Book Review: Animal Hats

Animal Hats: 15 patterns to knit and show offAnimal Hats: 15 patterns to knit and show off by Vanessa Mooncie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was shocked to see I am not the only person around with an obsession for animal hats. I haven’t knitted any animal hats, but here are a few I crocheted.

 

 

I’m much more comfortable with a crochet hook than I am with knitting needles so I just made up these hats as I went along. But for a knitted hat, I knew I would need a pattern.

I am currently making the rabbit hat and plan to tackle the more difficult elephant hat if that goes well.

So far I’m impressed with the book and find the instructions very straightforward and easy to understand. I like that each pattern lists yarn weights (mostly chunky) along with specific brand names. I am using Lion brand Thick and Quick for the rabbit hat instead of the Rowan Chunky Felted Tweed the book has listed. I love Rowan yarns but at $12.95/skein (If you can find it) that would put this hat (the pattern calls for 5 skeins) at just under $65, which I’m not willing to pay.   I dropped a needle size to get the right size for my gauge swatch.

None of the patterns are rated for skill level, but it is pretty clear by looking at them how difficult or easy they will be. The dog and frog hats, for example, look easier than the elephant or rabbit or cow.

The patterns all include both child and adult sizes.

Stay tuned for pictures as I promise to actually take some during the process this time!

I was planning to make these as Christmas gifts, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to give them away…

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Book Review: The Hot War, Harry Turtledove

Armistice (The Hot War, #3)Armistice by Harry Turtledove
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off, this is my first novel by Turtledove, who I’ve heard about for years. I used to teach US history, so I really got a kick out of the deft blending of actual historical actors/events with fantasy.

I greatly enjoyed almost everything about this book. The only reason I am at 4.5 stars is because I just can’t make the jump to 5 because of the dialogue, which I thought was far less “masterful” than the rest of the book. For whatever reason, the dialogue often pulled me out of the story. Not because it was anachronistic, just because it often felt a little clunky. I think it was even more noticeable when compared to the rest of the book. The author’s ability to paint a picture and scene with words is amazing. His alternate vision is also chilling and makes for a page-turning read. If this were a first or even second or third attempt, I would probably bump up the half star. However, it seems like somebody who has been writing this long might offer more compelling and smooth dialogue. The dialogue made the novel feel”distant” to me, if that makes any sense.

All in all, I found the book very enjoyable. The blurb says this book is a good place to start if you’ve never read a Turtledove book before and I have to agree as I had no problem getting into the swing of things right from the first page. The author is great at pulling the reader in without devolving into heavy backstory or resorting to annoying info dumps (well, not any that I noticed, but I suppose my opinion might be different if I had read the prior 2 books.

I would read another book by Turtledove, but probably not the first 2 in this trilogy

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Book Review: Impala by Andrew Diamond

ImpalaImpala by Andrew Diamond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s always a good sign when I can’t stop reading. Well, a good sign for the book, but a bad one for my own schedule. That is what happened with Impala. I started reading it yesterday afternoon, stayed up late, and then started right back up this morning–in spite of the many things I was supposed to do…

I have to admit the book was so good it actually surprised me. (And I’m sure I’ll take a lot of flack for the next few sentences…) I don’t usually read indy authors just because it is so hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. But I took a chance on this book because the blurb was well-written. Well, so was the whole book. Just on a technical level alone it was clean and I didn’t spot a single typo. Or maybe I didn’t spot any because I was too riveted by the story to notice or care. Either way. . .

Anyhow, this is Diamond’s second book so I always like to provide some comparisons when I’m reviewing a relatively new author. The first 2/3s of the book, especially, reminded me of some of my favorites: Palahniuk, Gischler, Neil Stephenson, and even a little of Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko. Yes, I thought Impala was THAT twisted, hip, smart, clever, funny, and readable.

Over and over and over I laughed out loud– the bicycle scene and “Who Killed the Mockingbird” being two of my favorites. Mixed in with all the humor was some truly beautiful prose–Mr. Diamond does an excellent job of painting pictures with words.

I also greatly enjoyed the entertaining lessons on programming and hacking, not that I could follow a lot of it (reminded me of Stephenson’s discussions of high tech-ery and The Calculus in Cryptonomicon). So, it’s not too bad when you can amuse a technical incompetent with computer-speak.

Russ is the main character and we see things from his POV. Ah. Russ, Russ, Russ. Where do I start with Russ? He is, as my mother used to say, his own worst enemy. He is clever, funny, thoughtful, and often a jerk. However, Russ and I share one important characteristic: he HATES discourtesy. Yes, and he does something about it, too…

Russ’s unwillingness to give ground even when faced with guns and muscle-bound goons reminded me of Arkady Renko, another guy who is his own worst enemy. Like Renko, Russ does not always choose the path of least resistance. Or even a path at all. And boy, does Russ take some beatings for his decisions. Seriously, I felt as if somebody had beaten ME at certain points in the book.

Two of my favorite parts of the book were Russ’s internal monologues (love his chats with the FBI) and his ability to turn his scorching IQ on himself from time to time. He knows he has the makings of a very bad man, but he isn’t going to submit to that side of himself without a struggle.

It really is hard to put the book down because there is always something going on. It’s often difficult to know where things are going next because Russ is out of control. Which makes it exciting. And fun.

I would ding this book half a star for length because I thought it could have been longer. I would have LIKED to read more, especially when it came to the events of the last 1/4 of the book. But because it hardly seems fair to drop a rating a full star because you liked the writing so much you want more, I’ve given Mr. Diamond the full 5.

This book was a blast and I’d read another by this author in a heartbeat.

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