Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Women in the Castle" is a historical novel about three German women during and after WWII. This is the story of Marianne von Lingenfels, an aristocrat, whose husband was a resistor and was executed in the failed July 20, 1944, attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Marianne makes a promise to her best friend, Connie, to find and protect the resistors' wives and the children in the event the plot would fail. After the war, Marianne locates Connie's son, Martin, and then his wife, Bonita. She also locates Ania and her two sons and brings them all to live with her in the Bavarian Castle owned by her husband's family. Although she continues to look for more survivors, she will only succeed to rescue these two women and their children.

This book shows the other side of the coin... the German side. It portraits how not all German believed and followed Hitler's ideologies and that many of them tried to stop this terrible war. It also portraits the challenges the German population endured after the war to rebuild their country and their lives.

This is a wonderful story of sin and redemption. A must read.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse MythologyNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting book about Norse Mythology. After reading this book, I will never look at Thor and Loki the same way. I had a few "laugh-out-loud" moments and a few "shake my head" moments too. The Norse gods are no ordinary gods!

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in a new series by Laini Taylor. "Strange the Dreamer" is a YA novel about conquering adversity, fighting discrimination, knowing oneself and finding love. Lazlo Strange is an orphan who was raised by monks and, who through unusual circumstances, became a junior librarian. Strange has one passion and one aim in life. He needs to find out everything he can about Weep, a city which lost its name after a goddess ate it. His dream finally comes true when a group of warriors visits his city and recruits peculiar people to join them to come to the city of Weep to solve a serious problem. Lazlo is asked to join them and after many months of travel, he lays his eyes on the city of his dream. Weep is not what he expected and he is now facing his greatest challenges. Lazlo does not know his past and who he is. He will find the answers in Weep and this will not be a dream. Great start for this series.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

The Night MarkThe Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice story about time traveling and love. The writing is good and the characters are well defined. The historical aspect is interesting. Good book.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

To Capture What We Cannot KeepTo Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautiful book about Émile Nouguier and Caitriona Wallace's love story. Émile Nouguier was the engineer who designed the Eiffel Tower and managed its construction from 1887 to 1889. Caitriona Wallace was a widow who took on a chaperone assignment and travelled to France with her wealthy Scottish charges where she met Nouguier.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book, was the construction details of the tower. The engineering behind the erection of the tower is truly amazing.

The story contains cameos of famous historical characters such as Gustave Eiffel, Georges Seurat, and many more. This makes the story very entertaining. I recommend this book!

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Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway on Goodreads.com. This is a young adult book about Tea, a young girl who starts her training as a bone witch. The bone witch pulls her magic from the dark magic and has the ability to raise the dead. The story jumps between the beginning of her training and several years later as she is preparing to go to war. I enjoyed the story and the writing. The characters are well developed and interesting. This is a good start to the series.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book by J.K. Rowling I read. It is a dictionary of all fantastic beasts. It was interesting and sometimes humorous. I did not realize how many mystical beings there are. I am just glad no one will ever quiz me on it. Fun and fast read! Also... A Portion of the proceeds from this book will go to two charity groups: Comic Relief and Lumos.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

The Fire by NightThe Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As Canada is remembering the battle at Vimy Ridge which happened 100 years ago, I have been reading more historical novels. This one is 5+ star book!!! This story is filled with emotions and pulls at the strings of your heart in an expected way. This is the story of two American nurse friends who both served in the WW2. One was sent to the Pacific war; the other to the war in Europe. Their stories will touch you and most likely move you. When I think of war nurses, I think of the old war movies which show them in a safe hospital far from the enemy lines, wearing impeccable uniforms and all looking like Paulette Goddard in "So Proudly We Hail!". This is not this kind of story. This is raw writing which shows fear, pain and loss. The book ends on a positive note without forgetting what happened to these two extraordinary women. I recommend it fully!


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Chronicles of a French Gardener --- Part 4

My plants are growing as expected, but because of the sun angle, they are started to lean and twist.


To help them stay straight, I used skewers.




I looked out my window yesterday and spotted something near where my garden will grow this summer.


I think he was doing a reconnaissance survey to see if he will be able to get to my vegetables this summer. 
Good luck bunny!


Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Carve the Mark is the first book in the "Carve the Mark" new series by Veronica Roth. Veronica wrote the "Divergent" series which I enjoyed a lot. Carve the Mark has a "Divergent" flare while being somewhat different. I enjoyed the first book and will read the other books in the series. I was looking for something fresh but did not quite find it.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You GoI Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has more twists than the song by the Chubby Checker. It started slowly and ended with a bang... or more like a splash. This is a fantastic story and the characters are well developed and each has a story to tell. I did not see this coming. Well done!

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Chronicles of a French Gardener --- Part 3

My garden is growing well and it is now time to transplant the pods into larger pots. 

I know it is time because the roots are coming through the pods.

I use mostly Jiffy pots because I can transplant, plants and pots together in the garden in the Spring.

I buy rich black dirt as it it full of nutrients for the plants.

I fill up the pots to about half way.

I press the dirt in the centre and add a single pot. I am very careful not to damage the plant during this process. I fill the pot with more dirt and press to make sure the pod is well surrounded.

I put all the pots into a tray to gather the extra water when watering the plants and for ease of transportation.

I keep all the plants in a well lite area. Darren got me plastic shelf which fits perfectly all my trays.

More growth is expected and I will need to make sure that the plants are watered regularly.



Stay tuned for more! Happy gardening!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry by Nicholas Dodman

Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal PsychiatryPets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry by Nicholas Dodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book on the behavioural conditions of animals. It helped me understand my dogs better. One of them suffers from anxiety and has loud noise phobia. This book has provided me with an insight on her condition and how I can help her. Pets on the couch is not your ordinary pet book; it goes deep into the psychiatry of animals. Some people will find this book quite controversial; especially when Nicholas Dodman compares the animal behaviours and conditions identical to humans'. I have no issue with this and agree with him. Intelligent and educational read!

Here are pictures of my two girlz!


Chili

Sundae


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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

A Darkness Absolute (Casey Duncan, #2)A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Darkness Absolute is the second book in the Casey Duncan series. I enjoy this series so far. The characters are real and interesting. There is no lack of action and each page has its level drama... the good kind. Casey Duncan is a detective who ends up in a town where unrelated criminals and victims pay to hide. The town is in Yukon wilderness and is surrounded by danger. Some of these threats are natural and others are of the human kind. Casey has plenty opportunities to use her detective skills, and she also finds herself targetted by the cases she investigates.

Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors. I love her writing style and how she develops her stories and keeps you guessing to the end. Can't wait for the next book.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review: Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

Almost Missed YouAlmost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a story of a family who has too many painful secrets and is torn apart by selfishness and too many misunderstandings. I had to stop half way because I really did not like the way the story was going. I put the book aside for a few months and picked it up again two days ago. I am glad I did. The story got better and became more interesting. Lots of my questions were answered and the conclusion was appropriate for the story. I just think that the title does not go with the story.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Chronicles of a French Gardener --- Part 2

The garden is growing well. I have to make sure the earth pellets are moist, but not over water. The clear covers have been removed now that all the seeds have sprouted. Some of the herbs already emit some scents. This is an exciting time.

Basil
Chives
Kale
Red Bell Peppers
Sage



The part I really do not like about gardening is when I need to select the strongest seedling out of many in one earth pellet. I really do not like to kill plants. :( But it is what it is! Only one tomato plant per pellet can remain. This step can only be done once the first true leaves appear.

Tomatoes with first true leaves
:(


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

The German GirlThe German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. The stories of Hannah Rosenthal (born in Berlin in 1928) and Anna Rosen (born in New York in 2002) are linked through a family bond. Hannah is a survivor of World War II and tells the story of her escape from Germany when she was 11 years old and what has happened to her family over the next 76 years. Now at 87 years old, she meets Anna, her brother's grand-daughter, and hope springs forth again that the Rosenthal curse is finally lifted. The book is beautifully written and this story of love, family, and loss is touching and offers a fresh look at such a dark time for humanity.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Chronicles of a French Gardener

This will be the second year I make a vegetable garden in my backyard. Last year, Darren built this awesome fenced garden which is the best protection against all the wild rabbits we have in our neighbourhood.


It is a small area and I have to utilize the space the best I can to get as many vegetables as possible. This year, I am planning to grow the following vegetables:

  1. Roma Tomatoes
  2. Cherry Tomatoes
  3. Red Bell Peppers
  4. Mild Jalapeno
  5. Hot Peppers
  6. Orange and Purple Carrots
  7. Green Onions
  8. Radishes
  9. Kale
  10. Lettuce
  11. Cucumbers
  12. Asparagus

To make sure that I will be able to enjoy the fruits of my labour early, I started some of the plants using Jiffy Greenhouses. Everything is growing well so far.



I am adding something new to the garden. I purchased some hanging baskets to hang on the sides of the garden where I will be planting some herbs. I love cooking with fresh herbs. I will be growing the following herbs:
  1. Sage
  2. Thyme
  3. Basil
  4. Parsley
  5. Dill
  6. Cilantro
  7. Chives
  8. Spearmint





I will be keeping a chronicle of my progress. Stay tuned for more! Happy gardening!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Back to knitting again

My mom showed me how to knit when I was 5 or 6 years old. I am very grateful that she did. It is such a relaxing hobby and the results can be pretty awesome. I knitted these boot socks and matching headband for my daughter's Hunter boots. The pattern was a bit complicated and needed some paying attention. I am glad I chose it, Gabby loved them and now she wants to knit something herself. It is always nice to know that you can still inspire your child even when she is an adult! :)


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King's Cage (Red Queen, #3)King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the Red Queen Series. I enjoyed it as much as the first two. I would have preferred that this would have been a three book series, but I guess the author has more up her sleeve and I will have to wait for the next one to see what happens.

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