Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Last Orphans by N. W. Harris

 Shane Tucker was just talking with his aunt a few minutes ago and now she is dead.  On his way to seek help in dealing with her remains, he finds more bodies, all adults.  They're dead, all of them, all the adults.  Thus starts the first book of a three part series by N. W. Harris

Within hours of this disaster, Shane has dozens of children gathered around looking to him for leadership.  Truth be told, he's at as much a loss as them, but he can't let them know or they'll fall apart.  Along with some of the older teens, including Kelley and Tracy, he forms a plan to find shelter and help.

'All the adults are dead' is a frequent theme for YA post-apocalyptic novels.  This one distinguishes itself by explaining how it happens, which I appreciated.  From that point it sets a clear goal, though how it's to be accomplished is up to the kids.  The story developed in a manner that seemed fitting for what teems might actually do.  Stick with what they know and not too much bravado.

In typical YA fashion, this story moves quickly with lots of action and minimal details.  We are introduced to many characters, but really only get to know a few of them in any depth: Shane, Kelley and Tracy.  I felt bad for Shane when his aunt died, but then there were so many deaths, that I lost that feeling and never regained it.

For the most part, I enjoyed this story and kept reading late into the night, but the characters didn't make an emotional connection with me. They needed to exhibit more emotion, to reach beyond their shell shock.  I still wanted them to succeed so that the story would conclude and I'd be finished reading their tale.

Cover image courtesy Clean Teen Publishing.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Building a Castle

 What a fun day I had with my friend Audrey.  We sewed this wonderful castle panel.  It's going to be a pillow for her daughter's bed.   This is a really cute free pattern from Fat Quarter Shop - Castle Pillow. Of course I made a few changes.  The pattern makes a 20 inch square pillow.  I find that pillow forms are expensive and tend to go flat rather quickly.  Instead, I made my castle 20 1/2 x 26 1/2 inches, which is the same as a standard bed pillow.  These can be purchased on sale very reasonably and replaced as needed.

I also used a piece of fabric that looked like stained glass instead of an open window.  In the battlements, I left a few open as they would truly appear.  The rick-rack isn't stitched down yet, I'll wait till after the quilting.  We are planning a few embellishments, anyone have a fabric with a print of a dragon?

Son asked for another baby afghan for a friend who is due very soon.  I didn't want to make the star afghan again (they already have one of those) and instead wanted to do a ripple style.  I found this one on Ravelry by Leann Brown.  It has the look I want.  I am using what I have on hand, so am adjusting the number of rows.  All the off whites will be ten rows and the rest will vary between 4 (I only have a bit of beige) and ten rows.  Once the base row was established, I could stop counting and follow the previous row.  Ten rows goes surprisingly fast and then I get to play with colour.

I'll have an update on both of these projects next week.  That is, as long as I can keep myself from starting on yet another new project.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

I hope that you are having fun and  making progress on whatever project is dear to your heart at this moment.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current post.

 

Monday, 27 June 2016

A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install

Ben Chambers's life has been on hold since his parents died in a airplane crash several years ago.  He dropped out of vet school and has yet to find a job.   In fact, he even finds it challenging to take the garbage out on time.

One day when he does take out the trash, he finds a small robot named Tang in his back garden.  The next day it's still there and Ben becomes determined to learn more about it.  This is the start of an epic road trip and a trip to reclaim his life.

I fell in love with this story almost from the first page.  It gave me a warm cuddly feeling throughout and Ben's attachment to the little robt was endearing.

Ben is a lost man and when he unites with the lost robot, they become a pair that pulls at the heart strings of the reader.With every mis-step on their quest I found myself cheering for them and hoping that the next leg would be kinder and would draw them closer to the needed resolution.

The idea of a road trip (including flights) with a robot who has knowledge of a toddler is appealing if fanciful.  With the current status of robotic research, this book teeters on the edge of science fiction.  At first, I thought this would be a YA story, but it's much more than that.  Ben finds himself examining his life in regard to how he responds to Tang.As much as he had preconceived ideas about Tang, he also had many about himself and his marriage.  While a robot can't solve his problems, he sure is a great travel companion and character.


A Robot in the Garden is the debut novel for author Deborah Install.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review ebook and for use of the cover image.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Virals by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

This is a teen version of the Tempe Brennan novels, but better.  Tory Brennan is 14 and has moved to an island offshore of South Carolina.  Her and her friends don't fit in at their school and tend to spend their ample free time together. One day they rescue a wolfdog from a research lab and unlease a sequence of events they couldn't have imagined.

I enjoyed this audio book.  The teens acted just as I remember my kids at that age.  They leap into situations with out considering the consequences. They let their emotions rule rather than logic.  The parents are all secondary characters, the story doesn't need much input from them as the kids carry the day.

I liked the tie-in to the Temperence Brennan books. It gives an explanation for some of Tory's interests and knowledge that a typical teen wouldn't have.  You don't have to have read any of the author's previous  books to enjoy this one.

Author Kathy Reichs stretched the science enough to make the teens illness believable.  With swine flu and bird flu having worked their way around the globe, why not an illness from an animal right there on Loggerhead Island.  I thought that it added an interesting twist to the story that would appeal to the teen reader.

Cristin Milioti does a great job as reader for the audio book.  The kids really did sound like young teens.  My favourite voice was the one used for Chance, the indulged son of one of the wealthiest men in the area.  I don't know how to describe a South Carolina accent, but his dripped of money and privilege.   I listened to the unabridged version  9 hours 4 minutes.

The Virals series has grown to 9 books.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

SYNC Audio for Teens - Week 8


The next pairing of free audiobooks is now available.  For more information about this wonderful program, read my introductory post.  Remember, these are only available till  June 29, 2016

 Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Full cast reading
Donny's Brain by Rona Munro

Full cast dramatic reading

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Time for a Snack

 I have a bad habit of snacking while I am stitching.  I learned long ago not to eat greasy or gooey foods as they might leave marks on my project.  Cookies tend to be fairly safe, though sandwiches usually require two hands so they are a no go.  Today, I was working with a different type of sandwich. A yarn one.  This cute sandwich is for my neighbour's grandson.
 On a plate it looks quite appetizing.
 I made two slices of bread, whole grain of course.
 Leaf lettuce and a slice of swiss style cheese.
 Add two slices of tomato for a real treat.  Pattern is free from Yarnspirations. Playtime Sandwich..
 Another little finish this week.  I knit this last winter but never got the ends worked in and it just seemed a little boring.  Cute shape but too much of the same again and again.  What could I do to liven it up.  The pattern is called Brilliant Zig Zag Scarf and is free from Lion Brand Yarn.   I enjoyed knitting it and image that I will make it again in the future.  Below the scarf is shown after a little play.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

I hope that you are having fun and  making progress on whatever project is dear to your heart at this moment.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current post.

Monday, 20 June 2016

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

 There are some situations in life where the best course of action is to run far and hide deep.  Casey Duncan killed a man years ago and now this past is catching up with her.  Her friend Diane needs to hide from an abusive spouse and has heard about a place where they would both be safe.

Sheriff Eric Dalton from the elusive Rockton, Yukon needs a detective in his town as even people seeking to hide commit crimes. Brutal crimes.

I liked Casey from the first.  She is an action oriented women.  She doesn't let things fester, rather she acts and gets them resolved.  She is also smart, which helps make her a good detective.  Casey is mostly an open book, where as Sheriff Dalton is a closed and locked volume. 

As a detective story, this fondly reminded me of those written in the 1950s and 60s where the investigator had to rely on intellect instead of electronic gizmos to solve the case.  At first I thought this would be a relatively easy case for her, but the more she learned, the more she found she didn't know and that not everyone was who they seemed.  At one point I fingered the ultimate culprit, but then dismissed that ideas as further details unravelled and redirected by focus.

There was one setting in the book that creeped me out.  I could truly imagine the panic I would feel in that situation. I couldn't wait for that section to end.

This is a well written novel and a departure for author Kelley Armstrong from her other worldly characters created in some of her earlier books.  The stories of Casey, Eric and Rockton will continue in the next book in this series tentatively titled A Darkness Absolute.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House.