Last year, I did a collection of free cross-stitch patterns – and everyone loved it! I think that’s one of the most viewed posts on the blog. So, as a holiday treat, I’m going to share ten more awesomely nerdy cross-stitch patterns that are completely free! Simply click on the image for your desired pattern, and it’ll take you to the pattern’s website.
Well, the weather here in Bloomington isn’t exactly super wintry, but it definitely is a bit rainy here – and one of my favorite things to do when it’s rainy and wet out, aside from crafting, is reading – as I’m sure you’ve all figured out by now. 🙂 And since most of us are probably enjoying some much needed time off, how about picking up one of these books to keep warm with while enjoying the holidays? I’ve read all of these, and they definitely rank as some of my favorites.
The Finishing School Series, by Gail Carriger
If you’re interested in steampunk, you might want to read the Finishing School series by one of my most favorite authors, Gail Carriger. The entire series is out now, with the last book only having been released in November. Follow the adventures of Sophronia Temminick as she enters into a finishing school that’s not quite what she’s initially expecting… There are plenty of exciting adventures in the series to keep you reading for hours! I’m currently re-reading my way through the series.
The Explosionist, by Jenny Davidson
If you’re an alternate history fan, or interested in a good murder mystery, give The Explosionist a read. Set just before World War II, in Scotland, the story follows a sixteen year old girl named Sophie who ends up pulled into an investigation of the sudden death of a spiritual medium that had a strange message for her… The book was a little odd at points, but it was definitely a page turner, and I’d recommend it for a good afternoon read.
The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
How on earth have I not recommended this book on my blog yet? This book pulled me out of a depressive funk years ago, where I hadn’t read a single in an entire year (!!) – I tore through this in a week. This is part one of a three-book series, following the story of Kvothe, a magician and musician with quite a storied past. I’m not sure how much I can say about this without giving away too much of the plot, so all I will say about this book is that you won’t be able to put it down – everyone I’ve talked to who’s read it has said the same thing.
Written in Red, by Anne Bishop
Anne Bishop is an author whose books I’ve been enjoying for years – her first books were very good, and as she’s written more and more, her stories and writing style just keep getting better. I’ve mentioned The Others series on my blog before, and Written in Red is the first book in the series. It focuses on Meg, a young woman who can tell the future when her skin is cut, and her escape from her handlers that ends with her seeking safety in the Lakeside Courtyard. However, that’s only the beginning of the story – trouble ends up following her to the Courtyard… For those of you who like fantasy novels and supernatural creatures, such as shapeshifters, this book (and the series it’s part of) will definitely catch your attention.
Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
Fortune’s Pawn was the first of many books read in Gail Carriger’s book group – it’s a sci-fi story set mainly in outer space, focusing on the story of Devi, a mercenary, as she takes up a new position on an allegedly cursed trade ship, the Glorious Fool. Along with Devi, you’ll meet an interesting cast of characters, including the strong and attractive Rupert, the daydreamy Nova, and Ren, who proves to be quite a mystery. If you like Firefly, Star Wars, or other space dramas, you’ll enjoy Fortune’s Pawn.
After my vacation in Florida towards the end of May, where I tore through a ton of books rather rapidly, I found myself lacking in the books-to-read department. I’d finished the last of the new books that came out earlier this spring, I’d read through a couple of my favorites by Stephen King, and even read through the first book in the Mercy Thompson series – and couldn’t think of any other books I had been interested in reading. So I took to Goodreads, and looked for suggestions based on the books I’d read (that I’d actually entered into Goodreads, anyway.) And as I was poking through the suggested books, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch popped up. I’d heard it mentioned around the internet as a good book to read, and so I figured, what the heck, I’ll go to Amazon and buy it.
And then I saw this review on Amazon, and absolutely knew I’d enjoy it.
“Right now, in the full flush of a second reading, I think The Lies of Locke Lamora is probably in my top ten favorite books ever. Maybe my top five. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, you should probably read it again.”—Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind
If Pat Rothfuss, whose books I absolutely adore, says the book is good, then by gods, I should probably read it, right? So I picked it up. And I couldn’t put it down.
March seems to be the month of the year where all of my favorite authors conspire against my wallet and release books from their ongoing (or new, as in the case with one author I adore) series. And this year is no exception – I have not one, not two, but three books from authors I enjoy coming out this month.
The first one is Vision in Silver, by Anne Bishop, which was released on March 3rd, 2015. I’ve been following Anne’s works since 2004, when a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Black Jewels Trilogy, the start of what turned into a seven book dark fantasy series. He said “this isn’t really my style, but maybe you’ll like them?” as he handed me the stack. I devoured all three in roughly three days, and then got excited when I learned she was still publishing stories in that universe! Vision in Silver is a novel set in the world of The Others, an alternate universe to our own filled with Anne’s unique take on supernatural creatures. You’ll find shapeshifters, vampires, and prophets in the world of The Others. The setting for the books is a modern-day society where these Others are more populous than humans – and don’t take kindly to humans trying to encroach on their territory. Vision in Silver is the third book in the series – I’m currently finishing the first book, Written in Red, to refresh my memory before I read through Vision in Silver.
The next book I’m excited about is Gail Carriger’s Prudence, due to be released on March 17th, 2015 – it’s the first book in the Custard Protocol Series. Gail’s already written two book series’ in this universe, a steampunk version of our own world set in the late 19th century with a heaping dose of the supernatural. I’m excited for this series – Gail’s first books, the Parasol Protectorate series, got me incredibly excited about the steampunk genre. Her writing style is sassy and sometimes over the top, her characters are strong and likable (especially Alexia Tarabotti, Prudence’s mother), and there’s a liberal dose of humor sprinkled throughout her novels. Plus, the way she writes her vampires and werewolves is refreshing – a different take than most books. Her vampires are fashionable and almost prissy, and her werewolves are humorously rough around the edges.
With this being the first book in the Custard Protocol series, I’m not entirely sure what to expect. What familiar characters will we run into during Prudence? What sorts of ridiculous adventures will we get to read about? And – the biggest question, for Gail’s fans – will everyone’s favorite vampire, Lord Akeldama, be making an appearance? With this being a new series, readers who’ve never dipped their toes into the world of Gail Carriger’s novels can jump right in and not be lost, and then read through her other two series (The Parasol Protectorate series and the Finishing School series, a set of young adult novels set in the mid-19th century in the same universe as her other books) if you decide you want more.
And last, but certainly not least, is the latest entry into the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris – The Diamond Conspiracy, set to release on March 31st, 2015. The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels are also in the steampunk genre, taking place in the late 19th century as well, and focus on two characters who are just about as different as night and day – Wellington Thornhill Books, the Ministry’s dashing archivist, and Eliza D. Braun, a field agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Where Books is quiet and calm, Braun is very in-your-face. They take very different approaches when it comes to solving problems, and as you might expect, eventually opposites end up attracting… one of the sub-plots from the first book ends up working its way to a more major plot point as Books and Braun end up developing feelings for each other. The books (of which The Diamond Conspiracy is the fourth) are full of action and adventure, mystery and intrigue, and interwoven with various subplots that help tie the stories all together, with a heaping helping of steampunky goodness thrown on top for good measure.
I’m so excited over having a month of good books to read, some of which I’ve been waiting a while for – and I’m going to share that excitement with you, with The Crafty Nerd’s first ever contest!
The Crafty Nerd’s March Book Madness contest!
The rules for entering are simple: post a comment on this entry with what book you’re excited about that’s coming out soon, and the winner (chosen randomly) will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card! Pick up the Kindle version of that book you’ve been wanting, or put the gift card towards a hardcover copy of something you’ve been looking forward to reading! The contest will run until March 20th – so tell me what you’re looking forward to reading soon!
Yes, I admit, I hadn’t read The Hunger Games trilogy until, well, this past week. I finished The Stand sometime on Thursday night, and needed something to read that wasn’t Stephen King… so I poked around on Amazon until I saw The Hunger Games, and realized that while I’d seen the movie, I hadn’t read the books yet. And usually I’m the type to read the book WAY before the movie comes out! (With the exception of Twilight. I only read the books after the first movie came out because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I’ll hold back on my opinions on the Twilight series, haha.) I was in the mood for something new to read, and I really did enjoy the movie version of The Hunger Games, so I sat down and read it. And blew through it in a day and a half, and ended up signing up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited when I realized it would cost less than buying Catching Fire and Mockingjay combined! (And once I’ve got some more experience with that, I’ll likely be reviewing that too!) And then blew through most of Catching Fire. And then I realized – hey, I should write about these books. They’re good. So, here’s part one of my review of the Hunger Games trilogy! There will be spoilers. You have been warned.
I’ve been a fan of the Dexter television series for quite a while now – a friend of mine introduced me to it in 2009, and I binge-watched the entire series up to the current episodes (middle of season 4, for those curious) in about two weeks. And I’ve been a loyal fan since. I’m re-watching the series with Ross right now, as he’s never seen it, and Mr. Crafty Nerd isn’t too terribly fond of Dexter – so I hadn’t had a chance to re-watch it since the end of the series. And it got me thinking – I know there are Dexter books. I should read them, because I need new things to read. So, I signed out Darkly Dreaming Dexter from my library’s e-book collection, and added it to my summer reading list.
For those of you who’ve watched the series, this first book should feel familiar, as it was the basis for season 1. The characters should be familiar to those who’ve seen the series, although some names and roles were changed. Some of the most prominent characters in the TV series are background characters in the novel, but you can definitely tell that the show’s producers were faithful to Jeff Lindsay’s renditions of the characters. We’re introduced to Dexter Morgan – a serial killer who only hunts down the dregs of society, thanks to the code instilled in him by his adopted father Harry. We learn a little about his life as a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro Police, we take a peek into his personal life with his girlfriend Rita and her kids, and we also get a glimpse of Dexter’s Dark Passenger – the voice inside that urges him to kill. The “villain” of this novel – the Tamiami Slasher (who TV show viewers may know as the Ice Truck Killer) – has been murdering prostitutes and depositing them all over town, and Dexter becomes utterly fascinated by the killer’s work. I won’t get too in-depth into the rest of the story, as I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who end up reading it, but for fans of the television show, you won’t be disappointed or bored. The story, while familiar, is still gripping, and there’s just enough difference between the show and the book to keep readers entertained. If you’re looking for a good summer read that’s on the darker side of things, or if you’re a fan of the show and miss having a little bit of everyone’s favorite serial killer in your life, I recommend this book.
I’m going to preface this review with the following: I need to read more.
I’ve fallen into a sad habit of watching too much television lately. Sure, there’s lots of wonderful television shows out there! Doctor Who, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Farscape, Firefly, Archer, 30 Rock, Mad Men… but I used to read so very much! When we moved to Bloomington, I signed out a giant stack of books and read through them in a week!
So I’m going to challenge myself to read more – and I’m also going to talk about the books I’ve read, too, in hopes people discover new books to read. And I’m going to start with a favorite of mine. (A favorite that I should really buy my own copy of.)
Anything Goes by John Barrowman
This was an incredibly quick read! And an incredibly enjoyable one. If you’ve watched Doctor Who or Torchwood, you’re familiar with John Barrowman – he plays the incredibly awesome Captain Jack Harkness in both shows. (He’s also in Arrow, but I haven’t seen that yet – I don’t have cable, and live off of Hulu and Netflix, and missed out on the start of it, sadly) This book tells his story – from when he was a kid, to his experiences as a teenager, all the way through to his time on Doctor Who and Torchwood.