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Announcement: New Line in Shop: Miffy / Nijntje!

A cross stitch of a bunny holding a basket of carrotsHello my lovely readers!

I am incredibly excited to announce the new line in my shop: Miffy / Nijntje!

Miffy is a beloved character from a series of children’s books by Dick Bruna.  Her name is Nijntje in Dutch.  I discovered Miffy on Netflix one night, and immediately fell in love.  She’s such an adorable little bunny, and her stories are wonderful!  Their availability in dual-language apps are also helping me on my side-quest to learn Dutch.  When I discovered a shocking lack of Miffy cross stitch patterns, I made my own so we could hang a version of her in our living room.  I decided to make BOTH the patterns and the completed products available for all Miffy fans to enjoy.  The picture on this post is just of my personal favorite design, Miffy’s Garden / De Tuin Van Nijntje.  Please click through to my shop to see all five designs!

PS I am now shipping completed items to The Netherlands and the UK in addition to the US! Patterns are available worldwide.

ETA 3/5/15: I have now closed my Etsy shop, but I’ve made my patterns available on my Cross-Stitch page.

Book Review: Addicted by S. A. Archer and S. Ravynheart (Series, #2)

August 13, 2012 2 comments

Woman with short hair standing in front of a city skyline and the moon.Summary:
If a human is touched once by a Sidhe, they become addicted….heroin addict level addicted.  Since London’s Sidhe died, she now has to periodically put her private investigator for paranormal clientele job aside in order to seek out more Sidhe for a fix. This time, a bunch of young vampires say they know where she can have a changeling teleport her to an enslaved Sidhe….for a price.

Review:
Series of fast-paced novellas are becoming more popular in urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  I know I enjoy them as a kind of single-serving of ice cream.  Fun and delicious and able to get through in those 40 minutes your bread is in the oven or something.  I read the first book in the Touched series, and since I enjoyed it, Archer, one of the authors, was kind enough to send along the next entry in exchange for my honest review.  It was still fun, but not quite as well-written as the first.

The world of the paranormal in the UK and Ireland that Archer has created continues to be creative and engaging.  While some of her paranormal creatures are typical (such as the vampires) others are more unique, like the changelings and fairies.  For instance, having a changeling run the whole come party and suck the blood or touch a Sidhe thing was pretty unique!  In other series, that would definitely be the sort of thing run by vampires.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the characterizations as good this time around.  London comes off as a bit flat, as do the vampires around her.  Most distressing to me, though, as an American reader is her American character she put in.  London meets a guy when doing a job for the changelings.  She can tell he is American because, I kid you not, he is wearing a flannel shirt and a cowboy hat. Erm, ok.  More annoying though is the fact that this American dude twice says, “shite.” Americans don’t say “shite,” except perhaps for some 20-something hipsters who are trying to be ironic.  This 40-something mercenary is definitely not a hipster. He would say “shit.”  If you are going to have a character from a country besides your own, you really need to fact-check how they speak, and especially how they swear.  He’s not a major character, and I probably would have noticed it less if this was a book and not a novella.  He was a lot more noticeable since he was present for most of the novella.

Overall, then, the world is interesting but the characters could use a bit of work.  If you’re just looking for some light, quick urban fantasy to brighten up your day, though, it might be worth your 99 cents.  Personally, though, I won’t be continuing on with the series.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

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Previous Books in Series:
Cursed (review)

Book Review: Wolf Hunt: The Burning Ages by Sebastian P. Breit (series, #1)

Wolf standing in front of Nazi flag.Summary:
It’s the future, and the world is in another semi-cold war between NATO and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China).  A NATO group of British, American, and German naval ships is being sent to Brazil on a mission, but part-way there they are all zapped back in time to 1940.  With the chance to change history for the better, what will they decide to do?

Review:
I first want to point out that Breit is German and wrote this in English himself; it is not a translation.  I have to say that I wonder why he made that choice as the plot certainly seems to have more of a European than an American appeal, but I am impressed at his effort to write in his second language.

The summary of the book makes the plot sound fast-paced, but in fact it is actually distressingly slow-moving.  It takes about 1/3 of the book for the all-important time-traveling event to happen.  I spent the whole first part of the book just waiting and wondering when it was going to happen, because once the basic politics of the world and character traits were set up, it’s just a waiting game.  The naval mumbo-jumbo filling up the rest of the space just wasn’t necessary.  This issue carries on throughout the book with half of the sailors spending a solid amount of their time stranded on an island, for instance.  Since this is marketed as a fast-paced historical thriller, perhaps somewhat like the style of The Da Vinci Code it quite simply needs to move along faster.  Intense naval specifics and codes are not necessary.  Fast-moving plot is.

Breit also needs to invest in a British and American editor each, as the British and American characters say and do things that are just flat-out wrong in British and American English respectively.  One that really slapped me across the face is that one of the characters is from Boston, but everyone refers to him as a “Bostoner.”  People from Boston are called “Bostonians.”  I have never once in my life heard anyone say “Bostoner,” and I live in Boston.  Another example is at one point one of the Americans reads another American’s birthdate from off an id and says it the European way “11 September 2001,” instead of the American way “September 11th, 2001.”  This is one of those instances where the author needs to have his facts straight in order for the story to be believable.  Nothing makes me not believe a character is American quite like having him get a bunch of American English wrong.

Additionally, as a woman and an author, the way the female characters are handled is distressing to me.  Just one example is that a bunch of the stranded female sailors are attacked on the island by some of the locals in an attempt at rape.  These women who had the exact same training as their male counter-parts are apparently completely incapable of saving themselves, but instead have to be rescued by their male comrades.  But it gets worse.  Later when the captain of the ship is relating the event to another man, he asks if the women were alright.  The captain responds by saying that the doctor said they were fine.  The doctor.  Apparently nobody bothered to ask these women if they were raped (HINT: I’m pretty sure women can tell if they’ve been raped or not).  Plus no one seems to care that these women are clearly not going to be emotionally ok after almost getting raped, and not once do any of the female characters who were attacked say anything about it with their own voices. This is just completely inexcusable.  It’s a removal of women’s voices from ourselves, and it’s insulting to a female reader.

There’s the issue of European bias expressed through the American characters.  For instance, one American character expresses shame at how Americans only speak one language.  First of all, the rate of bilingualism in the US is actually rising, so following the arc of the future, there should be more bilingual Americans, not less.  Second, I’ve never once heard an American express woe in an all-encompassing way like that by saying something like “It’s so sad Americans aren’t bilingual.”  People say, “I wish I was fluent in another language,” or “I wish I was fluent in Japanese,” but they just don’t put it that way.  That whole paragraph sounded like a European using an American character as a puppet to say what Europeans think of Americans.  Yeesh.

I also have problems with the German characters though.  A bunch of them express the desire to stop the Holocaust not to save lives but to save the German people from harboring the shame and guilt for generations to come.  Um, what?  That’s your concern oh time-traveling Germans?  Having been to Germany myself on a student exchange and visited Dachau, etc… I can say that I have a hard time imagining any of the kids my age at the time (15ish in the early 2000’s) focusing in on that as opposed to stopping a bad thing from happening because it’s evil and wrong.  I can only imagine that generations even further along would be even more focused in on stopping a genocide as opposed to saving some broad idea of German honor.  It’d be like having a time-traveling modern American decide to stop the Trail of Tears to save us from shame as opposed to doing it to save innocent Cherokees.  The whole thought just makes my brain hurt.

To sum up, Breit shows ability as a writer that needs to be worked on and honed.  I’d recommend either getting a good editor who can handle both British and American English or switching to writing in German.  He also needs to work on tightening up his plot.  Normally I’d say, nice first effort keep trying, but due to the opinions and biases and presentation of women present in this first attempt, I’m afraid I can’t say that.  It’s readable, but why would you want to read it anyway?

2 out of 5 stars

Source: Ebook from author in exchange for my honest review

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Movie Review: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Three people weilding weapons surrounded by zombies.Summary:
Shaun is a 20-something loser with a dead-end job and a girlfriend who he only ever takes out to the local pub.  She dumps him on the eve of a zombie outbreak.  Shaun drags his job-less roommate through the streets, battling zombies in an attempt to save his mother and restore his relationship with Liz.

Review:
I couldn’t watch this movie and not compare it to Zombieland, which I watched last summer.  I honestly think that anyone wanting to compare US culture to UK culture should just watch these two films.  Shaun of the Dead takes an everyman who wants desperately to save people, but his only weapon is a cricket bat (btw, those things look like such a pussy weapon).  Shaun stumbles about the city with his line of relatives, friends, and frenemies, and they all make witty asides to each other while maintaining some sense of propriety when battling the zombies.  It’s wonderfully funny to watch, but not a point of view I, as an American, would imagine at all for a zombie apocalypse.  My pov lines up much more with Zombieland where the characters swipe trucks and double-tap the zombies with guns.  However, that’s what made Shaun of the Dead such a delightful watch, because it was a character study on top of the fun zombie scenes.  There were some jokes that fell flat for me, and I wasn’t too keen on the ending, but I know some people will enjoy the ending for precisely the reasons I disliked it.  However, Shaun of the Dead was still a delightful watch, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys humorous apocalypse or zombie tales.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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