Thursday, May 24, 2007

Eat, Drink and Be Buried by Peter King

In Eat, Drink and be Buried, the Gourmet Detective, who normally investigates and searches out speciality food items for clients, is asked to look into the death of a stuntmen who dies after a stunt. His first suspicion is poisoning, but needs to research and investigate the details to determine if that’s true.

Well-above-average cozy mystery. In other words, it was excellent! The characters were fun and delightful while the story was interesting. He pay particular attention to the food; that’s my favourite part.

I think it’s a great mystery for food lovers as well as those interested in food history. I usually don’t go in for the history stuff too often, but I especially enjoyed this one because of the history. I loved learning about the medieval culinary tastes and customs. In addition, the “show” the castle inhabitants put on for visitors looked like jolly good fun. Well, except for the murder, but you know what I mean.

Some might be a little disappointed that this food mystery doesn't have recipes. That's just fine by me. I probably wouldn't cook what they ate back then anyway. ;)

If you like cozy mysteries, food and history, this one’s for you. Highly recommended.

Macramé Australian Animals & Flowers by Nan Bosler

Macramé Australian Animals & Flowers has cute animal projects and the beautiful flower patterns. However, in my opinion, this book is short on instruction. Also, I would have preferred more diagrams/pictures within the patterns. Disclaimer: I’ve made a number of macramé projects, so I’m not a beginner. However, I haven’t had a lot of recent experience [I could be out of practice] and I’ve mainly done plant hangers (albeit complicated ones) and wall hangings in the past. No multi-dimensional animals.

I tried to make the “Elly Echidna” pattern and failed miserably. The material information was sparse so I ended up using the wrong material. I probably would have anyway, because whenever possible and if I can, I try to use materials I already have on hand rather than purchasing something specific for just one project. I know it’s a bit of a gamble, but I’m cheap and sometimes I like the challenge. This time though it was frustrating and patience-testing. [The cord size wasn’t mentioned, so it would have been hard to use the correct stuff anyway]. The instructions were complicated and I just couldn’t follow them. I finally gave up about halfway through.

The diagrams for the knots were good, but I think they authors assumed the reader/crafter mostly knew how to macramé. My other macramé books have more diagrams for the general knots as well as for the patterns themselves. They are easier to follow. [I’m a very visual person and I find that diagrams/pictures help me a lot.]

I have a few pictures of my failure, which I plan to upload onto Flickr. They won’t be there immediately, but should be there fairly soon. I still plan to put quills(?) on the “thing” hoping to salvage it somehow. Once I put the quills on it, I’ll post more pictures. I’ll update this journal entry with a link to the pictures when they are there. Feel free to laugh.

I had planned on photocopying a few of the patterns to try at a later date, but I think I’ll pass on that option considering my first experience. I’m going to release this book for someone else to use. Hopefully, it’ll be someone with more experience, patience and common sense to use the correct materials. Enjoy. I truly hope you have more skill/luck than I did.

[If someone finds my patience wandering around out there, please send it back to me.]

Update May 11, 2007: Here are the photos on Flickr:
Photo 1
Photo 2

Update October 17, 2007: Finally I've added the quills and posted the photos on Flickr:
Photo 3
Photo 4

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Travelling Hornplayer by Barbara Trapido

The Travelling Hornplayer is a fantastic story with amazing characters. So much happens in the story that I won’t even attempt to sum it up.

Even though it took me a while to get through the book (gardening and yard work kept me away from reading), I thought it was just great. The characters and storyline were totally absorbing. I love books written in the first person; this one was no exception.

Trapido’s character descriptions are superb…in depth and complete. I loved the way characters lives interwove with each other. Her amazing storyline flowed so beautifully from one character to another and back again. I could go on and on about what I liked about the story, but that would probably be giving too much away. I’ll stop there.

Because I had such long gaps between reading sessions, I sometimes forgot who some of the characters were. That’s my only regret/disappointment with this book.

I hope her other books are as good. I’m already half way out the door to look for more.

Highly recommended. I’ll be releasing this book as soon as I can.