25 July 2017

Charlotte's Dream: Update

1:16 PM 0 Comments
Posting an update on my Charlotte's Dream afghan. Pattern found here, if you're interested. This is coming along so well, and I just love working on each square a little at a time. I'm doing the squares assembly line style, which I've found I really prefer to completing them fully one at a time.


And a shot with some candlelight, to give the false appearance that I am fancy:


By assembly line, I mean that I complete 1 row (or 2 or 3, essentially will complete up to the next color change needed in one session) and I do that on every square before moving on. So, I'll do rows 19 and 20 on square 1, and then do rows 19 and 20 on square 2, and so on and so forth. 


Part 2 of this pattern involves crocheting 4 equal triangles along each side of your existing square, which makes your original square more of a diamond and gives you a much larger surface area to work with going forward. 


Here we have a finished square after Part 1, and a finished square after Part 2 lying next to each other.  As you can see, part 2 is when the Charlotte's Dream square goes from a normal sized granny square to a MASSIVE sized granny square. And don't forget, there's still a part 3 to come after this!



21 July 2017

A Million Worlds with You (Firebird #3) Review

9:42 AM 0 Comments

Book Details:
Author: Claudia Gray
Published On: November 1, 2016
Published By: Harper Teen
Pages: 419 pages, hardcover
Series: Firebird #3
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Library

Rating: 4.5/5

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.
I don't think it's much of a secret about me, but, I very rarely finish series.  I hardly ever get to the second book in a series. My memory is awful, my patience is pathetic, and I find myself having a hard time sinking back into the world of the first book most times.

An exception to this rule, has been the Firebird series by Claudia Gray. Oh, how I've loved every single one of these books! The series revolves around Marguerite and her family, who have created powerful devices known as Firebirds. These devices allow you to travel into alternate dimensions and jump into your body in those dimensions. The premise is that there is a multiverse, and everything that can happen, will happen. There are worlds where the Soviets rule the planet, worlds where the human race is just barely escaping the Bronze Age, some worlds where we have surpassed all technological understanding that seems possible - the possibilities are, well, infinite.

In the finale of the series, Marguerite comes back into contact with her most evil self, a version of herself that she found in the universe called the Home Office - the one that is willing to destroy other dimensions completely to get her sister back after her death.  She's also dealing with Paul's recent splintering, which seems to have distorted and potentially permanently damaged his personality and sense of self, as well as thrown doubt on whether it is safe for him to continue being in Marguerite's life at all.

It's difficult to explain with too much more detail than that, as I don't want to give anything away!

The way that Claudia Gray weaves together alternate universes is really something to behold. You would think that a series filled with multiple universes, all of which contain the same characters, but, in their own different 'versions' of themselves - meanwhile, the "real" version (i.e. the version we are following in the series) takes over their lives temporarily and sometimes interact with the characters in that dimension that are also in her own dimension in a different body - IT'S CRAZY. And yet somehow, it's managed so well in this series. It never feels confusing or overwhelming at all. (Even when there's 8 different Marguerite's in the same room. Insignificant spoiler alert!)

This series has been a long time favorite of mine. Even if it's been a while since you've read the first two books, please don't hesitate to pick up the third, you'll find yourself back in their universe in no time, and you won't regret it.

18 July 2017

Resolutions Revisited

9:58 AM 0 Comments

Before I left Blogger and moved to Wordpress for a time, the last post that lived here was my New Year's Resolutions for 2014. Seeing as it's been a solid 3 years since then, it seemed like a fun idea to go through my old list, and see how I'm doing so far! You can find the original post here.

  • Redesign of Cobo's Closet - merge the website, etsy, Facebook page, Ravelry, blog, etc. into one central location.
    • Still working on this, it's a longer process than I intended! 
  • Design 6 new crochet patterns. 
    • Man, I wish this had happened... I think I completed 1 new pattern. But, it's a work in progress. I have some ideas brewing! 
  • Finish my Christmas gifts... from 2013...
    • Done... I think. 
  • Take and pass my A+ Certification exam.
    • Complete, woohoo!
  • Begin studying for either Net+ or Sec+.
    • Done! Also went ahead and got Network+ certified this past year. 
  • Date nights with the hubby more often.
    • Definitely done. As soon as we discovered the wondrousness that is Texas Roadhouse, date nights increased quite a bit. 
  • Finish our granny square 'family blanket'.
    • This is a nope. It's a bit of a running joke at this point that it will never get done. It's almost big enough to cover a full-sized bed, but, it won't be 'finished' until it gets to king sized. 
  • Make a lapghan sized corner to corner throw.
    • Started one... does that count? 
  • Make a lapghan sized granny square throw.
    • Didn't get this done in 2014, but I'm working on my Charlotte's Dream afghan that will complete this resolution. See my post on it here! 
  • Blog more often and post pictures of my work as I finish it.
    • Fail. Big time fail.
  • Better photo practices - figure out a specific setup for photos and be consistent with it.
    • See above.
  • Make a crochet quilt. 
    • Not totally sure what I meant by this one, to be honest.
  • Have a booth at a local craft fair.
    • I did this that one time, but, it didn't go too well. 
  • Make crochet throw pillows.
    • Bought the pillow inserts! Just haven't actually done anything with them yet...
  • Network more with other crafters.
    • What can I say? I'm shy. 
  • Complete a graphgan.
    • Changed my mind on this one - way too many ends to weave in. 
  • Study/Read the bible daily.
    • I continue to fail at this, but, I won't give up. 
  • Attend Financial Peace University.
    • Kinda? 
  • Pray for my husband everyday. 
    • Most days I get this one. 
  • Pay off the car.
    • Done! Yippee! 
  • Learn to quilt.
    • Also done! I will post my 'girl quilt' soon! I love it so much. 
  • Learn at least 5 new stitches.
  • Try at least one new recipe per month.
    • This one has been hit or miss. Mostly because I'm such a bad cook and I'm awful at following recipes. There's this inner part of me that is a Rachel Ray wannabe and just assumes, "hey, garlic is great. if the recipe calls for 1tsp of garlic, surely 2tbsp will taste even better!"
  • Read at least 50 books.
    • In 2014? No. Between 2014 and now - probably. 
  • Catch up on reviews for the book blog and have a consistent review schedule.
    • I'm hoping this will improve as I integrate the book blog here with Cobo's Closet! 

Overall, not actually as bad as I'd originally thought I would do! I'm sure it helps that I've had 3 years to work on my resolutions, instead of just 1 year like most folks :) 


14 July 2017

Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

10:10 AM 0 Comments
  
 Book stats:      
 Trade paperback: 452 pages
 Genre: Fantasy
 Publisher: Harper Teen
 Release date: April 1, 2014
 Series: Dorothy Must Die, #1
 Source: Personal Shelf

 Rating: 3/5 stars

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission.

Dorothy Must Die was easily the most exciting premise for a book that I’ve read in a while. Throw in the fact that I happen to find myself currently living in Kansas – and I was totally on for the ride. What might surprise you is that I hate the Wizard of Oz universe. I’ve never seen it. But between seeing Wicked, knowing all the pop culture references towards it, and watching at least a dozen movies based in the Oz universe, I’m pretty sure I get the basic idea. The reason I’ve never gone after the original is that is has always seemed so vanilla. So very, very bland.

But then I read the synopsis for Dorothy Must Die. Something about “the other girl from Kansas” just drew me in. Reading a story in which Dorothy is the villain was something I just couldn’t resist.

So why the 3 star review, then? A few reasons.

As cool as the premise was, and as original as the outline for the book – it still felt bland at times. Don’t get me wrong, for the first 25% or so of the book, I was absorbed into Oz. Reading about Amy Gunn and her home life, and the terrifying tornado that brings her and her pet rat to Oz was addicting and exciting. And yet, at about 30% into the story, something happened. I put the book down. And I didn’t come back to it. For almost 3 months.

Recently, I picked it back up and continued on, and found the story to be only mildly enjoyable. I felt as though the entire plot line was based upon one singular mission and conflict. Dorothy has to die. That’s all well and good – but when we’re taking a one-lane highway down 300 pages of events, I need a couple twists off the beaten path to keep me interested! Aside from the lack of suspense, I found myself struggling to relate at all to the relationship between Amy and Nox, the obvious love interest for “the other girl from Kansas”. This isn’t a critique of the writing itself, as I did enjoy the depiction of Oz and the creatures found within, but Nox as a person just fell incredibly flat. Amy may well have been talking to a cardboard cutout for a large part of the novel and had the same amount of emotional interaction and reciprocation.

Overall, no, I likely won’t be continuing this series. I was frustrated by the ending, which had a very cliche ‘it was all a dream’ feel to the (anti)climax and there are just too many other books waiting in the TBR pile that are calling out to me far more!

11 July 2017

Charlotte's Dream Afghan

9:16 AM 0 Comments
There I was, perusing through /r/crochet as per usual, and I happened upon this picture:



(if this was your post, please let me know so I can give credit for this beautiful photo! I've since lost the link to the original!)

Isn't it beautiful?! It's called the Charlotte's dream square blanket by Look at What I Made!, and I immediately knew I had to make one.

I have a bit of a history with beginning projects and not finishing them. (Please tell me I'm not the only one.) Blankets, especially, are something I love to start and hate to finish. But in this case, I've actually surprised myself! I've made it much farther with this than with previous projects. 😂

These squares are HUGE. The pattern has 3 different parts, and they are each intricate and detailed. The original photo of the blanket I saw needed only 6 of them for the entire blanket! It looked lapghan sized, and I was hoping for something a bit larger, so I've been working on 12 squares in mine. Here is a photo of the squares near the end of Part 1  (of 3) of the pattern:


I'm using Caron Simply Soft, as I love that yarn and it makes up about 95% of my massive yarn stash. I've reached the 1/3 mark on each square, and just started Part 2 of the square's pattern, which is exciting as it's the first time I'm getting to dip into the gray yarn! Not sure why that excites me, but, let's not examine that too much.

I have my trusty helper keeping me motivated as well!

Here are my squares, the ones on the left pile show how the pattern looks at the end of Part 1 of the pattern. I'm making my blanket with 4 squares in magenta, 4 squares in lilac, 4 in yellow, and 4 in green. I've found myself wishing I had included a nice baby blue in there as well. Who knows, maybe at the end I'll add in 4 more in blue if I'm feeling super motivated! 


I'm hoping to make some great progress on Part 2 of the pattern this week and get my gray triangles on them and square them back off again. I will post progress as I achieve it!


07 July 2017

Book Review: Eve by Anna Carey

9:58 AM 0 Comments
Eve by Anna CareyEve by Anna Carey
Book stats:     Reading level: Young Adult  
Trade paperback: 318 pages  
Genre: Dystopian  
Publisher: Harper Teen  
Release date: December 1, 2011
Series: Eve, #1
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Helen
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository
The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
Eve was, unfortunately, completely underwhelming. The basic premise actually has the potential to be really interesting. In a future dystopia, girls and boys are isolated and raised separately. The girls are raised in an academy where they are taught that at their 18th birthday, they will move across the river and choose a trade to work in for the rest of their lives. Boys are raised in their own separate work camps. The girls are taught to believe that men are evil (procreation is replaced wholly by artificial insemination), and the only man who is honest and trustworthy is their King.
Unfortunately, Eve finds out a terrible secret about the world around her. The girls aren't going where they've been told after their 18th birthdays. They are headed for a much, much darker fate. When Eve discovers this, in just barely enough time to get away, she piggybacks on another girl's escape and tags along to get out while she can. They continue on a strangely paced, and much-too-convenient path that leads them to Caleb, the predictable love interest and boy who will show Eve that boys aren't truly evil. Yawn.
Eve's character was frustrating for me. I didn't outright dislike her, but I didn't feel any true sense of connection with her either. She was sort of wishy-washy. Eve suddenly upended her entire world view in about 3 minutes, leaves the school immediately, and doesn't seem to have a whole lot of guilt or inner turmoil about having left behind the rest of the girls she grew up with to their fates. She mentioned it here and there, but overall, I needed her to be much more interested in rescuing the other girls she left behind in order for me to actually like her and not feel that she was shallow and self-serving.
Next comes another so-called plot twist involving Eve and the King of the land - and it is completely under-developed and makes virtually no sense. It was a poor attempt to create drama, and it really just fell off the page as superficial and not at all probable. The 'why' and 'how' are never explained, and it just reads like a very obvious plot device to move the story towards the end (and also to serve as a set up for future books, would be my guess). Unfortunately, this ill-built plot twist becomes the main driving force - it is what is supposed to drive the series and really ramp up the reader's adrenaline and pique their interest.
Here's the problem - it just didn't work. It was kinda boring, kinda out of nowhere, didn't really make all that much sense, and completely lacked any sort of explanation.
The entire book read like a first draft - that's really the best way I can think of to describe it. The skeleton of a great story was there, but the execution was just way off. This book could have been great with a few more critical eyes on it and maybe a little more back story and explanations as to why the world has gotten to the why it has (and also what the future plan is?).
I was expecting to love this series, but unfortunately, I don't feel very excited about continuing on with it. I will likely read the next book in the series, since I already own it, and hope that the writing and world-building have been better developed in the coming installments. Fingers crossed!

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05 July 2017

What are these books you speak of?

8:59 AM 0 Comments
I have a couple of past blogging lives you may not know about.


Aside from this lovely crochet adventure I have been on, I've also dabbled in book blogging. More than once, actually! Reading is something I've always loved, and always have enjoyed getting the chance to connect with others that are just as crazy about it as I am.

I've decided to combine all my passions into one place, under Cobo's Closet. Going forward, I will tag each post made, whether it is crafty related or book related, and will have tabs along the top of the blog so you can choose to read only what is of interest to you.

If you prefer to only look at the crochet and craft related posts, you can click on the Crafty Posts link in the menu, and be taken to a page where only those are displayed. If you prefer to see only my book posts, you can click on the Bookish Posts link in the menu, and be taken to those only. And if you're my spirit animal and also happen to enjoy both equally, you can just stay here! 😀

I'll begin slowly integrating my book blog schedule here over the coming weeks, and hope you will come along for the ride with me as I figure out how to balance everything going forward! ♡

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