Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Black Key - Amy Ewing

So this is the last in the series for the Lone City Trilogy, although I am hoping for one last novella as this book made me quite curious about the back story of one character.
I found this much slower to start than the last two books in the series. As this book started at the White Rose, planning the revolution, I was worried that this was going to be how most of the book was going to go, and I felt myself starting to wander off, but when Violet decides to be back to the city to try and get to her sister, things suddenly started to happen again, and we start to see more conflict, and therefore more action.
Violet disguises herself to return to the House of the Lake to try and find and rescue her sister, meaning we see more of Garnet, who has fast been becoming my favourite character, although this also meant that we saw less of Raven, who I did miss.
As Violet goes back to the city she comes back into contact with characters we've seen before, Garnet, the Duchess of the Lake, Cora and more. I won't lie, I was also glad that it kept Ash and Violet apart for a lot of the book, as I have little to know interest in their relationship.
This is the first time that Violet really realises what revolution is, she sees first hand the death and devastation caused by the uprising, and it's also the first time that she has to take responsibility for her actions, both good and bad. As she is back in the city we get to see some interaction with Lucien, and it's the first time I've really warmed towards him as a character, because of the life he's lived he's made himself rather cold, but we start to see a little more of him than we have in the past.
This felt like the book where the series grew up, the characters grew up and started taking responsibility for what is going on around them, and we don't have to watch so much lovesick mooning. The little glimpses of Hazel that we see through out this book show a scared child who doesn't really know what's happening, and that's what forces Violet to do more, her fear for her sister.
The Duchess of the Lake plays quite a key role in this book, as you'd expect, and it's her that I'd love to see a novella for. The back story that we start to get for her is quite tantalising, and goes a long way towards explaining how she has become the way she is. I'd love to see a novella that actually showed it happening though.
I have very mixed feeling about the last chapter of the book, which, without giving much away, is some of our main characters looking at what they've achieved. I sort of understand why Ewing has written this chapter, but I don't personally feel that it really added anything other to the book.
Over all though I did really enjoy this and felt that this was a strong finish to the trilogy, tying up all the end, but leaving a couple of interesting options for telling back story, both recent and more distant history.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Just a wee bit this week

Just a quick update, firstly I think I've finally found a pattern that I like the variagated yarn in. I've was contemplating doing it as one big continuous square, but I think that lots of little squares will work better, especially if I use black for my joining. Plus it means I can make the blanket the shape I want rather than it having to be square. I've never actually tried a solid granny square before, and I have to say I like it a lot more than I expected, and it turns out it works really well with this yarn. Although I admit that this was my second attempt, I had to play a little but with the corners as I was starting to get a bit of a ripple in my square.
Also, I've done another couple of rounds on the sheep hat, which seeing as it needs to be finished by next weekend means I'm probably doomed, but it's grown, so I'll take that as a win. Other than these I've not really had much time this week, so a bit of crochet is all I have to show, the joy of the run up to Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A Lone City Novella - Garnet's Story by Amy Ewing

Garnet's story came out after the first two books in the Lone City Trilogy, and follows in the trend for teenage fiction, of giving us a novella from a different character's point of view.  This follows the same time period as the first book in the series 'The Jewel' so it doesn't particularly move the story forward any, but it does give us a lot more insight into Garnet, son of the House of the Lake.
We don't see much of Violet in the book, which I'll admit suits me as, as is often the case, I find the main character the least interesting.
Turns out that Garnet's motives were more self-centred than I had originally assumed, but for all that I found that I liked him more for it. Garnet is one of the more interesting characters in the series anyway, so finding out that he wasn't just an idealistic teen was quite a nice change. It also turns out that almost every assumption I'd made about why he did things was wrong, which I like, it's nice to be wrong and not always know what's going to happen.
This novella also gives us a bit more information about Garnet's relationship with his wife to be, Coral, who I had pretty much forgotten about, so that was interesting as well. I think I'd like to head the second and third books for Garnet's point of view as well, he and Raven are (for me) the most interesting characters and anything from their Point of View gives a very different look at things.
This novella is more coherent than the one based around Raven, because of what that was about it was very easy for that to become disjointed as she did, for a time, become quite an unreliable narrator, you don't have that problem with Garnet.
I am really enjoying this series and am currently half way through the final book in the series, so chances are I'll be talking about that one in the next few weeks as well.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

A tucking away and a welcoming

So, firstly I've had a bit of a grumble with Dragon Rider just recently which meant I didn't want to work on it and was putting off stitching because of it. so I've finished the colour I was on and decided to tuck him away for a while, work on a couple of other projects and then hope that the love for him returns. 
And we all know the best way to get out of a stitching funk, with something shinny and new of course! So here it is, the shinny new to make me happy! Once again, I've not had a massive amount of time so there isn't much to show, so you can't really tell what it is, but believe it or not that slightly egg shaped thing to the left is a shoe, although not a shoe that I could walk in.
This is from a desginer that I have liked since she started, and this is my first start from her so I'm looking forward to seeing how it stitches up!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Things I Want my Daughter to Know - Elizabeth Noble

You can summarise the plot of this quite quickly. How a family deals with the loss of their mother. Barbara dies leaving her four daughters, Lisa, Jennifer, Amanda and Hannah to manage without her. Each daughter has her own issues to deal with, and has only her sisters, her(step) father and her mother's letters to help her through. Knowing that she is dying Barbara has written letters for her daughters, that she hopes will help them in later life.
Lisa is scared of commitment, Jennifer's marriage seems to be falling apart, Amanda is a traveller, unable to settle down anywhere and Hannah is still young, struggling to deal with the loss of her mother and the teenage rebellious years at the same time. Add to this Mark who is trying to help his step daughters and understand his teenage daughters, as well as trying to deal with the loss of his wife and you have quite a simple set up.
This is the second time that I'm saying I struggled to keep two of the characters clear in my head, for some reason I struggled to keep Lisa and Jennifer straight. Amanda and Hannah were very clear characters with their own personalities and issues to deal with. I felt that Lisa and Jennifer could easily have been merged into one character, despite the fact that they're supposedly dealing with very different problems, it all seemed the same to be somehow.
I think I struggled with this book because I struggled to like most of the characters. Hannah was a brat, granted she was a teenager and I'm sure most of us were brats at some point but that's my defining memory of her, she was a brat. Jennifer and Lisa, were also mostly brats, and I struggled to respect the decisions that they made. Amanda I probably liked the most, but even she wasn't exactly a positive character, a woman who runs away when she doesn't know what to do.
I did quite like Mark, the man trying to hold everything together through the loss of his own wife, but even some of his choices and decisions seemed puzzling to me, and I couldn't always respect what he did or why he did it.

I made it to the end of the book, but it took me quite a long time, I kept losing interest and putting the book down, then coming back to it for a while, then getting bored again, before eventually using it as the book I read on my break on lunch at work then taking it on holiday to finish. I think I just didn't warm to the characters and so didn't really care about what happened to them, and I couldn't understand most of the decisions that they made.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Little bits

Firstly I have a tiny update on Dragon Rider, I didn't have as much time to stitch this week as I intended, but there are a few more stitches in there! 

Secondly I've been experimenting with flowers this week, I'm intending to make my bouquet, so this has been my first experiments with a couple of different designs.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The School for Good and Evil - Soman Chainani

I'm going to actually start doing book reviews again, I know that I keep saying this, but I'm going to give it another go. I was on holiday recently, I read actual books, now is the time to try this again.

So, The School for Good and Evil is as it sounds a School where you train to be either a Princess or Princess or the Wicked Witch, or if you don't qualify to that level a side kick or a henchman, every year students turn up excited to learn, already knowing which school they're going to be from and two people come from the forest, kidnapped by the School Master.

For the first half of the book I went through phases of really enjoying it and getting really frustrated with it. Our two protagonists are the Beautiful Sophie and the Ugly Agatha, Sophie wants to be kidnapped because she wants to be a princess and escape her boring normal life, Agatha wants to protect her friend and so ends up getting kidnapped with her, however Sophie ends up in the School for Evil and Agatha ends up in the School for Good. The reason I kept changing my mind about this was because it kept feeling like it was being dealt with n a very black and white way then swapping back again. Black and White as in "you're beautiful, you must be good" and "you're ugly, you must be evil", and every time it started to veer away from that I enjoyed it again, and every time it went back to it I started to get frustrated that it really was going down that route.

Very early on you start to see signs that Agatha is the good one and that Sophie is the evil one, but both girls find it hard to accept, Sophie because she's beautiful and therefore believes that she's good, and Agatha because she's spent all her life being told that she must be evil because of how she looks.

I have to admit that I struggled to like Sophie, in fact I spent quite a lot of time wanting to slap her, mostly because she's a selfish brat, although that is pretty much the point. Within each school with have other characters, of course, we have Tedros, Arthur and Guinevere's son in the school of Good and we have the Sheriff of Nottingham's daughter. I have to admit that I struggled to keep some of the character's straight and to which name went with which character, but I have had that problem a couple of times recently so I'm willing to accept that that might be me rather than the book.

As you get to the final showdown, characters switch sides, page by page, so you never quite know who believes what, so I rushed through the last few chapters in one sitting, and of course I'm not going to tell you how it ends, suffice to say that it's set up the next book nicely and I'm now considering getting the next one to find out what happens next, and I@m still not completely certain whether I'm happy or frustrated by the ending.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

It lives and it grows!

I've actually had time, there's actual progress, I'm so excited.
There's a tyre, and some stuff in the middle, and some little bits of confetti, which never look worth the time they took, but every little helps.