Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Review: Liberty Frye and the Sails of Fate

Liberty Frye and the Sails of Fate
by
J.L. McCreedy
(to be published May 2, 2016)

****

Back in 2013, quite by chance, I happened to come across a  children’s/YA book entitled Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen. I wrote a review of it for my blog which I also published on Amazon.  As I felt the story left a door ajar for sequels, I have actually been checking for that a few times. So when recently I received a surprise email from the author, offering me to read an advanced review copy of the second book, I was of course happy to accept! (The request was based only on the author having read my previous review. I don’t know her personally.)

****

Just like the first book, I find Liberty Frye and the Sails of Fate to be a pacy, inventive and well written children's fantasy story – also enjoyable for adults like myself, who might recognize references to various other books within that and related genres.

My guess is that The Sails of Fate could also be read as a stand-alone story; but it does refer back to characters, events, objects and ideas from the first book. And I think it now also hints strongly to letting the series continue to become at least a trilogy.

In the first book, Liberty Frye and the Witches of Hessen, Libby's parents took her on a trip to Germany to visit her mum's family there; leading to the rather unnerving discovery that her favourite book, a collection of fairy tales by the famous Brothers Grimm, turned out to be more closely related to reality than she had ever suspected.

Some characters from the first book that reappear in the second are Libby's pet goose Buttercup; her friend Ginny; her dad’s Uncle Frank (inventor of various fantastic machines, including a robot by name of Esmerelda); and an old friend and contemporary of Frank's who used to be a pilot back in World War II. Other ingredients we recognize from the first book are a special tree and its fruit; and a mysterious amulet.

As implied by the title, The Sails of Fate involves a sea voyage. The book starts out with Libby's family (safely back home in the US after the adventures in Germany; and now also officially including Ginny as Libby's foster sister) taking her on an outing for her 11th birthday. Libby herself is in a rather contrary birthday mood - connected to her finding out in Germany that she is supposed to have inherited supernatural powers, but still not feeling at all in control of that.

The goal for the birthday party turns out to be the seaside (Biloxi Bay, Mississippi), where a large sailboat by name of Liberté is found waiting; with Uncle Frank and his old friend aboard, ready to take the girls on a tour around the bay (while Libby's mum and dad go to buy some things for a picnic).

Aboard the ship, uniquely refurbished by Uncle Frank, he also has another birthday surprise in store for Libby – a special invention, that he has been working on for a long time, and now wants to put to a test in honour of her birthday.

What Frank has forgotten to take into account, though, is the unpredictability of what might happen if you accidentally happen to add magic to a scientific experiment...

While some connections from the first book seemed to grow clearer for me in this one, other threads now seemed to be teasingly left dangling at the end instead. However, as the series seems to be meant to continue, I suppose it may all still be neatly tied up in the end! So I shall reserve judgement on that point for now (and will be looking forward to the third instalment).

For the most part, I think the author manages to keep a good flow throughout the book, with a good balance between elements like suspense, depth, unexpected turns of events, and comic relief. I also like the way she describes Libby's struggle with coming to terms with her magical powers; reflecting the general struggle of growing up and getting to know oneself that we all go through, while learning how best to make use of whatever powers and possibilities we have, in the circumstances where fate happens to take us.

Teaser quote: ”I've been so caught up in what I'm supposed to do or be, that I haven't paid attention to what I already can do, to what's already open to me.”

****

I’ll be publishing this review also on Amazon and Goodreads,
with a 4-star rating.

****

Linking this post to

Musing Mondays | BooksAndABeat.com

Teaser

 

 

 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weird Weather

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Very weird weather here today… +6°C (~43°F) but with showers of something in between hail and snow. Like hail in shape, but softer. As if tiny fairies were having a snowball fight…

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Flower fairy by Swedish artist
Ottilia Adelborg (1855-1936)
-postcard-

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Textile Power

Last weekend I went to visit our Textile Museum - as I do now and then. It's been three years since they moved to new premises, and they've had a number of different exhibitions since then, but it's taken them all this time to get the basic one with all the old heavy textile industry machines re-opened. In the old premises, the machines were all gathered in one huge hall, very high in ceiling. While that did perhaps give an impression of what it might have been like to work in such a place, at the same time it was hard for visitors to get an overview of all the steps in the manufacture. 


In the new exhibition, entitled Textile Power, they have chosen to display machines in a more logical order so that you can better follow the process, from the first steps in refining the fibres, to the final products. 

 




 

Various machines combing and spinning the cotton into thinner and thinner threads.


This is a jacquard loom, weaving patterened ribbons using a technique involving punch-cards that was sort of a predecessor to computer technology.


This is a knitting machine which at the end of the process spits out a complete glove with five fingers. 



Seeing these patterns displayed reminded me of my mum, because she used to sew most of our clothes at home herself, back in my childhood and youth




The exhibition also spotlights the conditions for the textile workers in the factories, and how much our whole society and industry has changed in the last hundred+ years. It is easy to forget that only about a century ago, most factory workers in Sweden were still living and working in conditions not all that different from the present-day countries where, in fact, most of the production now takes place - i.e. mostly in Asia. (Low wages, long hours, large families in crowded living quarters etc.)

Borås is still a town with a strong textile focus, and home to various businesses to do with fashion, design and clothes. We have the Textile Museum and also a Textile College; and various companies working with fashion design and smart textile inventions for the future; and shops and mailorder companies selling lots of clothes. But nowadays not much of the actual production takes place here. That has all been moved abroad to far-away places where workers are still living in conditions no longer regarded as acceptable in Sweden... The exhibition at the museum reminds us of that.


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Once upon a time, the colour of the water in the river running through this town would shift from day to day, depending on what pigments they were using in the dyeing works at the moment. Nowadays, our river has been cleaned from the old toxic substances from the dyeing industry. A couple of years ago, when a new walk was opened along a part of the river near one such place, as a reminder, they installed lights there that can shift colour. (I wonder if future generations will remember the reason?) 


At the museum, they also had this display of A Teenager's Wardrobe from 1950, 1980 and 2010. Another powerful reminder of how consumption has increased. Born in 1955 myself, I can relate to this. I have a lot more clothes and shoes now than I did back around 1980. (And it's not because of never getting rid of old things.)

At another station in the exhibition, visitors are asked to look at the labels in their clothes to check where they were made. It was not very practical for me to do that just then and there - but I gave it some thought when I got home. The only item I had on that was actually made in Sweden was my socks...



In this recent photo, I'm wearing leggings and skirt made in China, and t-shirt and sweater made in Bangladesh... An inspection of my wardrobe showed the majority of my clothes to have been made in those two countries + India. (Not really surprised, but have to confess I've never really given it much thought.)

Yesterday, I went shopping for a (rain)coat. The one I fell for and bought was neither cheap, nor on sale; and for a change it's from Denmark. Well - er - at least the label says "Danish design and fine processing", and also claims to meet "high ethical standards and health requirements"... Whether that actually means it was made in Denmark, I can't tell from the labels... Really, being a "conscious consumer" is not made easy!!!



(herluf-design.dk)


Anyway, besides being water repelleant and breathable and washable... this coat is also reversible! Which means it can be turned inside out and worn that way instead (mauve outside and dark purple inside), still with pockets and buttons etc in the right places. So it's really two coats in one. I love that, and also the flexible collar, which can also be pulled up over your head and used as a hood. It really is a very smart design. So I hope I'll be able to use it for several years to come.

 
The exhibition really did set me thinking a lot about these topics. If only it were as simple as paying a bit more for a certain item and knowing the money would end up in the right pocket. Or buying less, and be sure that this would improve the environment... But it's never quite that easy - is it...?


Instead, it's all more like this room in the exhibition, where they had turned the manufacturer's office into a giant board game... Two steps forward, three steps back etc.



Now I'm curious to know what you think....
For example:
How has your wardrobe changed over the years?
Do you buy things on impulse, or do you plan your purchases carefully?

And do you check labels to see where things were made??

Through My Lens

Mosaic Monday
 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Works in Progress

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In spite of good intentions, I still don’t seem to have got round to much blogging since my previous post – 1½ weeks ago. Please note the word seem, though: I have actually been working on a couple of drafts for blog posts – just not finished yet…

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… Work in progress … (brain) wheels turning …

Meanwhile, I’ve also been trying to make use of days with fine spring weather for other kinds of projects.

Like climbing the stairway to heaven…

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… and turning my eyes to the ground in search of spring flowers.

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The first wood anemones! Yay!!! Winking smile

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And here’s another work in progress:

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There’s rain coming in now for the next couple of days, though. So the half-painted little foldable balcony table has been moved into my living room to dry, and to wait for the next day suitable for continuing the paint job outside.

Skywatch Friday

Shadow Shot Sunday

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

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Just putting in a picture to tell you I’m alive and nothing wrong. I just seem to mysteriously have kept myself busy with other things than the computer this past week. I’ll be back!

Smile

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