Thursday, November 29, 2018

Stitching: Class with Jeannette Douglas!!

As many of you may know I have a bit of a crush on designer Jeannette Douglas. Not only because I love her intricate patterns and colour scheme choices; but also because she lives here in Calgary!! 
I recently made some connections with a lady in a local Sampler Guild and via that connection was invited to attend a class with Jeannette! I was even luckier that two others I knew from many years ago, attending stitching retreats and what not were also attending. So I did my first 'external' stitching get-together in almost 6 years.  

Now, before you get too excited I will warn you that these patterns are only available via a class with Jeannette at this time. You cannot buy them any other way. Advance apologies! 

ABC Sampler: Friday Night
The set-up for the course started with a couple hours on Friday night working on a small ABC Sampler. And of course me being me I chose a colour scheme that no one else did! (lol) I've worked on this piece since being at the class and I just adore it!! I learned that I did the border stitch slightly incorrect in the past, so it was good to learn how to do the stitch correctly! 

The colour scheme I chose is between the two framed patterns shown on the pattern cover. My stitching to date is below. It's on 36ct linen using a variety of silks that Jeannette supplied in a pack. 

More Stitching: Saturday
After the Friday night of getting some stitches on linen I was super stoked for part 2 of the course which was a full day with Jeannette on a stitching sampler type piece. I don't have any photos yet... as I have stitched a pathetic amount of it. But it's much larger than ABC and is full of all kinds of crazy stitches I've never done before. Unlike ABC this piece is much larger and has only one colour palette (which I love, of course) so everyone in class will end up with the same piece at the end of the day (or relatively the same). 
Again I learned some new stitches and had a great day enjoying the overall comfort of stitching in a room with a bunch of ladies. It was drama free and a nice change of pace to my usual stitching time spent in my chair at home. That said, I love my chair and so I'll continue to stitch there on my own! 

In Other News: 
I've been stitching away on the band sampler and a piece for my SIL (that will not be shared as it's a inappropriate). I also really need to get back to Alice! So I have committed to my husband that I will spend some time with Alice during our December holidays together. Now I can't wait for December to be almost over even though it hasn't even started! 
My Etsy shop has been decimated by the Canada Post strike and I'm considering closing it down entirely. For now it is just not generating many sales as I cannot guarantee anything to be delivered before Christmas. On average during holiday season I'll do about $900 in revenue in November/early December. So far that is all lost revenue. At just over $100 revenue in last three weeks the lost income hurts. That said, it has opened up a lot more time for stitching. So depending on how you look at it's a good or bad thing. I'm not sure which it is yet. Time will tell I suppose. Regardless of what happens with it I can say that in 6 years, with just little ol' me running it, it's been way more successful than ever anticipated. Which is a nice feeling. 

Thanks so much for visiting my blog! 
Watch this space for some pattern giveaways I plan to host in December! You heard it here first. :) 

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whenever I review a classic I feel like anything I say will be mediocre next to what others have said. So instead of being all philosophical or talking about the morals, themes, etc. in The Picture of Dorian Gray, I'm going to focus on my reading experience of the book. You can check out others comprehensive reviews of the themes and thoughts on what Oscar Wilde was thinking.

While there are a number of characters that come and go in the book the base set are three men. Dorian Gray himself, the painter of the infamous painting and Lord Henry who is the morally abject influence on Dorian. (yes I am calling him Dorian as I refuse to say Gray and be reminded of Fifty Shades... shudder). Of these three characters I found Dorian to be the most interesting. Now you may be thinking that's obvious but actually many might find the loose Lord Henry to be more exciting. I like Dorian because he struggles with the idea of good versus evil, morality, immorality and doing what is 'right'.

This is really where my experience with Dorian Gray wasn't five stars. As with most books from the late 19th century we are subject to a lot of plot points while people are gossiping over tea or at a party. Usually dialogue and I are friends, but I found some of Wilde's dialogue to be as boring as his lengthy descriptions. It was almost as though he just arbitrarily decided when to be boring in dialogue versus boring in a paragraph. Overall the real pacing issue for me is that there are some very, very slow areas . I read the 20 chapter version; perhaps had I read the original shortened version I would have felt less like this, hard to say. What I do know is I feel asleep reading this book on many occasions. Not a good sign. So four stars it is as I would not look forward to a re-read (unless I skipped the boring parts).

As mentioned above, I read the 20 chapter version of Dorian Gray and had a Penguin copy with references and notes in the back. Some of which were interesting (where Wilde changed key phrasing in the second, expanded chapter version) and others were just explanations of something referred to that the average modern reader might not know. I found these to be some of the most interesting parts of the book as it gave some insight into Wilde's thoughts and how he was influenced by the backlash of the first version being published. I'm sure there is a dissertation or two (or a thousand) to be found about these changes so I won't belabor the point. I do however recommend getting a version, like the Penguin one, that has these notes in it.

Talking to my husband about the book after finishing we were trying to determine why it was so controversial for it's time. There's hardly any sex, some nominal drug use and not a lot else. Until I mentioned to him the murder descriptions and he reminded me that we live in a world where CSI and Dexter have taken away the 'shock' of blood spatter, arteries versus veins and other detailed aspects to a murder. In 1985 no one who hadn't murdered someone or wasn't an investigator should know what blood spatter looks like or how it reacts unless you've killed someone yourself. This leads me to believe that some of the details, that today seem mundane or average, are actually what got Wilde scrutinized by the law. It's an interesting theory and perhaps someone knows more about it than I do. But it did remind me of how desensitized we all are. I mean, Game of Thrones alone has taken away the mystery of almost every way to die, have sex or otherwise engage in frivolities that society may frown upon. Poor Wilde was just born a little too early to be appreciated and celebrated the way he would be today.

While I really disliked many long, drawn out sections of The Picture of Dorian Gray; overall I believe it to be a superb piece of literature. The story itself is genius. Having seen Penny Dreadful (and loved the show) I knew a little about Dorian and his painting. But I can say that I am happy to have read Wilde's novel so I have context around other incarnations of Dorian.

Without a doubt, as always, I'm drawn to the morally confused anti-hero and so of course I love Dorian. He certainly remains in the top 10 (where he already was based on references I've read about him) of my most interesting people in fiction. That I wouldn't kick him that beautiful face out of bed is just a bonus (lol - especially the actor in Penny Dreadful)
If you're thinking of reading Dorian Gray I suggest a buddy system or group read. I sort of read this with a group, although I fell behind (and am a terrible buddy reader), but the comments and reviews that came out of that group read really had me push to finish it. And I'm glad I did. The most interesting parts of the story are surely at the end. So while it may be boring in places, the pay-off is worth it if you like classics. If you don't enjoy most classics just watch the gothic beauty of Penny Dreadful and you'll know enough about Dorian to love (or hate) him.

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Book Review: The Bookworm

The BookwormThe Bookworm by Mitch Silver

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've been struggling with my rating of The Bookworm for more than a week. On one hand a lot of the book is very compelling and had me flipping page after page not wanting to stop. However, the ending was so anti-climatic and nonsensical that I just can't justify giving it a high rating. So I've settled on 2 stars, although it might be more accurate to give it 2.5...

Mitch Silver's concept in The Bookworm is really cool. It puts forward a theory that there is a specific, plotted and planned reason that Hitler changed his plan and targeted the USSR when he did during WWII. From a purely tactical point it absolutely makes sense that he changed his focus at this time during the war and Silver gives us a really cool reason why it might have happened. But don't kid yourself this is still fiction. As far as anyone knows there was no 'bookworm' or planted Bible that Hitler was influenced by. But I did enjoy the premise. I also enjoyed the way the story unveils itself. We learn as the researcher learns the situation as described in recordings from WWII. It worked well to look back at the time here, as opposed to being 'in' the time period.

'Book' History
What book lover doesn't want to read about how to make a fake of an old book? Or how to create hundred year (plus) ink? Or what bugs eat away at what paper over the years of storing a book?
For me this was easily the best part of the book. Unfortunately it's a very small part of the story, although critical to the plot. But I certainly enjoyed learning about dust mites, paper eating bugs, lead ink and other things that tip off historians or scientists to whether something is a genuine artifact or a fake. I hope all the science was accurate, and am trusting that Silver did their research here. According to the thank you notes at the back of The Bookworm that appears to be the case.

For me, almost any book (fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) that has a well done prophecy scenario as part of it's story line is intriguing. Nostradamus and some of his fellow prophets over history are very interesting to me and I'm constantly watching those TLC documentaries and what not about what one prophecy could (or could not) mean. The most interesting piece for me was the alternate interpretation of the fall 'the two towers' Nostradamus prophecy. Since 9/11 this prophecy has been attributed to the events leading up to and the result of the World Trade Center towers being brought down. I'm not sure why Silver chose to use that piece of prophecy in a new context. If it was just because it worked, or because it's some of the better known prophecy; I couldn't say. But it was certainly interesting to see a different spin on those lines from what has been the standard for the last 15+ years.

Oil Story line
I know this plot line put a lot of readers off; and I totally get why. It's not relevant until the very end and it feels unnecessary throughout the whole book until the very end. If I wasn't well versed in the oil and gas sector and how international sales of oil affect the worldwide economy then I think I would have felt the same. Ironically I really enjoyed the beginning of the story that focuses on the 'sour' aspect of the oil and why that is odd to the inspector. However, I knew exactly what was being discussed and so it didn't add complexity to me the way it may have for others. It's definitely a complicated scenario that is used and likely makes things more elaborate than needed to fuel the story forward.

Low Rating
While I rated this book low, it is actually worth reading if you love this type of story.
There are two main reasons I disliked The Bookworm so strongly by the end:
1) If you're going to heavily imply certain Presidents or famous people as main characters then just use their names. I assume that Donald Trump is never written out in the book due to legal concerns, but it just drove me insane. Like we were dancing around what the book was trying to really tell us.
2) There is a lack of an 'ah-ha' or satisfying moment in the final pages and it really did ruin the rest of the book for me. Silver takes a number of complex issues and mashes them all together to make a political point at the end. It's almost like wishful thinking about how the existing political situation in the USA might resolve itself. That wasn't my expectation even at the halfway point of the book and so I was annoyed to feel cheated out of a brilliant ending and instead find myself reading political propaganda for today's politics.

If the ending could be re-written this book would easily rate 4 stars for me. But I was so disappointed in the outcome that it left a bitter taste in my mouth; and that is why I cannot in good conscious give it a higher rating.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: Anger is a Gift

Anger Is a GiftAnger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I could take Mark Oshiro's writing style and add it over top of the story in The Hate U Give I think it would make for the best YA story about USA police racism and prejudice against minorities. Oshiro's style is far more compelling and emotional than that of Angie Thomas. Additionally there are elements of each story that are done just a little bit better.

Comparison to The Hate U Give
I can't help but compare these two stories. Unfortunately the Anger is a Gift I read The Hate U Give first and so my emotional response to Anger is a Gift was perhaps lessened. I remember my emotional response to Thomas' story having high impact on me. Given that I read The Hate U Give at least 6 months ago, and have become more educated about the police problem in the USA, I think that meant that I wasn't surprised by the eventual outcome or the way the story played out in Anger is a Gift. It's unfortunate as I am sure Oshiro's story would have been just as impactful, if not more so (as the writing is superior) than Thomas' story. 

Character Development
I really liked the development of our main boy. Oshiro gives a flawed, realistic teenage personality to our lead boy. Unfortunately, the love interest boy is not nearly as well developed. This bothered me. I felt like there was a lot more to know about him and that his feelings and conflicts could have been more developed. I'd have liked to know more about him overall. While his character is not the lead, he is the primary reason there is a story to tell here and so I wanted a lot more of him than we got. Although maybe it's appropriate, that I feel like we didn't get to know him very well, given the context of the story. 

A Crazy Reality
Having been relatively sheltered in Canada from the racial police violence; the last few years of media coverage and outrage from the USA has really allowed me to get a better understanding of some of the problems and situations Americans are faced with. Purely by numbers, Canada does not appear to have the same systemic problem with racial profiling. That's not to say it doesn't happen; because of course it does, but it's just not as widespread or obvious. Part of that may be because we don't have the same rampant gun ownership in Canada as there is the USA (but that's a whole other topic on it's own). 
I like to believe it's because Canadians are more welcoming and overall less racist than our neighbours to the South... However, as I handle statistics all day long at my day job, I know that numbers aren't always the best representation of something. It's all relative. And so while I hate, hate that anyone is profiled (in any way ever); I know that we need these stories and need to keep telling them so that the issue(s) receive the attention deserved. 

I won't lie, if you've read The Hate U Give you've pretty much read Anger is a Gift. Just place a boy and his gay (almost) boyfriend in place of the girl and her male friend and you've got, more or less, the same story. That's not to say that both aren't worth the read. They are both definitely worth a read; but maybe not back-to-back as you might feel like it's redundant.  
What I really liked about this story was that the boys being gay wasn't the primary concern of the book. It just was what it was. This is the second book this year (2018) where the lead gay character has had other issues or stories to tell besides focusing entirely on how they are gay. It's great to see this! And really important that it keeps happening. The more books we have that take race, sexuality, religion, identification and other 'differences' that have divided people in the past as the norm and focus on other issues, the closer we are to having some semblance of equality. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Review: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge

Beast: A Tale of Love and RevengeBeast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF @ 42%

There is one fundamental problem in Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge for me, and it can be boiled down to a simple principle; and yet I realize that it's not as simple at the same time.

Trigger warning: an act of rape is the primary focus in this story (and is detailed out in the story) and this act is the focus of the discussion below.

Falling in Love
I believe that people can genuinely fall in love with a captor (above and beyond Stockholm syndrome). I also believe that people can fall in love with someone that they saw as evil or abhorrent at some point. Redemption is possible in many situations. However, there is a line for me. I can't scientifically quantify where that line is necessarily. And so, what follows is merely my opinion for which you can take or leave.

What is too far?
I think there are two distinct scenarios in which most people will never be able to forgive someone: 
1) Deliberate Rape, 
2) Deliberate Death of Loved One (be it parent, child, spouse, etc.).
When I refer to deliberate what I mean is that it's done: without influence of drugs, alcohol, etc., with all mental facilities in place, with the knowledge of what they were doing and how it would affect the victim or victim's loved ones. This is an important distinction in our law today and one I believe in.
So, in Beast we are given to believe that after a deliberate vicious rape, that takes the virginity of our lead gal, that it's possible for her to 'forgive' him.
Here's my problem with that, for pages after pages our leading lady talks about loathing Beast. She talks about her need/desire for revenge or vengeance. She is thrilled when he is cursed to be the Beast and derives pleasure from his pain.
Yet, we are to believe that however many chapters later that our leading lady forgives Beast? Really Lisa Jensen? This is just too far for me. I feel it's a slap in the face to victims of awful crimes and, for me, shows a lack of understanding of the emotional, mental and physical destruction a virgin rape could cause.
Given the descriptions included in the novel I just don't see any way a girl, unless afflicted by Stockholm syndrome or an equal mental illness, would ever be able to love the person that did this to her. It's dangerously close to the circle/cycle of violence that many end up in. It seems to me that the idea of love is being misappropriated here.
To be clear, that's not to say that S&M culture is included in this analysis. It's not. I myself am not opposed to pain at times. BUT, there is a difference between consensual understanding and vicious rape. There is a clear difference for me and I feel that this is not that instance (no matter what is written in the book after I stopped reading).

Given that the writing is nothing special, our character descriptions are okay and the dialogue is fairly average this would never be a stunning novel (even with the attack taken out).
Unfortunately, the only thing that stands out for me is the idea of our leading lady forgiving and loving Beast. While I did not read the book to completion there is just no explanation (including magic) that I can believe that would allow this type of forgiveness to happen. Some victims are able to forgive their abuser in some way; but I have not heard of one who legitimately falls in love with them without some concerns about what is being defined as love. It's just too far and so is a deal breaker for me.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Book Review: Lady Mechanika, Vol 2

Lady Mechanika, Volume 2: Tablet of DestiniesLady Mechanika, Volume 2: Tablet of Destinies by Joe Benítez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I adore Lady Mechanika’s personality, stories and interactions. She’s a genuine female character that is strong, capable and not afraid (although having robotic arms might help, lol).
And yet this mini series of 6 comics was not near as good as some of the others.

Normally Mechanika books have some of the best story and dialogue found in comics. However this time around the story felt a bit forced and the dialogue in the last book was painful. I’m not sure what happened as it didn’t start out that way and normally his crew writes way better. My 4 star rating is a 3.5 rounded up because the character is so wonderful and I’d definitely still reread this one series in the continuity; but I won’t be grabbing it for a quick read when there are other better mini series featuring Mechanika to grab.

As always the art is wonderful! I love the bright colours and look of the Amazonian-like girl near the end and the consistent look of outfits and proportions of people was well done. As with all of Benitez’ work this is a treat for your eyes even if you don’t read the story.

If this is the weakest story in the recent release of series for Mechanika then it really shows how amazing the other series have been or will be. It’s still a good read, shorter at 6 comics and a nice enclosed story that you can read without needing to know anything else.
That it was missing a little something in the story and writing for me is possibly because my expectation for Benitez work is higher than the average.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Stitching: Notre Dame WIP

If I 'forget' that this piece is a SAL that started in January and releases a piece a month; then I feel much better about getting the third piece of 12 done. (lol) 
Let's face it I love SALs but am awful, and possibly incapable of keeping up with them. That's okay, I've decided I don't care. 

This SAL is from Ingleside Stitching (Etsy) and is based on the gargoyles (or chimeras) that are on Notre Dame Cathedral. I love that they are based on real statues! 
Stitching this piece on 28ct evenweave that is hand-dyed by (a Canadian!) Rolanda: 

While 28ct feels huge to me, I'm still enjoying this piece a lot. I'm trying to remember to railroad and am ensuring that all overdyed (the borders only) are being stitched one by one. 
On that note, I took a course with Jeannette Douglass last weekend!!! Where we worked on two pieces and Jeannette shared with us tips, tricks, new stitches and all kinds of knowledge. I cannot wait to share my experience with you all. 
However I promised myself to post this update first and that I would put some time into photos and writing up about the course. So that is what I shall be doing this week.

I'm dying to share my Simply ABC sampler from the first night of course, it is looking soooo pretty! So stay tuned!

Book Review: Heir Ascendant

Heir Ascendant (Faded Skies, #1)Heir Ascendant by Matthew S. Cox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not sure I've ever been in a situation with a book where I adore, admire and am adversely conflicted by a nine-year-old protagonist. Matthew S. Cox has managed to do something that most authors struggle with; given an authenticity to the voice of a young girl. And all the while Cox is able to bring the reader into an intriguing dystopian future that could be our own with only a few missteps.

Nine Years Old
I cannot possibly say enough good things about the construct and characterization that Cox gives to one little girl. We see the story through her eyes and learn as she learns; yet all the while being a little bit smarter than her (as we know what a McDonald's arch is, and perhaps how to play Magic: The Gathering). This nine-year-old girl, Maya, is smarter than the average nine-year-old but it's in a believable and concise way. She spends all her time being a doll for advertisements; or studying online. Therefore she knows little of socialization and a lot about random things that are not all that helpful if you end up on the run from (what feels like) everyone. Maya has genuine relationships with others and like many children falls instantly into trust with some people. Children seem to have an innate sense of who to trust when they are not taught to fear everyone; and as Maya has not had to fear anyone in her life she falls easily into the hands of others. Luckily for her, most of the people she ends up with are not out to get the ransom money they expect she is worth.

The Action
There is so much action (especially at the beginning) of this book that it's hard to believe that along the way Cox is able to also tell a charming story focusing on family, love and friendship. In and amongst the bombs going off, death defying drone flights and other equally terrifying (and deadly) shoot-outs we manage to find a connection with each character that Maya encounters. Heir Ascendant reads very quickly because of this action and is likely to keep readers on the edge of their seat. From the opening sequence to about 50 pages in you will have a good sense for this book and it's style. I'd say if you don't enjoy it at that point you can safely put it away and not finish it. But I dare you to not want to know more about Maya and her plight after those first 50 pages.

It's not a mystery for my regular followers that I love dystopian books. The only genre I value above dystopia is fantasy. And give me a messed up fantasy world anyday and I'll be thrilled. The technology in Cox's dystopian world is interesting. It's beyond what we have today; but not so far beyond that it's hard to relate to or believe in. I really appreciate this link back to today's world that Cox makes so that we feel like this dystopian world is very plausible. The easier it is to relate to a dystopian book the better we are at feeling connected to the story and it's characters.

I really, really enjoyed this story and cannot wait to get my hands on the second book. I know it's a bit harder to find but I encourage you to seek it out if you love dystopian stories that feature children. There are so many wonderful themes in Heir Ascendant I couldn't possibly list them all. Cox jumps from the meaning of motherhood, or what makes a mother; over to what makes a bad guy bad? Are all people who fight to stay alive bad? Or are they only bad when they cross a line? And thus, of course the question is, where is that line?
Regardless of how you answer the above questions there is one thing for sure in Heir Ascendant; you will be cheering for Maya to 'win'. Even if you are not sure what 'winning' might look like for Maya you'll want her to be happy, safe and loved because she's just that loveable. But watch out because she's a little daredevil that is willing to steal your heart and jump off a cliff with it. Action, family, love and dystopian values all mix together in Heir Ascendant to give it a rounded out story, characters and setting.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: The Silence Slips In

The Silence Slips inThe Silence Slips in by Alison Hughes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Silence and noise are funny things. Many of us love one over the other.
In today's society it is natural for the average person to like some level of noise. Most of the world lives in human noisy places (like cities) or in naturally noise places (like the rainforest or a farm). In fact there was a study some years ago where a sound-proof room was made. A room where literally being in it you could hear your own heartbeat. Most people could not manage to stand more than 20-30 seconds in the room before freaking out and beginning to lose their mind. If you keep that in mind this becomes an odd book. However I absolutely understand what Alison Hughes is going for and adore it.

The Narrative
Hughes takes us on a journey of a little girl learning where silence can be found. In natural places, like at night while it's dark, after a party, following a storm or when snow gently floats to the ground. These are all very magical types of silence we encounter. Some not very often, and others, like at night in the dark we experience everyday. As a Canadian, who is looking out the window as I type to see snow falling to the ground, I love the page that Hughes has about the snow falling to the ground. One of the most silent moments in urban or rural areas is the morning that snow has covered the ground and is still gently falling. It's like the snow is making this quiet. This is a type of morning that I have trouble explaining as it's so unique in it's own way. So, instead of trying to describe it further I'll just say that Hughes really understands many of the silences of the world that exist.

The Illustration
Without a doubt Ninon Pelletier is an amazing artist. Her children's book art is always wonderful. Pelletier uses colour on each page to evoke certain emotions. Additionally the use of the same fluffy looking silence character on each page is very clever. Giving children a character to think of when they are looking for a moment of silence amongst the noise is very clever. By using this white fluffy character children can imagine it putting it's arms around them (like in the book) and feeling safe. Pelletier does a beautiful job of capturing a moment of silence on the page. Which may seem weird, as pages in books don't make noise; but when you experience the pages of this book I think you would find this to be true yourself.

The Point
I feel very strongly that the best children's book are those that have a point. It doesn't have to be a moving point but it does have to be one that will help teach a child how to handle certain situations or moments they will experience in their life. The Silence Slips In is a perfect book for a child that is quieter. For the toddler that perhaps doesn't like too much noise this is a great story to start helping a child learn and understand that they can create a silence or moment of peace inside themselves. There are places that are naturally quieter in the world and those where you need to be able to enter your head and find silence. This could also be how a child learns to find peace, love or even sanity in this noisy world of ours. A skill that is hard to develop but almost a necessity for life in our loud world.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Book Review: Wizard for Hire

Wizard for Hire (Wizard for Hire, #1)Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Comparisons of Wizard for Hire to Harry Potter would be very appropriate. Especially the first two Harry Potter books that are a little lighter next to the ones later in the series. Obert Skye takes us on a journey to follow a child who is left alone after his parents are taken away. There are some perhaps stretched imagination things that happen at first for our young boy to survive but I quickly got over any of those as I got caught up in the story.

The absolute best part of Wizard for Hire is the various characters. They are quirky, odd and have very unique personalities. It's difficult to create character who jump off the page from the first moment you meet them; but Skye manages to do just that. Now maybe it's because there are nods to Frodo meeting Aragon (as the Ranger) that happen in the scene that introduces our young boy to a kindly old wizard; but irregardless of a little inspiration for setting I felt like it was just perfect. I love our young gal who gets involved as the story progresses as well! But let's face it the story is all about our young boy and his quirky friend the wizard in the end. Kind of like Harry Potter can be dumbed down to being about Harry and Dumbledore at it's core.

There are sooo many clever 'magical' things that happen! I don't want to share any of them as they are just too special to spoil. But let's put it this way; things may seem magical from one perspective, and yet from another just be a very clever adult tricking a child. And yet... we do have a talking bird right off the bat which means some magic has to be real right?

There's a fair bit of plot in this first novel of the series. Not unlike in Harry Potter Skye has to set-up the reasons for the parents being gone, the way the boy is surviving, and subsequently bring in a factor that forces our young lad to venture into the world. However at no time did I ever think this was too much or overwhelming. It felt well paced and there was never any info dumping which I greatly appreciated!

Harry Potter
If you think I've mentioned Harry Potter too many times you may be right. But trust me I haven't said it near as many times as it's referenced in Wizard for Hire. Our young boy has a copy of the books and so there are many, many times where the 'magic' of his world is compared to a concept in Harry Potter. The wizard even goes so far as to say that Rowling got "some things right." but other things "very wrong". Implying that perhaps Rowling built her world of magic off a 'real' magical world.
I think this is very cute; but I did find it tiresome after awhile. That said I was an adult when Harry Potter came out; so I could see someone loving all the references and nods who experience Potter as a child.

This is a very fun and clever book. It's written for 9-11 children but I think it's worthy of anyone in any age group reading. It could easily be a book where a parent reads it to a child one chapter at a time (just like Harry Potter). I am really looking forward to the next installment and hope that we can learn a little more about 'magic' in this world and what may or may not be real.
There's a lot to still discover in this world. Skye has done a brilliant job of keeping the reader eager for the next book!

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: Side by Side

Side by SideSide by Side by Jenni L. Walsh

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF @ 40%

Fiction and Fact; where do the two meet one another? How much of a noveliazation based on real people and real events can be truly believed to be fact?
Usually I go into books like Side by Side, which is about Bonnie and Clyde, knowing that I'm going to be reading a fictionalized version of some real life people. This (generally) allows me to be open minded and allow for the writer to manipulate some dates and character reactions in order for good fiction to come of the novelization. However, I feel Jenni L. Walsh went too far with Side by Side.

Too sympathetic
I stopped reading at 40% after having been super annoyed with Bonnie's excuses for everything. At about the 20% point I remember thinking that Bonnie must come to her sense soon. And yet that never seems to happen. Bonnie is portrayed as being 'innocent' the entire time that the men are knocking off banks, running from the law and even shooting officers dead. There has to be a point at which this woman can no longer use the 'anything for Clyde' BS excuse she has; or so I would have thought. Turns out Walsh doesn't agree and so I gave up on Side by Side as I didn't want to read another word about how Clyde had to do something or was justified in his heinous crimes.

One Great Moment
There is however a scene that is absolutely fantastic and I'd like to give a nod to Walsh for. It's regarding the moment in which the most famous photographs of Bonnie and Clyde are taken. You know the ones where they are all dressed-up and leaning against cars with guns of all kinds in their hands. It includes the infamous photo of Bonnie with a rifle and cigar in her mouth. This was well portrayed and regardless of how it really happened in real life I did enjoy Walsh take on this 'picnic' excursion that turned into exaggerated picture taking.

I think the story of Bonnie and Clyde is very compelling. It's a little strange but many of us are jealous of the kind of love and devotion that is said to have been between the two of them. What we (as outsiders) to Bonnie and Clyde's relationship need to ask ourselves is, was their love worth the lives of more than 8 police officers?
I'd like to think I'd say no. But then again I do love my husband and I suppose it's hard to say what you will do for the person you love when push comes to shove. At the very least I hope I wouldn't delude myself into believing that all was well as I broke the law with my partner or that it would be just 'one more robbery'. I'd like to think I'd be realistic with myself.
It's too bad this portrayal bothered me so much as there is a story to be told her. Just not from the perspective that Walsh tells it here.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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