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Quote of the Day

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

Admiral William H. McRaven
blog · knitting life · life

Knitting In the Wild

knitting socks on break at work

Over the last few months, I’ve had a number of projects that one might consider ‘knitting in the wild’ or knitting in a public space. I remember hearing once that there was some kind of stigma about knitting or crocheting in public, but I have not personally experienced this.

Most of the time, when I’m working on something while in public, I’ll catch the odd interested glance from an adult or the awestruck stare from a child or teen. They all appear to think my chosen form of craft is pretty darn cool!

Knitting in public has been a great conversation starter with strangers in the airport, the park, a parking lot, the grocery store and more! People just really want to know what you’re making and they all seem to think it’s magic.

I’ll let you in on a secret… knitting IS, in fact, magic. 😉

One of the first difficult projects I attempted was a stuffed facehugger from the Alien movies that I was knitting up as a gift for a friend. I cast on while on a flight to Pittsburgh in 2019 and worked on it a little as I had spare time during the trip. Turns out that as soon as you finish knitting up the body, you need to stuff it! And I had no stuffing.

After scouring a number of gift shops in the terminal, I came across a stuffed pumpkin in a candy store that was in the discount bin because it had gotten chocolate spilled on him. Poor thing! And his story was only going to get worse… I purchased that cute little pumpkin and then immediately tore him open to get to the stuffing inside!

I’ve since used up all his stuffing, but I turned him inside out and sent him through the wash so that I keep using him as a handy stuffing container when I’m knitting out and about. 😀

Since the day I started carrying my knitting with me, I’ve worked on a number of different projects, but I’ve discovered that the easiest things to knit in public are socks and washcloths. They knit up pretty quickly and aren’t too complicated, if I need to pause mid-project, and they are small enough to tote around.

Do you knit in public?
What’s your favorite project to take with you?

music review · review

Music Minute | The Normandy Reborn by Jack Wall

In the desperate hope that 2020 is the year a Mass Effect remake or remaster is announced, I have been playing through the trilogy of games on my PS3. As of this posts writing, I need only three achievements and I will have 100% completion of the trilogy! Whoohoo!

This is such an amazing series of games that playing it feels a little like coming home, especially in the second game when you see your Normandy reborn. Every time, I get shivers up my spine, goosebumps down my arms, and tears in my eyes as she is revealed.

Much of the credit for that reaction goes to the music, because this song is absolutely perfect. Just listening to it is enough to make me smile and feel a sense of nostalgia for my ship and the family on board her. 😀

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July TBR

I’m really enjoying these animal-related biographies, so when my sister suggested Wesley the Owl I could hardly refuse!

As for the other two titles on my list for July, I came across The Sakura Obsession while browsing the shelves of my local Barnes & Noble and Dawn came up in a work discussion that reminded me how much I wanted to go back and re-read the Xenogenesis series.


Nonfiction:

Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien

On Valentine’s Day 1985, biologist Stacey O’Brien first met a four-day-old baby barn owl — a fateful encounter that would turn into an astonishing 19-year saga.

With nerve damage in one wing, the owlet’s ability to fly was forever compromised, and he had no hope of surviving on his own in the wild. O’Brien, a young assistant in the owl laboratory at Caltech, was immediately smitten, promising to care for the helpless owlet and give him a permanent home.

Wesley the Owl is the funny, poignant story of their dramatic two decades together.

Enhanced by wonderful photos, Wesley the Owl is a thoroughly engaging, heartwarming, often funny story of a complex, emotional, non-human being capable of reason, play, and, most important, love and loyalty. It is sure to be cherished by animal lovers everywhere.

Goodreads | Amazon


Nonfiction:

The Sakura Obsession by Naoko Abe

Each year, the flowering of cherry blossoms marks the beginning of spring. But if it weren’t for the pioneering work of an English eccentric, Collingwood “Cherry” Ingram, Japan’s beloved cherry blossoms could have gone extinct.

Ingram first fell in love with the sakura, or cherry tree, when he visited Japan on his honeymoon in 1907 and was so taken with the plant that he brought back hundreds of cuttings with him to England. Years later, upon learning that the Great White Cherry had virtually disappeared from Japan, he buried a living cutting from his own collection in a potato and repatriated it via the Trans-Siberian Express.

In the years that followed, Ingram sent more than 100 varieties of cherry tree to new homes around the globe. As much a history of the cherry blossom in Japan as it is the story of one remarkable man, The Sakura Obsession follows the flower from its significance as a symbol of the imperial court, through the dark days of the Second World War, and up to the present-day worldwide fascination with this iconic blossom.

Goodreads | Amazon


Science fiction:

Dawn by Octavia Butler

Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth—the last stage of the planet’s final war.

Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth.

Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before.

The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations—whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited. Grass will grow, animals will run, and people will learn to survive the planet’s untamed wilderness. But their children will not be human. Not exactly.

Goodreads | Amazon

blog · book challenge · challenges

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday for June 23: Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10! Option 2: pick a past TTT topic you wish you’d done, but didn’t get a chance to do (the list of topics is below).

I waffled back and forth, changed my mind so many times about which of the nearly 500 past TTT topics I wanted to cover, and finally told myself to just stick with one! So, I decided to go with one from WAY back in 2011, from Tuesday, April 12, Top Ten Books You Want to See Made Into Movies.


The Library of Lost Things by Matthew Bright is such an interesting and creepy environment. I think it could very easily be turned into a short animated or stop-motion film.

The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Magic by F.T. Lukens would make a sweet, humorous romantic comedy film for the whole family. As the title suggests, it has magic (but not the way you’d expect) and teenage romance (the DRAMA!) and will give you so many warm fuzzy feelings you won’t know what to do with them!

Semiosis by Sue Burke would be such an amazing TV series. This two-part series has science fiction, intrigue, alien life, war and so much more! It’s a unique take on the old ‘humans colonize other worlds’ story and I would love to see it adapted for the screen.

All I will say about adapting Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward is that it would be an amazing horror for Valentine’s day. That’s all I will say.

If The God Engines by John Scalzi EVER became a movie, I would throw SO much money at it. No joke. This is such a short book, but it is so full of details and questions that leave you wanting more. I was actually angry when I discovered that it was a standalone novel and there wasn’t anything else written for this world… I couldn’t even find anything in fandom!

This list would be incomplete, if I didn’t include Ally Blue’s Down. It is such a great horror title, with elements of science fiction and romance that I could not put it down!

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz was a bit disappointing to read, but I think it’s mainly because I had a hard time picturing the world and relating to the main character. A film adaptation could do wonders for this title, I think.

Now, I know that most young adult adaptations make it onto the “worst adaptations ever!” list, but Veronica Rossi’s Riders could be amazing as a mini-series. I really loved the characters, the world building was interesting and kept me wanting more, and the romance didn’t feel as forced as the novel’s contemporaries oftentimes are.

I will take an animated series for Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan, please and thank you!

The Chronicles of Nick is the young adult introduction to a much larger series, The Dark-Hunters by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It’s got action and intrigue, great characters and relationships and heartbreak. I keep wondering why this series (or the main one) hasn’t been made into movie or television show, because it could very EASILY be a major hit.

Alrighty then, I’m going a little over my list of ten, but that’s because these next four books are amazing and deserve to be recognized on the big screen!

In the time of Covid-19, I think Orleans would be a gentle reminder of what could happen when the government has too much control during and after an outbreak of unimaginable magnitude. I was, at times, horrified by that the government had chosen to abandon an entire portion of it’s population and in awe of the human spirit and desire to survive.

Carry On would be such a great movie! I love the characters and the story and the world and would love love love to be able to watch it.

Yeah, I picked what is possibly one of the saddest stories in the entire Valdemar universe, but Brightly Burning is also one of the most inspiring ones. This is a story about overcoming bullying and abuse, finding family and acceptance, and sacrificing everything to protect those you love.

The Adrien English books would make such a cute, quirky mystery series! I love how Josh Lanyon writes characters and creates the world they live in and can easily imagine this being adapted for television. 😀


What are some titles YOU would like to see
made into a movie or television show?

blog · book review · review

Book Review | Alphabits Series by Susi Hawke & Crista Crown (part 1)

I must have fallen down the ABO / Shapeshifter / True mates hole (truly, no pun intended here), because this is the second series I’ve recently read in this particular genre.

The Alphabits series, written by Susi Hawke and Crista Crown, is actually a spin-off of their other series, Team A.L.P.H.A.

The team is comprised mainly of Alphas who’ve chosen to specialize in cases dealing with shifter pups.


Book one starts with Dean and his Alpha, Sam, moving into their new house a few months before their baby will be born.

Sam is getting his new team together, the Alphabits, and testing to see how all of the team members will mesh in the long run.

But both of these things pale next to the, possibly abused, shifter pup who lives across the street.

For the most part, this is a great introduction to a new series. My only complaint would be that there wasn’t much in the way of character development. Although, this is probably because it’s a spin-off and I’m unfamiliar with the main series. 😛


Probably my favorite of the series…

Book two had me hooked from the minute I read about Adrian. An omega working at a daycare, Adrian loves being able to spend time with the kids and help his brother in caring for his nephew.

But when Pierce and Cyrus show up at the daycare to take custody of his nephew, things take a turn for the worse.

I really enjoy how take-control Adrian is, he’s not just going to roll over and do whatever an alpha (even if it’s his alpha) tells him to. Especially when kids are involved. He continually makes his own decisions and is fiercely loyal to his family. Now Pierce? Well, he needs a kick in the butt… and also to do whatever Adrian tells him to, lol.


Book three is all about Gizmo, the techiest alpha to ever alpha, and Micah, an omega who helps shifter kids escape from a cult-run conversion camp.

In order to keep his part in the underground network a secret, Micah lives entirely off the grid, which makes it all the more amazing for him to meet his true-mate. But, when Gizmo and Ozzy come across him while he’s helping a shifter pup escape, that’s exactly what happens.

Sparks fly and Gizmo and Micah embrace their mating bond in record time before working to close the conversion camp.

All in all, a cute addition to the series.


Chained is the first time in the series that the Alphabits team works with another species of shifter (not counting Cyrus).

This time it’s fennec fox shifters and brothers to boot. Lance Lancaster (yeah, his parents are jerks) doesn’t care about his high society upbringing or social status, he just wants to find his little brother, Spencer, who was kidnapped from his school and seemingly disappeared.

The Alphabits team decides to resurrect this cold-case and recruit Lance to help.

Spencer is autistic and when you’re reading from his point of view, it is written in a believable way. Kudos to the author’s for this. It was sort of horrifying to find that there are alphas in this universe who would kidnap and groom CHILDREN to be their mates when they come of age, but I guess that’s what the Alphabits do? Deal with the criminal element and all.


Format: eBooks
Publisher: Hawke & Crown LLC
Source: Amazon Kindle Unlimited
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

blog · book review · review

Book Review | Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

One of the first fantasy series I can remember reading was the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce and I fell in love from the very first page.

Song of the Lioness follows the life of one Alanna of Trebond, a young girl who switches places with her brother so that she can be a knight and he a mage.

Along the way, she discovers that the gods have taken an interest in her, even if she would very much rather they hadn’t.


Alanna of Trebond has always dreamed of being a knight, of protecting the kingdom of Tortall and proving herself a hero worthy of great tales.

But she doesn’t take into account the years of hard work and secrets she must keep from those closest to her. Alanna can tell no one that she is a girl, not when she is being bullied and certainly not when puberty hits an her body begins to change against her will.

Be warned: this isn’t a story where things come easy to our main character.

One of the best things about this series is that Alanna questions her decisions. When she begins her training as a knight and discovers just how much hard work it takes, she wants to give up and go home, thinking ‘how could a girl ever do this?’ Instead, she buckles down and works hard to get what she wants.

The first hints of the strength of Alanna’s magical abilities and glimpses of her grand destiny begin to show, no matter how hard she tries to ignore them, but the will of the gods can not be ignored. Her begrudging attitude towards the use of magic is one of the things I like most about Alanna, she isn’t afraid to backtalk her friends, superiors, or even the gods.

Alanna’s interactions with her friends and mentors is so, so great! These people have become her family and she would die for them, if she needed to. Not only does she befriend the nobles, but she also manages to become close friends with George, the “king of thieves.”

I think that the relationships are what really makes this series great… you can’t help but find yourself rooting for everyone in whatever situation they may find themselves in.


Format: e-Audio book
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio
Source: Overdrive
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

blog · college life · ireland · life · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 8

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Before our tour of Kilkenny Castle, we were able to visit a street market and some of the shops along the road.

During this walk, we stopped at a crepe stand that was owned and run by a Frenchman. He had owned his own restaurant in South France. While talking with him and the other customers, it was hard not to notice the lyrical similarities of the French and Irish accents. Both speak quickly, but the French seemed more clipped and quicker than the Irish. This is not, of course, to say that the Irish aren’t quick speakers!

It really was a fun discussion/chat about food and life in different areas of the world.

Experiencing Kilkenny Castle was just as eclectic as the building itself.

The architecture of Kilkenny Castle, an eclectic mix of medieval and Victorian styles, has been described as beautiful by some. There are others who see it as a hideous hodgepodge.

I thought the castle was quite grand and rather enjoyed the transition from ancient times in the medieval lower levels to the more modern Victorian bedrooms on the upper floors.

It is truly remarkable that this property remained in the Butler family for so long. It must have been a drawn-out decision to sell the house to the people of Kilkenny. My own family does not have even an iota of the history of the Butler family, but even the mere thought of letting a family home go is a difficult one.

Some of the most memorable things that I heard on this tour are as follows:

Many a good match was made at a wake.

This was in reference to the social events that wakes were. A time to celebrate the lives of loved ones now gone.

Save face. / Don’t lose face. / Mind your beeswax.

Were all sayings that were meant as a warning. These all referred to the wax that people used to wear beneath their makeup. This wax could melt if too close to the fire, so the use of pole screens came into being.

I like this.

My professor wrote in response.

A good journal, Michelle – full of observations that will help you remember your trip for years to come.

There were times I thought a little more attention, specifically to language, might have been good, but I did enjoy reading this.

And I certainly enjoyed your company on this trip!

Journal grade: 190/200

Professor Doug Branch
blog · book review · review

Book Review | The Royal Alphas series by J.J. Masters

This series was suggested to me a long time ago and I’ve forgotten by whom, but they certainly knew how much I love reading stories about selkies.

It’s possibly my favorite of all the cryptids and it’s always interesting to see what new spin an author will take with the myth…

The Royal Alphas series follows, you guessed it, five royal alpha brothers as they go about their lives and try to find their true mates (even while their father tries to force things to go his way).

The world building in this series is quite good, from the different kingdoms with their own varied rules for how each caste (gender) is expected to behave and what they are even allowed to do to the way that half-breeds and humans are treated. It’s all quite well written.


In book one we meet Kai and his true mate, Luca.

As the firstborn son of the king, Kai is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and produce an heir… but his father decrees that his Kai must get his omega pregnant within six months and that his firstborn child must be an alpha.

The story follows the stress and overwhelming worry as Kai and Luca try to get to know each other and as they try to get pregnant, all while Kai’s father has a “back-up” omega in case they fail.


I kind of thought this was a cute-ish book?

Hard-ass Adrian is second in line for the throne, even though he’s first in line for behaving exactly like his father, believing it is his duty to follow the traditions set by the council.

When he meets Del, an omega who hid his status in order to become a guard and serve the king, Adrian begins to question those beliefs… so he can protect his mate.


When Zale decides to warn Finn that he shouldn’t be sleeping with Zale’s younger brother, he finds the omega in the throws of his heat. He isn’t able to say no.

Finn is entirely off limits, as the omega his father brought as back-up for his firstborn and possibly for himself… but something about him has a hold of Zale and doesn’t want to let go.

When Finn becomes pregnant with Zale’s pup, he mourns the fact that he’s taken away the prince’s chance at finding his true mate.

Basically, they are both dense and need a smack up alongside their respective heads. 😛


My favorite of the series.

Book four brings Nic to the forefront, as he falls into bed with Marlin, his former lover’s younger brother… and yeah, things are about as awkward as you think.

Marlin knows his father will make him find his true mate, but he can’t stop thinking about Nic. The human consumes his every thought and he has no idea why.

But Nic has a secret. One he’s been keeping for years and that he is terrified someone will discover.


Definitely a close second for my favorite book in the series, book five FINALLY gives us an omega son! I call bull that every other baby has been an alpha, but what can you do?

After years of infidelity, Caol is finally ready to settle down with his beta Beck, but just as he’s made up his mind, an omega shows up with his son!

The omega, Galen, is Caol’s fated mate and Beck resigns himself to being set aside as the two become mates and start their family… but Caol has other plans in mind, if he can only convince Galen and Beck to go along with him.


Format: eBook
Publisher: J.J. Masters
Source: Amazon Kindle
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Twitter Accounts Everyone Should Follow…

Everyone needs a break from the crazy in the world today, so I’ve put together just a few of the funny, fun, and interesting Twitter accounts that I follow. I love seeing each new post from these accounts and I’m sure that you will to!

…..

@XplodingUnicorn

James Breakwell, of Exploding Unicorn, mostly tweets conversations he has with his daughters and they are AMAZING! I think, as we grow older, we forget just how smart and witty kids can be.

It’s always a nice break from what’s normally on social media to see another of James’ tweeted conversations… They’re just too cute!


@niwazekisho

Not only does Niwazekisho have a super cute art style that they share for FREE via their Twitter account, they also have a society6 page where you can buy various prints for your home!


@MarsCuriousity

Who doesn’t love the Mars Rovers? Not anyone I’ve ever met, lol. I’ve been a fan of outer space and space travel since I was a little girl and the rovers are just so captivating!

Not only can you follow Curiosity’s adventures via Twitter, you can also check out the Mission page for updates on Mars. It’s so cool!