Thursday, 28 July 2011

Cover Me by Catherine Mann

I am finally getting back to my summer reading.  Much got put on hold for the month of July due to a death in the family.  I still have a back log of reviews to write and post and will keep working toward that goal.  Thanks for your patience and understanding.

As a rule, I don't read modern romances.  For me it's Regency Era  and Kilts, but when I came across this title it caught my attention.  Set on an Aleutian Island, off the Alaskan coast, pararescueman Wade Rocha parachutes into a blizzard to rescue an unknown person in distress.

After her snow machine brakes down, Sunny Foster and her dog Chewie are seeking shelter from the storm, when a man falls from the sky claiming he is there to rescue her.  She is adamant that she doesn't need rescuing.

The next day, while Sunny is trying to escape her saviour, she falls into a crevasse where she finds the bodies of her friends and neighbours.  From this point on I was totally caught in this story.  How could I not be impressed by a total hunk of a man leaping out of a helicopter into a frigid world to save an unknown person.  This is then topped by non-stop action, and I don't mean just male-female interaction, I'm talking more planes, snow machines and assailants shooting guns.    Honestly, I had no idea that a romance story could be so dramatic.

This book also had lots to teach me.  I learned about American Military Rescue training, not something that comes up in my everyday life.  The Aleutian Islands may be located in a frozen part of the world, but they hide some terrific vistas as described by Catherine Mann.

It was a delight to read this book and widen my scope of romances that I enjoy.  I will definitely be looking forward the future books in this new series.  You can read and excerpt from chapter 1 at this link.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Retail Therapy

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project..  Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post
I was still in need of distraction this week, so sought comfort where I could.  I did keep working on my second version of the pink doily.  I am just about finished row 17 and it is a bit bigger this time. 

Next came several rounds of retail therapy.  i was back to visit my sister and we set out a few times, and then I did some shopping on my own.
Can't go wrong with patternbooks.  These two were both clearance 99 cents at Lens Millls Store.  This is a retail clearance store chain in southern Ontario.  During the course of one week I managed to visit two locations: Waterloo and Guelph.
This booklet came from Michaels.  Again, two locations: Waterloo, and London, Ontario.  Each of the three books has several projects that I would like to try in future months.  I've learned that you must buy these books when you see them, as you might not find them again.
Of course I needed somthing to stitch with.  At the Lens Mills in Waterloo they had these huge balls of crochet thread.  Bernat size 10, 1560m (1745yds) for a mere $3.99 each.  Sure, they are Christmas threads, but I have not doubt that I'll find a project or 5 that will look lovely in these colours.  This is the cost that I usually pay for the 300 m balls by South Maid.
Last week Sherrie suggested that I try the Boye hooks.  They had a range of sizes at Michaels, so I bought these three and am looking forward to trying them on my next project.  Can't change hooks in the middle of a project.
I just couldn't pass up on this sale.  Patons Kroy sock wool.  Regularly over $6.00 on clearance for 99cents.  I have had my eyes on the pattern: Conte Hoodie by Kristin Spurkland in the Interweave Knits Weekend, Special Issue 2010.  It is knit with two strands of sock yarn held together.  One a patterned wool and the other a solid. 
Couldn't leave everything to crochet and knitting.  I did have to venture into a fabric store.  Daughter and I found our way to Fabricland in Kitchener.  They had these amazing quilting fabrics at half off.  It's so hard to find Canadiana fabrics, that seeing the two on the left almost left me faint.  They are wonderful representations of Canadian First Nations artwork.  Sorry I don't know which Nations.  The third fabric is loaded with guitar images, which will make a great pair of boxers for my son.

To round out my week of Retail Therapy, a crochet pattern book: Yummi'Gurumi by Christen Haden & Mariarosa Sala.  It has patterns for the most amazing food, including a full platter of sushi.  That was my goal when selecting the book.   I"m planning a big display of these tasty tidbits.    Thanks to Andrew McMeel Publishing for the borrow of the cover photo.
I am curious to know what my friends have been up to?

Friday, 22 July 2011

First Nations Friday - Tales of Little Bear and Little Buffalo by Roy Naquin

Little Bear and his cousin Little Buffalo seem to have a knack of finding trouble.  Even when they start out with the best of intentions, unforeseen things happen and they court disaster.  The family are members of the Choctaw-Chitimacha Indians and they live on an island near the southern Louisiana coast a sort distance outside of Houma.

In this book, Roy has recounted stories told to him by his father and grandfather. 

As I sat in a coffee shop this morning reading this book, I burst out in laughter at several of the predicaments that the boys found themselves in.  I supposed that children in any place or time tend to find themselves in the most unlikely of situations.  I could just imagine them looking at each other and agreeing that they can't possibly tell their parents what really happened.

Roy's straight forward story telling made me feel as though I was sitting with my own grandparent hearing his or her remembrances.  Interspersed throughout are several sketches portraying the most memorable scenes.  This is a book that can be enjoyed again and again by both children and their parents.

Roy sent me an email today with details regarding the artwork:
The artist is a good friend of mine her name is Cindy Kieffer.
The cover is actually what I pictured as a child, the rest of the
artwork I sat down with Cindy and explained to her what I wanted her to draw.

My review copy was sent to me courtesy of the author Roy Naquin.

Thank-you to Outskirts Press for the cover photo.

Information on the Choctaw Nation.
Chitimacha Nation of Louisiana.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis

Binti is a young star on a Malawi radio show that deals with all sorts of important topics.  It turns out that the show is a good way of getting accurate information to their loyal viewers.One story line that receives rapt attention is that of AIDS.  While Binti is exceptional in her role, she is blind to the fact that her dear father is living with advanced AIDS.  She was too young to realize that her mother had passed away from the disease. 

When her father dies, Binti and her siblings are sent to live with unknown relatives.  It is only then, that she learns that far too many people in her country don't understand the truth about AIDS; they think they can catch it from her even though she is not infected.

I listened to the audio book version.  Red by Jajube Mandela and the RMW Kids.  4 hours 7 minutes.

This story blew me away.  I was so touched by Binti's plight and it was even harder when I realized that there are millions of children in Africa that are in her same, and probably even worse situations.  Many of these children are being raised by their elderly grandmothers just as Binti came to be.  The grandmother did a good job of getting Binti to stop feeling sorry for herself and do something.  Do something to improve her lot and that of the other children taken in by her grandmother.

Thanks to RMW Kids Audio Books for the cover image.

Coteau Books for a brief bio of author Deborah Ellis.

For information on the Grandmothers Campaign, visit the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A Most Fun Race: The Dirty Dash

 There are times in life when you have to go out and doing something different just for the fun of it.  Sunday was one of those days.  Run Waterloo  hosted their second Dirty Dash, a fun raiser for Special Olympics. 

The aim of this race was to have fun.  Located in the hilly Bechtel Park, it covered 4 km including 2 short dips into the river and ended with wading through a 30 metres mud pit.
These wonderful volunteers spent hours digging in the mud to ensure that we would have tough time getting through.

Here I am at the start of the race.  All happy and clean.  I bought this pretty skirt with lace and satin so I could look spectacular.  It was a hot day, already about 28C and it was only 9 am.  Going to be a scorcher, good thing we get to go in the river.
 The next few photos show me carefully trying to navigate the mud pit.  The bottom of the pit was all bumpy with foot grabbing holes.  To help us all out, the race director strung flag ropes across the pit and declared that we had to pass under the flags and not lift them up.  They were pretty close to the mud.

At this point my skirt, which i had been wearing as a dress is so heavy that I had to hold it up.

I did it. Success.  my worst time ever for 4 km.  42 minutes.  

I don't know the name of this participant, but I loved her outfit.  She ran just ahead of me the whole race.  Don't you love those pink fur leg warmers.

Winners: Whole Foods to Thrive - Vega Smoothie Assortment

Thank-you to all who dropped by and left a comment during the recent blog tour for Brendan Brazier's new book:  Whole Foods to Thrive.
Winner of the Vega Smoothie Assortment  (Canada)
(to be sent directly from Penguin Books)
Awesome Aud

Winner of a Smoothie Cookbook (International)
(to be sent by me)
Louise in Australia

Both winners have been contacted.

Get 3 Free Audiobooks

Random House is offering 3 free audio books when you sign up to receive their monthly newsletter by email.  These books are unabridged stories in MP3 format.  To get your free downloads, go to this link and follow the directions in the upper right hand corner.

Survival by Louis L'Amour   -  this appears to be a short story just over 1 hour  in length.

White cat by Holly Black
read by Jesse Eisenberg
approximately 6 hours

Nate the Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
read by John Lavell

approx 13 minutes

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Wreck This App - Keri Smith - Penguin Group (USA)

Did you love the book Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith? Then you need this app for your ipad or iphone. This is so cool. I hope they come out with a version for the BlackBerry Playbook.

Wreck This App - Keri Smith - Penguin Group (USA)

Needlework Tuesday - Pink Doily

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project..  Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post.  

The last two weeks have been tough for me.  My dear god son passed away.  The day after his memorial service, his grandfather passed away (not my dad).  I am so sad for my sister and her family.  Grief is hard to deal with, though we all must find a way.  For me, I turn to my needlework.   It keeps me busy as I find that I must pay close attention, or I make mistakes.

I cut lots of strips for a jelly roll quilt.  I'll tell you about that once I start the sewing.  I stitched another of those ruffled scarves, though in a thicker yarn.  It's not quite finished, and I will have photos and a link to the pattern next week.

In a further attempt to distract myself, over the course of three days, I started and finished a doily for my mother.  The pattern is from Magic Crochet Number 69, December 1990.  It is called "Shower of Sparks" designed by Glendola Hodges.  Additional designs by Glendola can be found on Ravelry
I used pink size 10 thread from Southmaid.  Unfortunately I used the wrong size hook, a 7 US instead of a 4US.  1.50 mm instead of 1.75.  The finished doily measures 15 inches instead of 17.  Too small for mom's table.  I have purchased a new ball of thread and a larger hook and am starting again.  As a bonus, my mother will receive two doilies.

 This final photo shows the start of the new, and hopefully larger doily.  I have just finished row/circle 4.

A question for my dear readers.  I wasn't up to shopping all around for a new hook, so bought the first one I found.  It is made by Unique, which is available through H. A. Kidd.  It's okay and not expensive.  Are there better quality hooks available?  This one catches on my finger far too much.

I'd love to know what you have been working on this past week. 

Ovwer at Rikki's Teleidoscope, Rikki has been busy stitching up some neat little pouches to hold all sorts of special items.

Marie, at Daisy's Book Journal has posted photos of her rain chain.  If you're like me and didn't know what this is, then you must go and check.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Special Memorial Edition

Yesterday I posted a memorial to my nephew Alex who passed away July 4, 2011.  Today I am sharing with you the quilt that I made for him.  Actually, this is the baby quilt made from the left overs to the matching twin size quilt.  These were among my very first adventures in quilting.  The twin size quilt is supposedly stored in the closet in his apartment.  He didn't want to use it so that it would stay in perfect condition.  He gave this quilt back to me quite a few years ago.  He wanted me to keep it safe for him.

They were made from  the Amish Quilt pattern by Eleanor Burns.  That pattern was first published in 1986 and this quilt must have been made shortly afterward.

Even though I made this out of poly cotton fabrics, it is still in really good condition.  Once I give it a gentle wash, I'll add a label to the back and pass it along to my sister.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Memorial - Alexander Erich Krueger

Alexander Erich Krueger
November 12, 1984  -  July 4, 2011

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Heather and I’m Shelley’s sister. Alex was still a newborn when Shelley and Marcus did me the privilege and asked me to be Alex’s God Mother. That was a position that I took very seriously. I have many wonderful memories of time spent with Alex, and I’d like to share just a few of them with you.
I lived with the three of them when I was in my final year of university. Alex wasn’t even two years old. At a particular time every evening Alex’s favorite show would come on. No matter where he was in the house, when he heard the music to Wheel of Fortune, he would come running. He loved Vanna. He would stand right in front of the TV until he saw Vanna and then he would just as quickly wander away.

He was two and half when I got married. Alex was the only child invited to the reception. He looked angelic when he arrived dressed in an immaculate small white tuxedo, a teddy bear clutched in one arm and his green sunglasses in the other. He was allowed to wander free in the church while the ceremony proceeded. While we were getting ready to say our vows, Alex spied the very shiny collection plate which was leaning against the wall at the very front of the church. Next thing I knew, he had walked directly up to it and proceeded to give it a good shove. It rolled around the front of the church until it noisily spiraled and settled down on the carpet. A little levity is always welcome.

At some point after this, but before Ben was born, Shelley and I were out together and my husband Eric was babysitting. We were living in a co-op and most of the residents were students. It was near the end of term and there had been partying the night before. After I returned home I heard from Eric, that Alex had had a great time gathering up all the discarded beer empties and then he moved on to collecting many more discarded bottle caps. This must have been the start of his metal recycling career.

When Alex visited my house he always wanted to help. He loved my green vacuum and would spend ages re-vacuuming the same small carpet. When he was older, he’d show up for a family dinner wanting to cut the grass before eating.. I learned to leave yard work for him, and of course, I would stack up my recycling for him to carry out to the garage. He never objected to being asked to help out.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that Alex asked a lot of questions. He would ask the same thing in many different ways. At our house we had instituted the 5 question rule. For the duration of any visit, Alex was only allowed to ask 5 questions. Some times this technique worked. Other times, well, I learned how to give elaborate answers just to slow him down from asking the next question.

I’ll miss you Alex. I tip my double espresso to you.

This is the text of the eulogy that I delivered at his memorial service.  Alex died of a heart attack at the young age of 26.  None of us knew that he had atherosclerosis and had 75% blockage of all the arteries.  He was an active young man, going to the gym every day, lots of bike riding and walking and he had a very active job.

Hug your kids, and then call your doctor and set up and appointment to get your cholesterol levels checked.

Friday, 8 July 2011

First Nations Friday - The Raven's Gift by Don Rearden

It should have been fairly straight forward.  John and his wife Anna both loved teaching, and moving to a remote village on the Kuskokwim River in Alaska was something they both wanted.  Anna seemed to settle right in, though John was hesitant, he felt caged in.  Once he started hunting with his neighbour, he began to regain his balance and made more of an effort to adapt to a new way of life. 

Life was looking rosy until Anna came down with a fever; a fever that didn't go away.  In fact, many of the residents of their small community also became ill.  Then they started to die. Whole families perished.  John waited for help to come, but as Anna declined, he finally accepted that no help was coming.  He was alone in the tundra with no help.  Everyone else was in the same predicament.

Other than the first 30 or so pages, I read this book in one day.  I couldn't put it down.  Not only was I curious about this plague, but also I needed to know how John was going to survive in an environment that was still very foreign to him.  He knew so little about the culture and way of life of the Yup'ik people.  While they might be able to overcome these harsh turn of events, what chance did John have. 

Author Don Rearden has thrown together three characters: John the school teacher, Rayne the blind twenty year old , and Maggie an Yup'ik elder.  None of them are equipped to survive on their own.  For them to effectively work together, they each will have  to teach as well as learn from the others.  I didn't know if John could do this.

I was surprised to learn that this is a debut novel from Mr. Reardon.  It was so well put together and with such depth to the characters that I wanted to search for his earlier novels.  I loved the careful details of the Yup'ik culture.  I highly recommend this book, not only to those who enjoy post-apocalyptic stories, but also to those interesting in history and culture.

I have decided to include this as a First Nations Friday post, even though the author is not  a member of the Yup'ik Nation.  This is also the first time that I have stepped outside of Canada.  Prior to reading The Raven's Gift, I hadn't heard of the Yup'ik and knew nothing of Alaska.  It has definitely whet my curiosity.


Alaskan Native Knowledge Network - for further information about the Kuskokwim area.

Additional information concerning the Yup'ik people can be found at Wikipedia.

Author Don Rearden's website.

Thank-you to Penguin Books for my review copy.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Couldn't resist Knitting

Sorry to be late with my post today.  I wanted to finish a project and show it today. 

Welcome to Needlework Tuesday.  You are invited to share your current needlework project.  Leave a comment with your link and I'll add you to this post.  Please visit the sites of the other participants and encourage them in their projects.
Quilter Yumiko Alexander has designed this ruffled scarf.  Visit Yumiko's website, scroll down to the second picture on the left for the link to the pattern download.  I used one 100 gram (3.5 oz) ball of Patons Canadiana  colour Morocco.  It was enough to make two scarves.

This first photo shows the scarf before blocking.
Portion of the scarf blocked.
Modelling the scarf.  The steaming and blocking made for a rather flat scarf.  With the second scarf I am going to try and steam only the centre portion of the scarf in the hopes that it will retain it's ruffle.
This next very vivid green shawl is from a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn.  Sweet Peach Shawl Pattern Number L0366.

I knit it from a thin worsted weight yarn that my sister gave me.  It had no ball band so I can't identify it.  It used less than the whole ball, so 100 grams would be enough.
Both projects to show size.  The ruffle scarf measures about 25 inches in length.  This will be a gift for my niece (her mother gave me the yarn).

What have you been stitching this week or plan to work on in the upcoming week?

Sherrie at Just Books has been at it with her crochet hook again.  She is working on a lovely mauve doily.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Under the Midnight Sun Readathon - Final Update

What a blast.  This was my first readathon and I totally enjoyed myself.  It was a challenge trying to stay awake and read.  I gave into my eyes at around 1:30 am, though was back up shortly after 7 am.  Straight to my book.  I don't often read in the morning, but when I do I find that I am able to concentrate better.  I should make more of a habit of it.

My Results:

Books Read:

Spin by Catherine McKenzie
The Lime Green Secret by Georgia Graham
Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
Splinters by Kevin Sylvester

Book Started:

The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton


1 hour audiobook
13 hours 40ish minutes written
14 hours 40ish minutes

Thanks to John at The Book Mine Set for hosting this madness. 
John is also the host of the 5th Canadian Book Challenge.  The goal is to read 13 books between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.  That's one book for each province and territory.  The only catch is that the books must be written by a Canadian author, or set in Canada.  Use your own discretion.  If you need help finding book titles and authors, there are links on John's site to the past years reading lists.  All are welcome to join in the fun, international readers are encouraged to join.

Splinters by Kevin Sylvester

This is the best hockey book I have ever read.  It is the imaginative re-telling of the story  of Cinderella.

All Cindy Winters wants to do is play ice hockey.  She loves  the game and plays when ever she gets the chance.  Unfortunately her parents have very little money and can't afford to sign her up to play in an organized league.  Cindy has to work hard and save till the day she has enough money.  She doesn't mind that she has to wear her mothers old and very outdated equipment; she just wants to play.

What she hadn't expected were the nasty Blister sisters.  Once they found out what a good player Cindy was, they did everything they could to keep her off the ice.

This all changes, when at a bleak moment, Cindy's Fairy Goaltender magically appears.

I was laughing through this book.  While this will appeal to most all children, any child who is at all even vaguely interesting hockey will love it and want to read it every day, especially during hockey season (which lasts most of the year here in Canada).

This is my 4th book for the Under the Midnight Sun Readathon hosted by John of The Book Mine Set.

Under the Midnight Sun Readathon - update 3 & review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Our 24 hours of Canadian reading is entering it final hours. 

Reading so far:
1 hour audiobook
12 hours written
6 hours sleeping (it's no good reading once my eyes are closed, I miss too much plot).

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Why did I leave this sitting on my shelf unread for so long.  It was enchanting, or rather, it was the characters that were enchanted.  Fairy magic in the form of 'dust' is an every day commodity in Dust City.  It used to be made by real fairies, but they have long since fled and now it is a manufactured product.  Not as good as the original, but still magical and mostly effective.

Henry Whelp has been locked away in juvie for a while now with the other wolves.  Yes, wolves, foxes, goblins and all other sorts of animals have achieved sentience and live along side the hominids.  It's not a perfect relationship between them, but it works for the most part.   When his friend Jack, the guy with the magic beans, shows him some letters from his dad, the big bad wolf who killed the little girl and her grandmother, Henry starts to question many of the so called truths that he's been told.

As I started reading this story, I'll admit that I was a bit confused.  Were there really talking wolves and elves and goblins all living together.  I wasn't too sure about the characters who seemed quite familiar, almost like beings out of the Grimms Brothers' Fairy Tales.  (that was intentional according to author Robert Paul Weston).  By about page 30, my confusion was clearing and total enjoyment setting in.

I had no trouble believing that all these animal like beings were living together and in many cases cross-species friendships had flourished.  Once Henry realized that he didn't have to go through this as a lone wolf and he called on his friends for help, the story really took off.  This is a FUN story made all the more entertaining each time I realized a character was based on a Grimm's character.  This is not a children's book as it included much mayhem and murder, though YA and adults will both find it a gripping read.  Most definitely on my recommend list.

Thank-you to Penguin Books for my review copy.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Lime Green Secret by Georgia Graham

This absolutely adorable children's book tells the story of Gloria and the beautiful dress her mother makes for her when she is chosen to be the flower girl in her sister Fran's wedding.  As a parent, I just knew that there was going to be trouble when the mother stored the dress, white shoes, long white gloves and tiara in Gloria's room.

It doesn't take long before Gloria is wearing the outfit for play.  Disaster strikes quickly in the form of a big lime green stain on the front of the dress.  How will she keep this stain hidden and still wear the dress at the wedding?

This story vividly reminded me of the many times I dressed my children in their finery and admonished them not to get it dirty.  Ha, it never worked for long.  Author Georgia Graham has written a charming story and the chalk pastel pictures are wonderful.  They are colourful and full of rich detail.   Even the inside of the cover paper contains a bonus drawing.

This is my 2nd book for the 5th Canadian Reading Challenge and for the Under the Midnight Sun readathon.