Not accepting books for review

Due to a health issue, I am currently NOT accepting books for review. I have every intention of completing the books that I have already accepted. The timeframes given remain the same, for now. I will contact you if I need more time.

This decision is not permanent. I need time to adjust to my medication and cannot allow myself to feel pressured. As soon as I am able to, I will return to accepting books for review, because I love books and I love reading. More importantly, I want to help new writers as much as I can.

ET is back

Taking a look in the archives I found two posts that relate to ET — Essential Thrombocytosis. The first was entitled The Disorder Has a Name, written in 2010 when I discovered the name of my health issue. The second was entitled A Stroke in Life, written in 2012 after I had a minor stroke.

Reading them now I can see the errors in my words, but eight to ten years has passes, and I’ve learned more over the years.

My body makes platelets, too many platelets, and this causes a problem. It means that I am susceptible to having a stroke. We know that it’s true and I’ve already had a minor stroke. What I didn’t realise way back then, was that the six weeks of feeling incredible sick turned out to be eight months. I lost half my hair during that time. I lost a lot of weight. And I lost eight months of social interaction with family and friends, because I was too sick to go anywhere or do anything.

But that terrible time came to an end. I remained on the injections for a further two years, but life kick started again and things returned to a new normal that included injections twice a week.

Other stuff happened, the passing of my dad, mum being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, loss of a house to flooding, to name a few. It was a trumatic time.

Then, my specialist announced that I had to stop the injections or I might end up with a different medical problem. I remember feeling nervous about stopping the injections. Fancy that. But I gathered that should I stop the injection and the disorder return, then I would have to start at square one all over again. That thought terrified me.

Guess what? I’m standing on square one and I had my first injection on Friday (after almost five years without them).

But it has been almost five years, so improvements have been made to the medication. I haven’t been as bad this first time, but I’m only on a third of the normal injection at present. But I feel hopeful that my immediate future will not be a replay of 2012.

eBook review: Ethaze & the Shadow Court

Ethaze & the Shadow Court by J.P. Kaeden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Eleven-year-old Ethaze always believed her mother had died when she was little and that her father had abandoned her. When her Grandfather passes away, she learns her mother had been traded to the Fae. Leaving her village to rescue her mother, Ethaze discovers the existence of an uneasy truce between men, Fae and the Gods over the planes of existence.

The Order of Gafannon, a sect of blacksmiths trained in the old ways, are mankind’s protection against the Fae, providing the iron which disrupts their powers and binds them as mortals. Ethaze is drawn into the Void, the space between realities, where she encounters the imprisoned rogue Fae of the Shadow Court, those who have rejected the truce and have sought to establish their own power. Ethaze’s quest for her mother is part of something larger than she could have ever imagined.

My review: Presently, I seem to be reading books that are difficult to fit wholly within a defined age group. The main character in Ethaze and the Shadow Court is eleven, which should make this book for middle grade or younger readers. But I don’t agree with that. Ethaze is eleven, yet she comes across as around 16 to me. In my opinion, the book is for young adults.

However, the genre is simple to determine. Set in another world. Portals. The Fae. Yes, it’s a fantasy story.

The storyline grabbed me from the beginning. I liked Ethaze’s determination and wanted her to succeed in her quest from the start. Yet our path is never straight forward and we often get waylaid in real life, so it’s not surprising that poor Ethaze ran into all sorts of trouble on her journey. Her good nature and ethics see her wanting to help people, but it’s sometimes hard to know when and where to place trust. We also need to accept help from others, because sometimes we cannot reach our goal alone, but that too has its drawbacks.

I liked the relationships Ethaze created with the other characters, good and bad. They were convincing. Also, I enjoyed the way the author shared crafting techniques in a way that felt natural to the storyline. I don’t know if the blacksmith details are true or not, but I believed every word and that’s the important thing.

Allowing the reader to use their imagination when reading a book is important, in my opinion, and the author gave descriptions that didn’t drone on and bore me but allowed me to envision Ethaze’s world. I appreciated that.

The only negative thing for me to say is that the book has a lot of grammar errors that need addressing. Little things that are confusing, and other errors that are quite distracting, spoiling the reading experience. A good edit will improve the story tenfold. But if you can ignore these imperfections, you’ll find a good story worth reading.

Despite the errors, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would happily read book 2 when it’s released.

Recommended.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

eBook review: Annalynn the Canadian Spy

Annalynn the Canadian Spy: Terrible Tissues by Shawn P.B. Robinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: Ten-year-old Annalynn has just been hired as a spy.

Two men and two women break into Annalynn’s home and steal a box of tissues, literally from under their noses. No one can imagine why someone would do such a thing, but Annalynn has been put on the case.

Her country needs her, but does she have what it takes?

My review: This is a book for younger readers. Readers beginning to read on their own, who have vivid imaginations and love to laugh. It was a little too young for me and I had to remind myself that it was not aimed at my age group.

It’s a quick, witty read. Older readers have to forego normal and allow themselves to be taken for a ride in unconventional ways. If you can do that, then you’ll enjoy the book.

Annalynn is just a kid but she’s up for the role as a spy. She’ll do it for her family, even though she has no training. But she is resourceful and she’s keen. Nothing will stop her from solving the case handed to her. Dangerous or not.

Hand this book to your youngster, and allow them to be swept into Annalynn’s adventure. They will enjoy themselves, and you’ll hear them laughing.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Crochet Border for a Quilt

As promised, I said I would post the instructions for the Crochet Quilt Square if I found it. And I did find it. To see what the border looks like, you’ll have to follow the link to the original publication. Enjoy.

Crochet Border for a Quilt. (Published in the Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907), Saturday 29 June 1901, page 42)

The first row may be begun on the edge of the quilt itself, in which case the additional fulness required for turning the corners can be ensured row by row, by working three or five extra stitches, in the same way as extra stitches are employed in turning the corners of the quilt squares; or it can be crocheted upon a foundation chain of the required length, with an ample allowance for fulling in round the corners.

The same pattern is useful worked with macrame twine for a manfel-drape, or worked with colored flax thread for furniture trimming.

1st row: Plain double crochet.

2nd row: Turn the work; do 1 treble in the back, thread of a double crochet stitch of the preceding row; * 3 chain, another treble in the same place, miss two stitches, 1 treble in the back thread of the next double crochet, and repeat from * to the end of the row.

3rd row: Keep the work on the same side, and do 1 double crochet in the centre stitch of the three chain of last row, 2 chain, and continue the same.

4th row: Plain double crochet.

5th row: All treble, inserting the hook to take the one top thread of the stitches of the previous row, and increase one stitch in every ten.

6th row: Work 1 double crochet in the front thread of a double crochet stitch of the fourth row; miss one stitch, 6 double crochet in the front thread of the next stitch, miss one and repeat.

7th row: Turn the work; and do plain double crochet, inserting the hook to take the back thread of the treble stitches of the fifth row.

8th row: Turn the work; insert the hook into two top threads of the stitches of last row, and do 1 treble, 1 chain, miss one, and repeat.

9th row: Turn the work; and do plain double crochet, inserting the hook to take the back thread of the stitches of last row.

10th row: Same as the eighth row.

11th row: Same as the ninth row.

12th row: With the right side of the work to the front; work all treble, taking up the back thread of the stitches of last row, and increase one treble in every ten.

13th row: Work 1 double crochet in the top thread of a double crochet stitch of the eleventh row, miss one stitch, 6 double crochet in the top thread of the next stitch, miss one, and repeat.

14th row: With the right side of the work to the front, work double crochet on the treble stitches of the twelfth row.

15th row: Same as the eighth row.

16th row: Same as the ninth row.

17th row: Turn the work; and again do plain double crochet, inserting the hook to take the back thread of the stitches of last row.

18th row: The same.

Now for the Scollops.

Beginning with the wrong side of the work to th« front: Do 1 double crotchet on the first stitch, inserting the hook to take the top and back threads, * 5 chain, miss three, 1 double crochet on the next, and repeat from * three times, making four loops of chain stitches, and turn the work.

2nd row: Do 6 double crochet under each of the three first loops, and 3 double crochet under the fourth loop.

3rd row: Turn with 5 chain, 1 double crochet between the third and fourth double crochet stitches of the first loop, 5 chain, 1 double, crochet between the third and fourth stitches of the next loop, 5 chain, 1 double crochet between the third and fourth stitches of the next loop, making three loops of chain stitches, and turn the work.

4th row: Do 6 double crochet under each of the two first loops, and 3 double crochet under the third loop.

5th row: Turn with 5 chain, double crochet between the third and fourth double crochet stitches of the first loop, 5 chain, 1 double crochet between the third and fourth stitches of the next loop, making two loops of chain stitches, and turn the work.

6th row: Do 6 double crochet under the first loop, and 3 double crochet under the second loop.

7th row: Turn with 5 chain, 1 double crochet between the third and fourth double crochet stitches of the loop, forming one loop only for the top of the scollop, and turn the work.

8th row: Do 2 double crochet under the loop, 4 chain, 2 more double crochet under the loop, 4 chain, again 2 double crochet, 4 chain, and again 2 double crochet under the loop, then 3 double crochet to fill in the vacant half space of the next loop to the left, 3 double crochet in the next loop, and 3 double crochet in the next loop, which finishes one scollop.

The other scollops are formed in the same manner.

A Crochet Quilt Square

I’m not all that good a crochet, as I’ve always been a knitter, but I found some old patterns that intrigued me and thought I’d share.

This first one is for a granny square. If you make enough you can sew or crochet them together to make a quilt. The original publication states a pattern for the border would be published in a later issue. If I find it, I’ll share that too. Edit: I did find the instructions for Crochet Border for a Quilt.

A Crocheted Quilt. (Published in Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW:1870-1907 – Sat 15 Jun 1901, Page 43)

A crochet quilt square

This quilt is worked in separate squares, which must be sewn or crocheted together when the number is sufficient for the size of the quilt required. Use knitting-cotton, No. 6, and a steel crochet needle, No. 15.

Begin in the centre by winding the cotton twice round the first finger of the left hand, work 8 double crochet in the loop, draw the loop in closely, then join the last stitch of the double crochet to the first stitch, and this forms the first round of the quilt square. Every successive round is to be joined in the same manner quite evenly to its own commencement, and unless otherways directed, always turn the work with 1 chain to re-commence a fresh round, and insert the hook to take up the one back thread of the stitches of the previous round, that the work may sit in ridges.

2nd round: 1 double crochet on the first stitch, 3 double crochet on the next stitch, and repeat the same three times, making 16 double crochet in the round.

3rd round: 1 double crochet on each of three double crochet along the side of the square, 3 double crochet on the centre stitch of three double crochet for the corner, making 24 double crochet in the round, and fasten off.

4th-round: Holding the wrong side of last round towards you, do 1 double cro-chet on the third stitch of the three double crochet at the corner, 1 double crochet on the next stitch now a “tuft” –that is 5 treble stitches worked into a thread of the second previous round– miss the next stitch of the last round,1 double crochet on the next stitch, 1 double crochet on the next, 3 double crochet on the centre stitch of three double crochet at the corner, and repeat the same three times.

5th round: Plain double crochet, except behind the tufts, where a treble stitch is to be worked into the thread of the stitch that was missed in last round, and 3 double crochet are as usual to be worked on the centre stitch at each corner.

6th round: Work 1 double crochet on the third stitch of the three double crochet at the corner, 1 double crochet on the next, a tuft, miss one stitch of last round, 3 double crochet consecutive, a tuft, miss one stitch, 1 double crochet on the next, 1 double crochet on the next, 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at the corner.

7th round: Same as the fifth round.

8th round: Work 1 double crochet oh the third stitch of the three double crochet at the corner, 1 double crochet on the next, a tuft, miss one stitch of last round, 7 double crochet consecutive, a tuft, miss one stitch, 1 double crochet on the next, 1 double crochet on the next, 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at the corner.

9th round: Same as the 5th.

10th round: Work 1 double crochet on the third stitch of the three double crochet at the corner, 1 double crochet on the next, a tuft, miss one stitch of last round, 11 double crochet consecutive, a tuft, miss 1 stitch, 1 double crochet on the next, 1 double crochet on the next, 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at the cor-ner.

11th round: Same as the fifth.

12th round: Work 1 double crochet on the third stitch of the three double crochet at the corner, 1 double crochet on the next, a tuft, miss one stitch of last round, 15 double crochet consecutive, a tuft, miss one stitch, 1 double crochet on the next, 1 double crochet on the next, 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at the corner.

13th round: Same as the fifth.

14th round: Work plain double crochet, with 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at each corner.

15th round: The same, in this round there should be 27 double crochet along each side of the square and 3 double crochet at each corner; fasten off at the end of the round.

16th round: Hold the right side of the work towards you, do 1 treble on the first of the three double crochet stitches at the corner, inserting the hook to take up the two front threads of the stitches of last round, 1 chain, 1 treble on the corner stitch, 1 chain, another treble on the cor-ner stitch, 1 chain, another treble in the same place, 1 chain, 1 treble on the third of the three double crochet stitches; 1 chain, miss one, 1 treble on the next and continue thus in one chain, miss one, 1 treble on the next, till you get in all, 5 treble worked at the corner, and 13 treble along the side of the square with 1 chain between each; do 1 chain and repeat the same to the end of the round, and join evenly.

17th round: Turn, and work plain double crochet, with 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at each corner.

18th round: The same.

19th round: Hold the right side of the work towards you, and insert the hook to take up the one front thread of the stitches of last round, 5 double crochet on one double crochet stitch of last round, miss one, 1 double crochet on the next, miss one, and repeat the same to the end of the round, and fasten off; this round sits in little scollops, and there must be a scollop at each corner and nine scollops along each side, making 40 scollops in the round.

20th round: Hold the work the right side towards you and do a round of plain treble stitches, with 5 treble on the centre stitch at each corner, inserting the hook to take up the one top thread of the stitches of the eighteenth round, and keeping the little scollops down under the left hand thumb.

21st round: With the right side of the work still in front, do 1 double crochet into the top thread of a stitch of last row, do 1 double crochet into the front thread of a stitch of last row, and repeat this alternately all round, with 3 double crochet stitches at each corner.

22nd round: Work in the same manner, taking the top thread now where in last round the front thread was taken.

23rd round: Turn, and work plain double crochet into the back threads of the stitches of last round, and as before do 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at each corner.

24th round: The same as last round.

25th round: Work in little scollops, the same as the 19th round, a scollop at each corner and 12 scollops along each side, making 52 scollops in the round.

26th round: The same as the 20th round.

27th round: Turn, and work plain double crochet into the back threads of the stitches of last round, and 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at each corner, and fasten off at the end of the round.

28th round: Hold the right side of the work towards you, and inserting the hook to take up the back thread of the stitches of last round, do 1 treble, 1 chain, miss one, and repeat the same all round, making a little increase to ease the corners.

29th round: With the right side of the work still in front, do plain double crochet into the top thread of the stitches of last round, and 3 double crochet on the centre stitch at each corner.

This finishes the square. When a number of squares are worked they may be joined together by a row of double crochet, or simply sewn together.

eBook review: She Named Me Wolf

She Named Me Wolf by Tenkara Smart

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Wolf lives in constant fear of his alcoholic father, using his imagination and wisdom beyond his years to escape the pain until he must make a choice. Either stay in this life or move on, and only his best friend, who happens to be a ghost, can help him make the right decision.

She Named Me Wolf is book one in the series The Many Lives of Wolf and is the first glimpse into one soul’s travels through many lifetimes, seeking out the light in the darkness.

My review: She Named Me Wolf is different from the usual genre I read. The blurb hinted at physical abuse and a ghostly presence, and I felt intrigued enough to read the book.

Although the main character is a child at the start of the book and a teenager at the end, I would not say this is a children’s book. It might be confronting or scary to a young reader. Yet, I felt the author handled the physical abuse in the story in a gentle way (except for a couple of places, I’ll get back to these parts later). This might help a young reader experiencing something similar. However, I believe the two exceptions and swearing indicate the book is aimed at the young adult audience.

Swearing is frequent in today’s life. Although I’m not a person who swears myself, I believe the words used in the book would mirror what would typically be said in an abusive household. In fact, I think they have been watered down a lot. Just to be clear, the book starts out with name-calling and swear words are introduced as the story nears its end. To me, the terms are used in context, and it was not a shock to read them. To be honest, in this case, I feel it gives the storyline authenticity.

The two exceptions I mentioned earlier had a real impact on me. One spoke to me because of personal experience, and I reacted to the words I read seeing another face rather than Wolf’s. The other filled me with real fear. I must give credit to the author for her craft in writing these two scenes. To invoke such a strong reaction and incredible fear in me is no mean feat. In fact, it’s impressive.

The two main character’s, Wolf and Polly, are a perfect mix. Both are smart beyond their years, yet children all the same. I enjoyed reading Wolf’s story. I felt connected to him, and that forced me to keep turning those pages. I was not surprised when Wolf excelled at his “secret” activity. I wanted to learn more about his “travels”. And, although I will never understand why, just like Wolf didn’t understand, I could accept how difficult it must have been for his mother. I’m a firm believer that we don’t know how we will react to something until we experience it ourselves.

Another thing about the book is there are a lot of uplifting phrases and sayings scattered within the chapters. The words tell a story about abuse, but they also give hope. I found the mix to be well balanced.

The only negative thing I can say is that there was a mix of American and Australian grammar/spelling/words, hence the 4.5 stars. At one point, the use of a non-Australian word jolted me out of the storyline altogether. It was like a slap in the face. A non-Australian reader may not notice this, but for me, it’s essential to be consistent.

She Named Me Wolf left an impression on me, so I have no trouble in recommending it.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

eBook review: Esme’s Gift

Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Terror was within. Terror was without. Like her mother, she was at the water’s mercy.

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

My review: I enjoyed Esme’s Wish (Book 1), but Esme’s Gift (Book 2) wasn’t as good. The first half of the story dragged its feet a bit, but the second half picked up the pace and was more interesting. The pages turned swiftly then.

I liked the fact that the mysteries were not left hanging until book 3. It was great to know how, when, where and why everything up to now had happened. And it was even better that these facts went together well. In fact, the book was written like a cozy mystery, but without a murder. I found that interesting and well-plotted. I appreciated and enjoyed the arrival of certain other characters as well.

I didn’t like the school scenes. There may have been a reason for them, and I guess as the main characters are school age, it made sense to have Esme return to school, but it didn’t work for me. I’m not saying the scenes were poorly written, they just lacked interest, for me. However, younger readers will probably relate to those scenes much better than I did and enjoy them immensely.

Regardless of all this, I still loved the fresh, new world that the author has created. I look forward to reading more adventures set in Aeolia and finding out more about Seth’s motivations.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.