Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Something to Stitch About: Tudor Cross Stitch Pattern from The Pointy End

Item: The Tudors Cross Stitch PDF Pattern
From: ThePointyEnd
Source: Purchased
Price: $5.38
Item Details: The Tudors are the most famous English monarchs, which is an achievement considering there are only five of them, over three generations.
This pattern has been created using the pictures on the English Heritage Playing cards as inspiration for the costumes.
I habitually use evenweave for my patterns, Aida would be fine although for the numbers you would have to pierce the fabric which might not look as good.
I would suggest using a darker colour fabric otherwise the white on Henry and Edwards legs won't show as well - my favourite is undyed evenweave which is dark cream/light brown but whatever you prefer.
Would I Buy From This Shop Again? Yes

So, this pattern was a total impulse buy. I was actually searching for a King Henry VIII scarf when I stumbled upon this digital cross-stitch pattern and thought I would give it go. Needless to say, my inner Tudor-addict rejoiced!
This was the first digital pattern that I’ve purchased (I normally just buy the kits) so I had to do a bit of hunting and gathering. I had the floss on hand so all I had to buy was the fabric. I went to several stores and couldn’t find evenweave, so I ended up buying Charles Craft Carolina Linen in sand (Aida 14 count). It was the darkest I could find and it worked well.
The pattern is in color-coded symbols and it was a first for me, normally the patterns I work only have symbols, so it was a nice change. It also made the pattern a bit easier to follow. There is one color (the one used for Mary’s dress) that’s blended/combined, the rest are just standard. Besides the basic cross-stitches, the only other stitch is a backstitch so it’s such a simple pattern this would be great for beginners. Another plus for me is that the floss used was DMC, it’s easier for me to find than Anchor.

I did make a few small changes. Because I couldn’t find  evenweave, I enlarged the numbers on the dates. I also added the Tudor time period at the top directly under ‘The Tudors’. Having worked the pattern, there is one change I wished I would have made and that’s swapping out the white floss for bright white. I think it would have stood out a bit more on the fabric I used.
Overall, this was an amazing pattern to work and the piece turned out so lovely. I’m really glad that I discovered this shop and I will definitely be buying more patterns from The Pointy End.

I wanted something a bit different for the frame, something that looked old but not primitive and not so manufactured looking. I searched through Pat Catan’s (craft store) and stumbled upon a read-to-decorate wood photo frame from Darice that was under five bucks. I also purchased two sets of decorative wood dingbats.

Putting the frame together was quick. I used an industrial wood glue to glue the dingbats on, clipped them in place, then let it dry overnight. I then mixed together royal gold and black acrylic paint to make an antique gold and painted on a few coats and let it dry overnight. Lastly, I painted on a black walnut ceramic antiquing allowed it to set for ten minutes then rubbed it off. I let the antiquing to dry for two days then sprayed it with a glossy sealer.
I mounted my cross-stitch on a Needle Art peel and stick mounting board from Savage.

What’s in your sewing box?


Monday, August 14, 2017

Accidental Sire by Molly Harper

In Molly Harper's newest paranormal romantic comedy, Ben, Gigi's old boyfriend, must find a way to save his new love after a freak Ultimate Frisbee accident. But will she want to live after she finds out how Ben had to save her?

In this exciting addition to Molly Harper’s beloved Half-Moon Hollow series, the focus is on Gigi’s ex-boyfriend Ben. When his new girlfriend is killed in a freak Ultimate Frisbee accident, he’s determined to save her, no matter the cost, even if it means bringing her into the darkness of vampire life!

Series: Half-Moon Hollow #6 | Publisher: Pocket Books | Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source:  Publisher| Rating: 4 Cups

Sass, snark, and yummy undead goodness, Molly Harper does it again!
Here’s what’s going on: Ben Overby’s used to the eclectic residents of Half-Moon Hollow and the shenanigans they get up to. But when Meagan, his girlfriend, is changed into vampire after a freak Ultimate Frisbee accident and rises quicker than normal and changes him into a member of the undead with a single bite, there’s a whole new level of weird he has to figure out. And Meagan, well let’s just say she’s out of her depth. She’s figuring out how to allow herself to be accepted into the strange but loving Half-Moon Hollow family, she’s also dealing with being a new breed of vampire, accidentally siring her first childe (which happens to be her boyfriend) and figuring out how to deal with her feelings towards said boyfriend who is a little cranky at being turned.
I always enjoy being back in the weird and wonderful world of Half-Moon Hollow. I’m never really sure what the residents will be up to but I know it’s going to be entertaining and The Accidental Sire did not disappoint.
Meagan first made an appearance in Big Vamp on Campus and I was curious to learn more about her. I really liked Meagan. After the death of her mother, she was bounced around from foster home to foster home and she doesn’t really know where she fits in and if she can trust those who claim to care for her so when she becomes a foster-vampire in the Jameson-Nightengale household, she’s not sure if she can really trust Jane and her brood. She’s also trying to work through her feelings towards Ben.
I’ve always liked Ben. If you’ve read this series, you’ll know that Ben is Gigi’s ex, so he’s been around for a bit. He’s always been one of the humans in Jane’s crazy paranormal world and now that’s he a vampire, he’s trying to figure out how to navigate this world.
The romance was a bit slow and it worked. They had things that had to work out and Meagan had some trust issues she needed to deal with but I was really pleased with how sweet and realistic it was.
There’s also a slight suspense element thrown in.
What I really enjoyed was seeing the Half-Moon Hollow gang again. It was so nice to see more of Jane and Gabriel now that they are sort of raising Georgie. Although I do have to say, it’s a little weird seeing Ophelia acting all nice and normal.
On a sidenote, I would really like to see a short story about Jane and Gabriel raising Georgie.
So, while this is part of an on-going series, you don’t have to read the entire series. I would, however, recommend reading Big Vamp on Campus, the prequel to this book to get a better understanding of the characters.
Overall, this was another great installment in the series and I devoured this book in one sitting.

Also, apologies to my Mum for not answering my phone when she rang—I was reading this book and couldn't put it down—and causing her to come over and pound on my front door at ten o’clock at night.
 I know some of you have been wondering about the reading order of the Jane Jameson and Half-Moon Hollow books so I thought I would help you out with this reading guide.
The Jane Jameson Series (also referred to as the ‘Nice Girls’ series) started it all. It contains four books—and a short—and this is a complete series. These books work best if you read them in order.
1-Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs
2-Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men
3-Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever
3.5-Nice Girls Don’t Sign a Lease Without a Wedding Ring (on Molly’s website)
4-Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors
Then we have the spinoff series, Half-Moon Hollow. These can be read without reading the Jane Jameson/Nice Girls series—although characters from the Jane Jameson series and Jane herself often pops up. Most of these can be read out of order.
 0 Fangs for the Memories (novella) This one actually happens in the middle of Nice Girls Don’t Dead Men—Jane Jameson #2.
1- The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
1.5-Driving Mr. Dead (novella)
2-A Witches Handbook of Kisses and Curses
2.5-Undead Sublet (short story found in the Undead In My Bed anthology)
2.6-Special Valentine's Day Half-Moon Hollow Story (on Molly’s website)
2.7-I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas (novella) This needs to be read before  The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire
3-The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire
4-The Single Undead Moms Club
5-Where the Wild Things Bite
5.5-Big Vamp of Campus (novella) This needs to be read before The Accidental Sire
6-The Accidental Sire

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Product Review: Janlynn Peejay Sock Monkey Kit

Easy to make, the completed soft toy will be an adorable addition to your kid's toy collection. Simply follow the easy-to-understand instructions included in this sewing kit to bring your very own creation to life. It's a great gift for Christmas or other occasions, and you also have the option to adopt the cute toy!

Brand: Janlynn

Source: Janlynn review program

Price: Depending on the store, it ranges from $12.99-$19.99

Here’s what the kit includes: two socks, buttons, cotton floss & felt, flannel, pom-pom, embroidery needle, fabric, and pattern/ instructions.

Here’s what you need to add: thread and fiberfill.

Time to complete: about 1-2 hours (depending on if you use a sewing machine)

I was a little surprised when this sock monkey kit showed up in my mailbox for review. It’s a bit out of the norm of what I normally review but I thought why not give it a go.
So, I’ve never made a sock monkey before and I had no idea how to go about making one, but the instructions were clear and very easy to follow, Basically, you cut out the patterns then trace them onto the socks, cut them out, sew them together, stuff, and assemble. The kit provides the pattern for the monkey, the clothing (the clothing for this kit was a night hat and slippers), and a little bear.

Since the patterns were relatively small, I sewed them together by hand using a straight stitch and it took a little over an hour. I used a whipstitch to put the parts together and that took about thirty minutes. I could have cut the time in half by using my sewing machine, I was just too lazy to get it out of the closet.
Unfortunately, this is not a complete kit. You will need to buy thread and fiberfill to go along with it—so, if you don’t have the items on hand, you’ll be spending an extra $5-$10 depending on what type of fiberfill you use. I used a standard fiberfill stuffing that I had in my craft closet.

Rather than making the dress items from the pattern that was included, I used a piece of black felt and some cotton fabric that I found in my fabric scraps and turned him into a pirate to jazz him up a bit. I didn’t have a pattern for the pants or the vest, I just sort of winged it. For the hat, I just sketched out a pattern on light cardstock, then covered the brim with felt and stitch the pieces together.
Overall, this was an easy project. Probably not something I would have bought for myself because I’ve never really had the urge to make a sock monkey before this kit arrived although it would make a good gift, just remember to buy the thread and the fiberfill to go along with it.

What’s your craft of choice?


Monday, August 7, 2017

Feed Your Reader Monday. Free E-books and 99cent Sale

It’s Monday Monday! So, that’s a bit too cheery for a Monday. Me, I’m more of the Manic Monday sort. lol To make Monday more bearable, I thought I’d put together a list of free e-books. (all books were free at the time of posting) 
Healed by Love by Melissa Foster Amazon
Nate Braden has loved his best friend's younger sister Jewel for as long as he can remember, but between their age difference and his respect for Rick, he's always kept his feelings at bay. Now he's back in Peaceful Harbor, and Jewel is no longer sixteen years old--but there's an even bigger obstacle standing in his way. Nate and Rick joined the military together eight years earlier. Nate came home a hero, but Rick didn't make it out alive.

From Jennifer Ashley, With Love Amazon
In HARD MATED, jaguar shifter and fight-club champion Spike discovers he has a cub, which changes his entire life, as does the sassy horse trainer who’s there to make sure he’s the best dad he can be.
In NIGHTWALKER, Janet Begay, a Stormwalker who runs an inn that’s a refuge for paranormals everywhere, must protect her shy-by-day, rampaging-at-night vampire guest from being hunted by slayers. Mick, Janet’s dragon boyfriend, is on hand to supply fire, humor, hot nights, and to battle alongside Janet against forces that want to unmake the world. 

THE CALLING beings the bestselling and award-winning Immortals series with the story of immortal warrior Adrian who is searching for his brother Tain, and needs the assistance of the beautiful witch Amber to help him. He and his Immortal warrior brothers begin a battle against death magic to keep the world from sliding into absolute darkness.

Royally Raised: A Royally Series Short Story by Emma Chase Amazon
“He’s a joy to us. They all are. When they’re not busy giving us migraines.” ~King Henry
No one ever said raising children was easy...but raising a future monarch? That's another story all-together. Get a glimpse into the happily-ever-after of Wessco's irresistible royals in Royally Raised - a sweet, sexy, heartwarming short story set twenty years after Royally Matched.
Ain't He Precious? by Juliette Poe Amazon
Welcome to Whynot, North Carolina, population 3,872. It has one stoplight, one bar, and the one-and-only Trixie Mancinkus.
Eleven years ago, Trixie graduated Harvard Law, turned down a job offer from one of the most prestigious law firms in Boston, and headed home to Whynot to open her own firm. Not only did she leave behind the big city, but she also left her boyfriend of three years. And just so we’re clear… that would be me.
So what am I doing in Whynot at this very moment? It seems Trixie needs help with a legal case and for some insane reason, she called on me for assistance. I’ve been in town for five minutes, and I’m every bit as out of place as I feel. Trixie is all sweet, southern curves to my tailored suits and high-priced haircuts. It’s a culture clash of north versus south and about the only thing we have in common is our physical attraction to each other.
But I have a new motto since coming to Whynot: When life hands you lemons, all you need is a little sex and sweet tea to make things better.

Entangled is having a  99cent sale on their paranormal romances.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Stone Cold Fox by Evangeline Anderson

Cougarville's mechanic, and resident Alpha fox, shelters a mysterious woman who ignites his protective animal instincts when evil forces try to tear them apart.

Jo Ferrell has been cast out of her home for reasons she doesn’t understand. The grey streak in her hair is gone, her body is younger, and there’s an ominous shadow chasing her. With nowhere else to go, Jo finds shelter in a shed whose owner she wants nothing to do with—but he’s too much to resist.

Reese Cooper has never felt a pull towards a woman like he does towards Jo and his Fox is desperate to claim her as their mate. After offering her a place to stay, Reese finds it difficult to resist his beautiful new roommate. But when dark magic threatens their happiness, Reese will use all of his strength to protect the woman he loves…if he’s not too late.

Series: Cougarville #3 | Publisher: Swerve/St. Martin's Press| Release Date: August 1, 2017| Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 2 Cups

I’ve been trying to branch out a bit in my paranormal reading. I’m always up for a good paranormal but lately I’ve noticed I’ve sort of fallen into a paranormal reading rut where I stick to the same type of paranormal beings or the same authors. So when Stone Cold Fox by Evangeline Anderson was offered for review I snagged it because it was a new-to-me author and fox-shifters were new to me as well.
Here’s what’s going on. Since being kicked out of her coven and home for being accused of using black magic, Jo’s been on the run and being chased by something sinister in the woods. Finding shelter in a shed, she finds herself rescued by a sexy man who happens to be a fox shifter. Although she’s attracted to him, she’s not sure if she can trust him. While Reese knows he must take it slow, his Fox has already claimed Jo as its mate. The only thing he has to do is wait until Jo finally accepts the truth about what she really is.
I’m a bit on the fence about this one. Okay, so more than a bit. I liked the premise of the story. I liked the paranormal world and lore that Anderson created. The shifters in the book come from the Paleolithic Era, so they’re not your standard shifters and I found that really intriguing. And I really liked Reese—he’s an alpha Fox shifter who will stop at nothing to protect his mate.
While I found some things intriguing, I struggled with a lot of the story.
Jo wasn’t really a heroine I could get behind. She’s forty-one but she’s overly naïve and incompetent. Yes, she’s lived in a man-free Yoga-witchy commune type of place for twenty years, but before that she lived twenty years in the real world and even went to college, so she should know how to act around people.
And it’s not just her nativity that bothers me. She was assaulted in college so now she considers all men evil creatures out to get her so when she realizes that she’s attracted to Reese, she attempts to cast an anti-love spell on him which goes awry. So now every time she get lusty towards him or vice versa, she blames the spell even though they had the feelings before the spell.
Then there’s her denial about being a ‘Juvie’ or Rejuvenated female—a woman born with the shifter gene that remains dormant until she reaches her forties or fifties. For someone born with magical powers, she spent so much time being in denial it was ridiculous.
Finally, the last straw with her was the fact she was TSTL. I mean, seriously, some creature in the woods was chasing her, but she willingly went back into the woods at night to find a flower she needed for a spell. Then she decides to give the people that accused her of using dark magic and cast her out a second chance. I spent so much time rolling my eyes and calling her an idiot, eventually, I started rooting for the thing in the woods.
Also, it irked me that no one, Reese, Jo, or any of the secondary characters, attempted to figure out what was roaming the woods. They were like, ‘oh, yeah, there’s something creepy and possibly deadly in the woods, but let’s just mention it and then do nothing about’.
The insta-lust/love didn’t bother me. It’s common in shifter books especially if it’s the fated-mate type. What did bother me was how much time Jo spent complaining about the ach between her legs, the first few time was okay but considering she went on and on about it like a broken record, it just became annoying.
Overall, this one had potential but a TSTL heroine that was also naïve and incompetent was its downfall. I’ve heard that the first two books in the series are stronger, but I’m not so sure if they’ll be on my TBR list anytime soon.

Cougarville Series
Buck Naked
Cougar Bait
Stone Cold Fox



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The King's Grave: The Discovery of Richard III’s Lost Burial Place and the Clues It Holds by Michael K. Jones, Philippa Langley

The mystery of who Richard III really was has fascinated historians, readers and audiences familiar with Shakespeare's dastardly portrait of a hunchback monster of royalty for centuries. Earlier this year, the remains of a man with a curving spine, who possible was killed in battle, were discovered underneath the paving of a parking lot in Leicester, England. Phillipa Langley, head of The Richard III Society, spurred on by the work of the historian Michael Jones, led the team of who uncovered the remains, certain that she had found the bones of the monarch. When DNA verification later confirmed that the skeleton was, indeed, that of King Richard III, the discovery ranks among the great stories of passionate intuition and perseverance against the odds. The news of the discovery of Richard's remains has been widely reported by the British as well as worldwide and was front page news for both the New York Times and The Washington Post. Many believe that now, with King Richard III's skeleton in hand, historians will finally begin to understand what happened to him following the Battle of Bosworth Field (twenty miles or so from Leicester) and, ultimately, to know whether he was the hateful, unscrupulous monarch of Shakespeare's drama or a much more benevolent king interested in the common man. Written in alternating chapters, with Richard's 15th century life told by historian Michael Jones (author of the critically acclaimed Bosworth - 1485) contrasting with the 21st century eyewitness account of the search and discovery of the body by Philippa Langley, The King's Grave will be both an extraordinary portrait of the last Plantagenet monarch and the inspiring story of the archaeological dig that finally brings the real King Richard III into the light of day.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press | Genre: Nonfiction | Source: Purchased | Rating: 3.4 Cups

When I first heard about the search to find Richard III’s remains, I was ecstatic. He was the last English king to have died in battle and, not only could his remains reveal the manner in which he died, they could also help debunk parts of Shakespeare’s play. Needless to say, I gobbled up everything that was on the internet and on the telly, so when I found out this book was coming out I hit the pre-order button.
Then I started having problems with Phillipa Langley’s attitude and the way she treated those carrying out the dig, so when this book arrived, I shelved it and forgot about it. Needing a break from fiction, I finally decided to give it a go and ended up being on the fence about it. Honestly, no surprise there given her attitude.
The format of the book is a bit different with the chapters alternating between Langely’s processes for wanting the dig and her thoughts and feelings as it was occurring and Richard’s actual history presented by historian Michael Jones. I have to say, it was Michael Jones that saved this book.
Jones neither vilified Richard III nor sanctified him but rather presented historical evidence about all those involved from the Tudors and Shakespeare to the Edward IV and the Woodvilles. And I found his narrative not only historically enlightening but riveting. I also learned a few new things about Richard III as well as the Battle of Bosworth.
What I struggled with was Langley and her possessiveness towards the remains of Richard III as well as her blasé attitude towards the other remains found on site. I understand that she had a calling and a passion to find Richard III, but she started to get a bit out of control with the way she handled things and the way she reacted towards those carrying out the dig and examination of the remains. If things didn’t go her way, she got angry and argumentative and often lashed out at the professionals working alongside her.
While I did enjoy seeing a sort of behind the scenes look at the process of the dig, i.e. raising the funds, gathering the team, and such, Langley nearly ruined the book.

One a sidenote, I have to say that I wasn’t impressed with the way the archeologist excavating the site handled things. I’m not sure whether they thought finding Richard’s remains was a longshot or if they were rushing because of the limited amount of time they had. Either way, their careless use of the excavator ended up causing damage to Richard’s skeleton . While they had to use a jackhammer to break up the asphalt, once they reached soil, they should have switched to hand tools. Using hand tools once soil is reached is one of the major rules archeologist follow, seeing as machinery can destroy artifacts.
Overall, as a whole, this one doesn’t work. Langley is way over the top but the history that Jones presented is well worth reading.

 Did you follow the search for Richard III?


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Time Was by Nora Roberts

After going through a time gateway, Caleb Hornblower is stuck in the present. He needs to find a way to return to the future, but after falling in love with Liberty Stone, Caleb isn’t sure he can leave the past behind.

Series: Time and Again # 1 | Publisher: Brilliance Audio | Narrator: Luke Daniels | Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins | Genre: Time Travel Romance/ Sci-Fi | Source: Purchased | Ratings: 2 Cups
Challenges Read For: Reading Through Nora Roberts

Liberty Stone’s an anthropologist who’s more interested in learning about the past than living in the present but when she witnessed what she believes to be a plane crash, she finds herself enchanted by the man she rescues. Caleb Hornblower’s not what he seems. He’s from the future and he’s determined to find his way to his own time. Although his future doesn’t seem so appealing when he has to leave Libby in the past.
This one, while not awful, just didn’t work for me. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t the best, either. It was sort of just meh.
Caleb’s a space pilot from the 23rd century. He’s a bit cocky and a total alpha male.  Libby’s a 20th century anthropologist who has sort of holed up in her parent’s rustic cabin. She’s shy, inexperienced, and a bit on the stubborn side. They had their moments of being good together but their relationship was a bit awkward at times. Libby was dealing with figuring out how to be in a relationship with a man and Caleb was dealing with curbing his lust for Libby.
I had two problems with this one. The first being that there were so many sex scenes thrown into such a sort story, it interrupted the plot. So not much happened other than, he fixed his ship, they whined about being from two different centuries, and they had sex—a lot of sex. The second one was how dated this one felt. Originally published in 1989, it was a bit funny seeing what she thinks the 23rd century will look like given the technology we already have in the 21st century.
I enjoyed Luke Daniels’ narration of this one. He was a little gruff in spots,  but it worked, and I enjoyed the fact that his female narration wasn’t too whiney.
Overall, this one wasn’t my cuppa tea. The dated feeling and the fact the plot was continually interrupted just didn’t work for me.


Time and Again Series

Time Was
Times Change