Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - 2 Finished Projects

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

I really didn't knit (or craft anything) over the holidays, so here's a couple of projects I finished a few weeks ago. The newest project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month was an oversize cowl knit on 20mm needles. Here's the completed project:
Despite the humongous needle size, it really wasn't too bad to knit and only took a couple of hours to complete. I should have got my husband to take a photo of me knitting with the needles, but I was done before I thought of it. The cowl is warm and cozy, but I haven't worn it yet (with the exception of a minute or two to take the photo). It's nice that the project didn't take too long because December is quite a busy month. Overall, I'm happy with the project.   Now that I have these huge needles, I'm thinking of making another cowl.  ;)

The second project I finished was a cabled scarf for me. Here's the finished project:

Again, overall I'm happy with the result.  I had used a mixture of some old (rolled up in a tight ball, recycled from a failed project) and new yarn (still in the original skein).  If you look really closely (in person) you can see where I started with the new yarn, but it really didn't turn out too badly. 

On one hand, I like knitting scarves. Generally, I have the pattern down pat after a little while and after that it's more of the same.  I like repetition. On the other hand, though, about halfway through I'm bored and I'm ready for something else. I have to force myself to pick it up again and complete the thing. That even happens when I have another project or two on the go. Oh, well, it's done. 

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.   I don't know if she'll have a post up with week because of the holidays, but 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.   If there's no post there and you'd like to share, you are welcome to leave a link in the comments here. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Big Ass Needles!

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

I worked on a couple of needlework projects this week.  First of all, I continued work on my Snowman mitten, a kit from Mary Maxim. It was nothing short of frustrating with at least a dozen small balls of yarn dangling from it, all getting into a terrible tangle. I should have taken a photo of it at its worst, but I didn't. My main goal was to get past those few rows and get to the part where fewer colours were used. Thankfully, I'm there now. There's got to be a better way.  Hopefully, my friend YouTube will have a video or two that will offer some helpful hints.  I should have checked there first.   

The other thing I worked on was my cabled scarf. I thought I might finish it, but I ran into a bit of a snag. The yarn I was using was from a failed project I started many (many, many) years ago. Way back when, I ripped out the project and rolled the yarn into a few balls. Because I tried the project a number of times and I rolled the balls quite tightly, over time the yarn stretched out and lost a lot of  its fluffiness. That's all fine and dandy except that to complete this scarf, I needed more yarn than what was in those balls. The additional yarn I needed to use was still in its "virgin" form...loosely wound in a skein. Still nice and fluffy.  The difference is a bit noticeable, but not so much that I'm going to give up on it, especially since I have less than 12" to go.   It did make me stop and think, though.  Next time, I'll have to take better care of the yarn.   

Lastly, my new project came from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month, a bulky, oversized cowl. However, I haven't started it yet because I needed  to purchase some new needles.  I really wish there was a way for them to send them with the kit.  For instance an email saying, "Hey, Marie.  Your next project is on the way.  We can't tell you what it is, that's a surprise, but you're going to need size 20mm needles.  Do you have them?  If not, we sell them for $15.  Would you like us to include them in your shipment?"  How cool would that be?   They make an extra sale and I'd have my needles and could start my project right away.  Here's shot of the project:

I think I'd prefer it in the brown, but that wasn't my choice.  Also, I'm really not happy about having to purchase these big ass needles.  Just look at them!!!  As a comparison, I put them next to some "regular" 5mm needles:

Knitting with them should be interesting.  It's unlikely that I'll make another of these cowls and I'm not sure what else I'd use them for.  Even the lady at the yarn store said that they only got the needles in because of this bulky cowl fad.  Hopefully, someone someday will come up with another use for them. 

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, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so other can enjoy your creations.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Two Finished Projects and One New One

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

My two finished projects come from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. First up, is a hat and matching fingerless gloves/mittens. I was a little dismayed to see that I had enough yarn leftover to actually make full mittens and not these ones that don't cover my fingers, which tend to get the coldest, but I like them anyway. I'll probably end up wearing them over my black leather gloves for added warmth. Here's me with the finished project:
I'm not terribly fond of me in this photo. I'm freezing and squinting. However, my husband did a great job of manning the camera...something he only does once or twice a year. I should have posed a little differently so that you could see that the mittens don't match each other in colour at all.   Trust me, they don't match.

The second finished project is a pair of felted slippers. I finally sewed on the straps and button, but I'm still not loving these things. They have very little/no structure and tend to change shape every time I touch them or put them on. They don't really hug my feet, but rather just fall away from the sides, so it's a little like walking on knitted kitchen dish cloths. Oh, well. 
Heather suggested that I add an elastic.  I'm sure it would help, but for the time being I wanted to make the project as directed.   Also, I'm not really how best to do that.   

Because I finished two projects, I gave myself permission to start a new one!!! I started the Snowman Mittens, also from Mary Maxim. Once again I find myself learning a technique, knitting blocks of colour with small balls of yarn. Right now I've got a tangled mess, but I think it's working out ok and should be fairly easy to untangle and continue on.
I find it a little odd that the mitten has the snowman design on both sides. At least, that's how I interpreted the pattern. If this were a worn item instead of a decorative one, I'd do it differently.

That's it for this week.  This coming week, I hope to finish up a scarf and made some more progress on the Snowman Mitten.  Also, the next project from the knitting club should be showing up any day.  Yay!

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 27, 2014

Daily Zen Doodles by Meera Lee Patel

Daily Zen Doodles, features 365 doodling prompts and quotes to help you be more present in the moment.

I liked this book. The cover is just gorgeous!! It's not a book that you'd read cover to cover, so I haven't done that, but I have flipped through it a number of times and found some interesting quotes. The book directs the doodler to find a quiet place and expect to spend 20 minutes doodling on each page to complete the drawing. They are to "focus on the patterns", but not fixate on making it perfect. The main goal is to be in the present and not thinking about past or future worries. I've completed a few of the pages and I must say that I found it quite relaxing.

The doodling prompts are varied. They range from simple squiggly lines to recognizable shapes, like a leaf, snail, wolf, bell, tree, bird, etc. Some of the pages have a few patterns or doodles drawn in already to get the reader/doodler started, but most are essentially blank (except for the basic shape) to allow the doodler absolute freedom.

I like that the book is small enough to be carried in my purse or book bag. Doodling on the go!! I was worried at first that the middle pages of the book would be hard to doodle because of the binding. However, after trying a few it's really not that bad. Those who are used to doodling or drawing on scrap paper or single sheets of paper might need to make some adjustments while getting used to this format. Perhaps a coil binding would have been a better choice. It would also facilitate removing pages for hanging, framing and/or giving away.

There are lots of interesting quotes, mostly new-to-me. I didn't get a sense that the quotes and doodling prompts were necessarily connected, though. Certainly one could exist without the other. Having said that, I found one quote that I really liked:
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. - Kent M. Keith (page 99)

While I really liked this book, I do have one complaint. The use of the words "tangle" and "zentangle" in the introduction could be confusing. The author doesn't explain these terms and if I didn't already know these words with respect to drawing, I'd be wondering about what they meant. In my opinion, the word "doodle" is more appropriate for this type of art.

Recommended. For those who like to doodle and are interested in finding some "inspiration, relaxation, and mindfulness" in their daily lives.

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

I'd like to thank Kourtney at Ulysses Press for this review copy.

Daily Zen Doodles by Meera Lee Patel, Ulysses Press, ©2014. ISBN 9781612433592(Softcover), 376p.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - A finished project and more...

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

My goal this past week was to finish the seams on the Ragg Christmas Stockings and hang them on the mantle. I surprised myself with this one and actually got it done! I'd rather be knitting than weaving in ends and sewing up seams, so this was a bit of a challenge for me. Anyway, here's a shot of them:

This kit was purchased from Mary Maxim.   I miscounted the rows somewhere, so the middle one ended with a red-tipped toe, instead of white, but I don't care.  They are a little oddly shaped, but I love them!!! 

I also finished the other fingerless mitten/glove and worked on the matching hat, the next project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. The second fingerless mitten turned out okay, but it's a complete different colour than the first one. The pattern said that this would happen because of the variegated yarn that I was given. It still looks okay. The hat has been a little challenging. It's knit in a round on 5 needles. My needle set was a set of 4, so I decided to use a slightly smaller one from another set. It's not noticeable at all, so I'm continuing with it rather than going out and buying a whole new set of needles. The challenging thing is that for some reason working with 5 needles (stitches on 4 of them plus one working needle) isn't as stable as working with 4 (stitches on 3 plus one working needle). A couple of stitches have slipped off the needles and I managed to get everything tangled up more than once. It's not that enjoyable because I have to watch the stitches closely in case one of them makes a run for it again. It's quite a bit better now that I have a couple of inches done, but I'm still taking it slow and only doing a few rows a day. Here's a shot of that project:

I'll show the other mitten/glove and finished hat when it's done.  The yarn for this one is Mary Maxim's Milan. It's a light-weight (3) yarn that's 80% acrylic, 20% wool. It's really nice to work with. My only very small complaint is that the ball lost it's integrity and collapsed upon itself about 3/4 of the way through. However, it didn't end up in a tangled mess (like some other yarns I've worked with), so I'm not going to complain too much. I did move it around a little, so perhaps it's my fault. I just adore the colour selection, so if I happen upon a sale, I might just be making another project with this one.

My temperature scarf is all caught up. Here's a shot of my current scarf compared to one I did last year:

I think you can figure out which is which.  Here's a hint: the newest one is still on the needle.  ;)  In general, the colder temperatures have come a little earlier. For comparison purposes:
  • Orange 29C - 22C,
  • Dark Yellow 21C - 15C
  • Light Yellow 14C - 7C
  • Light Green 6C - 0C
  • Dark Green -1C - -8C
  • Bright Blue -9C - -15C
That's it for this week.   Speaking of knitting, do you see this news about knitting and Alzheimer’s risk? I don't have a plan for this week yet, but you can bet it's going to involve more knitting.

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.

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.


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.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

In The Silkworm, Cormoran Strike, a private detective, is hired by the wife of novelist Owen Quine. Quine has gone missing and at first his wife thinks his just gone away for some alone time. However, it's quickly discovered that it's much more serious than that, especially after Quine has been found brutally murdered. As for suspects, there are plenty. His newest manuscript portrays almost everyone he knows in a very bad light. If it's published, many lives would be ruined. Strike and his young assistant, Robin Ellacott, have their work cut out for them in dealing with this most callous killer.

I loved this book! The story grabbed me right away and I couldn't wait to see what happened to Quine. The storyline about publishing was revealing and exciting to read about.

Both Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are terrific characters and complement each other perfectly. I loved that we got to read more about them and the others in their lives. In Strike's case, we learn about his brother or rather half-brother. They share the same famous father. With Robin, we got to read more about her relationship with her husband-to-be. I really like Strike, but it's Robin who's the highlight for me in this series. She's just awesome.

The book does start out with a bit of cussing, but it doesn't last long. It just lasts a few pages and isn't really that bad or disgusting. Hopefully, it won't turn off too many people.

I liked the first book in the series better than this one. While I loved this book as a whole, I didn't love (or even like) the story or excerpts of the manuscript that Quine wrote before his disappearance. It wasn't my type of book and frankly reading those sections made me uncomfortable. It was just too weird. I'm definitely not into shock art and/or satire. I think parts of this could have been cut without jeopardizing the storyline. It may have even made it a better book and condensed the story a little.

I found one passage in the book that particularly liked. For me, it perfectly describes the murder of Owen Quine:
This murder was elaborate, strange, sadistic and grotesque, literary in inspiration and ruthless in execution. (page 147)

This book is the second in the series, but it can really stand on its own. I think I think there are some references to the first book, but there are no spoilers. So far, the books can be read in any order.

Besides the Harry Potter series, I've read two other books by this author: The Cuckoos Calling also featuring Cormoran Strike and a standalone book, The Casual Vacancy. I still count this book as one of my all-time favourites.

Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book, please visit Hachette's website.

For more information about Robert Galbraith and the other book in the series, please visit Robert-Galbraith.com. For more information about J. K. Rowling, please visit J. K. Rowling's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Hachette Book Group Canada for this review copy.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, Mulholland Books (Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group)), ©2014. ISBN 9780316206877(Hardcover), 455p.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - From head to toe

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

This week I worked on two knitting projects. Last week, I showed the beginnings of a beanie or light toque I was knitting for myself. I finished that, but I'm not really thrilled with it. I could explain further, but I'd rather just show "the good side" and be done.
I'm currently working on the matching scarf and I don't like it any better. Moving on....

The other project I worked on was the felted slippers from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. I'm really surprised at how quickly they worked up. A quick knitter could probably make them in a couple of hours. It took me a bit longer than that, but I made a mistake and had to rip back quite a bit. I felted them this afternoon (twice through the washing machine with detergent and hot water) and I'm quite pleased with them.  Here are the photos of one slipper: 

Before felting

After felting
It's like magic!!!!  The length is perfect for my feet, but they are still a bit too wide.  However, I didn't want to chance one more time through the wash.  Oh, well.  The slippers are still air drying and I'm wondering if that'll make them shrink a bit more.  Once that's done, I'll sew on the purely-decorative straps and buttons and model them next week.

Sorry for the glare.  That's the overhead light reflecting off the kitchen counter.  I was too lazy to retake them.

That's it for this week. I'm going to be looking for a larger project or several smaller projects to do in the next week or two. I wish I could do something else in front of the TV, but for me knitting is the best.

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 9, 2014

Tangled Thursday - P

Tangled Thursday is an 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 using the letter "P" for inspiration. I chose to learn a few new (mostly) "P" patterns for my creation. Here it is:
Tangles: Puf, Puffle, Paushalöv (with Tipple and Zinger), Popsicles, Panthe
All of them are new-to-me except Panthe (bottom right), which I did only once before.  I wanted to do that one again because I wasn't satisfied with my first attempt.

I love Puf (top left) and will likely use that one many times.  Likewise with Paushalöv (bottom left), but here I think I left too much white space.   My attempt at Puffle (top right) is just a scribbled mess.   Meh.

Thanks for the challenge Elaine!!!

Be sure to check out the other "P" creations 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, October 7, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting...Again

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

After having abandoned (temporarily?) the scarf I was making last week, I scrambled to find another knitting project to do in front of the TV.

I've had two balls if Kroy Sock yarn sitting around for some time. I didn't love the socks I made from this yarn, so I searched online for something different. I found a pattern for a beanie online. I don't think a "beanie" is appropriate for someone my age so I'm thinking of it as a light toque. I was planning on making a narrow scarf with the second ball, but it looks like I'll have to dip into the first one to finish the hat.  I'm already into the decreasing section at the crown of the hat (I've done more than in the photo below), but had I known that sooner, I could have made a contrasting strip with some other leftover Kroy yarn. I might figure out something yet.

This hat was supposed to be knit in the round, but since I didn't have the proper circular needle and didn't want to buy one,  I decided to knit it on two needles and have a seam down the back. I'm hoping it's going to work out.

What I didn't anticipate was how differently the colours were going to be "scattered" around the scarf from knitting back and forth instead of in rounds. I know it doesn't really matter, but it's not something I considered when making the decision to go with two needles. Here's how it looked a couple of days ago:

My next project in the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month arrived yesterday. This time it's Felted Slippers. I've never felted before, but I've seen projects for it and have been curious about how it's done. Of course, I didn't have the proper needles, so that meant a trip to a specialty yarn store in the city. I can't see me using these needles (4 double pointed 8mm needles) that much, so I wasn't that happy to have to shell out another $18+ for this project. Sure, I could have bought plain metal ones for about $13, but these bluish wooden ones are kinda pretty, so I went with them. In hindsight, I should have bought the metal ones and saved a few bucks, but it was a long day, I was tired, there was a line-up at the store, and I just wanted to go home. Here's the project:

...and the new needles:

Pretty wood grain, eh? 

I'm not excited that about this project. That's because I only knit for myself and I don't usually wear slippers. I wasn't that excited about last month's project either, the carry-all bag, which I've yet to use. I'm finding that I have to keep reminding myself about why I joined this club...to experience new things, patterns, yarns, stitches, techniques, etc. In that regard, the club is doing what I wanted it to do for that's exactly what's happening. I've had to look up online a number of new-to-me things in the last three months and have learned some new abbreviations as well as techniques. I just wish I loved the items more or found them more useful and that I didn't have to go out and buy new needles for every new project that arrived in the mail. ***big sigh*** Oh, well. 

After complaining last week about the cabled scarf I was knitting but not loving, I received a comment from Heather, who suggested smaller needles. Thanks Heather!!!  I'll probably try that this week.  Hopefully, I'll have a photo to share in the next week or two.
Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.   She's finished her beautiful year-long temperature scarves which are 17 feet long!!!   If you haven't seen them, you can find them on her blog.   Also, 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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Frustrated Knitting

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

These last two weeks were mostly frustrating when it came to knitting. Two of my projects were not working out, so I put down the needles until I could figure out what I wanted to do with them.

If you remember a couple of weeks ago I was working on the latest project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month, a mesh type carry-all bag. Well, I finished the bag, after making more mistakes in the mess pattern, and started on the handles. The pattern said to make 2 handles 19" long and attach them according to the photo. That's where the problems started. In the photo, it looked like the bag only had 1 handle worn over the shoulder. After some measuring, I determined that the handle had to be longer than 19" if I (or most adults) wanted to use the bag as pictured. Dilemma! I decided to follow the pattern, make 2 handles, and figure it out once they were done. Well, that didn't work out so well. The handles were too short to put over my shoulder, yet too long to carry in my hand without the bag and all of its contents dragging on the ground. Darn! So,  I then decided to make 1 long handle by adding onto one of the handles using the yarn from the second handle. It's better, but I somehow managed to sew the handle on backwards the first time! I think it looks okay now, but it was frustrating figuring it all out.

I'm hoping I have more luck with the next pattern, which should be here in a week or so.

The other bothersome project was a cabled scarf I was knitting for myself. First of all, I had lots of trouble following a pretty straight forward pattern. I read the pattern and knew how it should look like, but when I started knitting, it didn't turn out. I'm chalking it up to being distracted by the TV rather than several senior moments. ;)  Then, I got about 3" done before I decided I didn't really like it. I'm using a 70% acrylic, 30% wool worsted weight yarn with the suggested needle size of 5.5mm. That size might be a little too large because it's coming out lacy, light and airy and not really thick and cuddly like a winter scarf should be. Uggg...After knitting my husband's scarf that seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r, I certainly don't want to make a scarf for myself that I don't love. So, it sits in my knitting basket at 3" long.  By the way, the colour is a bit off in the photo.  It's a cream-coloured fisherman's Aran yarn. 

I like the middle cable section, but that's where it's the most lacy.  There are holes big enough for my fingers to pop through where the two cable lines come together and then split apart.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet.  I guess one option is to use smaller needles.  The yarn has been sitting around for years and I was trying to use it up for something/anything, so scrapping it all together isn't a big loss.  Another idea is sure to come along at some point. 

You'd think after all of that I wouldn't try to do any more knitting, however, I'm still working on my temperature scarf. Luckily, it didn't give me any trouble. Here's the latest, with a side-by-side comparison with the scarf from two years ago (old one on the left, new one on the right).

It's a little hard to see, but we've had fewer hot days (red) and more cooler days (light yellow), but a longer more consistent "middle"/orange range.  I'm running out of orange and hope I have enough to finish the scarf in May/June next year.  Perhaps I should go purchase more now before they discontinue the yarn or something. 

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.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Night Before by Lisa Jackson

In The Night Before, Caitlyn Bandeaux wakes up one morning, covered in blood. The night before she was supposed to meet her sister, Kelly, for drinks, but Kelly was a no-show. That's all she can remember. Soon, she learns that her ex-husband was murdered last night and she doesn't have an solid alibi. Did she kill him? Could all of this blood be his? Or was he killed by a serial killer that has taken others over the years. Others who've been known to Caitlyn. Fearing that she's losing her mind, Caitlyn turns to a Adam Hunt, a new psychologist, who contacts her after her regular therapist disappears.

I enjoyed this book first book in the Savannah series. I really liked the way the story unfolded and the way Jackson revealed certain parts of the story. It was really suspenseful, but perhaps a little long. I wasn't bored at any point and I can't think of specific anything that could have been cut out, but my overall impression was that it was longer than needed to be.

As the story progressed, I feared that it was headed for a dreaded clichéd ending. I won't say what I thought was going to happen because that would give too much of the story away. I will say that I'm so glad I was wrong. It was much more complicated than I had imagined.

I liked a number of characters in the book. What I enjoyed the most about the characters was the way Jackson held back some details of the relationship connections and character traits until later in the book. It left me wondering about some of their motivations at times, but it really added a lot of suspense to the story. As for specific characters, Caitlyn was a little flighty, but considering everything that had happened to her, that's understandable. I liked her regardless. I also liked the police officers, Detectives Pierce Reed and his partner Sylvie Morrisette, who were assigned to the case. Their back and forth banter and Sylvie's filthy mouth made reading about them more fun.

Some serial killer novels come across as believable; other ones, not so much. I'm afraid that this one falls in the latter category. It was just too fantastical and "out there" to be plausible. Despite that, the book was entertaining and fun to read.

I've read one other book by Jackson and really enjoyed it. Tell Me is the third book in the Savannah series featuring Pierce Reed, Sylvie Morrisette, and Nikki Gillette.

Highly recommended. I have the next book in the series, The Morning After, in my to-be-read pile. I hope to get to it soon.

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

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

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

The Night Before by Lisa Jackson, Zebra Books (Kensington Publishing), ©2013. ISBN 9781420133714(Mass Market), 444p.

Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista

In Extraordinary Rendition, Byron Carlos Johnson volunteers to defend a man, Ali Hussein, who's suspected to be the banker for Al Qaeda. Almost immediately, Johnson's life is under scrutiny and in danger from both the government and terrorist operatives. To get through this case, Johnson must use his all of his skills to outwit those who have surrounded him, in a world where no one is who they say they are.

When this book first arrived, I found the description intriguing. I don't think I've read a book before that focused on the American legal system at a federal level. Having said that, I wasn't at all sure I was going to enjoy it. I thought it might be beyond my understanding because I don't follow American politics or the war on terror that much and figured that most of it was going to be inaccessible to someone like me. However, that wasn't the case at all! I really enjoyed it. It was immediately engaging and interesting enough that I really didn't want to put it down. It really is a great book!

I think the author could have explained the title a bit better. According to Dictionary.com, the term extraordinary rendition is defined as "the process by which a country seizes a person assumed to be involved in terrorist activity and then transports him or her for interrogation to a country where due process of law is unlikely to be respected". Essentially, detaining then sending a prisoner suspected of terrorism to a country where he can be treated inhumanely in exchange for information. Since I was unfamiliar with the term, I was left wondering what it really meant. If the term was spelled out in the book, I don't think it was done as clearly as this.

While the author included some details of Ali Hussein's treatment, he didn't go overboard with the gory or horrific bits. I think that would have made it too hard to read. That isn't to say he minimized them or trivialized them. What happened to this man at the hands of a supposedly respectable first world country is inconceivable. Generally, the book left me appalled by what a government can do all in the name of fighting terrorism. It's sad, really. But this is fiction, right?

The ending surprised me at first. However, upon further reflection it couldn't have ended any other way. Overall, it's top notch story telling!

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

For more information about this book or to purchase it directly from the publisher, please visit the Astor + Blue Editions website. Other retailers: Amazon, B&N.

I'd like to thank Nicole at Astor + Blue Editions for this review copy.

Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista, Astor + Blue Editions, ©2012. ISBN 9781938231261(Trade paperback), 314p.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

The Girl Who Came Home tells the story of Maggie Murphy, a young Irish girl who set out from Ireland with 13 other members of her town to sail on the Titanic to a better life in America. Much later in life, Maggie finally opens up to her great-granddaughter about that ill-fated trip.

I loved this book. Told from two different time frames: 1912 and 1982, the book is based on true events using fictional characters. I especially love how the story unfolded, but I admit that it was really hard for me to read at times because it was so incredibly sad. I had to put the book down a number of times in order to compose myself before continuing.

Gaynor, the author, used entries from Maggie's journal as well as a few letters from Seamus, the boy Maggie left behind in Ireland, to tell parts of the story. I loved how restrained she was in doing so. It definitely wasn't overdone. She also included some real Marconigrams from the time period, some from the Titanic itself, at the beginning of different story parts.

I also loved the lovely little twist at the end about Maggie. I didn't see that coming, but it definitely made the ending a bit more uplifting. I don't want to say more than that for fear of giving too much away.

Although I hadn't seen any of the Titanic movies/TV specials/etc., I did see an exhibit of Titanic memorabilia. I loved the exhibit, but I don't think I truly appreciated the magnitude of the event or the suffering of everyone on board. Hearing/reading the personal account a survivor, albeit fictional, really accentuated all of that.

This edition of the book contains a P.S. section, which features information about the author, the story behind the book, a glossary of Irish terms, and some reading group discussion questions. The whole thing was worth the read, but I especially loved the story behind the story. It explained which parts of the book were based on real life events.

Highly recommended. I probably could go on and on about this book, but I'll leave it there. I'd definitely 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.

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2014. ISBN 9780062316868(Trade paperback), 359p.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting...Still

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

This week I worked on two projects. I (mostly) finished the bathmat. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to add a fringe on the short ends. It looks okay without it, but I'm still deciding on that. It really needs to be blocked and I hope to get to that this week.  Here's what it looks like:
The other thing I was working on was the next project in the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month, a mesh type carry-all bag.   I hadn't knitted anything in a round before and I admit I had lots of trouble starting. After watching a few YouTube videos, getting the right length of circular needle, and working the first dozen rows or so, it all started to come together.

I only have a couple more inches to knit on the main part of the bag so you'd think I'd be comfortable with the pattern, but I'm not at all. It's only 4 rows long (2 of them are straight knitting), but every second stitch is a yarn over (yo) on the other two rows and I have a hard time seeing if I'm on track or if I've somehow dropped or missed one of those yos...well to me it's just confusing.

Anyway, in the photo just below the centre you can see a section where the mesh pattern is a bit off. I knew it wasn't right, but I couldn't tell where I'd gone wrong. There was no way I was going to be able to just rip out a couple of rows, so I kept going and eventually figured out that I needed another stitch to get back on track. Since I was already 4-6 inches in and was finally over the beginning stages I didn't want to start again. I've convinced myself that it's only "subtly" different. There is one small part about 4 stitches wide on 4 rows (not shown) where it's obviously incorrect, but I'm calling it character and moving on. One day in the distant future I might make another one of these and at that time I can redeem myself. I'd definitely feel differently if this project was a wearable item or if I was making it for someone else. A tote bag for me isn't worth stressing over.  Here's a shot of the mess...I mean...mesh:    

I'm still loving the colour and I did learn how to do the long-tail cast on, so it's not all bad. I don't think it was required for this project, but in watching the videos it seemed that most people had used that cast on method for knitting in rounds and it was just easier for me to follow those videos if I did it, too. I'm not sure how often I'll use it, but I guess it's something good to know.

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.