Thursday, 29 October 2015

Needlework Tuesday - Better late than never

 Not sure what really happened to me this week, but Tuesday's post really got away from me.  In the mean time, I have been stitching away.  Several projects have seen notable progress.

I added the next two borders on the scrappy one and am piecing the next.   I like what's happening with the colours. Nothing I would have planned.  I do enjoy working from the centre out and going with whatever happens. Yes, there is a little anxiety not knowing how the end will look, but it has always been worth it in the past and I have no doubt that this one will be the same.

 I know have completed four of the five blocks for this project.  I received the block kits for free during a shop hop this summer.  The instructions have been good for all the blocks, but I am left shaking my head at the quality of some of the fabrics that were given out.  Shop owners voluntarily join the hop and it is a good way for them to get shoppers into their store.  In my thought, the fabric that they give away should be of a quality that reflects what they sell in their store.

One white fabric I threw away as it appeared to be a poly/cotton. As I spritzed a blue fabric with water, it shrunk before my eyes on the ironing board, that was just water. It lost 3/8 of an inch from a 5 inch piece.   If these two fabrics are representative to what these shops carry, then I will rarely return there to shop again.

Now before anyone jumps on my back and says I am being unfair, imagine you are at a bakery and they offered a free sample of their cake.  You bite into the cake and it's raw/burnt/stale.  Would you be eager to shop there in the future?  Same goes for the quilt shop. Don't give out bad samples. (note that I made a purchase at each shop where I received a free kit).

I am still working away on these small churn dash blocks. Quite a stack of them cut and waiting to be sewn.  There is light at the end of this tunnel, then I will be working on the setting. I expect that will move along quickly.

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.

 Thanks for the comments last week about making a t-shirt quilt.  I will be sharing them with my mom.   It will be a new experience for both of us and I'm sure her friend will appreciate our efforts.

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

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Shadows of Yesterday: Ravenhurst #2 by Lorraine Beaumont

Katherine is no closer to understanding the mysteries of Ravenhurst nor in resolving her feelings for it's owner, the enigmatic Sebastian de Winter.  This story picks up where book 1, Forgotten Time, leaves off.

The butler, Milford, remained close lipped about the events that brought Katherine to this house and time period, but he is buried in it over his head.  Seems there are far more secrets than even those he is privy to. 

It was a bit frustrating watching Katherine and Sebastian skirt around their feelings for each other instead of opening up to the truth.  Yes, it does make for good suspense writing, but the reader knows where their romance has to go, but are forced to wait for them to catch up.

I like the setting for this book.  A fairly isolated Gothic mansion during a raging winter storm.  The staff have all be sent home to care for their families leaving only the immediate family in residence.  The perfect location for creepy things to start happening. 

This was a suspenseful and entertaining read.

Do not read this as a stand alone, you need to read Forgotten Time first or you'll be totally lost.

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

Saturday, 24 October 2015

1/2986: Mickaela Capra Series Book 1 by A. Wendeberg

Micka doesn't fit into her community. She asks questions that her teachers rarely answer.  Her family is cold and indifferent to her yet are dis-appointed in her lack of achievement.  When the opportunity arise to leave town, she practically jumps at it. 

This is a post-apocalyptic novel that is set in the lowlands of the Alpine region of Europe.  Micka's teachers have taught her that the majority of the earth's population have died from rampant cholera and tuberculosis. Turns out that there is much more that they didn't teach.  What has she and the others in her community been sheltered from and why.

While most people are determined to re-populate the planet, the BSA, Brothers and Sisters of the Apocalypse who Micka hasn't even heard of, appear to have very different objectives.  Most young women readily get pregnant, but Micka has other plans.

In 1/2986 we are introduced to two interesting and different characters.  Micka is a step away from ending her life, and now she is faced with monumental changes and opportunities.  Can it possibly get worse than the end that she was already planning.  Her teacher/mentor Runner is full of suprises and a seemingly vast knowledge of what her teachers never voiced.

Author Annelie Wendeberg is slowly revealing this post-apocalyptic world.  It is not totally un-expected that some regions would have access to technology and knowledge that other more isolated communities don't.  I am undecided whether the highest tech would still be operational ofter all these decades since the fall.

The abrupt end of the story leaves me wanting to learn more about Micka's apprenticeship and the fate of the world.

1/2986 is currently available free from some online retailers.

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

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Slade House by David Mitchell

This is the best unsettling novel that I have read in several years.  The entire time, I had that queasy feeling, that I just couldn't get comfortable.  Then again, the guests/visitors to Slade House weren't quite comfortable either.  They might have been when they first squeezed through that small wrought iron gate, but eventually they realised that not all was as it should be within that house.

Slade House, and the narrow Slade Alley are enigmas to those who've heard about about and tried to visit  uninvited.  Even the police find no clues to those missing persons with links to the house. How can this be.  Things are not adding up.  What is a ritzy house belonging to Lady Grayer doing in a low rent neighborhood.

Author David Mitchell  has woven a tale that is captivating and chilling at the same time.  He has created several likable characters that I was starting to care for, and then, wham, their time in the story ends. I didn't even have time to mourn for them and he'd be on to the next plot line. This created a careful balance of anticipation, frustration and unease.  I'd put the book down to regain my equilibrium, and then almost instantly I'd pick it up again and continue reading.  I had to know what would happen next.

A very enjoyable though creepy read.

Thanks to author David Mitchell and NetGalley for my review copy and for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Needlework Tuesday - T-Shirt Quilt

 I am back from my trip,  though i did plan this post ahead of time.

This is the quilt that was given away after the Laurier Loop race during the Wilfrid Laurier University  Homecoming weekend.  It is made with t-shirts from a variety of races organized by Run Waterloo.  The border colours are that of the university.

I can't take credit for making it.  There is a lovely lady in Elmira, Ontario who makes all the race quilts.  Most of the races offer a quilt prize which is usually given by a random drawing.

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.

My mom will soon be making a t-shirt quilt for a friend. Since neither of us have any experience making one, i am turning to my readers for any suggestions.  Please leave a comment or a link to  post showing a t-shirt quilt that you own or have made.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North aka Catherine Webb

With every death, Harry August is born back into his life to once again live it over from the beginning. . He is born with the memories intact from his previous lives.  Talk about confusing for a young person.  In time, he becomes aware that there are others like him and that they form the membership of the Cronus Club.  These members seek each others company and seek to aid those in their  second and subsequent lives.  Sort of like a self help group for those with the same rebirth affliction.

Living like this would have it's challenges and rewards.  The boredom of repeating school versus the knowledge to bid successfully in sports pools or the stock market.  At first, I  found the story line somewhat confusing, rather the same as Harry did in the youth of his second life.  The concept of the relived life became easier to accept the more I read of Harry's re-iterations.

I enjoyed watching him explore his realities.  After a while, I ceased denying this possibility and began to embrace the opportunities open to him and could even have envied him.

There were several sections that I reread a few times to ensure my understanding.  I didn't want to risk missing any important clues.  There aren't that many books that make me want to reread sections and enjoy doing it.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that kept me reading at all hours.  I am left imagining the possibilities of such an existence.

Claire North is a pen name for author Catherine Webb.  She also writes as Kate Griffin.

Claire's newest book Touch, is now out in paperback.  Follow this link to read an excerpt.

Thanks to Hachette Books for use of the cover image.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich

This is the moving story of several Italian families from Fiume, a port city in the north east of Italy.  Set during World War Two, one of the fathers, Ettore Saforo, had been forced to work for the occupying Germans, as were many people  at that time.  The city had been bombed numerous times and was devastated, both physically and morally. His family was left homeless while he tried to evade arrest by the invading Yugoslavian army.

This was the plight of hundreds of thousands of families across Europe.  Many had no where to return home to after the fighting ended.  Jobs were few, which meant families couldn't be supported. Author Michelle Saftich explores what these people did have left.  They had family and friends to support each other and to rebuild their sense of community.  From that came hope of what they could accomplish with each other and with physical and mental effort.

The Port of No Return brought another human component to a long ago war.  I'd heard about the blitz of England and the concentration camps, but almost nothing about the other involved countries.  I knew that my grandfather and his regiment had served for some time in Italy.  All he told me about was that as he and his fellow soldiers had walked through the streets, the Italian women would rush out of doors,  were so happy to see them that they offered them whatever fresh fruit they were fortunate enough to have. 

This is also a very timely book.  As I sat wondering about these Italian families and their quest to immigrate to a welcoming country, my thoughts turned to the million plus refugees who are now flooding into Europe.  Where there was despair decades ago, there is now hope and and the prospect of a new and safer future.  Michelle, helped to bring every day Italy and Europe to life for me.  In my mind it had been a tourist destination, not one in which everyday people lived and loved.   Now I can imagine the farmers, the firemen, the students and all those people needed for a community, a country, to thrive.  The fictional characters of this book became real to me and I wept for their loses but also for their strength and perserverance.

 Port of No Return is an excellent debut novel and I am looking forward to future works by Michelle Saftich.

To learn more about Michelle Saftich be sure to visit Italy Book Tours for other stops on this launch tour.

Complete the Rafflecopter for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of  Port of No Return and 1  $30. Amazon gift card. Open Internationally

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Thanks to author Michelle Saftich and Italy book Tours for my review copy.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Needlework Tuesday - Great idea for a hostess gift

I'm away this week and wanted to leave a short post.
I made two of these pillowcases as a thank-you to my aunt and uncle for hosting me during my visit to them this week.  My aunt likes elephants and I recalled that I had purchased this fabric years ago to make her something, but it got shuffled to the bottom of the stack and forgotten.

I cut the fabric to ensure that the elephants were marching across the bed once on the pillows.  I have no doubt that she'll like them.

There are many posts on the net with instructions on how to sew pillow cases. Some even have pieced bands along the outside edge.  They are a great idea for a last minute gift.  Make one in a solid fabric and have guests at a children's party sign with permanent marker. (remember to put paper between the layers).  Send one to school with your college student to be signed by dorm mates.  So many uses.

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.

Do you have a last minute gift that you turn to time an again. I'd love to hear about it.  Leave a comment or better yet, link up below with Mister Linky to your post about that project.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

Diane Cardiel has agoraphobia, and hasn't been outside in years.  She is subject to panic attacks and sees everything as dangerous.  She has passed these fears along to her son Will who has also remained indoors for the past eight years.  He decided for himself that it was easier to go along with staying inside than to go out and upset his mother.

Now that he's twelve, he decides to go outside and investigate a bang/explosion at the front of his house.  This leads to a meeting with a boy, Marcus, about the same age as himself, followed by a rash of excursions outside.  After a short time, Will determines that it's time for him to attend school where he makes a friend, Josuah and he continues to inquire about the now missing Marcus. 

This has lead him to question all that his mother has told him.  Since he's spent all his time alone or with his mother, he hasn't formed relationships with any others and has to figure out this new world by himself.  To complicate matters, he also has to figure out the girl thing.  Will has no idea who to trust and what to expect from the outside world.  He doesn't know what is reasonable to try and what is too risky.  Things that would normally be learned over years of trial and error, he has to learn in a crash course before he gets himself in too deeply or dangerously.

Throughout the book, I was nagged by the question of the transfer of the mother's mental health issues being transferred or impressed up the child. How does one deal with such a situation.  I was rooting for Diane, I was eager to learn whether the impact of Will's ventures outside would have an impact on her.

The story is told from both their perspectives which I felt was a good approach.  This is a situation that affects both of them, though in very different ways.  It wasn't touched on much, but it was interesting to see how the outside responded to Diane's situation.

I really enjoyed this story and look forward to more novels by debut author Michael Christie.

If you enjoyed Room by Emma Donoghue you'll probably enjoy If I Fall, If I Die.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada

Friday, 9 October 2015

First Nations Friday - Stone Song: A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse by Win Blevins

In Stone Song, author Win Blevins tells a fictionalised story of the Lakota warrior His Crazy Horse. While the events, locations and most of the people involved are based in fact, the thoughts of Crazy Horse are as imagined by the author.  To bring this warrior to life, Mr. Blevins carried out extensive research into the beliefs and practices of the Lakota people.

His Crazy Horse is thought to have been born in the winter of 1840-41 and died September 5, 1877 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.  There are no known photographs of him.

By all accounts he was a skilled warrior and brought much honour to his family and people.  At the same time, he was a private and a humble man.  He was not known to wear the marks to show his battle accomplishments. 

This is a long book full of descriptions of the lands and the people.  Much time is spent exploring the beliefs and practises of the Lakota.  These lengthy descriptions served to introduce me to the mind set of these people, which is much different from that of white people who were the newcomers to the Americas at that time.  It was interesting to learn of the many challenges facing the tribes at that time.  The white soldiers were ever pushing the Lakota from their traditional lands.  Yes, they were invited to live on agencies, camps controlled by the military, and become dependent on the skimpy generosity of the government, but that would be merely a shadow of their former lives.

By the end of this book, Mr. Blevins had succeeded in bringing life to the legend of His Crazy Horse.  While I can't really identify with him as a warrior, I can see him as a man who only wanted to be allowed to live his life as his spirits directed and to provide for his family.  His Crazy Horse left this world long ago, but he is is still remembered and the stories of American Indians are still unfolding to this day.

Thank you to author Win Blevins and NetGalley for my review copy.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Food for your Eyes

Since I am busy packing today, I thought I'd leave a bit of a visual feast for you to enjoy.

Almost every day I go walking.  It usually in my small community but i can still be surprised by the ever changing views.  Here are a few I have caught recently.

This was the most gorgeous sunset. 
I don't know what this grass is, but it is lovely

It was a perfect evening when I caught these two not far overhead.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Needlework Tuesday - When you walk into a quilt shop with a folded quilt...

Did you realise, that when you walk into a quilt shop with a folded quilt or quilt top in your arm, you have to show it to anyone in the shop who asks to see it.  This also applies to knitting and other needlework shops.

This happened to me on the weekend when I was selecting fabric for a border in my scrappy quilt.  I had a drab green in hand when another browser said "oh, is that a quilt? If you bring a quilt into a shop you have to show it."

Needless to say, a quilty conversation ensued.  Instead of buying the green, I selected an awesome deep red and orange for a narrow border, and a cheddar for a wider border.  Thank-you to that unknown quilter who has an excellent eye for colour and the imagination to go with it.  One border added, cheddar up next.

It is still surprising to me how we can bond over our needlework.  Each working our own projects, but still there is a common goal that reaches across our differences.  This is what has happened with my blogging, repeated comments from a stranger  and over time I begin to refer to that person as my online friend, and then friend.  I would never have imagined the power that the wired world would play in my life.  Next time you are in the shop and another person has a project over their arm or in a bag, politely ask to see it, you never know, you might be striking up a conversation with your next new friend.

Mister Linky is waiting below for my friends (new and existing alike) to add links to their current needlework post.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Keeper of Lost Causes: Department Q #1 by Jussi Adler-Olsen trans. Lisa Hartford

Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Morch has seen a lot in his 25 years on the job. Upon returning to work after a deadly shooting that left one of his partners dead and another paralysed, Carl is promoted to head of the newly created Department Q which has the objective of solving Copenhagen's cold cases.

The first case he examines is that of Merete Lynggaard, a politician who disappeared without a clue five years earlier.  With the help of his assist Assad, Carl dives in to the case and finds more than a few loose ends.

Carl is a top notch detective but he is tired and worn down.  Sitting at his desk with his feet up and newspaper is not a bad way to spend his day at the office.   His assistant Assad has different ideas.  He wants to get to the cases and prods Carl along. 

As the case proceeds, we learn that Carl  is a stickler for following up every single possible lead even when he figures they won't lead anywhere.  This is the type of dogged determination that I want to see in my fictional detectives.

Carl's story follows the day after day investigation while Merete's story runs along side, starting on a path more than five years ago and progressing quickly to converge with  Carl's present day.

I found both Carl and Assad to be very likable characters.  Carl's life is far from perfect.  This makes him human, he is disgruntled with being shuffled to the basement, but once he starts an investigation he has to carry it through to it's conclusion.  He can't skip steps or overlook leads to create an expedient end.  Assad is a willing assistant.  He want to learn and be helpful, at times pulling Carl along with him.  He undoubtedly has many secrets in his past.  I want to see both of these men again in future cases.  Likewise, I grew to care for Merete, and wanted to see justice for her.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the Department Q series.  I was enjoying this book so much, that I ordered a paper copy for my husband.  (this book was also published under the title Mercy in some countries)

I listened to thePenguin audio book as read by  Erik Davis.  15 hours 37 minutes unabridged

Erik Davis did an excellent job as reader. He brought these characters to life and his use of accents and Danish pronunciation kept this book in place.

website for author Jussi Adler-Olsen
Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for use of the cover image.