Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #1) by Nell Hampton

Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery) by Nell Hampton
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 11, 2017)
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

This was the first book of the year for me. I have decided for 2017 that I am going to try and read 100 New to Me Books, meaning I haven't read the books before. Which is honestly very hard for me. I have certain books that are comfort books in a way that I reread all the time, some even once a year.

To get started, I really do enjoy cozy mysteries, with their punny titles and niche subjects. One of my favorite cozy mystery series is The Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs. I mean, who doesn't enjoy tea, murder and Southern hospitality?

I say this because I have no idea how this book got published. The kindest thing I could say was this must be the author's first novel. It feels like very little effort or research was actually put into the book. I know I was reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), but there were not just mistakes on who had said what at times, but things that wouldn't be said, or accepted from a British viewpoint at times. This review will contain spoilers, because I am compelled to point out what really irritates me about this book.

For example, the author has a lot of characters "correcting" the main character, Carrie Ann Cole, about how it isn't called the subway, it's the tube. London is a large international city, a lot of American television is imported to the U.K., trust me, they know what subway means to an American. Would the character be corrected? Sure, there might be a person or two to correct the chef, but not every single person she says subway to, not even in the palace. I think even more so, since the lines she is most likely to have been on would have been sub-surface lines, and not actually a tube line. Especially since the character of household manager, Mrs. Worth would know the distinction. My question would be why wasn't a car arranged to pick up Carrie Ann Cole from the airport? Obviously they were expecting her, since Mrs. Worth claims she's late. And how can you not be able to get a cab from any of London's airports? The book doesn't specify which one the main character lands at; Gatwick, Heathrow, or Stansted, being most likely, they are always busy, but they always have cabs, and in this day there's Uber which works in London.

And the author really should either take a class on tea, or do better research. While Carrie Ann is talking with Penelope "Penny" Nethercott, the personal secretary to the Duchess of Cambridge in this story, she makes tea. She uses tea leaves, she uses a tea ball, she uses a tea cozy, she never takes the tea ball out again, which would eventually make the tea bitter. She also uses cream. No one puts cream in their tea. After all the irritating correctness of subway vs. tube this really got my hackles up. There is a tea, called cream tea, but it has nothing to do with putting cream in one's tea. No one does this. I'm pretty sure if you asked any British person if they wanted cream in their tea they'd be disgusted, it'd be a politely disgusted, but still disgusted. One puts milk into tea, not cream. This mistake is repeated throughout the story. The author also has the stereotype of everyone boiling a kettle on the stove/hob, no one does that. It takes longer and wastes gas, an electric kettle is much more efficient.

I think I find this book especially offense because I am British-American, and the author throws all the typical American tropes into the story, without getting any of the British ones right. I would tell the author, Ms. Hampton, that if she was to write another book in the series, she needs to actually visit the places she is writing about first. Go to London, go to Kensinton Palace, she doesn't need to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the palace's kitchen, but look at the actual expanse of the palace grounds and realize there is no way a chef could get through the palace and across the grounds and find a corner shop, or grocery store, or supermarket, and be back in ten minutes. It isn't happening. Even doing some research on Google Maps could have helped with that. The idea that Carrie Ann could have a separate washer and dryer, in her bathroom is ridiculous. Most machines in the UK are washer dryer combos, meaning one machine does both the washing and the drying. The dryer part a condenser dryer, done with heated water going around the outside of the tumbler. It takes a long time for anything to dry, and is very frustrating in my opinion if you are used to a tumble dryer that uses heated air, like they do in the States. Which is probably why so many people just hang their clothes out to dry, even if it's raining, because it'll probably be quicker, especially if you have other clothes you want to wash.

Besides terminology abuse the author misplaces characters, e.g. Michael Haregrove's Mother is mentioned in Chapter 3 as living alone in a nursing home, which is actually called a care home with nursing in the U.K., but later in Chapter 7 his Mother and Father are retired and living in the countryside with his grandparents, it also mentions that he has a brother and three sisters. Now, they could be living in a nursing home in the countryside but I doubt they are living in a nursing home in the countryside with his grandparents. Then in Chapter 10 Carrie Ann Cole is surprised to meet Rosemary, Michael Haregrove's sister, because, "I didn't know he had family other than his mother." Perhaps the author originally intended to have Mr. Haregrove only have a mother, but found that she needed the sister character for her story, but then she left drips and drabs of family for Mr. Haregrove all over the story, and never tidied up her lose ends. They are things I would have expected her editor to catch. Rosemary has arrived in London to "look after Mum." Why? She's either in a nursing home, according to Chapter 3, or living in the countryside, according to Chapter 7. Just to make it even more confusing later in Chapter 11 Carrie Ann asks Michael if he has lived here long, "My parents bought it in the fifties," he said. Mum loved the wall paper in the hall. Ever since she went into the nursing home three years ago, I can't bring myself to take it down." So Carrie Ann asks if his father sill lives in the house, but she should know he's in the countryside from Chapter 7, and Michael says, "No, he lives out in the country now with his new wife." Now, the new wife could be the one that Michael references in Chapter 7 as his Mum, but Carrie Ann wouldn't know that, and as a reader the audience couldn't know that either. It confuses the issue of exactly where is Michael's Mother.

There are other times when Michael Haregrove and Frank Deems are called by each others names.

Honestly, if I hadn't gotten the book from NetGalley I would have quit reading this story in the first few chapters. Even for an ARC there were far too many mistakes that it made the story unenjoyable.



Currently watching: iZombie: The Complete First Season
This really is a clever show.

Currently reading: Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
My review for the first book should be coming up!


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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Reivew - Muder Most Unladylike

Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells & Wong Mystery (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery) by Robin Stevens
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Corgi (July 22, 2014)

Also known by its US title Murder Is Bad Manners (A Wells & Wong Mystery). The US edition also has a different cover design.

A murder-mystery story set in 1934 in England. At first I was excited to read this to my daughter, since one of the main
characters is Asian, but that did not last long. While Hazel Wong may be Chinese she is reduced to her "other" appearance and racism. She could be interchangeable with any other white girl in the story, as Hazel's only personality is self-deprecation.

The story will not let you forget that Hazel and her family are not a typical British family as exampled on page 62, "I would have too, if two things had not happened: first, my father's concubine had another daughter." "Father's concubine," a clear sign of othering. While yes concubines did exist in Hong Kong at the time it wasn't necessary to the story, she isn't a proper character and isn't even given a name or description, the concubine is never mentioned again in the story. The line could have easily changed to Hazel's mother having another daughter instead of twisting a Chinese family. What does it show beyond Hazel's family being different from a typical white British family?

Just when you might forget that Hazel isn't the typical white British girl going to Deepdean School for Girls Part Four Chapter Nine happens. It is full of hazing and racism from Daisy, Hazel's supposed best friend. Now, this probably really did happen to foreign students in the 1930s, but was in necessary to include it in this book meant for preteens? I definitely wouldn't want to encourage my daughter to hero worship anyone who bullies her, and I don't think anyone else would want that for their child. It seems to give a bad impression, endure the person who torments you enough and they will become your BFF.

I think one of the bad things about the story is that Hazel knows she is surrounded by racism and has to let it flow over her. From page 42:
Usually, once they know me, English people simply pretend that I am not Oriental, and I simply do not remind them about it. But sometimes they slip, and little buts if nastiness that are usually hidden come sliding out of their mouths, which can be quite difficult to politely ignore.

I will say that the use of "oriental" here is from the British sense of the word, as the author is British, and not the American sense where oriental is seen more as a slur.

Hazel's father is a complete Anglophile, and it has perhaps led to Hazel's own self-hate. Hazel describes herself as "lumpy legs," "I, on the other hand bulge all over like Bibendum the Michelin Man; my cheeks are moony-round and my hair and eyes are stubbornly dark brown." Even on the first page of the story is, "After all, I am much too short to be the heroine of this story, and who ever heard of a Chinese Sherlock Holmes?"

In contrast Daisy is described as "... one of those dainty, absolutely English girls with blue eyes and golden hair;..."

Least you think I am being too harsh of the character of Daisy Wells, on page 170:
'But - someone else might have put on her shoes?' I suggested. I had felt so sure it must have been The One.

'Oh, don't be an ass, Hazel. That sort of thing is too silly to happen in real life. Unless you think they crept into her boarding house and stole her shoes just to wear them in a passageway that no one ever uses?'

I blushed. I felt like an idiot, and I was glad it was so dark.

This is just one of many times that Daisy puts Hazel down, hardly what I would call best friend material.

I think I might read Arsenic for Tea on my own and review it here, but I doubt I will be reading it to Jasmine.

I would give this book:
Why would I give it so many stars when the characters personalities are so horrible? Well, the book is set in a 1930s all-girls school in England. I think the time period and location allows you to learn things that are not often in a children's book (i.e. I can't think of another book set in a 1930s all-girls school.) So you do learn how things work at the school, and some terminology of the time.

If for some reason you are intrigued enough to read other books from the series here are links to them, and they are in order (since there is no where on the cover, or inside of the books, at least not the two that I had, that show which book is first, second, etc., and I really hate that publishers are doing that.)

Murder Most Unladylike
Arsenic for Tea
First Class Murder
Jolly Foul Play

Currently watching: Person of Interest.

Currently reading: ???


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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I am working on Jody Rice's Emerald City of OZ cityscape, that you can see here. The pattern was available from Cross Stitch Crazy magazine, April #215 issue. If you don't want to get the whole magazine the pattern will be available in her Etsy shop, Satsuma Street in September.

I missed actually posting last Wednesday, but I did take a picture:


I'm actually a little late this week too, but I'm going to just back date the post, (shhh, it'll be our secret.)


I'll take another picture once I have the hoop painted and it is all finished. I really enjoyed this one, it took a tiny bit less than a month to make (and probably would have taken less time if I worked on it every day.) I plan on making it again, but definitely with a different coloured Aida, perhaps a marbled blue, might look a bit more like sky and clouds, also it is very hard to tell the clouds apart from the white Aida (I've just noticed I didn't finish a section of the coulds!)

P.S. Forgot to mention I'll be doing Seashell Treasures by Dimensions next.

Currently watching: Person of Interest.

Currently reading:

Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells & Wong Mystery (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery) by Robin Stevens
The first in a series, I'm reading them to Jasmine. We've already bought the second book, Arsenic for Tea. We have about 60 pages to go. I'm not sure if Jasmine is actually enjoying this book or not, because sometimes she doesn't pay attention. We'll give the second book a go, but if she doesn't like it we won't continue, since there are just so many books to read.

If you'd like to request that I review a book please leave a comment. Include a brief description of the book, including which genre it is. Please also note if the book is an ARC and whether you are self-published.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I am working on Jody Rice's Emerald City of OZ cityscape, that you can see here. The pattern was available from Cross Stitch Crazy magazine, April #215 issue. If you don't want to get the whole magazine the pattern will be available in her Etsy shop, Satsuma Street in September.

This is where I was last week,


And here is where I am today:


Currently watching: Korean tv shows.

Currently reading:

Murder Most Unladylike: A Wells & Wong Mystery (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery) by Robin Stevens
The first in a series, I'm reading them to Jasmine. We've already bought the second book, Arsenic for Tea.

If you'd like to request that I review a book please leave a comment. Include a brief description of the book, including which genre it is. Please also note if the book is an ARC and whether you are self-published.

Swagbucks it is how I make money for amazon gift cards!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I am working on Jody Rice's Emerald City of OZ cityscape, that you can see here. The pattern was available from Cross Stitch Crazy magazine, April #215 issue. If you don't want to get the whole magazine the pattern will be available in her Etsy shop, Satsuma Street in September.

This is where I was last week,


And here is where I am today,


This is for a friend, but I might make this again, but I would use a light blue fabric with a cloud like pattern, if I can find some that I like.

The question for this month's WIPocalypse:
What do you listen to while stitching?

I normally listen to movies or tv shows. Recently the tv shows have been Elementary, Almost Human (it is too bad it was cancelled,) Shadowhunters (I really don't like it,) and Killjoys.

Currently watching: Korean tv shows.

Currently reading:

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
I book from my childhood. Read it to my daughter recently, I would highly recommend it to everyone.

If you'd like to request that I review a book please leave a comment. Include a brief description of the book, including which genre it is. Please also note if the book is an ARC and whether you are self-published.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I finished 노리개 (Norigae).


I just need to wash it, iron it, and find some cheap (hopefully) framing.

I started Jody Rice's Emerald City that you can see here. The pattern was available from Cross Stitch Crazy magazine, April #215 issue. If you don't want to get the whole magazine the pattern will be available in her Etsy shop, Satsuma Street in September.

I only started yesterday, but it seems to be going pretty fast. Here is how far I've gotten,


Currently watching: Korean tv shows.

Currently reading:

Lady of Devices: A steampunk adventure novel (Magnificent Devices Book 1) by Shelley Adina
This is a reread for me. I really have enjoyed the whole series, which isn't yet completed as far as I know.

If you'd like to request that I review a book please leave a comment. Include a brief description of the book, including which genre it is. Please also note if the book is an ARC and whether you are self-published.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I finished the eighth part of 노리개 (Norigae).


And here is where I am today:


If you have any ideas for posts you'd like to see in the future let me know!

Currently watching: Elementary. I do enjoy this version of Sherlock Holmes.

Currently reading:

The Martian by Andy Weir
I am reading this again! Mostly because it was already downloaded to my phone while we were travelling.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

WIP Wednesday

A day late, we were travelling home yesterday from Salisbury. I tried to edit my photo with my phone, but it just wasn't working, so here it is, I finished the 7th one:



If you have any ideas for posts you'd like to see in the future let me know!

Currently watching: Elementary. I do enjoy this version of Sherlock Holmes.

Currently reading:

The Martian by Andy Weir
I am reading this again! Mostly because it was already downloaded to my phone while we were travelling.

If you'd like to request that I review a book please leave a comment. Include a brief description of the book, including which genre it is. Please also note if the book is an ARC and whether you are self-published.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I'm about half done with the 7th 노리개 (Norigae), plus I have to do all the back-stitching.

 photo IMG_20160330_012551_zpsbjhf5ueu.jpg


If you have any ideas for posts you'd like to see in the future let me know!

Currently watching: Shadowhunters. It is really bad, the movie was so much better.

Currently reading:

The Martian by Andy Weir
I just finished this book, it was great and I'd highly recommend anyone who's ever wanted to be an astronaut, or dreamed of travelling in space to read it.

If you'd like to request that I review a book please leave a comment. Include a brief description of the book, including which genre it is. Please also note if the book is an ARC and whether you are self-published.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

WIPocalypse March

It's been so long! I took time off to crochet some hats as Christmas gifts. I made, I believe it was ten hats in a little bit over a month, I also got sick again in that time.

I made these hats for twin girls that live across the street, from a free pattern on Raverly.com called Rainbow Granny Stripes Hat. As you can see I did not do the striping and I added a pompom.


The next one I did for Jasmine's ballet friend, also a free pattern on Raverly.com called Front Post Beret.


It isn't supposed to swirl like this, but I like it. The pompom is missing in the pictures.


Jasmine's friend has very sensitive skin, so I had to make the hat band wider in order to fit some fine knit cloth, so the scratchy yard wouldn't touch her skin.

I also make two of Snow on the Eaves a free pattern on Raverly.com, one was for our upstairs neighbor's daughter and one for Jasmine's ballet friend's little sister.


I made 3 of these Ben&Mikkel Hats, free pattern on Raverly.com. I figured out how to chain all three colors onto the foundation row, because otherwise whatever color you use for the first color leaves a large stripe down the side.


I made a purple Front Post Beret for a different upstairs neighbor.


As you can see, it still has the swirl.



I also did these two Christmas fairies as cards (mentioned back in September, 2015), but I forgot to take pictures of them attached to the cards.


They were quick to make up, but I can't really see doing them again.


* * * * *

Do you use hoops, stretcher bars, lap stands or Q snap frames and why? (viaCathieJ)

I have one embroidery hoop, I believe it is 18 inches, it is a bit large and unwieldy. I think I should have gotten a smaller one. I also bough a scroll frame, but it too is unwieldy as it doesn't have a floor or lap stand. I don't want to buy anything more until we move back to the U.S., I think I'll take either the embroidery hoop or the scroll frame, but not both. I don't really like the scroll frame because of how it holds the fabric in by tension, and the embroidery hoop is lighter.

When we get back to the states I'd like to get a split scroll frame, kind of like this:

But not that one, because I don't need the three sizes, it was just the best picture.

I would also like to get a floor stand, either like this:


or like this:


I've had a lap stand before, but I always needed to use pillows or something to boost it up to the right height for me, eventually over time it would slip down, it was very uncomfortable.

* * * * *

Anyway, I left off on the Hogwarts Crest here:


I haven't worked on it since finishing crocheting all the hats. Instead I've been working on 노리개 (Norigae). I had intended to have it done for my Mother's birthday in March, but I got sick, again! So, now I'm hoping to have it done by US Mother's Day. I still need to find a framing shop.

Here are the first five done:
 photo mobile20pictures203387_zpsqglltylf.jpg

There was one part of the instructions that I didn't understand, the key showed to lines of yellow and two of green for back-stitching. I couldn't understand the Korean, so I asked a friend to read it, but she doesn't cross stitch and she didn't understand the meaning. I asked Soda Stitch's Facebook page, but I got impatient and just used one thread of each that was used for the yellow back-stitch. The example picture was no help since neither the yellow or green was done in the picture. I did get a reply from the Facebook page, it is an either or, you can do the metallic thread or the cotton thread they have listed. Ah, well, so I'll keep the yellow back-stitching with one thread of each option, and the green back-stitching is just metallic silver thread. But if you ever have any problems with their patterns they replied really quickly.

Here are the fifth and sixth finished, I have three more to complete and a little less than a month, since I'll need to hand it over to a framer and mail it:


If you are looking to buy this design, or other Soda Stitch designs you can look here.

Phew! That got really long.


If you have any ideas for posts you'd like to see in the future let me know!

Currently watching: Dr. Ken.

Currently reading:

The Martian by Andy Weir
I just finished this book, it was great and I'd highly recommend anyone who's ever wanted to be an astronaut, or dreamed of travelling in space to read it.

If you'd like to request that I review a book please leave a comment. Include a brief description of the book, including which genre it is. Please also note if the book is an ARC and whether you are self-published.

Swagbucks it is how I make money for amazon gift cards!

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