Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Secret Sister by Fotini Tsalikoglou

Title: The Secret Sister
Author: Fotini Tsalikoglou
First Published: Jan 2015
Published By: Europa Editions
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Cultural
Read: Jan 27 2015
Rating: 2/5

(Image from Goodreads)

I was sent this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Originally written in Greek, The Secret Sister is about how family secrets can effect different generations in a family. Beginning in present day New York, a man boards a plane to Athens, Greece in order to learn more about his ancestry. The book is written in a way that I can only describe as a reflective conversation with the Jonathan (the man’s) younger sister Amalia. Although she isn’t with him on the flight, they recall their childhood being raised by their alcoholic mother and Greek grandparents. At a young age Jonathan and Amalia learn about a family secret that has effected every aspect of their lives: their Grandmother’s sister Frosso, was the first wife of their Grandfather. 

After reading the first 20 (or so) pages, I was so confused by the style of writing that I had to start the book all over again. This time I decided to write notes as I read along, to better understand the plot and the characters. Even though it was only 128 pages long, it was hard to keep track of the current time period, as readers are taken from present day (2013), the 1990’s and back to pre-WWII Greece, often in the same paragraph. 

As I mentioned in the beginning on my review I was sent this book from the publisher, after winning a giveaway on GoodReads. From the description on that website I assumed that the book would really give a detailed back story about the hardships Grandmother Erasmia and her sister Frosso, faced as young orphaned refuges in Greece. However it was more of brief details about this time period that Jonathan learns throughout his childhood and early adulthood. The GoodReads description also mentions Jonathan’s journey to Greece, which I took to assume that he would discover more family secrets while there. This too wasn’t the case, as the entire book spans his plane ride there. 

Once I completed the book, I felt that I needed some time to reflect before attempting a review. I glad I decided to do this because it allowed me the chance to consider the big picture and to better understand the point of the story. However I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters.

Although this book wasn’t exactly for me, I would recommend this to those who are interested in family psychology, as I think it would make for an interesting analysis and discussion. The length of this book would also be ideal for Read-a-Thons.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

ML's Adventures In.. Crocheting Pt. 2

ML’s Adventures in.. is a new segment I am introducing to my blog. It will feature different things that I intend to learn and try. Examples may include: crafts, recipes etc. 


The first book I read for my adventure in crocheting is called Crochet for Beginners: The Basics on How to Create These Hand-Crafted Creations by Mary Fuller. 

(Image from Goodreads)

I was excited to begin this book because, judging by the title I assumed that it would teach me the basics on how to get started. I gathered my supplies: hook and yarn of choice and settled in to learn. 

Unfortunately this book wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for. At 32 pages long Crochet for Beginners, read more like a long essay on what crocheting is and why one should do it. The section on basic crochet stitches showed a picture for each, however it didn’t show how to do it. As a somewhat knitter I am used to using two needles so I was at a loss how I was to work the yarn and the hook. I was looking for either pictures or specific instructions on how to properly work my fingers. While it did mention briefly what hands to use for what (right hand works the hook, left hand holds the yarn) it didn’t say how to wrap the yarn around your fingers in order to have the proper grip. It isn’t really possible to move on from this step otherwise, so I was left wondering what to do next. 

I then turned to youtube, in hopes that a visual demonstration would be able to get me started, so that I could return to the book. The first (and only) video I watched was just what I needed to understand how to begin. 

Posted by epicabundance, this video is geared towards people like myself who have never crocheted before. Viewers are taught how to do a slipknot (or starting knot), chain stitches and single crochet stitches. I watched and re-watched this video over and over again, following along with the instructor. Then I practiced and practiced the steps she taught, over and over again. Ripping out my work time after time until I got it right. 

I was now ready to return to the eBook. I decided to start the section where it explains how to do the stitches over again, now that I had the knowledge I learned from the youtube video. 

The instructions still didn’t make any sense to me! Even though I now knew how to work the hook and hold the yarn, I still felt that there was missing information in the books instructions. I continued to read hoping that there would be a simple pattern that I could attempt, but there weren’t any patterns included at all. Instead there were more reasons (some repeated) to try crocheting and a list of abbreviations for crochet terms. The real kicker was the page that listed the different ways the word “crochet” was commonly misspelled. 

Maybe this eBook would be better geared towards someone who is considering trying to learn, but for me it was disappointing. 

Thankfully I have more books in my TBR pile, that I can turn to. 

Check back soon for my next installment, where I will attempt to get started again.