Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The Wild Rose" by Jennifer Donnelly

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  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401301040
This is a book worth waiting a little for. I've been a fan of Jennifer Donnelly's book for some time and was pleased to be given an opportunity to read "The Wild Rose" early. The plot begins as the 19th century was drawing to a close and the chaos of World War I was just beginning. It's a love story as well as a cautionary history lesson. Thanks to historical fiction I have become interested in this period of history - which in the past had never held much interest for me. It truly was a Golden Age before the war split Europe apart and wreaked so much havoc in the lives of so many millions of people. So may lives were lost, so many dreams shattered.

"The Wild Rose" is a very well written book that is replete with intricate sub-plots and complex, well crafted, characters whose relationships cross and re-cross each other....all seamlessly presented and extremely readable.

The book follows the lives of a group of relatively upper crust Londoner's and the places that are highlighted in the book are Britain, France and the sands of Arabia. Some famous people are portrayed including Willa Alden who is based on the famous heroine, "Desert Queen", Gertrude Bell. Spotlighted is Willa's relationship with Lawrence of Arabia and her love of Seamus Finnegan. Willa is portrayed as a strong minded, self directed and thoroughly un-Victorian female while Seamus Finnegan (Seamie) is part of a well know British family who shares a love for mountainous adventures. Their love that was passionate, complicated, and star crossed. It would take pages to simply describe the complicated relationship that they shared.

Although there are many pages in this book I found that it read quickly. I was fascinated by Ms. Donnely's careful research that allowed her portrayal of historically correct glimpses of the fashions, mind set, morals, entertainments, foods and adventures of the time. This book is rife with well fleshed characters, intertwined relationships, excellent adventures and a solid taste for the historical importance of this amazing period of history - the sunset of the Golden Age and the beginning of the world's introduction to the real horrors of modern warfare.

note: this book was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of any honest review. No other remuneration was received.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Signature Styles Twenty Stitchers Craft Their Look" by Jenny Doh

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  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Lark Crafts (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600597916
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches
Jenny Doh and Lark books have another hit on their hands. "Signature Styles" will appeal to crafters and stitchers alike. Each spotlighted artist has a distinct style and all are bound to bring a smile to your face. I found a person who revels in one of my favorite colors (aside from gold-green I mean) orange! The projects in this book are sure to please; there's whimsical felt owls from Elsie Flannigan, a lettuce edged re-purposed sweater from Betz White (who seems to like orange),  fresh, colorful country feel goodies from Serena Thompson, vintage-y lacey, feminine, wonderful fripperies from Bonzie & Ger and Sandy Stone's colorful re-purposing (the carafes full of fun buttons) is just a smattering of the fun you'll find in this new book from Jenny Doh and Lark.
The spot lighted artists
As with all books that Lark publishes the directions for the projects are well written, superbly illustrated and easy to follow. Each project includes a list of what you'll need to complete the project and, where needed, templates are included in the back of the book. Each featured artist has a page of their own with a photograph of them in their art making space, a list of what the essence of their style is, notes about what things they "can't live without" and hints about where they find the fun things that they include in their art.
Jenny Doh is a powerhouse of creativity.In my opinion she created the publishing phenomenon that is Stampington and, since leaving their she has spread her wings and really gone to  even more success with the fabulous website You can;t help but admire her passion for art of all sorts. She's encouraging and whimsical and just an all around amazing woman. Grab yourself a copy of this book (I've never been able to understand how Lark puts out such quality for such reasonable prices!), sit back and prepare to enjoy!

I love this idea of using vintage carafes to store fun things like colorful buttons!  

Note; this book was provided to me by the publisher for the sole purpose of an honest review. No other remuneration was received.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"A Discovery Of Witches" by Deborah Harkness

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  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022410
I've seen mixed reviews of this book and was curious about it. I don't often feel a sense of sadness when a book ends - but I did when this one ended. I loved this book! It's a creative, imaginative, fantastical work of fiction.

The book depicts world that is populated by humans, vampires, witches and demons.  A academic witch who has turned her back on her familial (descendants of Salem, Massachusetts witches) witching powers becomes acquainted with a vampire in the Bodleian library at Oxford. He's a fascinating, handsome professor who has, among many, a good Scottish friend named Hamish - who's a demon. Witch and vampire fall for each in a big way - a big "no-no" in the world of 'creatures'. This forbidden love triggers the fury of the 'council' and, in a facile twist of prose, brings together an odd assortment of 3 witches, 3 vampire and 3 demons...all of whom make for a sub council dedicated to true love for all. The reluctant witch must learn to use her ancestral powers in order to survive the wrath that her romance has unleashed.

I can see where some readers might not be able to enjoy this book because they find the whole story implausible. It is, of course, implausible. Fiction is, almost by definition, generally, implausible. I read this book and thought of it not only as a truly imaginative work of fiction but also as allegorical ; where some loves are still considered taboo  and where we still think that some sorts of people are blood suckers, demonic or spell casters. What I wanted from this book was entertainment - and I got that in spades. It's rollicking tale of love, sorcery and the coming together of all creatures in a common desire for good. What I don't understand is how a reader would not at least appreciate this book as the well crafted, thoroughly imaginative tale that it is. I think of it almost as a fairy tale for grown ups. A unisex fairy tale.

I liked this book so much that I also listened to the audible version - which makes the story all that much more enjoyable. It's perfectly narrated by the talented Jennifer Ikeda. Rumor has it that this will be a trilogy and I simply can't wait for the sequel to be in my hands.

This book is a love story and rollicking romp into the mind of a gifted writer. This book needs to become a movie. It would be fantastic!  Okay - I've had my rave and will go back to my perusals.

I bought this book as well as the audible book.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Masters: Book Arts" Curated by Eileen Wallace

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  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Lark Crafts (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600594977
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 1.2 inches
I must admit to being somewhat addicted to Lark's "Masters" series. I love the format, you can;t top the photography and the inspiration gained for a relatively small cost is priceless. Ever since art journaling has taken a larger part of my time I have been smitten with the idea of making journals and books. No. I haven't tried it yet because I am in the process of trying to figure out what addictions ( reading, painting, journaling, fountain pens, painting etc etc) to keep and which, if any, I can let others master allowing me to be an enthusiastic, happy consumer of  the fruits of their efforts.
"Masters: Book Arts" includes some utterly amazing works of art. Things that I would never begin to think about - let alone consider creating. Do you love books? Journals? Calligraphy? Inspired creativity? Then this is a book that will bring you a lot of pleasure. It's truly a feast for the eyes - beautifully curated, spectacular photography and another hit for the "Masters' series!
Enjoy these photos taken from the book !

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Have You Ever Bought A Book Twice - Or Wondered If You Already Owned A Book ?

I haunt bookstores and book sellers on line. I am, and always have been, a bibliophile. There have been times when I walked the aisles of a book store and happily snapped up a copy of a book that sound just so good that I had to have it - only to discover that I already owned it. Now, if you love in an area that allows you to return or exchange the book that is not so much of a problem - just perhaps a small irritation. Then again having to go back to a book store seems like a good thing to me ! When you lie far away from any stores though - having a second copy of a  book can prove to be more frustrating.

I have wanted to be able to catalog  the books in my ever expanding library - but the thought and tediousness of the work seemed overwhelming to me - and of course I always figured that I had better things to do with my time that meticulously catalog my books manually. Enter the new age of scanners. There is a system of cataloging your books using a scanner. I found one program but it was $49.99 - plus you had to have a scanner and some additional software. Too rich for my pocket!

Enter Book Crawler. It is a nifty app that allows you to scan, sort and catalog your personal library.  Chiisai is the app developer and you can find them at their website (highlighted link) or at the app store for all of $1.99. It works in conjunction with a free app call Pic2Shop. You scan in the bar code from your book and voila! You can create genres for your collection and sort in a number of ways. I am beginning by scanning in several - a dozen or so - at a time. Next will probably go shelf by shelf. My cataloging concern was answered in a low cost, easy and very effective way. Love this app !

no affiliation etc etc .. I am just happy to have found this little gem of an app