…don't tell me you've forgotten to be awesome…

Have YOU pre-ordered The Fault in Our Stars? I did. I hope all you nerdfighters out there will as well. It's only about $12 of your money, which is a little over an hour's worth of minimum-wage work.

C'mon. For a John Green book, it's worth it.

I absolutely loved the first chapter. I can't wait for more!

dftba.

Review: Stitchionary volume six: Edgings

Stitchionary 6: Edgings
Vogue Knitting
ISBN: 9781936096220
Published: November 1st 2011 by Sixth&Spring Book
Rating: 4

This book is very similar to Knitting Beyond the Edge, but I don't like as many as the patterns. I like a lot of them, but I don't like as many as I did in KBtE. This might be because the patterns were presented in a relatively boring way: a photo, the pattern, and a number. There weren't any pictures of the edges being used, or examples, so maybe it was just hard to visualize using them. Again, I liked a lot of them, and they were inspiring, but not as much as I'd hoped.

It has seven sections: Ribs, Texture, Cables, Lace, Color, Unusual, and Crochet. There are some other things in the back like a glossary and abbreviations. I like the cables, lace, color, and unusual sections a lot. Of course I don't knit lace, so usability wise I would really only use three out of the seven sections.

Overall it's an extremely convenient and important tool for pattern designers and people like me who make stuff up as they go along. If this book is anything like the others, I'd love to have the rest of the Stitchionary volumes for my collection.

Recommendation: Knitters of all skill levels. There are very simple and basic patterns for ribs and seed stitches, all the way up to extremely complicated lace and Celtic knots.

Review: Knit Local

Knit Local by Tanis Gray
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 9781936096183
Published: October 4th 2011 by Sixth&Spring Book
Rating: 4

Knit Local is a really fun book. I went nuts while I was flipping through it. There's a wide range of patterns, including sweaters and large pieces of clothing, scarfs, hats, mittens, shawls, wraps, cowls, socks, kids clothing, and even some pillows. I liked the patterns, but I'm a small projects girl, and I don't make sweaters or large items, and there were a lot of larger more complicated patterns. I would have liked more small projects – but that's just my personal preference. Because it is so broad, I think it would be hard to find a target audience that would like every single pattern. I liked most of them, but about half of them I'll never knit.

Artistically, this book is beautiful. Each new feature includes a story about the small yarn company, information about them, their location, website, and yarns, and a pattern with their yarn. The layout and structure is just as beautiful as the photographs, and makes the book really easy to read and look through.

I love local yarn companies and shops. I love supporting local businesses, mostly because I know our economy runs on them more than we think we do. I've worked at three small businesses over the past five years, and I've loved every second of it. This book not only has great patterns, but there are connections to buy local yarns.

Recommendation: Intermediate/advanced knitters. There are a few crochet patterns, but not an even distribution of knit and crochet.

Anthologies, Memoirs, and Nonfiction

Help for Writers by Roy Peter Clark
Genre: Instructional/Self Help for Writers
ISBN: 9780316126717
Published: September 21st 2011 by Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 5

This book is one of those books that I will let people borrow as long as they don't take it out of my house. It's so awesome I know it will be stolen if I loosen my grip on it. It reminds me of The Breakout Novelist, only it's not specifically aimed for novels, but more writers in general. It's about the process of writing, the preparation, the motivation, the different tricks and tips to get you going, and to get you to finish, and then how to edit etc. This is a gem of a book and should be on every writer's bookshelf.

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Genre: YA Steampunk
ISBN:  9780763648435
Published: October 11th 2011 by Candlewick Press
Rating: 4

This is a really cool collection of fourteen different short stories by some of todays best known YA authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Christopher Rowe, Holly Black, and more. They are peculiar and strange, and though I don't like all of them, I appreciate them and I like the collection as a whole. I definitely recommend this collection to anyone who likes the steampunk Genre. (This review is copyright Haley Mathiot and AmazonVine.)

Every Step You Take: A Memoir by Jock Soto
Genre: Memoir
ISBN: 9780061732386
Published: October 4th 2011 by Harper
Rating: 3, DNF

What can I say about a dancer's memoir? It's not the first I've read. In general I avoid memoirs because they tend to have a stuffy self-absorbed feel to them. There was a little of that in Every Step You Take, but it wasn't really bad at all. I didn't read the whole thing, although I probably will finish it eventually (a chapter here and a chapter there). It was interesting, and I felt pulled into Soto's story—his writing has good voice—but I didn't feel compelled to read it. I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it. I'm still on the fence. If I ever find myself reading the rest and change my mind about it, I'll be sure to revise this review, but as it is, I'm finding my mind wandering. Time to move on. (This review is copyright Haley Mathiot and AmazonVine.)

Intended Target

Primary Victim was one of my favorite crime thrillers through my first year of blogging. Primary Victim has been re-edited and re-released under the new title Intended Target.

Intended Target e-book is available on Amazon for $0.99 for a limited time!

Michael Bloomington is a serial killer whose victims don't die. They linger in prison, struggling to understand how they came to sit in jail convicted of a murder they did not commit.

A brilliant man trained in the intricacies of the law, Michael's goal is to get caught. Only then can his defense, based upon the maxim on which our legal system rests, "better ninety-nine guilty men go free than one innocent man be hanged," be tested.

Brice McCallahan is Michael's latest victim. With his memory clouded by a night of heavy drinking and overwhelming evidence pointing to his involvement in the murder of a young woman, even Brice begins to doubt his innocence.

Ted Jamey is the one homicide detective not entirely convinced Brice is a killer. However, as Ted draws closer to the true killer, he also draws closer to unleashing the killer's grand design.

Intended Target is a novel that tests both the psychological breaking point of an individual and the strength of the legal system governing society.

Learn more about Intended Target and author Cyrus Holt here.

Review: The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook

The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook by Jeff Kinley
Genre: Christian Living
ISBN: 9781595554383
Published: October 11th 2011 by Nelson, Thomas, Inc.

Rating: DNF

I really wish I could have gotten farther in this book. It sounded like it had a lot of potential and It's extremely relevant to our culture. However, this is another example of a sad reoccurring theme: An individual who has a really good idea and a really good concept, but can't write (They Almost Always Come Home, The Bridge, and more). In these situations, I always wish the author had partnered up with someone who could make the book readable.

I didn't have a problem with the book itself, and I'll bet Kinley is a great public speaker, but he can't write a book. Although I've never heard him preach, I can tell he writes like he speaks. If he were speaking this book out loud and if I were watching it, I would probably have given it a totally different rating. But books are written using grammatical sentences, starting with a subject, including at least one verb, and connected with prepositions and direct objects etc. This book was written mostly in fragments. Call me a grammar Nazi, but I couldn't get past the second chapter because it was grating on my nerves and making me want to mark it up with a red pen.

Also, Kinley made the first chapter a fiction story, and the next chapter the actual book. He continued this pattern through the book. I thought I would like this, but I found it broke up the book and made me lose my concentration. Either write a nonfiction, or write a novel, but please don't write both at the same time.

Included in that fiction aspect, there was a lot of gore. Now I like gore: I'm a crime thriller writer. Maybe this was poor decision making on my part, but I do my Bible study over breakfast; and eating pancakes with blueberries and applesauce while reading about zombie guts being spewed all over someone's face just don't mix very well. Again, I like blood and guts, but I felt like this was a little unnecessary.

I wish I could have given this book more positive promotion, but the only thing I can say is I've promised to give my honest opinion, so here you go.

Recommendation: Ages 16+ for graphic content.

Crude Deception

Gordon Zuckerman is on tour for his new book Crude Deception, and is visiting The Life and Lies today!

About Crude Deception:

The sentinels return in an epic battle against a big oil monopoly. As America's dependence on fossil fuel takes hold in the post-World War Two climate of economic growth, seven major oil companies join forces to control the industry, amassing obscene profits, squeezing tax-payers, and manipulating supplies around the world. The Sentinels, graduates of an elite American doctoral program - who, in Zuckerman's last book, foiled a group of German industrialists' scheme to hoard illegal war profits set out to break the circle of power. They quickly discover that the oil barons' influence runs deep in the U.S. and British government and banking sectors. Undeterred, the Sentinels fan out across several continents in an intricately plotted mission to bring Big Oil to its knees.

Can those who are independent of world governments and big business step forward and make a difference? Can the powerful forces behind world domination be stopped? In the anticipated follow up to the best selling The Sentinels: Fortunes of War, author Gordon Zuckerman tackles the unbridled limits of power, greed and corruption in Crude Deception.

In the new book, the group of six financial geniuses from the first adventure are back to battle the Post WWII oil cartels that threaten global prosperity and governmental autonomy.

Drawing on the headlines of yesterday and today, this story takes us back to the early days of WWII when a runaway oil monopoly began to take shape and develop a firm grip on the world with dire consequences.

 

Learn more about Crude Deception here.

Guest Post: Graham Parke

Graham Parke, author of No Hope for Gomez is visiting The Life and Lies today! (check out my review of NHfG here).

Mystics predicts future accurately!

I’ve recently become a master in Goki Feng Ho, the ancient Chinese art of decoding license plates. It has, you can imagine, changed my life dramatically and for the better.


Like most practitioners, I’ve always had this suspicion that there’s more to life. That we can’t be mere random collections of molecules with no higher purpose than figuring out how not to soil ourselves while we keep our bodies running as long as possible. Such a view has always seemed too arbitrary to me. So, ever since I was a child, whenever I saw my initials – or part of my date of birth – pop up on a car license plate, I’d get that uneasy feeling. As if there was something I needed to do, or that I was supposed to realize. As if someone was sending me coded messages. Even at a very young age, I understood that something like Goki Feng Ho must exist, and that I was drawn to it like a moth to a particularly nice lady moth.

So, I was both surprised and not-really-all-that-surprised when a friend gave me this book on Goki Feng Ho. I started reading and became hooked. Even the relatively scarce historical background was interesting to me on so many levels. Although much is lost about how Goki Feng Ho first came to the west, the stories about its initial discoverer, master Hung Lee, survive, and I dare say they’d constitute fascinating reading for even the hardened skeptic.

From the early days of receiving his gift in the mail (though some claim he received it in a dream) to his struggles to find disciples to whom to pass it down, Hung Lee’s story is a heartwarming one. Obviously his life was made particularly challenging by the absence of license plates, or even cars, at the time. I have found no record of what the first Goki Feng Hoos practiced and honed their skills on, but I assume they invented plates for each other to decode, or borrowed some from the Germans.

At the time, though, Chinese mystics were known to keep their gifts a secret, passing them down only to family members. Lee broke this mold when he became the first mystic to offer up his gift to the general public. But even then, the story goes, he had trouble finding anyone who was remotely interested. There are parables of Lee raffling off free Kindles and iPods among his disciples, but, again, he was too far ahead of his time. No one understood what he was talking about. He finally found a handful of willing participants at a local mental hospital, after raffling off a small pig and some sticks. And even though lived to be a hundred and fifty, it is said he never managed to earn those back.

Bio:
Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.
The award winning No Hope for Gomez! is his fiction debut:

Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker

Review: The Christmas Wedding

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
Genre: Romance
ISBN: 9780316097390
Published: October 17th 2011 by Little, Brown & Company

Rating: 3, DNF

I hate giving a rating like this to James Patterson's novel. But I've sworn to be honest in my reviews, so here's my honest blunt non-sugar-coated opinion: It was silly.

The plot is silly and corny. Really? A middle-aged woman has three men propose within a few days, and then she schemes to get all her family to visit her by not telling them who it she's decided to marry? When would that ever actually happen? It couldn't be pulled off. And she says she loves all three of them, but if she did, why would she put them through that? Not only would it be stressful, but it would be humiliating for the men who weren't chosen. Is she really that cruel? On top of that, the tone was over-sappy, and the whole thing read like a bad soap opera.

Yet I couldn't stop reading it because I wanted to know what happens. So when I did finally give up, I skipped to the end. Wouldn't you know it, I didn't like her choice.

I do like the characters. They're all distinct and interesting, which is one of Patterson's strengths. The sub-plots were well done, but I actually found myself caring more about the sub-plots than the actual plot of the story.

James Patterson is a fantastic crime/thriller/suspense writer, and Sundays at Tiffany's was pretty great, but Romance is just not his best genre. And I love his books, so I hate writing a not-so-great review, but I find myself rolling my eyes at the characters and saying "Really? Seriously?"

Content: some language. I only read half of the book, so I don't know about sexual content.

Recommendation: This would be a nice book if you had an afternoon at the library with nothing to do but read and sip coffee. And if you didn't have anything else to read.

Review: Finishing School—A Master Class for Knitters

Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters by Deborah Newton
Genre: Knitting technique
ISBN: 9781936096190
Published: October 4th 2011 by Sixth&Spring Books

Rating: 4.5

This book is awesome! There is so much in here for finishing every project, fixing every type of problem you could have, and techniques for making your handknits above the norm. I've learned so much just from flipping through it quickly. I refuse to part with it: It's a permanent addition to my knitting bookshelf.

Images and layout are very visually appealing, and the patterns are beautiful. There are lots of inspiring photographs and referenced projects that can be looked up. There aren't a whole lot of patterns in the book itself, because it's really all about techniques to finish your handknits.

My only complaint is very small and irrelevant to almost everyone: I'm trying to figure out why the whole book is formatted backwards, with a sans serif body text, and serif headers… maybe it's the technical writer/editor inside me, but it irritates me and it sticks out like a sore thumb.

20111222101227

(this is a sample from one of the pages. You can see the header is a serif, but the body text is a sans serif.)

But that's a pretty minor complaint when you think about it.

Recommended for knitters of all levels!

Review: Triangles

Triangles, by Ellen Hopkins
Genre: Adult fiction
ISBN: 9781451626339
Expected publication: October 18th 2011 by Atria

Rating:5

The thing about Ellen Hopkins is she writes about the stuff that everyone knows happens, but nobody is willing to admit to. She gives emotion and reason to why people make the choices we do, and what they feel like in the middle of a messy hurtful situation. She is the opposite of happyland syndrome. She tells it how it is.

I had read a little bit of Hopkins's work before: I started Crank (When I say started I mean read the first few pages) and loved it, but I was busy and never got the chance to get into it. But I got an ARC of Triangles, so I sat down and read it—and after one page I was hooked.

If you've been reading my blog at all, you know I'm not a person who likes stories about love gone wrong and marriages failing and extramarital sex etc. because I'm a Christian, and a romantic, and a softie (read 'wimp'). But I went ahead and dove into this book, because I knew Hopkins is a good writer.

It surpassed my expectations. I should have expected her to be this awesome, since obviously she's pretty famous and everyone else figured it out before I did, but I really am blown away. Not only by her blunt yet graceful storytelling, but by her nerve to tackle the stories nobody wants to tell: a dying child, a gay son, a pregnant teen, sexual disease, threesomes, a woman sleeping with her best friend's husband… it's all in here. Yet, it's not plot overkill. She made it work. Somehow.

Though, be warned. Since she does say it like it is, this book is not for the easily offended. But if you're willing to look past the content, there's a gem waiting for you about forgiveness, hope, and what love really means.

Content/recommendation: explicit sexual content, swearing. Ages 18+

Book Awards 2010-2011

HALEY YOU FORGOT BOOK AWARDS YOU MORON!!

I felt like such a doofus for forgetting my book awards post this year. I forgot because I had my blogoversary giveaway early.

No excuse.

Except now I'm sorting through the reviews and it's getting really confusing. So I'm going to change something…

This year's book awards will be from September 2010 through December 2011. It was going to be September 2011, but again, it's just too confusing. I'll just do it by year, rather than years I've been blogging.

So again: This year's awards will have a few extra months in them (plus that gives me extra time to make some tough choices) and every year after that, the awards will be for the calendar year.

Thanks guys!

Check out last year's post here.

Knitting Beyond the Edge

Knitting Beyond the Edge by Nicky Epstein
Genre: Knitting pattern ideas
ISBN: 9781936096039
Published: September 6th 2011 by Nicky Epstein Books

Rating: 5

This book is fantastic. It's so inspiring and interesting and exciting. It's divided into four sections: Cuffs and Collars, Necklines, Corners and Edges, and Closures. Each one has pages and pages of different interesting unique ideas.

I would call this book a designer's sourcebook. Yes the patterns can be used to change or alter an existing pattern, or dress up that plain sweater, but they can also be used in and of themselves. Collars can be used as cowls, Cuffs can be turned into wristlets, or even mittens or gloves. I see potential hats and socks in here too for people like me who like to write down the pattern as they go, or design something based off a picture they saw.

There's even a few full patterns thrown in here, all of which I love, and a few of which I'm definitely going to have to knit… especially that fair isle sweater. Goodness gracious it makes me want to jump for joy.

The patterns themselves are easy to understand and concise, and the pictures are very good and show off the project without being distracting.

Recommendation: Intermediate/Advanced. Anyone who likes to go above and beyond in their knitting, or knitters who design their own patterns

Disclaimer

Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.
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