Un Reviews

What’s an un-review? It’s a reason why I didn’t read it. If I start a book and there’s no good reason to quit then I’ll read all the way through it. But if there is a good reason for me to stop, I will. These are the books I didn’t read, and why.

After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Rob DeFranco
I found this book dull and overdramatic. An orphan girl in a hard world sees a pretty naked boy. He has special powers. She’s framed for murder. I don’t see a plot here, just a bunch of things happening with lots of emotional rushes.

Spy Games by Adam Brookes – This book was not catching. I tried twice to get into it but both times I just couldn’t stay with the characters, or in the world. actually some of them were kind of annoying. this was disappointing because I absolutely love crime novels and spy books.

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson – There was no plot. The first hour and a half of the book, I was still just barely understanding the world. And if the first hour and a half is just character development and world building, I’m sorry, but you’re not a story teller, you’re a world builder. It was a brilliant world, don’t get me wrong. But the only thing that happened in the first hour and a half was she got ice cream and then went outside, saw some boys, and went back inside.

Atlas of Cursed Places by Olivier Carrer – This was the kind of book that should be flipped through. Acoffee-table book, a book given to a history buff, a book to read to yourself. I found the audiobook boring and dry, and hard to focus on. Not all books are good for audio. This isn’t a reflection of the book, more the fact that it didn’t make a good audio production.

The Gameshouse

The Gameshouse Series by Claire North
Genre: Urban Magic
Published November 2015
Rating: 5
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

The Gameshouse is a novella series by Claire North, author of Touch and several other books. She is a stunning writer with a distinct and mysterious writing style that engages the reader and forces them to think harder and harder with every passing page.

The first novella, The Serpant,
proved a beautiful introduction to the world in which the Gameshouse resides, which is our world, except not. It’s a world in which there are cunning, clever, devious, and skilled players using our world as a game board. The game might be an election, a war, or something more simple such as hide and seek. But they play for more than money. They play for years of their lives, their love of the taste of strawberries, a memory, the affections of the person they last loved, the richness of the color purple… or something more detrimental: if I win, you take my asthma. If you win, I take your constant migraines.

The story begins with a beautiful portrait and backstory of our main character Thini, who later becomes a crucial piece in a bigger game. Her game is played, the game is won, and the world goes on.

The second novella, The Thief, shows us a more detailed and in-depth look at the
Gameshouse and how it works, and how sometimes, not all games are fair. Remy plays hide and seek with a highly skilled player whose record of finding someone is 11 days. If Remy wins, he gains 20 years of the other man’s life. If he loses, he forfeits all of his memories. All of them. A hungover older player against a highly skilled young man who only plays when he knows he can win leaves us with a thrilling and unexpected end to an unbalanced match. But it ends, and the world goes on.

The third story The Master ties the other two together in the ultimate game. The final game, the Great Game. A great player, known only by the name Silver, challenges the Gamesmaster, the woman all in white behind a veil, who is in charge of the Gameshouse. The doors of the Gameshouse shut and both players use every piece they have to play a giant game of chess with the world. The winner will have the rights to the Gameshouse. The loser dies. But Silver is not a normal player. Silver has a different goal for the outcome. And when the last move comes to play, he has to make a choice. And so he leaves that choice up to the one thing he doesn’t have control over. Luck. And the world goes on.

This series was frustrating and exciting. The ending left me frustrated (okay, yes, I did spend some time ranting out loud). But it was in a good way. The story was finished and whatever happens after that doesn't really matter because the world still goes on. This is a series that plays with the reader's mind just as much as the players in the book play their pieces.

Step through the silver doors. And flip your coin.

About Claire North
Claire North is actually Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated young-adult novel author whose first book, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was just 14 years old. She went on to write seven more successful YA novels.  She also writes under the pseudonym Kate Griffin.

Dressed in Knits

Dressed in Knits: 19 Designs for Creating a Custom Knitwear Collection by Alex Capshaw-Taylor
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 9781620339466
Published: November 27th 2015 by Interweave Press
Rating: 4.5

This book is Super-classy. I mean, like, some of these patterns, I’d fell like I would have to do my hair and makeup just to make them, let alone wear them. they’re highly elegant and very flattering (at least, they are on the models). All of them except one, a random cropped jacket that’s all bobbles. It didn’t fit with the rest of the collection at all. These were the kind of sweaters and camisoles you go into an expensive shop and you’re afraid to touch the yarn because it’s like a whole paycheck if you accidently get something on it.


There were several light sweaters and cardigans, a few designed for outerwear, a camisole, a couple dresses, a hat, and a purse. I was a little surprised not to see a skirt in the collection but I did love what was there.

Also. One of the prettiest cabled sweaters I’ve ever seen.

The book also details how to go about measuring, fitting, and sizing your new classy wardrobe. There were clear instructions and diagrams all the way through. Most of the patterns use needles between size 5 and 7. There are a few size 3, and the projects that are felted use 10.5. I’d recommend to intermediate knitters who want a really nice project but don’t want to go highly complicated.

About the Book
Knit your own couture wardrobe!

As a knitter, you know the appeal of creating a piece that can go from home to office, from weekday to weekend--and, most importantly, that looks flattering on your figure. But that can be easier said than done! Until now.

Knitwear designer Alex Capshaw-Taylor has created a collection of 19 knitted garments and accessories featuring timeless, high-fashion designs that are refreshingly easy to wear.

In "Dressed in Knits," you'll experiment with a variety of techniques including multidirectional knitting, colorwork (intarsia and stranded), cabling, and more. Unique to this guide is helpful information devoted to educating knitters on couture details that produce designer quality finished pieces. Alex will demonstrate proper seeming, picking up stitches, applying beads, turning a hem, creating pockets, steeking, adding zippers to knitwear, and more. Helpful tips on styling finished garments will also be sprinkled throughout the book, like how adding a belt to a piece can change the silhouette giving it a totally different look.

"Dressed in Knits" isn't just another knitting book. It's your fashion-forward guide to a whole new wardrobe

Amazon | Goodreads | Ravelry

Free Spirit Knits

Free Spirit Knits by Anne Podlesak
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 9781620339497
Published:  November 13th 2015 by Interweave Press
Rating: 4

This was a really cute, fun book. Really nice designs, lots of orange and blue and brown and gold, solid bases with strips of simple fair isle patterns worked into the edges or the middle, or simple lace worked down the back of an otherwise solid sleeve. I love the southwest, and the patterns were reminiscent of the places they were named after. I really liked all the patterns, except one really awful random sweater that I don’t think anyone with any friends would wear in public. Some of them really represented the landmark or location they were named after, but others just looked free-spirit-ish because of the other clothing the models were wearing.

Most of the patterns are worked size 5-7 needles, with some smaller stuff thrown in there too. Each pattern has several photographs and charts. The sweaters have drawings of the composition. It is mostly sweaters, a few wraps and shawls, a hat, a pair of socks, a scarf, and a cowl. Recommended for intermediate knitters who have their hearts set on Nevada and Wyoming’s autumn nights.

About the Book
Knit your wildest dreams using windswept color and texture!

In "Free Spirit Knits" author Anne Podlesak shares a gorgeous collection of 20 knitted garments and accessories that combine the richly-colored beauty of the high desert with a sense of play and adventure.

The pieces, for both men and women, have beautiful silhouettes and rich color palettes. From a gorgeous knitted cardigan-style coat (Grand Canyon Coat) to monochromatic knitted socks (Petroglyph Socks) to the lace knitting techniques showcased in the Aspens sweater, you'll love creating each stunning project. Wild-at-heart knitters of every skill level will find something to make and love.

Whether your nearest canyon is made of rock or skyscrapers, treat yourself to the collection that will see you knitting off into the sunset.

Amazon | Goodreads | Ravelry

Poetic Crochet

Poetic Crochet: 20 Shawls Inspired by Classic Poems by Sara Kay Hartmann
Genre: Crochet
ISBN: 9781632500069
Published: October 22nd 2015 by Interweave Press
Rating: 4

If you like shawls that are elegant, artistic, and inspiring, this is the book for you. This is a stunning compilation of different crochet lace shawls inspired by different well known poems. There is a variety of shape, size, weight, texture, and pattern, but each is beautiful and distinct in it’s own right.

Now I prefer a heavier weight of yarn, larger hook, and simple stitches. Almost all of the patterns used DK weight, and the ones that used lace weight still used a larger hook. Some people won’t like that (or even consider it lace) but I really like it. I like working big, I can see what I’m doing, and I think the intricate stitching looks nicer with larger stitches. The stitches themselves were also not very complicated, just a really nice arrangement of beginner and intermediate stitches. This isn’t an advanced lace shawl book. It’s for beginner/intermediate crocheters ready for their next new, big project.

I would have liked for each pattern to have the poem it’s based off of written near it. It was done for just one of the patterns (Traveler) and I would have liked the others to be there as well. I can’t help but wonder if they were all supposed to have quotes on them? Why would just one have it? Lastly I would have liked to see the flat photograph (or at least a full diagram or drawing of the pieces). As lovely as the artistic photographs are, it’s very helpful to see the piece laid out flat.

Also the author’s name was spelled wrong on the back, so I’m not sure how well the inside and the patterns were edited. But we’ll give the editors the benefit of the doubt.


About the Book
Crocheted shawls inspired by classic poetry!

Just as poetry laces together the simplest of words into dramatic lyrical pieces, "Poetic Crochet" uses basic stitches to create a romantic, breathtaking collection of shawls and wraps.

When creating this classic, wearable collection of shawls, wraps, and stoles, you'll explore a variety of shawl shapes, construction techniques, borders, and edgings. Author Sara Kay Hartman shares her tips for selecting the fibers that work best in shawl making, how to achieve a beautiful drape, how to play with gauge when crocheting shawls, and more.

The patterns in "Poetic Crochet" won't require any special technique knowledge, but rather they have been designed to highlight the simple sophistication achievable with the most basic of stitches. Crocheters with any experience level, beginner to advanced, will find something rewarding--and poetic--in this inspired collection of 20 projects.


Amazon | Goodreads | Ravelry

Things to do with finished coloring books

So we all know that coloring books are great. But really what do you do with them when you’re done? You can’t throw them away, and you really don’t want to just leave them hanging around and not use them for anything. Both of those options feel so wasteful.

The real questions is, what can you do with paper? When you think about it that way, the world is yours.

So I’ve put together a list of things to do with completed coloring book pages! I got so excited about this I made a pinterest board with all the ideas!

Follow The Life and Lies of an Inanimate Flying Object's board Completed Coloring Book Pages on Pinterest.

Cover the playroom walls
So much better than wallpaper. Especially if the patterns are based on Wallpaper. Also did you know that coloring posters are a thing?

Use as wrapping paperApparently they make coloring wrapping paper… why buy it when you’ve already bought a coloring book? This works well for small packages. You can wrap a larger box with several pages taped together.

Review: Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing (unabridged) by David Baldacci, read by Jason Culp
Genre: Crime Thriller unabridged
ISBN: 9781594830808
Published: November 2001 (abridged), re-released October 3, 2015 (unabridged)
Rating: 4

I really enjoyed this book. It started off fast paced and exciting and slammed you with questions, and then kept you going the whole way through. One thing I really liked was it let you in on one secret at a time, one bad guy at a time, one betrayal at a time. You think you have it, but then realize it’s so much more complicated the further into the plot you go.

There were a lot of different characters, and there were a few parts where all the different FBI agents started running together. It sorted itself out though. Some characters I felt like I didn’t know very well, or I would have liked to get to know them more, but in the end you knew everything you needed in order for the book to be successful.

There was one thing I didn’t like. And I didn’t just dislike it, it really annoyed me. There is a psychiatrist in the book, named Claire Daniels. I like Claire Daniels. But the problem with the character is she is so darn stereotypical that it made me almost want to stop reading. Like, straight up classic “how does that make you feel,” and “Let’s talk about your daddy issues.” At one point it felt like a parody it was so bad. Look, I know some shrinks pull that stuff, but for the most part, that’s not what happens in a psychiatric session. And I know that both from research and from first-hand experience. If you’re going to put a mind-doctor in your book, do some research. Go see one. Talk to them. Pick their brains. pretend to be your character and role-play with them. Clearly there was a lot of research done for this book what with all the locations and guns and FBI stuff. Why a psychiatrist-study didn’t make the list I’ll never know.

Even with the annoying character (and voice, for that matter) of Claire Daniels, the book was exciting and fulfilling at the end. the good guys won, the bad guys died, and the people who were hurt got their revenge. It was narrated by Jason Culp who did a great job of everyone but Dr. Daniels (who sounded annoying only because she was annoying, so in a way I guess that was perfect).

Content/Recommendation: Blood and guts, violence and sex, guns and explosions. Ages 18+

About the Book
It took 10 seconds for Web London to lose everything: his friends, his team, his reputation. Point man of the FBI's super-elite Hostage Rescue Team, Web roared into a blind alley toward a drug-dealer's lair only to meet a high-tech, custom-designed ambush that killed everyone around him.

Now coping with the blame-filled words of anguished widows and the suspicions of colleagues, Web tries to put his life back together with the help of his psychiatrist, Dr. Claire Daniels. To do so he must discover why he was the one man who lived through the ambush - and find the only other person who came out of that alley alive...a 10-year-old boy who has since disappeared.

Web's search leads him from inner-city Washington, DC, to the rolling hills of Virginia horse country - while people connected to him are violently silenced. Acting on his instincts, Web believes he knows where the killer will strike next. Only this time, he may not survive the attack.

Last Man Standing is an explosive psychological thriller about a man desperate to find answers - from the secret terrors he has kept from himself to his unbearable guilt. His fight to save himself and those he cares for will come at a high cost...and threaten everything he has grown to believe in.

About the Author
David Baldacci published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996. A major motion picture adaptation followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 30 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers, and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print worldwide. David has also published five novels for younger readers, including the #1 bestseller The Finisher, which is in development for feature film, and its #1 bestselling sequel, The Keeper.

A lifelong Virginian, David received his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

While David is involved with several philanthropic organizations, his greatest efforts are dedicated to his family’s Wish You Well Foundation®. Established by David and his wife, Michelle, the Wish You Well Foundation supports family and adult literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs. In 2008 the Foundation partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program to address the connection between literacy, poverty and hunger. Through Feeding Body & Mind, more than 1 million new and gently used books have been collected and distributed through food banks to families in need.

David and his family live in Virginia.


Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author

Unexpected Cables

Unexpected Cables; Feminine knitted garments featuring modern cable knitting
by Heather Zoppetti
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 9781620338513
Published: October 2nd 2015 by Interweave Press
Rating: 4.5

Amazon | Goodreads | Author | Ravelry

This is a book of cable patterns for knitters who are bored with other cable patterns. There are lots of patterns out there but when you’ve been knitting for any length of time, you feel like you’ve seen it all, and you’d really like to see something new. Remember when sideways-knit sweaters became a thing? I remember. But now even that’s a “same-old same-old.”

These patterns are a combination of different ways to use cables with interesting construction techniques. There are some simple, some complex. And don’t get me wrong, not all of them are “the new big thing.” But they are all really nice patterns. There’s also a good combination of lace-weight all the way up to medium weight. nothing bulky, but some really nice warm sweaters and hats.

I’d definitely recommend this book to someone familiar with cables (the book doesn’t include pages of instruction like some do, it assumes you know how to make cables if you buy an advanced cable book), but also wants something unique and interesting.

About the Book

Take knitted cables from heirloom to vavoom!

In "Unexpected Cables" author Heather Zoppetti has crafted a fresh, modern, flattering collection of 18 knitted garments. She perfectly captures the essence of the iconic knitted cable and makes cabled designs decidedly fashion-forward!

The book features 3 chapters: Refined, Lace, and Abstract.Refined cables explore classic Aran cables using lightweight yarns, twisted stitches, and feminine shapes.In the Lace section, Heather challenges knitters to marry together these two popular knitting techniques with spectacular results.The Abstract section focuses on unusual construction, direction, and texture in cabled projects that have edgy, urban feel. Sleek garment shapes, an interesting mix of cables and lace, and unusual construction converge to bring the generations-old tradition of cable knitting squarely into the here and now. Knitters will delight in making these intriguing, accessible creations!

About the Author

Heather Zoppetti is a knitwear designer, instructor, and author of Everyday Lace (Interweave, 2015). Her patterns have been published in many Interweave publications such as Knits, Knitscene, and Jane Austen Knits, and by yarn companies such as Manos del Uruguay, Baah Yarns, The Alpaca Yarn Company, Reywa Fibers, and Universal Yarns.

She is also the owner and founder of Stitch Sprouts, a company dedicated to helping your stitches grow. Heather lives and teaches in Lancaster, PA, and can be found at hzoppettidesigns.com and stitchsprouts.com.

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 978-1620337561
Published: September 4th 2015 by Interweave
Rating: 5
Amazon | Goodreads | Ravelry

I know very little about slip stitch. Looking through this book I was impressed. there were a lot of stitch patterns and stitches I’ve never heard of before.

Everything about this book was artistic and well designed. From the photography of the knitted items to the type face and layout of the text.

The patterns themselves were awesome. Normally when I look through a book I tend to like some or most of the patterns. This book, I like all of them. Not only were they elegant, interesting, and unique, some of them were really pushing the boundaries of what you can do with stitch patterns and construction.

This is definitely more of an advanced book. But if you’re looking for something new, exciting, stunning, and challenging, this is the book for you.

About the Book

Slip stitch is one of the simplest and most versatile knitting techniques, but it's often overlooked. The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting is a modern and thorough take on this technique that delivers beautiful colorwork and gorgeous textures--with minimal effort.

A complete overview covers all the basics of slip-stitch knitting, including stitch formation, reading charts, customizing stitch patterns, choosing yarns, designing with slip-stitch patterns, and more. Forty stitch patterns, many of which are reversible, stretch the boundaries of slip stitch, creating colorwork that is just as graphic as Fair Isle, but much simpler; woven-looking fabrics; and fabulous textures that are sometimes combined with lace and cables. Sixteen original projects for cardigans, pullovers, hats, bags, scarves, and more showcase the versatility of slip stitch by using it as an allover pattern or accent.

Whether you're new to this exciting stitch or looking to go beyond the basics, The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting is your essential guide.

Tula Pink coloring book

The Tula Pink Coloring Book by Tula Pink
Genre: Adult Coloring
ISBN: 9781440245428
Published: October 23rd 2015 by Fons & Porter
Rating: 4.5

I love this book. There is a huge variety of large and small shapes, animals and flowers, ocean and sky. But they all go so well together, and they are all so fanciful with a touch of random goth. Upon first glance some of them look fairly normal, until you notice the little details hiding in the images, and they become something else entirely. Each of the designs are apparently pulled from the patterns in Tula’s different fabric lines. Each of the patterns are on the back of the page. (that being said, my quilting friends, check out Tula’s quilting books!)

The pages are perforated for easy removal, and are blank on the back side. The paper is a bit thin though so you’d have to avoid markers or pens.

With more than 75 designs, this book will keep me busy for a while. I’m loving it so far! Recommended for all ages.

About the Book

Intricate paisley, whimsical nature scenes, lush animal prints. This is what Tula Pink's designs are known for--and now you can add your own touch to her distinct style in "The Tula Pink Coloring Book."

Get lost in patterns or make a hummingbird fly off the page with an unexpected combination of reds and pinks. There are no wrong answers here. The perforated pages are ideal for framing and gifting, though you may want to hold on to your favorites! Whether you've been on Team Tula for years or you're new to her designs, "The Tula Pink Coloring Book" is sure to get your creative juices flowing--one page at a time!

About the Artist

Tula Pink is an illustrator, a fabric designer, a quilter, an author, a maker and a generally good person who enjoys talking about herself. Check out her page here.

Review: Career of Evil

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith, narrated by Robert Glenister
Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery
ISBN: 9780316349932
Published: October 20th 2015 by Mulholland Books
Rating: 5

This is the third book of the Cormoran Strike series by JK Rowling, writing under the name Robert Galbraith. I jumped at the chance to review this story, as I enjoyed the other two so much. The second one left me with a slight surprise at the end, I was eager to continue the adventure. It surpassed my hopes, and I believe that so far, this is the best in the series. Galbraith seems to really be getting the hang of this crime novel thing. :-)

One of the great things I love about the series is the distinct way Galbraith slowly reveals the story, one bit at a time, one interview at a time, one little mistake the bad guy made at a time. And then Strike gets it, but you still don’t, so you’re sitting there like “What? What did I miss, what did he realize? what is it? WHAT IS IT!?” and it drives you crazy until Strike outlines it for you. I love that.

The relationship between Strike and Robin continues to grow, and the engagement between Robin and Matthew continues to deteriorate. More true emotions and motives are revealed, and some of Robins mysterious past is disclosed.

The audio book was narrated by Robert Glenister. He was excellent as always. He has the best voices and accents and

Just as the second novel, this one also ends in a way that demands the next book to hurry up and be published. I’m really excited about the growth of this series and I can’t wait for the next one!

Content/Recommendation: Some violent gruesome details, some language. No sex. Excellent narration. Ages 18+


About the Book

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

Amazon | Goodreads | Author | Audible

Check out the FAQ on Galbraith’s website for more! There are some great questions and answers!

Super Awesome Coloring Book

The Super Awesome Coloring Book, featuring original artwork by Mark Cesarik
Genre: Adult Coloring Book
ISBN: 9780692525791
Published: September 11th 2015 by Test Pattern Press
Rating: 4

Amazon | Mark Cesarik, Artist | Jenean Morrison, Editor

This is a really  nice combination of designs, especially if you really like coloring but you aren’t sure what you like coloring. Big shapes, or little detailed places? Fish or birds? recognizable things like flowers, or abstract shapes? This book has a good combo of all of them, and every design is interesting and fun. Some of the shapes are reminiscent of wallpaper (which sounds boring but remember there are some cool wallpapers out there) some remind me of my favorite floral print blouses, and others remind me of long-lost childhood day dreams (Polar bears and flowers? Yes).

One thing I like is they look good even if you color, like, most of one page, but decide not to finish. Some things don’t look good when you stop halfway through a design. These designs do.

I would have liked the paper not to bleed. If you’re going to use gel pens or markers, you have to put paper between the pages, because it will bleed. Also, most of the designs were a ton of small shapes to make one big picture, so it was highly detailed. I did really enjoy the designs and the process though! Recommended for ages 8+, gel pens, pencils, and markers (crayons would be hard because of the small spaces).

About the Book
Designed by popular NYC illustrator Mark Cesarik, The Super Awesome Coloring Book features 50 super-awesome, original coloring pages. Adult coloring enthusiasts will find this book both super and awesome. Here's why: polar bears, penguins, astronauts, fighter pilots, bulldogs, fishing lures, butterflies, modern chairs, other super stuff, other awesome things. You get to color ALL of the above and more! The designs are intricate and challenging, yet really relaxing, too. Perfect for relieving stress and exploring your creativity! Designs are printed on one side of the page only so you don't have to worry about bleed-through when using markers. This super and awesome book is also perfect for other media, like colored pencils and even crayons. Edited by best-selling coloring book artist Jenean Morrison.

About the Author
Who: Mark Cesarik
What: Graphic designer, illustrator, and painter with a BFA in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago/In-house designer of home textiles/Licensed quilting fabric collections with Free Spirit Fabrics/Direct sales in the home, craft, and apparel industries/Work has appeared on everything from wallpaper to pajamas
Where: New York City
When: est. 1979
Why: Deep-seeded need to doodle and be creative

Preserving Family Recipes

Preserving Family Recipes; How to Save and Celebrate your Food Traditions by Valerie J. Frey
Genre: Instructional
ISBN: 9780820330631
Expected publication: November 1st 2015 by University of Georgia Press
Rating: 4

This is one of the most complete books I’ve ever seen on preparing and attacking a project. Many people have a book or a folder or a pile or even a document with family recipes, but this book is a guide on how to make a treasured heirloom for generations to come. It covers so many different bases, such as working with people or working with yourself, interviews, researching recipes and allowing them to evolve, binding ideas, etc. It is almost overwhelming how much information is included. That being said, one of the best part about instructional books like this is you can take your vision and search through a book for tips, instructions, and ideas. I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to put together a really special family cookbook.

About the Book

Heirloom dishes and family food traditions are rich sources of nostalgia and provide vivid ways to learn about our families’ past, yet they can be problematic. Many family recipes and food traditions are never documented in written or photographic form, existing only as unwritten know-how and lore that vanishes when a cook dies. Even when recipes are written down, they often fail to give the tricks and tips that would allow another cook to accurately replicate the dish. Unfortunately, recipes are also often damaged as we plunk Grandma’s handwritten cards on the countertop next to a steaming pot or a spattering mixer, shortening their lives.

This book is a guide for gathering, adjusting, supplementing, and safely preserving family recipes and for interviewing relatives, collecting oral histories, and conducting kitchen visits to document family food traditions from the everyday to special occasions. It blends commonsense tips with sound archival principles, helping you achieve effective results while avoiding unnecessary pitfalls. Chapters are also dedicated to unfamiliar regional or ethnic cooking challenges, as well as to working with recipes that are “orphans,” surrogates, or terribly outdated. Whether you simply want to save a few accurate recipes, help yesterday’s foodways evolve so they are relevant for today’s table, or create an extensive family cookbook, this guidebook will help you to savor your memories.

About the Author

Valerie J. Frey is a writer, archivist, and an educational consultant. She lives in Athens, Georgia.

Get Started Quilting

Get Started Quilting: The Complete Beginner’s Guide by Jessica Alexandrakis
ISBN: 978-1632501462
Published: Interweave (July 21, 2015)
Rating: 5

This is called “The Complete Beginner Guide.” I would have to say I think this is the most complete, non-intimidating quilting book I’ve encountered. Clear photos, exciting and modern fabric choices, and concepts made clear, this book is exactly what a beginner quilter needs to get them started on their adventure.

The book includes information on different categories of fabrics, how to sort and cut your fabric, how to pick colors and prints, and how to combine and match those colors and prints for an overall appealing project. It shows how to press seams, demonstrates a variety of hand-stitching techniques and applique methods. It covers circular pieces, paper-piecing, and step-by-step instructions on how to piece together the demonstrated blocks for the best and cleanest results. It also shows the finishing and quilting process, making bias binding, and even information and tips on how to wash your quilt. Suffice to say I was impressed.

Full of information, beautifully put together, and inspiring, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any new or beginner quilter.

About the Book

An all-in-one guide to contemporary quilting techniques for beginners!

Quilting can often seem complicated and overwhelming, but it truly is a craft that anyone can do--taken one step at a time, this fantastic hobby is really quite easy. Get Started Quilting takes readers on a steady path to learning the essential quilting techniques, tricks, and tested methods of quilt making, focusing on one skill at a time.


About the Author

Jessica Alexandrakis learned to quilt while living in Hokkaido, Japan, in 2002. She loves collecting fabric, piecing scrap quilts, and quilting in public. Jessica is the author of Quilting on the Go, Get Started Quilting, and The Complete Quilter. She lives outside New York City.

Custom Socks

Custom Socks; Knit to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherley
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 978-1620337752
Published: Interweave (August 7, 2015)
Rating: 4

This is an extremely detailed guide to taking a sock pattern (or building a sock pattern) and making it actually fit. Not just for the first four hours of the day but for the whole time you’ll wear them. It teaches you the anatomy of a sock, how to measure, how to the math required to adjust the stitches, and so on. It is filled with details, hints, graphs and charts, how to add stitch patterns to a pre-existing pattern, how to make the heel more dense, etc. And of course it has great patterns with beautiful pictures. All the patterns are unique and beautiful.

My only complaint is the yarn weight in the projects. although all are made with Superfine yarn, which I won’t even pick up let alone actually use. I would have liked to see some patterns with something besides laceweight yarn, on needles larger than a size 2.

About the Book

Whether you knit them toe-up or top-down, getting just the right fit on hand knit socks can be a major challenge! In Custom Socks, Kate Atherley sets out to teach knitters of all levels the skills and tools they need to understand sock fit, and to knit a pair of socks that fit properly. She calls on her years of experience as Knitty's Managing Technical Editor, where she has edited hundreds of sock patterns, to share this information in a way that is easy to understand with patterns that inspire.

So go ahead and treat yourself to these 15 original sock patterns that are easily customizable and work with any needle configuration. Your feet will thank you!

Amazon | Ravelry | Author

About the Author

(from her website)

I'm Knitty's Lead Technical Editor and it's just about my dream job. I also do other freelance technical editing.
I'm a regular contributor to books and magazines, including most recently the Fall 2014 issue of Sockupied.
I teach regularly at stores around Ontario - I have regular gigs at The Purple Purl and Lettuce Knit in Toronto; and make frequent appearances at others shops, including Shall We Knit, Linda's Craftique in Port Credit and The Needle Emporium

I also travel further: in the first half of 2015 you'll find me at Vogue Live in NYC, at Interweave's Yarn Fest in Colorado, and at Squam Art Workshops. 

I live in Toronto with my husband and our challenging but mostly adorable rescue hound Dexter. 

Edwards Menagerie

Edwards Menagerie – Birds
Genre: Crochet (beginner/intermediate)
ISBN: 978-1446306024
Published: David & Charles; New edition edition (August 11, 2015)
Rating: 5

This book is so cute. I love the idea of creating a whole bucketload of stuffed feathered frends for a sweet little boy.

Kerry Lord has broken down the 40+ bird patterns into 3 basic categories of skill levels: basic knowledge of simple stitches and basic color changes, a little  more complicated with stitches and color changes, and then lots of color changes. She’s also simplified the patterns by creating basic body/neck/head patterns, different kinds of feet and wings, and then telling you which ones to combine, when/where to modify to make that specific bird. For instance: a bird pattern will say: Work the “Grasping Leg but add more rounds before the wrist.” Then after you’ve got most of the body, the rest of the pattern tells the specific things, like the peacock feathers, or the specific beak for that bird.It’s a very concise way to do it and I like it.


It’s also very open about the size. Basically, she says to use whatever size hook and yarn you want as long as the tightness of the fabric works. Imagine being able to make a series of super cute dodo birds, or a nice big cuddly stuffed turkey! I want a cuddly stuffed turkey.


I think this book is super cute and I want to make peacocks and swans and eagles and flamingos now. I totally recommend checking out Edwards Menagerie Birds and the original Menagerie!

About the Book

The eagerly awaited follow-up to the runaway bestseller Edward's Menagerie has arrived with BIRDS! Featuring 40 fine-feathered friends including a bashful Flamingo, romance-writing Owl, and playful Penguin, these unforgettable crochet birds are quick to make using supersoft yarn in playful color palettes. Their larger-than-life personalities will fly off your hook as you crochet them for all your friends and family!

Amazon | Ravelry | TOFT

About the Author

Kerry Lord is the designer and founder of the TOFT Alpaca Shop, a modern British knitwear company offering exclusive knitting and crochet patterns, alpaca yarns and workshops. TOFT takes British alpaca fleece from their own Alpaca flock and from elsewhere in the UK. Their fashion-led designs are available as both 'ready to wear' and 'ready to knit'. TOFT studio also hosts a full programme of knitting workshops and other textile courses for people to learn to knit from scratch, but also to develop advanced techniques.


Battlemage by Stephen Aryan, narrated by Matt Addis
Genre: Epic Fantasy
ISBN: 9780316298278
Published: September 2015 by Orbit
Rating: 4.5

Battlemage was so exciting. It held on tight and didn’t let go. I was hooked from the very first few sentences from the first chapter and from there it just got better. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. It had an exciting, well thought-out plot, complex and interesting characters, good writing, great humor, and amazing war-time magic. It had an interesting (subtle) religious and political commentary running through it that added dimension to the world. It made it more real. And it had a character that I had to really think about, really pay attention to, to figure out his true identity! I love that. I love a book that makes me think, and that surprises me.

I love good-guy/bad-guy magic. Magic that can take you to higher levels of selflessness and servant-hood and kindness, and that same magic can be used to pull you and everyone around you into filth and degradation. The Source is so powerful that, if used in the wrong hands, can completely break and ruin a person. And we see that in the battlemages. That’s my favorite kind of magic.

The narration was very good. Addis created a perfect voice for the personalities of the characters. He has superb accents and articulation, spoke clearly at a good pace, and took a book that was at 100% great and made it 200% great (which is exactly what the narrator should do! Add to the experience, not take away from it.)

The only thing about Battlemage I thought was slightly lacking was the very end. It was a little abrupt and open. Open in a good way, meaning it immediately demands a sequel. But I felt like the author was like “Hah! It’s over! bwahahahah!” rather than the kind of gentile ease away that leaves the reader feeling satisfied but still excited for what is to come. However I was still highly satisfied with the story, would totally read/listen to it again, and recommend it to anyone 18+.

About Battlemage

'I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,' Balfruss growled. 'It's dangerous to meddle with things you don't understand.'

BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.
VARGUS is a common soldier - while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade.
TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.

Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author

About the Author

I’m a lifelong fan of fantasy and science fiction. It started with The Hobbit, The Belgariad, the Earthsea books, the Shannara books and then David Gemmell, who was a huge influence on me and my writing.
I’m a writer and podcaster. Battlemage is being published by Orbit books in the UK and USA in September 2015 and it’s the first in the Age of Darkness trilogy.

Crochet Home

Crochet Home: 20 Vintage Modern crochet Projects for the Home by Emma Lamb
Genre: Crochet
ISBN: 978-1446304853
Published: David & Charles (August 17, 2015)
Rating: 3

Crochet Home is a fairly boring book. And I really hate to say that, but there’s no way to sugar coat it. The patterns are mostly based around Granny Squares, circles, and flowers. I like granny squares a lot. I like basic shapes a lot But a whole book of them is a little much; especially if there isn’t a lot of difference between the different patterns. Now if that’s all you do and that’s what you like, then this book is for you. And the photos are beautiful. But as I was turning through the book one page at a time, I kept thinking, “didn’t I already see this? oh but it was a blanket instead of a pillow or a garland instead of a doily.” It just wasn’t very original and I really don’t think it warranted its own book. Some of these put into a book of other original ideas would have been a better plan. Or maybe a short booklet of photos: “150 things to do with a granny square.” But the book wasn’t enough to spend $25 on.

Illustrated Quick Cook

Illustrated Quick Cook: Over 700 Quick Recipes by Heather Whinney
ISBN: 9781465430083
Published: June 2 2015 (first published September 1st 2009)
Rating: 5

This book is big. And heavy. And it makes me want to spend forever making yummy things.

It’s sorted into two main categories: Everyday, and Food for Friends. Within those categories are ten sub-categories (each, for a total of 20) such as No Cook, Get the Most from your Roast, Batch and Freeze, Big-Pot gatherings, No-cook desserts, Menu Planners, No-fuss Finger Foods, etc. Each recipe will tell the prep time, the cook time, tell you if it’s good frozen, or if it’s a healthy option. The front is loaded down with pictures and then sends you to the page with the recipe you want. The meals are also sorted by meat or protein type. And my favorite part?

Each recipe has a photo.

There are 700 recipes in this book. And each recipe has a photo. Next to it. You don’t even have to search for it.

This book makes me so happy. Check out the DK website for more preview pages like this one! ----->

This would be such a great gift to a young professional or soon-to-graduate college student. Or a mom who doesn’t want fifty cookbooks, just one. Or a guy who is afraid of cookbooks. Or people like me who don’t cook anything if there isn’t a photo of it. It’s everything you need for every kind of cook. Christmas is coming, you guys, and this is book is $25 at the publishers website, which in my opinion, is a steal.


About the Book

Illustrated Quick Cook is the most extensive and highly illustrated resource of "fast home cooking" recipes ever published.

Illustrated Quick Cook is designed to make life easier, from planning meals and cooking weeknight dinners to entertaining friends and hosting for the holidays. More than 700 recipes cover every need — from chapters on speedy international-inspired suppers and homestyle classics to batch-and-freeze recipes, "10 Ways" to transforms key ingredients into mealtime mains, and more. There's even a "no cook" chapter for whipping up inspired salads and sides.

More than just recipes, Illustrated Quick Cook offers fantastic value. Extra features include: 14 themed menu planners, recipe chooser galleries, Cheat tips, Cook's Notes, recipe variations, and practical information to introduce you to every time-saving chapter theme.

Amazon | DK | Goodreads

About the Author

Heather Whinney grew up in Derbyshire, England, with simple home cooking. She trained as a home economist then went on to be the cooking school manager of the Cordon Vert Cookery School, the Vegetarian Society, and the food editor of Vegetarian Magazine.

Shake Off

Shake Off by Mischa Hiller, narrated by Fleet Cooper
Genre: Spy Thriller
ISBN: 9780316204217
Pulished: First published in America in 2012
Rating: 3

Shake Off was one of those books you listen to and you’re like “Okay this is interesting” and there’s one really exciting part, and then after it’s over, you’re like “oh, I literally spent eight and a half hours listening to this book. That’s fine.”

But that’s really all it was—fine. I didn’t particularly love any of the characters. There were some good scenes, but nothing addictive. And when it ended I smiled and then went on to the next book. It took me a few days to figure out what to write in this review because I wasn’t even sure how I felt about it at first. It was just a story that ended up in my head, the experience wasn’t anything phenomenal. The writing was good and the narration was great, but the story was just fine.

About the Book

Years of training have transformed Michel Khoury into a skilled intelligence operative. A refugee whose family was murdered by extremists, he has one mission: the peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict that upended his life.

An alluring enigma, he attracts the attention of Helen, a pretty English girl who lives in the adjacent apartment. As their relationship develops, Michel is unable to tell Helen about his past—or the collection of passports and unmarked bills he’s concealed in the bathroom they share.

When Michel’s secrets turn deadly, Helen and Michel find themselves pursued through the streets of London, Berlin, and the Scottish countryside. As they run, each steps closer to a discovery that will change their lives forever.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author

About the Author

Mischa Hiller was born in England in 1962 and grew up in London, Dar es Salaam and Beirut. Sabra Zoo won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book for Europe and South Asia in 2011. Mischa also won the 2009 European Independent Film Festival script competition for his adaptation of the book. His second novel Shake Off was published to critical acclaim in 2011. Disengaged is published in 2015.

Get Set, Sew!

Get Set, Sew! The Beginner’s sewing Machine Book; by Jane Bull
Genre: Sewing, DIY
ISBN: 978-1465435873
Published: July 7 2015 by DK
Rating: 4.5

This is a beautiful, colorful, well-designed step-by-step guide to beginner’s sewing machine projects. The projects are really cute (I made a few and want to make more, and I’m an advanced sewer!). One of the things I like most about it is the patterns themselves are so unique. I’ve seen a lot of beginner sewing books but these patterns are great! Another thing I like about the patterns is that they are customizable. They are perfect as they are, but they also lend themselves to inspiration and little changes to make your project unique and different.

The book’s layout is very good. It has the basics in the beginning, very good photos, very clear step-by-steps, and hints throughout to guide newbies along. The color scheme, fonts, etc are great. The only problem I have is there are a few pages—not all of them, just some—that are just so busy it’s almost overwhelming to look at. Too much stuff, either information or cute little pictures, makes some of the pages look cluttered.

All in all I’m very happy with Get Set, Sew! and recommend it to every beginner sewer, child or adult!

About the Book

Jane Bull's Get Set, Sew is a beginner's guide to mastering your sewing machine with 20 easy projects.

The latest in Jane Bull's successful series of craft titles, Jane Bull's Get Set, Sew is a clear, fresh, enjoyable introduction to sewing on a machine. Jane's friendly, jargon-free instructions and step-by-step photos will walk you through everything you need to know to learn how to use a sewing machine.

Master sewing machine basics one at a time, then put newly learned skills to work with 20 simple sewing projects to make — including creative and original bags, accessories, cushions, and toys. Jane Bull's Get Set, Sew includes templates, sewing patterns, and everything you need to make your first sewing projects and lay the groundwork for countless creative fabric crafts to come.

Written in the Blood

Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones, narrated by Gemma Whelan
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9780316254489
Rating: 4.5

Written in the Blood was a mystical, thrilling, gripping adventure that feels like it takes place far away in a distant land, but like it could also take place right in your hometown. The mystery never dissipates, even as the story continues to grow and develop. Even as I learned more about these strange people and their strange enemies, it was like they still remained a marvelous mystery.

The climax was shocking, the conclusion was beautiful and full of hope. I loved every minute of the adventure and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a kick-ass heroine and good plot with a hint of the supernatural in their life.

apparently this is the second book in the series, but I didn’t know until I looked it up on Goodreads. It was wonderful by itself.

Recommendation: ages 17+ for intense scenes

About the Book

"Chilling . . . A neo-gothic treat; original, richly imagined, and powerfully told." --The Guardian (UK) for The String Diaries

See the girl. Leah Wilde is twenty-four, a runaway on a black motorbike, hunting for answers while changing her identity with each new Central European town.
See the man, having come of age in extraordinary suffering and tragedy in nineteenth-century Budapest; witness to horror, to love, to death, and the wrath of a true monster. Izsák still lives in the present day, impossibly middle-aged. He's driven not only to hunt this immortal evil but to find his daughter, stolen from an Arctic cabin and grown into the thing Izsák has sworn to kill.
See the monster, a beautiful, seemingly young woman who stalks the American West, seeking the young and the strong to feed upon, desperate to return to Europe where her coven calls.
Written in the Blood is the epic thriller of the year, a blazing and dexterous saga spanning generations, and threading the lives of five individuals driven by love, by sacrifice, by hunger and by fear. They seek to save a race--or to extinguish it forever.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Smug

The Good, The Bad, and The Smug by Tom Holt, read by Ray Sawyer
Genre: Fiction, Humor (Tom Holt really is his own genre).
ISBN: 9780316368810
Rating: 5 Stars!

I love Tom Holt’s sense of humor and writing style. He is sarcastic, quirky, fun to read, entertaining, light-hearted, and hilarious. I fell in love with his world and his style when I read (listened to) Doughnut way back in 2013. Apparently TGTB&TS is book 4 in the series and I missed all the ones in between. But not once did I feel lost or confused. Actually I didn’t even know it was part of the series until I recognized the sound of “The Very Very Large Hadron Collider.”

That being said, I’d recommend reading book 1 before you read this, otherwise you will be so confused it would distract you from how funny the book is.

Tom Holt has managed to take something so absolutely ridiculous and impossible and make it totally real. The characters are well built and real (even if they are goblins and elves and stock brokers pretending to be rumplestiltskin). The plot had my heart racing (trying to figure out why The Dark Lord is crying over patterned curtains is a serious matter) and the conclusion, though open to interpretation and somewhat confusing, was still fulfilling. I’m very happy with this book and look forward to going back (and forwards) to enjoy the others in the series!

Content/Recommendation: some language, some mention of eating body parts. no sex. Ages 18+
About the Book

New Evil. Same as the Old Evil, but with better PR.

Mordak isn't bad, as far as goblin kings go, but when someone, or something, starts pumping gold into the human kingdoms it puts his rule into serious jeopardy. Suddenly he's locked in an arms race with a species whose arms he once considered merely part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Helped by an elf with a background in journalism and a masters degree in being really pleased with herself, Mordak sets out to discover what on earth (if indeed, that's where he is) is going on. He knows that the truth is out there. If only he could remember where he put it.

About Tom Holt
Tom Holt (Thomas Charles Louis Holt; born September 13, 1961) is a British novelist.

He was born in London, the son of novelist Hazel Holt, and was educated at Westminster School, Wadham College, Oxford, and The College of Law, London.

Holt's works include mythopoeic novels which parody or take as their theme various aspects of mythology, history or literature and develop them in new and often humorous ways. He has also produced a number of "straight" historical novels writing as Thomas Holt and fantasy novels writing as K.J. Parker.

101 Family Meal-time Devotions

101 Family Meal-time Devotions by Greg Johnson (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Devotional
ISBN: 978-1630583774
Expected Publication Date: October 1st 2015 by GoTandem
Rating: 4/5

From Goodreads: You’re convinced that “Family Devo Time” is a terrific idea, but like so many past attempts … they just seem to fizzle out. The kids get bored, your spouse looks at you quizzically, and the whole experiment is quickly forgotten—packed away as “yet another good intention.” Guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way! Each of these 101 five-minute readings will bring family devotions to life, helping your children (ages 6-12) develop important Christian values. Each devotional describes true-to-life situations at home and at school. Relevant scripture passages and thought-provoking questions are included to spark meaningful family discussion.

This book is such a great idea. The idea of spending meal-time talking about important things resonates with me, because that’s what my family did. They didn’t do it from a book, or from a list of questions. But I think on the days when our conversations didn’t happen organically, it would have been very useful to have this sort of book.

The stories are (I feel) mainly for younger children who are still feeling their way around in their personality and relationship with God, and still trying to apply basic truths like speaking with love, not getting frustrated, not being afraid to be friends with someone who is a little different.

There are some devotionals that kids read to adults, which I think awesome! Some of the most important moments for me  as a kid (and even now) was when my parents were honest with me about their struggles. Some things I’ve heard from my parents that have impacted my life:

  • “I wanted so badly to be mean to that person, and it was really hard not to.”
  • “Your father frustrated me today but God told me to love him and respect him, and sometimes that means forgiving him even when he makes me upset.”
  • “Your mother and I are very different people. But we don’t fight or argue. We love each other and that means sometimes we sit down and have to talk out our problems. Because it’s not about being right, it’s about keeping our relationship healthy and God-glorifying.”
  • “Haley, I snapped at you this evening and that was wrong. Forgive me?”

And the thing about devotionals like this is, you don’t use them by themselves: they are a diving board you use to get to the good stuff. For instance, a devotional about wanting to snap at someone could remind you of a time you did snap at someone, and how you should have handled the situation, and then a story of a victory in a similar situation.

The text itself wasn’t edited very well, and I’m assuming it’s because I was reading an ARC. and even if those typos don’t get fixed, it won’t take away from the content.

I think this book is an awesome tool for young kids (ages 4-12) and their parents to get into the habit of having God-glorifying conversations that build each other up and prepare them for life, and empower them to make worshipful decisions.

The Ice Twins

The Ice Twins by S.K.Tremeyne, narrated by Penny Rawlins, Sandra Duncan, and Angus King
Genre: Literary Fiction, Tragedy
ISBN: 9780007563036
Rating: 4
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible
One of Sarah's daughters died. But can she be sure which one?
A year after one of their identical twin daughters Lydia dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.
But when their surviving daughter Kirstie claims they have mistaken her identity - that she, in fact, is Lydia - their world comes crashing down once again.
As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, they are forced to confront what really happened on that fateful day.

This was literally the most depressing book I’ve ever read. Like, literally. The writing was lyrical and descriptive (almost too much so), and it was hard to listen to because of the emotional devastation of the characters. It was a rollercoaster because out of the three main characters (daughter, husband, wife) you loved all of them, you hated all of them, but you weren’t sure which one was the bad guy (and there was definitely a bad guy). And then once you figured out which one you hated the most, it would switch on you. Suffice to say, this made it an emotional trip.
As I said, the writing was almost so descriptive that it was annoying. And it wasn’t all of it, there were just some parts where I thought “Okay, I get it, move on with the story please.” Another thing was some of the dialogue was redundant. I realize you’re dealing with a traumatized child here, and they tend to repeat themselves and not elaborate, but there are artful ways of writing that without driving your reader crazy. (Example, thought not a direct quote: “tell me what happened?” “Nothing.” “Tell me?” “no. nothing.” “Please?” “Nothing.” “Please sweetheart.” “No! Nothing.” and on and on we go.)
But the story itself wrapped up with an intensely confusing and fulfilling climax, and even a week later it is still haunting me… the ghost may never go away.
The narration was combined: there were three people reading. Rawlins for the voice of Sarah, the mother; Duncan for the voice of Angus before the climax; King for the voice of Angus after the climax (which I thought was really weird, honestly). I liked Rawlins and King, but not Duncan at all. I also would have liked Rawlins to do the voice of the daughter for the whole thing, not just her chapters, since her voice was really good for it. It would have been so much editing though.
The Ice Twins was an overall good reading experience and despite it’s minor flaws I would recommend it to anyone who likes drama, romance, or general fiction.

The Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker, narrated by Nicola Barber (Amazon, Goodreads, Audible)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
ISBN: 031632700X
Published June 2nd 2015 by Hachette Audio
Rating: 4.5

From Goodreads:

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.
Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.
Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.
Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.
But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.
Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

The Witch Hunter brought me back to my first year of discovering the YA genre, when I was craving an adventure, compelling set of characters, a brave strong heroine, and a sweet romance. I loved this book. I especially liked seeing a strong-willed confident woman fighting for what she believes… and when she is shown—lovingly, gently—of how wrong she is, turns around to fight for what she knows is right. Beautifully written, full of adventure and excitement and very hard choices, The Witch Hunter is the great start of an awesome new series!

White Crocodile

White Crocodile by K.T.Medina (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Thriller, Crime
ISBN: 9781478927822
Published June 30th 2015 by Little, Brown & Company (first published August 5th 2014)
Rating: 3.5

From Goodreads:

An atmospheric debut thriller in which a woman must hunt down the ferocious killer responsible for her husband's murder.

Tess Hardy thought she had put Luke, her violent ex-husband, firmly in her past. Then he calls from Cambodia, where he is working as a mine-clearer, and there's something in his voice she hasn't heard before: Fear. Two weeks later, he's dead.
Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Cambodia and to the killing fields. Keeping her relationship to Luke a closely guarded secret, Tess joins his team of mine clearers, who are shaken to the core by Luke's sudden death. Even in their grief, the group remains a tightly knit and tightly wound community in which almost everyone has something to hide.
At the same time, the circle of death begins to expand. Teenage mothers are disappearing from villages around the minefields, while others are being found mutilated and murdered, their babies abandoned. Everywhere there are whispers about the White Crocodile, a mythical beast that brings death to all who meet it. Caught in a web of secrets and lies, Tess must unravel the truth, and quickly. The crocodile is watching, and Tess may be its next victim.
Combining the technical expertise of military suspense with a richly drawn sense of place, White Crocodile forges new ground in the thriller genre. Medina's internationally acclaimed debut announces the arrival of a prodigiously talented novelist whom readers will be discussing for years to come.

White Crocodile was a book that surprised me. At first I was only interested because of the idea of mine clearers. Then there was an explosion. Then I got to know the characters a little more. It was fair paced but not as fast as I’d have liked. About halfway I began to get really curious about the plot, and then it started getting fast and surprising me at every turn. From there it didn’t let go. I feel like it could have started stronger (especially considering how good the ending was). The narration was good except every once in a while a line was so quiet I could barely hear it. All in all it was a very nice listening experience for a crime novel with a really exciting surprising ending.

One-Skein Wonders for Babies!

One-skein Wonders for Babies: 101 knitting projects for infants and toddlers Edited by Judith Durant (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: knitting
ISBN: 9781612124803
Published: September 8th 2015 by Storey Publishing, LLC
Rating: 4

I love babies. I love the One-skein wonders series. So it’s natural that I would love this book.

I love knitting and crocheting but I’m not the most patient long-term project minded person. I also really like pictures. Generally I decide what to make (knit, sew, cook) based on the picture. That’s one thing I really like about this book: all the patterns have at least one picture (usually more) plus diagrams! I also really like the page-layout and the color-blocks.

This is perfect for anyone who wants a quick project for a precious little one.

From Goodreads: This irresistible collection offers 101 original knitting projects for babies and toddlers -- each using just a single skein of yarn! From mittens and hats to tees, sweaters, hoodies, pants, dresses, socks, and bootees, you'll find the perfect wearable for every child and every occasion. You'll also discover beautiful bibs, blankets, and sleep sacks, plus adorable stuffed toys, blanket buddies, and more. These beautiful projects were contributed by designers and crafters around the world, and each comes with complete step-by-step instructions and a photograph of the finished piece.

Review: Feed Your Athlete

Feed Your Athlete: A Cookbook to Fuel Your Performance by Michael Kirtsos and Joseph Ewing (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Cookbook, Health
ISBN: 9781465435378
Published: June 2nd 2015 by DK
Rating: 5

I am extremely impressed by this book. The sheer amount of work that went into making this such a valuable tool will, I hope, bounce back to benefit many people.

This is not just a cookbook. This is a reference book. The book starts with a rundown of the different kinds of athletes and their specific dietary needs (with constant reminder that everyone is different and you should check with your doctor or dietician to confirm diet changes). Then it provides practical's on how to meet those needs. Not just recipes (that are all divided up by high or low fiber, low fat, high carb, and high protein) but also meal plans, detailed appendix, water replacement recipes, recovery meals and drinks, and even athlete-friendly deserts. It covers how to determine how many calories you need, how to balance your energy, measure your BMI and BFP, and eating for each stage of training, up through recovery from a performance or event.

The recipes themselves are detailed and easy to follow, and most of them fall into the Easy category (which automatically gives it a plus). It includes a rundown of the categories, prep time, ingredients, yield, make ahead and freeze plans, substitutions in case you want to make it gluten-free or vegetarian, and the breakdown of nutrition information.

There were a few recipes, mostly baking recipes like muffins and breads, that I thought could have used less sugar. There are lots of ways to substitute sugar, oil, and eggs by using things like avocado, apple sauce, peanut butter, honey, agave, etc. and I thought there could have been more of that happening. There were a few drinks that seemed like they had too much sugar in them as well. Sugar really is an athlete’s poison (actually it’s everyone’s poison). And honestly I don’t see how a fudge pop with pudding and whipped topping as the only ingredients belong in a healthy athlete cookbook. But even including those few recipes, this book still blew me away. It should be a staple in every health-conscious home, and every athlete’s shelf.

From Goodreads: Feed Your Athlete features 150 nourishing whole-food meals and snacks for training, competition, and recovery for both endurance and strength athletes, plus fast and easy preparation tips and nutritional information. Athletes know how important it is to get the right fuel for their workouts and events. Feed Your Athlete makes it simple to fuel yourself or your athlete before, during, and after sporting events and training with 150 all-natural, real-food recipes for meals, snacks, portables, sports drinks, and more. Icons and assessments help determine optimal nutrition for any type of sport, and include high-carb, high-protein, low-calorie, low-fat, or high- or low-fiber options.
Created for endurance and strength athletes (but great for athletes of all kinds), Feed Your Athlete shows how to cook easy meals and take-alongs that taste good — and make active bodies feel great by delivering the fuel that they need to perform at their peak.


Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat by Carla Bartolucci (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Cookbook
ISBN: 978-0804186476
Published: August 4th 2015 by Clarkson Potter
Rating: 4.5

The idea of Einkorn is that there is a wheat out there that has not been genetically modified. It hasn’t been modified because it has a smaller yield and the berries are fairly small. It was left alone while other forms of wheat were played with and changed. The idea is because it hasn’t been played with and changed, people who are gluten intolerant can eat it with no problem because it has a different chemical reaction than regular wheat does.

It’s definitely an intriguing concept. I am not gluten intolerant, and I didn’t know where to get said wheat since that is literally the only thing the book didn’t cover. It covered sprouting, rolling, grinding, processing, every type of cooking process you can imagine. It included a history of wheat, how she and her husband found out about Einkorn, and about the amazing changes in their health after they started using it. But not where to get it. So that was a bit of a letdown, and is the only reason this baby didn’t get 5 stars from me. I did find it available online on amazon so it’s not like it’s impossible to buy. I was just surprised the book didn’t have a specific source listed.

the recipes were vast and diverse: Breads and Crackers, quick breads, breakfast, cookies, pastries, pudding, pizza, pasta, street food, and more. Almost every recipe had a full page beautiful photograph to go with it. The recipes ranged from basic to complicated but they all looked delicious.

Even if I never get my hands on Einkorn wheat berries, I look forward to using this cookbook on a regular basis!

Review: Secrets of a Proverbs 31 Woman

31 Woman by Rae Simmons (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Spiritual Wisdom
ISBN 9781630588618
Published April 1st 2015 by Barbour Books
Rating: 5

I really like this book. I would buy this book for me, or for a friend. I’d keep a copy in my car to hand out to someone I though needed it. I’d recommend it to any woman who has been told she should “be above rubies” and should mirror a P.31 woman, but never given a practical to-do list on how to make that happen.

I mean, real Godly women wouldn’t need that to-do list, right? They would just know. They would read the Bible and just understand without help.

Nope. I’m a “to-do list” kind of girl!

This book was awesome. It goes through the history and background of specific words, how illustrations used in the Bible translates to our day and age, and what that means for us. It was beautiful and, most importantly, encouraging.

Review: Upcycle Your Wardrobe

Upcycle your Wardrobe: 21 patterns… by Mia Fher
Genre: Craft and Sewing
ISBN: 9780764348495
Published July 28th 2015 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd
Rating: 2

There is upcycling, and there is “taking boring clothes and making them into other boring clothes that fit you better but are still totally boring.” This book basically the latter claiming to be the former, with the exception of two (out of 21) designs that I really like... that being said, they’re things I’ve seen on the internet before. I gave it a 2 not a 1 because the step-by-step and the photos were very good.

Don’t waste your time and money, there are better projects on Pinterest.

Review: Knit the Sky

Knit the Sky by Lea Redmond (Amazon, Goodreads, Book site)
Genre: craft, knit/crochet
ISBN: 9781612123332
Expected publication: August 25th 2015 by Storey Publishing, LLC
Rating: 4

Knit the sky was whimsical and exciting. The book is quite different from the traditional knitting book, in that it doesn’t give step-by-step instructions, specific patterns, or have photos. Instead, it has colorful watercolor illustrations and beautiful inspiring text that paints a picture in the mind and leads the knitter to the place the writer wants them to be. The idea of giving inspiration for a project but not a specific pattern was challenging and new to say the least… but it worked for the book. It can be for a beginner knitter who wants the freedom to explore and not fit themselves into a pattern (just to grow as an artist) or for a free-former like myself, who doesn’t really follow patterns anyway and just wants the basic idea, or for an advanced knitter or pattern maker ready to push their creativity to the next level. It would even work for a crocheter (since most of it is make-up-as-you-go anyway).

I love it and am looking forward to making my own beautiful project! check back in a few weeks to see what I’ve made!

From Goodreads:

Look up from your knitting needles and explore with the world around you! That's the mantra of Lea Redmond, the creative instigator behind Knit the Sky. Challenging herself to capture the changing colors of the sky in her knitting, Redmond loaded up her yarn basket with shades of blue, gray, and white and set out to knit a strip reflecting each day's shades. In 365 days, she imagines having a one-year weather report in the shape of a scarf. This is just one of 30 adventurous knitting challenges she shares with readers in this whimsical, inspiring collection. These are knitting projects like no other, as the goal is not just to have a finished project but to have a one-of-a-kind piece that tells a story about the knitter's life experience. Some of the projects invite the knitter to engage with others: friends knitting two scarves at once on the same needles, or a grandmother sharing a "basket of berries" with her grandchildren through matching basketweave-patterned hats. Others encourage contemplation: a knit 1, breathe 1 meditation stitch; creating an heirloom scarf for a yet-to-be descendent; or using a map to a favorite place as the basis for a pattern stitch. Accompanied by basic instructions for all the needed stitches, techniques, and patterns, Knit the Sky is a complete creativity starter kit for any knitter looking for a fresh approach to the craft.

Check out the Knit the Sky website to download a free pattern from the book!


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.