Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Cross Stitch Book Review: America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful Cross Stitch:
Stitch 30 of America's Most Iconic National Parks and Monuments
by Becker & Mayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


First, up-front disclosure: I'm an avid stitcher and have been stitching for 30+ years. I was 11 when I was first taught how to cross stitch. It is my primary hobby after reading.
Second disclosure: I'm Canadian. Which may seem weird to like this book but I've travelled to many areas of the USA (most by RV as a child) and so I love seeing these locations immortalized in stitching.

This is a lovely little book. It's very easy stitching. Definitely perfect for a beginner as there is just cross stitches and nothing else. Plus the instructions are easy to follow, the patterns are full-colour (with symbols of course) and you get the beautiful pages that they are laid out on. A great gift for someone going on a road-trip, returning from one, or for any beginning stitcher who appreciates the beauty of North America.

Note: My copy did not include all the patterns in the retail version of this book; but from what I saw it was all very consistent and lovely.

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, January 16, 2024

Book Review: The Dyatlov Pass Mystery

The Dyatlov Pass Mystery
by C├ędric Mayen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The illustrations and writing here are wonderful. The choice to end this graphic novel without an explanation of what happens is intriguing. But I’m good with it as it encourages folks to research further the details of the Dyatlov Mystery.

There is a critical mistake made here in my opinion… so before I get into what that is let me tell you about the countless hours I’ve spent reading about this very mystery. As a Canadian, who literally just experienced the coldest day in my life only 5 days ago (-39C, windchill of -47C), I’m fascinated by snow, winter and cold. I believe people constantly underestimate Mother Nature and how deadly cold can be.

However, the additional supplemental information given, after the graphic novel ends, is incomplete. And thus I only give this three stars.
Missing from the scenarios and theories given is the one I believe to be quite plausible; not that I can or would discount the avalanche theory, but I just don’t see how anyone would have made it anywhere further than their immediate area after the avalanche stopped in the conditions of that day. Yet some of them did manage to trek back a distance. Thus, I fall back to the infrasound theory by Donnie Eichar as discussed in his 2013 book Dead Mountain.

Now as I get into why I believe this theory I want to explain; I’ve been on the side of mountains in winter conditions. Nothing this epic (obviously, who has?) but ones where decisions were made that were poor. I’ve also felt the undeniable power of the wind making noise that completely unsettles everyone. It’s creepy, it’s weird, and I might sound crazy; but I swear it’s the truth of my experiences. Angles, degrees, snow (is an odd substance), severe cold, and wind (undeniably strong wind) can create moments where you act with paranoia, panic and fear. Those infrasound moments have been scientifically proven to make people do crazy things. Actions against their training, common sense, or intelligence. This is what I believe happened on Dyatlov Pass.
I have experienced it twice before. Both times in the Rocky Mountains (Canadian side) where I live.

Once when my girl guide troop was lost on the side of the mountain (our leader missed the loop turn while we were cross country skiing). We were on the side of the mountain in -10C, not everyone had appropriate winter gear, with limited food and water (skiing was supposed to be 1.5 hours, we skied for 6.5 before making a fire/shelter and hoping for rescue in the cold dark of the forest). Why didn’t we turn back? Why did the adults keep us moving up the mountain for hours on end? It makes no sense… until you think that maybe we weren’t quite able to make coherent decisions that day. I was 12 years old; so I did what the adults told me. And (obviously) we were all afraid… but to venture so far and up the mountain when our path was meant to be short and at the base of the mountain? It makes no sense, until you consider infrasound theory.
The other time I was in a tent in winter. It was not on the side of a mountain but in a mountain valley with a large river nearby. I was 22 years old, a highly experienced winter camp and a leader of the Scout troop camped that night. I got up out of my tent around 3am with my tentmate and fellow female leader, we had no boots or jackets, it was snowing at the time. We found other boys outside their tents. I still can’t explain what made me leave the cozy, safe tent that night. Thankfully whatever it was didn’t last long and within minutes we were all getting boots and jackets, etc on and huddled up in our cookhouse for the rest of the night. No one talked much. The teenage boys included. Just like my previous experience when I was their age, we all knew we did something outside our training; but no one could explain why.

In both instances the wind was strong and I myself was irrationally scared. But not because I thought the cold, which I know is deadly, would kill me. Instead it was like an unseen force triggered my fight or flight response. Both instances, and others I’ve heard from winter mountain campers, skiers, and hikers; mirror the Dyatlov Pass groups reactions. Gear was left behind, irrational decisions were made, and within minutes of getting out of the immediate area, and making those decisions, no one could figure out why they had done what they had done.
Luckily I wasn’t in extreme danger like our Russian team, and didn’t have -40C snowstorm on the side of an open mountain to fight against to get back to my gear and safety.
Thus I’m disappointed that at least a mention of this theory is not included at end of this graphic novel. It’s great to tell the story still, get people thinking about this mystery, and keeping the memory alive of the hikers. I just wish the last couple pages had included the other ‘most likely’ scenario (besides the avalanche) of what happened that day in 1959.

Still a worthwhile read. And now as I sit in my warm home (where outside it’s a balmy -21C, which seriously feels warm after the coldest day of my life just a few days ago) I have slightly spooked myself. Lol. But not in a way where I can’t make logical, common sense decisions (thankfully). As there is no wind, creating infrasound here in my home, to trigger the brain to think irrationally.

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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Friday, January 5, 2024

Book Review: Never Whistle in the Dark

Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology 
by Shane Hawk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I knew it would happen one day… I would give an anthology five stars! Yes there are lessor stories in here; maybe three or four. However, the amazing stories more than make up for them. Especially when there are 28 stories included here!!
All kinds of horror are portrayed here. Clever concepts, folklore, myth, colonization, torture, gore, ghosts, monsters and so much more!

Normally I would have notes for each story in this collection but GR seems to be hiding them. So instead I’ll say, go buy this book!!! You will not be disappointed. :)

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