Thursday, 31 May 2012

Trailer - Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston

Having read Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, I was thrilled to learn that Tempestuous, the third book in the series, is soon to be available in paperback.  I read and reviewed Wondrous Strange back in 2008, now why I haven't read the second part, Darklight, is a mystery to me.  Must correct this ovesight.

Check out the trailer for Tempestuous, it will prompt you to move this book to the top of your reading list.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff HIrsch

EBOOK: The Eleventh Plague (Sneak Peek)Much has changed in America in the past two decades.  After a very virulent flu has wiped out two thirds of the population, the survivors are working to establish a new lifestyle.  Some have adopted a nomadic approach where they search for salvage, roaming hundreds to thousands of miles each year.  Others have settled in small enclaves where they barricade themselves from marauders and neighbouring settlements. 

Fifteen year old Stephen Quinn has spent his life on the road.  With his grandfather recently dead and his father seriously injured, he is forced to accept the help of strangers.  They blindfold him and take him to their home.  When he looks at this settlement he feels he has entered a hidden paradise.  A slice of pre-plague America.  For the first time in his life, Stephen sleeps in a bed in a well kept traditional house in a tidy subdivision.

This was a very believable scenario.  There are enough details of the plague to accept that it could have happened, but not so many that the reader will get caught in the details.  It made total sense that the buildings of Settlers Landing could have survived intact, just waiting for it's next residents.

In this post-apocalyptic world, Stephen has to determine why total strangers have invited him to live among them.  Are they truly kind people or do they have some hidden agenda.  The residents of Settlers Landing have a similar problem, can they trust each other, and can they learn to co-operate with the neighbouring settlement for protection against a common enemy.

I found this book a very enjoyable read.  The main characters came to life for me; I felt as though I would recognize them if I were to visit Settlers Landing.  This would be a good selection for your teenage reader.

Visit author Jeff Hirsch's website for information about this debut novel.

Thanks to for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Needlework Tuesday: Mosaic Knittng

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. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.
I'm out of the house all day today, but I still wanted to give you an update of the projects I have been working on this week.

I added a simple border to the mini sampler I showed you last week.  I thought it would be too much to add a three inch border of one fabric, so I split it between two.  I'm very happy with the results.  I have marked it in an overall quilting pattern and am going to use a medium tan for the quilting.  Haven't selected a fabric for the binding, though I am thinking something on the darker side.

I was able to get in some good knitting time.  I have two more motifs to stitch in row 5.  Bought two additional balls of the yarn, though I couldn't find the same dye lot.  I doubt it will be very noticeable since there is so much variation in the strips as it is.  I'll mix them in and not save them as the final two balls, that might be very obvious.

My little Jane Austen quilt is somewhere in the capable hands of Canada Post.  I'll let you know when she makes her next guest appearance.  I must say, I am surprised that I miss having her here.  She provided me a good sounding board for the last two weeks.  Always very supportive.

The weather here in my area  of Ontario, Canada has been record setting hot. Such a foolish time to be sitting knitting with a lap full of afghan.  Oh well, I never did say that I was a brilliant planner.  Anyone else working on an afghan at this time?  I'll love to see pictures.  Leave a link in the comments and I'll come take a look.

Be sure to hop over to Lit and Laundry to view the cutest needlework bunnies.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

Pirates Rock.  I'm thinking of the classic swashbuckling, courteous pirate as portrayed by Johnny Depp.  This book abounds with just such characters as well as an assortment of the less savory type.

The time is 500 years in the future, somewhere off shore of Australia.  Piracy has gained a supremacy upon the sea and lighthouses are once again manned instead of housing an automated light.  When the lighthouse keeper at Crescent Moon Bay dies, his children, Grace and Connor, are left destitute and orphans.  Seeking to evade those do-gooders who want to care for them, they set to sea in their father's small boat.  A storm soon overtakes them and they are dumped in the sea when the boat overturns.

They are both rescued, though by different ships.  Pirate Mistress Cheng Li drags Connor aboard the pirate ship where she is the Deputy Captain.  As a recent graduate of the new Pirate School, she tries to introduce modern methods to the running of the Diablo.  Grace, on the other hand, is carried aboard a mysterious ship cloaked in mists.

As diverse as these ships are, both of the captains adhere to very clear sets of morals. They welcome the twins on to their ships and ensure their safety.  I found myself liking both captains.  Not all the sailors on the ships live by the same code, some of them are clearly much more blood thirsty.    The introduction of a pirate school sets the scene for continuing friction between the leadership on the pirate ship.

Grace and Connor were rescued by very different sailors.  Grace by a low status mid-shipman and Connor by a deputy captain.  Both are vigilant champions of those they have saved.  It will be interesting to see how these relationships develop throughout the next five books in this series.

This is an intriguing new twist on the classic pirate story.  It would be a good choice to read together with your pre-teen.

To learn more about author Justin  Somper and the Vampirates series, visit the dedicated Vampirates website.

Trailer for the Vampirates stage show.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for use of the cover image.

Vampirates Series:

2 Tide of Terror
3 Blood Captain
4 Black Heart
5 Empire of Night
6 Immortal War

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Jane goes Dress Shopping

Over the past two weeks, I have had the most amazing conversations with Jane.  She is a terrific observer of people.  There were many changed she hadn't anticipated, such as indoor plumbing, horseless carriages, and computers, and others that she had hoped for antibiotics, chemotheraphy, and other medical advances.  What she had no idea of, was whether people themselves would change.  No they hadn't.  She was reassured to find that they were still the same types that she had noted over two hundred years ago.  They are selfish, kind, cunning and welcoming.  All those things she had noticed and written about, were still evident. 

Jane very much enjoyed meeting my friends Audrey and her daughter Lily.  She could not have imagined a four year old already able to read.  wow.  Way to go Lily, who picked up the little quilt, looked at it a moment and read off Jane's name as though she had been reading it all her life.

As I noted in a recent post, Jane was pleasently surprised to find that her books were still selling, and were regularly stocked in book stores.  she had never imagined that other authors would be interested in re-working her stories to keep the relevant to differing groups of readers.  One that held her attention was pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.  She was particulary amused by the postcard book adapted from Seth's story.  Jane is determined to read his book, if only to find out how the ninjas fit into the story.  I recently hosted a contest to receive one of the postcards from this book.  The winner is Helen.  I have sent her a message.  Thanks to those who entered.

Knowing that it is almost time for Jane to travel to Halifax, she wanted to shop for a more appropriate dress.  She has been wearing the same clothing for almost 200 years and felt it was time for a wardrobe upgrade.  She was most interested in the new fabrics we are wearing and in a style that would not require layers of petticoats and foundations.  My daughter suggested that I take Jane to Delerium in Waterloo, one of her favourite dress shops.  The staff were most happy to welcome Jane and showed her several styles.  Jane chose this daring sleeveless sundress.  She is still a bit uncomfortable exposing her ankles, but feels that being so cool and comfortable at all times will help her overcome the  sense of impropriaty.
I'll be helping Jane pack today for her trip to Halifax.  It will be first air flight and she is both anxious and excited.  while there, Jane is hoping to meet up with Jane Stickle and view some variations of her famous Dear Jane Quilt.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Needlework Tuesday New Projects

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. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

The beginning of July, my family will be vacationing and I want to take a gift for my friend.  Last year I crocheted an afghan for her daughter and now I want to make one for her.  It was a few month ago when I decided that I wanted to make one using Bernat Mosaic.  I couldn't find more than a single ball in a local store, so I went to Listowel to the outlet store.  According to the pattern for Mitered Motifs Blanket (its the one in the top left, if you want to download the pattern you need a free membership), I would need ten balls.  I selected the colour called Optimistic.  In the first photo are the seven miter knit squares for the first row.

Start of row two. Adding a square to the right of the right of row 1.  Cast on 19 stitches and then pick up twenty stitches.
several rows completed in motif one of row two.
Adding motif two to row two.  Pick up 19 stitches on the left side of motif 1 from row one and then 20 stitches on the right side of motif 2 of row 1.
End of row two.  Pick up 19 stitches on left side of the last block of row 1 and then cast on 20 stitches.

Each block knits up rather quickly and you can get a lot accomplished if you don't do anything else such as cleaning, laundry or feeding your family.  In this photo I have stitched four squares of row four.  There will be fifteen rows in total .  I didn't originally plan the colouring since this is a self stripping yarn.  When I ended a ball, I went and found a ball that started with the colour I was ending in and it kept the established pattern. It looks good that way so I decided to continue with it.  Only problem is that I will need twelve balls and there were only ten in that dye lot.  This is the second time I have stitched an afghan from Bernat, only to find I needed significantly more yarn.  will go back to the outlet this coming weekend and get more, even if the dye lot doesn't match. What can I do at this point.

Since one new project is not enough, what the heck, I should start another.  This one really is not that big a reach.  It is a miniature quilt.  The squares are all in the 3-4 inch range.  Joanne at Thread Head hosted a quilt along for this mini sampler.  It's an eight part series and I have linked to the first.  First thing I did, after deciding that I would use orange fabrics, was to cut each step and put them in individual baggies.  My own little kit.  Then I followed step by step sewing each block.  I really didn't like the job I did with the first block, the flying geese.  I was way off and all my points were too close to the edge and they were too big.  I drew the pattern on paper and stitched them again.

Paper stitched row on the left and traditionally pieced on the right.  I'll use the extra one for a fabric post card one of these days.

Here's the final arrangement of the pieced units.  I photographed it on the cutting board so you can get and idea of how small it really is.  Now I need to select a border fabric and then on to the quilting.  It was a fun project.  Thanks Joanne.

Have you stitched a sampler quilt?  Send a me a link or the photo and I'll add it here.  I love to see how others put together their samplers.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Needlework Tuesday - Jane goes fabric shopping, and learns about decaf

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. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.
I was out and about with my friend Jane, and lost track of the time.  Now that we're home and have had time for tea, I can fill you in on a bit more of our wanderings in the past few days.  After finding out that Jane was a quilter, I had to take her fabric shopping.  We picked up my mom and went to Fabricland to collect the gift certificate that I had won a few weeks earlier.  We had lots of fun selecting an assortment of cottons.  Jane was impressed with the wide assortment of colours and styles that are now available.  She said that in her time she was much more limited in her choices, though she reassured me that she was still able to find some beautiful pieces.

 The second photo shows some of the fabrics that I bought pieces of.  I'll be sharing these with my mother.  No, they won't be going together in the same quilt as they are just so different from each other.

 After our intense shopping it was time for a break.  Mom and I felt it was time to introduce Jane to Tim Horton's.  For those who don't know, Tim's is the most popular coffee shop in Canada with over 3000 locations.  Not sure of her preferences, I suggested that Jane order a coffee and toasted French Toast bagel.  She replied that she doesn't usually drink coffee so late in the afternoon as it keeps her awake for some reason.  I explained to her about caffeine and that it is a stimulant.  When I told her that several processes have been devised to remove the caffeine from coffee and that you can now enjoy the flavour without the late night jitters.  She was overjoyed and changed her order to decaf.

Tim Horton's was so thrilled that Jane Austen visited their restaurant, that they created this special cup for her use.  To personalize your own cup, visit their Facebook site.

Jane just had to model the ruffle scarf that I finished last evening.  It's for a friend who loves the combination of black and white.  I used one ball of Bernat Twist & Twirl knit on 4.5 mm needles.

I have a few more photos of Jane enjoying herself, but it's time to get her ready for travel.  Stay tuned for her thoughts about Quilt Canada.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Jane Austen's Mothering Sunday

Jane had a busy week.  She travelled around with me and found it quite enlightening.  There were so many things she had never imagined would become reality.  Even though she's been in my car on many occasions, it still amazes her how quickly the miles pass.

When I told her we'd be going to London for several days, she was quite excited.  I then explained to her that it wasn't the London she was imagining, rather a new London founded 1826 in the Canadian province of Ontario.  She was eager to see this new city, so off we went.
We spent the evening with my parents and bright early the next morning took them to the London Regional Cancer Centre located at Victoria Hospital.  Jane told me that she had never imagined that medical treatments would advance so quickly.  She had many questions about treatments for plague, the morbid sore throat and also tooth pulling.

She sat with my dad while he explained chemotherapy.  Dad declined to have his photo taken, but Jane felt it was an honour to be able to visit such an esteemed hospital that could treat these illnesses.

My mom (on the right) and her friend Noreen were pleased to visit with Jane. 
Later that evening my mother invited the two of us to attend a meeting of the London Friendship Quilt Guild.  I don't know if Jane was a quilter, but she was interested in learning more about this art.  I lost track of her for a while.  She was making her way around the room chatting with various members.  When I caught up with her, she was talking with fellow author and quilter Barbara Haworth-Attard.  I suspect they were sharing author secrets as they were hugging and laughing when I reached them.  While we were driving back to my mom's after the meeting ended, Jane asked if I would get her a copy of one or two of Barb's books as they sounded very much like works she would enjoy. 

Yes, Jane was a quilter.  She worked on pieces with her sisters and mother.  We checked on the Internet, a marvelous service according to Jane, and found that at least one of their quilts has been preserved at the Chawton House Museum.  You can view and image of the quilt at the website of the Jane Austen Society of Australia.

This is the first time that Jane has enjoyed 'Mother's Day'.  She said that she used to enjoy Mothering Sunday, which is a Christian practice dating from the 16th Century and is celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

Jane had several more adventures while in London which we will share with you in the next few days.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is one young lady that I would enjoy being an acquaintance of.  Not too close a friend though, as she does seem to have the habit of attempting to poison those closest to her.  It is quite surprising the lengths and eleven year old will go to when she has a penchant for retribution.  I wouldn't want to be her sisters Ophelia and Daphne.

The opening of the second installment in the Flavia de Luce Mysteries held me in rapt attention.  I listened and couldn't believe the apparent turn of events in Flavia's life.  Since I was on the highway, I couldn't easily stop and ensure that I was at the start of the story and hadn't somehow set the player to once again to shuffle.  I kept listening and my confusion soon cleared.  Flavia was just being Flavia.  I shouldn't have been concerned.

Rupert Porson and his assistant/companion Nialla have arrived in Bishop's Lacy and their van is in dire need of repair.  The ever helpful vicar suggests that while they are awaiting the garage, perhaps they could be hired to perform a puppet show for the entertainment of those in the village.  Listening to Jayne Entwistle read this book, had me totally convinced that I was truly attending the puppet show of Jack and the Beanstalk.  I felt as though I had been transported in the church hall along with the dozens of other residents.  I was almost sorry when the show was over and the story continued.
Author Alan Bradley has assembled a quirky group of village residents.  Dogger is haunted by events from the war.  Aunt Felicity is not the senile old bitty that I was expecting. Rather she is most perceptive to what really makes Flavia tick.  Mad Meg who lives in the woods shows up whenever she is not expected, but who is she really.  The Undertaker, the vicar and the ladies that run the candy shop and the teas shop with it's feisty samovar could all become favourites with me.  I want to start reading the next book right away to find out if any other characters move to the plot forefront.

I found the first part of this book a bit slow.  I kept waiting for something to happen, but instead we learned more about various characters and how they might be associated with each other.  Once the action started, it didn't stop until the last words were spoken.  I have no doubt that my enjoyment of this book was heightened by Ms. Entwistle's reading abilities.    I listened to the version from Books on Tape.  Unabridged  9 hours, 50 minutes.

Cover Photo courtesy of  author Alan Bradley.

Other books in the series:

1  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
2 The  Weed that Strings the Hangman`s Bag
3  A Red Herring Without Mustard
4  I am Half-Sick of Shadows
5  Speaking fron among the Bones
5.5 The Curious case of the Copper Corpse 
6  The Dead in their Vaulted Arches
7 The Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

The Candian Book Challenge is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set and runs till Canada Day, July 1, 2012.

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt

 At my book club this past weekend, we were discussing The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt.  This classic science fiction/fantasy novel was first published as two short stories in All-Story Weekly and was reworked and published as a complete novel in 1919.

Dr. David Throckmartin is traveling by boat to Melbourne, Australia in search of scientific equipment and men to accompany him on a quest.  During the course of the trip he relates a fantastical story to Dr. Walter Goodwin .  Upon Throckmartin's disappearance from the ship, Goodwin feels compelled to carry out his request, return to Nan-Tauach and find his missing wife and companions.  Goodwin is skeptical that a beam of seven colours of moon light can actually capture a person and transport him or her to a distant location, yet he can't account for Throckmartin's absence from the ship.

Goodwin does purchase the required equipment and on his way to Nan-Tauach (real location is Nan Modal) 'finds' several companions to assist him in his quest.  One of which is a Viking who saw his wife and daughter abducted by the same hoovering moon lights.
The setting for this book is fascinating, both the above ground area of Nan Modal and the mythical underground world.  I am still wondering how such a vast underground tavern would not collapse.

During our book club meeting we discussed several aspects of this story.

Good versus Evil (or light versus dark)  This shows up in sunshine and moon light.  At the time of the novel, the dark is in power, hence the use of the moon light to abduct and control people. 

Love - The good benevolent beings that helped to create this underground world also created a child.  They loved it so much, that even when it started doing bad things, they could not destroy it.  Of course, this bad  being is using the moon for it's powers.

One area of contention is how differently the men and women are portrayed.  The men are all manly men.  They are big, brawny types that will fare well in hand to hand fights.  A Viking, an Irish man. The woman are totally different.  They are either the virtuous virgin, or her exact nasty  opposite, a beautiful woman of the most low of virtue.  How much of this is the author's opinion and how much it is a product of the time in which it is written is unknown to us the modern readers.

On the whole, I found this a worthwhile read.  The wording was awkward and often required me to re-read passages.  When I remembered to use an Irish brogue for Larry's dialogue it read much better.  This is not a book to be rushed through, it is quite wordy with lengthy descriptions everywhere.

Photos were taken at the Rockwood Conservation Area outside of Guelph, Ontario.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Recipe Thursday - Five-Spice Tea Cake

Last year I tried Chinese Five-Spice for the first time and fell in love with the flavour.   It has the sweetness of Cinnamon, the heat of Peppercorns, the aromatics of Anise and Cloves and the stomach soothing of Fennel.  Somewhere I have read that it is supposed to appeal to five different tastes.  You can make your own mixture, but it is much easier to purchase unless you have a spice grinder.

Five Spice Mixture:
2 tbsp anise seed
2 tbsp fennel seed
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cloves
2 tbsp whole peppercorns

Grind to a fine powder, keeps for six months in a closed container.

I had been yearning for a cake that used this spice.  The most promising recipe I found is from The Food Network. 

Five-Spice Tea Cake

1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup cooled, very strong jasmine tea, use 1 bag
1 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 6 cup loaf pan and line it with waxed or parchment paper.
Sift together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, five-spice powder, and ginger.
In a medium bowl, mix the tea and applesauce.
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy.  With the mixer running at medium speed, drizzle in the oil and mix.
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/3 of the tea/applesauce mixture and mix.  Repeat twice more, using up all the ingredients  The batter will be somewhat thin.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until firm to the touch and split on the top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 70 to 90 minutes.  Set the pan on a wire rack and let cool 30 minute, then turn the cake out onto the rack, peel off the paper, and let cool.

For more foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking post.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Jane Austen visits Wordsworth Books and attends Bookcrossing

Jane and I have been having quite the ongoing conversation.  She confided that she had not really thought whether future generations would enjoy her stories.  I tried to re-assure her that they are still widely enjoyed, but she was reluctant to believe me. 

This would require a road trip.   She was quite comfortable riding in my horseless carriage; she did feel that a red car is most bold.  Off we went to Wordsworth Books in Waterloo, Ontario.  The staff was kind enough to show Jane around the store particularly to the shelf where they had displayed all of her books.  Jane was most enamored with the cloth bound volumes and wished that she had a means of taking them with her on her travels.  Perhaps she'll be able to return for a longer visit during the summer.

After leaving the book shop, we continued on our travels to a local Bookcrossing meeting at Nova Era Bakery in Kitchener, Ontario.  Jane hadn't heard of Bookcrossing and was amazed to learn that people would willing give away their precious books.  She was speechless when I told her that the members have registered over thirty thousand copies of her books in many different languages.

After a stroll along King Street, Jane was feeling a bit overwhelmed and asked for an early evening.  I have planned a few other outings for Jane before she travels to Quilt Canada and will be posting about them here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Needlework Tuesday - A little progress is still progress

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. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

Such a busy week it has been.  I don't feel as though I accomplished much.  I worked on several projects and moved each forward a little bit. 

 I did start and finish one complete quiltlet.  Now I need my readers help to complete it's goal.    For details on the project, visit my earlier post about my  Jane Austen traveling quiltlet.  She's all set to go.  She's not very big 9 1/4 inches wide by 11 1/4 inches tall.  She'll fit in an envelope.  She will be traveling to a few outings with me before winging her way to Halifax, Nova Scotia at the end of the month.  She still has time to visit elsewhere if you are interested.  The details of why Jane is traveling are in the post that I mentioned and highlighted above.  And yes, that post tells you how to be entered to win her once her traveling time is complete.

Knitting has been good this week.  I have only three more motifs to complete for my Amalia scarf edging.  Yippee.  I wanted to stay up last night to get them done, but I just couldn't when I knew I had to get up early with daughter.  I'm on the second skein of this wool and still loving both the feel of it and the colour.  Can't wait to get on with the next step.

I am slowly working on my "Faded Charms" quilt.  My choices of quilting patterns are working for me.  They do leave some unquilted areas that are bigger than I like, but they are within the size suggested by the batting company.  I'll take this portion with me to my mom's on Thursday and ask what she thinks.  At the bottom of the right hand side you can just see the stitching lines of the motifs.  I have yet to quilt the left hand.  Those are free paper that I have pressed onto the top.  I then quilt around them.  I stitch slowly and it seems to work quit well.  Yes, I do accidentally stitch threw the paper  at times, and have to be very careful removing it.  Haven't broke any of those stitches yet.  Still trying to decide how to mark the stitching lines on the mauve strips.  For the centre panel I put the top on my light box and traced before layering.  Won't work here since it's all layered now.

I'm looking forward to viewing updates from my needlework blogging friends.  And don't forget to let me know if you would like Jane to come visit with you.

Marie at Daisy's Book Journal has posted about the new Sky Scarf she has started.  This is a very cool project, or rather it will be snuggy warm once completed.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Bride Price by Tracey Jane Jackson - a US Civil War Novel

I have to admit that I am a time travel junkie.  It doesn't seem to matter the genre, location, nor the time period, I love time travel.  Must be that escapist in me.  When I saw this book at OmniLit, I figured it would be an interesting read, and as a bonus, I might learn something about the American Civil War. 

The story starts in modern day Portland, Oregon and moves swiftly to January 31, 1863 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Sophie Ford is bed ridden with serious heart failure and awaiting a transplant.  Somehow, despite her illness, she manages to disappear from her house without a trace, leaving her husband Jamie despondent.

Several lifetimes earlier, Sophie awakens in a snow covered field in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Fortunate for her, she is quickly discovered by Richard Madden and is carried to the house of Doctor Michael Wade.  While she is cared for she comes to realize that she is no longer in  her house and thinks that at first she is at one of the Civil War reenactments that she so enjoys.  It doesn't take her very long to realize that it's not a reenactment, but the real thing.  She has traveled back almost one hundred and fifty years to a time she has studied in minute detail.

I didn't learn a lot about this war but I did learn that no matter how much you think you know about a specific time period, it's the small details that will give you away.  Sophie continued to use phrases and wording that wasn't in use during this point in history.  She knew too much about the goings on of the war effort.  Information was slow to travel during the 1800's, and even slower to the women, yet she was fully informed.  President Lincoln was her favourite person of that time period and she studied him every chance she could.  She realized that she was going to have to work harder to keep her secret.

I was fascinated by the clothing worn by the women of this time period.  I can't imagine needing someone to help me dress each day.  eeks.  All those layers of clothing for modesties sake even on the hottest of summer days.

This is the first part in a series that now includes seven novels.  I found it very interesting that author Tracey Jane Jackson is not American born, she is from New Zealand, though her father was American born.

Thanks to the author for the use of the cover image.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Jane Austen Travels the World - Well, Sorta Travels

One hundred and ninety-five years is an awfully long time for any one person to remain in the same place.  Nothing new to see, nothing new to taste, not even a new book to read.  I can't imagine staying put for more than a few days, I'd be going crazy after a few months.  Jane must be stomping her feet in aggravation while she tries to figure a way out of this predicament.  Well, perhaps I exaggerate just a wee bit.  I don't know for sure that Jane Austen ever stomped her feet in frustration or in any other manner, but I do know that she really hasn't travelled since 1817 when she passed away. 

You might be wondering why I am suggesting that it's time that Jane went travelling.  The good people at Sourcebooks have recently released All Roads Lead to Austen: A yearlong Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith.  While she was travelling, Amy took along with her copies of all six of Jane's books.  She wondered how they would fare during her modern travels.

Sourcebooks wasn't finished at that point, they wanted to see Jane, not just her books, travel.  They have created this cool image of Jane and are asking that their readers and lovers of Jane Austen show her the modern world.  Print out this image and take it with to show her the sites.  Be sure to take a photo and then submit it Sourcebooks to be entered to win some great prizes.  Details of the contest can be found on the special Facebook page.  There are sample photos at Facebook.

This is a cool contest, but I am not walking around with a paper print of Jane and posing it for photos.  I decided to print the image on fabric and work it into a mini quilt.  What the heck, I printed two, one for me to travel with, and one to send off to my readers so that they can assist Jane in her travels and get their own photos for the contest.

This is my mini quilt Travelling Jane.  She measures 9 1/4 inches by 11 1/4 inches.  She has confided that she doesn't mind travelling in an envelope as long as she gets to go on an airplane.   I still have to add the binding, but Jane wants to get moving.

If you would like Jane to come visit you for a few days, leave me a comment.  She is willing to visit with you as long as you take her some where interesting for photos and then send me a digital copy as well as enter yourself and the photos in the Sourcebooks contest.  Then you will need to airmail mail Jane along to the next person somewhere else in the world (probably will be international) who has requested her.  After she has returned to me, I'll randomly put the names of Jane's hosts in  a hat, and select one to have Jane return to live with you.  Hopefully Jane will visit the Sourcebook offices and perhaps Bath or London....

Thanks to Sourcebooks for use of the cover image.

For additional information visit

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dance, Dance, Dance by Haruki Murakami

Dance Dance Dance (unabridged)
Most of the time, when I start to read or to listen to a book, I have a number of expectation of what the story will be about and how it might proceed.  I have learned not to do this with books by Haruki Murakami.  I selected this book based on having enjoyed The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, and decided I would just go with the flow and let the story reveal itself to me as I listened.

That is exactly what happened.  Murakami slowly peeled back the layers of the story exposing characters and twists that I couldn't have anticipated.  The narrator is a 30 something freelance writer.  We find that he is going through the motions of living life; he lives each day, but doesn't really experience any of it. Just a taste here and there just as with the restaurant reviews he write.  He'll order a vast assortment of delectable dishes, but only take a bite from each.  His job is very much like this as well.  He is a free lance writer who accepts pretty well every job that comes his way.  He allows the jobs to direct the course of his life.  The experiences that he tastes are all the result of these random jobs.

A continuing series of dreams about a run down hotel he once stayed in draws him back to Sapporo to the Dolphin Hotel.  The old dump has been replaced by a modern steel and glass construction, though the essence of the old hotel remains.  It is here that the narrator connects with the sheep man, who becomes his guide in moving him along the path to really living, to learning how to dance.

He is further aided along his journey by an unusual assortment of companions.  Thirteen your old Yuki has been abandoned in Sapporo by her photographer mother and needs and escort back to Tokyo.  I've already mentioned the fast talking sheep man.  The one armed poet in Hawaii stops our narrator and sets him to wondering how how much that has changed/affected the poet's life.  Then there is Gotunda, a former classmate of his who keeps popping back into his life via the movies that he has acted in.  I'm still wondering if the narrator has a man-crush on Gotunda.

Rupert Degas was the reader for this story. He does a wonderful job of portraying all the characters.  I particularly liked his voicing of the sheep man with his almost none pause speaking.  When he spoke for Yuki, I was convinced that I was hearing a thirteen year old girl.  Unabridged 12 hours 45 minutes.

Note: Since I listened to the audio book, the mis-spelling of any of the character names is my fault, corrections are appreciated.

Haruki Murakami's website

Read by Rupert Degas

Thanks to Naxos Audio Books for the use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Needlework Tuesday - What's HOT

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. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

What fun it was knitting this ruffled scarf for my daughter.  It worked up very quickly.  Started it on Tuesday and finished on Wednesday.  Daughter has worn it several times since.  I have started a second one using a 'yarn' that varies from a creamy white to black.  Even though it is the same brand it does feel different, not as nice.  I'm sure it will look as good, though I much prefer brights.

This past Saturday, I attended the Creative Festival in Toronto, Ontario.  I have been to this event sporadically since it's inception 24 years ago.  The first show was overwhelming.  This years was a lot of fun, but not so all encompassing.  One thing that has remained the same, is that the food vendors leave lots of room for improvement.  At least they didn't run out of food before lunch time, which happened the first year.

There were two products that stood out this year.  You couldn't walk ten metres without seeing a version of one or the other.  First, ruffle type yarn.  It was every where in more than a few varieties.  It was available in plains, variegated, metallic threads added, tiny pompoms on the edges, and a few others.  I bought the following one for daughter as she had specifically asked for 'pink'.  You will never mistake this for anything other than pink.  I did purchase three others, though they were inadvertantly left in my sister's bag.  She was not in the least interested in these scarves, but she left the show will four different balls of this yarn.  Addictive.

The second item that was found at almost every quilting booth, was the `"Lil' Twister" pattern and template.  I have used this technique years ago, though there was no template available at that time.  You had to draw a plastic template and trace around it one your base fabrics then hand cut the newly formed squares. 

I was unable to locate that project and the photo of it has disappeared into some virtual world, arg.  I have plans for lots of playing with this template.  I'll be sure to take photos to share.

I have started on a new mystery project.  It's not a mystery to me, but to you.  All I'll tell you is that it involved Jane Austen, or well, an image of Jane.  I should have it completed by Thursday and will share it with you then.  Be sure to drop back for a visit on Thursday and possibly Jane will be coming to visit at your house/quilt studio.

You should pop on over to Lit and Laundry and check out the cute Easter Bunny.  I bought a ball of tangerine colour yarn and am looking for a cuddly to knit or crochet.  Also posted is a photo of a wonderful forest cross stitch.

Sherrie at Just Books has been crocheting up a storm.  Several of her projects are posted.
Were you stitching this week?  I am curious if you have knit any of these ruffle scarves?  If you have photos on your blog, you are invited to leave a link in the comments, or send a copy of the photo to my email  heatherdpear at hotmail dot com and I'll be happy to add them to the post.