Monday, July 21, 2014

Where's Daisy?

If you don't follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, you may be wondering where I've disappeared to yet again. Well, this time I've had a good reason. The whole province of Manitoba (Canada) in under a state of emergency for flooding. It's been going on for the last couple of weeks and we were directly and negatively affected. Our house has been protected by a sandbag dike and remains dry, reasonably anyway. Parts of our yard, though, are underwater. Luckily, the driveway, while partially underwater, is passable by both foot and vehicle. No boots or hip waders required.

We went through this back in 2011 and we were warned that this time could be worse in terms of water levels. We were prepared as we could be for it, but thankfully that didn't happen. The water levels were near those of 2011, not worse.  Regardless, it was extremely stressful. The last few weeks have been filled with anxiety, tears, and sleepless nights...along with lots of work to get things ready before the water came up. The work continues and so does the stress. There has been a small drop in water levels in the last few days, but it'll probably be a few more weeks before the drop is significant and even longer before the water is totally gone. Needless to say, reading/reviewing has taken a backseat as my concentration level and attention span are near nil these days. Yesterday was the first time I picked up or even looked at a book in weeks.

My apologies to those who are waiting for reviews. I'm slowly getting back into reading and I hope to resume reviewing as soon as I can.  

Thanks for understanding. 
Marie 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting and Twigs

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

As I said last week, I started another temperature scarf on June 21, 2014. I've only completed a few rows so far, but here it is:

Not very long or exciting yet.  I've changed the temperature ranges just slightly from the last scarf I made (June 21, 2013 - June 20, 2014). I'm going to round up (or down) some of the temperatures, especially those that are close to colour changes. For example, 22C-29C is orange, while +30C is red. Last year, I only used the first two digits of the temperature so that 29.9C was orange. This year, I'm going to make 29.6 and above red. Because that's close enough to 30C for me.  I've made this slight change on all of the colours. It's going to skew/mess up any comparisons between the scarves and temperatures for the respective years, but I think it'll make the second scarf a little more accurate.

I also worked on a twig weaving. I had done one last summer, but only recently got around to making another. Here it is:
I didn't start out with any plan on this one and ended up with more open space that I would have liked, but overall I like it.

In addition to these needlework projects, I also made a few items from twigs, since we seem to have an overabudance of dead trees. We also have a rather large pond/swamp/puddle/lake in our backyard because of the recent heavy rains and high water table and high river levels. When it first appeared I was frantic. Now that we've had it for awhile and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon, I've adopted a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude and decided that the pond needed a raft.
 

Materials include: twigs, rafia, fun foam (??) The sail is decorative and not very functional and probably should be bigger.  Because of the heavy winds we had on Sunday (gusting to 70km+), the raft has beached itself on some tall grass, so someone is going to have to rescue it. 

I also made some stars with twigs and rafia.   My husband thought they were "little people" for the raft. *big sigh*    Instead of saying "Look what I made", I should have said "Look at the stars I made".   One of these days, I'll learn.
 

Now that you've seen them, I ask you, "Do these look like people?"   I think the original project said that they are supposed to be part of a garland or something, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet. If nothing else, they will end up on the Christmas tree.
 
I found both of these twig projects on the House Revivals website. I put my own spin on both them.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts. If you've done any crafting this week, I hope you'll consider linking up so other can enjoy your creations.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tangled Thursday - String 109

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

This week Elaine suggested we base our creations on String 109 from Tanglepatterns.com. This week, I had time to create two tiles. 
Tangles: Knight's Bridge, Warped Eggs, Paizel, Framz, Emingle, Zinger, Pippin

Tangles: W2, Hollibaugh, Bead Lines, Panthe, Ahh, Mr. E

As you can see for the first one, I ignored the border and run into some "interesting" challenges, which resulted in some "interesting" shapes.  ;)   For the second one,  I can see that I missed a few shading opportunities and part of a line.  The shading isn't that great, but until I added it I was thinking of trashing the tile altogether.   It's just meh. 

I guess it's my turn to suggest the challenge.   How about we work with some negative space?  That is, you draw a shape and tangle around it so that the shape in the end is white (or whatever colour paper you are working with) and the "background" is patterned.   I've been wanting to do this challenge since one of the other artists (Tami, I think) did one a number of weeks/months back.  Since it's summer and everyone is probably a little busy, I'm thinking we wait for July 10 for this one. 

Be sure to check out the other creations using String 109 on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Temperature Scarf is done!!


I guess it's been awhile since I last participated in Needlework Tuesday.   After a year of knitting, my temperature scarf finally is done! If you follow this blog, you've probably seen bits and pieces of it throughout the year. I said that once it was done, I'd do a final unveiling. Well, here it is:


It was hard to lay out so that you could see the whole thing. That's the best I could do.   It's starts on the left with June 21, 2013 and ends on the right with June 20, 2014.   I love that it's not symmetrical, but I do wish we'd had a shorter winter (less blue) and a nicer spring (more orange at the end of the scarf). 

All of the ends are weaved into the back, however, I left some long-ish tales because I figured once the scarf is worn the ends might pull out partially anyway. They are all different lengths and don't look great, but until I figure out a solution, I left it like that. Do you know how to stop the ends from pulling out when the scarf is stretched a bit from wearing? I don't think they will pull out entirely so that the scarf falls apart, but I do fear that they will put out enough that a visible tail will be sticking out.

Because I still have lots of yarn left, I plan on starting another one right away. It's only been a few days (start date June 21), so I don't have anything to show just yet.

I'm also thinking of signing up for the Mary Maxim Knit Club of the Month. I was going to order another sweater or two to knit, but while I found some really pretty ones, I wasn't sure they'd look good on me. Why do all of their models have to be size 2? I figured the knitting club might be interesting to try for awhile because it might introduce me to some new yarns, new stitches and some new items I wouldn't ordinarily pick out to knit. I'm definitely going to talk to them first, though. I generally just knit for myself and don't need items for babies or kids. Also, just how many scarf/hat/mitts sets does one person need? I'm hoping for a good mix of items. Something to keep my hands busy while I'm watching TV. I'd love to find another "conceptual" idea, like the sky scarf or temperature scarf, however, I haven't had the time to look online. Let me know if you stumble upon anything "weird" knitting-wise. ;)

That's it for this week.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts. If you've done any crafting this week, I hope you'll consider linking up so other can enjoy your creations.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Taboo by Casey Hill

In Taboo, Reilly Steel from San Francisco goes to Dublin to help the forensics team upgrade their techniques. When a young man and woman are found dead in a hotel room, Reilly soon realizes that there's more to it than first meets the eye. As more bodies are found, the police and forensic team determine that have a demented serial killer on the loose, who's determined to put society's taboos on display.

I really enjoyed this book. The author is such a great mystery teller. The details are drawn out slowly so that the reader is compelled to turn the page and keep reading. There are some interesting twists and turns scattered throughout the book. Some of the details were a tad gory or unpleasant to think about, but overall it wasn't too bad. The book was definitely hard to put down.

I love reading books set in countries different from my own. This was set in Dublin, Ireland. A place I'd like to visit one day. I believe this is the first book I've read set in that city, but I may have read one set in Ireland. Regardless, I loved all of the location details.

Besides the main story, the book also contains some surprisingly compelling side stories. There's a possible illness and alcoholic father to contend with. These stories are written in such a way that they didn't feel like filler material. They really added depth to the characters and substance to the story. I was surprised that I found them almost as intriguing as the main mystery. Well done!!

I really liked Riley. She was a strong intelligent woman. Her family history and past events were haunting her, but the author didn't tell us why right away. Like with the mystery, the details were revealed slowly, so it wasn't until closer to the end of the book that the reader got the whole picture. My one complaint about Riley was that she was a bit condescending towards her co-workers. She had more experience than them and was brought to Dublin to bring them up to speed, but her approach made me cringe a few times.

Casey Hill is the pseudonym of husband and wife team Melissa and Kevin Hill.

Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this team.

For more information about this book, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

For more information about the Hills and the other books, please visit the Casey Hill Books website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster for this review copy.

Taboo by Casey Hill, Simon & Schuster ©2011. ISBN 9780857202390(Uncorrected proof), 409p.

Green Living Can Be Deadly by Staci McLaughlin

In Green Living Can Be Deadly, Dana Lewis organizes the Green Living Festival for the town of Blossom Valley. She's also has set up a booth for her employer, the O'Connell Organic Farm and Spa. When green energy guru, Wendy Stevens, is found dead in the booth next door, Dana has to use all of her detecting skills to find out the truth before the whole festival is deemed a failure.

This is such a fun book. I really enjoyed reading it. It contained a pretty good mystery with lots of red herrings and plenty of suspects. I especially liked the cast of characters. There were those involved in the festival, those at the farm, those in her personal life, and those directly linked to the murder. All of them were varied, interesting and so much fun to read about, even the ones that were hard to like.

I really liked Dana. She was determined to get the job done no matter what it was. Like with the previous book, Dana has her hands full with working at the farm/spa, family commitments, and a journalist boyfriend, yet she still manages to find the time to ferret out the murderer. Her investigative methods were orderly, making following along very easy.

I was amazed at some of the food that Zennia, the cook from the spa, came up with. It sort of gives healthy food a bad reputation. In the last book, I was chiding Dana because she didn't like "healthy" food, but even I wouldn't have eaten some of her food this time around, even though in general I enjoy lots of healthy/vegetarian options with some pretty weird ingredients.

McLaughlin including some tips from the organic farm at the end of the book. These include controlling garden pest naturally, making a banana smoothie, and learning to meditate. All good advice.

I've also read the second book in the series, All Natural Murder. I enjoyed it, too. This really is a fun series.

Highly recommended for cozy mystery fans.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the Kensington Books website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Staci McLaughlin's website.

Thanks to those nice people from Kensington Books for this review copy.

Green Living Can Be Deadly by Staci McLaughlin, Kensington Books, ©2013. ISBN 9780758275028(Mass Market), 366p.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

In The Golem and the Jinni, two characters, Golem, made of clay and Jinni of fire, try to find their way in turn-of-the-century New York. They've come to the city by different means and at first their paths seems miles apart, but eventually they meet and become friends. That is, until a terrifying incident drives them apart. Just as quickly a formidable threat forces them together again.

I loved this book! It was totally absorbing. I don't read that much fantasy. At some point I'm going to have to stop saying that because I've read quite a few now. This one is different, though. The story is set in 1899 in New York, not some fantasy place. While the characters are fantastical, their experiences of trying to hide in plain sight are not. The story ends up examining what it really means to be human.

As I look back upon the story, I realize that not much happened in the way of storyline in the book. It was the main characters and the host of supporting cast that sustained me through this one. The more I read about Golem, Jinni, and the others, the more I wanted to read. I just couldn't get enough of them.

Besides the wonderful characters, I loved the descriptions of the city. The shops, the people, and the sites. I haven't been to New York, but after reading this book I feel like that in some small way, I've been there, at least to the city as it was many years ago.

As evidenced by the various reviews on Goodreads.com, this book isn't going to be for everyone. That sort of surprised me when I first stumbled upon some less than favourable reviews. What? I thought. Did they read a different book? After reading the comments, though, I understand.

Highly recommended. This book has definitely become one of my favourites. Perhaps even my favourite book of all time. I loved it that much. I'd definitely read another book by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

For more information about the author, please visit Helene Wecker's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, HarperCollins, ©2013. ISBN 978006211831(Uncorrected Proof), 484p.