Wednesday, 27 May 2015

What in God's Name by Simon Rich

If you enjoy a book that makes you laugh, then What in God's Name  by Simon Rich should be at the top of your reading list.  This is good clean humour that is not offencive to any race, religion nor gender.

Craig has been working in the Miracle Department for some time.  When his computer beeps to alert him to a Potential Miracle, he swings into action trying to make one happen.  He tweaks a little here and a little there and if all goes well, a miracle occurs and he is thrilled.  Not all angels are feeling the same; they are left wondering whether these miracles really make a difference to those on earth.

 The CEO of Heaven Inc. is feeling burned out and ready for a change.  Did I mention that the CEO is God.  Overseeing the daily operation of earth is a massive job and it's just not as diverting to him as it's been in the past. He's considering opening an Asian Fusion restaurant.

Miracles, prayers, romance and spoiled curry are all wrapped together in this unfolding story.  I could not put this down.  I picked it up late at night and thought I'd read a chapter, before I knew it I was almost finished part one.  This is high on my list to recommend if you are looking for a fun read , no lectures, no lessons to be learned, just a let loose humorous read.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Needlework Tuesday - Small Projects

 As happens too often, I have collected a bunch of patterns for small projects.  These tend to get pushed to the back when a newer pattern comes along.  I didn't want that to happen this time, so I jumped right into them. First a small tote bag.  The Reversible Box Tote by Very Shannon.    I have several metres of  this blue and white stripe fabric that I felt would work nicely.  I cut the outer pieces with the stripes vertical and the lining with them horizontal.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
 The pattern is for a reversible bag, which I didn't feel was needed.  I changed up the instructions to simplify. I cut the handle 1/2 inch longer than the pattern.  I sewed the outer pieces together along the side seams and then did the same for the lining.  Next pinned the right sides together and then sewed along the curved seams leaving open at the top of the handles and the bottom.
 Turn right side out and press. Top stitch along the curve and baste the outer and lining together along the bottom, leaving the bottom open.

I didn't use any batting or interfacing, instead I top stitched along ever other white row. This served to stiffen the bag a bit without a lot of bulk.

I used a flat fell seam for the handle and double stitched the bottom seam and then over cast it.  Then boxed the corners as in the instructions.  I didn't add the pockets.  The bag is smaller than I thought it would be, but it should be perfect for carrying smaller knitting projects.
 Next up, a small quilting project.  My quilt guild will be having their annual potluck in a few weeks.  For the past few years we have dressed up with fancy hats.  This year for dress up, they asked that we wear aprons.  What, aprons for dress up, you have to be kidding me.  Wear a symbol of female oppression for fancy dress, not a chance.  What to do???   The answer fell into my inbox.  The Fat Quarter Shop is hosting the free Snapshots Quilt along.  This month's block is an apron block.  I can do that.   I cut out all the pieces and clearly labelled them.

Lots of pieces, but not an outrageous number.  I took my time so I didn't make too many errors, only had to trim   one piece and re-cut another.  Have to remember to line up the fabric correctly when cutting two layers.

 The top/bib of the apron when together nicely  as did the bottom.
The block finishes at 12 x 16 inches.  I'll be layering this up and making it into a wall hanging for my kitchen.  It will also attend my potluck in place of me wearing an apron. 

To the women reading this post, would you wear an apron to a celebratory event?  I don't wear one at home when cooking, I tuck a tea towel in the neck of my shirt and call it good enough, so why in the world would I wear one out of the house?

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is the fictional account of two young women who meet during World War Two in England.  One longs to use her pilot skills to aid the war effort and the other, she can imagine other ways to put her language skills to use,  As the war continues, their friendship deepens and their involvement moves to new levels not typical of women at that time period.

This is a well crafted story, first told from the point of view of Verity and then later from that of Maddie.   Unfortunately, this story didn't capture my interest nor imagination.  Code Name Verity is part of author Elizabeth Weir's Young Pilot Series.  For those with an interest in flying, they will find this book very attractive.  There is a wealth of knowledge about WWII era planes and their role in the war effort.

If I had been reading a paper version, I doubt I'd have made it past the first few chapters.  I listened to the audio from Bolinda Audio. It was a free download   from SYNC, a summer audio book program aimed at  YA readers.  The program continues this summer with 28 additional titles.  I wrote about it in an earlier post.  Readers for this book are Marven Christie and Lucy Gaskell.  They did a excellent job and kept my attention with their voice characterisation of the men and women as well as the French and German accents.

Thanks to Bolinda Audio for being part of the SYNC program and for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Needlework Tuesday - A block for the President

 For the past few years, the members of my local quilt guild have made blocks for our outgoing president.  She is always given an opportunity to let us know what type of block she would like to receive.  This year she left it wide open telling us she wanted the blocks made with batiks fabrics.   I selected this block, Virginia Star, from my EQ 7 software and sized it to 8inch finished.  It's an easy to make block as long as you take your time and press at each step.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

I didn't get as much stitching done last week as I wanted to.  As an occasional job, my husband is a pyrotechnician ( he does fire works shows).  This past week we celebrated Victoria Day.  He worked the show at the local park as well, he wanted to do his own, private show.  Fortunately a friend has a suitable rural property and she hosted it there.  It was the best ever backyard fireworks show.  It was exactly what you would find at a local park or community event, but it was private.  Hubby, brother-in-law and two nephews did a fantastic job.  I did take some videos and plan to post them later this week once I figure out how to add music.

 My one block wonder is moving along nicely.  I am so close to having all the rows assembled. Little happy dance happening here.
Since son was home for the past few days, I thought it was a good time to start on the second baby afghan that I am making for his friends.  He approved of the colours of this one as well..

For those not familiar with my son, he is a fitness and body builder photographer.  To view some of his amazing photographs, visit his page AGP Fitness Imaging

Thanks for taking the time to visit with me today.  The weather has been great here and I have been spending hours each day outside (still trying to dig out those dandelions).

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post, and for a nod to my son, a post about your workout.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill

If I am ever murdered and I get to choose the pathologist to perform my autopsy, I want it to be Dr. Siri Paiboun, the main character in The Coroner's Lunch.

Author Colin Cotterill has created a good man living in difficult times.  The year is 1975 and Laos is now communist run.  Paiboun, even though he is 72 and looking forward to retirement, is appointed as National Coroner. He has no budget, limited supplies and must report to an in-experienced judge who wants all results to follow the needs of the party.  In his favour, Nurse Dtui is an eager assistant and Mr. Geung, while living with Downs Syndrome, functions as far more than an orderly.

Early in his tenure as coroner, the results of several autopsies don't add up to the neat and tidy results the court wants.  Siri realises he has to dig deeper even if it gets him into trouble.  The spirits of the dead have come to him and pressed him to find the truth.  He can't deny them.

I liked Dr. Siri right from the opening pages. He exemplifies many of the characteristics that I believe in.  Truth, doing a job to the best of your abilities, making the best of a difficult situation are just a few.  Perhaps it is his curiosity and questioning nature that make him so real.

The story also has a set of characters that I want to meet again. The nurse and orderly assigned to the morgue add greatly to the story.  At first they seem unlikely aides, but as we get to know them, their dedication to Siri and the job become obvious.  Police Officer Phosy is Siri's police liaison.  He's a bit of a mystery, but seems to be united with Siri in finding the truth.

I learned quite a bit about the geography and culture of Laos.  It's a country I have no experience with and felt that Mr. Cotterill did a great job of bringing it to life for me.  I am looking forward to reading more about Dr. Siri and his investigations.

I listened to the audio book  from Oakhill Publishing.  Read by Gareth Armstrong. 8 hours 8 mins .

Dr. Siri Paiboun Series
  1. The Coroner's Lunch
  2. Thirty-three Teeth
  3. Disco for the Departed
  4. Anarchy and Old Dogs
  5. Curse of the Pogo Stick
  6. The Merry Misogynist
  7. Love Songs from a Shallow Grave
  8. Slash and Burn
  9. The Woman Who Wouldn't Die
Cover image courtesy Oakhill Publishing.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

SYNC - Young Adult Lit for Your Earbuds - Week 2

SYNC has another awesome summer of audio books lined up for this summer.  Each week sees a classic paired with a modern novel.  Many are unabridged, some are full cast readings, and each is a terrific listening opportunity. 

I have participated in this program for several years and have enjoyed the books I've listened to so far.  Some I have listened to multiple times.

You can return here each Thursday for a link to that week's books, or you can visit SYNC at this link and sign up for a message directly in your inbox.   Be sure to download the audio books right away as they are only available for one week, Thursday to the next Wednesday.

Please note: some books may have limited availability and not be available in your country.

This weeks pairings:

 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
 Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Shopping for the Billionaire by Julia Kent

This is a delightful, romantic story collection.  From the minute mystery shopper Shannon Jacoby meets billionaire Declan McCormick while her hand is in the toilet in a men's room, I was drawn into their lives.  As soon as I finished the free version of part I, I promptly purchased the five part collection.  I needed to read more of their story right away.

Shannon works for a company that provides mystery shopper services to a wide variety of companies.  Much of her work is managing shoppers from her office, though she does 'shop' for a number of their top clients.  She is a unique character and sees the world from a different perspective than most leading women.  She experiences the best and worst of a wide cross section of the population yet still maintains her cheerful outlook.  This had me liking her right from the beginning.

I was a bit slower for me to adore Declan, but as he shed his professional persona, I could see the trustworthy and loving man hiding beneath.  Finally, there is Shannon's mother.  She is a firecracker.  Each time she entered a scene, I had no idea what to expect from her other than it might blow up the situation.  She is energetic and funny as can be.  A great addition to the story line.

I could have rushed through this story, but I decided to take my time and let it develop over the course of a week or so.  I wanted to savour their building relationship.  There is a sixth book in the Shopper series by Julia Kent, Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiance,  that I'll be ordering soon.

Thanks to for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Needlework Tuesday - Using Materials in Unusual Ways

 On Sunday, we celebrated Mother's Day.  Instead of taking my mom out to dinner, I decided we'd eat at her house.  I make several salads and some desserts, and asked my son to pick up some cooked chicken.  We had a lovely time, then we packed up everything and drove across town to my sister's house.  She had to work that day, so she appreciated that we brought dinner with us.  Then we all had dessert together.

My mother gave me a surprise gift that one of her friends made for me.  Using an assortment of threads, she crocheted this dish cloth.  What makes it unique, is that she used one strand of thicker cotton and combined it with several strands of sewing thread.   A very imaginative way of using up threads that are a colour you generally don't sew with.

This has me wondering what other materials I have been using in different ways.  Nothing is really coming to mind at this moment, but I'm sure that given a bit of time, I'll come up with some good ones.  Perhaps you have some projects that fit into this category, I'll love to hear about them.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

I have been trying to work on my One Patch Wonder for a bit each day.  Each day might be a bit optimistic, but I am trying.  As i finish a block I put it back in it's correct spot.  Some are even sewn to their neighbours.  I'll post it again when more visible progress has been made.

My yard is calling to me.  It is covered in those 'yellow' flowers and our jurisdiction doesn't allow the use of pesticides any longer.  We tried using Weed Be Gone, but it only seems to have resulted in a great flourish of yellow.  It's back to hand digging.  Yard work and needlework doesn't work together in my mind.  Using thick leather gardening gloves does help keep the fingers clean, though every now and then I do forget and end up with grubby hands that are hard to scrub clean.  I worry about the dirt transferring to my projects.  Oh well, I suppose the fresh air can't hurt, except for the maybe the pollen tsunami that the  media says is heading our way.

Mister Linky is waiting below for  a link to your needlework post.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Along Came a Spider by James Patterson

This is a cunningly crafted story that kept me listening long after I  should have moved on to other tasks.  Along Came A Spider is the book that launched the highly successful Alex Cross series, which now spans more than 20 novels.

We first meet Detective Alex Cross when he is investigating a brutal murder of a family of three in Washington, D.C.  He is soon called away to deal with a high profile abduction of two nine year olds from their private school by one of their teachers.  The teacher, Gary Soneji, turns out to be one of the most loathsome characters I have encountered in a book.

This abridged version was read by Alton Fitzgerald White and Michael Compstey (cover shown is from the unabridged version).  The reader for Gary was so effective, then when I heard his voice, I actually cringed.

Author James Patterson has created in Alex Cross, a man I could respect.  He is thoughtful, considerate and of course, highly intelligent.  He is a trained psychologist who has seen some of the worst that man can perpetrate against each other, yet he hasn't lost his compassion for those he encounters in his work and for his own family.  I look forward to reading further books in this series.

If you like characters such as Gary Soneji, you might enjoy the Color of Evil Series by author Connie C. Wilson. 

Also reviewed by:

Sherrie at Food for Thought

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

Saturday, 9 May 2015


While on my daily walk on Thursday, I spied this lovely cluster of daffodils.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I was disappointed in this novel.  From the advertising and write ups I had read, I was expecting a post-apocalyptic story. What it turned out to be was a biography of a fictional actor who was possibly the last celebrity to die before the onslaught of a virulent pandemic.

The opening chapter was most appealing and had me eagerly reading.  A paramedic in training was attending a theatrical performance when he noticed that the lead actor was suffering  a medical crisis.  His attempt to resuscitate him was unsuccessful.  Shortly after he left the theatre, a former colleague called him and told him of an extremely aggressive flu  at the local hospital.  He warned him to prepare for the possible crisis.  And then we don't hear from this character for twenty years.

What followed was a disjointed series of stories about Arthur's past interspersed with glimpses of the daily life of a band of actors and musicians as they travel from one settlement to the next.

In the end, the stories did come together, but it wasn't enough to overcome the confusion that I felt for the preceding three hundred pages.

This book has been selected as the One Book One Community Read for Waterloo Region where I live.

Author Emily St. John Mandel will visit Waterloo Region during September 2015 for a series of speaking engagements.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Needlework Tuesday - My first poncho

 Yesterday I was doing a little happy dance.  I finished my first poncho.  While I was stitching, I was a bit concerned that with it being so 'holey', it be decorative. Surprisingly, it is quite warm. A double bonus, great looking and warm.   I still have to add buttons at the shoulders.  Am thinking about some pretty mother of pearl ones, though it will depend what I can find locally.

Information about the pattern and yarn can be found in post from last week.

 Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
 I have been looking for a scrappy project to work on this year.  Something easy but also pretty.  While browsing at Craftsy, I found the Inverted Star Tutorial.  This free pattern makes a twelve inch block.  The block is shown with white in the middle, where I have chosen to use a pastel.  I'm still deciding whether I want to make more of these or search for a different block.  The block and tutorial are by Jessscia Boschen.
 Afghan Sophie's Universe is coming along.  I am almost finished round 41.    I am very pleased with how this project is coming along.  the instructions that the designer, Dedri, has posted are so clear and well illustrated.  It may look complicated, though each row/round is quite doable.  If you question whether you can accomplish this project, why not try the centre section and make a pretty table mat.
Not to distract myself from Sophie, I purchased the yarn this morning for the second baby star afghan. Yes, the solids are the same as in Sophie.  In case you can't tell, I really like teal.

I'm thinking I might like to make another poncho.  Have you made one, do you have a photo and or a link to a pattern.  Leave a comment or link up with Mister Linky who is waiting below.