Thursday, 30 April 2009

Little Voice by Ruby Slipperjack

This is the heartwarming story of 10 year old Ray and her Grandmother. Ever since her father died when she was 8, Ray has withdrawn into herself. She feels as though she doesn't belong in her community nor within her family.
She goes further north to live with a semi-traditional way of life with her Ojibwa grandmother. Her grandmother is a medicine woman of few words. Through her silence she teaches Ray to looks within herself for the answers she doesn't even know she is seeking.
I really enjoyed the quiet, comfortable ways of the grandmother. She seemed so inviting.
Near the end of the book, grandmother makes a long speech to Ray which I found very thought provoking, "I asked my hands what they did this winter. How did I make this world a better place for someone? I remember how my hands looked when I was a child, then when I was a young woman, when I had my children, and on and on through the years of my life. I remember and cherish the memories. I thank the Creator for all that and then I think of the days to come, and of you." Ms. Slipperjack is asking the reader to look at their life, to question whether they are the person they want to be now and who they want to be in the future.
This book is part of a series "In the Same Boat" by Coteau Books that is aimed at Canadian children not of French or English Heritage. Other books in this series include:
The Water of Possibility by Hiromi Goto
Lost in Sierra by Diana Vazquez
I have been in Danger by Cheryl Foggo
Andrei and the Snow Walker by Larry Warwaruk
Jason and the Wonder Horn by Linda Hutsell-Manning
This is my 13th book by a Canadian First Nations Author for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Needlework Tuesday

It was a good week in the stitching department. Along with the time spent viewing the lovely quilts on Amy's 'Online Quilt Festival' I had some progress on my projects.

The first pic shows the block that I made for last evening for the meeting of my local guild. It's called 'Courthouse Steps'. The centre is a 3 1/2 inch square and the logs were cut 2 inches wide. the finished block is 12 inches.

There were 5 blocks submitted for the lottery. My name was drawn, but since I won last month, I asked them to draw again and let another win.

Work on the bird quilt is coming along. I stuck my hand in the bag and pulled out the Pheasant block. It was mostly pieced, so I did the final seam joining the tail section to the bird. It still needed feet. Those are made from ultra suede. I tried a few methods of transferring the cutting lines to the suede. scribbling chalk on the underneath of the pattern and then tracing the lines left a big mess. Finally I made another copy of the pattern, pinned it to the top of the suede and using contrast thread I sewed along the outside edge of the lines. Then I cut along the stitching, removed the extra threads, and voila, really neat feet. I even put the eye on the bird. In fact I got so carried away that all three blocks I've done now have eyes. yippee.

5 additional blocks were submitted by members of my local guild (these are from the hand-piecing class that we held in February). There are a few more coming, so looks like we'll have about 20 of them for our community project next year.
Come back next week to see which bird block I'm working on.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Brat by Lynsay Sands

I hadn't planned on doing a review for this book and thus didn't make any notes of names or locations. I couldn't resist Googling the author and found out she is Canadian and appears to live near here in London, Ontario (about 100 km to the West). So I need to do a review so I can add her to my total for the Canadian Book Challenge.
Historical romances are my fav, specially if the guys wear kilts. When I saw this at a recent Bookcrossing meeting I had to bring it home.
It is set during the reign of King Edward III of England. Lady Murie is his orphaned Goddaughter. The Queen has decided she must marry but will her bratty behaviour over the past years keep her from finding a husband?
This was a fun read even though there are no kilts. Its kinda like eating popcorn, there really isn't much there, but you keep putting you hand back in the bowl hoping for more. I do get something from reading the romances. In every one of them there is the message that in any relationship you have to keep the lines of communication open.
The author Lynsay Sands has several lines of books including some sort of Vampire type series. That might be fun to check out.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Inuit Thought of It by Alootook Ipellie

This is a very cool children's book. It goes step by step through the many innovations that the Inuit have developed to enable them to thrive in one of the World's most inhospitable climates.
From dog sleds, dog boots, animal skin kayaks, igloos, snow goggles and many more, the Inuit have met the challenge to survive. The books is loaded with full colour illustrations and photos. There is enough information to keep parents reading with their children. It is sure to prompt comparisons to many of the items that we use everyday in the winter months without even realizing their history.
Author Alootook Ipellie's website.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Wyrmhole by Jay Caselberg

In January I wrote a review of "Metal Sky" also by Jay Caselberg. Turned out that was the second book in the series. Was out shopping last weekend and came across "Wyrmhole" which is the first, so had to bring it home with me.
This book fills in more of Jack Stein's history and how he became a Psychic Investigator and how Billie came to be his ward.
Mr. Caselberg also describes more about the Locality and how it became home to thousands of people. Rather a neat concept, build a self contained system and the people will come. Never did tell me where the food comes from. As the city travels across the landscape it mines the materials it needs and builds 'new' at the leading end. At the same time, the tail end decays and is re-processed to help with the new constructions.
Mr. Caselberg has the novel "Binary" posted on his website for free reading, though you are welcome to make a donation.

Needlework Tuesday

I finished the Loon block. It still needs the eye to be embroidered. I made the black boarder 1/4 inch larger than the instruction said as the layout sketch and the numbers didn't agree. I'll figure that one out later. This one was much easier than the hummingbird. I pinned the points at the neck that needed to match and they turned out pretty good. The reflection is kinda neat.
I got a bit more hand quilting done this week and will continue to work on the boarders before moving back into the middle. I think I spent too much time over at Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival checking out the over 400 submissions. Very inspiring, makes me want to finish something.
I'll be back next week with another bird block.

Friday, 17 April 2009

the ORIGIN of SPECIES by Nino Ricci

I was set to like this book, in fact I expected to really like this book. I thought I had good reasons to love it. Previously I had read "Lives of the Saints" Mr. Ricci's debut novel and loved it. The cover picture of 'Origins' still speaks to me, the colours(the clouds at the top of the cover should be more blue), the image of the blue footed booby grabbed me the instant I saw it, even the fake coffee rings on the front and back covers. The clincher was knowing that Alex, the main character, would travel to the Galapagos islands, to me a mysterious and enchanting location. Whats not to love?

Unfortunately it didn't come together for me. I followed Alex Fratarcangeli as he worked to complete the requirements for his PhD in Interdisciplinary studies (linking literary theory with evolutionary biology) at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. It is the day after the disaster at Chernobyl and Alex meets his neighbour Ester. She is also a student at Concordia as well as living with Multiple Sclerosis. There is an attraction between these two right from the start. Its not sexual, possibly maternal, Alex doesn't give a thought but immediately comes to her rescue that first day.
I was talking with my sister about this book. She hasn't read it, but has read several others by Mr. Ricci. We were talking about the 'evolutionary aspects of this literary work' kind of like the thesis that Alex is writing. From an evolutionary aspect, a species seeks to reproduce so that their genes continue. Perhaps its in his subconscious, but that's what Alex is seeking to do. Felix offers him the possibility of a relationship, but Alex chooses not to follow-up on that. No chance of reproducing.
Alex is involved with a number of females in the story. First there is Liz, they do manage to reproduce, but there is no live offspring, so Liz is out as a mate. Then he does get together with Amanda, but turns out to be not suitable as a long term mate. He meets Ester and she gets along well with Alex, and there is a mutual attraction. Unfortunately she has a terminal illness, so offspring are not likely. He also has an infatuation with Maria, but she doesn't reciprocate and then leaves.
Alex is back to Ingrid. They have a history that Alex seems to keep trying to avoid/ignore. She is biologically the best mate since they have already successfully reproduced, hence their son Per. It became obvious to me that evolutionary biology was trying to tell Alex to get his act together and go back to Ingrid and take care of his offspring.
My sister is looking forward to getting my book so she can figure out for herself whats going on in this book.

Blogger's Quilt Festival

When visiting at Hills Creek Quilter this morning I found out about a wonderful online quilt show being hosted by Amy at Park City Girl. She has links to over 80 quilting bloggers that are participating in this unique exhibition.
This is my grandmother Sophie Tucker with the quilt I made her for her 88th birthday. The blocks were made by members of her family including her siblings, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I pieced it all together and had several friends and family members help with the quilting.
Why did I make her a quilt? Not because I am a quilt maker, rather because she has been a quilt maker for over 50 years. For decades I had watched her do meticulous stitching on her applique pieces. I have a lovely Dresden plate quilt as well as 2 crib quilts that she did all the applique. The blocks were then returned to the church she attended and the ladies pieced the tops and then hand quilted them.
What else could I do but to make her a quilt. It was wonderful to sit with my grandmother and relate the stories of each block with her. She spent hours showing it to every person who came to visit. When she moved to her retirement home so gave me back the quilt. It is sitting my living room waiting the day when I have a guest room to display it in. When she gave me back the quilt I did have another smaller fleece backed quilt ready to give her. She was equally as thrilled with that one which she still uses.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I would never have imagined that a dog could manage to occupy all the rest of the time that my kids don't use up. eeks. Sewing and reading time seem to be eclipsed by dog walking and scratching behind his ears. Being that I am the one home during the day, we know who's time is no longer her own.

This week will be different (ya right).

I did get a start on the loon block. There were a bunch of fabrics to sort out, though once I wrapped my head around that, the progress was good. I have pieced the 'reflection' as shown at the left. I have 6 sub-sections to piece for the top half of the block. Am looking forward to doing this as the fabrics chosen are rather fun. Mostly black and whites. Will have to do some research and see if the from to the neck should be 'white' as there is nothing in the instructions to indicate nor is there a piece of white fabric included.

I did get to my cousin's quilt. I started at the green fish at the top of the pic and am working toward the bottom of the picture. Should be another day or two to get that part done and then I will do the same section on the bottom of the quilt.

I am finding it hard to not start a new project. arg, so many ideas and no where near enough time. Maybe something little like a shopping bag...

I still have pieces of the heart fabric if any readers would like to make a 12" block and post a blog entry/pic.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

March Madness Winner

The Winner is up, its "The Judas Strain" by James Rollins. Look to the left and you can click on the 'Browse Inside' feature and give it a test read.

You can visit 'The Savvy Reader' for further information.

Needlework Tuesday

Have to admit to be a bit distracted last week. We adopted 'Atreyu' from the Humane Society. He had been a stray so we are having to spend lots of time trying to figure out what kind of training he has etc. I have not had a dog before, so lots of training for me as well.

He does not seem to mind me sitting at the sewing machine or at the quilt frame ( ok, on the floor near me, or under the frame). He just finds a comfy spot and sits and watches me. yippee.

I did this block up yesterday for an online friend who is making a quilt for friends who lost everything in a house fire. Back in February she won the BOM (Block of the Month) for the Maple Leaf quilt guild, so she has the 7 yellow and white blocks from then that she says she will use in the quilt.

The Card Trick block is a good project for practicing your seam allowances on 1/2 and 1/4 square triangles. You can find this pattern at Quilters Cache.

I am ready to do more work on Joan's quilt, that's the one with the bird blocks. The next one selected is the "Common Loon" block. This one has a lot fewer pieces than the Humming bird and should be finished by next week.

As for the Nautical quilt, I have moved to the top edge and am working across on the two rows of boarder stitches. No pictures to show as you have already seen the waves and cables that I have drawn.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

First book in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series.

Along with being a Vampire Hunter, Anita is also an Animator of the Dead (she makes Zombies) and a consultant of the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, R-P-I-T, a special police service.

Someone is hunting and killing vampires. While she agrees to work with the police she is tricked into investigating on behalf of Nikolaos, Master vampire of the City. Anita doesn't like vampires, not at all and she likes Nickolaos even less.

I really liked the character of Anita. Other than a most unusual job, she comes across as a person with the same job concerns and friend challenges as the rest of us. The image of her sleeping with a stuffed penguin after a rough day is very endearing.

Each author takes licence with the 'rules' concerning vampires. Laurell has '4 marks' of the making of human into a vampire servant. Jean-Claude has applied two of these to Anita (to save her life?). It will be interesting to read how their relationship develops in future novels.

I enjoyed "Guilty Pleasures" much more than I did "Cerulean Sins" which I reviewed recently. Lesson learned, start at the beginning of a series, don't jump in at Book 11.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Darkness at the Stroke of Noon by Dennis Richard Murphy

Captivating novel set in the Canadian north during a few days of an arctic summer.

RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Sergeant Booker Kennison has recently been posted to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Whether it is punishment for uncovering shady dealing within the RCMP or to protect him from criminal elements from his previous post in Ottawa, we don't know. He is soon sent to investigate the deaths of two researchers at Victory Point, King William Island, Nunavut.

From the moment Kennison steps foot on Victory Point the drama intensifies till the climax in the final pages.

We quickly find out that an unknown diary from the Franklin Expedition of 1845 has surfaced and that it might contain evidence of the truth of what happened to the crews of the Terror and Erebus and whether they actually traversed the North West Passage. Also seeking this diary is Ruby Cruz from the Arctic Exploration Institute in Mount Winans, Maryland.

To further complicate matters, a violent group known as Turqavik have travelled to Victory Point to seize the diary at any cost.

Within pages of meeting Kennison I knew that he was a character that I wanted to see more of. Unfortunately this will be his only story, the author, Dennis Richard Murphy passed away shortly after he finished writing this novel. Mr. Murphy easily conveyed the difficulties of working in a northern climate and had me pulling another quilt over myself to ward off any shivers. I could imagine pulling on layers of clothing and creeping outside into the wind to go to the rescue of the missing scientist (you'll have to read the book to find out which one).

This book was a terrific follow-up to my recent read of "Wanting" by Richard Flanagan. We learn about the Franklin Expedition via the diary written by William George Bearman of Kent, England. Evidence does support that the crew suffered from scurvy, lethal levels of lead poisoning and that there was clear evidence of much cannibalism. While I could not find a list of the crews of either ship, I did enjoy the mix of fact and fiction.

This book should have a wide appeal to people who read history, politics, love adventure, police stories and even a bit of romance was thrown in. I could imagine that had there been a further novel, there would have been 'something' between Kennison and Ruby Cruz.

With the current thoughts on global warming, its possible that more evidence of the Franklin Expedition will be found and that the use of the NWP could become a more regular event.

Marie's review at Daisy's Book Journal
Ripley's review at Canadian Book and Authors

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Needlework Tuesday on Wednesday

The show yesterday was really good, well worth the drive. I must make a point of attending more of these small galleries. The gallery is two white walled rooms in a large factory. No immediate roof to the rooms, white walls about 8 feet tall, a couple of big factory size windows and old, rough wooden floors. Excellent setting.

It was a multi media presentation by several artists who all have studios in the building. All the work was based on the building itself. One of the favourites was the olden wooden staircase in the centre of the building. There were acrylic painting, manipulated photos, as well as needlework that depicted the steps and the huge red fire door that could be rolled across to close it off. Sorry I don't have pictures, I didn't think it was proper to take them.

I have mentioned my online group, the Maple Leaf Quilt Guild before. They are celebrating their 10th Anniversary. A couple of the members have been working on celebration activities. I really enjoy working on group projects, even when we are challenged by distance. Our BOM (block of the month program) being an ongoing one.

While shopping two weeks ago I came across a terrific sale and bought 6 yards of this heart printed fabric. The piece shown to the left if approximately 13 inches by 13 inches. I made the offer to the group, sight unseen, that I would send a piece to each member who wanted, they are to use the fabric to make a 12 1/2 inch block and mail it back to me. I will then draw the name of a winner of the blocks.

The response has been wonderful. 26 ladies have signed up to join in the fun. We did this once before and received amazing blocks. Oh, I should show you that fabric. It was a Mediterranean type fabric. The second picture shows that fabric. I think that piece is about 18 inches wide by 10 inches tall. Following are the blocks that were submitted, all measure 12 1/2 inches unfinished.
I still have lots of fabric and would like to spread the fun even further. I will send out pieces of fabric to 4 readers who post a comment about this project and who go to my profile, find my email and send me a private message with their mailing address. International involvement is encouraged. After you have made your block, be sure to create a post in your blog with a link to mine and we'll show off the results. Of course you get to keep your block. If you are in Canada, you can join the Maple Leaf Quilt Guild and have the chance to win a share of the blocks (there will be enough blocks for at least 2 winners).

I did get a bit of work done on the Nautical quilt, but no new picture. I was mainly doing little bits here and there so that I could roll it again.