Saturday, October 25, 2014

I take you, by Eliza Kennedy

This book is another of those books that I really wanted to like, but it just didn't work for me. I know some will shake their head and imply that it's because I am uncomfortable with modern options in sexuality and marriage, but that's not the case. I really didn't like the two main characters, and it wasn't based on their their morals. But, the author had a story to tell, and did a good job of it, enough so that I kept reading to find out how this tangle unraveled. (Plus there were two minor characters I really liked.)

I keep trying to find a way to summarize the plot differently than the publisher did, but that summary is pretty good. It's a story about love, and impending marriage, and if fidelity all it's cracked up to be. Does being unfaithful mean you don't love someone? How do you know if like extends to love. How do you know if you really know someone? Plus a lot of Key West thrown in, and probably one of the most complicated extended families you'll ever meet in literature. I added a new tag because of this book: "thought provoking".

Thank you to the publishers and LibraryThing for sending me this book.

Expected publication: May 5th 2015 by Crown

Tags: early-review-librarything, advanced-reader-copy, thought-i-was-gonna-like, thought-provoking

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin

There's something to be said for knitting eye-candy. It inspires. It gets creative chops going and creative juices flowing. Pretty much anyone who has a yarn stash, or has ever held a hook or needle in hand will verify this. Knockout Knits hands out pages and pages of yummy projects and photos. The author gives a range of projects for each style she covers, so that even novice knitters can give things a try, while advanced can be challenged. (I fall into the former, but my friend Maria falls into the latter, and she verified this.) The array of projects for each technique lets knitters have smallish projects to try a new style or idea out with, rather than having to commit a whole sweater, only to discover half way through that it's not for you. Life is too short to have excess WIPs.

As I said, I am a novice knitter (though advanced in crochet) and found myself lusting after some of these projects. I just have to dig out my knitting needles, though, in fairness, I may use them to poke a knitting master friend to make one of the advanced projects for me.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for sending this copy to me, and thanks to the author and publisher as well.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Unwilling Accomplice (Bess Crawford Mysteries) by Charles Todd

This was my first foray into Bess Crawford's world, (though I have read a few Ian Rutledge novels, by the same authors.) Probably, had I realized it was well into a series, I might have not picked it up, but interestingly, two copies of the novel came my way (one from the publisher and one via LibraryThing's early reviewer program.)

The plot has Bess, who is a nurse during the Great War, home on leave, and assigned to accompany a wounded soldier when he goes to Buckingham Palace to receive a medal of honor. All goes well  until the next morning, when the soldier disappears from his bed, apparently deserting the army. Then, a murder occurs in a small town, and the suspected killer is believed to be the missing soldier. Bess, as the last one to see him, find herself suspect as an accomplice, in both his escape and the murder.

Having not read any other books in this series, the pace and interactions between characters didn't bother me, though some Bess Crawford Mystery readers have commented on both aspects of this story. I found myself caught up in the detailed depiction of the English countryside during WWI. The battlefield bits, and that of London at the time, also interested me enough that I shall probably seek out other books in the series. I am a nurse by profession, and am always interested to read about the history of nursing.

The authors (a mother/son team, which fascinates me no end, especially when I try to imagine writing a book with my own son) have created some interesting characters. I look forward to meeting those characters again.

Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and to the publisher for sending me this book to read.

Tags: cozy-type-mystery, early-review-librarything, part-start-of-a-series, read, read-for-review

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Witch's Boy, by Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill came solidly onto my reading radar when this book was about to be released. The bits and blurbs I heard from other readers, eagerly anticipating it, and those annoying little banners that pop up on line, all succeeded. While waiting for my copy of the book to arrive, I sought out another book of hers, read it, and gave it a thumbs up. And I prepared to like  The Witch's Boy.  I was wrong about that, and gleeful to say so. I went beyond "like"; I was enchanted by the story, the world created, the writing, and the characters.

Barnhill has created a world where magic is alive. It's not just a tool or skill that someone can learn to use, but a real entity. It talks, cajoles, cackles, promises, prods, whines, whimpers. It is a force to be reckoned with, and it has been killed off over the years by people who try to steal or harness it. Magic entered our world with other beings, who, at the time of the story, have become standing stones, and have been such for ages. The tiny bit of magic that remains, is stored in a pot of the basement of a witch, in a poor, outlying village of a small, isolated kingdom.  And as the story unfolds, everything is about to be threatened.

As the story opens, the witch's twins, Tam and Ned, head out to do what young boys do so well: have adventures and make mischief. However, the raft they intended to ride the river to the sea sinks, and Tam dies. Ned barely survives, but the villagers become convinced that the wrong boy was saved; the clever one was the one who drowned. And across the world, a young girl is told by her dying mother,  "the wrong boy will save your life and you will save his. And the wolf..." In a world where magic roams, it's inevitable these two will come together. And of course, they fight for, not with, magic, for nothing less than to save the world.

Tags:  a-favorite-author, fantasy, ya-lit, will-look-for-more-by-this-author, didn-t-want-to-put-it-down, grandgirl-nonsparkly-fodder, great-cover, kids-of-most-ages, magic, magical, satisfying

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On Hurricane Island By Ellen Meeropol (Expected Publication March 2015)

I have a friend who, while we have walked many parts of life's path together, is far braver than I, unafraid to scale the heights of conviction, and pursue the passions of belief. (Not that I'm a total wuss, for I try to support my own  positions, and follow through in the ways I cast my vote and dollars.) But I marvel, and am a little envious, of activist ability, and I constantly learn about human rights and our responsibilities from the glimpses of that more rugged path she takes. I am grateful that she often extends her hand, and gives me a tug up that rocky road to standing up for human rights. On Hurricane Island also helped me to explore those paths that are harder to climb. It took me on a journey far beyond a small island in Penobscot Bay, Maine and helped me to travel in the world that has become more evident since the evolution of terrorism into this century and the response of various agencies to contain and destroy it.

The course of actions that emerge in On Hurricane Island pit people of conviction against people of conviction, and it is not always easy to see who is right or wrong.  Math professor Gandalf Cohen  finds herself pulled into this shadow when she is abducted by federal agents and taken to the Hurricane Island's secret interrogation center. Isolated, afraid, and unsure of why she was taken, or where she is, she tries to make sense of what is happening. Populating her new existence are federal agents with varying motivations and secrets of their own, and a young civilian guard, shocked by some of what she learns. That this all takes place as a powerful hurricane rolls up the coast adds an element of tension and fury, not unlike waiting for the back wall of a storm's eye to slam in. the shifting points of view enhanced the reality of conflicts that emerge between various personalities and beliefs. Interspersed in the current day tale is another one, set before WWI when stone from the island was still being quarried.

I am a sucker for "interwoven" tales, and if a book teaches me something as well, I'm sold. This book did more that that, though. It encouraged me to once again, sit down and have a chat with my conscience and examine my beliefs: what is right, what is tolerable, what is wrong. What can I accept, what must I fight to change.

In full disclosure, let me add that the friend I mentioned in my opening paragraph is the author of this book. Thank you, Ellen Meeropol, for once again reaching back and helping me along the path of examining conviction.

Expected publication: March 3rd 2015 by Red Hen Press

Skink -- No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

I'm a Carl Hiaasen fan, both his original works and his YA oriented novels. Before reading this, I just couldn't imagine how the character of Skink could fit into a PG or even a YA book. He's a larger than life iconic hero. He fights to preserve and protect nature. His methods may be quirky, but his heart and head are always focused. He's salty, honest, inventive, willing to fight for his beliefs, and seemingly indestructible. And he's in this novel, helping Richard find his cousin Malley, who is missing after running off with a guy she met online. Skink and Richard head off into the backwoods of Florida in pursuit, when it becomes clear that Malley's absence has become an abduction.

The story is filled with classic Hiassen characters in absurd situations, with even more absurd outcomes. I will admit I missed some of the more colorful phraseology that usually emerges from Skink's mouth in books aimed at an older audience, but could understand why those expressions were rephrased by the narrator. At least they were acknowledged though, so Skink-ophiles could imagine what was said.  But rest assured there are good guys and bad guys, and you'll know which one to cheer for. I understand this is the start of a YA series featuring Skink (and hopefully Mr Tile, who is a lot like Skink's Alfred Pennyworth, only a retired state trooper.) This is fine, but I do hope there will be another adult book where the colorful euphemisms can emerge again, too.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Art Show images

Some pictures from an art show the other evening, where my pysanky and pysanky-inspired art were on display with works from 4 other artists.  I was the only pysanky artist and was my first actual art show as in art only, not a bazaar, fund raiser, pysanky sales event, state fair, crafts fair, etc. Very appreciative of all who stopped by to talk pysanky with me and to the organizing committee for including me. I wish I'd gotten pictures of all the artists, or of my area set up. The two Rushnyk I used on the table are from the czuk family treasure chest. One was my mother-in-law's and the other was given to us by family in Ukraine, when husband and son went to visit in 2004 or 05.  The individual egg baskets were presents from my brother and sister-in-law in India, and a crystal dish I used for display was a wedding gift to my mother and father. I seem to carry my family with me wherever I go. It's a treasure.

My table before the pysanky were placed
Aka: Keep yer mitts off! Seemed nicer than "You break, you buy"

Acrylics by Chuck Carder (

Quali eggs dyed, etched, waxed
traditional goose egg
Ostrich egg in traditional pattern
Goose egg commemorative : Folly Beach


Nature photography by retired Physics professor Norris Preyer

Modern interpretations of traditional designs
Inadvertent selfie in the reflections of a piece called
"Patterns of the Wheel" and a bobwhite pysanky

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Handy Dandy

At some point in my pysanky career, I decided I didn't like the methods of drying eggs after varnishing that were recommended by many of the folks with whom I was in contact. Instead, I constructed my own rack, made from floral foam and wires. When we moved, the old board was really crummy looking after years and oodles of eggs. So today, I recreated it. It looks so happy and pristine, no varnish drops and no dents or missing chunks. I just had to take a picture of it on its maiden voyage. (And yes, that is an ostrich egg in the background, done probably a dozen years or so ago. It's the first ostrich egg I did, and I believe the pattern was from Luba at UGS, not an original, though the color choice is my own. It's also not the humpty dumpty egg that broke and I put back together. That's another story.)
Note: Some of the above pysanky are original designs, though 3 are inspired by pictures I've seen online of Luba's, traditional patterns such as 48 triangles, and of other artists. Again, the color choice is my own.