October 20, 2012

Book Review: Miles and Flora by Hilary Bailey

Due to the horrific headache I have had, there have been few options for me as regarding entertainment. Despite the fact that reading and headaches do not usually mix well, books have been my chief consolation over the past few days. I finished The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir in a gulp (review coming soon!) and found myself at a bit of a loss. What to read now? I wanted something a bit creepy yet old fashioned, and ended up turning to Miles and Flora by Hilary Bailey. I was skeptical of the very concept of the book--it is a modern sequel to Henry James' masterpiece The Turn of the Screw--but had been curious enough to buy it secondhand. After all, The Turn of the Screw left so many questions unanswered! Such as:


Was the haunting real or was it the product of the fevered imagination of the governess?

Were Miles and Flora really innocent children or had they been horribly corrupted by their dead friends?

What killed Miles? Did he die of fear at the insane words and actions of his governess? Or did the ghost of Peter Quint steal his soul?

What happened to Flora? We are told she is on her way to her uncle, but whether she meets the same fate as her brother or not is never mentioned.

******************END SPOILERS****************

The book Miles and Flora picks up years after the horrible events at Bly. Apparently Flora did survive and is now a lovely young lady, a bit dreamy but well-liked, looking forward to marrying the young man of her choice. At the same time, her former governess is very ill and is being tended by her sister, who is completely ignorant of the Bly tragedy. The story moves back and forth between the two settings until they become intertwined once more. The reader finds herself liking and sympathizing with the governess's sister Margaret as she attempts to discover the reasons for the invalid's increasingly alarming actions. The characters of Margaret and of Henry Reeves, a mutual friend of the sisters and of Flora's family, are so well done that they actually carry the story and keep the reader interested when the references to the events of The Turn of the Screw are so confused as to make the book otherwise unreadable.

Sadly, even a likable hero and heroine cannot save this sad attempt at a sequel. Where James's original was terrifying, Miles and Flora is only mildly disturbing at most, and the conclusion and indeed entire explanation as to the haunting is so bizarre as to be ludicrous.


In the end we find that Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper of Bly, and Elaine the former governess of Miles and Flora, are actually responsible for feeding the children to the ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. Why did they do this? We are not told. Apparently they hope to gain something by it but what? They end up being food for the ghosts themselves, and apparently this is of their own free will. Why? No idea, sorry.
Further, at the end both Flora and her new baby boy and her husband are all taken by the ghosts of Miles, Quint, and Jessel. Why? It is said that they are needed, and that is all we are given.

******************END SPOILERS****************

Bottom line, do not bother reading this book. While the writing reveals the author to have great promise, the poorly-planned denouement and lack of clarity completely ruin the book and make you long to throw it across the room. Like most modern sequels to classics, Miles and Flora is an insult to the original work and its author. I give it two stars, due only to the truly interesting story of Margaret and Henry.

A Lovely Vintage Find

I very briefly blogged about this once, but as it has to be one of my favourite vintage finds I decided it deserved more space. As soon as I saw this lovely green porcelain plate, I knew it was something special. When I turned it over and saw the Thomas "Sevres" Bavaria mark, I didn't really know what that meant, but it sounded good. A lot of research later, I put it up on Etsy, still not knowing as much as I would like.

Reduced Rare Vintage Edwardian Thomas Sevres Dessert Plate

Here's what I do know: the hallmark on the back combined with the style mean that the plate was made in Germany in the early 1900s-1910s. I have looked everywhere and have not found another with the same pattern or even anything like it. Tone-on-tone colouring seems to have been unusual for a Thomas Bavaria plate--most, for instance, have one colour for the background, a different one for the flowers, another for leaves, another for some other ornamentation, etc. What makes this plate special is that it is painted entirely in shades of green.

It really is so pretty I do not like to part with it, but rare fragile things and babies do not seem to be a good combination! Also, I need the money ;) So, here it is...feel free to buy it! haha

Countdown to Halloween: The Ghost in the Library

Every year at about this time I find myself gravitating towards ghost stories and, thanks to the wonders of the internet, ghost cams! By far the best and most interesting of the latter is the Evansville Library Ghost Cam site, which allows one to learn the history of the Grey Lady of the library and monitor cameras set up in the areas she has most often been spotted. I will warn you, online ghost-hunting can be addictive! It can also be deceptive--be sure before you submit your sighting that it is not a normal variation in the light or a part of the library.

Willard Library Ghost Site

To see what others have reported as sightings, make sure to visit Proof or Spoof?
I think that most of these are examples of people seeing ghosts because they want to, not because there is actually something there. However, there have been some interesting screencaptures over the years.

Is there really a ghostly lady haunting the Willard Library in Evansville, Indiana? Watch the cams and decide for yourself!

October 19, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Black Widow Potholders

Creepy potholders? I know, that's definitely not something one sees everyday! But this black widow spider potholder knitting pattern from Jana Trent is amazing! I haven't tried colourwork yet but this is making me want to give it a shot.

Spider Potholder

You will need to create a Ravelry account to get the pattern. Trust me, it is worth it! It is free to join Ravelry and you will find thousands of free knitting and crochet patterns as well as lots of amazing people and groups to join. For example, I am in the Who Knits? group, which is for knitters who are fans of Doctor Who.

Who Knits? on Ravelry

There truly is something for everyone on Ravelry, so go wild and explore! If you're like me you'll end up with a project queue a mile long.

At Last! A Real Follower! And Stuff About Reptiles...I Promise, It WILL make Sense!

I have had a bloody awful day, to be honest. I nearly fell asleep driving this morning due to the migraine that has kept me awake for...3 nights? and had to drag my husband out of work so he could drive The Precious and me to our doctors appointments, which are quite a long way away. Despite taking Imitrex, Goody's, and Mucinex (because I'm very congested in one side of my head), I still have the migraine. So tonight has not been fun either.

But there has been a bright spot! I just found that I have my first (non-husband) follower, and that she sounds like a really neat person. She has just started what sounds like a really interesting blog. Please check it out!

Meet the Crafty Gecko Queen

I am so psyched about this because, though I have never blogged about it, I am a big reptile fanatic. In the past I had a pet green snake, Sweety, so named because I kept calling him (her?) that, and also because I knew no one else would ever name a snake Sweety!

He was a tiny snake, so he's hard to see. And yes, I looked like a little girl but I was about 19 in this picture!

Before that I had an iguana with a penchant for escaping from his cage. Now, alas, I have no reptiles because my husband cannot abide them. I have a phobia of large grasshoppers, so I understand. However, we do have quite a nice population of geckos at our house, and even my husband enjoys watching them chase and eat moths on the other side of the windows. I have tried taking pictures but they never come out well because the geckos only come out at night. There were geckos at our previous (rented) house, too, and I came to think of them almost as our genii locus. One way that I knew we had chosen the right house this time was when we saw the sweet little gecko on the door. Yep, this is home.

For a while, after researching the geckos and learning about them, I wanted to make a comic strip called something like "The Adventures of Gecko Girl" featuring a superheroine who could climb straight up walls like a gecko and who had a sticky whip that would snap up criminals the way a gecko's tongue does with insects...yeah, that's pretty weird, and that's why I didn't take that idea any further. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life defending myself against charges of being a pervert or something!

So anyway, I think it's the coolest thing on earth that my very first real follower calls herself The Crafty Gecko Queen! I look forward to reading her blog and I hope you all will read it too :)

October 18, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Gorgeous Goth Skirt

Wouldn't this make a great bottom for a punk fairy costume? Of course, you could wear it any day of the year, not just for Halloween. There's something about the crazy, tattered-looking layers of this skirt that makes me want to make one of my own, maybe with some plaid fabric included. I actually have a lot of the "ingredients" already...hmmm...

See Pink And Black Gothic Net And Lace Skirt and 1000's of others - or share your own on Cut Out + Keep

Maybe sometime soon I will have time to whip one up! If I do I will certainly share it here. :)

October 16, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Creepy Photo Backgrounds

If I could just get Gimp to behave, I would be using these great stock photos from i-am-JENius to make nice, creepy art.

Ghostly Path Premade 1 by =i-am-JENius on deviantART
Dead Lake Premade 2 by =i-am-JENius on deviantART
Frozen Forest Premade by =i-am-JENius on deviantART Make sure you follow the instructions for using these stock photos, and be sure to check out the amazing things Jeannie has done with them in her gallery!

October 15, 2012

Wow, I Can Purl!

I was starting to think I was hopeless as a knitter. After all, I found out recently that what I thought was a purl stitch was actually...well, not sure what to call it exactly, but a messed-up knit stitch is probably the closest thing to it. Aunt Martha encouraged me to look online for a video that would help me, and today I hit the jackpot!

Because I have mostly taught myself from a variety of books, my style is a bit mixed but mostly Continental. If you knit in another style this probably will not help you. There are lots of great videos out there though and I am sure that you will find the perfect one for your style. I recommend hitting the full screen button if you are having trouble following along. And don't forget that you can go back and replay as many times as you need.

Isn't the internet great? Now I can finish my project properly (photos coming soon)!

Countdown to Halloween: Free Digital Scrapbook Paper

Whether you make cards, scrapbook, do origami, or just like to have fun paper for your kids to use in their projects, you probably know that scrapbook paper is not cheap. That's why it's so nice to find free paper! Of course, you will have to print it out yourself, but you can make as many copies as you need. And if you are into digital scrapbooking or labelmaking, etc., the fact that this "paper" is in .jpeg format is a huge plus.

Halloween 10 Digital Papers

You'll be able to use these files over and over again, year after year. If you find this link and use the papers to make something, could you please post your creation as a comment?

Cute Cat Sequined Sweatshirt

Sequins are not really my thing as a rule, but I find myself wanting to try to make a shirt like this one from Stripes and Sequins! I guess the fact that the sequins make a cat face is probably why I like it so much. If you want to sell me on anything, add a cat!

DIY Sequined Cat Sweater

I love that you could change the colours and make it look like your own cat. Mine would need blue sequins for Isabella's eyes, and I think I would like to sketch in the edges of the face a bit more to show off her fluffiness. I think I would use way less pink as well. I just hope I'm good enough at art to make it work!

We have 3 other cats but somehow it is Bella who seems like the best subject for a shirt.

What do you think? Would you like to immortalize your cat in sequins?

October 14, 2012

Countdown to Halloween: Pumpkin Patch Cake

Why don't I ever get cool ideas like this? Because I'm not a baking genius, I guess. But Melinda of Dollar Store Crafts is, and here is the proof.

Make a Pumpkin Patch Cake

I'm afraid that if I went to all that trouble, I wouldn't have the heart to eat the cake!

By the way, don't forget to vote in the Halloween candy poll at the very bottom of my blog. So far candy corn and mini candy bars are tied for best Halloween candy ever. Let's break that tie, folks! Candy corn for the win! Not that I'm trying to influence your vote or anything.

My Unanswered Questions

Do you ever get strange ideas stuck in your head and find yourself losing sleep because of them? Do you ever have a weird question for which no one seem to have an answer, because apparently no one else has ever been daft enough to ask? Well, if you don't, I envy you.

Here are a few of my silly, weird, nagging unanswered questions. They are pretty random, I warn you.

1. How can a name spelled "F U C H S" possibly be pronounced "Fuhsonic?" For that matter, why is "Pepe" the nickname for someone named "Jose" or "Josefina?"

2. If a kitten is born lacking the ability to retract its claws so that it will be safe until it is older, how does it not harm its mother or siblings while in the womb?

3. Speaking of kittens, could a human give birth to them if they were implanted inside? Could humans become surrogate mothers to other species? (I said I had weird, silly questions! I did warn you!)

4. In D. Gray Man, what is it that the akuma are firing at everyone? It seems to cause a lot of destruction but bounces off of exorcists most of the time. Is it some sort of negative energy? And what are the exorcists firing back? They seem to have similar guns but nothing ever explains what the guns are loaded with. Do they shoot innocence? I guess it's not really important, but for some reason it bugs me not to know.

5. Sadly, this is the main one that causes me to lose sleep. WHY A SPACESUIT? To be a bit more specific, on Doctor Who, why was young Melody Pond being raised in a spacesuit? It was apparently incredibly important that she be kept in one, because all of human culture had been manipulated so that the moon mission could take place, all so that little Melody could be kept in a spacesuit. But why? There was never any explanation as to what the spacesuit was really for. Was Earth's atmosphere somehow dangerous for the little girl with Timelord DNA? Did the suit somehow prevent her from escaping her captors, and if so, why not just keep her in a jail cell or something? Why on earth was a spacesuit needed? I know it's silly, but this one just drives me nuts. I will almost be asleep and then I will suddenly wonder again, and replay every relevant scene in my head. I need an answer, Mr. Moffat, and I need it now!

If anyone knows the answer to any of these questions, please comment! You might help me to get a good night's sleep for a change. :)

Nerdy Quote of the Week

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

I did not like Game of Thrones, so I have not actually read this book. I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly, however. Put down the remote and pick up a book. Who will you get a chance to be today?