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 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

 One day.  Most won't consider just one day significant in the course of their life, but for Natasha and Daniel, in less than 24 hours, they lived a life time together.

On the day she and her family are to be deported, Natasha embarks on a last ditch effort to have the order rescinded.  That same day, Daniel sets out to attend an interview that will determine whether he will attend Yale.  A chance meeting between the two leads them on an odessey.

I was captivated by this tale.  It looked as though it was going to follow a particular path, but author Nicola Yoon thew in a couple of twists that kept me on the edge of my seat.

I listened to the unabridged audio book 8 hours 5 minutes.  Read by Bahni Turpin, Raymond Lee, and Dominic Hoffman.  At first I was a bit put off by the different accents and particularly by the narrator.  After leaving fit for a week I started listening once again and the second time, it clicked and I couldn't stop listening.  The final chapters I listened to as I was driving to work, and it found me whipping away tears that didn't want to stop.  I'm sure I had red eyes as I started my shift.

Also by Nicola Yoon:

Everything Everything

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.


Friday, 17 March 2017

The Break by Katherena Vermette

This book took me into the heart of the Charles family.  The four generations have known the joy of love and children as well as the despair of betrayal and addictions.  On a cold winter night, the family is drawn tight together by the sexual assault of one of it's youngest members.

Emily is a carefree thirteen year old who can't imagine that anything bad could happen to her.  When she urges her friend Ziggy to join her in sneaking out to attend a gang party, her life is forever changed.

I did love this book, but it wasn't easy to read.  The subject matters of abuse and broken families are sensitive topics.  Not all novels can be filled with balloons and rainbows because real life is gritty.

Author Katherena Vermette took her time introducing the large assortment of characters, their backgrounds and connections.  Kind of slow reading at first as I kept referring back to the Charles family tree at the front of the book.  Once I had met everyone, the story sped up and grabbed me in close.

I could feel the closeness of the family as the narrative moved back and forth between the different women.  None of them have had a dream life, but also,  none of them had ever given up.  They were held together by the love and stories of Flora (Kookom) mother, grandmother and great grand mother.  This family has had it's hardships, but they have dropped everything and drawn in tight when needed.  That is their strength which left me feeling hope for Emily and her generation.

Does it make a difference in the story that the extended family is Metis.  I feel that it does indeed.  Over the past decades, the treatment of the various family members was determined by their heritage.  The bullying at school, dismissal of their health concerns, and currently the initial dismissal by the police of the reported incident were all directly a  result of them being Metis. .  Hopefully this book is reaching a wide audience who realize that biased and unequal treatment due to a person's heritage is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our society.

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

Cover image courtesy House of Anansi.

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

#IndigoEmployee  #CanadaReads

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Needlework Tuesday - March Break and the Love of Reading

It's March break time in Ontario and we have ramped up the kids activities at work.  I have made a special post to reflect this.

First, I'd like to share the Love of Reading video from Indigo/Chapters.  It brings tears to my eyes each time I view it.  Our school libraries across the country and woefully underfunded.  Some schools near me receive only pennies per child to purchase books each year.  How do kids learn to read and to enjoy it when they are reading books that are falling apart and/or are very dated.  The Love of Reading program, through the donations of staff and customers, has channelled over $24. Million into some of the neediest schools.

The staff at my store are currently doing our behind the scenes fund raising.  I have knit these three ruffle scarves and donated them for sale to my co-workers.  All the proceeds will be donated.

When I reflect that today's children will be the leaders of tomorrow, they will be our doctors and lawyers, they will be our care givers.  I want them to be the best that they can.

If would like to donate to the Love of Reading fund, visit your local Indigo, Chapters or Coles books store, or visit the website.  All the donations are pooled together and ten of the neediest schools are selected from the many applications each year to rebuild their libraries.  Thank-you for listening.

 Tomorrow at work, the kids will be making egg carton animals using supplies from Klutz.  They make an amazing assortment of craft kits for kids.  For these samples I  used my empty egg cartons.
 I must admit, I really don't know what animal faces look like so mine are a bit wonky.
 A little acrylic paint works wonders in transforming that icky looking cardboard. The blue spotted one doesn't look much like a cow. oh well, I tried.
 The strangest animal in my farmyard is this robot.  Somehow he snuck in.  Guess he figured he'd fit right in with those flashy buttons.

This rooster is my favourite even though he's missing the underside of his beak. Such are the problems of late night crafting.

Hope you've enjoyed this March break special 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 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Tourist by Robert Dickinson

huh, I read every word of this book and am still left confused as to what happened.

In a future, time travel is not only possible but a popular means of tourism.  Spens is a travel rep in the 21 century when one of his clients from the future goes missing.  Instead of reporting it to security, his boss sends him to find the missing woman, starting him on a spiral of misadventure and intrigue.

A great concept for a story, unfortunately  it was lost in the execution.  Author Robert Dickinson  may have  devised a terrific plot and story but he kept too many details to himself.  While he did dole out a few pointers here and there, the balance are still a mystery to me, the reader.  I can't enjoy what is supposed to be a leisure read when I am struggling to understand what is happening.

Not recommended.

I received an advanced readers copy from RedHook Books in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey


A classic regency romance novel that up high with those written by Georgette Heyer and by Mary Balogh.  I couldn't get enough of Juliana's and Spencer's stories and would have been thrilled if the book had continued into their next adventure.  By the time I turned the first page, I was hooked.

Juliana is an unusual young woman for her time.  She values learning and research above social climbing.  Spencer appears to be a young man happy to wander through life, but in reality is working for the government as a spy.  Their first meeting is dramatic and left me wondering what author Cindy Anstey could do top it.   I didn't have to wait long for the drama to continue.

Considering how restricted women's lives were in that time period, close friends, often neighbours,  and family played a significant role in their socializing. Carrie and Mr. Bobbington filled these roles well.  I thought I knew what to expect from each, but was surprised to find that they had more backbone than anticipated.  They could have their own story I'm sure.  As much as I loved Aunt Phyllis for her manipulative nature, it was Uncle Leonard who stole my heart with his superhero nature by taking Juliana's side when none other in the family was able to.

This book has everything a reader would expect from a Regency romance with a little less bodice ripping since it was written with a teen reader in mind.  Ms. Anstey's next book Duels and Deception is due out April 11, 2017.

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

Cover Image courtesy Swoon Reads.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Not Quite a Bullet Journal, but it's mine

 My regular readers know that I am trying to be more organized this year and that has led me to Bullet Journalling.  It is au courant  in all things regarding agendas and journals.  There are videos and websites devoted to how to do this.  Don't anyone tell me I am doing it wrong.  I am exploring to find what works for me, which in my opinion, is the value of this type of journal.

The ones in the stores don't suit my needs which cross all sorts of areas and interests. This first one while include a lot of trial and error, though by the time I'm ready for a next book, I'll have a much better idea of what I want and need.

First of all, buy a book with good quality paper. This one was cheap and the paper is rather thin.  It is recommended to choose one with a dotted grid making it easy to go free-form and to add sketches if needed.  The silver bows are from gift boxes I received recently and were too pretty to throw out.

 Number all the pages in your book.

I started out with a To Do list.  Note that I have only 5 items on it.  This is a realistic amount to be considering.  If I'd put any more on it, every time I looked at it I would be overwhelmed.
(I had to include the pen to give the camera something to focus on, it was going nuts with all the white).
 I should have put the index first, oh well, it will still work.  I have left two facing pages for it.  If I run out, I'll add another index page further in the book and will make the final entry on these pages, the page number of the new index.   For now, I am using two facing pages for a project.  If I find I need more, then no problem, turn to the next available page and continue being sure to note the new page number in the index.
 Most important pages for me and the weekly pages.  I put the dates of the week and then list what I am planning to work on including any items that weren't completed the week before.  When I accomplish a goal, out come the pretty stickers.  If my goal was to knit a little each day, then I put a sticker each day I knit, otherwise, a sticker for finishing.

I write realistic goals.  I don't say "Finish quilt", instead I break it down to pieces such as: cut background fabrics, cut contrast fabric, piece block A's, attach binding, make and attach label.  Each are more easily achievable goals.

In the left hand margin you can see the actual bullets. Dots, X's and arrows. A dot to list an item, an X to show it's complete and and arrow > to show it is carried forward to the next week.
At the very back of the book I attached an envelope to hold my stickers.

Unlike many people, this is not my daily planner, I use the one on my cell phone. I wanted a book solely for my needlework which seems to take a lot more planning than the rest of my life.

Feel free to share a link to your post about your needlework planner. It doesn't have to be a newly written post, I am curious about what works for you.

 I purchased this gorgeous piece of fleece at Lens Mill in Hawkesville to make more pussy hats for the #P_ssyHatProject. The 40 inch cut should make ten hats.  Daughter is modelling the first one.  The pattern calls for an 11 x 20 inch piece of fabric.  We found that is a bit narrow, and cut the next ones as close to 12 inches wide as possible.   Daughter and friends will be proudly sporting their hats tomorrow for International Women's Day.
 Ever wonder what to do with the tail end on the ruffle scarf you finished.  I use sewing thread to stitch it in.  The piece of yarn shows that I whip the end together, then run a gathering stitch toward the body of the scarf.  The ruffle yarn shown to the left of the whip stitch is cut off.
 Gather the stitches.
 Stitch to the cast off edge of the scarf and voila, no chance that scarf will ever unravel.
A little happy dance, I finished the fittens that I started last week.  To keep the momentum going, I am going to cast on the next pair and they'll be ready to go.  I still have some of this yarn remaining, so am going to start with it and see how far it goes.  If I run out, I think some of the limey green would finish them up nicely.

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

Thanks for all your book recommendations last week.  I'll keep them in mind when I'm looking for future reads.

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

Monday, 6 March 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

A fun retelling of the Cinderella story with a few modern twists.

Danielle is a fangirl of the sci-fi show Starfield.  Even though it's been in re-runs since before she was born, it's still her favourite.  In a plan to escape her horrid step-mother and manipulative step-sisters, she intends to enter the costume competition at the upcoming cos-play convention that her late father helped co-found years earlier.

Darien Freeman has been cast to play Prince Carmindor in the Starfield remake.  He only hopes he can live up to the role since he has secretly been a fan of the show for years and doesn't want to disappoint himself and the fans of the show.

Danielle and Darien connect in a an unexpected way and develop and online relationship where they quickly come to depend on each other.  I eagerly awaited to read each new text message to see what would be revealed. It was interesting to see how each of them found it easier to relate and reveal secrets to a stranger than to people they'd know for years.

This story serves as a reminder to not judge people by their appearance.  Take the time to get to know them instead of jumping to conclusions.  People are more than their costume/appearance.

Author Ashley Poston wrote an entertaining, though sensitive story.  All the little details, such as Franco the neighbour's dog, brought the story to life.  You don't have to be a fangirl/fanguy to enjoy this book as the storyline provides enough explanations for the un-initiated.

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

Cover image courtesy Quirk Books.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

This story is so full of twists and turns that I was continually re-assessing who I thought was guilty and of what.  I was nearing the final chapters when I figured out parts of  the mystery, but I didn't figure out the entire plot.

Secrets in a marriage are not unheard of, though the ones that Anne and Marco are hiding could spell disaster for their missing baby daughter.  One thing that they agree upon, is that they desperately want her back.  I could easily imagine the grief and anxiety that they were feeliing.

Author Shari Lapena has created a great set of characters.  Marco was mostly a self made man who became too wrapped up in wanting to succeed and ended up making some bad decisions.  I could almost like him.  Anne was learning to cope with a fussy baby and trying to find her new identity as a stay at home mother.  I thought I would bond with her more, but her grief rightly overwhelmed her character and kept me from getting to know the real her. As she realized, it's not easy to leave the identity your job brings you to become a mom.  As for their dear neighbours, Cynthia and Graham, they were so perfectly matched in their twisted marriage, that they made my skin crawl.  Richard, Anne's stepfather, he came across as a good guy, at least at first, but then I started to feel that he was trying to hard.  Well played Richard.

If I hadn't had to work this week, I would have read it this novel in one day.  Each time I went to put it down for the night saying I would stop at the end of the chapter, something dramatic would be revealed in the last sentence and I'd be left hanging overnight.

This is a well written story and has left me eagerly waiting for Shari's next book, A Stranger in the House, due out July 2017.

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

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Buffalo Jump: Jonah Geller #1 by Howard Geller

I borrowed this book from my library for my husband to read and ended up reading myself it instead.

It is an unusual PI story where Dante Ryan, a mob hitman, turns to P.I. Jonah Geller to help him avoid carrying out a killing he's been contracted to do.

Jonah then gets side tracked when helping a co-worker with another investigation, or does he. I can't reveal any more of the story, just that it keeps twisting away from where I thought it was heading.  I will say that the bad guys were undertaking a devious plan that was totally heartless.

I enjoyed this debut novel by Canadian author Howard Shrier.  A few times, I felt that he was writing for a male audience, though I decided to overlook those ill worded phrases and continue reading.  I'm glad that I did.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.