Saturday, January 31, 2009

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

I've lost count as to how many Sookie Stackhouse books I've read. I'm thinking that this may be book number 7! 

All Together Dead picks up in the aftermath of the trip Sookie took to New Orleans, where she met the vampire Queen of Louisiana and witnessed the death of the vampire King of Arkansas. She is now fully embroiled in the world of the supernatural: vampires, werewolves, fairies, and demons, to name a few. Now she has returned to Bon Temps. Hurricane Katrina has forced the vampires of New Orleans to relocate, including the Queen. Sookie is also still estranged from her ex-boyfriend Bill. 

The main action of the novel takes place in the city of Rhodes, where Sookie is going to a vampire convention. While there she meets up with Barry Bellboy, another telepath that she met in Dallas. He works for the King of Texas in the same capacity Sookie works for the Queen of Louisiana: they ferret out information from the other humans who work for the other kings and queens. The main event of the convention is the  trial of the Queen of Louisiana for the death of her husband. While the vampire convention seems to be going smooth at a vampire hotel, the Fellowship of the Sun has been protesting the entire event. 

The usual cast of characters shows up in this book, including Eric and Quinn the were-tiger. Harris is really ratcheting up the tension in this book and hinting at future problems between vampires and humans. Harris created a believable world, using reality as her backdrop for the supernatural.  Her voice is consistent throughout the series, yet she manages to show a growth in the character of Sookie, who has grown more world-weary and sarcastic. I'm not sure how much I like this new Sookie, but it's understandable. 


Friday, January 23, 2009

More Knitting!

I know, it's been a while since I've posted! It's been a crazy January, but in a good way. First was getting back to work after the Winter Break, then I went to Savannah to go dress shopping with a friend getting married in May. Then this past week I was off on a "business" trip for the State Department. 

I've finally learned how to knit with DPNs, which means I can avoid sewing a seam up the back of hats. Berets seem to be really popular this year, so I started with this orange and pink confection, with the pattern (Baroness Beret) off of Ravelry. I was going to give it as a gift, but I love the colors and I love the hat. So I kept it! Now I just have to make a scarf to match it! 

Then I had to find a gift for a friend, because that beret was going to be it! So, I went with a vintage pattern in my grandmother's correction. Here I am modeling it! I used Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn! and Featherwhisp. It looks gorgeous! 

This is the picture of the pattern from my grandmother's collection. Very straight-forward pattern from "Diamond Angora". I haven't been able to find a copyright date, though judging by this pattern and the other three in the pamphlet, I'm gauging it at the 1960s. 

Now, the hat that I'm wearing doesn't wear the same way as the model, but I think I know why. 
1. I don't really have thick enough hair to pull into the hat. 
2. I didn't use Angora, but a thicker acrylic yarn and the Featherwhisp. 
3. I modified the pattern to have a tubular cast-on instead of sewing a hem. 

Regardless, I like the way it looks, and the recipient has gorgeous, thick hair! 

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Never Romance a Rake by Liz Carlyle

Never Romance a Rake is the third book in a trilogy about the siblings of Neville shipping. The first book was about Miss Xanthia Neville, the second was about their family friend Gareth Lloyd, and this book is about Kieren, Baron Rothewell. 

Rothewell is a dissolute drunkard whose past, like many romance heros, haunts him. He attempts to escape it by playing cards and drinking himself into an oblivion, but this plan backfires on him by ruining his health. One night he is playing cards when the pot is sweetened with Comte Valigny's daughter, Camille. He wishes to get his ungrateful daughter off his hands, and she wishes to be away from her father. Her pickings are slim, and in a rare burst of compassion, Kieren cheats because her other option that night is even worse than him. 

Camille's background is equally sordid to that of Kieren. Her mother had been married to an English lord, but she ran off with the comte early into her marriage. The husband divorced her mother, which was scandalous, and Valigny never married her mother thanks to some Church rule about divorced people marrying.  After her mother's death, Camille found that her maternal grandfather left her a large bequest, and she pushed Valigny to find her a husband. 

Neither Kieren nor Camille want anything more than a business-like marriage. As time passes, though, this becomes impossible. This is one of Carlyle's books that doesn't have a mystery behind it--it is more character-driven than plot-driven. The questions brought up in this book are about Camille's parentage and Kieren's health. 

Carlyle is very good at writing tortured, yet realistic, characters. They have good reasons for being the way they are from their pasts, and this goes beyond a mere "I was a spy for the English government during the Napoleonic Wars" spiel that so many books have. That or the "My mother died when I was young" or "My daddy didn't love me" chestnuts that are thrown about. No, Carlyle's characters have been through a lot. And I respect her in that not all of her nobles are earls or dukes. She uses those titles, but lesser noblemen are acceptable as well.