Monday, January 30, 2012


Hi there!  It's been a long time since I have done a links of the week post, and I think it'll be a long time until I do another one.  Instead, I've been pinning.  And pinning, and pinning, and pinning.  I'm obsessed with Pinterest.  There is a button on my firefox tool bar so that wherever I go on this great wide internet, I can pin pictures that link to articles/shops/blog posts/websites.  You can find me on Pinterest here, and see what I spend all of my days and nights doing instead of being productive here.  Does anyone else pin?  Leave me a comment so I can go visit your boards and follow you!

If you have no idea what Pinterest is, I'm looking at you like this O.o

These are my boards.  As you wander the internet, you can pin a picture to your board by going to your account and putting in the url of the site where you found the image.  Pinterest looks for images on that site, asks you to choose which one if there's more than one, and then asks if you'd like to comment on the picture.  It then puts all of your pictures in one place, organised into boards you name.  I love being able to pin a half a dozen pictures of shoes and then look at them all at once before choosing the pair I like the most (and then not buying them because I'm not rich).

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do in the Books Worth Reading section, and have gone overboard on the wearables.  But such is life.  Go look!  One of the best things about Pinterest is that you can click on the image, and it will take you to the original website where you found the image, so, if you're not like me and are in fact rich, you can buy those shoes.  :-)  Happy pinning

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I've been wanting to read a Sherlock Holmes book for a while now, and after watching Sherlock (BBC) and Sherlock Holmes (Hollywood), I figured I should get to it.  So I started at the beginning, with A Study in Scarlet (1886).

I was suprised by how easy this book was to read.  I found myself comparing the prose to that of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which was published only 16 before ASiS.  If you have ever heard me talk about 20,000 Leagues, you know my opinion of this work, permanently dubbed The Fish Directory in my memory - it is DULL.  But ASiS is fast-moving, includes just enough detail for the purposes of the story and to introduce the characters that we all know - Holmes, Watson, the slightly hopeless police detective/s that take all the credit.  This surprised me, as I was expecting long, drawn-out descriptions of the minutiae of the murder scene and Shakespearean soliloquies exposing the identity of the murderer.  This was so refreshing, compared to my (admittedly limited) experience with other classics, and showed great restraint on the part of the author.

Another surprise came in part two of the book, which tells the story of a man and a young girl stranded in a desert in the US.  It took me a very long time to work out how this fit into the original plot, which either says something about my inability to see things coming, or about the author's ability to surprise the reader even in as straightforward a case as Sherlock deems this to be.  I also liked the application of scientific techniques to the investigation of crime (no surprises there!), something that at the time would have been virtually unheard of.  As Holmes and Watson meet, Holmes has just invented a liquid that reacts only when in blood is present - information that is still vitally important in criminal investigations today.

I don't think any further spoilers are necessary for this review, but I will say this:  I recommend this book to anyone who is entertained by the Sherlock Holmes stories, or anyone interested in an easy introduction to the classics.  However, those looking for a story similar to those of modern-day crime writers may need to set some expectations aside - there is very little that could be called 'gruesome detail' to be found here.

If I have inspired you to buy this book, please consider purchasing it from Mighty Ape. Using this link doesn't cost you anything and earns me credit to spend on more things to tell you about!

Book Review: Connie Willis' To Say Nothing Of The Dog

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't repeat myself, but I just looked at my stats, and it says that noone's found their way to this post (remember that blogger backdated the post to when I started, rather than when I finished it?).  I really enjoyed this book, so I'm hoping someone will read the review so they're inspired to read and enjoy it too!

It's official, I love Connie Willis.  Yes, I know, I'm only three books into her repertoire, but until I find evidence against it, I stick by my statement.  This is the second novel in the Time Traveling Oxfordians universe (I don't think the series has a title...), and is almost the polar opposite of Doomsday Book in tone, setting, and characterisation.

Ned is busy in the past trying to find out what happened to the monstrosity that is the Bishop's Bird Stump, last seen in Coventry Cathedral before its bombing in 1940.  This almost impossible task has been set him by Lady Shrapnell, who has basically taken over the history department (with her 'generous donations') to aid her in recreating the Cathedral exactly as it was moments before the bombing.

Because of the number of drops (ie time traveling trips) Ned has done in a short amount of time, he becomes ill with time-lag, causing "Maudlin sentimentality, difficulty in distinguishing sounds, fatigue... tendency to become distracted by irrelevancies.  Slowness in answering.  Blurred vision" and his almost being hit by a steam locomotive.  The only cure for this is rest, but because of Lady Shrapnell, that just wont happen in (Ned's present) 2057, so Mr Dunworthy (yes, the very same from Doomsday Book and Fire Watch) sends him to 1888.  Where else could be more relaxing - punting on the Thames, playing croquet, and drinking tea.  Except that Mr Dunworthy has set Ned a task, something that Ned has since forgotten due to the time-lag. And here's where the spoilers start!  Click the picture below for a much shorter than usual review...

I think it takes a really skilled author to be both entertaining and thought-provoking, especially in both a lighthearted story and a serious story.  If you found Doomsday Book too heavy to finish, do try To Say Nothing of the Dog.  Also, give her short stories a try.  I dug Fire Watch out of the library's stack (it was published in 1984) to read the Hugo and Nebula award-winning titular story, set in the same universe as Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Blackout/All Clear (which I'll definitely be reading soon*), and read on through the rest of the stories.  I found A Letter from the Clearys (Nebula award winner), And Come from Miles Around, and Service for the Burial of the Dead the most enjoyable, though the imagery of Daisy in the Sun (Hugo award nominee) has stayed with me.

If I have inspired you to buy this book, please consider purchasing it from Mighty Ape.  You can also get the book that inspired the title here, and you can get second-hand copies of Fire Watch here.
Using this link doesn't cost you anything and gives me credit to spend on more things to tell you about!

*Because this has been sitting in my draft-posts for so long, I'm now actually on to reading Blackout.  I'm only three or four chapters in and I'm already hooked.  I don't think it's a spoiler to say Colin (from Doomsday Book) makes an appearance!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Year in Blog

2011 was a pretty eventful year for me, and for this blog.  Although I started my blog years ago as a journal for my time in Australia, it was never used, never read, it just sat stagnant.  But once I finished my thesis, I felt the urge to keep on writing.  I picked the thing I was most enjoying doing at the time - cooking - and wrote about that.  And it worked, I kept it up, adding in links to my favourite food websites, and then eventually crafts, and book and dvd reviews.

Although I don't have many readers, I love the idea that someone I don't know is learning a new recipe or technique here from something I figured out or found out, or is inspired to read a book or watch a movie I love.  So thanks to everyone reading this, even if you've just accidentally stumbled upon this post looking for this little piece of awesomeness from Geek Crafts:

Party like it's x = (2^3) + 80 (5^2) + (36/9)!!!

Top posts for this year:
  1. Shell Lace Scarf (With Pattern)
  2. Webcomics/Graphic Novels (review)
  3. seaQuest 2032 (geek-out)
  4. Cameras (pretties-to-buy)
  5. German Onion Cake (recipe)

My Favourites of the Year:

Book of the Year:  Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Album of the Year:  Bruno Mars - Doo-wops and Hooligans
Song of the Year:  Colbie Caillat - Brighter than the Sun
TV Show of the Year:  Supernatural (read about it here and here)
Movie of the Year:  Another Earth
Recipe of the Year:  Oreo Truffles (from Chocolate and Carrots)
Craft of the Year: Triolobite Sampler (from Adventures in Stitching)

Picture of the Year:  Princess Bride Reunion

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog

This new blogger interface has me a little confused.  I started writing a review of the second book in Connie Willis' series about the time-travelling Oxfordians as soon as I finished the book a few months ago, but had a few tweaks to make before I could post.  So it sat in 'draft' purgatory until a few minutes ago.  Imagine my surprise when I hit Publish, and it didn't appear on my blog.  I finally found it, under the date when I started writing it.  I hope this was some kind of glitch, because I'm not at all interested in posting into the past!

Anyway, here's the link to the review because I don't want to repeat myself.

Also, I'm half way through A Study In Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes book, and have had Connie Willis' Blackout sitting on my bedside table since before Christmas.  So I've decided to read Sherlock on the bus and Blackout at home.  Wish me luck in reading two books at once - it's something I've not done in years!

PS:  Yes I am avoiding writing about New Year's Eve, not because it wasn't fantastic, but because in all the fuss and time management issues... somebody forgot to take photos.  Yes, somebody is me.  I'm sorry.  There are a few, but none of my delicious cheesecake, so, poor us, I'll have to make it again soon so I can put up photos!  The things I do for this blog :-P  To make up for it, here's a photo of Christmas Cat* (ie Kashka):

*Every year Kashka really gets behind Christmas, I don't know if it's because it's also her birthday month or what, but she loves it.  So I'm going to make taking a photo of her enjoying Christmas every year.


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