Saturday, January 30, 2016

The 8th Circle by Sarah Cain

In The 8th Circle, Danny Ryan is still grieving over the loss of his wife and son when a friend of his drives his vehicle into a pond after being shot. The pond happens to be in Danny's front yard and Danny immediately becomes a suspect. Both Danny and Michael are (or were) journalists and now Danny suspects that Michael's last story may have gotten him killed. As he investigates to clear his name and get to the truth, Danny realizes that Michael was about to uncover a deep, dark secret that involved some very powerful people, who would do anything to keep that secret under wraps.

While I mostly enjoyed this book, I didn't love it. The story was good with plenty of twists and turns and progressed at a good pace. . I especially liked that just when I thought it was over, the story continued with more twists that I didn't see coming. However, there was something about the writing that bothered me. Also, the story was quite depraved at times and made me cringe more than once.

I thought Danny was a great main character. His life experiences, background, and upbringing definitely shaped him as a journalist. I really enjoyed reading about his experience in his profession as well as his upbringing. I'm not sure why, but there was a slight disconnect for me in his grieving and his now romantic pursuit.

For me, the author used a couple of words a little too often. Rather than unifying the story, they grated on me and seemed repetitive. One of those words was "lost". Lost girls, lost boys, he was lost, they were lost. The other was "ghost". Half a ghost, ghostly, desolate ghosts. Also, for some reason the color green stuck out. I wondered if the author liked green and used it a lot or she hated green and used it to represent evil or vile things. I didn't even really notice it until one of the characters showed up in all green. I thought that was an odd fashion choice even for this guy. Perhaps it was prominent in the story because some of the characters were Irish.

The title, The 8th Circle, was totally lost on me. Apparently, it's a reference to Dante's Inferno and the circles of hell. There is one brief reference to it in the book and many references to the word "inferno", but that wasn't enough to enlighten me. I finally looked it up after finishing the book.

I don't think I'd recommend this book to my friends, but I might pick up the next book the series to see how the series progresses.

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

For more information about the author and to see her blog, please visit Sarah Cain's website.

Thanks to Julia from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.

The 8th Circle by Sarah Cain, Crooked Lane Books (The Quick Brown Fox & Company LLC), ©2016. ISBN 9781629534855(Advance Uncorrected Proofs), 326p.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting Woes

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

I had hoped to be posting more often in this new year, but it's the 4th week and only my second post. Oh, well. Even though I haven't posted much, I've been busy knitting up a storm.

Again, I'm going to start off with the baby blanket. It's bigger than I thought it was going to be, but I really like the result so far. Only the border solid pink. I don't care for the look of it on the pattern photo and the instructions don't make a lot of sense to me. Perhaps they are mitering the corners or doing a fancy edge. Not sure. Anyway, I'm contemplating doing something a little different. So far, I've come up with two options:
  • do a few rows of crochet (singles/doubles or triples) around the edge. This would allow me to practice crocheting and wouldn't require me to pick up another ton (several hundred) of stitches around the edge.  I'm leaning towards this option.
  • pick up stitches and knit a few rows (for the border) on the two shorter edges, then pick up stitches and knit borders for the longer edges. Straightforward. 
Anyway, here's what it looks like now:

The next project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month showed up and at first I was thrilled. I adore wraps and shawls:

The yarn on this project has an alternating thick/thin silver thread running through it.  The pattern suggests that it would be good for a New Years party or anytime you need a little sparkle.  LOL.

After going out and purchasing the required circular needle and starting it, I've been swearing up a storm since. I've already had a false start and ripped it out after doing about 6 inches. Now I have a almost a whole ball knitted up and I'm thinking about doing that again. I'm not entirely sure, but I think at least one of my problems involves missing one yarn over (yo) in the pattern. Not every time. Just occasionally. That explains the lacy section. However, there's a straight knitting section that not working out and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Here's a photo:

You knit this one from the neck edge down, so the piece is upside down in the photo. I laid it out as flat as I could, but it's still hard to see. However, see the straight unmistakable centre line on the pattern photo? See the wavering centre line on mine piece? Also, notice how the bottom stitch marker and the top stitch marker don't line up? When I first noticed my error, I decided to let it go and continue. However, it's just gotten worse to the point that I need to do something. The good thing is that it really hasn't taken that long to get to this point, so I won't be so heartbroken about starting again.  I think I might sit down with just the pattern and do some counting of the middle section that's not lining up for me.  I could be misreading the pattern.

I've made some substantial progress on a couple of other projects, but I'll leave that until next week.

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

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Love DK Books!

Once again it's time for the annual I Love DK promotion. From January 1st to January 31st, I encourage all of you who love DK books to use the #ILoveDK hashtag to nominate a favourite DK book either on Twitter or Facebook. If you don't have a blog and would like to write a review (or have written one already), feel free to post it on DK's Facebook page.

On Valentine's Day, DK will select one of the entries and that person will win $250 worth of DK books! One lucky participating blogger will also receive a similar prize.

I personally love DK books. They have so many wonderful books on a wide variety of subjects. There's really something for everyone. Whether you like to cook, workout, learn a new skill, or sit in your favourite chair and read about history, philosophy or other fascinating subjects, DK has a book for you.  Did I mention the travel guides, Idiot Guides (for learning new things), craft books, and parenting books? And that's just the adult books. They also have tons of children's books to keep the little ones entertained, educated, and busy.

It's really going to be hard for me to choose a favourite, but since I adore cookbooks and read them like others read novels, I decided to pick one that hasn't left my side since it showed up at my door.

It's called Grains as Mains. The book is filled with tons of "modern recipes using ancient grains". Things like quinoa, buckwheat, polenta, and more. I love this book because it's so beautifully presented with some of the best food photography I've ever seen and features current and relevant recipes that are OMG delicious. I've made a number of recipes from this book and each one is a keeper. I'll write more about those when I do a full review some time soon. For now, click here for more about the book and to see a great video about whole grains. By the way, the video is filled with some of the great mouth-watering food shots from the book.

That's it for now. I hope you love DK books as much as I do and participate in this great promotion.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - New Year, Same Old Projects

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

I wasn't going to post today, but I figured that wasn't a good way to start off the new year. This will be a short post about the two projects I've been working on.

First off, the baby blanket. I think it's going well and is about 2/3 done. The pattern is getting a little boring, so I can't wait for this one to be done already. One good thing is that I'm getting way better at picking up stitches. A skill that will no doubt come in handy in the future.

Second, the toque made with sock yarn. It, too, is going well and is probably a little more than 2/3 done. I'm still having a little trouble with stitches falling off the needles, but it's not too bad. I think I'll start the fingerless mitts next, but I'm not sure.

Well, that's it. I told you it would be short. No sign yet of the next project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month, but it should definitely be here this week or early next week.

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

Monday, January 4, 2016

Nine Lives: A Lily Dale Mystery by Wendy Corsi Staub

In Nine Lives, Bella Jordan and her son seek refuge in Lily Dale, New York after a storm delays their drive to Chicago. Bella's husband has just died and she needs a change of scenery. As it turns out, Lily Dale isn't just an ordinary small town. It's filled with psychics and mediums. Soon after she arrives, Bella is asked to help out at the local hotel, who's hostess has just died. Murdered, in fact. Even though she's new in town, Bella is determined to find the killer.

This is definitely a cute cozy mystery. The mystery was fun to follow and all of the characters were likeable. A few things felt a little contrived, but all and all I enjoyed it.

I'm not a huge believer in psychics and that sort of thing, but I found that I liked reading about this community and its inhabitants Some weird things definitely happen, but it's only not clear whether or not these happenings are supernatural. Perhaps the author is leaving that up to the reader to decide or maybe answers will be forthcoming in the next installment of the series.

Chance the Cat and her movements were among those unexplained things. She certainly had a knack for getting around. She turned up in the oddest places without a seemingly rational explanation. Max, Bella's son, knowledge about certain events was also left open-ended.

There was lots of talk about psychic readings, but I don't seem to remember one actually taking place within the storyline. Or maybe I just missed it. Anyway, that might have been fun to read about.

Recommended for cozy lovers. I think those who believe in mediums and psychics will enjoy it more than those who don't. Also, if you like cats, that would help, too. I enjoyed reading the book, but I don't know if I liked it enough to seek out the next book in the series. We'll see, I guess.

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

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Wendy Corsi Staub's website.

Thanks to Sarah from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.

Nine Lives: A Lily Dale Mystery by Wendy Corsi Staub, Crooked Lane Books (The Quick Brown Fox & Company LLC), ©2015. ISBN 9781629532486(Advance Reader's Edition), 279p.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Stages by Thom Satterlee

In The Stages, Daniel is an American translator living in Copenhagen and is known as one of the best translators of Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. When his ex-girlfriend dies and a invaluable manuscript goes missing, Daniel, who has Asperger's syndrome, must break out of his comfort zone to search for the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The blurb at the back of the book mentions that it's reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. While I enjoyed that book, I think enjoyed this one more.

The Cast of Characters provided at the beginning of the book lists the characters as well as how to properly pronounce the names. Because of this, I learned a lot about Danish name pronunciations. For example, Søren Kierkegaard is SIR-in KEER-ka-gore. Apparently, the Danes use lots of silent letters and pronounce some letters differently than the English do. As I was reading, I really tried to use the given pronunciations, even though it slowed down my reading.

Two aspects of the book were particularly interesting to me. First, I'd heard of Kierkegaard, but didn't know anything about him. Since it's one of his manuscripts that is missing, the author included a little information about him and his life. Intriguing stuff. Even though this book is a work of fiction, I assume that the information given is factual. Second, Daniel's Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, is fascinating. I especially loved learning about how he dealt with his job and his personal life.

I think this is the first book I've read in Copenhagen. I don't know anything about the city or the Danes themselves. The details in the book about Danish life were all pretty interesting.

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

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

For more information about the author, please visit Thom Satterlee's website.

Thanks to Sarah from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.

The Stages by Thom Satterlee, Crooked Lane Books (The Quick Brown Fox & Company LLC), ©2013. ISBN 9781629534190(Advance Uncorrected Proofs), 209p.