Sunday, January 30, 2011

100 Cross Stitch Patterns by Jane Greenoff

After Christmas in the long days of winter I always get the yen to do some stitching, sewing, crocheting, or knitting. My crocheting and knitting skills are limited as I have never made it past the scarf stage. Cross stitch and embroidery are a little more easy for me to do.
Working at the library I often see books come across the desk on these subjects and I love to take them home and at least look at all the fun and colorful projects afforded by different authors and companies. Some books are truly beautiful and show real works of skill, artistry, and craftsmanship.
This book on cross stitch offered simple motifs and alphabets that could easily be incorporated into bookmarks, so I stitched up 2 bookmarks. I stitched one bookmark with the letters of my sister's name and will send it to her in Arizona with a Valentine's Day card. The other one is for my daughter's boyfriend who is going into the Navy soon. I am thinking about doing a couple of other simple things because I like the bees, the flowers, and the cottages. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a project that can be finished in a day or two.

Make It Wild! 101 Things to Make and Do Outdoors

Here we have a book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield that explores what you can do with raw materials - snow, leaves, sticks, rocks, sand, etc. Although it was written to be used with children I think many adults would enjoy these activities as well, especially if you are a nature lover who enjoys creation.
Some of the projects are simple and just for play while others are more complicated and long lasting. I was particularly interested in the winter projects since it is winter right now. One of the projects I actually completed is on page 40 (Outdoor Ice Lanterns). Simply made with 2 containers with water between the layers and then frozen. Take the ice out of the containers and put a lighted tea candle in the middle. It makes a pretty centerpiece for a special dinner. I thought I would repeat this idea for dinner on Valentine's Day using a crystal rose tray for the ice candle holders. Red candles will add just the right amount of festivity.
I also thought the paper making looked interesting, as well as the rock and leaf projects - these will have to hold off until warmer weather.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Sing Them Home is a lovely, lyrical novel set in the small Nebraska town of Emlyn Springs. At the opening of the novel, Llewellyn Jones is struck by lightning and dies. We then learn the stories of his long-time mistress, Viney, his three children (Larken, Gaelen and Bonnie), and his wife (Hope) who was lost to a tornado long ago. The story of the town is revealed as well, and its rich Welsh cultural and historical ties. It's a long novel, but well worth the time because of beautiful writing, quirky and complex characters, and the portrait of small town life. Sing Them Home is the 2011 All Iowa Reads selection.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz

When a 14 year old boy kills his family in a fashion that eerily echoes the style of an earlier serial killer, Detective John Calvino fears for his own family. This book has lots of likable characters, a truly creepy villain, a fast-paced plot, and a touch of the supernatural. It's classic Koontz!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

Before getting too far into this post, I should warn you. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. My father gave me a used copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes when I was 12 years old and I've been hooked ever since. So this new fiction book by Graham Moore was right up my alley.

The Sherlockian follows two plotlines and alternates between the two every chapter. The first plotline follows Sir Arthur Conan Doyle beginning in 1893 and ending in 1900 as he assists Scotland Yard in an investigation of the murder of a young woman killed in a bathtub. The second plotline is set in the present day and follows Harold White. Harold is a newly inducted member of the Baker Street Irregulars, a Sherlockian secret society. Harold is hot on the trail of a volume of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's diary, which has been missing since his death. The search leads him from New York to London and then all over Europe in company with the beautiful but secretive reporter, Sarah.

This book explores the nature of fame and asks the question: Can the answers to the great mysteries of life ever be as satisfying as the mysteries themselves?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although the change in perspectives was frustrating at times. If you love a good mystery and are a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and/or his alter ego Sherlock Holmes, I'm sure you will enjoy it too.

Plain Truth By Jodi Picoult

If you don't normally read Jodi Piccoult but enjoy stories about the Amish I found this to be a fascinating read. It was very easy to identify with the main characters and the story made me wonder what I would do if I was confronted with the issues they faced. Part mystery, part love story you realize that often issues aren't black and white but can be grey. A hidden pregnancy, a dead baby and a defense lawyer with issues of her own set the stage for a good read with a surprise at the end.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Faithful Place by Tana French

As with French's first two Dublin Murder Squad mysteries, In the Woods and The Likeness, I was hooked by Faithful Place right from the beginning. The story focuses on undercover detective Frank Mackey (a secondary character in The Likeness), who is drawn back to his childhood home and dysfunctional family by the discovery of some disturbing evidence related to the mysterious disappearance of Frank's girlfriend Rosie Daly twenty-two years earlier. He never knew what really happened to Rosie on the night that the two of them were planning to run away together. Frank is driven to find the answers, even if it means becoming entangled again in the toxic dynamics of the family he left behind. French is a creative storyteller, and her riveting dialogue and plot twists kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end of Faithful Place.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks was a romantic thriller that kept the readers engaged through out the book. This was a very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the suspense of this novel. The book took place in the south. It was about a woman who was trying to escape an abusive relationship. It goes into what she had to do to get away from her husband who was a policeman in a neighboring community. She had to make a very detailed plan and completely change her identity to be able to escape from him. The book took her to a small town in the middle of nowhere. The main character "Katie" as she was now known lived a quite life in isolation with the exception of a very friendly neighbour named Jo. Then Katie meets a widower with 2 small children. The book takes the reader through the development of their relationship and how she finally opens up enough to trust someone again. Until her abusive husband finds her and the story takes some unexpected turns.

Monday, January 3, 2011

On Christmas Eve by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer

This is a pleasant read anytime of the year. Charlie and Lucy take in a rebellious runaway girl despite Charlie's disapproval. She is sick and Lucy cares for her helping her get better physically but also helping her emotionally. She tries to give her a real family.

Betty is alone but meets a special Santa and helps him do a lot of good in the community. She also meets a successful doctor who is very interested in her and she feels pushed to have a serious relationship with him. She is still hurting from her past divorce and wants to make amends with her son. It is a busy time of year catering Christmas parties and trying to figure out her life.

I've read all of the books set in this town of Cape Light. Different families are focused in different books but many of the characters are tied together in each book making it fun to revisit them.

The Brave by Nicholas Evans

The Brave spans around 50 years time. It switches back and forth between the past and what is happening in the present. Tommy Bedford is sent to a strict English boarding school and has a difficult time there. He is removed by his sister, Diane, who turns out to be his real mother. He and his mother end up in Hollywood as she pursues a movie star career. She becomes involved with Ray, an actor in a western show. Tom has always adored "cowboys and Indians". The relationship between Diane and Ray turns rocky. A shocking act of violence occurs that changes their lives. Many years later Tom's son is accused of murder in Iraq. Events from the past resurface. Father and son reconnect. It is a story of guilt, torment, and struggles. Some of the events and characters in this book were not always believable to me. I still enjoyed this book but preferred other books I have read by this author.