Friday, 28 April 2017

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is essentially a story in two parts.  First, the political intrigue which I found particularly boring.  How is it that mankind can travel far across the stars yet find the same petty, destructive behaviour. 

The differences in gender and understanding gave much to ponder.  We are so reliant on gender identification that I find it hard to overlook.  Even though it doesn't really matter, a person's gender, it is something I naturally assign.  It takes conscious thought for me to avoid.

The second part was much more captivating; a three month long trip over a glacier is the stuff of nightmares or Antarctic exploration.  This I read with rapt attention eager for their next days travel.  Averaging the two parts, the book makes for a reasonable read.

To learn more about author Ursula K. Le Guin visit her website

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I had read so many good things about this book, bloggers raved about it and reviews said it was the best book they read again and again.  I eagerly started reading, but soon was wondering if I had downloaded the correct book.

This is an odd story.  It is the tale of two sister, the younger who indulges in flights of whimsy and is unable to connect with her neighbours and whose older sister never goes beyond the gardens in their yard.  The entire story was stilted, and never seemed to settle into it's telling.  Perhaps it was the wording that was often awkward with some passages required several readings to make sense of them.

I didn't enjoy this book but kept reading with the hope that it would improve, but it didn't.  I had had this book on my reading list for quite a while, and moved it to the top when  a favoured character in a recent read proclaimed this was her most favourite book ever.  I figured there must be something I was missing if that author loved it so very much.

If you choose to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, do so with a friend and discuss it along the way.  It might help to make sense of some of the happenings.

For those who finished the tale, does it never rain in their village?

Learn more about the author Shirley Jackson at this link.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada. 


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bargello Sunflower Quilt Class with Jennifer Houlden

On Saturday I attended a quilt class with my mom and my friend Patricia.  The class was taught by designer Jennifer Houlden.  I wasn't familiar with her work, but as Patricia's mother used to say, all good Ukrainian girls must have sunflower pictures in their kitchen, I jumped at the chance to make one for myself.
 The petals are made using a bargello technique.

Jennifer is an incredibly organized teacher.  As well as having a printed pattern for each of us, she had this large board of instructions illustrating the steps for making the bargello piece.

 My friend is working hard on sewing her colour strips together while I am wandering around taking photos.  We both decided to go with more traditional sunflower colours while my mother opted for a blues flower.

 After the strips were sewn together, we sliced and diced and sewed them back together with  slight offsets.  I love the pinks of another student.

An even brighter version than mine

My bargello fabrics

Patricia's bargello fabrics
 This is the stage I am at now.  I am working on laying out my flower petals for best effect.  We want the tips of the petals to be light and the other end dark.

Jennifer showed up how to use a light table to layout the petals.
 A few of my fellow students got their flowers layed out ready to fuse onto their background fabric.

 That is Jennifer on the left.  She did a great job of teaching this technique.  She started the class with a group discussion and then did either small group or individual instruction as required as we progressed through each step.  The class was made up of quilters with a wide range of experience and everyone was able to do the project with varying amounts of guidance from Jen.  I wouldn't hesitate to take a class from her again.

 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 April 2017

I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

 Jamie Grimm is having a tough time settling into his new family and his new school.  Using humour to deal with life in a wheelchair is helpful but it does little at getting the school bully to leave him alone.

At the urging of his uncle, he enters The Planet's Funniest Kid Comic contest.  Even though it's not easy for Jamie to stand in front of his peers and cajole them into laughing, he finds himself doing just that again and again.

This was an entertaining and funny book.  I don't like to read about bullies in stories, but in this case, I learned something by the way Jamie responded/fought back.  Way to go Jamie.

The story contains lots of jokes and I found myself cracking up with laughter at more than a few points, and this is coming from a person whom my kids say has no sense of humour.  This would be a great book for kids who have graduated from the Captain Underpants books by Dave Pilkey.

I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by Frankie Seratch.  3 hours 3 minutes.  He did an amazing job of making me thinking I was listening to a middle school student and his friends.

Books I have reviewed by James Patterson
Along Came a Spider
House of Robots

Books I have reviewed by Chris Grabenstein
House of Robots
Home Sweet Motel: Welcome to Wonderland #1
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library


Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter

She made one bad decision and her sent her off to a summer camp for troubled teens.  Shortly after her arrival, Kaylie learned that the camp was actually for teens of a different nature: werewolves, vampires, witches, shape shifters and faeries.  Before that day, she hadn't even imagined that these type of people existed, let along that she might be one of them.

She quickly learned that the purpose of the camp was for the kids to explore their new reality and powers and for them to forge strong ties with member of the other races.  To complicate matters further, teenage hormones came into play.  Kaylie had to come to terms with her supernatural heritage, accept the differences of her new friends and figure out this boy thing.

I really enjoyed this novel.  For me, summer camp stories tend to invoke fond memories of  camps I attended in the past.

**spoiler alert
It was inspiring to see people who would naturally be mortal enemies instead become friends and in fact become fierce protectors of each other.

I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by Katie Schorr.  She dis a good job of both the female and male voices.  I had no trouble telling them apart.  It was a little harder to tell that the camp leaders were older than the kids, but then again, they weren't all that much older...

The Shadow Falls series continues in Awake at Dawn.

C. C. Hunter is the pen name of Christie Craig.

 Cover image courtesy Macmillan Publishers.


Friday, 21 April 2017

First Nations Friday: Flight by Sherman Alexie

This book starts out strong and just keeps getting better.

At only fifteen years old, Zits has already lived in over 20 foster homes.  He's lost hope of any one ever truly caring for him and of becoming a member of a family.  The only person who seems to care about him is Officer Dave.

As he is about to commit a heinous act, something happens and Zits finds himself somewhere else, some time else and some one else.  What follows reminded me of  the late night trips Mr. Scrooge took in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, though I found the events and emotions provoked in Zits' trips more poignant.

I was captivated by this novel and by the trips that Zits found himself trapped in.  He was confronted by some serious situations which he found he couldn't control.  By the time I reached the final trip, I was so caught up in the tale that I could hardly see the words on the page due to my streaming tears.

Zits thought he knew much about life and why his was so rotten.  As he travelled into other lives, he had the opportunity to learn that other people who's lives might look great have secrets within that an outsiders can't know and that because of them we each have serious decisions to make.  In the end, Zits has to think about what he is doing and learn how to make his own decisions.  Thanks to author Sherman Alexie for making me care about a character who didn't care about himself, for leading me to cheer for him and wanting him to find his way.

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

Cover image courtesy Grove Atlantic


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows

It's too easy to hate the pretty girl, to gossip and speculate about the new girl and make fun of anyone who is different from you.  One thing that is hard to do is to keep hating the dead girl, especially when she is or was your step sister.  As much as she hated her when she was alive, Emma couldn't keep hating Quinn once she was dead.

Quinn took an immediate dislike to Emma from the minute they met.  Yet, their mothers were in love and they all moved in together with the hopes of becoming a happy family.

It was difficult to read of the experiences of the new sisters.  At first I thought there was a chance of them bonding, but it was not to be.  Quinn seemed to have an ulterior motive for everything she did.  And once Emma was burned by her, she kept her distance.

This book made me stop and really think about the many events that had happened and how I had accepted the easy interpretation, that Quinn was just plain mean.  Just like Emma, I didn't look deeper and question why she had acted as she did.  It takes time to get to know someone and realize that our first impressions might not be correct.

Both girls came from broken families though they were clearly loved by their parents.  Unfortunately neither of them came through the situations unscathed and neither were at their best when they met.  Not a good basis for combining their families.  I liked how author Eva Darrows handled the conclusion of the tale.  It helped me feel better about all the bad things that had occurred in the earlier parts of the book.    This would be a great book for class room discussions.

Eva Darrows is the pen name of author Hillary Monahan.

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

Cover image courtesy Harlequin Teen.


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Not quite Planned Pooling in Knitting

Something neat has happened with the current pair of slippers I have been knitting.  I have hit a good random number of stitches that has resulted in the colours swirling around the slipper.  The colour seems to lag by four stitches.  If I made the smaller size slippers, I think instead of swirls, I'd have bars of colour.  I am now ready to start the top of the slippers so I will be losing this neat effect.

There are quite a few articles and videos about planned colour pooling if this is something that interests you.  Mikey from The Crochet Crowd has a very easy to understand approach, some of the other videos have a more difficult angle.

I managed to stop myself from rushing out to purchase new yarn to see if I could replicated what Mikey did, but the idea is resting in the back of my mind.  I would love an afghan with such a criss cross pattern across the entire width.

I have managed to stay focused on the quilt I am working on.  All the circles are now complete, IE: the print fabrics are all backed with denim.

I drew up a design to make the best use of what I have and am ready to start stitching them together.  This is a fun sort of quilt, once I put the pieces together, it's done.  No layering it up with batting and backing, no binding.  When I finish sewing the circles to each other, that's it.

I am so looking forward to getting this one finished so hubby will have it to use when we are camping.  I think with the denim on one side, it will be suitable for outside use as it will be nice and sturdy.

This Saturday, I will be taking a quilt class with my mom and a dear friend.  If all goes well, I'll have photos to share next week.  It looks like some new techniques are involved and that you stitch down the applique part at the same time you do the quilting.  This indicates there is a chance that I'll get it completed in short order.  (small happy dance being considered here)

I don't take many classes, but when I do, I totally enjoy them particularly when there is time to be social.  I don't like classes where no one talks except the teacher.  This is my hobby, it has to be fun and enjoyable.  I don't want some one telling to ssshh, be quiet, don't talk.  in between the stitching and talking, I'll snap a few photos and later tell you all about it.

If you are wondering, I have taken quilting classes quite a few times, but I've not taken a knitting nor a crochet class.  I think I've had two or three embroidery classes, some smocking and way back I had some clothing classes.

Do you take classes or are you self/book taught?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

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.  

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

I love this story.  It's premise of rent-a-relative is totally unique and opens up the plot to all sorts of antics.  Honestly, haven't we all wished we could do that at times in our lives, rent a relative to replace one that we were less then enamoured with.

 It is also filled with quirky characters starting with the ever adaptable dad, Will Redden. With no acting jobs at hand, he started the Almost Family Surrogate Agency.   Once Albertina, the feisty senior, encountered Will, she took over every scene and commanded my attention.  How could I not love her, with her over the top hair, make-up and personality.  I can easily imagine her righting wrongs sort of like a Superhero for those who've been taken advantage of. 

Cam Redden is a most remarkable young man.  He's spent his life playing one role after another.  A son for one client and then a grandson for the next.  When he meets Raylene, he finally has to figure out how to be himself.  With all the experience has had reading people, she is the one person he can not understand.

Together, Cam, Albertina and Raylene make a formidable team.  They almost seem like the family none of them has.

Short for Chameleon is a fun story that will have you eagerly flipping pages to find out what happens next but at the same time wishing that that the story wouldn't end.  This is the first book that I have read by author Vicki Grant and it won't be my last.  

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins Canada.

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


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Guest Post with author David Neilsen

Today I have a treat for you, a guest post by author David Neilsen.  On Tuesday, I posted a review of his debut children's novel Dr. Fell and the Playground of DOOM.  One of the aspects of the novel that I love are the names.  They are so rich and expressive and add an extra depth to the story. 

Mr. Neilsen has shared with us how the naming evolved from simple character names of  Nancy, Gail and Jerry to the tongue twisters such as Southeast North Northwestern Academy.  I hope that you enjoy learning how this came to be. 

My Names
By David Neilsen

I was not deliberate in making the names of the characters and places in my middle grade novel, Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom such an integral part of the story.

Dr. Fell’s name comes from the inspiration for the book--a drawing by the late children’s illustrator Trina Schart Hyman entitled “Dr. Fell.” My three protagonists--Gail, Jerry, and Nancy--were three first names I chose relatively early on in the process. There was nothing overtly silly about them. The name of the street they all live on, Hardscrabble Street, was taken from an exit on a highway on my way to visit my in-laws. The early names of the other denizens of Hardscrabble Street and the surrounding area were all relatively mundane. The local school started life as McKenzie Gossamer Silverbag Elementary School. It’s a silly name, yes, but it means nothing.

But somewhere after I’d written a few chapters, things changed. The main reason for the change was Dr. Fell himself. As I wrote him, I found the character using very particular language, words normal children might not know off hand. I did this because Dr. Fell likes to be smarter than everyone. He likes to make people feel stupid. His “What I mean to say is…” line became a mantra, his way of subtly putting everyone else in his or her place.

The first of the ‘new’ last names that popped into existence were those of PTA co-president Candice Gloomfellow and PTA Co-President Martha Doomburg. It was in many ways an in-joke for me alone. You see, I spent three years as the President of our local PTA, and for the first of those years, I was, in fact, a Co-President. I always thought that was funny, so I put it in the book. The Gloom and Doom names just came out of thin air and I liked them.

But then, of course, Candice and Martha had to have children, whose last names would also be Gloomfellow and Doomburg. It was around this time that Gail, Jerry, and Nancy got last names--Bloom and Pinkblossom. Just like that, a format was created and I dove in with gusto.

My heros had positive, nature-friendly names. All of their friends on Hardscrabble Street (and then on Vexington Avenue, Von Burdon Lane, and Turnabout Road) had gruesome, nasty last names. I looked for sickly-sounding words like Rot, Fetid, Bracken, and Puss and then added just enough to the end of the name to make it sound like an actual name while still retaining the obvious nod to the disgusting.

Then it became obvious that other kids were all better off than these kids. So they needed names that reflected this. Goldbaum. Blingforth. Plentyson. Even the teachers got into the act. Mrs. Weathini. Assistant Principal Richman. Mrs. Worth.

The various school names then fell in line. One of the later schools to be mentioned was Ford Garfield Taft Elementary. I took a second look at that and decided then and there to go back and rename all of the public schools after former Presidents. I was too fond of Southeast North Northwestern Academy to change that name, and I convinced myself that since it was a private school, it could skip the three Presidents meme.

When I was done, I held my breath and hoped I hadn’t gone too far. I gave the final manuscript to my agent and crossed my fingers. He liked it. Then he sent it out and I crossed my fingers again. Editors liked it. As far as getting it published was concerned, I hadn’t gone too far.

There will always be those who find the names distracting, but by and large people seem to like it. They get it. They appreciate the play on words.   Names can tell a lot about a character-  all you have to do is read Harry Potter to know that. Making the decision to go down that route can threaten to be overwhelming, but when it works, it helps bring everything together.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Needlework Tuesday - The Secret project reveal.

 I finished the secret project just in time for daughter's visit.  She's home for a few days before her next exam and a soft cuddly afghan is just what she needed.

The alternating cable and rib pattern was fun to knit and not very challenging once it was set in place during the first few rows.  Daughter immediately wrapped herself in it's softness.  Project success.

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 April 2017

Dr. Fell and the Playground of DOOM by David Neilsen

Some kids like to read books about soft, cuddly bunnies, other like to read about beings with fantastical super powers and other kids, they like to read about creepy things.  They want to be scared when something goes bump in the night when they are awake reading long after their parents told them to go to sleep. Those are the kids that want to be reading Dr. Fell and the Playground of DOOM.

Like Nancy, Gail and her brother Jerry, they will just know that something about Dr. Fell is not quite right.  From the way his purple hat seems to shade, or is it protect, him from all the sunlight.  Or is it that overnight he built a wondrous playground in his yard for all the neighbouring children to play in and upon with no concern that those children are getting hurt, repeatedly.  Even the parents don't seem concerns that their children are getting injured as they know that Dr. Fell will take care of them.

From the moment they meet Dr. Fell, he appears somewhat sinister to the children.  He is dressed all in black, except for his large purple hat, and he is all bent over and he creaks as he moves.  Added to that, he speaks in a very formal, almost old fashion form of speech.  The entire neighbourhood is set to dislike him as he has bought the abandoned house that has served as their playground for a generation.

Within days, all has changed and suddenly everyone is talking praise of  Dr. Fell's playground and how nice he is.  How creepy can that be. The three friends are the only people left in town to question what has happened.

This starts out as a fun book with comical last names for the children and outlandish street names.  They more these are repeated, the funnier they seem, sort of like repeating a tongue twister until it becomes totally garbled.  This is a good balance for the creepiness that ensues.  For me, one of the creepier things is that he keeps calling the children urchins. Obviously he does not really like children, but why then did he build them such a wonderful playground.

Jerry, Nancy and Gail are inquisitive  children.  They draw on what they have learned to try and find a way to stop Dr. Fell.  I enjoyed the way they worked together and shared their ideas.    They found a way to put their differences aside in order to help their community.

I read most of the book in one sitting and stayed up way too late to finish it.  I could imagine a younger reader cuddling underneath blankets with a flashlight to evade parents checking that the lights were out, wanting to read just one more chapter.

This is a fun and creepy book that should appeal to a wide range of readers.  Several follow-up activities came to mind as I finished reading.
  • write or tell  a scary story
  • write about the perfect playground, what it would contain and how you would play in/on it
  • write about what makes you feel better when you've been hurt
  • draw 2 portraits of Dr. Fell, the first making him look friendly and the second making him as creepy as possible
  • make a purple painting
  • create a 3D play ground using found objects  or other media
On Thursday I will publish a guest post with author David Neilsen.  I hope you'll join me then and learn more from this up and coming author. 

Also by David Neilsen:
Beyond the Doors - expected publication date August 1, 2017

I received a review copy  of this book from Random House Kids and author David Neilsen in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Some people like to get out of town for the night, others for a weekend and then there are those who need to get out of town forever, to disappear.  Rockton is the place that they disappear to.  It's a small town hidden in the wilds of the Yukon; where it's residents live off the grid in isolation.

Former Detective Casey Duncan moved to town to escape her past and to solve a murder.  She has just started to settle in when a missing person case slams into her. 

This is the second book in the series and Casey, Eric and Will have found their stride as law enforcement in this northern town.  While they have grown to trust each other, they continue to untangle the mass of secrets and lies upon which the town is structured.  All of which make finding the perpetrator of the latest crime(s) very unlikely.

I liked A Darkness Absolute even more than I enjoyed the first book, City of the Lost.  Casey, Eric and the townsfolk felt more this people and less like book characters.  While reading the first book, I had more of a summer camp feeling about town, where as now, it evoked more a wild west, frontier town image, more permanent.  This llatest crime was no cookie cutter felony that could be solved by out of the book techniques; Casey had to employ some out of the box thinking to get to the bottom of the disappearances.  Even though I had an inkling of who might be the perpetrator, I wasn't sure why, just that I had a creepy feeling about him/her.  I was kept guessing up till the conclusion.  I am still mystified about the motives of several of the towns people.  Ms. Armstrong gives us more details about some of the residents, but she also adds further mystery about the distant council.

Author Kelley Armstrong has written a solid second book to the Casey Duncan series and I certainly hope she doesn't stop here.

Also by Kelley Armstrong:

City of the Lost

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

This is an easy to read book that introduces kids to the legal field.  Both Theodore Boone's parents and uncle are lawyers, he knows most of the lawyers and judges in town, of course he wants to become a lawyer himself.  First, he has to finish the eighth grade, after all, he's only thirteen years old.

Theo is used to the kids at his school coming to him for legal advice for themselves and their families.  Usually, it's for small things such as  retrieving a runaway pet,.  This time it's much bigger and it could affect the outcome of the biggest trial to be held in Strattenburg in decades.  Even he is at a lose of how to handle this legal situation.

Theo seems like a normal kid with concerns about his classmates and whether a particular girl likes him, but then he spends his spare time visiting the courthouse and following various trials.  That he has a wealth of legal knowledge is not surprising considering he often hears his parents talking about cases. 

Author John Grisham has introduced a well rounded character in Theo.  He has an uncle with a messed up background, a school friend in the midst of a custody battle and a client with multiple difficulties.  The built in suspense of the trial is further exaggerated by these unknowns. 

As an adult reading this book, I found it entertaining and fairly realistic in Theo's portrayal.  I feel it would be well received by a young reader who wants a more challenging book to read.

The Theodore Boone series currently includes six titles.

 I listened to the audio book as read by  Richard Thomas.  5 hours 4 minutes.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Fingers in so many pots

 Did you have to search deep to find that lingering UFO, or was it on the top of your TO DO pile staring right at you.  Perhaps you decided that you don't want to work on it any longer and have re-allocated the supplies or passed it along to another for completion.  Either way, doesn't it feel good to have faced it and made a decision.
Now that I am determined to get this blue jean quilt done, I have made great progress.  on the left are the circles with fabric sewn on.  The centre back shows more denim circles I cut for the main body.  Then I realized that hubby is a tall guy who likes long blankets, so I have to cut more.  That pile in the lower right is the start of additional rows that I'll add top and bottom to the quilt.  I'm not sure how big to make it, but fortunately, this is a pattern that you can keep adding to even after you think you are finished.

 I had wanted to make this entire project with re-use fabrics, ie: old jeans and shirts past their prime, but the lack of shirts were slowing my down, still.  A quick trip to the fabric store brought these two stripe fabrics into the mix.  They will fit in beautifully with what I already have.

If I work at this one diligently, I can get it finished in time to display at my quilt guild's show in mid May.  That got me thinking about what other quilts I could enter in the show,  How about the two that are sitting waiting for binding.

 While I was shopping for the stripe fabrics, I found these two that would work well for the bindings.  Looks like I might get a few UFOs out of the way.  Small happy dance happening.

All this progress gave me the urge to get on with the t-shirt quilt that has been languishing.  I didn't want to have a boring straight edge on the fleece. I feel that a scallop or is it a meander, would be a lot more fun.  That is now cut and I am doing a long running stitch , sort of like a border, before I start adding the shirts.  My stitching isn't all that even, but then again, this is  a comfort quilt, not rocket science.  Honestly, I did keep saying that to myself while I was cutting and stitching. It really is funny when you consider that my hubby really does do rocket science.

To round out the week, knitting.  I am in the final stages of the secret afghan.  I had to unroll and measure my remaining yarn to see if there is enough for another pattern repeat before knitting the end band.  Alas, 123 yards of yarn are remaining and I need 150 for a repeat and end band.  So end band it is.  As it is, this afghan is huge when it's sitting on my lap and I'm knitting.  It does take quite a bit of effort to keep turning and twisting it around as I work.  Thank goodness it is so soft and cushy.

I look forward to hearing about your projects this week.  Comments and links to your posts are aways welcome.

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.  

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Vigilante by Kady Cross

No matter her age, every girl has the right to dress as she chooses, go where she wants,  and to change her mind and say no.  Just because another person is bigger, stronger, faster or sneakier, doesn't mean that it's acceptable to take advantage of her.

Magda was at a party when four of her classmates drugged and then sexually assaulted her and posted video of the acts to the internet.  She was then repeated victimized when the people around her kept finding way to lay the blame on her.

After Magda's suicide, her best friend Hadley decides to get revenge on the attackers.  Turning vigilante is not the best way to confront these men but since the police had no success in prosecuting them, she sees no other option.

Author Kady Cross brings up all sorts of questions about acceptable behaviour and victim blaming.  It would be a good selection to read in a class room setting accompanied by a facilitator/teacher led discussion.  While this book contains subjects that are difficult to read, I found it well presented and reflective of teenage society.  Hadley feels that what happened to Magda is all her fault, that it all centers around her.  A natural feeling for teens who don't yet see the bigger world picture.  It's important that teens have a safe setting where they can learn about their rights and how to behave properly in society.

Author Kathryn Smith also writes under the names: Kady Cross, Kate Locke and Kate Cross.

Cover image and review copy  courtesy Harlequin Teen.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Needlework Tuesday - I love knitting cables


Did I ever mention how much I enjoy knitting cables.  Perhaps once or twice or more times.   Sometimes I am happy knitting a simple, repeated pattern doing the same cable again and again.  Great for a scarf where you don't want to pay too much attention.

Other times, I want to whole thing, travelling stitches, cables, bobbles and twists.  This shawl provided me with endless challenges.
My current secret project has a repeated horseshoe cable.  It's a 12 row repeat with three cables running the length of the project.  Not really all that much cabling to be done.   They are huge, I could practically stick my hand through the cable gap. I hope someone's toes don't get stuck.  This blanket yarn from Bernat sur is soft.  I have been snug underneath it while stitching.
While I keep focused on the afghan, I thought I'd pull out one of my oldest UFOs. I must have started cutting pieces for this one eight or more years ago.  The pattern is Denim Stars & Circles from Bonnie B Buttons.   I'm using old jeans for the back of the circles and worn out shirts for the fronts.  Of course I am careful with my cutting to avoid the thread bare areas of the garments.  Even when a shirt is worn out, much of the body is still in good shape.   I don't want to make this too big, as denim is very heavy.  The pattern says there is no hand sewing, so there is a change of finishing it soonish if I have enough bits for the front.  Of course, there is yet an entire laundry basket of old jeans waiting to be cut as well as a stack of black denim circles.  Since the edges are intended to fray, I have been marking the cutting lines with a sharpie marker.  Gotta love all the ways to use sharpies in projects.

It will be nice to mark this project off as completed one of these days.  Since I have now told you all about it, I will actually have to work on it and I don't want to be making excuses to all of you.  Please, be my conscience here.

Nobody has to admit it, but some of you might have a rather old UFO that you would like to deal with. Go ahead, pull it out and assess whether you are ever going to work on it.  Then leave me a comment saying simply "I'm going to finish it" or "I'm going to give it away". You don't have to state how long it's been sitting around, though I won't judge you.   I just want to share the good feeling of moving along on a lingering 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. 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Macaron Murder by Harper Lin

A fun, quick story set in Paris.  This murder mystery of a neighbour leaves relative newcomer, Clemence, determined to solve the crime and clear her name.

Clemence is perturbed at the seemingly inept police inspector, but she doesn't offer to share the additional information she has gathered. Along the way, she gets to know her new neighbours in ways she hadn't expected.

I enjoyed following Clemence as she visited with, and questioned her neighbours, particularly Arthur Dubois.  It shows one of the flaws in her character, that of jumping too quickly to conclusions. Not a good trait in an investigator.

I would read more mysteries by Canadian author Harper Lin.  Not sure that I will try any of the recipes for the macarons at the end of the book, but they do sound tasty.


Friday, 24 March 2017

House of Robots by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Sammy is already "unusual" in his class and feels he stands out for all the wrong reasons.  School life doesn't get any easier after his mother invents a robot named E and sends them to school together.  E does make an impression at school by committing an escalating number of mistakes which get him suspended.  At first Sammy is glad that E is back in the workshop, then he starts to miss him.

This is a funny book that kept my laughing most of the way through.  I did tense when ever the class bully Cooper Elliot made an appearance, hoping each time that he would be dealt with by the teachers or principal.  I actually cringed when the students would play dodge ball in gym class.  eeks, do they still  play that horrible game.

Along the way we get to meet Trip, Sammy's BFF who has his own insecurity issues.  Sister Maddy has an immune disease which keeps her at home, but not out of the antics of Sammy and E.

This book would be a great transition book for those young readers who are moving from the cartoon style potty humour books to a more traditional chapter book.  It also shows that friendships do have tough times and that they take effort to maintain.

I listened to the audio book as read by Jack Patterson, James' son. Unabridged, 3 hours.

Also by Chris Grabenstein:

Home Sweet Motel: Welcome to Wonderland #1
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Starting Fresh/Starting a New Project

 It's spring and time to freshen up my home and life in general.  Okay, I don't really get to keep the quilt, though it certainly looks lovely in my son's room with it's blue walls.  The quilt is now packed back in it's box and ready to return to my friend.

This is the fleece that I couldn't find the other week.  It was sort of hiding away in the spare bedroom.  It's a lovely piece of fleece  So soft and looks the same on both sides.    Before I start attaching the t-shirts, I want to cut a scalloped edge.  Then I will work on fast forward to get it done and off to the recipient. 
 Along with a new project for spring, I am also pulling one from the bottom of the closet.  This one has been sitting half way complete  for the past two years.  eeks, yes, it has been that long.  It is so soft and cuddly that it really needs to be finished.  The needles are size 8mm which means the rows add up quickly.  This is a secret project, so photos will be limited.
 I've been thinking about how Kate and Marie, (both frequently link up to Needlework Tuesday), finish so many knitting projects.  I realized, that they both have more than one project on needles as a given time.  I've stated a few times over the years that I want to knit a bunch of pairs of slippers for either a basket by my front door or to give to my family and friends.  Usually I would finish a pair and then months would pass before I started the next pair.  I have a new plan.  When I finish one pair, I would immediately cast on the next pair of slippers, even if I didn't think I would be able to start knitting right away.    After finishing the knitting of the variegated/green slippers, I cast on the black and white slippers.  I have yet to bury the ends of the previous pair, but at this point, I am good with that.    I think this approach has a good chance of success.

 Finally, a pet peeve.  QUILT SHOPS, STOP RIPPING FABRIC.  Yes, I am yelling.  I hate ripped fabric.  The edges get stretched and the threads get turned.  All those white lines are turned threads.   This is the worst piece ever, the threads are turned up to one and a half inches from the edge of the fabric.  I can't use that in my projects.  What a waste.  Now I don't have enough fabric for my cutting plans. 

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

How is your spring going?  Any plans for new projects or are you a gardening fan and are you paging through the plant books?

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