Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

The Magic Misfits
This is a delightful start to a new series for middle school readers.  Magic is never more popular than when it is in the hands of children. By magic, I mean the mis-direction and distraction of illusion. You know what I'm talking about, card tricks and such.

Since he was orphaned at a young age, Carter has been living with his not so nice uncle.  Even though this uncle is good at such card tricks, he uses them and Carter to distract his audience while he steals more valuable goods from them.  When he can no longer tolerate what his uncle is doing, Carter flees.

A train lands him in the distant, small town of Mineral Wells.  Carter now must find his way and some allies to help him fit in and feel at home.  Hard to do when living on the street and your own wits.  But help is not far away...  I really can't tell you more without spoiling all sorts of fun and mischief that Carter encounters.

Young readers will enjoy the antics of Carter and those who befriend him.  Parents will like the good choices that he and his friends make and how they support each other.  I appreciated that the children where smart enough to know when it was time to turn to an adult for help.   There are currently two books available in this series with a third due out September 10, 2019.


Monday, 15 July 2019

oops, I have to rip back a bit

I have been holding back here.  I had hoped to post this about 2 weeks ago, but I made a mistake and didn't want to admit it to myself.
The strip the is supposed to go in the middle between the two side panels in the short cowl that I am crocheting is a few inches too long.

How did this happen, I was so careful to count rows.  I even made a chart so I could cross off the rows as I went.  oops, I forgot to include the 8 set up rows. 
Now that I have ripped them back, I am still too long.  Since I have lots of yarn, I am going to add a few more rows to each of the side panels till they reach the length where the edge reaches the lime coloured stitch marker.

Usually, my problem with crochet is that I am too short, but the two side panels are actually longer than the pattern states, so not sure what happened here.  I think I am going to need six rows to match this up.  Not too bad. I can live with that.

Already pondering my next stitching project, oh cross that out, I am going to crochet the SAL with Mikey at the crochet crowd.  He is hosting along with Yarnspiration "Study of Planet Earth".  There is a step by step video tutorial as well as a printed pattern.  I did the last one with him and stitched along with the videos. His tips are great.  I am using one colour from a gigantic ball of yarn that I bought at the Spinrite Outlet in Listowel a few weeks ago.  Yes, that is the home of Yarnspiration.  I'll show you my progress, but first must finished this.

A special request: Please go and visit Lorna from Sew Fresh Quilts.  A nasty customer sent her a vile email because there were some errors in a free pattern  that she had published.  The customer was way over the top.  I have met Lorna and bought several of her patterns, one just before writing this post, and she is a lovely woman inside and out.  Please click on the link above and read the letter for yourself and leave a supportive comment for her.  If you feel like it, go check out and purchase one of  her patterns, they are amazing.  I have no personal connection to Lorna, though I do hate when people use the anonymity of the Internet to behave in such horrid manners

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray: Elements of Genius 1 by Jess Keating

Elements of Genius #1: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray
Nikki Tesla has always been a loaner.  When she did attend school, she was bullied and made fun of for being so smart.  Now that she is home schooled she is free to explore subjects that interest her the most.  That is, until a mishap in her lab brings her and her mom unwanted attention.
At her new school, Genius Academy, she must learn to work with the other students there or face expulsion.  Of course, this school is not at all what it seems, and there is much more at stake than Nikki being in class.
There is much to love about this book.  Nikki is finally with a group of students with much in common.  Not only are they all super smart, they all appear to have complex backgrounds.  Can she trust them with her huge secret, will they still have her back once they know.
 I really can't tell you any more about what happens as I don't want to review any plot twists.  This new series from Scholastic is a great addition to the STEM line up of books for middle school readers.   Note: this book reads at a higher level than the Ellie, Engineer series by Jackson Pearce.

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


Thursday, 27 June 2019

the one by John Marrs

I could The Onehardly put this book down.  The premise of finding you perfect match via DNA testing totally caught my imagination.  Even now, a week after reading it, I am pondering such possibilities.

Five very different people decide to send their DNA samples for testing and matching. Their results are very different.  As they proceed to contact and get to know their destined mate, things don't necessarily go as expected.  There are so many twists and tweaks  to their tales that I was kept on the edge of my seat continually.    I can't even begin to tell you more about this novel with out giving away delicious plot points.

I do want to talk a bit about the concept of finding your mate via DNA matching.  This takes away the choice of relationships in the traditional sense.  No randomly meeting and dating and exploring potential partners.  If you had never dated before and just went straight into a match, then you would have nothing to compare your relationship with.  Likewise, if one partner had had a very bad previous partner, how would they feel going straight into such a match.  How could one go from an abusive partner  right into a 'perfect match' and give it an honest try.

The DNA matching had a drastic and almost overnight impact on society.  Traditional dating was coming to an end, existing marriages were being abandoned and current relationship being second guessed.  People were jumping straight in with new partners without getting to know each other.    At the end of the book, I was left questioning whether these new marriages would truly last, or would the newness wear off and the usual things that break them up happen.  What would their children be like. Would they be happier with parents who were perfect for each other.  Then decades later, what would it be like for the children of matched parents to marry.  Would we be looking at some sort of designer people.  For me, one sign of a great book, is whether it sticks with me long after I finish the final page.  This is a great book.


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

I was blown away by this book, it was amazing.

In 1936, American President Roosevelt started the Pack Horse Library project to bring books to people living in remote places.  One of these places was in Eastern Kentucky in the watershed of Troublesome Creek.

Cussy Carter wanted to one of those women.  She wanted to bring reading to her neighbours.  While carrying out this job she faced many difficulties: being a woman riding out alone, visiting people she didn't know and mostly, her colour.  Cussy was blue. She was one of the rare blue people of Kentucky, possibly one of the last.

I like the way author Kim Michele Richardson presented Cussy's clients.  Some welcomed her with open arms, hugging her and thanking her for the books, others greeted her at a distance yet were cordial, some were outright distrustful and wouldn't come near her.  It clearly showed the joys and challenges of the job.

This book is a microcosm study of racism.  Cussy's colour was held against her more so that of the brown/black people.  Much was blamed on her and her people such as bad luck.  Many blue people were killed just because of the colour of their skin.  Even when science showed that the blue colouring was a genetic condition that was treatable, they were still shunned.

We all accept today that literacy opens doors to jobs and increased income.  During the time in which this book was set, schools were not available to all in such rural areas.  The book women also helped to teach their clients to read, which brought them hope for better lives.

For those residents with a distrust of the government, the book women were a positive message that their president cared.

I learned so much reading this book.  There was a lot of history mixed in with the fiction which made for an amazing read.  It also made it hard for me to keep in mind that Cussy was a fictional character and not a real life hero.

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


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Stitching Hiatus is now Over

It's been ages since I wrote a stitching post.  Not that I haven't been doing any stitching, I've just taken a break from writing about it.  I have missed the encouragement that that I get from my online friends and readers.  You are my conscience that kept projects from wallowing, always urging me along.

So, what have I been doing,

Crochet:  I've been working on a Cabled Hooded Cowl .  Pattern from Red Heart LM6196  I had some worsted weight yarn on hand and decided to use that as I wasn't sure that I would use the finished item much.  At this point, I have two repeats of the pattern  to complete and then I'll be ready to assemble the pieces.

Knitting: Not much in this area lately, though I have almost finished two pairs of socks that I knit on straight needles, two of them, not the usual four or five.

Quilting: Lately I have been working on a couple of wall hangings.  They all now have the binding stitched on by machine.  Next step is to turn the binding to the back and hand stitch it down.

Finally, I received this box of yarn from the kind people at Yarn Canada.  They have sent me some samples of a new yarn they are carrying.  I'll be sharing this with you in a future post. For now, I'll keep you in suspense.

In the past, I published my needlework posts on the same day each week, and I found that wasn't really working for me anymore.  My work schedule didn't always allow for that.  Going forward, I plan to post when I have something I want to share, whether it is once a week, or every couple of days.  So until next time, happy stitching.

#Crochet  #Knitting   #Quilting  #YarnCanada

Sunday, 7 April 2019

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Bradsky

Life in the arctic is harsh no matter the time period. This story is set approximately 1000 AD.  The main characters are the second or third  generation of Inuk that have migrated eastward from the west coastal areas.  Their physical survival is dependent on building shelter and catching animals, both land and sea, for food and fur.  Their spiritual health is overseen by the angakkug (shaman).  This might sound a bit like a National Geographic book, but far from it.

Omat is a newborn at the beginning of the story and we follow them through the next 2 decades.  While physically born a girl, she is named for her deceased father and is raised as a boy.  This  is an accepted practise at that time.  Their grandfather, Ataata is the angakkug.  He seeks knowledge and guidance from their gods.  Within their community they also have a complex set of rules that dictates what is allowed and what isn't.  For example, women aren't allowed to hunt, but since Omat is viewed as a boy, they learn to hunt.

Up to this point, the story is a bit slow as there is much to learn about the families and their way of life. As Omat gets older and becomes apprentice to the angakkug, some in the community begin to object.  This is where the story really got going for me.  I was finding it harder to put the book down.

Omat is a boy and wishes to keep living that way.  They may be smaller than some of the other hunters, but they have great skills and keep the family fed. They struggle as they mature physically and that helps to push the plot through to the end.

I would have thought that by living and growing in a very small community, that all would have accepted Omat as they were, having seen their skills and commitment to the community.  But there is always at least one person who has to stir things up and cause trouble.  Have we as humans not learned anything in the last thousand years.

The author did an excellent job of researching and conveying details of the inuk daily life.  From the building of the igloo, hunting the seals and other animals and then preparing the meats and skins.  This was all worked seamlessly into the story that I didn't realized how much I was learning as I read.

I don't want to give away any plot points, so I will just say that this family group does not stay isolated for long.  That brings in a whole new bunch of benefits and challenges.

I loved this book.  I felt as though I had been drawn into Omat's extended family.  I began to care about the success of their hunts and what they would learn on their 'spirit quest'.  As much as I didn't want this book to end, I could wait to find out how Omat would deal with the issues facing them.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Redhook and from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.