Friday, 18 May 2018

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X R. Pan

Leigh is just seventeen when her mother kills herself.  She takes it very hard and tries to understand why she did it.  It also leaves so very many questions about her mother's past un-answered.

Soon after her mother's death, a large red bird appears and speaks to Leigh.  She is convinced that her mother has become that bird.  At the seeming urges of the bird, Leigh and her father travel to Taiwan to meet her maternal grand parents.  She hopes that while there she can find the bird and unravel her mother's secrets.

While I did enjoy following Leigh on her quest, I found that the first  two thirds of the book were somewhat lethargic.  It must have been similar to how her mother felt during her depressed times.  After that point, the pace of the story picked up and became more clear.  I couldn't put the book down for the final third.

Leigh is an interesting teen.  She associates colour with all emotions and events.  It isn't made clear whether this is a medical condition called synesthesia or that she is further expressing her artistic flair.  It does enhance the story by considering the events as particular colours.

We also meet Axel, Leigh's long time BFF.  The day they crossed the friend line and kissed is the same day that her mother died.  Leigh has to deal with the guilt she feels over choosing to spend time with Axel instead of caring for her mother.

Other than the events surrounding the magical bird, much of what Leigh, and Axel by extension, have to deal with is realistic.  Teens don't live in a bubble that isolates them from life's pressures.  They have romance angst, home life dynamics as well as their futures to consider.  If it takes a little magic to deal with all this , then I salute author Emily X. R. Pan for doing it so well.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Stitch'n Time - a slight diversion

 I know that my track record doesn't speak for its self, but I have been trying to get my needlework posts ready before noon.  Often my problem is that I enjoy sleeping late; I get my best sleep at that time.  Today I actually have a pretty good reason for being so very late.

His name is Randy.  It was an epic road trip of about 15 hours to pick him up.  My youngest wanted a dog for company when studying for their Masters.

He is a standard poodle and is gorgeous.

For those of you who did stitching this week instead of making puppy plans (he's 5 months old), Mister Linky is waiting below:

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Ice Chips and the Magical Rink by Roy MacGregor and Kerry MacGregor

Great start to a new hockey series aimed at readers who are relatively new to chapter books.

The Ice Chips is a co-ed hockey team that is loosing their home rink.  Though they will be moving to a fancy new rink, they want one last skate on their home ice.  Once they arrive at the rink, they see that the ice is in bad shape, it needs re-surfacing.  This is when the trouble/challenges/magic starts. 

Wait, did I say magic.  Oh yes, that's what makes this book so special.  I love where this magic takes them and what they experience and learn along the way.  Not going to tell you a word more since I don't want to spoil any secrets.

It's great the way the team members support each other both on and off the ice.  They aren't just thinking about their next goal, but of their friends both old and new. 

Young readers will be able to relate to the members of the team even if they don't play hockey.  The story is more about friendship and including new friends.

The authors also wrote the Screech Owl series for 9-12 readers.
The team will return in the Ice Chips and the Haunted Hurricane.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Stitch'n Time - Block Layout

 The weather has been gorgeous here this past week and it's made me want to be outside as much as possible.  I did manage to stay inside for a wee bit of sewing.  Last week I told you that I had mostly finished the blocks for my wall hanging and that I thought it was going to be a challenge to get them arranged.

Well, it was a surprise that I was happy with this first arrangement.  I wanted to match the dark rectangles and have a diagonal going with the large squares.  I had to shuffle which squares went on the outside edge, but other than that , it came together quite well.  Next step is to stitch the blocks together.

The blocks are about 8 inches, four blocks across and 5 down. I doubt that I'll add a border, just straight to the binding.
I had a little yarn left after knitting the bibs and once again came across a pattern from Red Heart that I liked called Snowdrop Mason Jar Cover.  You need to use five 6mm needles to accommodate the pattern.  Once knitted, you slip it over a wide mouth large mason jar and put a battery candle inside.  light will shine through the simple lace pattern.  I have another inch or two to go till decreasing for the bottom.

If I am happy with the results, I'd like to make some up as gifts for Christmas.  yes, I am already thinking ahead.  Next time I want to try using a long 6mm round needle so i don't have to fuss with so many needles.  Will see how this finishes first.

Any one else planning their Christmas projects at this time?  Do you like to make small projects or one or two big ones per year?

Stitch'n Time is a regular week post where I share details of my current needlework posts.  Feel free to link up below to your current or related needlework post.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

We'll All be Burnt in our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Tynes

If I spied Johnny Keough coming toward me along a dark street, I'd probably be tempted to cross to the other side.  He's had a tough life and isn't about to take crap from anyone.  As I was reading the opening chapters of this book, I questioned whether I would finish.  It's not the type of story I generally read.  I decided that I would push myself out of my comfort zone and keep reading.  I needed to know why this book was awarded the Governor General's prize in 2017.

Johnny is hard to like.  He talks tough and acts tough.  Inside, he does have a soft spot which is why he rescued an elderly couple from their burning home.  I kept reading and looking for him to change his life around.  He just couldn't do it for long.  It seemed that every time he was doing well, that life would extract a very stiff price, almost as a penalty. 

Author Joel Thomas Hynes slowly reveals nuggets of information regarding Johnny's past.  Most were events with fairly grim outcomes.  His best days always involved his dear cousin Mikey.  Unfortunately for Johnny, Mikey committed suicide weeks before the start of this novel.

As Johnny continued on his quest that was taking him across the country, his luck seemed on a downward spiral.  As he sunk lower, an assortment of well meaning people tried to help him, but he wouldn't/couldn't let them.  His past lead him to know that he couldn't trust people.  As unlikeable as Johnny was, I found that by the last few chapters, the tears were pouring down my cheeks and I felt an over whelming need to mourn for the lost possibilities of the life that Johnny could have lived if only some one had loved and cared for him.  I am so glad that I did continue reading.  It has made me question the lives of others and how little control they could have on the events that control their life.

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins Canada.


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Stitch'n Time -

I feel good in that I managed to finish 16 of 20 blocks last week.  I have partially stitched the others, though I wanted to leave them at this point so I have some flexibility in their colour placement.  I have a few ideas of how to lay out these blocks.  I could focus on the largest segment and make them into a most pleasing arrangement.  I could also match the two green squares to make them appear as rectangles.

I'll take a photo of each as I play around and that will tell me which wins.  It's far too easy to over think this step an then never end up finishing the quilt.  That happened to me with a previous project that is still sitting at the block stage.  I've also heard from readers who were making the One Block Wonder and never could settle on the final placement of the blocks; they gave up.  Not going to happen here.  I'll set a deadline for finalizing placement, then I'll stitch them together.

Do you have one project where you spent way too much time on deciding on block/colour placement.  How did you finally make your decision?

Stitch'n Time is a regular weekly post where I share my current needlework projects.

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Stitch'n Time: Quilt Blocks for Broncos

I feel that I have broken my quilting impasse.  Last year most of my stitching was in the form of knitting or crochet.  Hardly any quilting.  I was missing it, but couldn't seem to get back in the groove.  Then came the Humboldt disaster. So many young lives along with coaches and more lost in one accident.

It wasn't long before a request for quilt blocks was posted.   It didn't take me long to sew up a few blocks.  I used the colours as suggested.  They are very easy.  I will get them in the mail in the next few days.

I haven't heard an update regarding donations, though there are plans for over 200 quilts and that will take a lot of blocks.  Still time to stitch and send them in.

After finishing those blocks, I wanted to make a wall hanging using a smaller version.  Since some left over strips of orange fabrics were lying on the table, I wanted to use them.  These blocks were cut with 5 1/2 inch and 3 inch pieces.  I'm planning to use 20 to make the hanging.

It's taking me a bit longer to sew as I am still learning about my new machine.  Each time I need to change a setting, I have to refer back to the manual.  The more sewing I do, the better I'll get at remembering the settings.  I'm looking forward to the machine quilting as that was the main reason for the new machine.

Stitch'n Time is a regular post where I share my stitching projects from the previous week.  You are invited to use Mister Linky below to add a link to your current needlework post.