goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Spun by Sorcery (Sugar Maple #3)
Author: Barbara Bretton
Genre: Fantasy, Crafts
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 324
Date read: May, 2016

Chloe is always losing things-but an entire town? Just when she was about to settle down in Sugar Maple with her soul-mate Luke MacKenzie, her Fae enemy Isadora strikes, and her new hometown is gone. Even the Book of Spells, her lifeline to magick, can't help her now. Just in the nick of time, her friend Janice roars up in Chloe's ancient Buick with Penny the cat and her yarn stash in tow. If she is going to save her home she has to go back to Salem, where family secrets and centuries- old feuds pull her into the fight of her life.

Definitely the weakest of the lot, unfortunately. I liked the general plot well enough, but a lot of the details made me want to roll my eyes - which is annoying enough when it's obviously the intention, but even worse when it's involuntary.

I still like Chloe and Luke, and would like to know what happens to them next, but as the books have been slowly declining in quality, I may just pretend it's a trilogy (as the ending was relatively free from loose threads) and end my visit to Sugar Maple here.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World
Author: Clara Parkes
Genre: Essays, Crafts
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 160
Date read: March, 2016

Awesome book to live vicariously through! Clara Parkes takes the reader to Rhinebeck, Knitting Vogue, the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Maryland Sheep and Wool and a number of other places where there's yarn and knitting to be found.

The most common criticism of this book is that there's a lot of name-dropping going on, and that is very true. But as I was interested in reading about most of the people whose names Clara dropped, that didn't bother me at all.

"Knitlandia" is a nice combination of essays about going to festivals (both as a participant and a teacher), and behind-the-scenes insight into websites like Ravelry and Craftsy.

I wouldn't expect a non-knitter to like the book much (and possibly not even a knitter who wasn't part of the online knitting community), but for somebody like me, who's a member of Ravelry and Craftsy, and who loves knitting podcasts with all the background given there, it's a trip through my knitty bucket list.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Great Little Gifts To Knit
Author: Jean Moss
Genre: Craft
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 137
Date read: September, 2014

Great Little Gifts to Knit consists of 30 different patterns, ranging in size from taking just a few hours to knit, to being labelled a "vacation project".

The book expects the reader to know the basics of knitting, but explains the slightly fancier techniques in an appendix, and offers small projects to allow a newish knitter tackle the challenges of fair isle, beading, intarsia, cables and short rows on a more managable scale.

For the advanced knitter there are fewer challenges, but Jean Moss offers variations to some of the project (like the Cuddle Cocoon) that allows the knitter to knit "out of the box".

The patterns are split into four sections, "Baby", "Hers", "His" and "Home". Each section has a lovely introduction, as does each pattern, which gives the book a nice and personal feel.

Each pattern is clearly described and the charts and instructions are easy to read. For some of the patterns I could wish for more photographs, as there were parts of the patterns I couldn't make out from the photos given.

Unfortunately the patterns themselves are not as appealing or motivating as I would have hoped, with a total of 4 patterns I want to knit, and none where I find myself tempted to cast on right away.

All in all not a book I would have bought for myself if I'd picked it up in a shop, but that's due to the selection of the projects rather than how they're written, so if the patterns appeal to you, this would be a great book to get.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Dyer Consequences (A Knitting Mystery #5)
Author: Maggie Sefton
Genre: Mystery, Crafts
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 320 pages
Date read: August, 2014

Kelly Flynn is eager to renovate the alpaca ranch she's just bought, but someone else has different ideas for keeping her busy, which seem to include slashing tires, cracking windshields, and covering the walls of her cottage with red paint. Then her local yarn shop, House of Lambspun, is trashed and a young woman is found dead in the basement, drowned in a tub of dye. As disturbing incidents continue to pile up, Kelly knows she must try to pick up the stitches of these crimes before a killer strikes again. But she can't fathom what anyone at Lambspun could have done to invite such dyer consequences.

Not as good as the previous books in the series unfortunately. This one was lighter on the knitting and heavier on the mystery, and since I'm not really a huge fan of mysteries, it didn't really work for me. On the other hand it was a more realistic mystery than in some of the previous books, so I guess it had that going for it.

But Kelly REALLY needs to take a class in self-preservation! It's getting old.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Laced with Magic (Sugar Maple #2)
Author: Barbara Bretton
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 327
Date read: April 2014

Knit shop owner and sorcerer's daughter Chloe Hobbs felt the Fates finally got it right when she met Luke MacKenzie. And no one could have convinced her otherwise-including the trolls, selkies, or spirits who also call Sugar Maple, Vermont, home. But then out of nowhere Luke's ex-wife suddenly shows up, claiming to see the spirit of their daughter, Steffie-a daughter Chloe knows nothing about.

Steffie's spirit is being held hostage by a certain Fae leader. And if Chloe weaves a spell to free her spirit, her nemesis will also be free-free to destroy her yarn shop and all of Sugar Maple. But if she doesn't, Steffie won't be the only one spending eternity in hell. Chloe'll be joining her, cursed with a broken heart.

About half way through the book it looked as if I would end up giving it two stars at best. A horrible disappointment after I had enjoyed the first book so much. But fortunately Barbara Bretton managed to redeem herself in the second half, and in the end she regained my trust and at least almost lived up to my expectations. So after thinking I might not finish the book at all, I now find myself considering continuing with the series after all.

But the first half was absolutely ripe with foreshadowing - one of my hugest pet peeves in books. At page 111 I was disgusted enough with the entire thing that I considered just giving up on the book altogether. Fortunately I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and not only did the main characters not run quite as straight-forwardly into a brick wall as I had feared, but there was only one more incident of foreshadowing in the rest of the book. Still, the extreme use of the feature in the first half subtracted a full star off my rating.

I'm not sure I buy into Luke and Chloe's relationship any longer, and there were quite a number of plotholes here and there, but I absolutely adored Karen and her weird friendship with Chloe, and am sad we won't get to see her again.

Even the cliff-hanger at the end of the book was decent enough that it only subtracted half a star rather than the full star it would usually do.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Crafts, Non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: Audiobook ~4hrs
Date read: December 2013

Knitting finally takes its rightful place on the spectrum of personal obsessions, alongside golfing, fishing, and gardening. The tangled life of the knitter is the subject of inspired nuttiness in these 300 tongue-in-cheek meditations from the self-proclaimed yarn harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

As any knitter can attest to, this is an activity fraught with guilt, frustration, over-optimism, sly deception, and compulsion, along with passionate moments of creative enlightenment. To soothe the unraveled knitter's soul, Pearl- McPhee has selected some of her favorite quotes to cast off from, and then, like the standup comic of the knitting world, she rants, raves, and reflects on common experiences that are sure to leave avid knitters in stitches.

Not a book I'd normally go for, but I've become really fond of the "Yarn Harlot"'s writing, so I thought I'd give it a chance. It was funny, and had me laughing out loud on several occasions, but it really is just a bunch of meditations. No plot, no story, no nothing... just some statements and situations to ponder over.

However, it did prove that while I do knit a lot - according to Stephanie's definition, I don't knit too much ;)

This version was read by Stephanie herself, which meant extra charm and a strong Canadian accent :)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: All Wound Up
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Essays, Non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 240
Date read: December 2013

...a sort of David Sedaris-like take on knitting - laugh-out-loud funny most of the time and poignantly reflective when it's not cracking you up.

In her trademark style, McPhee talks about knitting, parenting, friendship, and--gasp!--even crocheting in essays that are at times touching, often hilarious, and always entertaining.

Unfortunately by far the weakest of her essay collections. She might have discovered herself 'written out' when it came to craft essays, because there were a number that had othing at all to do with crafting, and two that I skipped entirely.

But when she's good, she's still good, so there were enough essays in this collection that I wouldn't consider it a disappointment.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Casts Off
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Non-fiction, Craft
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 218
Date read: November, 2013

Using a travel guide format as her launching pad, Pearl-McPhee acts as tour guide extraordinaire, displaying her trademark razor-sharp wit as she describes and critiques every aspect of this land she knows so well -- its people, native language, familiar phrases, strange beliefs, etiquette, and cultural customs. Readers will love her timeline of notable dates in knitting history and rarely celebrated knitting heroes, from the samurai warriors of Japan to the "Ter-rible Knitters of Dent." And, while the land of knitting is a peaceful place, it does have its political arguments, such as the acrylic versus natural fi bers and circular versus straight needles debates.

Knitting as seen through a traveler's guide. I thought the concept was very amusing and worked well. Besides, I was very pleased to see that I'm definitely not alone in bringing waaaaay too much knitting with me on vacation. It's always nice to have company in your madness.

I found out that I'm slightly more a product knitter than a progress knitter - but only very slightly - and that I'm definitely not a perfectionist... but the latter I could have told you already.

Amusing and fast read.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knitting Rules!
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Non-fiction, Craft
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 224
Date read: November, 2013

Both a celebration of knitting and a sourcebook for practical information, this book is a collection of useful advice and emotional support for the knitter. Pearl-McPhee examines essential truisms of knitting, side by side with tongue in-cheek warnings, realities, and fantasies about the act of knitting and the people who do it.

In chapters on everything from yarn needles, gauge, and knitting bag essentials to hats, socks, shawls, and sweaters, Pearl-McPhee unravels the mysteries of what it is that makes knitting click, from the inside out. She dares to question longstanding rules and uncover the true essence of what makes a hat a hat, a sock a sock, and so on. Insights into why certain techniques work encourage knitters to take control and knit in the way that works best for them. As she says, "There are no knitting police."

The result is an illuminating, liberating (and hilarious ) look at knitting that will comfort the experienced knitter, surprise the mainstream one, and entice the beginner.

No clue how really to describe this book... but I loved it - so go figure :) An exploration into knitting and while it rules while explaining knitting rules. Especially the chapters on sock and hat knitting is probably something I can use in the future if I dare attempt my hand at non-pattern knitting :)

Besides, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee really has a way with words. I've enjoyed everything I've read by her so far. Her passion for knitting jumps out from every page and reminds me that I'm not really as abnormal as all that ;)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: A Killer Stitch (A Knitting Mystery #4)
Author: Maggie Sefton
Genre: Crafts, Mystery
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 272
Date read: August, 2013

The House of Lambspun has been bombarded for the holidays. Then an alpaca sheep rancher is found dead in Bellevue Canyon-and knitter and sometime-sleuth Kelly Flynn quickly puts Yuletide frivolities aside.

With the deceased's reputation for loving and leaving the ladies of Fort Connor, many women had a motive to kill him. Kelly also finds herself linked to the prime suspect, a former lover of the wealthy playboy rancher. Charged with keeping both spinner and spurned from going over the edge, Kelly will discover more than a few secrets tangled on this triad's bobbin.

Not her best work. The mystery in this one just didn't ring true to me (yeah, even less than in the earlier books) and it annoyed me that for once the story wasn't self-contained, but spilled over to the next book... not a huge fan of cliffhangers.

I'm willing to give it another chance though, so I may end up continuing with the next book in the series after all.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: A Deadly Yarn (A Knitting Mystery #3)
Author: Maggie Sefton
Genre: Crafts, Mystery
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 272 pages
Date read: August, 2013

Kelly and Megan are happy for their friend, Allison Dubois, a talented, young artist who's joining a designer's New York studio. But when they arrive to take Allison to the airport, they find her dead on the apartment floor, apparently from an overdose of sleeping pills. Police suspect suicide, but Kelly and Megan aren't convinced. Soon, Kelly learns that while Allison's career was on the fast-track, her social life was a mess. A bad news boyfriend, a jealous design student, and a mysterious man named Brian arouse Kelly's suspicions as she and her friends try to unravel this tightly stitched puzzle.

I was in the mood for a cozy read, and I knew that despite being a murder mystery, this series has actually fit the bill quite nicely so far, so I saw no reason why the next book should be any different.

Fortunately it delivered as expected, and I greatly enjoyed being back with Kelly, Mimi and the others. There was less actual knitting-related in this book than in the two previous ones, but that bothered me less than I would have anticipated. Even though the setup to the murders is getting increasingly ridiculous, the actual sleuthing in this one was a lot more well thought out and realistic and in the two first books. I hope Maggie Sefton can keep this up! I appreciate that Kelly isn't trying to work against the cops, but actually relates her findings to them as appropriate.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Needled to Death (A Knitting Mystery #2)
Author: Maggie Sefton
Genre: Crafts, Mystery
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 239
Date read: July, 2013

Taking a troop of tourists to Vickie Claymore's alpaca farm doesn't earn knitter Kelly Flynn a warm welcome. Instead she finds Vickie splayed out on her original hand-woven rug, her blood seeping into the design.

Yes, I know I wasn't terribly impressed by the mystery part of the first one, but I loved all the knitting descriptions! So I figured that I might as well try the next one. And I believe I actually enjoyed it more, because now that I know how ridiculous the murder plot is, I can ignore that part of it, and just focus on the knitting community... and that part is just sweet :)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knit One, Kill Two
Author: Maggie Sefton
Genre: Crafts, Crime
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 273
Date read: June, 2013

Kelly Flynn never picked up a pair of knitting needles she liked—until she strolled into House of Lambspun. Now, in the first in a brand-new series, she learns how to knit one, purl two, and untangle the mystery behind her aunt's murder.

I am once again reminded that I really don't like detective stories much. I really liked this book (as the rating shows), but it was blatantly obvious to me that I read it in spite of the mystery involved, and not because of it. Of course it didn't help that I found the mystery - and especially the resolution - ridiculously unrealistic.

However, putting that aside, I loved the rest of the book - the small-town atmosphere, Kelly's introduction to the environment, the knitting shop... why is it that knitting shops such as Mimi's are so abundant in books, yet I've never encountered a single one of them? Is it an American thing... or a fictional thing? ;)

Anyway, cozy mystery that would probably be spot-on for anybody who enjoys their sleuthing novels. As for me, as much as I love the knitting part of the plot, I think I'll give the rest of the series a pass.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knitting
Author: Anne Bartlett
Genre: Crafts
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 273
Date read: June, 2013

A chance meeting sparks a friendship between two very different women who share a fascination with knitting. Sandra, a rigid academic, struggles to navigate the world without her husband, whom she has recently lost to cancer. Martha - a self-taught textile artist with her own secret store of grief - spends her days knitting elaborate projects charged with personal meaning. As the two women collaborate on a new project, surprising events will help heal them both.

I'd read a sample of this on my Kindle, and thought it sounded interesting enough to get the entire book. It didn't quite live up to my expectations, but came pretty close - and if nothing else, it gave me a craving to take up my knitting! ;)

My biggest problem with the book was that the main characters were just not very sympathetic. I never came to like either of them all that much. One was too spineless the other too much of a bully, and while they both improved during the cause of the book, it wasn't really explored thoroughly enough for my liking.

... This makes it sound worse than it really was. I did mostly enjoy it, but for a real knitting treat, I'd rather read books like "The Friday Night Knitting Club", "The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society" or "Divas Don't Knit".
goodreads: (Default)
Title: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Author: Darien Gee
Genre: Crafts, Chick-lit
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 448
Date read: January, 2013

"The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society" is a must for any lovers of Kate Jacobs, Debbie Macomber or Gil McNeil. It is the story of small-town Avalon, where Bettie - scrapbooker extraordinaire - won't let strangers be strangers for long.

The book follows a group of women in Avalon. Though not friends at first - in fact, the group includes a widow and the woman her deceased-before-they-could-get-a-divorce husband left her for - through the sharing of their trials and successes, they learn the strength of friendships.

We meet Connie who finally dares to love again when she finds a runaway goat, Frances and Reed who are trying to adopt a girl from China, Ava who's trying to scrape a living together to provide for Max after Bill died, Isabel who's trying to figure out how to live again after Bill first left her and then died before the divorce was even final, Yvonne, the happy-go-lucky plumber who's a newcomer to Avalon and couldn't care less about trying to fit into the society's standards for her.

And through it all there's Bettie. Annoying, meddling, interfering Bettie who knows better than anybody else what they should do with their lives... and unfortunately often turns out to be right.

"The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society" is a wonderfully cozy book. It takes place in the same community as Darien Gee's "Friendship Bread" and features many of the same characters, but is a completely stand-alone book and can easily be read on its own. I grew to love the characters, and was almost sad to see it end, because I wanted to see what happened next - what life had in store for them after the final pages of the book.

It's the perfect comfort book, and you don't even have to be a scrapbooker to enjoy it - I'm not and I did :)
goodreads: (Default)
Title: A Single Thread
Author: Marie Bostwick
Genre: Crafts, Chick-lit
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 344
Date read: November, 2012

The moment Evelyn Dixon sets foot in New Bern, Connecticut, she realizes she's found her home. The abrupt end of her marriage was Evelyn's call to get busy making her dream of opening a quilt shop come true. When she opens it, in walk Abigail Burgess and her niece Liza, and Margot Matthews. Troubled and angry following her mother's death, Liza threatens to embarrass her aunt. And Margot, a victim of downsizing at the peak of her career, is looking for networking opportunities. As they stitch their unique creations, Evelyn, Abigail, Liza and Margot form a sisterhood they never anticipated

A lovely feel-good novel - very similar in style to "The Shop on Blossom Street" and just as charming :) The writing style took some getting used to though - Marie Bostwick would occasionally, and for no apparent reason, step through the fourth wall and address the reader directly. I didn't mind as such, it just threw me a bit. Fortunately she either stopped doing it after the first few chapters, or I stopped noticing.

I think I would do very well indeed in a small town like that - at least I loved the atmosphere as described here, and would have been very keen to visit Charlie's Grill on the Green and go browsing in Evelyn's store. Not that I've ever actually quilted myself, but I've always loved the idea of it and find quilts absolutely gorgeous.

I had wondered if I'd feel as caught up in a book about a craft I know nothing about as I do in the knitting books I've been reading, but thankfully that wasn't the case at all, and I was very pleased to finish it in one lazy afternoon :)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knit One, Pearl One
Author: Gil McNeil
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 396
Date read: July 2012, April 2014

It's been a busy few years since Jo Mackenzie lost her husband. Life has brought adventure, surprises, unexpected pleasures and, of course, lots of knitting.

Jo's seaside yarn shop, with a brand-new cafe, has taken off, keeping her busier than ever. And being a single mum to two boys and a headstrong toddler, Pearl, is just as exhausting and enchanting as she thought it would be. On top of all that, celebrity diva Grace has a secret, Jo's firecracker best friend, Ellen, is launching a new television series, and lovable but hapless Martin continues his oft-misguided attempts to woo Jo. Just when Jo thinks she has about all she can handle, Daniel, Pearl's globe-trotting dad, turns up out of the blue...

With a little help from her friends and her beloved Gran, Jo is building a new life for herself by the sea, stitch by stitch.

I do hope Gil McNeil is planing more books in this series. It's comfort reading of the best kind. You really grow to love the characters with all their quirkiness.

I liked seeing a resolution with Daniel, and adored Pearl - she's a perfect description of a two-year-old with all their charms and horrors ;)

I wish I had a yarnshop like McKnit nearby!
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Needles and Pearls
Author: Gil McNeil
Genre: Fiction, Chicklit
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 371
Date read: June 2012, April 2014

A year after her husband's death, Jo Mackenzie is finally starting to get the hang of being a single parent. The boys are thriving in their new seaside home, the wool shop is starting to do well and despite two weddings, an in-school knitting project and Trevor the Wonder Dog coming to stay, she's just about keeping her head above water. But boys, babies and best friends certainly make life a lot more interesting. Can Jo cope when things get really complicated? Because if knitting truly does keep you sane when your life starts to unravel then it looks like Jo is going to need much bigger needles.

Lovely feel-good novel. I loved the first book in the series, and wanted to see if the sequel(s) lived up to it. This one definitely did. There's no real plot to it, just a description of 8 months in the life of Jo Mackenzie, but between her quirky neighbours, her energetic sons, her famous TV-speaker best friend and the local Diva, life is never dull.

I want a local yarn shop like Jo's though!


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