eBook review: The Box-Car Children

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: The Boxcar Children tells the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. They create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest.

My review: This book was written in 1924, and I read the original text.

The book was written by a school teacher, so she was around children a fair bit so must have had a good understanding of how they behaved. The thing to remember when reading the story is that it was written almost 100 years ago, so the reader should expect some odd descriptions and old-fashioned speech. And, I guess, out-dated values too.

I easily put those things aside and took the story as-is. Four orphaned children run away and make a life for themselves. The older children take care of the younger ones. They find ways to manage. They find shelter and earn money to buy food. I can’t imagine children today doing these things, but I accept that this is only a story. It’s for entertainment purposes only.

It’s also aimed at children’s imaginations. I would have loved the story as a child and I loved it now because it allowed my imagination to fill in the blanks. I believe children who can read by themselves will enjoy the adventures of the boxcar children.

Going Cabled Knitting Project

I’m not afraid to try new things, but sometimes I do go overboard. I fancied trying a pattern with cables, so I went on the hunt and found something I liked. It had cables, but not just one set. It had four!

Plus, just to spice things up a bit, I decided to chose a pattern that incorporated part of the back with the front, and the neckband all in one piece.

The cables themselves are not difficult — fiddly, but not difficult. I experienced issues with the cable needle (it had a mind of its own) and decided to throw caution to the wind and not use one, choosing to just remove the stitches from the needle. Worked well for me, but it can be dangerous so be careful.

The first half, as pictures to the right above, starts in the middle of your back and is worked around your side and up the front. It wasn’t hard once I got used to the pattern itself and the shaping. But when I had to pick up the stitches and work in the opposite direction, that proved more difficult because I had to reverse the shaping, which was confusing. The second half took a while to conquer, but I got there in the end.

Once all the pieces were knitted, it took me quite some time to work out how the pieces fitted together. Eventually, I laid the pieces on the table as if they had been sawn together and that’s when I realised what I had to do.

The pattern is called Get Cabled Shrug designed by Alice Tang and is available for free download.

This was an intermediate pattern and took me some time to knit, about six weeks. I used 8 ply acrylic wool.

I’m happy with the end result and know I’ll wear the shrug. I love the colour and I decided to add an invisible hook and eye to keep the shrug in place, rather than knit the recommended cord.

The Patter of Little Feet

I started knitting, and even tried my hand at crochet, over the winter months. I’ve knitted for years, and although I don’t consider myself advanced, I do like to try different things. Stops the boredom.

My first project was small and quick to help get in the mood. There’s nothing like starting and finishing something on the same day to inspire me. Besides I knew a couple of young ladies who were/are expecting their first baby and thought I’d make something for them.

I knitted a pink and blue pair of these simple booties. Honestly, they are quick to knit up and easy to sew together. In fact, the video that I used was made especially for beginners. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/BgJ788BdFng

I knew one of the women was having a baby girl (I say was because she has given birth to her gorgeous daughter about a month or so ago). The other woman has decided not to know the gender of her baby, so it will be a surprise when the time comes.

With this in mind, I decided to make a newborn baby cardigan for each of them. Naturally, I made a pink one for the little girl, but not knowing the sex of the other, I went for a multi-coloured yarn for the other baby.

I chose this pattern because it is knitted in one piece, from the neck down, which I had never attempted before. In case you’re interested, the 5 Hour Knit Baby Sweater pattern can be found here.

It took me longer than five hours, but I easily completed one cardigan in two or three sittings (depending on the length of each sitting). The biggest issue, for me, was how to fix the underarm area. The yarn stretches a fair bit, leaving an unsightly mess to be honest. Or, maybe it was just me. Anyway, I had to return to YouTube to find a tutorial on how to fix that, but (sorry) I’m unable to find the video that I used now.

The end result was great. Add a few buttons and the cardigan is done. For the little girl, I also knitted a beanie to match the cardigan as she was born in the middle of winter. I won’t bother knitting one for the other baby as it will be a late spring baby and won’t need one.

Anyway, the cardigans, the booties and the beanie were my first knitting projects for the year. I enjoyed knitting them, but wanted to spread my wings and try something a bit harder next. I’ll write another post about that soon.

Crafty Musings

2020 was meant to be put aside for that mystery project I mentioned at the end of last year or beginning of this year. Can’t remember which. And I did dedicate a lot of time to editing/rewriting that project in the first half of the year, which I’m extremely happy with.

However, with the return of ET (it’s a medical issue I have), I’ve had to dump all previous plans and find new hobbies. It’s only short term, I hope.

Once I started back on the injections I found I was unable to read for long period of times. Fifteen or twenty minutes is it for me. But even that isn’t whenever I want to read. I have to pick and chose depending on how I’m feeling on the day. Some days, reading is out of the question. And to be honest, I don’t want to fluff my way through several chapters only to discover later that I wrecked the whole thing and have to redo those chapters. I prefer to wait until I’m feeling better and then pick up where I left off.

So no writing, very little reading, what else can I feel my time with. I feel weak and get light headed quickly, so walking is out too. All my favourite things. I needed to find new favourite things. Even if it is temporarily.

I still manage a little bit of gardening, as long as I’m not on my feet for too long. Again, depending on the day it can vary between five minutes and about thirty minutes (mostly the former). I enjoy gardening because of the vibrant colours, the fresh air, and it’s satisfying. But it’s quite tiring.

My days have become filled with knitting, watching Netflix (I just finished Season 4 of The Last Kingdom), and playing easy games on my iPad. After five weeks of this, I have to admit that I’m starting to get a bit … stir crazy. Or maybe I could say I have Cabin Fever. Of course, COVID-19 hasn’t helped.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. But, be warned, I might post some photos of my crafty musings for you to roll your eyes at.

eBook review: Tales from the Red Sun Village

Tales from the Red Sun Village: Volume 1 by Mark Swaine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: The legendary warrior Kamui Li visits the people of a settlement in the badlands of Purgatoria. In a bid to build morale, the dangerous Samurai recounts three campfire stories to the nervous people of the village to help them overcome their fears of this dangerous new world.

The Midnight Foot Masseuse
A down on his luck chef encounters a demon living under his bed, a demon with a penchant for giving foot massages that somehow improves his life, but at what cost.

Plus a Few Upgrades
A tech savvy girl purchases a cursed videogame console from a car boot sale, and now she’s in the fight for her life whilst avenging her brother’s.

The Child’s Ward
A monster seeks weapons of mental mass destruction as an ignorant teen keeps vigil over a sick infant in the children’s ward of a hospital.

My review: This is speculative fiction for young adults. The audience around the camp fire appear to be much younger, but I definitely would not allow younger children to read the book as it might give them nightmares.

The stories within the book are tied together by the campfire gathering. And there is a reason for the children being told the stories, but I won’t spoil it for you. Just know that they are not random fables.

The stories themselves are … gruesome. Consider them, for the most part (except the last story), to border on horror. There is blood and guts, be warned. Fortunately, I’ve read my share of horror so I’m fine with it, but some people don’t like reading graphic fighting scenes. The book will not appeal to everyone.

I haven’t read any other Red Sun Village books, and this book didn’t give me enough information to know if the story fits in with the other books or not.

The stories vary. The first one felt totally different to the others. It was well written and held my interest and had a neat little twist at the end. The second story was based on gaming. I’ve played PlayStation games since the beginning and I’ve killed countless zombies during that time, so you could say I enjoy gaming. But the story was too long for me, and because of that, my attention waned. I guess I prefer to play the game, rather than read about it. But I feel certain that the target audience will feel part of the team and will love it. The last story felt a little disjointed. Or maybe I was slow in catching on because I have been unwell recently. I didn’t realise what was happening at first, so I felt confused. When I did catch on, it all made sense.

I liked the way everything was brought together at the end. That was well done. And I especially liked the very last message.

What I didn’t like about this book was the cover. To be honest, I would never chose to read the book based on the cover as it does absolutely nothing to catch my attention. Personally, I think that’s a shame as I believe many people make decisions to read books based on the cover alone. In my opinion, an updated cover would do wonders for the book overall.

Regardless of the cover, I believe the book will be well received by readers who enjoy details that allow the scene to be alive in their minds, and can envision themselves amongst the action.

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

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.