Author Archives: Anna

Kawaii Box June 2015 Review

I’ve been curious about subscription boxes, but I hadn’t found one that I thought I’d enjoy. I can’t subscribe to the boxes where one gets sent a random assortment of makeup and beauty products, because I tend to be overly sensitive to fragrance, and I figured those boxes are likely to have perfume samples and lotions that I would never be able to use. While I like the idea of yarn clubs, I have a crazy amount of yarn, and am also picky about the color of yarn I like to buy, so that also doesn’t seem like a good fit for me. When I realized that there was a box subscription that sent you random cute things from Japan and Korea, I thought that might be the box for me, simply because there are not a ton of store options to buy random cute things where I live. My sisters got me a 3 month subscription to Kawaii Box for my birthday!

So now, I will review the contents of the June box, exactly as a blogger does when they have no other blog content ideas than to post the contents of a subscription box.

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I like the way the card that came with the box listing every item says “Thank you for being so cute!”

Here’s what it looked like when I opened the box:

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This is what was in the box:

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A pink alpaca bag charm, tiny pillbox, and an eraser in the shape of smiling pink poop. I was particularly taken with the alpaca bag charm, and I put it on my knitting bag immediately. Many of the ladies in my knitting group have the same Sherpani tote bag for their knitting (because that is how we roll), and the bag charm will make it easy to pick out my bag in the crowd.

I use a larger version of the pink pillbox for knitting stitch markers and things, but I could see this mini one being handy for pills, or other teeny tiny supplies. The pink poop pencil sharpener is hilarious, I am not sure yet how well it sharpens anything.

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On the squishy side of things, there is a kawaii bean mini plush, and a squishy chocolate strawberry charm, both of which have a little strap you could use to attach them to a cell phone or whatever.

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There’s a mini sushi to plug into a headphone jack! Also a purple Hello Kitty mechanical pencil which is very nice.

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On the stationary side of things, there’s a blue pencil, pen, eraser, and sharpener set, some cute animal sticky notes, and some puffy stickers.

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There is also a “bling bling” Korean nail art set that I’m going to send to my little sister who enjoys nail art, and a Kracie Bubble Jelly Candy thing I will make with my kids.

Overall, I thought this was a good mix of items ranging from squishy things to cute office supplies. I could see how someone might have way too many bag charms if they got a yearly subscription, but I was quite happy with this random selection of cute stuff. My favorite item is probably the alpaca bag charm.

Vacation Reading: Magnificent Devices Series

It is nice to stumble across a long, entertaining series when on vacation. The first book in the Magnificent Devices series is free, and after I finished it I promptly bought a book bundle that contained the next three books.

The Victorian setting is typical of the steampunk genre, with the British class system split between Wits and Bloods. Claire is born in a family where she is expected to make a good marriage and settle down and raise a family, however her natural interest in Engineering makes her dream of attending a university. When her family falls on hard times, Claire finds herself free to make her own way in the world, and she accidentally becomes an adoptive mother to a large group of orphans, despite her only being 17.

Claire is unfailingly intrepid, securing a mysterious weapon to defend herself and her charges, setting up a school to teach the orphans how to read and write, and running poker games and intelligently investing the proceeds so she has a means of supporting herself independently. While the first book takes place in England, the next part of the series takes a detour to North America, both the Wild West and Canada. The extended cast are all well-characterized, and while Claire is the main focus of the books, this means that some of the sequels can focus more on the orphans as they begin to grow up. There are plenty of quirky touches, like the hen that follows Claire’s adoptive family about, and her engineering prowess ensures that most of the time she just saves herself instead of waiting to be rescued whenever she gets into a threatening situation.

While there are hints of romance, for the most part the books in the series that I’ve read so far focus much more on steampunk adventure and character development. I’m finding it very relaxing to read this series while I’m on vacation, and I recommend it if you enjoy steampunk as a genre.

Adventures in Amethyst Princess of Gemworld Cross Stitch

I’m still working on a larger cast of characters Amethyst Princess of Gemworld cross stitch, but I took some time out to make a DC Nation Amethyst and Topaz.

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I made it for Brianne! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the proportions of the border I originally put around the picture would look odd once I put the piece in a frame, so the border came out. These superhero designs were modified from a pattern I bought from weelittlestitches on etsy.

If you can’t find the comic book merchandise you want, make it yourself!

Books Read, February, March, and April

I am doing such a poor job keeping track of my reading on this blog, but I have been better at updating Goodreads, so at least I have my reading lists saved somewhere:

On the YA front I’ve recently read:

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatraman
Scarlet and Cress by Melissa Meyer
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater


On the romance novel front I’ve read:

Bound by Flames by Jeanne Frost
Lady Windermere’s Lover, The Importance of Being Wicked, The Ruin of a Rogue, The Duke of Dark Desires by Miranda Neville
Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt
Staying at Daisies, Millie’s Fling, An Offer You Can’t Refuse By Jill Mansell
Truely by Ruthie Knox – this was one of the more memorable books I read, in that I can actually still remember the plot and characters! Midwestern girl meets emotionally distant New York Chef. It was a really good contemporary romance.
Cold Iron by D.L. McDermott
Wanted: Wife by Gwen Jones
It Started with a Scandal by Julie Anne Long
Royally Ever After by Loretta Chase
No Rest for the Wicked by Cresley Cole


Non-Fiction:

Using Open Refine by Ruben Verborgh

Comics and Graphic Novels (non-manga)

Saga Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Ms Marvel Volume 1: by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Pursuit of Flight by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios

Jupiter Ascending

I saw Jupiter Ascending and I was entertained. Keep in mind, I often do not feel the need to watch a “good” movie in order to be amused. The movie as a whole is an incoherent Cinderella Story, where Channing Tatum as a half human/half wolf looks profoundly uncomfortable most of the time and sports a mangy-looking goatee. He does have very cool rocket boots though! Mila Kunis as Jupiter has awe inspiring eye makeup, and a habit of falling from high places repeatedly only to be rescued by Channing Tatum and his rocket boots. There were scenes of long exposition about alien economics and immortality that were a bit boring. There were some scattered moments of humor. If this movie had been about 15% more funny, it would have been much better. Also, Jupiter doesn’t show much agency after being kidnapped by aliens. She gets a few punches in at the end, but it would have been nicer if she had been a more active heroine. I’m sure this could have been managed if perhaps one rocket boot rescue had been replaced with a different type of scene.

  • Sean Bean is in the movie! He loves bees!
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw is in the movie! She is wasted in her role as a sardonic bat maid.
  • Eddie Redmayne is absolutely committed to his role as an asthmatic alien prince with mommy issues. He was delightful.
  • The supporting cast (sadly not the main cast) was nicely diverse.
  • The rocket boot special effects actually gave me hope of what we might experience if the Jack Kirby character the Black Racer ever shows up in a movie.
  • The costumes were gorgeous.

Overall, this was an adequate matinee/dollar theater movie. I think it is better seen on the big screen so one can appreciate all the baroque spaceships. I wish the script had been better, it would be nice to have a non-comic book/franchise science fiction movie to truly appreciate.

Rocket boots!

Cowls and some things that are not cowls

I made another cowl! This was for my Stitch and Bitch group’s annual party and swap.

It is the Irisa Cowl, out of some Fleece Artist yarn I got from Margene when she was destashing!

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I was super lucky and got some grey mitts that Cheryl knit:

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I have been wanting to make some grey mitts for myself, and now I don’t have to! I only wish it was cold enough in Utah that I could actually wear them!

I finished the other cowl I was working on, which does look a little blobby since the yarn is so dark. It doesn’t photograph well.

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This is my third time making the Mira’s Cowl pattern, and I am probably ready to move on from it! It is super great tv knitting though! It is a very flexible simple pattern that also works well with different weights of yarn if you vary how many stitches you cast on accordingly.

I cast on for another Clockwork! Pictures soon.

Books Read, January 2015

I’m trying to do a better job of tracking my reading this year! This is what I read this month:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – For some reason it took me a couple attempts to get into this book, I think because during my first attempt I was a little bit distracted and Stiefvater’s prose and world building really deserve a reader’s full attention. But this was a wonderful book, and I’m only holding off on devouring the rest of the series because I want to savor the rest of it.

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare – This was slightly less whimsical than the first book in this series, but it still has the combination of cleverness and humor that I tend to enjoy in historical romance novels.

With this Kiss and Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James- Eloisa James tends to be one of those authors I turn to when I am feeling a bit stressed. With this Kiss as a set of novellas was a little disjointed, but that can only be expected. Once Upon a Tower is one of several volumes in James’ fairytale series, focusing on Rapunzel of course.

Trade Me by Courtney Milan – A new Courtney Milan is always an automatic buy for me, and I was interested to check out her first contemporary book. Some of the plot resolutions involved a bit too much suspension of disbelief, but I thought she was tackling a variety of important issues in the book, and portraying characters that are often not the focus of a romance novel in an interesting way.

RIP Exceptionally Slothful Vacation

This is my first week back at work after an extremely restful two week vacation. I was talking about our vacation with my husband and we realized that it was basically the first time in eight years or so when we weren’t traveling or entertaining visitors. It is of course lovely to visit people and have people visit us, but I really appreciated having so much time to do nothing in my own house (in between taking care of sick kids). Some of my restful vacation activities included:

  • Watching most of the kdrama Pinocchio. It has been a long time since I’ve wanted to marathon a kdrama, but this one is very compelling. Pinocchio has a slightly odd premise in that a small number of people are unable to tell a lie. They immediately start hiccuping if they attempt to bend the truth. Of course, the Pinocchio heroine’s dream is to become a TV reporter! The hero of the story has a tragic past where his family was destroyed by the news media, specifically the heroine’s mother. This is good soapy fun, and is by the same writer who did I Hear Your Voice, which is one of my other recent favorite kdramas.
  • I watched How To Get Away With Murder. So frightened of wallpaper now! I’m still behind with Sleepy Hollow, but caught up to a few episodes. I sampled the new Librarian’s series and feel sort of meh about it except for Christian Kane, who is consistently amusing
  • I knit a ton! I finished another cowl and started on another project.
  • I had more time to read! I tore through several trashy novels on my kindle. I also finally read the new Ms Marvel first collection and enjoyed it a bunch
  • I had some mental space to plan out a few Amethyst Legion of Superheroes posts for this site. We will see if that happens!
  • I did some home organization type activities
  • I watched/rewatched a bunch of movies. Die Hard on Christmas Eve, but also the GI Joe live action movies, Locke, Imitation Game, and many others that I am forgetting in my post-vacation brain fog

Work has been mega-busy leading up to this past December and I haven’t had the luxury of a paid vacation very much in recent years, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Partial Year in Review for Reading

I was mega busy this year! So busy, I did a much poorer job of tracking my reading habits. I totally forgot to log anything in Goodreads until July. So I read 62 books, including a few scattered manga and graphic novels. I suspect that my total of non-comic books for the year would be more around the 80ish range if I was keeping better track. I also reread a ton of books that aren’t popping up in my Goodreads list, like a ton of the Dark Hunters series, the Vampire Academy series, the first two books in the Divergent series (I couldn’t remember what happened before starting the third), some Paul Zindel books, and the Alanna series.

Some of my favorite things I read this year (that I remember):

I finally read Rainbow Rowell, and enjoyed Eleanore and Park, Fangirl, and Attachments.

In terms of contemporary paranormal romance, the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones was a standout. It was both hilarious and suspenseful! I read most of this series when I was on summer vacation, and it is great vacation reading.

For non-romance genre fiction, I continue to wait really impatiently for the conclusion of the Passage trilogy, but I was happy to read the middle book in the series, The Twelve.

On the traditional fantasy side, I read the Lies of Locke Lamora. I really enjoyed the world building, but I haven’t read the other books in the series yet.

The greatest proportion of my reading tends to be historical romances. So this year I enjoyed reading newer books by Courtney Milan, Kristen Calihan, and Julie Ann Long. My favorite reads in this category include the Rules of Scoundrels series by Sarah MacLean and My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas.

The book I hated the most was Allegiant. I thought the first couple books in this series were slight, but at least somewhat diverting. As the series dragged on, all the logical problems with the world building and character development became more and more annoying. I think that this is one of those books where the movie adaptation is actually better than the source material.

Right now I’m reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and rereading the Shadow of Night.

I hope to do a better job at keeping track of my reading in the coming year!