.
    Would I knit it again? Sure, but it would need to be bigger for my own head and hair. Not really my style either, but quick and easy pattern.
    Helpful Links: Techknitter’s Disappearing Loop Cast On and Jeny’s Suprisingly Stretchy BO.

    Have a good weekend! For more FOs, go to Tami’s Amis.

  • Monthly Movies

    Monthly Movies – March 2013

    Taken 2Taken 2 (01 03 13) – Liam Neeson is awesome. I liked the hand on hand fight sequences, but I found the plot and villains of this one even weaker than the first film. Istanbul definitely feels less dark than in Paris. As with most sequels, it was not as good as the first, but it was still good to watch Neeson taking names and shooting guns. I honestly think his Bryan Mills is a better action character than most. His name isn’t exactly as good as some others, but he makes up for it with experience, dedication, and awesomeness.

    SkyfallSkyfall (05 03 2013) – A stranger spoiled me on this film in passing and didn’t know it. That really irked me because the movie was not even on DVD at the time. People shouldn’t spoil others on films that aren’t even 3 months old. That irritation aside, I found this movie slower paced than other Bond movies which is why a lot of people disliked it. I liked it because of the focus on characters. I adore Judi Dench so watching more of M was fine with me. I usually like Javier Bardem, but Judi overshadowed the guys in this including Ralph Fiennes (who is only 5 years older than Craig – not the same dynamic). What a good cast though and they even had adorable Ben Whitslaw. Not crazy about the two Bond girls though. There were definite plot holes, but oh well. This was leaps better than the mundane Quantum of Solace, but it won’t really replace Casino Royale. I still love Daniel Craig aka Mr. Rachel Weisz as 007 though.

    The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (09 03 2013) – This felt exactly like the book: slow and anticlimactic until they improved it by adding that one big scene. Honestly, I think the director Bill Condon has made a movie that has surpassed in its writing. I don’t like the story or the characters so I rolled my eyes as usual, but they have made a movie which has respected the fans and the material. I found out Condon made Kinsey which I liked; I do think these are the best films in the series. Still, I hope Michael Sheen did some nice things with his pay cheque as he is the only actor from this that I would follow anywhere.

  • Books,  Fitness,  Food

    Sunday Salon: Maple Bacon Biscuits

    Sunday Salon

    Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! I never really got this holiday, religious wise or chocolate wise so the only thing I personally like about it is the extra long weekend.

    This week I posted my reviews of Flight Behavior and America Again.

    This weekend I’ve been busy of course. I made a hat for a friend on Friday, ran about 6km yesterday, have been reading some Walden, and just now, I baked some Maple Bacon Biscuits from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Pereleman.

    Maple Bacon Biscuits

    They turned out alright. I don’t know why, but the mix was a bit drier than usual, maybe I did not use enough bacon fat or maple syrup. I’ve made a lot of scones and biscuits, and they are one of my favourite things to bake. With this one, I used less than a pinch of salt because the bacon was salty enough, buttermilk substitute (milk + lemon juice, always), managed 8 biscuits from a glass cup of less than 2″ diameter, and put an egg wash (always on top, never the sides with biscuits/scones).

    My reading goal this weekend was to read at least three books, but it may end up being just two. Walden is slow going. I like the ideas in it, but I also find it a bit too florid and even pretentious. It is one long essay so it’s not as easy to read as other nonfiction books. Also, unlike a lot of modern essays, his real life examples are smaller. It’s very philosophical.

    Have a Happy first week of April!

    Note: I did write most of the above post on Sunday/yesterday, but then my bandwidth exceeded again so I am posting it on Easter Monday.