Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Crochet Stories: Grimms' Fairy Tales and The Nutcracker

Dover is putting out a series of amigurumi pattern books that are absolutely adorable.  I've been able to review Grimms' Fairy Tales and The Nutcracker thanks to NetGalley.  I honestly can't decide which is my favorite of the two.  I'll be quite happy to make dolls from both.

The Grimm book by Vanessa Putt includes presents each story before giving a couple of patterns for your amusement.  The designer of the Grimm book favors a chain method of starting amis and describes how to do it, but if you're like me, you can just omit the chain and start with a magic ring on the first round.  I really need to make the hedgehogs, and the witch from Hansel and Gretel.  She also gives designs for Jack's beanstalk, and Rapuzel's tower.  I thought those were pretty cool.  They can be used for an infinite number of stories by kids (and adult kids), especially since she gives a basic doll pattern that you can modify as you need.

The Nutcracker book by Lindsay Smith also presents the story as it goes and then gives you the characters.  This designer starts with a magic ring, but if you're a fan of the chain start, you can always replace it with that.  This book has a couple of pages at the end that discuss special techniques and she uses more elaborate hairstyles than the Grimm book.  She walks you through each of them.  If I had to pick a favorite ami it would be between Godpapa Drosselmeier and the Mouse King.  There are also a couple of smaller patterns that can be used as tree ornaments if you so desire.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Boston Tea Party Debate

Oh, my history geek flag is definitely flying today.  I'm watching a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party debate that was taped by CSPAN3 on the anniversary of the Tea Party.  This is just friggin' awesome.  They wrote down bits for the audience to recite in the debate.  Listening to the kids speaking the parts of adult weavers and such is just great.  This is just the kind of thing to get people interested in history.  I really wish interactive history would be the norm rather than the exception.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Brotherhood in Death by JD Robb

Okay, so the In Death books are instant buys for me, and in hardback no less.  This one, Brotherhood in Death, by JD Robb (a pseudonym for Nora Roberts) didn't disappoint.  It was another where you kind of figured out the whodunit part early on and the trick was finding the proof.  I don't mind those.  I know some people do.  

The basic set-up is that Dennis Mira, the husband of the profiler Eve works with, is attacked while trying to meet up with his cousin about selling a house left to them by their grandfather.  The cousin disappears and, since Eve is a homicide cop, is later found dead.  Eve has to figure out who killed him and why.  Simple enough set-up.  The whole thing ends up not so simple or black and white in the end.

There is family drama and growth between Eve and Roarke, which did feel a teeny bit shoehorned, but it did work out in the end.  We got to see more of Dennis Mira, whom most of us fans are just a little bit in love with.  Seriously, forget Roarke, I'd take Dennis any day.  Oh, and Trueheart gets a nice scene between him and Eve.

Overall, this book was pretty good.  My only quibble was with the drama between Eve and Roarke feeling a tad unnecessary.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stitching versus Reading Time

Well, it's happened already this year.  Two stitching projects need to be done ASAP and I want to read.  I also decided to take on the Temperature Scarf, which will take me until next January to finish.  I figured a scarf would be better since I'm using the high and the low of each day, not just the temperature at a certain time.  Also, stitching a five foot row of single stitches is not my idea of fun.  I just need to buy one more skein of yarn, a medium green for temperatures from 51 to 60 degrees.  Add to that my renewed membership on Ancestry (made some real connections with the obscure family members, Wahoo!) and I've started tapering off in my reading time.

I have been trying to listen to Emma, by Jane Austen, as an audiobook as I stitch, but I don't think I'm really getting all of it.  One of the ways my ADD works for me is that if I'm listening to something while at my handiwork, my focus is on the work and I process the audio in the background.  That's why I'll tend to do that with movies I've memorized or just plain music.  I don't miss anything then and I do think I've been missing some of Emma.  I kind of hope I have anyway, because she's not a very likable character thus far.

Between writing, stitching, genealogy, and the reading I feel like I'm too busy to sleep, but I shall do my level best to regain my high status as lazy slugabed.  Starting with right now.  I have work at 4 AM and I need at least five hours sleep.  Good night.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Ultimate Reading Challenge

I finally uploaded my Ultimate Reading Challenge.  I tabbed it as a page in the bar above.  I have saved it as a pdf file, so if someone wants me to email it, leave me a comment on this post or the page.

There should be something there for just about everyone.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power

I'm conflicted about this book.  I received a free copy of The Dragon Round, by Stephen S. Power, via Netgalley for a fair review.  I'm a sucker for dragons, even though I'm not a big fan of revenge plots and I knew from the start the plot line revolved around a captain seeking revenge on the crew that had mutinied against, and marooned, him and another character.  These two end up on a not-so-deserted island, complete with over-sized crabs, and a baby dragon, which they decide to train to help them get off the island and get justice for their abandonment.

I'm conflicted because I don't think the characters grew as much as they could have, but they had so much potential.  The book also jumped around from character to character too quickly, with too many of them being thrown at me all at once.  There is a list of characters in the front of the book for a reason.

This being said, the story was interesting, and the politics of the world were also interesting.  The author definitely knows his stuff when it comes to sailing.  There were a few minor characters that interested me more than the mmc.  The mfc definitely interested me more, and I would have liked to have seen more of her character.

So, I'm going to give this a cautious "I liked it", but not enough to pick up the sequel when it comes out.  I hope the author can figure out how to create a sweeping world in his next book without short-shifting the characters he writes, maybe if he concentrates more on just a few and leaves the others and their activities to exposition, that would be better.  I'm also sure some people will love this book, and I hope they do, because I can see the potential.

Hmm.  I just went to the author's site to get his link address and he even mentions exactly what I was thinking as I was reading the book: "The Count of Monte Cristo with dragons".

Friday, January 22, 2016

Grizzly Cove series, Bianca D'Arc

Bianca D'Arc is one of my go-to authors.  She writes Paranormal Romances that tend to the erotica side.  Her Dragon Knights series is on my automatic buy list.  This review is actually for three separate books/novellas that I read the other day.  They are the first three in her new series, Grizzly Cove, which is about a relatively newly established town that is a haven for bear shifters.  This series is set in her larger world, but stands on its own.  The first three books deal with a trio of fully human sisters who move to Grizzly Cove and are unaware, at first, that they have opened up a bakery in a town full of people who turn into various species of bears.

All About the Bear (Grizzly Cove #1) deals with the oldest sister, Nell, and the town sheriff's romance.  It's short and sweet.  Brody has been wanting to pursue her for a while, but unless she knows about the bears, he can't.  Thanks to a drunken Australian Koala Bear shifter, he gets his chance.  It was a cute story.  The only thing I didn't like was that there wasn't as much character development as I would have liked.  There was the soulmate thing, which she actually does well.  The whole story was very encapsulated with not much more to the plot or any major stumbling blocks to their romance.  I did like it, though.

Mating Dance (grizzly Cove #2) deals with the middle sister, Ashley, and her romance with the town lawyer, Tom.  We have a bit more drama in her story than the first in the form of a reminder of her past.  Again, it's short and sweet, and I did like it.  I had the same issue I had with the first, though; I would have liked more character development.

Night Shift (Grizzly Cove #3) is the strongest of the three novellas.  Tina is the youngest Baker sister and her romance with Zak, the deputy.  There is character development and real relationship development rather than instant love.  Yay!  There is also more to the plot than their relationship.  It introduces some conflict that is going to be dealt with in the next book, which is a full novel.  Their relationship felt more organic than those of the other two couples.

Dragon Tales by Eileen Mueller

This was a collection of short stories by an author from New Zealand, Eileen Mueller.  She writes YA fantasy, and these stories are collected from other publications in the volume, Dragon Tales.  I'll write my impressions out of order.

My favorite story is actually one of the shortest, Dad's Wisdom, which was adapted for children from an adult anthology.  It is hilarious.  I love stories with twists and this one had a doozy.

Golden Days is one of the longest stories and my next favorite.  It is completely opposite Dad's Wisdom and something of a weeper, but beautifully written.  It deals with childhood illnesses so it's a bit heavier than the other stories.

Math Dragon was the first story, and it was fun.  I really wish I had net up with a math dragon when I was in algebra class, even though I got into enough trouble on my own.

Wingspan and Fluffy's Dragon are related stories and really cute, about two young dragons trying to figure out their futures.

I wonder if I would have reacted with the same equanimity as the main character in Suds and Scales to meeting a dragon the way he did.  I don't think I would have, even though I still would have loved meeting one.

Rumbled has two brothers wanting the same dragon.  Which one gets it?  I know which one I'm rooting for.

It's not a long read, only 70 pages, but it's a fun read, and probably one that would be a fun family read.  The only story I'd say you might want to keep in mind the age of the audience is Golden Days.  As I said, that story is a bit heavy, but still written with young enough language that kids should be able to handle it.

Oh, and for record-keeping sake, I was going to stick this in the Seven Continent spot of my reading challenge, but upon researching which continent New Zealand actually belongs to, I found that there seems to be some controversy about that.  I could include it in Australia, but it seems that New Zealand is tectonically not actually on any continent.  Apparently many of the Pacific Ocean islands don't belong to either Asia or Australia.  So, I'm thinking I need to add a continent, Oceania, and that's where I'm plugging this book.

Severus' Dreams by Paganaidd

This is a different one.  Last night while I was feeling like crap I read the completed fanfic, Severus' Dreams, by Paganaidd.  I've read the whole series and it's one of my favorites.  The series starts with Dudley's Memories, continues with Snape's Memories, and concludes with Severus' Dreams.  If you want to read the stories, I'd read them in just that order.

The gist of the series is that Dudley has become a social worker and deals with abused children.  When he comes across a child with obvious magic, he ends up calling on Harry to help a young boy named Tim.  By the events in Severus' Dreams, Tim has been adopted by the Potters and is in his first year at Hogwarts.  (Completely non-canon, which is usually a deal-breaker for me, but it's done so well, I love it.)  In the last story, which is what I'll talk about right now, the story opens at Christmas 1997.  The Golden Trio is on the run from Death Eaters and Snape is the Headmaster at Hogwarts.  All of the teachers are shunning him and he's feeling quite depressed and lonely.  Madam Pomfrey sees this (she has reasons for thinking there's more going on than just Snape being a Death Eater) and gives him a gift that sends him forward in time as a sort-of spirit in Tim's body.  Obviously, there's more going on and Snape has to find his way back to his time.

The author deals with issues such as child and sexual abuse, traumatic brain injury, and psychological disorders in the series, so it's fittingly tagged as an "angst" story (another deal-breaker, but, again, she did it extremely well).  This is not a fluffy story.  It is a damned good story, especially when you take the whole series into account.  Obviously, I don't want to give too much away, but she also doesn't bludgeon the reader to death with those issues.  As Alka-Seltzer made famous, "Try it, you'll like it!"

Paganaidd has a wordpress page where she's writing original fiction.  I haven't read the novel yet, but it sounds interesting.