Friday, April 26, 2013

My Life in Stitches: I'm a Westknits Girl

Recently I had the very great pleasure of meeting one of my favorite knitwear designers, Stephen West.  He was doing a book signing at one of my LYS and I decided to go and meet him. I enjoyed my visit very much and bought one of his books, Westknits Book 3.

I was even a total fangirl and decided to wear one of his patterns but promptly realized that I had more than one to choose from. I decided on Daybreak and headed out. When I arrived at the store, Stephen had examples of all his patterns on display and that's when it hit me: I have made a lot of his patterns.

I have made five of his patterns, one of them twice, and am currently working on my sixth (and I have the pattern for Rockefeller). Here they all are:


Daybreak #1
Daybreak #2

Garter Ridge Cowl

I didn't realize that I'd made so many. I am definitely a WestKnit girl!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tea & Read: Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World

Title: Soul Detox
Genre: Christian Living
Rating: Spend the day sleepy (★★★★★)

I heard about this book when an interview from the author aired on my local Christian radio station. I immediately hunted it down and it was worth the trouble.

As believers we are called to be in the world, but not conformed to its desires or values. This can be more difficult than we think. More often than not we feel compromised by ungodly influences and emotions like anger, envy, fear, and unforgiveness leak into our hearts and minds. When these feelings take up residence, like a musty house, our souls need a thorough spring cleaning.

Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel explores how we can overcome the emotional and spiritual toxins that assault us daily. With grace and insight you'll be challenged to examine areas of complacency and bring them into the light of God's holiness. Learn how to be free from toxic emotions, attitudes, and behaviors, and discover the freedom of choosing to live with the mind of Christ.

This book was excellent and very timely. Groeschel does a great job of presenting the information in the book in a very practical manner, which is great for Christian living books. His detailed treatment of the toxins Christians encounter in live prompts some serious introspection. He makes a point not to command readers to abstain from toxic behaviors, but he encourages honest examination of self and their relationship with God. With his honest and frank explanations, it’s not hard to see the impact toxicity has on believers.

Most of all, Groeschel’s theology is rightly divided. I’ve read far too many authors that stretch theology to meet their book’s theme. This book is not one of them. Strengthen by clear writing, the scriptures ring out loud and clear.

If you looking for a way to “clean up” your relationship with God from the inside out, this wonderful power-packed book is perfect for the job. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tea and Read: Love in Disguise

Title: Love in Disguise
Author: Carol Cox
Genre: Christian fiction, romance
Rating: One cup of tea (★★★)

My first book by Carol Cox. 

When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona.

Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments--until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven's mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow...or to fall head over heels for Lavinia's captivating niece, Jessie.

But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn't exist?

This book started with an interesting premise, a female Pinkerton agent investigating a crime, which I found very intriguing. Unfortunately, I don’t think I fell in love with any of the characters. They were okay, but they didn’t grasp my attention enough to hook me. It took me a very long time to read this and I must admit that I read more out of obligation than enjoyment.

The pacing doesn’t help much, either. It seemed like there were very long passages of Ellie’s internal thoughts and not much progression with the plot. I found myself skimming a few times. I know Ellie was an amateur detective and the book was a romance, but I wished the mystery crime-fighting element in the book was a little stronger. As the for the romance element, the progression of Ellie and Steven’s relationship seemed a little shallow and cliché.

Will someone else enjoy this book more than me? Yes. It just wasn’t enough to hold my interest. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tea and Read: My Stubborn Heart

Title: My Stubborn Heart
Author: Becky Wade
Genre: Christian fiction, women's fiction
Rating: Two cups of tea (★★★★)

This is the first book from Becky Wade I’ve read, so I went into it without any real expectations. I wanted to be entertained, at least, and this book turned out to be quite delightful.

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light...whether he likes it or not.

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

Wade pulls off a feat in this book that I really enjoy: she took a common plot (at least common to Christian fiction nowadays) of a widower finding love again, and infused it with freshness. I love the tone of this book, which the setting lends itself to well. I also loved the writing, almost poetic.

In addition setting and tone, Kate and Matt made this book sing. Their struggle with their feeling about their lives and each other help earn the book the title. They are stubborn, but it’s not an annoying kind of stubborn. I also liked the development of the characters. The progression of their relationship was believable and enjoyable. I also quite enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Velma and Morty. 

This is a very cute enjoyable read. Looking forward to the next book from Wade. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Indelibles: Living the Life

One of the laments I often hear when people are considering going indie is that the author has to do everything themselves. Not exactly an accurate statement since there are many tasks that an indie author has to outsource but I understand their meaning. The author is responsible for the whole shebang. You have to make the plan and execute it.

Of course, that can seem a little daunting but how hard is it really? It’s not really that hard…it’s no harder than life. Not to minimize the challenges of indie publishing or life in general, but if you manage to live, you can manage an indie publishing career.

Everyday, we make plans and decisions. We plan our careers and to go back to school despite having a full time job. We plan to homeschool our children. Some of us plan weeklong vacations…vacations that include children. Others plan the most effective way to live in the Sandwich Generation, caring for both elderly parents and children. We do all this and then carry out the plan. And if we don’t know what to do, we do the research and find out.

Becoming an indie author is pretty much the same thing. Yes, we are making different kinds of plans, but it’s the same principal. We decide what’s best for us, we make a plan and we carry it out. If there is something we don’t know, we do research and figure it out. Or we figure out that we can’t figure it out and find someone who already has. This is life, indie life, but life nonetheless.

So for those who are planning to become an indie author, or those of us who are already on that journey, just keep living life. Indie life can be a tremendous undertaking, but so is life.