Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Sky Over Lima by Juan Gomez Barcena

Set in Peru at the turn of the twentieth century, this is the fictionalized account of a love affair via letter.  Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez had fallen in love with Georgina, a young woman in Lima who wrote to him begging for a copy of his recent book of poetry that had not yet been published in her country.  They subsequently carried on a correspondence for a few years during which he fell in love with her. 

Unknown to Juan, it was actually two young men who collaborated to compose and send the letters of Georgina.  It had started out innocently, as they did seek a copy of his book.  For what ever reason, they continued with the ruse until it threatened to be exposed.

It was fascinating to read how the author proposed the reasons for why Jose and Carlos continued with this fakery.  It felt so real, that it was possible it truly did occur in that manner.  Some letters have survived the ravages of time and obviously led the author to create this captivating story.  The rest, pure speculation...

I loved this book.  It is a unique tale made even more appealing by it's historical accuracies.  Jose and Carlos are young men at odds with the futures their fathers have decided for them.  Instead, they fancy themselves to be poets, even though they are not published and it seemed they weren't destined to be.  They both came from a life of privilege that allowed them the time to indulge in such whimsy as this.  I wonder if they regretted their activity afterwards and if they ever tried to make amends for their actions.

This is a highly readable tale which effectively transported me to another time and lifestyle.


Monday, 4 June 2018

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

I loved this book.  Once I started reading I couldn't put it down.

High school is often the place where you forge new friendships.  Some will be passing and others will last a lifetime.  And then there will be the ones that change your life, forever.

Just one year earlier, Bee, Whitley, Martha, Cannon, Kipling and Jim had been friends in high school.  Jim was now dead and Bee hadn't seen the others since going away to college.  She suspects that the remaining four friends know more about Jim's death than they are letting one.  She need to know the truth so she can move on with her life, in fact, her life depends on her learning the truth.

How well can you truly know another person.  We all have secrets that we are unwilling to share.  Some are embarrassing and others might be criminal, but they are our secrets to tell or not.  What if you are keeping a secret to spare anther person from pain or anguish, does that make it all right.  Bee has her own secrets and she is determined to find out those of her former friends no matter what.

This tale spins out in a totally unique manner that I could not have imagined.  I am still pondering how I would have handled these events. Would I have been like Martha and taken an academic approach or a more hedonistic one similar to Whitley.

I am being cryptic as I don't want to give away anything.  There are so many varied actions that the characters take that I loved and hated them at different points.  It makes me wonder why the truth can be so hard to tell.

If you enjoyed Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz, you'll love Neverworld Wake.

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


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Stitch'n Time : How to Know when you've Found the Right Project

How do you know when you've hit on the right project for your self.  Some projects seem to drag on for ever and you find your self willing to do anything else, even house cleaning instead of working on 'the project'.  Other times, you will let the rest of the world pass by while you stitch away,  This dotty blanket is of the second type  I am so excited about watching it grow that I am easily able to ignore even a rumbly tummy to knit another block.

This photo shows how to start and inner block.  All the stitches are picked up from the previous blocks.

Most patterns will tell you to finish the first row across, one block of each colour/pattern, then start the second row.  Visually, it seems to take so very long to finish a row.  I decided I would stitch the diagonal rows instead.  Two more green blocks and then I'll start on the light blue squares.  These squares go very quickly as they are only about 5 inches a side.

I was watching Netflix while stitching and accidentally binged on a show.  oops.  I don't do that as a rule, but I was getting carried away one morning.  I guess that will just skew my statistics a wee bit.  oh wait, that's a good thing.

As I knit, I have been working in as many ends as possible.  I am thinking that with the little dots, it will be hand to pull the end threw on a needle.  I can't recall having worked with such a bumpy yarn before.  It is fun though.

The weather here has been hot. Too hot to comfortable sit outside or do anything in the yard.  I have cranked on the AC and have been lurking inside, sometimes reading and others stitching.  I hope that the weather in your area is behaving and no unseasonal storms.  If you have been managing to stitch, Mister Linky is waiting below.  I'd also love to see any afghans/blankets that you stitched and loved, so add previous links to those posts.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

I loved this.  I could not put it down.  With themes of cos-play, Dungeon's and Dragons role playing and creating the perfect character garment, there is lots to love.

Cameron, her twin brother Cooper and family have recently moved and are settling into a new town.  She needs to be working on her clothing portfolio for her college interviews, though she is lacking inspiration.  Trips to the comic store are dis-spiriting due to the 'anti-female' vibes that Brody, the manager, exudes.  When her father suggests she use his D&D book as a beginning point to create characters, it starts her along a bumpy and twisted path to  discovering her creativity and other things.

I loved everything about this book except that it ended too soon.  The relationships between Cameron and Cooper is tight yet not perfect.  They fully support each other but at the  same time won't let the other drown in self pity.

When Cameron is working on a garment/costume, she is totally immersed.  The description of her working was so vivid that I could imagine the shimmering fabrics and flying pins and needles.

This book should have wide appeal among teen and older readers.  You don't have to be involved in cos-play or D&D to enjoy this story.

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


Friday, 25 May 2018

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Wonderful story of adventure and exploration.  Readers will travel  with Aru and Mini as they try to save the world from the destruction that the Sleeper seeks.  Along the way they will encounter an assortment of Indian deities, visit mythological destinations and learn about the power of friendship.

Aru was tired of being the social outcast at her exclusive school.  When three of her classmates visit the museum where she lives, they catch her up in a lie.  Not wanting this to be spread around school, she accepts a dare to light the cursed Lamp of Bharata.  Oops, that was the one thing her mother told her she must never do.  She has now unleashed a deadly force into the worlds.

I enjoyed following Aru and Mini on their adventure.  Boo made for an interesting, though reluctant  guide.  Young readers will also enjoy Boo, especially considering that he is a magical pigeon.  Author Roshani Chokshi does a good job of introducing the myriad of Indian gods to readers.  She gives enough information to follow the story line, but also alludes to a much more detailed story behind each one.

I feel that this novel will appeal most to the younger middle school reader.  Would also work well as a classroom read aloud to accompany a cultural study of India.


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Stitch'n Time: Keeping it Fun

As you might imagine, it's been an interesting week with a new puppy in the house.  Even though all responsibility for him is supposed to fall to my youngest child, the owner, I can't possibly ignore him.  I find myself petting him and going with them on walks.  He is lovely to be around.  Today he even allowed me to puppy sit  him.

He has passed the yarn test.  He watched me knitting and didn't try to snag a ball from me.  Perhaps that's more a kitten/cat thing.  Time will tell.

A year or two ago, I purchased a box of this discontinued dotted yarn, Bernat Dippity Dots.  I chose 3 balls of each colour except the black.  Enough to make at least 2 if not 3 baby blankies.

As I was lamenting not having some stitching at hand, I recalled this box and that I had printed out the patterns I wanted to do.  Real easy to get started from that point.

Each of the squares knits up to about 5 inches on a side.  As you can see from the first photo, subsequent blocks are formed by picking up stitches from the previous block.  No sewing together individual blocks at the end of knitting.

The first three blocks are completed and looking great.  They seem to square up once the neighbouring block is added.  The final blankie will by 7 x 7 blocks.

This is the type of yarn that you don't want to be ripping out.  I did un-knit one block as I didn't like the way it turned out. I don't plan to do that again.  I could have left it, but it would have bugged me for ever and any knitter looking at the blanket would have noticed the mistake immediately.  The new colour was added on the wrong side, which meant that the wrong colour loops showed on the front side.   With that fixed and notes added on how to avoid this in the future, I am stitching forward.

For the past year, I have been telling myself that I have to finish languishing projects before I am allowed to start big new ones.  That is like punishing myself.  Stitching is supposed to be fun for me.  There is probably a reason that a project is hidden away unfinished.  I might even get back to it in the future.  But right now, I wanted and needed something new.  Who knows, when I find that next bag with an unfinished project lurking inside, it might have morphed into something that I want to work on once again.

Do you have an unfinished project hidden away.  Do you hope that one day you will open the bag and it will magically be completed or that it will have transformed its self into a work of art.  Please share your thoughts about it in the comments or link to a post you've written about it.

Mister Linky is waiting below.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

FuryBorn: The Empirium Trilogy Book 1 by Claire legrand

Rielle has a huge secret, that with the help of her father, she has tried to keep hidden.  When Prince Audric's life is threatened, she'll do anything to save the man she loves, even reveal her secret.

A thousand years later, Eliana has her own secret.  One that is to her advantage considering she works as an assassin for hire.  Eliana only knows of Rielle from the stories/legends her young brother Remy collects.  Mostly she dismisses them as one would dismiss fairy tales.  When a job goes wrong and she is forced to switch alliances, Eliana finds herself reconsidering the validity of these tales.

This story spans a thousand years and is alternately told from Rielle's and Eliana's perspective.  Other than their unusual powers, there appears to be little to link the two women.  One a queen and the other a paid assassin, what could they have in common other  than a love for their country.

Unfortunately, this book didn't work for me.  I couldn't identify with either young woman.  They remained strangers to me.  I didn't feel as though I had learned any of the intimate things that a friend or confident would know.  I didn't really care about either of them.  I struggled to finish the final chapters even though they were exciting and contained dramatic plot developments.

spoiler:  the biggest detractor of the book was the inclusion of angels.  They are a type of character I don't enjoy and prefer not to read about.  If the author had included some other race of being it would have increased my enjoyment.

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