Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - This Week in Knitting

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

Look at me posting Needlework Tuesday on a Tuesday!!! This week I was busy knitting. Like that's a surprise, eh? I finished knitting the Christmas stockings, a kit I had ordered from Mary Maxim. All I have left is to sew the seams on two of the stockings and make the loops for hanging all three. Here's a shot of the one that's complete:
It's a little oddly shaped, but otherwise I'm quite pleased with it.

I was also working on the next project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. I finished one of the fingerless gloves and started on the second. Here's a shot of that:


It's knit in rounds so no seams to sew.  It's my first time knitting a thumb gusset, so it's a little rough and misshapen.  It's wasn't that fun knitting with so few stitches, but I got through it.  The colours are a bit odd, but the pattern said that this would be the case because the yarn is variegated.  The second glove is starting out red (like the thumb on this one).  Who knows how it'll end up??!!

The pattern has a few mistakes, which doesn't please me at all.  I caught two of them as I was doing them, so there's wasn't any ripping back.  The third one I couldn't do anything about.  One of the previous mistakes caused the ribbing to be incorrect in one spot.  I didn't bother looking into how to correct it.  I'll probably make the same "mistake" (on purpose) on the second glove so that they will at least be knitted the same.   

My goal for next week is to have all three stockings completely finished and hanging on the mantle. As well, I hope to finish the second fingerless glove and matching hat. I might also start one of the Christmas Mittens (another kit from Mary Maxim), but maybe not. I already have a couple of projects, two scarves, that I need to finish so I might just work on those.

After working on several of these kits, I'm left with the dilemma of what to do with the leftover bits of yarn.  They are different weights and made up of different materials (wool, acrylic, etc).  Not really enough to make anything big.  Perhaps some small Christmas ornaments or the like.  Or perhaps a scrappy scarf or small blanket.  I could also use some of it for a non-knitting craft project.  What do you do with your odd and ends?  

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.   If you've done any crafting this week, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so other can enjoy your creations.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Staged to Death by Karen Rose Smith

In Staged to Death, Caprice De Luca stages homes to look their best. This is especially helpful for those wishing to sell their homes. Her old friend Roz Winslow has recently asked her to revitalize her mansion in hopes of bringing in prospective buyers. When Roz's husband is found dead, stabbed with his own antique dagger, Caprice is determined to support her friend and find the killer.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery. All in all, it was quite a good book with an interesting easy-to-follow mystery. Some fascinating family dynamics rounded out the story. There were a couple of awkward spots in the writing, though. In a few cases, it was hard to tell which "she" was being talked about and I had to reread those sections. Also, there was one character introduction that was unusual. I don`t want to nitpick, so I won't go into details. [Note: I read an uncorrected proof of this book. Hopefully, those things were fixed before final printing.]

I found Caprice's home staging business interesting and I liked learning more about it. I didn't quite understand staging a home with a theme, especially one that's being sold, but to each his own, I guess. I also liked all of the side stories: retro clothing, animal rescue, cooking, antiques, party planning, etc. However, I think the mystery suffered a little and got lost in the side stories and Caprice's profession. Perhaps Caprice's interests should have been pared down a little so more focus could have been put on the mystery itself.

The author included a few recipes for the food that was mentioned in the book. All of them sound delicious. Since this book was about staging a house, though, I'm not sure why they were included. I would have been just as happy to see something related to the main part of the story. Some examples: staging tips; furniture arranging tips; real world statistics about home sales for homes that have been staged versus those that haven't been. That sort of thing.

This is my first book that I`ve read from this author. I was a little worried when I found out that she also wrote romance books. I was afraid that this book was going to contain more romance and less mystery. However, that wasn't the case. There was a bit of romance, but nothing over the top.

Recommended.

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

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Karen Rose Smith's website or Karen Rose Smith Mysteries.

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

Staged to Death by Karen Rose Smith, Kensington Books, ©2013. ISBN 9780758284846(Advance Uncorrected Proof), 357p.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - On Wednesday...again

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

Despite working on my knitting projects quite a bit this past week, I don't have a lot to show for it. At least not here on my blog. I was working on one project that I'm finally able to show. It's a "matching" scarf to the light toque I mentioned about a month ago. It's not really matching anymore because I had to use a few different leftover coloured yarns to get it to a length that was passable. It's still way too short; it only goes halfway down my chest.  It still works, though.  All of the yarns are variegated and while they don't really blend in, I think it makes an okay scarf. Most of it will be tucked into my jacket anyway.

It's made out of Kroy Sock Yarn and I really love how light it is. Too bad that some unseasonably cold weather has hit us and I'll be switching to a longer/heavier/warmer scarf. There's always late winter/early spring I guess.
 

I mentioned last week that my project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month was due to arrive.  Well, it did!!  It's a matching hat and fingerless gloves in a beautiful yarn, Mary Maxim's Milan. I hope to start it this week. Here's a shot of the kit:

 

This shot really doesn't do the yarn justice.  It's the Umbria shade if you click on the yarn link above.  Once I start knitting with it, I'm sure the variegated colours will show up more.  I'll try to get a better photo then. 
 
I also finished (mostly) another of the Christmas stockings and started the third one.  Since the seams aren't done, right now they don't look much like anything so I'm hesitant to show them here.  I'll try to get at least one seam done for next week. 
 
Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.   If you've done any crafting this week, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so other can enjoy your creations.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - On Wednesday

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

This week (or past two weeks) I've been working on a couple of knitting projects.

Some time ago, I had started a scarf and abandoned it because it wasn't working out.  It was too "light and fluffy" for winter.  Heather suggested that I try smaller needles (4.5mm instead of 5.5mm, as suggested on the pattern).  Thanks, Heather.  That worked great!

 
I'm about 2/3 done.  Sometimes the middle part doesn't lay flat (not sure why) and it's a little stiff, but the yarn I'm using was ripped out from another failed project.  I'm sure I'll be fine once I'm done and I wash it once or twice.  It's definitely way better on the smaller needles.   The pattern seemed a little complicated at first, but after about 8" or so, I have it down pat and no longer need to look at the paper pattern at all.    

Mary Maxim had a sale on Christmas items recently and I figured I'd order some stockings that I've been pining over for at least a year. Because the shipping is outrageously expensive I tacked on another item onto the order, Christmas Mittens, also to hang on the mantle, for just a little bit more.
 

 
I was really anxious to get started on the stockings and luckily I already had the correct needles.  They are knitted flat rather than in a round and with worsted weight yarn, so they are knitting up quite quickly.  One is mostly completed.  I just have to sew the seam and weave in the ends.  I've also started a second one.  Here's a shot of the fair isle section on the second one:




I had to look up how to do that section properly and found a few videos on YouTube.  The one I found most helpful and easiest to understand was for knitting in the round (which this isn't, so purling wasn't covered) and for righties.  I'm a lefty.   All in all, I think it worked out pretty good, especially on this second one.  Essentially, you knit one strand/colour continental style and the other English style so they don't get all tangled.  Mine still got tangled, but not that bad.  It'll take lots of practice to get it right.  If nothing else, I learned the difference between English and continental knitting.      

After ordering these two kits, I remembered my collection of needlework kits (not started, of course) that have been languishing in my craft area for years.   Perhaps after I get this knitting bug out of my system I'll attack one or two of those. 

Hopefully, next week I'll be able to show off my next project kit from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.   If you've done any crafting this week, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so other can enjoy your creations.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter

In An Evil Mind, the serial killer, Lucien Folter, is already in custody and it's up to Detective Robert Hunter to get him to give up the details about the killings and the location of the bodies scattered around the country. In the past, Hunter has had stellar success in catching other criminals and getting information from them. However, this time Hunter has met his match and must deal with a truly evil mind.

I really enjoyed this book, but I don't think I liked it as much as Carter's other thrillers. Because the killer had already been caught, Hunter spent a lot of time talking to him. Lots and lots of talking. Perhaps a little too much. However, I did enjoy the way the author brought in past events and the forays into the past. Like Carter's other books, this one was immediately engaging. The short chapters allowed Carter to build in lots of suspense. Also like Carter's other books, this one is quite graphic and not for the squeamish.

I don't think I've read too many books where the killer is in custody when the story begins. Knowing who the killer is, having him in custody and then getting the details of the killings and locations of the bodies is sort of like working backwards. It's such a fascinating concept. I loved it!!

After reading a few of the previous books featuring Hunter, I was thinking he was perfect and definitely smarter than everyone else he has to deal with. However, for the first time, we are seeing some small cracks appearing in his solid armor. Did this case get under his skin so much that he's lost his advantage? Were the cracks there all along? Maybe he's not so perfect after all.

Carter mentions at the beginning of the book that it's based on real facts and people he met while he was working as a criminal behaviour psychologist. I would have loved it if he expanded upon this more. I can't imagine it was all one case, right? I would also have loved him to say which parts are fiction.

I also loved that this story had a personal connection for Hunter. That connection is revealed quite early in the book, but I don't want to give anything away so I'll leave it at that.

Carter's resume never ceases to amaze me. He was a member of the Michigan State District Attorney's Criminal Psychology team, then became a rock musician and is now an author.

Highly recommended. Not my favourite book of his, but still a really great book. I'm really looking forward to reading more books by this author.

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

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit Chris Carter's website.

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

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter, Simon & Schuster ©2014. ISBN 9781471132193(Uncorrected proof), 484p.

Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline

In Desire Lines, Jennifer walks away from a post-graduation bonfire and is never seen again. Years later, her friend Kathryn, now a recently-divorced journalist finds herself back in her hometown where memories of Jennifer's disappearance come back to haunt her.

I adored this book. I've been reading lots of gritty mysteries and this one, while it did contain a mystery, stood in stark contrast because it was tamer (for want of a better word). It was a welcome respite and a wonderful read.

Over the years, there have been only a few characters with whom I really identified with from all of the books that I've read. That's probably not that unusual, but it sure is nice to run into a kindred spirit every now and then, even if they are fictional. Imagine my surprise when I saw myself (well, at least partially) in two of the characters in this book! Both Kathryn and Jennifer had traits that I possess or had thoughts that I've had.

By coming home and dealing with Jennifer's disappearance, Kathryn learned more about herself and dealt with some issues that were causing her pain. Because I had seen parts of me in Kathryn (as I explained above), I too learned more about myself and gained some insight into my behaviours and thoughts that I hadn't had before. I think that's probably why I loved the book so much.

There were two other things about the book that I loved. The overall sad tone of the book really appealed to me. I don't know why, but I really like books where the characters are miserable. I don't think of myself as a morose person, but I guess in some ways I am. The book is also about memories, especially those haunting ones. How memories work and how people remember things is another one of my favourite subjects.

One of my favourite passages in the book explains the title of the book.
...this is what I call a desire line. Strictly speaking, it's a landscape-architecture term for the paths people create when they cut across the grass instead of taking a prescribed route--people who follow their desires, if you want to be literal. But I just use it to describe any foot trails that's relatively new and hasn't been formalized by markers or maps. (page 323)

This edition of the book contains a P.S. section, which features more about the author, a reading group guide and excerpts of her other books. It was definitely worth the read, but I didn't find it as interesting or informative as other P.S. sections in other books. I would have loved more insight into this story and/or an interview with the author.

Highly recommended. I'd love to read another book by this author.

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

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

Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©1999. ISBN 9780060566944(Trade paperback), 343p.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Deadly Errors by Allen Wyler

In Deadly Errors, a series of deaths are linked to the new computerized record system at Maynard Medical Center. Dr. Tyler Matthews is the first to suspect that something is wrong, but he can't convince others that the system, currently in a beta test at the hospital, is responsible. His job, his marriage, his reputation, and his life all come under fire when he challenges the hospital and the corporation who see him as a threat to their multimillion dollar profits.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It contained a good medical mystery about how the chart values were being changed resulting in patient deaths. It also gave a small glimpse into corporate greed and conspiracies. The first half of the book was okay. I loved that Wyler, the author, has the expertise to explain the medical procedures as well as he did. However, he used a few too many medical terms that were unfamiliar to me. For me, the second half was much better. Really suspenseful and action packed. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster.

While I enjoyed it, the book just didn't draw me in. I'm not sure why, though. Sometimes, it felt like a chore to just keep reading and finish it. I got into it much more halfway through, but it still didn't grab me like I hoped it would.

There were a couple of awkward and repetitive spots in the writing that bothered me. However, I won't cite an examples here because I read a copy of the uncorrected proof, not a final copy. Hopefully these spots will be caught before the final printing.

I found the medical information extremely interesting, but because I have a background in computer science, I was much more comfortable with the computer terms and computer programming issues that were going on. I won't go into any details, but if this truly was a beta test of the system, patients wouldn't have died.

My doctor's office switched to electronic medical charts within the last year. I don't know exactly how the system works, but I really liked the idea. After reading this story though, I'm not as enthusiastic about it. It left me wondering if errors like this could really happen.  

I also read Dead Ringer by this author. I enjoyed it more than I did this one.

Recommended. I have another book on my to-be-read pile by this author called Dead End Deal.

For more information about this book or to purchase it directly from the publisher, please visit Astor + Blue's website. For Amazon orders, click here.

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit Allen Wyler's website.

Thanks to Jillian from Astor + Blue Editions for this review copy.

Deadly Errors by Allen Wyler, Astor + Blue Editions, ©2012. ISBN 9781938231209(Advance Reader Copy), 345p.