July book haul

I do most of my reading on my e-reader nowadays. I bought it almost 3 years ago and since then it has claimed its place in my purse. But that doesn’t mean that I no longer buy paper books. I adore buying books, just as much as I adore buying yarn! This month alone I already bought more books than normal, so I thought it might be fun to show off my haul here, so I don’t forget them, like I so often do with the yarn ;)

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1. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Bloo of Olympus I’ve been a big fan of Rick Riordan for a number of years now. It all began with reading his Percy Jackson series while awaiting a new Harry Potter. And oh boy, how awesome that was. Totally my cup of tea!
It’s no Harry Potter, but honestly what is? I just love Rick Riordans storytelling and he gets his inspiration from ancient myths and legends! Definitely my cup of tea!

The Blood of Olympus is the last book from the Heroes of the Olympus series, the sequel to Percy Jackson. .
Where the Percy Jackson series mostly focussed on Percy Jackson (well, duh!) and the Greek Gods, this series has lots of new characters and brings in the Roman versions of the well-known Gods. I’m really curious on how this series ends.

2. The Death Maze by Ariana Franklin

The Death Maze Ariana Franklin I bought my first book by Ariana Franklin during my tour through England. It was the first book from the “Mistress of the Art of Death” series. I was first drawn in by the beautiful cover and also a bit by the awesome surname of the author, but of course the synopsis spoke to me as well.
I also finished the book during my travels and I do remember I had some difficulties getting into the book, because the style was somewhat more difficult than the style of the Young Adults I read so much. But once I had found the rhythm, I completely loved the book. History, detective and girl power! Hell yeah!
So I told myself to keep an eye out for this author and now I finally got my hand on book 2, The Death Maze.

3. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City Ransom Riggs Hollow City is the sequel to the hyped Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I read this last title last year and I wasn’t so impressed. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think it was so great as claimed everywhere. The story wasn’t al that captivating and the only thing that really made it special were the old, bizarre photographs peppered throughout. The story did become interesting towards the end of the novel, which is why I bought this sequel. I’ll probably only read it later this year. Around Halloween feels perfect for this book.

Fun fact, book 1 of this series will be made into a movie by the mighty Tim Burton. Even though I wasn’t that impressed by this story, I’m really curious what Mr. Burton will make off it. The atmosphere created in the book is certainly completely his style.

4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen is one of the many books I found by accident through Goodreads.
I read a synopsis for one book, another book is recommended based on that synopsis and then I can continue clicking indefinitely.
And that’s how I found this book. Why I bought this one and not one of the others? Because someone on Goodreads described the book as a cross between Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games. No further explanation needed, I think ;)
Hopefully my expectations will now be met!

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses
I learned about this book through Kathleen’s blog, Verbeelding.org.
Kathleen and I have a fairly similar taste in books and when she wrote a very enthusiastic review for this book, I just had to find out myself.
Additionally, A Court of Thorns and Roses was inspired by Beauty and the Beast. Enough said!
I’m very curious about this novel and wonder if I’ll be just as ecstatic as Kathleen.

6. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception
This purchase is again the result of a clicking-session on Goodreads. Also, I liked the cover ;) Yes, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover and all, but face it, the cover is the first thing someone notices. And of course, I wouldn’t have bought it if the story didn’t have an appeal!
Perhaps a little clichéd, but The Kiss of Deception does look like a perfect addition to my read-without-thinking-guilty-pleasure books and I so often need those types of books. We’ll see!

7. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The archived
The Archived has been on my to-be-read list for a long time, which is the reason why I bought it. Honestly, I couldn’t remember the premise, but once I reread it I understood why I had added it to my list. The story has me completely intrigued and seems very original.

8. The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
The Martian is probably not a typical me-book, but I keep seeing it online and in stores that I folded and bought it. It’s supposed to be a very funny book and its already being made into a movie (with Matt Damon in the lead).
I’ll approach it with an open mind and see if it can captivate me.

And that’s it. Eight books have already been bought this month, of which three sequels to books already read. Hopefully the other five will amount to something and won’t disappoint too much (like The Miniaturist). You’ll most definitely read about it here!


Almost two years later

In a previous message I mentioned I was thinking about starting a new crochet project, but instead I picked up an old unfinished project!

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This bolero was started over 2 years ago from a free pattern found through Ravelry. It’s made from 10 squares, which I finished and assembled on the go. And then I got stuck on the border. I wasn’t sure if I wanted one and if I did, how I should crochet it. So the bolero disappeared from sight, uncertain if I considered it finished or not.
And now, almost two years later I found it again and decided that it could do with a border after all.

I dug up the original pattern and had a look at the border instructions. Those instructions are just a schematic representation on a number of chain stitches.

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After considering the scheme and my bolero, I decided to just have a go at it. I would first try to recreate the round 1 by crocheting groups of chain stitches all around the edge. The pattern indicates groups of 7 and 3 chains, but I didn’t like the look of the large hole the 7 chains made. Therefore I stuck with groups of 3 and 5 chains.
To begin, I laid out my bolero to see where to start with attaching my yarn. Eventually it seemed that a corner was the best and most inconspicuous place to start.

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Here’s what I did (US terminology):

Border – round 1:
Attach thread with slst in the middle of a corner and make a sc in the same stitch. Then:
ch3, sc, *ch5, sc, ch3, sc, ch3, sc*;repeat from * around the edge of the bolero.

I made the single crochets either in a stitch or a chain of the previous round, depending where I was. No strict rules, I just made sure the spacing was somewhat even. To end I also made sure I ended with a (ch5, sc, ch3) to have the round be continuous. To finish round 1, slst in the first sc of the round.

Border – round 2:
ch1 and turn work. Then:
sc in same stitch as slst, *in next ch5-space: [dc, ch, (dc,picot,ch)x5, dc]; sc in the stitch between the two ch3-spaces*; repeat from * around

As you can see, I was fairly faithful to the original pattern.
For the armholes I mainly followed the same instructions. The only difference was that I did not want the shells to go under the armpits. I thought that would be annoying and ticklish. Therefore I first marked the centre of the armpits for both armholes and then I started round 1 as described above from that stitch. Round 2 was changed slightly to, as mentioned, not have any shells underneath the armpits.

Border armholes – round 2:
ch1 and turn work. Then:
sc in same stitch as slst, 3sc in ch3-space, sc in sc, 5sc in ch5-space, sc in sc, 3sc in ch3-space, sc in sc; *in next ch5-space: [dc, ch, (dc,picot,ch)x5, dc]; sc in the stitch between the two ch3-spaces*; repeat from * around until 1 ch5-space is left. 3sc in ch3-space, sc in sc, 5sc in ch5-space, sc in sc, 3sc in ch3-space, slst in first sc of round to finish off.

When I finished crocheting this border and had weaved in all the ends, I put the bolero on. I felt it turned out a bit big, especially without closure. I thought a tiny button to close the front of the bolero would make it look even more elegant. Since I didn’t have any cute buttons lying around, I decided to try my hand at making one myself. I crocheted a tiny, round button amigurumi-style. A button hole was not necessary, since there’s enough lace work that can be used for that.

Crocheted button:
The button is crocheted in spirals, like amigurumi.
Het knoopje wordt amigurumi-gewijs in spiralen gehaakt.

  1. Make a magic ring with 6sc
  2. increase around (12sc)
  3. sc around (12sc)
  4. sc around (12sc)
  5. decrease every third stitch (9sc)
  6. decrease every second stitch (6sc)
  7. Decrease until you can no longer OR close the opening by weaving the tail through the remaining stitches and pulling tight

While you’re crocheting the button, don’t forget to fill it with scrap yarn or fiberfill. Eventually the button will look a bit like a raindrop. The pointy end is the end that needs to get sewn to one corner of the bolero. Once it’s firmly attached you can still run your needle through the whole button and bring it back down a stitch further. If you pull now the button will get a flatter top. Do make sure you do not pull too tight so you can still use the button!

And then I thought it was finished. It worked out very nicely and the button was a stroke of genius, even if I do say so myself.

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Ta-dah! Beautiful, right?
I really like how it turned out. Looks much better with the border. Now it actually looks finished!

The only thing I’m a little disappointed about is that the bolero has grown a tad bit larger after washing. I was very careful during washing it to not stretch the thread, but cotton does tend to grow a lot especially when it’s lace.
Not that it is now humongous. At least, I don’t think it is, but I do think it would look better with a tighter fit.
I should hear the opinion of someone else. Perhaps I’ll wear it to work one day and see the reactions.

To show you the difference between the bolero without and with border, I tried to recreate the pictures I had taken two years ago. I still own (and fit) the same top!

Boven: zonder rand (2 jaar geleden) Onder: met rand (vandaag)

Above: no border (2 years ago)
Under: with border (today)

And what do you think? Successful?


The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist door Jessie Burton I bought The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton in February through Bookdepository. I had read about the book on Goodreads. The cover is beautiful, the synopsis intriguing and the reviews mostly positive. So when I felt like buying books from my favourite online bookshop again, I didn’t hesitate too long to add it to my cart.

The Miniaturist is set in 17th century Amsterdam where we follow Pertonella Oortman, who after her marriage to Johannes Brandt, a successful salesman of the Dutch East India Company, moves to a house on the prestigious Herengracht. For a wedding gift her new husband gives her a beautiful miniature version of her new house. But when Petronella contacts a miniaturist to help her fill the doll house, this is the beginning of a number of bizarre events

Let me begin by saying that I blame this book for my 3-month-lasting disinterest in books. Once I had finished it, I really did not feel like reading anything. So I guess this already says a lot about my opinion on the book: a true disappointment.

First, I really had to force myself to finish the book. The story had a really slow start and just goes on and on. It took me 1 month to go through it, which is a lot for my standards.
Secondly, I had no affinity what so ever for any of the characters. They endured tragedies and become disillusioned, but I honestly couldn’t care less. Their actions and emotions seemed unbelievable and often completely incomprehensible.

Eventually I really wanted to finish the book, even if it was a struggle. Why? Because I wanted to know what the freaking deal was with the mysterious miniaturist.
Very (veeeeeeeeeeeeery) slowly the mystery around this character is built. Every time you think you’ll get to the bottom of the mystery, you are led back to unrelated events or boring conversations. And then, suddenly, the book is over. Certain events are led to an – again, unbelievable – crescendo, but the how and what of the miniaturist is never explained. It all remains very vague and unclear.
When I finished the last page, I honestly believed my book was missing a chapter or two. In my confusion I even reread the cryptic first chapter, hoping I had missed something crucial there. But no, the book truly does end without explaining its title character.

Yes, I know, I may now have spoiled the book for many of you and for that I could apologize, but I won’t.
Seriously though, when a book is titled “The Miniaturist”, one can expect the character to be an important one, which will eventually receive a background and a motif. But when it turns ou that it is just a type of Deus ex Machina, a desperate attempt to give a weak story some mystery, without any depth or relevance in the end, then one is allowed to be disappointed and decide to give away this plot element. This way I sincerely hope that I can save some of you the disappointment and the following lethargy for books I went through after reading The Miniaturist.