Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Ice Wolves: Elementals 1 by Amie Kaufman

Twins Anders and Rayne have always been close, but more so after they were orphaned at the age of six.  Their bond is challenged when it is revealed that Rayne is a dragon elemental and she must flee the city which happens to be a wolf stronghold.  On that same day, Anders is disturbed to find himself transformed into a wolf, a sworn enemy of the dragons.  This leads him to question everything he thought he knew about his sister, even whether she actually is his sister.

While living on the streets, the two had formed a loose bond with some of the other street kids, but never became close enough to be considered friends.  For the first time he can remember, Anders has made friends with some of his classmates at the wolf academy.. He is closest to Lisabet the first young wolf to befriend him.   He questions whether he can trust her with Rayne`s  secret.  He is desperate to rescue her from the dangerous dragons, but can`t accomplish such a huge task without help. Can he trust Lisabet.

I love this book.  It is full of magical devices, dragons and wolves.  Wolves as young as twelve are entrusted with the safety of the community.  At the same time they are treated as school children who are expected to attend classes and study.  This is much at the target readers of this book; they think they are old enough to be considered adults but in the eyes of their parents they are still young children.

This adventure filled book should appeal to a wide range of middle school readers.  In some ways it reminded me of the first Harry Potter book with the students off to boarding school to lean how to deal with their new found talent.  The contrast of the dragons and wolves makes for interesting encounters.

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


Monday, 26 March 2018

Stitch'n Time : Finding my Mojo

I don't know if it's a result of the gorgeous spring weather, or the fact that March break is over, but I feel more relaxed and ready to go.

This weekend, I was able to finish up three pillows.  The binding is all done and lose threads clipped.  Either my mojo is well found, or perhaps it was the looming deadline for the quilt show they are to be exhibited at.  Does it really matter; they are done.

The sunflower pillow was from a workshop I took with Jennifer Houlden.  I learned some new techniques.  She suggested quilting the background before adding the flower.  This would keep the piece from wrinkling due to the differing amounts of quilting  She also introduced me to free-motion zig-zag quilting.  I wasn't sure I wanted to try it at first, but then I remembered that the idea of a class is to try new things.  I'm glad I did as I rather like the results of this technique.  I used it to attach the flower to the pre-quilted background.  After the quilt show, this will return home to grace one of my sofas.
 Next up, are the deer and the fox from the Forest Friends  pattern by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts .  These had been sitting for a while waiting for binding. Done.
 After the quilt show they will be going to my friend's son.
This knitting project has almost been addictive.  I have a hard time putting it down for long.  Each row I knit moves the pattern along that it practically grows before my eyes.

I am wondering whether I darn in the ends before I block, or do I block first then darn in the ends.

Stitch'n Time is a weekly Monday post where I share my current needlework projects.  You are welcome to add a linky to your current needlework post and I'll be sure to drop by for a virtual visit.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

This story made me feel sad, angry and even afraid at times.  Tyler Johnson died when he shouldn't have.  He should have been safe in his own neighbourhood, but he wasn't.  Now his twin, Marvin, is left to figure out what happened to him and how to move forward.

With the unfailing support of his mother and his two closest friends, Ivy and G-mo, Marvin is able to search within himself and his community for answers.  Screaming back at him is the colour of his skin.  It is the first thing that a lot of people notice when they look at another person.

Did Tyler get caught up in a bad decision he made, or did some one look at him and decide that because of his skin colour he must be doing something bad.  Marvin experienced a lot of anguish as he broached these questions.  On top of that, he had to find the strength to face the media, his classmates and their opinions.

This is a powerful tale.  The first time I opened it and started reading, I closed it after a few pages.  I wasn't ready for the emotional impact I knew it was going to throw at me.  A few hours later, I cleared a block of time and dove in.  While I love the book and the main characters, I am sad that we still need these tales to be told.  I have faith, like Marvin, that we as a society can move forward and do what's right.  At present we need authors such a Jay Coles to present these stories and show us how to proceed.

This book would be a great subject for a class room discussion or to read as a family.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.

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


Monday, 19 March 2018

Stitch'n Time - missing in action

So sorry to have been missing in action.  Last week was March Break here in Ontario.  That meant I was extra busy at work with a week full of kid activities.  As you can imagine, helping present activities for up to 150 kids a day can be stressful.  While I didn't have much time for stitching, I did do crafts with the kids each day.

Pup Tag made during our Paw Patrol event
I was not surprising that kids really don't listen carefully to instructions.  It was worse that so few kids were able to use scissors.  Often their parents would swoop in and take the project away from them and do the cutting to their standards.  What good is that, the child still can't use the scissors and the child finishes the project much faster that expected.  This caused problems with our timing.  arg.  Hence, my stress.

Lumpy and bumpy, clearly in need of blocking when done.
This week I am on staycation and re cooping.  I did some knitting today.  I am on to the next section of my project and have moved to larger needles and two strands of the orange yarn.    It's knitting nicely, but sure is going to require a lot of blocking.  Since I had to wind one skein into two equal balls of wool, I used my kitchen scale to weigh the first ball i was winding.  Once the ball reached half the weight of the skein, I started the second ball.  Much better than guessing as I did with the first two colours.

After one of my shorter days last week, I was able to drop into the quilt shop and get a few supplies for a pillow cover I'm making for a co-worker.  I had planned to purchase some plain off white fabric for background, but when I spied this piece with text all over, I knew it would be so much better.  Remember, I work in a bookstore...  Now I have no excuse for not starting on this project.

Stitch'n Time is a weekly post where I share my progress (or lack there of) with my needlework projects.  You are welcome to use Mister Linky to add a link to your current needlework post.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Firesong by Adam Garnet Jones

Shane is torn between the person he is on the inside and the person he feels he needs to be on the outside.  In secret, he loves his boyfriend David and how close and understanding they are of each other and their needs.  On the outside, he is attentive to his girl friend Tara and goes through the motions expected of a dating couple.  At the same time he is struggling to accept the recent suicide of his younger sister Destiny and how it has devastated their mom.  He has been relying on Evie, a tribal elder, to help keep his mom at all functioning and yet he keeps hiding his relationship with her grandson.  A gay male on the rez is far from being an accepted thing.

Attending a university far from the rez is Shane's dream.  He figures it will be the only way for him to have a future with David.  Of course, it's far more complicated than he can cope with at that time.

I thought that this was going to be a nice romance between two young men on a rez, but it turned out to be much more.  First, Shane had to deal with his feelings of his mom letting him down during the toughest time of his life when he really needed her guidance.  The time had arrived when he had to address and fully embrace his sexual nature.  This wasn't easy to do on a reserve where male gay relationships were greeted with hostility.  What it brought to light for me was the politics that exist between the various tribes.  In my mind, I had an image of the different tribes working closely together for the benefit of all indigenous peoples.  I was naive in this respect and should have realized that each tribe/reserve is akin to an individual town with respect to bylaws and budgets.

Author Adam Garnet Jones really made me think and question what I thought were truths and any biases I held.  This would be an excellent study novel in high school classes.   Parents and teachers should be sure to check the study guide for this book at Annick Press.

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

Cover image courtesy Annick Press.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Erase the Difference - Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Did you know that right now in Canada, when you are diagnosed with a Mental Health illness, the doctor will tell you to get councelling.  You are left on your own to try and find that care.  If and when you do find it, you then have to find the money to pay for the councelling.  This is wrong.  You have been diagnosed with an illness but you must pay for your care to get well, and it's not cheap.  If you are diagnosed with any other illness, OHIP pays for your treatment and the doctor who diagnosed you will send a referral for your follow-up care. 

This is not right.  Mental Health illness must be treated the same as other illnesses.  Please click the following link to sign a petition by the CMHA to demand this change.  Show your support, please sign.


Erase the Difference - Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario: Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Reading this novel was like body surfing waves at a beach.  The story would be going along smoothly, floating in the swell, and then all of a sudden it would peak and crash down the other side and I'd have to re-orient myself to the latest plot twist.  This style lured me in.  It gave these calm moments to get to know Zelie and her brother Tzain and learn why their mother was killed.

Zelie has inherited her mother's traits to work magic, but the king has killed all the magic practitioners and destroyed all their artifacts.  Zelie, at most, can only imagine what it might have been like to have followed in her mother's steps.

Amari and Inan are the children of the king and have been taught to fear magic due to the damage it has done to the the land and it's people.  Duty above all is the mantra that Inan repeats to himself whenever he questions his father's brutal tactics.  After witnessing her father commit an atrocity, Amari flees the castle in a bid for her freedom.

I was captivated as I followed the intersecting paths of these four young people.  For the most part, they acted as I expected with the exception of Inan.  While his motivation was clear, he struggled with his conscience on how to respond.  This helped make him seem very real.

I do admit to enjoying the addition of magic to a story.  It opens up so many possibilities for plot lines that keep me guessing. As I read along, I couldn't help but imagine the potential of the various maji and how they could benefit their society.

This story should appeal to a wide range of teen readers, though I feel that due to the violence, it is most suitable for older teens.

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


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase

Did you read the Harry Potter books when they were first release.  If so you might recall that Professor Dumbledore has a phoenix as a pet(or is he more of a friend/familiar).  Also, that bird gave one feather, part of which is embedded in Harry's wand.  This is partly what prompted me to read this book, and also because I haven't come across a phoenix paranormal book previously.

Parker Carlisle is about to be stationed overseas when he asks his best friend, Gabe Fierro, to keep a brotherly eye on his younger sister Misty.  Gabe doesn't really want to do this, but how can he refuse his friend.  It's only Misty, the little sister that he hasn't seen in years.  It shouldn't be any trouble.   When he does see her sparks fly, little Misty has grown into a beautiful and appealing woman.  Gabe quickly realizes that it's going to be harder than he imagined to 'just' keep an eye out for her.

I really enjoyed this story.  It was fun and romantic.  I like the way that Misty turned the tables on a traditional romance.  The side line jealousy added some good plot twists that I wasn't expecting.

Once the story got going and I learned more about the phoenix shifting, I had no problems believing it.  It fit right in with the family career choice of fire fighting.  I absolutely love Gabe's mom.  She is the loving but no nonsense kind of mom that could easily handle a bunch of shifter males.  I could imagine her having a positive influence on Misty if her and Gabe's story were to continue.  This book is listed as the first book in a series, so I am hoping that future books will share the stories of his brothers and their partners.  Some of Gabe's brothers are introduced in Ms. Chase's earlier series Boston Dragons.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Sourcebooks Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 5 March 2018

Stitch'n Time - Venturing in to Lace Knitting

I have a lot of stuff around my house.  I would love to be an organized person with regard to this stuff, but it's not happening.  One day while thinking about putting it all away in closets and cupboards, I realized, that out of sight out of mind, I would never get back to finishing those items.  Instead of finding a place to put them away to, why don't I finish them.  Great idea. Now when I open a bag or container to see what it's hiding, I form a plan to finish it.

 First up: I knew this one had a deadline and that it was sitting on the floor under my ironing board.  It's from a class I took with my mom and a friend early last year.  It was taught by quilter Jen Houlden.  She is a wonderful teacher and her class materials are detailed and most helpful.  The three of us accomplished quite a bit in the class, but didn't get finished.  We continued to work at them at home.  My got pushed to the side, but my persisted and finished hers.  She sent me a photo and said that she was going to show it at her local quilt show.  Of course, I jumped in and volunteered to finish mine, so it could also be in the show.  It would make a better presentation with two similar projects side by side.
Last week I started to get nervous that the show would soon be upon us.  I had to get stitching.  I liked that my friend made her piece into a pillow instead of a wall hanging, and decided to do the same.  Now my top is finished.  I need to purchase a zipper so that I can get it done.

 Jen has an interesting technique for the applique. It's a free motion zigzag.  Set your machine to a zigzag stitch, put on the free motion foot, lower the feed dogs and start stitching.  For best coverage, you move the piece back and forth along the applique edge until you have to coverage you want.  I used a variegated thread, the same I used to quilt the background.  At first I was going to go with my old standby of machine button hole stitch, but then I thought I had better try Jen's technique, since that is the reason to taking classes, to try something new.  I'm glad I did; I like the way it turned out.

Later that week, I came across the bag of wool for this project.  I'm going to the leave the pattern details a mystery until I get more accomplished.  My sister purchased this kit for me several years ago and it has sat in almost the same spot in my living room since I brought it home.  It's much to lovely to leave as skeins any longer.
By paying attention and lots of counting, I have only had to rip it out once.  Before I start the next pattern area, I will be sure to install a lifeline.  It's knit with two strands of lace weight wool held together.  The blue heart pin marks the centre of the pattern, which is a simple knit stitch with a yo to either side.

A while back I promised you a photo of the finished body builder afghan that I designed and knit for a friend of my son.  Well, they were thrilled with the results. I am hoping for a photo of the little guy with his blanket.  It was a lot of fun to create this piece, though I am in no hurry to make another like it.

Stitch'in Time is a regular Monday post where I share my current needlework projects with my readers.  I get so much encouragement from you all that it keeps my stitching even when I should be doing other things.  Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework project.