Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Scraps" by Elsebeth Gynther & Christine Clemmensen

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Second to my love of historical fiction & history books  is my love for all books art & craft. I thrive on looking at a variety of different books for inspiration.

"Scraps" by Elsebeth Gynther & Christine Clemmenson is a captivating new title from Lark Books about mixed media & collage. The subtitle of this book is ' an inspirational field guide to collage' and I think that about sums it up. The authors walk you through all of the basics of collage; what materials you need, where to find materials, the qualities of paints & other coloring methods, how to 'loosen up' & free yourself to begin your work - and finally they answer the question "when is a collage finished?" - see page 71!

The table of contents :

I have found several things in this book that I really want to do. I have a very special journal from Jenni Bick Book Binders that I have been hoarding for a special purpose - and I found it in 'Scraps'... make an alphabet book ! What a great idea !

Another captivating project from the book  is  creating envelope art- this is  especially relevant to me since I have been making & mailing art cards a lot lately!

The book guides you through issues that always come up when making collage & mixed media art. What do I do if I don't want to glue or cut a special item? Answer: sew it in! What kind of glues are best to use with special, treasured items? Answer: acid free. There is a lengthy discussion of what sort of glue is best for what & what each glue is best used for. Other sections of the book discuss paper types, composition, "first aid for collages in distress" and on & on. This is one great "go to" book for collage and mixed media enthusiasts.

There are several pages in the book with inspired ideas for jump-starting your work; creating patterns,  & a wide variety of theme ideas. Fun things that just gets your mind in gear to make art!

I really went over this book and tried hard to think of a reason to NOT give it five stars - but I could not think of anything the books lacks, nor anything that would have made it better or more inspiring. This really is a 5 star, gotta have book for anyone who wants to improve their collage & mixed media art work. I feel in love with this book without really meaning to ! It's an addition to your library that you won't regret!

Note: A proof of this book was provided to me for reviewing purposes- no other remuneration was involved.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"The Lady In The Tower" by Alison Weir

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I was thrilled to be given an opportunity to review a proof of this book! I always eagerly await the release of any book written by Alison Weir. Both her fictional works as well as her non-fiction, always well researched books, never fail to please. I am happy to be able to say that "The Lady In The Tower" has been no exception! I began to read it as soon as I got my hands on it and enjoyed this book all of the way through.

I have long believed that Henry VIII was a narcissistic megalomaniac - especially in the way that he treated Anne Boleyn. Despite whatever faults Anne may have had, Henry quite literally, changed the course of history in order to make Anne his Queen. In this very well researched book, Ms. Weir postulates that it was, in fact, Thomas Cromwell, not King Henry himself, who was the 'pot stirrer' who trumped up the allegations made against Anne that resulted in her death. This books covers a very small window in time - 1536 - and it has been Ms. Weir's task to sift through voluminous, and sometimes very conflicting, historical accounts, reports & letters to formulate her opinion that Thomas Cromwell was the cause of Anne's meteoric fall from Henry's good graces. In referencing Anne Boleyn's inability to carry a second child, the longed for son & heir, to full term, Ms. Weir postulates a very likely theory that Anne's pregnancies were complicated by the RH negative antibody. There would have been no treatment let alone understanding for this sort of complication at this time and the theory goes a long way as an explanation for the still born son who, in effect, sealed Anne's fate.

Ms. Wier has managed to make what really amounts to 19 days - from sham trial to execution - an engrossing read that will appeal to history lovers in general and, most especially, to those of us of thrive on Tudor and Elizabethan history. The wait for this book was worth it. I do highly recommend this book!

Pre-order this great book from Amazon now- or at your own, great, local bookstore!

Note: A proof of this book was provided to me for reviewing purposes- no other remuneration was involved.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Historical Fiction - A Life Long Passion

There are so many varieties of books in this wonderful world, but I have to admit that I have long been addicted to historical fiction - especially European history from the 15th through the 17 centuries . For as long as I can remember I have read books about European history -  & I can clearly recall my rather young interest in all things York & Tudor. This interest, far from waning, has grown stronger as I have gotten older. I wonder why though? I am a similar, though far less strong pull toward Oriental history - but it is Oriental art, rather than the history really, that calls to me.

Do many of you have a particular area of history that calls to you? Does one place make you 'feel' more comfortable? I feel as though I can crawl right into a book about European, well, alright about British history, and walk right alongside the characters. Of course the skill of the author and the subject matter also goes far to holding enthralled in the pages. I don't discriminate either - I love non-fiction just about as much as fiction.

I would love to know what sort of books you enjoy reading- and why? What kind of books " take you away"? What kind of books sing to you and make you stay up late reading them?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

' A Lady Raised High' by Laurian Gardner

This book recounts the tale  of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, and begins with Anne as she , on the route of one of her progresses, passes through the small village in which  the main character of the book, Frances Pierce, lives. The daughter of a minor baronet/farmer, Frances shields Anne from mud slinging detractors along the route. Anne takes notice of the girl who shielded her & Frances is rewarded & brought to Court to serve Anne. Frances quickly becomes a favored attendant and confidant. The rise and fall of the infamous Anne Boleyn, mother of my favorite Queen Elizabeth 1, told through the story of Frances Piece revitalizes this sometimes hackneyed tale of Queen Anne. We witness Frances becoming adjusted to the riches, power struggles & vagaries of the Court. We relive what girlhood crushes can be like & what the strength of a good marriage can bring as Frances weds one of King Henry's courtiers, Jack Carlisle and becomes the Lady Carlisle, has a son & treads  treacherous waters as Anne falls out of grace with King. It is obvious that Anne becomes jealous of Frances - Anne's marriage is falling apart whilst Frances' is growing stronger; Anne cannot  produce a son & much needed heir to the throne whilst Frances has a healthy baby boy who thrives.

This book is really about two different ladies who were raised high; Anne Boleyn raised high by Henry VIII & Frances, raised high by Anne. I read this  book over the last two nights & I have to say that I couldn't put it down. I think that it's a refreshing take on an oft told story. Well done & highly enjoyable I definitely can recommend this as a good read - especially for Tudor era buffs and historical fiction fans.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday: What's In Your Post Box Today?

This last week brought quite a few new to me reads:

1.       Banners of Gold by Pamela Kaufman
2.      The Book Of Eleanor by Pamela Kaufman
3.      Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy by Margaret Shepard
4.      Capitals For Calligraphy: A Sourcebook of Decorative Letters by Margaret Shepard
5.      Written Letters: 33 Alphabets for Calligraphers by Jacqueline Svaren
6.       I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles

Thank You, again this week to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting this really fun weekly "meme". If you'd like to see what books other bookish friends have found in their mailboxes  click on Marcia's link for a list of this weeks 'post box reporters'!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"All Cakes Considered" by Melissa Gray/ Chronicle Books

I have a self confessed sweet tooth that is most partial to cakes - rather than just sweets -candy or cookies do not hold as much appeal for me as does an ohlalala cake! Maybe I shared some cake with Marie Antoinette in a past life?! Well at any rate this is one of those cake cookbooks that you absolutley must not miss out on owning. Hurry to you local book store - or if you are isolated as I am - to your favorite on line book purveyor - and order this one up! you will not be disappointed.

This book came about as producer Melissa Gray wends her way through a year full of cakes that pleased her fellow NPR work mates. I think that this book is notable in it's appeal not just to the seasoned cake baker but to the budding cake aesthete as Ms. Gray shares cake secrets that she has learned along the way. Interesting anecdotes, recipes culled from lots of places & many people. This book is exceptional and won't fail to please those of us that adore cake in all of it's sublime shapes & sizes (and who may try to hide that extra 'sliver' we ferret out the door without anyone noticing!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, 
hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. 

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Here's mine Teaser For Tuesday !
  • "...he feared the extreme physical pain it was likely to entail, being dragged alive by horses on a hurdle over the bumpy ground from the Tower to the usual place of execution at Tyburn, a journey of some four miles. He had no way of knowing whether he would be granted the 'privilege' of decapitation....."
From "A Daughter's Love" by John Guy.... I am really enjoying this read !

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    What Are You Reading Monday Nov 16

    It's Monday! What are you reading this week?
    is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week. Feel free to pile on a little extra.  If you'd like to join in this weekly event, please include a link to this post. That way others can find it and join in.

    1.          I am still wending my way through "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. First person narrative is not my favorite thing. It seems like it's taking forever to get to the end of this book, but this tale is really interesting - a bird's eye of the King Henry VIII / Anne Boleyn debacle from from  Lord Cromwell's perspective for a change - the end is in sight.

    2.           "Modern Mark Making" by Lisa Englebrecht. I LOVE this book on calligraphy. I did a small review of this book on my other blog when I first got it, but I am learning so much more every time I go back to it that I may have to review it again here

     3.           AUDIO: "Mary Queen Of Scots" by Margaret George. I have no idea how this one could have escaped my earlier attention. It's wonderful - and the narrator (I use Audible) is perfect for it.

    4.           My next audio book will be "The Thrall's Tale" by Judith Lindberg. This one was recommended to me by a friend and it sounds great. Thanks Karen!

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

                                                                                         Yep! That's 5 stars!

    Who doesn't love cupcakes? I am about as far away from being a 'Martha' as far can get. Granted, I would love to be more organized and, if I had more space, I probably would be. One thing that Martha always does, however, is put out a wonderful cookbook!  I love this cupcake cookbook. There is something for everyone within it's pages from simple to super cute and fussy. I was happy to find this at our wonderful local library and can highly recommend this great  cupcake compendium! Sorry about the photos. I took them outside in as much light as possible - but there was not much on this rainy day!

    This is going to be the first thing I make from this book! I love Boston cream Pie!


    Now this is what I call fussy.
    Although I think making cupcakes that look as cute as this is cool
    I can't imagine spending the time to do this !

    These are almost wnough to make me want to go and get a baker's torch
    hummm that would be good for creme caramel too wouldn't it ?!!

    This is another favorite cupcake cookbook!
    I have repeatedly taken it out of the library -
    enough times that I really should break down and buy it one of these days!

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Review: "The Lie: A Novel" by Fredrica Wagman

                                                                    *   *   *   (three out of 5 stars)

    First I would like to welcome everyone to my latest blog which will be devoted entirely to books. I will be reviewing all sorts of books here &I  hope that I will offer will be something to please everyone. Please consider following me here on Books By The Willow Tree.

    My first review on my new blog is for "The Lie:A Novel" by Fredrica Wagman. I chose it because it is a book that I have been meaning to review for some time and felt that I owed it to the author and the publisher to finally review the book .

    I did not know what, exactly, I was expecting when I began reading this book but it was, surely not what I found. This book is 214 pages that recount the psychology of a girl/woman & her journey to self. Growing up with the mind set of the 50's, the books protagonist, Ramona, takes us through her life; a life in which she finds a myriad of heart break and bewilderment; loss & sorrow. From the abusive home in which Ramona grows up - the daughter of an abusive father and a narcissistic mother - to the sorrows of marriage to ' the most understanding of men ' - we view Ramona's struggle to survive her deepest pains & sorrows.

    I found this book to be unique for sure. It was dark & a bit disturbing to me. This book can be read as a metaphor for some of the struggles that women, in general, face. I am not certain that this book would be for everyone but I will say that it provides you with a lot to think about. I believe that Ms. Wagman has real talent for getting to the pith of matters and that she relates her take on things in a most unusual, beautifully written, way.