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.


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.


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.


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.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Needlework Tuesday: Too Easily Distracted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 7 August 2017

Highland Master by Amanda Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.


Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Reason You're Alive by Matthew Quick

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

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

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

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

Also by Matthew Quick

Forgive me, Leonard Peacock

Cover image courtesy Harper Collins Canada.


Friday, 4 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Cover image courtesy of author M. L. Ryan


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Rebel by R. J. Anderson

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

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

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

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

Faery Rebel Series:

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

 Cover image courtesy Oakhill Publishing.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Needlework Tuesday: Needlework Leisure or Time Crunch Project

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

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

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

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

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