Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - I'm Done With Procrastination

 Ok, you heard it here folks, I am done with procrastinating.  It bothers me to stumble across unfinished projects, and I have oodles of them. I admit, I am a serial starter, but definitely not a finisher.

A few months ago, I had the thought that I wouldn't start new projects, that I would start tidying up, and as I came across unfinished projects, rather than stash them away for later, I would finish them.  It didn't go all that well. Something always got in the way.
Hubby is away on a business trip for a few days, so I am taking advantage of that time and have spread out all the projects that are stashed in the tv room.   There are a bunch of fittens that need to have ends darned in, and lots of yarn to be put away, one pair of socks that needs the toes grafted and that pair of socks for my sister that I have been avoiding.   I decided I want to give the socks to my sister for Christmas this year, so I have to start working on them.  I re-printed the pattern I lost, read it over to determine where I was, and started knitting.  I am working on both heel flaps at the same time.  It is knit back and forth alternating the two yarns.  So far I have learned that I need better lighting where I am sitting and knitting.  I am excited about these socks once again and can picture myself finishing them in a timely manner.  In those times when I am finding the lighting wrong for such fine knitting, I'll work on those fittens  and get them ready for mailing to their destination.

What a relief to have a plan again.  I'll have to get out my journal, start a fresh page and jot down these plans.  I kind of fell off that wagon a while ago.  One of the benefits of bullet journaling, is that you can jump back in at any point and just continue.

In the meantime, I did finish the second cup cosy.  It is so cute.  here's the link to the pattern I used.  It's from the blog The Enchanted Ladybug.

I will definitely be making more of these fun little things.  She has such a variety of patterns on her site that they could keep me busy for a while.

When I looked for some black embroidery floss to attached the button in the eye and to stitch the mouth, I couldn't find any.  I did find some wool in one of those loosely braided sets for darning socks.  One piece of the black worked perfectly for both tasks.

Thanks so much for visiting with me today.  I hope it hasn't been while you were procrastinating about one of your projects.  If it has, then I hope you have found some inspiration to jump back in and get it done.



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, 11 October 2017

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

 I could not put this book down.  It is a totally captivating re-imagining of the modern world.

What if the influence of the British Empire had not waned, and if Victorian morality and courtly practises still held.  Author E. K. Johnston imagined that Queen Victoria devised a plan to weld the Empire together through strategic marriages of her children and grand children to nobility throughout her kingdom, not to that of neighbouring European countries.  Generations later, the plan has proved successful and the Empire thrives with a very mixed races population.

The current crown princess Victoria-Margaret is about to come of age and assume her duties.  Before undertaking those responsibilities, she wants one summer to live among and with her future subjects.  She travels incognito to Toronto to stay with her glamorous cousin Elizabeth.  She soon meets her family  friend Helena, to whom she is instantly attracted and they become the best of friends. This sets in motion a chain of events that they could never have imagined.

I loved everything about this story. The characters were young, just venturing into adulthood.  They thought they knew what they wanted, but when they walked through that doorway, they realized that there was far more to consider than their younger selves had imagined. 

I could not imagine having paid staff in my house such as a butler and an attendant to help me dress, though a cook would be most amazing.  I suppose if I had been born into that type of world, it would be common place, but to read about it and try imagining myself there, I don't get very far.    Ms. Johnston did a great job of re-creating the modern world as part of the Victorian era.  It felt authentic to novels I've read that were written in that time period.

I highly recommend this book.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

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

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - The Pleasure of Learning a New Stitch

It is much easier to stay in ones comfort zone instead of stepping out and trying something new.  Why put yourself to the stress of learning a new skill when the old one will do.

As I was searching for a pattern for the next cup cosy to stitch, I found that I kept being attracted to the ones made up by The Enchanted Ladybug.  It was the stitch she was using for the body of the cosy that was so attractive.

After printing out the free pattern and reading, I found that it was actually quite straight forward.  Alternate single and double crochets, turn and do the same again.  It was easy and I think it looks great.  Benefit for a cup cosy is that it is more dense that just rounds of single crochet.

Sure, this is an easy stitch, but new to me.  I'm glad I took that leap and learned how to make it.  I can see myself using it again and again, especially as this designer has lots of free cosy patterns.

Which are you: do you stick with what you know or do you try new skills in your projects?  When was the last time you learned a new stitch/skill, what was it?

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, 9 October 2017

Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

Sleeping sickness is the scourge of the land.  While the government fights to keep it's citizens safe and healthy, the enemy from Kamar continues to further spread the infection. 

Jiang-Sev is the last member of her family.  Her mother's body is displayed in  perpetual sleep as a warning to the citizens; she had been accused of bringing the sickness into the city.  Sev's status has been striped and she is being punished for the sins of her mother.  When a bomb explodes in the city, Sev is labelled guilty  of the crime and must flee or die.

I found it hard to get into the story and figure out what was going on in this stratified society.  While I did enjoy reading about her escape from the city and her journey across the outside, it wasn't enough to overcome the confusion of the plot.  There was too much subterfuge among leading characters.  Too many times I felt I could love or hate a character only to find out a few pages later that their history was a lie or fabrication.  I didn't form an attachment to Sev as she, herself was confused much of the time.

I wanted to like this dystopian novel, but it didn't connect with me.  I didn't care about the characters, whether they lived or died.  I did like the dancing and the explanation of why they danced.

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

#IndigoEmployee

Friday, 6 October 2017

Acceleration by Graham McNamee

This is a well told tale that captured my imagination from the first chapter.

Like many high school students, Duncan is less than thrilled about his summer job.  He spends his days well below street level working in the Lost & Found department of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). 

One afternoon, he picks up a leather bound book with no title.  Curious, he browses several pages to which are attached a bunch of news clipping about animal mutilations.  Not a book Duncan wants to read.  As the days pass, he is drawn back to the book and it's gruesome writings.  He finds that it is clear that the author of the journal has escalated from killing animals to targeting women.  It isn't long before he draws his friends Vinny and then Wayne into his research about the books contents.

Author Graham McNamee has created a realistic group of friends.  I could easily imagine these young men and their banter.  Their approach to solving the mystery of the author of the journal made total sense.  A trip to the local library is often a great place to begin.

I really enjoyed this story with it's mainly teenage characters.

If you enjoy books for teens with serial killers, you might enjoy:

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Agents of Chaos - X-Files #1 by  Kami Garcia

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

#IndigoEmployee

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - The Best Dressed Coffee Cup

 Somehow, Tuesday got away from me again.  As we all know, life gets busy and family takes top priority and blogging falls nearer the bottom.

I did do some stitching I want to share.  I found a cute pattern for a cup cosy that I wanted to try.  I really like the idea of a re-usable cup cosy as opposed to the throw away paper ones. Not that I purchase a lot of coffees while I'm out, but they do add up over the year(s).

This one is from a free pattern, Zigzag Crochet Cup Cozy from Red Heart yarns.  It uses a small amount of two yarns and was really easy to make and took very little time.  My only concern, is whether it is thick enough when used with a take out cup.
 I made this one ages ago and used it a few times, but it has a fatal flaw, the ribbing.  It just keeps getting wider at the top and the cup could easily slip out.  Am going to try and add a round of single crochet at the top to firm it up.

Any suggestions/recommendations for cup cosy patterns?  Have you knit/crocheted/quilted one or several.  What worked best for you.


I started on the next pair of fittens and am most pleased with my yarn selection.  Just looking at the aqua and blue together makes my heart sing.

What a difference it makes when you love the materials you are working with.  I find it hard to be excited by a project when I don't like the materials. Those are the projects that linger and often don't get finished.

Cup cosies in fun yarns will be a joy to make and then give away.  I look forward to your comments and pattern suggestions.

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, 4 October 2017

Highland Promise by Alyson McLayne

 Isle of Sky 1452

When Darach MacKenzie  spies his enemy Laird Fraser abducting an unconscious female, he springs to her rescue regardless of the repercussions.  Even if he'd known before hand what the cost of rescuing Caitlin would be, he still wouldn't have left a female in Fraser's grasp.

Caitlin is an innocent in all sorts of ways.  She is like a breath of fresh air into the tight family group.  It was fun seeing how she could shake up their daily lives just by being herself.  At first it appears that she has been rescued by Darach MacKenzie, but as the story continues, I began to wonder who was doing the rescuing.

Darach and his four brothers were raised by their foster father Gregor McLeod with very little female influence.  They are all well versed in caring for the safety of their clans, but they know little of the emotional needs of their families.  Caitlin has much to teach them.

Author Alyson McLayne makes great use of humour in this book, she had me laughing along with the characters, especially with the perplexed Darach.  The addition of the wee kitten was heart warming.

While the story mostly focused on Caitlin and Darach, we are introduced to his foster brothers.  I learned just enough about them to want to read more.  Fortunately, this is the first book in a five part series, The Sons of Gregor MacLeod, one book for each brother.  Yippee.

Once I knew that the men were wearing kilts in this story, I was all over it, but those who need a bit more persuasion, following is an excerpt from Highland Promise.

Author Alyson McLayne




EXCERPT

“I’ll not be marrying the lass, Oslow, but if I did, she’d more than likely give me daughters. All of them looking like her, causing trouble. I’d be an old man in my grave before I was forty.”
“Nay. She’d give you sons. Braw lads as strong-minded and fearless as her. But if you’re not interested in the lass, I’ll introduce her to my Angus. He needs a wife, and I’m sure he’d be as smitten with her as Gare and Brodie.”
The blood heated in Darach’s veins, flushing his face. He looked toward the field, trying to make out what Caitlin and the two younger men were doing. Naught of consequence. Just playing with the kittens.
Playing with the kittens—like hell. Brodie was a right rogue with the lasses, and Gare was such a pitiful lad, caught betwixt man and boy, she’d want to save him just like she’d saved the baby bird. Most likely he’d try to make himself look as pathetic as possible with the hopes of ensnaring her, the devil.
Darach stood abruptly and made his way across the rocky shore to the field. Lachlan’s snort followed him. Sure enough, Gare and Brodie sat beside her, hanging on to every word. Scoundrels, both of them. He frowned, and they jumped to their feet. Let Caitlin see who was master and laird here—the most dominant MacKenzie male.
After sending them to Oslow, he sat on the grass beside her. She looked pleased to see him. Maybe now would be the time to tell her the kittens were going to the miller’s. He willed himself to begin, but one of the cats tumbled into his lap and mewed up at him. Bloody fiend.
“Och, would you look at that. He loves you, Darach. Maybe he will be called Justice, for he is drawn to you and you are the most just man I know.”
He puffed up and deflated at the same time. ’Twas a good decision to send the cats to the miller. Not only did it show Justice, but also Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. Surely she would see the right of it.
The kit ran up his body and batted his hair. Darach started in surprise. Grabbing it, he held the wee thing in front of him. The cat reached out and swatted his chin.
Caitlin fell sideways onto the grass, laughing. “You’ve ne’er had a cat before, have you?”
Darach grunted and brought the kitten closer. He had to admit it was sweet—big eyes and downy, soft fur. It suckled the stubble of his beard, and his heart turned over.
“They’re starved, poor babies,” she said. “He’s trying to nurse. All we had was water. It helped, but their bellies are empty.”
There would be lots of milk at the miller’s.
“Caitlin, I doona think…”
She gazed at him, her eyes wide, trusting. A happy glow surrounded her, and the words stuck in his throat. Maybe she could keep the kits ’til they were old enough to be on their own. House them in the kitchens and out of his sight and the sight of his dogs for a week or two. Then they could go to the miller.
“Aye, Darach?”
“’Tis naught, lass. We’ll be home soon and they can have their meal.”
Picking up a kitten, she held it close. “I think this little lass will be Temperance, for she’s the only female and needs to have much restraint to live with three brothers. It must be a trial, doona you think?”
“I lived with four brothers, and aye, ’twas a trial.”
A wistful look crossed her face. “I did so wish for a brother. Or a sister. But my parents were not blessed with bairns after me. Instead, I had lots of pets—cats, dogs, horses, and pigs.”
“Pigs?”
“Aye, pigs are wonderful pets. Although I caused such a fankle when my father wanted to butcher the dear thing, I was ne’er allowed to bond with a pig again.”
“And what happened to it?”
“I doona know. I lost more than just my parents the night of the fire. Verily, ’twas a torment. I longed for pets after that, but I feared to show favor to any creature, lest my uncle hurt the animal. I was verra careful when I fed Cloud apples. The guards who followed me knew, I’m sure, but one older guard in particular didn’t mind.” She turned to smile at the stallion tethered with the other horses. “I’m thankful you saved him too.”
His stomach soured at the insight into her life after her parents’ death, at how afraid, alone and sad she must have been. Yet she’d shown none of that to him or his men. And he knew she must have felt it—her heart was as big as the loch.
“I want you to have, Cloud,” he said suddenly. It was the least he could do.
Her eyes grew round. “Truly?”
“Aye. But wait to ride him until we return to the keep. I doona want him to spook and throw you out here. Let him get used to you in the stables first, aye?” Where he could have a healer on hand and spread out some hay to soften her fall.
With an excited holler, she threw her arms around his neck and almost knocked him backward. One arm settled around her waist, the other hovered just above her hair. The devil take him, he wanted to touch her, to hold her still for his kiss.

Cover image and author photo courtesy Sourcebooks.

 I received and advanced readers ecopy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

#indigoEmployee


Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Accused: Theodore Boone #3 by John Grisham

Theodore Boone is facing his biggest case yet and it's one he can't solve on his own.  In desperation, he turns to the one man he can trust, his Uncle Ike.  Together, they take some pretty big risks to prove the suspect's innocence.

I loved this book.  It is the best of the series so far.  I really can't tell you a thing about the plot as it will give too much away.  This is one book that you just have to jump into and trust that it will capture your imagination and transport you right into this challenging case.

Adult fans of John Grisham will find this a complex legal tale as you'd expect from him, but in a shortened, kid length novel.  I found myself eagerly waiting for the next plot development.

The bond between Theo and his Uncle Ike deepens.  Readers learn a bit more about Ike, but there is still the biggest mystery about him yet to be revealed in future books in this series.  The story continues in The Activist.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Needlework Tuesday - No, it's not hunting season

 Sorry to have missed you all last week.  Life sure does get busy at  points and when something has to give way, it's going to be my blog.  I did spend a lovely day with my son last week. We toured a university and are looking at details of it's program.  It's so good to be able to help launch our kids in the directions they want to go.

Speaking of kids, it's Adopt a School time at Indigo/Chapters and Coles stores across Canada.  You might be shocked to learn, that schools are funded very little when it comes to library books.  Many schools get less than $1.00 per student for the entire year to purchase new library and class room books.  This means that the research materials in their libraries often has been there since you and I were at grade school.

Every dollar that you donate goes directly to a high need school.  All administration costs are borne by Indigo.  They also gives the schools a generous discount at the time of purchase.  Please click the link for Adopt a School, and make a generous donation to the school of your choice.  The children you help today will be the ones running our country in the future.  You can also visit your local Indigo/Chapters/Coles store and make a donation in person.

You might wonder what this has to do with Needlework Tuesday.  Well, I have donated these two pillow covers to the Chapters store where I work and they will be used in a raffle draw to earn money for our adopted school.

 Both the fox and the deer finished at 18 inches and will be stuffed with a down pillow insert donated by Chapters Kitchener. The pattern is Forest Friends by Lorna from Sew Fresh Quilts.
 I did simple curvy line quilting using the walking foot on my machine.  It doesn't detract from the lovely animal.
 A few weeks ago, I was asked to post a photo of the fittens on a foot.  This pair is a bit large for me, though it clearly shows how much the ribbing stretches to accommodate the toes.  The pattern is called Seamless Salomas Slippers  by Susan Busbee & Megan Williams.
With the yellow and grey pair finished, I am ready to cast on my next pair.  Just this morning I found this lovely skein of teals and blue. It's from Red Heart super saver colour Macaw 3944.

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. If you prepared a post last week, go ahead and add a link to it as well.  The more stitching to look at and enjoy, the better.


Sunday, 24 September 2017

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

I was captivated by this story.  Often, when fairies are portrayed, they are beautiful, fluttering around on their delicate wings, bringing flowers and spreading goodness. Not so with those that continue to torture Tanya merely because she has written about them in her journal.  As this treatment continues, Tanya's behaviour gets out of hand and her mother is worried and doesn't know what to do.  She settles on sending her to her maternal grandmother's for the summer.

Several weeks at the rural Elvesden Manor should refresh Tanya, but the thirteen your old is less than pleased to be stuck with a seemingly uncaring grandmother and only the ground keepser's son, Fabian, for company.  Turns out that the two will experience far more than they could ever have imagined.

The massive, almost crumbling manor with it's neighbouring spooky woods is the perfect setting for this haunted fairy tale.  If the house with all it's unused rooms doesn't creep out young readers, then the overgrown forest with it's numerous sinkholes most certainly will.  I could clearly picture each hole with it's protective railings, and know that I'd be horrified to come across one of them in the woods even during daytime

Tanya and Fabian make a good team.  They don't really want to be friends, but decide to make the best of a situation not to their choosing.  They act like real children by pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with and by covering for each other when caught.

This is a wonderful debut novel by author Michelle Harrison.  She has created a cast of characters, both human and fairy, that demand to be heard from again.  Parents will enjoy reading along with their middle school children.  The story continues in 13 Curses.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.

#IndigoEmployee

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

If I had to be a teenage girl all over again, I'd want to be a Moxie Girl.  Vivian didn't plan to be a Moxie Girl, nor did she think she had the power to change the establishment. but she knew there was something very wrong at her high school.  All the prestige, all the funding and all the attention was lavished on the male football team.  It's members could do no wrong, and when they did, it was ignored, swept under the carpet.

When Viv couldn't accept this attitude any longer, she created a zine with a feminist message and secretly distributed it around the school.  She started something that wasn't going away.

As the story progressed, I grew to like Viv more and more.  She had found her voice and had a message worth listening to.  I did wish that she had told her mom what was happening at school, but there is only so much that teens confide to their parents.  With the help of her best friend and several new friends, they presented a message that couldn't be ignored.

Words have power when they reach a receptive audience.  I'd like to see this book in the hands of all young women.  Classroom discussions on respect and equality regardless of sex, skin colour and race should be ongoing.  As a society we lose so much when any one group is suppressed.  Go Moxie Grrrls.  Yes, I loved this book and the message that it carries. 

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

Cover image courtesy MacMillan Publishers.

#IndigoEmployee

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sheroes: 15 Incredible Stories of the Coolest Women You’ve Never Heard Of

The attached article lists a number of books that sound intriguing. Click the title below to be taken to the article.

If you have always wondered about Carolyn Keene, the author of the Nancy Drew books, this is your chance to find out the truth.

Sheroes: 15 Incredible Stories of the Coolest Women You’ve Never Heard Of: Discover some incredible, inspiring biographies of women you may not know but should.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Needlewrork Tuesday - Value of a Test Block

 If you're at all like me, when you start a new project, you just want to jump right in and get stitching.  I don't want to spend the time knitting a tension square and piecing a test block to ensure that all is working properly.  Heaven forbid that I have selected the wrong shade of fabric or picked up too small of a pair of needles.

You might feel that this is a huge inconvenience to knit a useless little square.  Hands up, we all have that thought.  However, should you need to make a change to perhaps a different size needle or a different piece of fabric, isn't it better to find out at the start then after you have spent hundreds of hours or dollars on your project.

If I had been making an entire project with Mr. Fox, I would have been sad to find out well into the quilt top that the reddish fabric was the wrong choice.  What if I had cut twenty blocks with that fabric and then realized it was wrong.  What a waste.  Same goes with knitting.  What if you knit the entire body of the sweater only to realize that you should have used a larger needle and now the sweater will be too tight at the hips.

Mr. Fox number one will not go to waste, he'll still be made into a pillow cover. I am going to try adding some black buttons to his 'sweater' to see if that helps.  I much prefer Mr. Fox two with his brown spotted pelt.  He is going to look so cool sitting on the sofa.

Mr. Fox won't be alone for long, I have started on a companion.  At the cutting stage, I realized one fabric was too light and switched to the new fabric used in Mr. Fox two.  Liking how this new fella is looking.
As you know, I can't stick to just one project, also knitting.  This pair of grey and yellow fittens it looking great.  I am so in love with this combination.  I am at the decrease point.  Next week I'll post a photo of them being modelled and a link to the pattern as requested by one of my regular readers Sherrie.  She usually adds a linky to my post with an update on her latest quilt/embroidery project.  Thanks for the reminder Sherrie.

Anyone have photos of test blocks that failed and changed the direction of the project or perhaps you knit tension squares and have found an innovative way of using them.  Please share on your blog and link back, or send me the photo and I'll add it to this post.

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, 6 September 2017

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

What would you do if it were your last day on earth? I don't mean if you're Chris Hadfield or any other astronaut and were undertaking a space mission, I mean if you knew you were going to die in the next day.  Would you hide away and hope to avoid your fate, or would you live it up like there's no tomorrow.

When eighteen year old Mateo received the call from Death-Cast, he knew he was going to force himself outdoors to enjoy some of the many activities he'd been avoiding.  He's long figured if he stayed inside, he'd be safe, but it hadn't turned out that way.

Rufus received his call and gathered up his pals and headed to his foster home to arrange his funeral.  Circumstance caused him to flee out alone.  Not a situation anyone want to find themselves in, young, healthy and destined to die alone.

I was moved by both boys stories and wanted them to be the exception.  They should live, Mateo needed to start living.  My favourite line from the book comes from him, "I'm at the finish line, but I never ran the race." Not a good point to consider your life from, though it could make readers question what they have done in their lives so far.

Author Adam Silvera has re-worked society to accommodate 'decker', those who know they are to die that day.  He made it feel very real that such activities could occur and reflected both the positive and negative ways that people could respond.

This novel would make an excellent book club read and could be used in the classroom to spark  a variety of discussions.   This is a wonderful book that is sensitive in it's handling of the death of the two boys.  I look forward to reading more by this talented author.

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins Canada.

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

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Needlework Tuesday - We're our own toughest critics

Meet Mr. Fox. He is from a pattern by Lorna from Sew Fresh Quilts.   He's from the Forest Friends pattern.

Daughter and I spend some time last evening selecting fabrics for this block.  We thought we had it perfect.  Now that he's complete, I'm having second thoughts.  The fur fabric is great, but the reddish pelt seems more like a jacket.

He is going to be made into a pillow cover. Next I need to add a one inch border of the background fabric and then a two inch border of a leafy print.

Should I make a second block using a more plain fabric for his 'coat' or is this good.  He is going to be part of a fund raiser and I want to ensure that people will purchase raffle tickets for the pillow he'll be sporting.

This pattern was published with the fox as an 8 inch block.  I used EQ7 software to resize him to 12 inches.  It wasn't as easy as I imagined it would be.  Lorna uses the stitch and flip technique and EQ7 uses half square triangles with seam allowances.  Lorna's technique makes for much simpler cutting.  As I was working along, I cut the pieces just before sewing them as I needed to keep adjusting the sizes to suit Lorna's method.  I did make notes as I went, so it will be easier the next time.

Once I am happy with this little fellow, I am going to do the same with the deer head block from the same pattern.

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, 4 September 2017

All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

Imogene is excited to be starting school.  Until now she has been home schooled while her parents work at the Medieval Faire in Florida.  She is looking forward to making new friends and doing normal things that real kids do.

School doesn't turn out to be as easy as she had hoped.  Juggling balls, wielding a sword to fend off a villain and being squire to a knight are normal, daily life to Imogene, making friends at school doesn't come naturally to her.  When she breaks the knight's code, she finds herself with some serious decisions to make.

Excellent middle school story told in graphic novel form.  It deals with several issues that are pertinent to middle school students.  I particularly like that the adults don't tell Imogene how to solve her problems, but rather guide her along a path such that she can discover her own solutions.

Should appeal to  a wide range of readers.  Suitable for younger children who are reading at an advanced level.

Victoria Jamieson is author of the popular Roller Girl graphic novel.

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

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada

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Friday, 1 September 2017

The Mosaic by Nina Berkhout

Twyla has her life planned, knows what she wants and the guy she is going to do it all with.  until she meets Gabriel, and injured war veteran.  Her community service stint is supposed to be a one of , no strings attached.  At first she dislikes Gabriel, but over time she starts to meet the real man behind the solitary, don't need any help image he presents. This community service arrangement brings out the worst in her seemingly perfect boyfriend.

Twyla has to confront a lot of truths she is now learning.  She has to determine who she truly wants to be as opposed to who others expect or are pressuring her to be.  While Twyla is learning about becoming an adult, Gabriel begins to confront the ghosts that have haunted him since his earlier deployments.  I was fascinated to read about the ammunition mosaic that he is creating and how it was helping him to cope.

This was a thought provoking read. It wasn't light and fluffy, but more a gritty story that reflects true to life issues that teens have to deal with.   I had me thinking about gossip and heresay as opposed to the underlying truth of situations.  Twyla learned that you can't take everything at surface value especially when people and their emotions are involved.

To learn more about art made with ammunition, visit the website of artist John Ton 
A google search for ammunition art found many more examples. 

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

Cover image courtesy House of Anansi Press

#IndigoEmployee

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Gathering - Shadow House # 1 by Dan Poblocki


Five young people ages 12-13 are invited/lured to Larkspur under various pretexts.  After they arrive they soon notice that something is amiss, actually a whole bunch of somethings.  Why are there no adults and where are the rest of the students/family/movie crew...

The setting of this book is classic Gothic.  It's set in a massive old house with lots of long dark hallways that seem to change when you aren't looking.  Set back from the main road and hidden behind overgrown trees and shrubbery, passersby are sure to miss the house..   To top that off, the kids cell phones can't get service and they have no other means of summoning help.

I loved this book.  It was creepy enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, but I still wanted more.  Just when I thought I had figured out the mysteries, all of a sudden I was hit broad side and found I knew nothing.  Great way to ensure I stayed on edge. At that point, I actually sat there stunned with the revelations.

This is a good choice for middle school readers who are ready to move beyond the Goosebumps series.

The story continues in You Can't Hide.

I listened to the audio book which was very well done, but since have learned that there is additional materials in the book that really add to the tale. If you are a fan of audio books,  I would suggest that you read the paper copy at least once.


To learn more about the series, visit the website of author Dan Poblocki.

Cover image courtesy Scholastic Canada.

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Needlework Tuesday - A Stitch Forward

 Another pair of fittens completed.  They didn't take long at all.  I started them the first week of August and even with being crazy busy they are done.  I tried to work on them every day, sometimes only a row or two.  Those little bits all added up.

It's the same approach I take with reading.  Some days I can't manage a reading marathon (actually most days) but I can fit in a chapter or two.  It not only helps get the book finished, but it keeps me in touch with the characters.  If I leave too many days without reading, I lose touch with them and forget some of those important details that the plot will hinge on.  Similar thing with stitching projects.  Yes, you can lose touch with them.  Forget why you cast on those extra stitches, why you changed some detail.  For me the big one is, which row of the pattern repeat you are on.  I try to make notes, but if you haven't worked on a project in a while, those notes can get lost.  This is exactly where I am with the socks for my sister.  I either didn't make notes or I have lost them and now I have to go back and figure out where the heck I am . eeks.  (Better bite the bullet and just get back on track).

I cast on and have started knitting the latest pair of fittens.  I'm using that super cool yellow/grey/charcoal yarn.  I'm loving how it's looking.  Three rows last evening. I've lost track of how many pairs of these I have made, maybe a dozen, and I'm still loving the pattern and the entire process.  Usually I get bored after making something twice, but this could keep going.  I believe it's the wonderful assortments of yarns that are out there.  Will have to see what i can find for the next pair...


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, 28 August 2017

Crazy House by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Set in a dystopian future, the country has been divided into small cells.  The population of each is dedicated to a particular job sector, such as agriculture.

Becca has always pushed the limits where as her twin sister Cassie has been the model citizen and hard working student.  With both their parents gone, they take care of each other.  When Becca disappears one night, Cassie has to decide to either let her go, or to challenge the system and try to find her.

This story held great promise but fell flat for me in the execution.  A bunch of little things didn't make sense.  For instance, in a cell that is only a few miles across, yet with lots of space dedicated to farming, I would think that even one teen going missing would be significant.  With over half a dozen gone and no one concerned, that doesn't seem realistic.

From that point I kept hoping the story would improve, but it never seemed to pull together.  Even with the plot ending on a cliff hanger, leading me to suspect that this is destined to become the start of a series, I am not interested in reading further.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.

#IndigoEmployee


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

 Considering all the build up to this book from a variety of sources, I was underwhelmed.

August Pullman has always been the outsider, the kid that everyone points at and whispers about.  He was born with a combination of rare genetic defects that have left him physically deformed.

He has  been home schooled, until his parents decide it would be in his best interests to send him to grade 5.  To say  it was a difficult transition would be an under-statement, but Auggie sticks with it and makes friends.

Young readers will find this an interesting and helpful story.  It is written at a level they can understand and relate to.  The message I took from the book is to be kinder than you have to be.

Visit the website of author R. J. Palacio to learn more about Auggie and his world.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.



After finishing this novel I highly recommend Ugly by Robert Hoge (the younger reader edition).  It is the true life story of a boy who was born with severe facial and limb deformations and how he struggled yet continued to thrive against numerous odds.


#IndigoEmployee

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.

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