Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Needlework Tuesday - I just had to buy that yarn

I missed you all last week. Between my full week of volunteering (50+ hours) and four shifts at work, I was exhausted and couldn't put two words together for a post.  Happily, I'm back today with a few updates and a shared compulsion.

The hot mat I was working on is finished.  I really like how it turned out.  It is thick and will cushion what ever dish it holds quite well.  It's pretty as a bonus.  The only thing it lacks is a punch of colour.
That was easily changed with a round of Reverse Single Crochet, or Crab Stitch.  It added the bit of colour that was needed.

I did manage a bit of knitting time, but not while volunteering.  I did take my knitting with me several days, but there was no significant down time for stitching. Usually there was only 5 minutes here and there, and since I was working with food, it would require hand washing in bleach water, which didn't really go with textiles.

These fittens are ready for decreases and will be done, probably tonight.

One day last week, while I was out purchasing supplies for volunteering, I had to wander through the craft department.  This new ball of yarn just jumped into my hands. I was forced to buy it.  the colours are lovely and I know my niece will love the fittens I am going to make for her.   I'd like to say that this compulsion is rare for me, but I would prefer to be honest.  Some days, it is hard to ignore that perfect item and it demands to come home with me.  Fortunately, most of time it's a small item under ten dollars.  A half metre of fabric, a package of buttons, and in this case a ball of yarn.  Books are the other area that I have trouble with.  They seem to flock to me and demand to be purchased and read.  oh dear me, what is a person to do.  Well, I could leave them in the store and hope that someone else will purchase them, but heck no, I take pity and give them a home at my house.   I will read them, I will knit them and I will sew them up, eventually.

Do you have one supply/item that you have a weakness for , and I'm not talking chocolates, (that's an entirely different topic)?  Go ahead and share in the comments.  I am ever so curious.

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.

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

Friday, 18 August 2017

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

 An unforgettable story about a girl who can't remember.

Imagine that surgeons remove a brain tumour to save your life, yet at the same time they also remove your ability to form short term memories.  Ever since that fateful day, Flora Banks lives only in the present.  She doesn't remember what she did hours earlier yet alone yesterday, last week, nor last month.  Her last memories were formed when she was ten.

This all changes the night she kisses a boy.  The next morning she remembers she kissed Drake.  Wow, this is huge for Flora.  It changes her life.  From that moment she knows she has to find that boy and determine if he is the key to unlocking her memories.

This is an outstanding novel.  I was captivated by Flora's unravelling story.  I had to bribe myself to put it down when real life called to me.

Author Emily Barr has done a terrific job of getting inside Flora's head.  At one moment if felt as though I was listening in on ten your old Flora, and then when she remembered the kiss, she once again 17 and I'm listening to a teenager.  The coping strategies she uses are exactly those that a family friend, with almost no short term memory, uses.  I can see some parallels in their experiences and the confusion that they experience.

It is interesting to see how those around her respond.  Her parents almost smother her, leaving her with essentially no choice, and no life.  Her friend Paige and her brother Jacob respect the individual within Flora and encourage her to live in the present.

One important theme in the novel is the power of lies.  Several characters in this story are caught telling lies.  All of them harmful   Even Flora lies when she tells people that she remembers them  Without giving away any plot points, lying to protect someone, even ones self will always end up harming another, often in unseen or unexpected ways.

I highly recommend this book.  It will make you wonder about your own daily life, how much you have changed over the years and how important your memories of those changes are.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Needlework Tuesday: Too Easily Distracted

 It didn't take much to distract me from my needlework goals this week.  Mostly it was due to daughter and hubby taking a short trip east to explore a possible university for her grad studies.  The trip was a major success.  The smiles in her photos told me everything I needed to know.

I'm surprised how much of my emotional and physical time this trip took of me and didn't even travel with them.  I am greatly relieved that she loves the location.  Mother's are always concerned about their children's well being even when said kids are adults.

I did manage a wee bit of stitching while I was following their progress via social media channels.  I finished the third pair of fittens using the purple and green yarn and still have enough for a fourth pair.

Last night, I started this cotton trivet.  It's a free pattern from Ravelry called Cotton Trivet by Sarah Edelmaier.   It took a bit to get used to her writing style; one of those cases where a line of explanation would have gone a long way.  She doesn't start rounds with the typical chain 2 or 3, so I at first assumed she missed writing that step.

If you like doing back post and front post double crochets, you'll love this pattern.  I'm part way through row 4 and finally have the hang of the technique.  I do think this is a pattern I'll be making again and again.

I didn't get much accomplished on my leaf, a few more buttons, but not enough to share a photo.  I have no idea how many more buttons I'll add, but I'd safely guess 150+.  I'll keep counting and keep hope to have more progress soon.  Not sure if that will be next week as that is my yearly volunteer week which keeps me hopping.

 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.

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

Monday, 7 August 2017

Highland Master by Amanda Scott

 I think I've mentioned at least a few times previously that I like a man in a kilt.  Books with men in kilts work as well.  That led me to highland romances long ago.  Every now and then, I need a highlander fix, this week was one of those times.

Lady Catriona Mackintosh is used to having her way and tends to act on impulse.  When she finds a wounded man near the river, she immediately bends to help him, heedless of her safety.  She doesn't know it at the time, but he is a member of a clan that hers has been feuding with for far too long.

Sir Finlagh Cameron is on the way to find the head of the Mackintosh clan when a wayward arrow fells him.  Luckily, Catriona finds him and leads him to safety.

This begins our tale of the two unlikely romantic figures.  While I enjoyed the tale of how the two founded and worked out their romance, I found that the politics of the time cast too large of a shadow over their story.  It was had to follow who was who with characters having common names, plus official titles and often nicknames as well.  I was a third of the way through the book before I realized who most the people other than Cat and Fin were. This took away from my enjoyment of their tale.

I found that Cat was too head strong.  Not that that is not a good trait to have, but that she ignored warnings and guidance almost all the time.  Didn't seem realistic to me and it got annoying at times. 

On the whole and enjoyable story.  This is the first book author Amanda Scott's  Highland Knights series.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.


Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Reason You're Alive by Matthew Quick

As I was reading the opening chapters of this book, I thought I'd made a mistake and selected the wrong book.  I couldn't  identify with David Granger, the main character and wasn't comfortable with his colourful language.  I had pondered abandoning the book but recalling how much I had enjoyed one of his previous novels, I decided to read at least a few more chapters.

With each passing chapter, David's abrasive cover was chipped away and I began to meet the proud Vietnam vet who thrived below.  I was soon hanging on every word of this man I had thought I couldn't like.  There was so much more to him than first appearances could convey.  His frank way of talking and his colourful choice of words combined for a refreshing character.

By the time I reached the mid-point of the book, I could not put it down.  I had to learn how he would resolve his greatest regret.  At time, I did have to stop reading to wipe away copious tears. Some how, a man I didn't think I could understand made me care about him.

An excellent story.  It brought me face to face with a time, and soldiers I had only seen portrayed in movies.

Also by Matthew Quick

Forgive me, Leonard Peacock

Cover image courtesy Harper Collins Canada.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Special Offers: Coursodon Dimension #1 by M. L. Ryan

Who knew ebook readers could offer such danger and adventure.  After being invaded by a being from a another dimension via her new Kindle, Hailey Parrish found her life in a turmoil and her heart racing.

Sebastian was a bounty hunter and was killed on the job, more or less.  His protege came looking for him and found Hailey.  Sparks flew, but they had to first resolve Sebastian's dilemma before they could carry on with their relationship.

It was like eating popcorn, I couldn't stop reading this fun and quirky store.  Is chinchilla milking and cheese making really a thing?

The only part of the story I didn't enjoy was when Alex reveals about being an alien.  It didn't fit in with the rest of the writing style at all.  It was as though the author had no idea how to incorporate it in to the story so she just blurted it out and then moved on.  It took me a while to get over that interruption to the flow of the tale, but by the end of the book I was already eager to learn more of Hailey's adventures with the Coursodons.

Cover image courtesy of author M. L. Ryan


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Rebel by R. J. Anderson

The threat to the oak tree where the faery live continues.  As the queen sickens, her magic fails more each day and the tree itself is failing.  They need help and only other faeries can bring what they need.

Young Linden is the only one suited to such a momentous task, but she will need help  She turns to Timothy, a visitor to the family who own the house and lands where the oak is growing.  At first he is reluctant to help, but the more he learns about the faery and their plight, the more he is willing to help.

While I enjoyed this story, I didn't warm to Timothy.  He was too sullen and not open to the grand adventure he was living.  True to their youth, the two stride out into the world with few resources and plans.  Their friendship has it ups and downs thought they do manage to put aside their differences in order to work together and achieve their goal.

This story has a more gritty feel than Knife, which seemed more enchanted.  Linden doesn't have the leisure to explore the human world, but rather she quickly becomes mired in the nastiness that has almost overwhelmed her own world.  This is a good second book in the series.  It answers some lingering questions, poses more that are yet to be resolved.  The tale continues in book 3, Arrow.   This book was published in the United States under the title Wayfarer.

Faery Rebel Series:

I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by Saskia Butler.  6 hours 33 minutes.

 Cover image courtesy Oakhill Publishing.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Needlework Tuesday: Needlework Leisure or Time Crunch Project

For the most part, I like to take my time when stitching on a needlework project.  Sure, there are times when I am in a rush and need the items right away.  Usually for a gift or to enter in a show.  Most of the time I am content to take weeks, even months to finish an item.

I know people who power through project after project.  They churn them out like there is no tomorrow.  I couldn't spend eight hours a day working on one project just to say I got it completed in a weekend.  Yes, I have completed quilt tops in a few days, usually when I am taking a class.  I did do a custom quilt for my sister in five weeks as it had to be finished before she arrived on a short notice vacation.  I don't like being rushed.  I like to take my time and actually enjoy when I am doing.  I also like to feel as though I got my values worth for the amount I paid for the supplies.  Yarn can easily cost over $100.00 for a medium size project and over $200.00 for a lap quilt.  Why would I want to rush through those projects.  I want to take the time to feel and savour the materials, to know what I am working with, to care about the placement of the stitches.  If I just want to have a blanket by the end of the weekend, why not buy it.

At this point, I have spent over a month of my maple leaf.  I have enjoyed attaching each and every of the 237 buttons and counting.  I know that I have spent the time to individually place each button and securely stitch them down.  When I am finished, I will be thrilled with it and not have to guess if perhaps I should have done something different because I have taken the time to ensure that I did it the way I wanted the first time.  It is much like cooking.  You can purchase pre-made food and stick it in the microwave for a minute or so and then eat something that will sustain your body. Or you can take the time to find a recipe, purchase fresh, whole some ingredients and then take the time to cook a wonderful meal.  Both end up with a full stomach, but one leads to a more total contentment and satisfaction.

For me, I'd rather take the time and make the project in my way and in my time frame and end up with something I love.  I'm not in a race with anyone.  I don't begrudge the time spent on a multitude of tiny steps.  It's the entire process that I enjoy, not just saying it's finished.  When you don't see a lot of progress on Needlework Tuesday, know it's because I am taking my time and enjoying my projects.

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

Monday, 31 July 2017

Beyond the Doors by David Neilsen

In this fun, yet edgy story, author David Neilsen has greatly expanded upon the mystery of what might lurk beyond an un-opened door.

The four young Rothbaum children are homeless after their father is left comatose due to a drastic house fire.  Luckily, at the last minute, a previously unknown aunt, the sister of their long last mother, is located and they're taken to live with her in her  strange castle.

Not that they had any expectations, but living with Aunt Gladys couldn't have been further from what they could have expected.  First off, her house had no doors.  Wait, let me clarify, she had lots of doors, but not a single one was attached in a doorway, they were lying in stacks in the various rooms.  What could their mysterious aunt be doing with them.

I totally enjoyed this story.  At times it had me laughing, particularly with regard to the inept social worker, and at other times I was on the edge of my seat worried with what the children might find behind the next door they opened. Loved the fun names. Why give a character and easy to say name when you can weigh her down with something like Miss Guacaladilla (the earlier mentioned social worker). 

Middle school readers will be entertained by the siblings adventures beyond each door.  Like many siblings, they don't always agree and don't want to obey the eldest, but they do look out for each other and try to keep them safe.  This tale definitely has some creepy characters  and a fair share of scary moments.  It would be best to read with your room door firmly closed and with  a spare door knob tucked in your pocket.

Also by David Neilsen:

Dr. Fell and the playground of DOOM

Guest post by author David Neilsen

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Feed by M. T. Anderson

They met during a spring break trip to the moon. It should have been a short romance, but when both of them, along with several friends are infected with a man-made virus, their relationship changes and deepens.

At first, Titus takes this in stride, but then it becomes all too real and he pulls back.  Violet wants to have a meaningful relationship in a world where most people are quite shallow and only concerned with their next purchase that will keep them in the current style.

It is sad to think that there are many who see this reality as our best possible future.  An Internet like feed directly into our brains.  Already we are inundated with advertising and the push to consume even more.  Too often we are willing to let others do the critical thinking for us.  Hopefully this book will serve as a wake-up call to it's readers.

I'll admit, I didn't really like this story at the beginning. The language was difficult to understand and most of the characters were two dimensional.  Lingo and jargon are hard to get a grasp of if you aren't a part of it's community.  But then the story changed, the kids got sick and removed from their feeds.  Then I started to see the real people buried beneath the technology.  By the end of the book I was consumed by their stories.

This is a good cautionary tale.  Should appeal to teen and young adults,

I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by David Aaron Baker.  5 hours 5 minutes

Cover image courtesy Candlewick Press.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Needlework Tuesday: Learning the ins and outs of something new

 When I am stitching, I find it easiest to stay in my comfort zone and work with materials I know and with techniques I've used before.  This week I branched out and am using 2 inch strips that I cut from an old sheet.  I was going to throw the sheet in the garbage, so why not give it a try.  First, I cut the sheet on the bias using scissors.  Not going to cut the whole thing that way, so I folded it with the bias edge lined up, and used my rotary cutter and matt and had it reduced to strips in a matter of minutes.  The ended of each piece were already cut on an angle making it easy to overlap and stitch together on the sewing machine.  I am using a 9mm crochet hook and started by following a pattern for the flat base.  It wasn't really working, so I decided to add increases as required.  It is mostly round.

When it measured about 13 inches across, I switched to doing the single crochets only in the back loop. After I completed that round, I switched to double crochets.  It is hard going working with the cloth.  I had to play around with the best way to hold the hook so as not to tire my hand.  I can't stitch too long without a break, but it is progressing.

At this point, it looks like it's make a nice cat bed, but since I don't have a cat, I'll keep going with the plan to make it a basket for my current knitting project.  I'm glad I gave this a try though I don't know that it will become a favourite technique as it is harder on my hands.  It might work better with a different size or style of hook.   I'll have to shop for a larger hook and see how it feels.

 Taking a break from the brown basket, I felt I had better finish these dish cloths.  While I like the look of them, particularly the two colour one, they have a lot of spots where they need to be tacked down.  If you don't take them down, then they'll shift all over the place in the wash.  I think that once they are washed and the shrink, they will make pretty hot matts.

 I spent more time sewing down buttons.  It is still exciting to see how each button added changes the look.  So far I am at 172 buttons.
Here's a close up of the one leaf point that is full.  might be space yet for a bead or two later.  This is such fun, not instructions nor a pattern to follow, just my own instincts.  My kind of needlework.

Most of use tend to follow instructions or patterns when we are learning. Some of us veer off onto our own path once we have learned the basics and some of us only follow patterns.  Nothing wrong with either approach.  As long as it's fun and no one gets hurt, then follow the approach that works for you and enjoy.

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.

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

Monday, 24 July 2017

Knife by R. J. Anderson

Bryony, aka Knife, is a curious young faery. She yearns for the world outside the oak tree in which all the faeries dwell.  On her first mis-adventure outside, she comes face to face with a boy.
This is the beginning of her fascination with the outside world.  Her quest for knowledge about humans leads her to question life in the tree and what happened to change it so drastically.

I was totally captivated by this story and wonder why I hadn't read it earlier.  It is full of strong female characters that I couldn't help but love.  I particularly like Thorn, the Queen's Hunter, who teaches Bryony how to survive out of doors.

This is a good example of history being written by the victor.  Without being taught faery history, the new generations have forgotten their rich past and are struggling to hold on to a future.

And that human boy Paul, he was also changed by that chance encounter with Bryony.  He is a flawed young man, but a good person which makes him  a wonderful addition to the otherwise female fast.  

This book should have wide appeal to young readers and is suitable for parents and kids to read together. 

I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by Emma parish. 7 hours 16 minutes.  She did a terrific job of voice characterization and showed excitement and enthusiasm as she read.  

This book was published in the United States under the title Spell Hunter.

My daughter Shannon introduced  R. J. Anderson at a book festival several years ago.  She dressed as Thorn, also her favourite character.

Cover image courtesy Oakhill Publishing


Saturday, 22 July 2017

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Nao is at the beginning of her life and she has lost hope, is aimless.  Ruth has passed most of her life and she is adrift.  Both are writers, Nao at her first story and Ruth at possibly her final.

When Ruth first realizes she has found a diary, she is curious about it's writer.  As she continues to read, she gets pulled into the writer, Nao's life.  Soon the time line becomes blurred and Ruth begins doubting herself and her memory.

This is a story full of choices and their consequences.  (ripple effect).  Time is a also a frequent topic for both Nao and Ruth.  The first has chosen to limit her remaining time while the later ponders how much she has remaining.  Nao's great-grandmother has had the most time of them all, 104 years, which she had learned to use to the benefit of mankind.  She was my favourite character in the book . She seemed so wise and knew the best approach to use with Nao.

At various times while I was listening to this audio book, I experienced widely ranging emotions. I felt compassion for Nao and her trials at school.  I was annoyed with Ruth for her dithering over her writing.  Often I was confused, wondering how the author could possibly tie together the two women's very different stories.

This would be a good book club selection as there are a number of areas I am unclear about that could benefit from discussion.

One of the things that intrigues me about this book, is that the author, Ruth Ozeki,  is a character in the story.  That adds more to my pondering of the time and place of this tale.

I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by the author.  She did a wonderful job voicing the characters, particularly old Jiko, the great-grandmother.  Blackstone Audio 14 hours 43 minutes.

The author's end notes in the audio version indicate that the printed version contains additional supplementary materials.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada


Friday, 21 July 2017

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

First Nations Friday is an occasional post where I review works by First Nations, Inuit and Metis authors.

A novella by author Stephen Graham Jones

Twelve your old Junior lives it his mom and little brother in a small modular home.  He is haunted by the loss of his father when he was four.  Now, on the cusp of becoming a man, he has to learn to cope with his feeling about his dad, a man he mostly knows through stories told by his mother.  Using those clues and traditions passed down from his native Indian culture, he weaves a vivid tale of his father's remarkable return to the living and of his brother's downward health spiral.  Or is it just a tale, has Junior broken through the veil to somewhere else, some time else.

I was captivated by this short story and am left wondering which parts were Junior's imagination and which were the truth finally coming to light.  A good mix of reality and mysticism.

Cover image courtesy Tor.com


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Needlework Tuesday - A Tiny Finish is Still a Finish

The past few weeks I have been talking about making progress even if it is in little steps.  Eventually, all those little steps result in a completed project.  I did manage to finish this little basket yesterday.  I worked on it for about 4 days, doing a bit here and there as time permitted.  As you can see, it is small, that is a 6 inch ruler standing in it.

I used a free pattern from Just Be Crafty.

 The cotton yarn is the same as I have been using for the hand towels and the hot pad.  I still have lots remaining, so next up is a slightly shorter version of this basket.  I'd like to try using the same pattern and instead of worsted weight yarn, use 2 inch wide strips of fabric and a much larger needle.  I'd like a basket to hold my current knitting/crochet project.  Have you tried a knit or crochet project with fabric strips, any suggestions?

Progress continues with the buttons.  In this photo, I believe I have 115 red buttons sewn down.  The spaces are starting to fill in nicely. Since I want to keep track of the number of buttons I use, I had to develop  a process that would work.  I tried ticking off each button as I sewed it on.  Nope, I was starting to miss buttons or double count others.  Next I counted out 25 buttons and added them to the list, then sewed them on.  That worked perfect, so that is the approach I am using.

I have the selected buttons laid out on my sewing table.  Then I thread the needle and tie off the ends.  Sew on a button, pull the needle up to the next spot, loop through the fabric a few times to secure, then sew the next button.  I use a long length of thread and can sew on about 6-8 buttons before re-threading.  When I get tired or need a break, I just leave the project on the table and walk away.  It's all ready for the next little bit of time I have.  So, even it I just have time to sew on 2 or 3 buttons, I am making progress.  When I am out, I keep looking for more red buttons, I want a few more character/shape buttons.  I have a few flowers and some with rhinestones, but would like an animal or two and a little car. Have seen these before, but not in red.  I'm sure I'll come across them at some point and will then add them in.

You might think that it would be tedious sewing on all those buttons, but I am finding it to be rather methodical and almost meditative.  Up and down each hole three times, then across the back, up again, loop to secure and start again.  With the placement of each button, I can envision the finished project just a little bit closer.  It might also help, that sometimes, I listen to an audio book while stitching.

I hope that you have been making little bits of progress on your stitching this past 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.

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


Sunday, 16 July 2017

What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

 Three teens; Allie, Juliet and Rob, live life on the fringe.  They thrive at night when most others are asleep.  No, they are not vampires, they have a rare genetic defect known as XP - Xeroderma Pigmentosum.  Any exposure to sunlight will leave them with sever skin damage or worse.

Knowing they have a shortened life span, they seek out thrilling activities hat will push them to the edge.  One night while practising Parkour at a neighbouring apartment block, Allie catches a glimpse through a window of what she thinks is a murder.  This sets the three on a series of encounters that risk theirs and others lives.

For me, one of the most satisfying things about reading, is learning something new.  I'd never really thought about how confining life would be if I couldn't see the sun.  Fortunately, the three don't have any fond memories of the sun and have developed their own lifestyle that gives them the freedom of the darkness.  Together they are friends and their own support unit.

This is a fast paced story that kept me anxiously waiting for the next chapter.  It was practically agony each time I had to put the book down.  When I reached the end, I was left hanging.  I have some suspicions but will have to wait for the next book, What We Lost in the Dark, for answers.

Also by Jacquelyn Mitchard:

Two if by Sea

Cover image courtesy Soho Press Teen.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Chase by Linwood Barclay

After the death of his parents in an horrific plane explosion, Jeff Conroy is taken in by his seemingly indifferent Aunt Flo.  Even though he is only 12, he toils long days to help run her summer rental cabins.  Because his aunt doesn't like dogs, he was forced to give away his beloved dog.

Life is looking down until he meets Emily, daughter of the owner of a several nearby rental cottages.  Their friendship is in the early stages when Chipper, a run away dog, bounds into their lives.  They soon learn that Chipper is a very special dog, with state-of-the-art computer implants.  The people who created him are most anxious to get him back and will do almost anything to achieve that goal.

It may seem far fetched to have a dog with such skills and intelligence, but in the hands of talented author Linwood Barclay, I had no trouble accepting Chipper and his gifts.  I have always wondered what dogs thing about and what they would say if they could talk with us.  This is a fast paced story that is sure to capture the imagination of middle school readers.  They will be able to identify with Jeff and the troubles he is having adapting to life with his aunt.

The only problem with this book is that it ended to soon.  I'm hanging off the cliff with no idea when the next part of the story will be published.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Needlework Tuesday - I don't need any more project ideas!

 I've been trying really hard to stick to the three projects that I talked about last week.  Honestly, I don't need any more new ones to work on.  I did add some more buttons to the maple leaf wall hanging.  In the upper left areas, you can see some clustering starting to happen.  At this stage there are 65 buttons attached.  I am having fun with this; I could easily devote my entire week of stitching to just this one project.   In all practicality, that would never happen, I would need to see some progress on the other items laying around.
 After finishing the knitting of the second hand towel, I still had oodles of this cotton left, so started what the pattern calls a dish cloth.  eeks, too pretty a design and too thick for a dish cloth.  It would never dry before it rotted away or became stinky.  I know it will make a wonderful hot pad for the table.  The pieces are now ready for assembly.
Even after I finished 2 hand towels and 2 hot pads, I'll still have an abundance of these cottons.  I bought them last year at the tent sale at Spinrite yarns in Listowel. It was too cheap not to buy knowing how much the small balls cost in the regular stores.  Do you have a favourite pattern that calls for cotton yarn that isn't clothing?  Please share the link.

I didn't work on the fittens, project 3.
I didn't knit on my sister's socks, project 4.
I didn't really start project 5, not really started, almost true, well kinda.  I did watch part of the video and did start drawing out the chart for the crochet, but I haven't picked up any wool nor a crochet hook (well I did look but didn't find the correct size). So, I can't really count this one as started...  I have a YouTube feed thing, it sends me emails when my favourites post a new video.  Esperanza and Ana Celia Rosas do the most amazing crochet and they post videos that show every step in details.  I don't understand what they are saying beyond the simple counting of stitches, but I can follow along quite well.  They are showing a new project, how to crochet feathers.  They are stunning and much nicer than ones I've been seeing on pinterest lately.  I am going to have to make at least one as I chart the pattern.  Here's the video:

Do I have you hooked now on both the ladies and this technique.  I have some left over sock yarn that I am going to try it with.  The self striping will avoid having to work in too many ends.  Will let you know how it goes. (and if I finish it before my next post it doesn't really count as having started a new project?)

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.

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

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

World War II has reached England and the small town of Chilbury on it's east coast hasn't escaped it's ravages.  Most of the able bodied men have enlisted, leaving the women to fill their traditional roles.  It comes as a shock to some of the women in Chilbury when the vicar announces that due to the lack of men, the esteemed village choir will close.

Primrose Trent, the new music tutor, soon after re-opens the choir to the mixed reactions of the women.  Some of them can't imagine a choir without male voices and other realize that they can't stop living just because the men have left to defend their freedoms and very lives.

I enjoyed the interplay of the characters, particularly how being a small town and in an extra-ordinary  situation helped batter down the barrier of the social classes.  I could easily imagine stuffy Mrs. B. looking down her nose at Prim and predicting doom for the new choir.  As much as there were many characters to love, there were also those that you loved to hate, mainly Edwina Paltry, the mid-wife, and the nasty Brigadier Winthrop (why wasn't he doing anything constructive for the war).  Many of the other women I would have been most at home with for an afternoon of tea and conversation. 

The mixing of fact and fiction makes for an easy to learn some British war history.  An all women's choir was a new thing and the women involved gained strength from participating.  After lives spent being in the shadows of the men, women were finally given the opportunity to show that they were capable of a great many tasks previously thought above them. 

At first, I tried listening to the audio book and found I didn't like it at all. Even though there were different voice actors, all the characters sounded the same.  I thought they were all 40 years old, and they all seemed to be putting on these pretentious, snotty upper class accents.  The effect of the letters and diary entries was totally lost by not seeing them in writing.   I was going to give up the book entirely when I spoke with a co-worker who read the paper version and loved it.  She encouraged me to give it another try.   I'm glad she did, the paper version was wonderful.  I was better able to enjoy the format of the correspondence and get a true image of the characters particularly fourteen year old Kitty and ten year old Czech evacuee Silvie, both of whom I had thought were middle age ladies on the audio.

This is a well told story that had me cheering for the successes of the women and mourning with them at their losses. This is a wonderful debut novel by author Jennifer Ryan.  I look forward to her future works.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Most mothers I know say they would do anything for their children. What does that mean.  Would they hurt someone, would they kill someone, would they take a bullet to save their child.  Author Gin Phillips explores such a situation in her latest book Fierce Kingdom.

Joan and her four year old son Lincoln have spent a pleasant afternoon at the zoo and are packing up his toys when they hear several sharp bangs, or are they loud pops.  They don't think much about it as they are walking toward the exit.  It is almost closing time and they don't want to be locked in.  As they approach the gate, Joan realizes something is wrong, very wrong.  With Lincoln gathered in her arms, she flees back into the safety of the darkening zoo to escape whatever/whoever is threatening her son.

Thus starts the three hour whirlwind of a story.  Prior to picking up this book, I made sure that my day was clear as I knew that once I started, I would not be able to sleep until I had read to the final pages.  Throughout my day, the pace of the story quickened and my anxiety/exhilaration increased.  Would the two be able to hide and escape detection or was someone hunting them, were there any other survivors.  Questions flew through my mind of what I would do should I be in the same or a similar situation.  Did I have it in me to put my life at risk to save my child.

The concept of this story is chilling; it's a parent's worst nightmare.  It seemed quite realistic that so many thoughts and experiences passed through Joan's mind as she struggled to stay alert to the risks and to plan possible routes of escape.  The only trouble I had with this book is that I didn't make a connection with Joan.  As a mother, I felt her pain, but I didn't really care about her; she seemed somewhat standoffish.  There was nothing about her for me to latch onto, such as a shared interest or goal.  She was a blank slate, the only thing we knew about her at the beginning was that she was a mother. 

Even though I didn't care for Joan, I was riding an adrenalin high by the final pages.  My heart rate was elevated, my flight or fight impulse was raging and I wanted to hug my children and hid them away somewhere safe.  If you are looking for a thrilling read that will cause your blood to race, this is the book.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.


Friday, 7 July 2017

Theodore Boone: The Abduction by John Grisham

Theodore Boone plans to be a lawyer when he grows up.  Though he is still in middle school, he is already studying the ins and outs of the legal system and helping his classmates with their troubles.

April, one of his close friends, has been abducted , and Theo is pulling in favours and working his connections to find her before it's too late.

I loved this story.  It was fast paced and full of the type of action that middle graders can relate to.  I particularly enjoyed how Theo smartly used the internet to help carry out his investigation.  Theo has a methodical approach that works well for him.  

This is a great book for kids who like to solve mysteries or perhaps who plan to become lawyers themselves.

I listened to the audio book as read by Richard Thomas.  4 hours unabridged.  Mr. Thomas is an excellent choice for reader.  His calm, level voice lends an air of realism to this legal story and reflects Theo's desire to become a respected, unflappable lawyer.

Theodore Boone Series:

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
Theodore Boone: The Abduction
Theodore Boone: The Accused
Theodore Boone: The Activist
Theodore Boone: The Fugitive
Theodore Boone: The Scandal

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

Every now and then I need to read a romance. It's popcorn for my romantic soul.  When I started reading romances I learned a lot about relationships.  Most importantly, I learned that  communication is vital to sustaining any relationship.  Now I continue to read them, especially Regency romances because I enjoy them.

Lady Hero Batten has agreed to marry the Marquis of Mandeville as befits her rank and family status.  It's obvious she does not love him, but she didn't expect to love the man her family arranged for her to wed.  Then she meets his brother, Lord Reading and her life is thrown into turmoil.  He is a loathsome rake who reputation far precedes him.

Do I really need to tell you any more plot, no I thought not.  This is an enjoyable romance with the requisite amount of angst, secrets and sudden loves of the heart.  Just what I wanted when I picked it up. There are some descriptions of gowns and balls, but they are mere background, the real story is that of Hero and Griffin, Lord Reading.  I enjoyed the play of one against the other while they developed and then sorted out their feelings for one another.

This is the second of twelve  books in the Maiden Lane series which is set in 1737 London, England. 

Author Elizabeth Hoyt also writes modern romances under the pen name Julia Harper.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Needlework Tuesday - The Tri-Facta Approach to Needlework

 This past week I wanted to build in the success I was having with achieving small steps, but I couldn't decide which project I wanted to work on.  What the heck, I would work on all three in smallish time allotments.

First, I started on a cotton knit hand towel.   i used a free pattern, Red White and Blue Dishcloth, from Lily's Sugar 'n Cream at Yarnspirations, casting on 90 stitches instead of the 64 suggested.  I wanted a larger hand towel.  It features a hanging loop which is handy to keep it from falling on the ground.  I bought a large cone of the flecked yarn, so I might be making a few of these, though I am going to check out their other patterns.

 Fitten success.  I have completed the medium on the left and the large on the right.  Love the effect of the variegated yarn.  I have cast on another pair of the medium size.
Being that it was Canada Day on Saturday, I found it a fitting time to continue working  on my Maple Leaf wall hanging.  I started by machine quilting wavy lines across the body.  I used a thin thread and you can't really tell where it crosses the leaf.  So far I have sewn on 40 large buttons.  Next up, I have set aside the medium buttons.  It's taking a while since I have been triple stitching each button, I don't want  them to wiggle, and then knotting them off.  They will not be falling off any time soon.  I'll keep you posted as I add more buttons.  For reference, the wall hanging is about 22 x 22 inches.

I found that I got quite a bit accomplished by alternating between the three projects.  When I got tired or reached any sort of roadblock, I got up, walked around for a bit or read, and then picked up a different project.  This way, each project kept feeling fresh.  I think I can keep doing this with three projects, but four might be too many. I don't want any confusion and I do want to see progress. Too many projects and the progress is spread out and I won't see the results I need to spur me on.

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.

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

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Fairest of All - Whatever After Book 1 by Sarah Mlynowski

 Abby is not happy about moving and she is certainly not happy about having to change schools.  When her brother's night time prowling around the house wakes her up, she is mad, mad enough to get out of bed and find him.

When she does, he's in front of an old mirror that was left in their basement by the previous owners.  They are about to find out that by knocking on the mirror three times they will be launched into a fantastic adventure.

The Whatever After series is a wonderful middle grade set that will entertain boys and girls alike.  For children who are familiar with the classic fairy tales, they will have fun trying to figure out how Abby and Jonah can help the characters get their tales back on track.

Parent note, this is suitable for younger children who are reading at a higher level.

I enjoyed listening to the audio book as read by Emily Eiden.  Unabridged edition 3 hours 20 minutes.

At present there are ten books in this series by Canadian author Sarah Mlynowski.  She is also the author of the Upside Down Magic series.

Cover image courtesy Scholastic Books Canada

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Needlework Tuesday: Progress in Baby Steps

Last week I talked about the small things that held me back in a project.  That got me thinking more about small things.  Often, a project can be overwhelming when I look at it in it's entirety.  There is just so much to do before I get to that finished piece.  Taking advice from my valued readers, I found success with small things.

First, I took Lin, at St. Victor Quilts,  suggestion, and moved the socks from the single double pointed needle onto two sets of needles.  I untangled the four skeins of wool and am now ready to review the pattern and start on the heels.  once the heels are turned, I can move the socks back to the original needle and continue knitting two at a time.  Thanks Lin.

This might not seem like a big step, but when you consider that these socks have been sitting for over six months with no progress, this is a monster step.

 My Canada wall hanging has finally left the starting gate.  I was shopping with daughter for some darning needles that would work with worsted weight yarn, and spied a package of red buttons.  Should be just enough to complete my project in the original size I wanted.  Happy dance in the store aisle.

First step, iron freezer paper to the back of the background fabric.  Next, trace the maple leaf design with a fine pencil.  Then I outlines with a Prang brand red crayon and coloured it in.  I didn't go too dark, since that might interfere with the effect of the buttons.  After colouring, I covered it with paper towel and pressed well with  a hot iron.  You can actually see on the back of the fabric when the crayon has seeped into the fabric.

Next step is to embroider using the stem stitch with red thread all around the outside.  I feel that will give nice definition to the leaf when it it done.  I won't worry about few places I went outside the line; I'll just cover those areas with buttons.

I am pleased with my small bits of progress.  They helped me along when I was stalled.  I employ the same technique when I am stuck in a book.  I'll tell myself that I'll just read one chapter and can then move the book mark ahead a few pages.  It feels so much better knowing that the bookmark is that much closer to the back of the book.  When I think about it, I use that same technique in other areas of my life.  Laundry and housework being of major note.  I am not a fantastic housekeeper, though I do find I can get a lot done if I break it up into small tasks. Seems a lot less overwhelming that way.  I load of laundry here and there, and before I know it, it's all done.

Do you find an area in your life where it works well for you to approach tasks in small bits?

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.

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

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Needlework Tuesday: On Starting a Canada Project

In less than two weeks, there will be flag waving, poutine eating and lots of fireworks and I have yet to start stitching my Canada Day quilted wall hanging.  eeks. I guess I should step up my game.

I did print out the outline of  a maple leaf and have scattered my buttons on the paper.  oops, I don't have enough buttons.  Plan two, I will make the maple leaf smaller and perhaps use some clusters of beads to fill in spaces.

This is one of those projects where size is not really an issue.  It will look terrific on my wall regardless if it is an inch or two shorter. Who will know or even care.

Often times, I get caught up on the small details of a project and it will delay me for days, weeks, months or even longer.  In this case, any further delays will spoil the concept of the project.   If there are gaps left between buttons, so be it, they can be filled in later.  I can add beads, but I could also add some silk ribbon flowers or embroider clusters of french knots (which to my surprise I have found I enjoy stitching).

I have another project that has sat languishing because I am held up by a small detail.  I am knitting socks for my sister and I need to shift the stitches around on the needles so that I can turn the heels.  Slight complication, I am knitting them on one needle (magic loop) but the pattern is not written that way.  I\m sure it will only take me a half hour to make the shift along with a wee bit of knitting, but why have I been stalling for several months.  I think what I need to do, is shift the socks to double pointed needles, then get them oriented properly for doing the heels and then put them back on the magic loop needle.  That would be so  much easier than trying to figure out how to do it using on the one long needle.  Arg.  The second step will be to purchase a book with patterns for knitting two socks on one needle.

It's wonderful to have a place, such as my blog, where I can voice my concerns/challenges and work them out or ask for help.  I quilt with friends and can ask they help/advice, but I usually knit or crochet alone.  Here I find the companionship I enjoy.  Thanks for all sticking with me and supporting me.  I greatly appreciate it.  I hope in turn, that you are getting the support/encouragement that need to continue in your stitching projects and in working out those small details.

Cheers to not letting small details continue to stump us.

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.

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