Book Review: The 9 Ghosts of Samen’s Bane – Fast Paced Fright

The 9 Ghosts of Samen’s Bane

By D. A. Schneider

Mild mannered Adrian Dillard decides to join a venture to revitalize passenger train travel at the suggestion of a good friend and entrepreneur. Everything seems to be going well until a tragically fateful night leaves over a hundred people dead and Adrian becomes a vessel for 9 young ghosts. The dead kids have a mission to complete, but need the help of a person who is still alive to carry it out. Adrian is hesitant and afraid, but he is more afraid of what the spirits that inhabit his body will do to his pregnant wife and young son if he does not do what they ask.

They come to him in dreams at first, but soon they manifest themselves to explain how they need Adrian to vanquish their evil enemy – Samen. Appalled at the thought that he has to play a part in an epic battle of good and evil, Adrian resists. He defends his reluctance by reminding the 9 that he is a mere mortal, unequipped for a showdown with the devil. They quickly assure him that they each have supernatural powers that they can teach him use to vanquish their enemy. Even though he is scared silly, he has to try. So begins his transformation from dad to demon hunter.

This is not your classic story of good and evil. First of all, kids are in charge of the plan to eliminate Samen. Granted they have super powers, but they are still unruly children at times. Adrian is the perfect choice to go from zero to hero because he has a lot at stake. Unfortunately, his reluctance and gentle nature make him an unlikely savior. The deeper he gets involved with the 9, the more questions he has. His intuition is telling him that they are hiding something from him. Little things begin to not add up, especially when he does a little investigating on his own. Will this get him killed? He doesn’t know, but what will happen to the world if he doesn’t at least try?

The 9 Ghosts of Samen’s Bane is fast-paced, unpredictable and an absolute hoot to read. Of course, there are dead people milling about, and there is a force that is trying to end mankind.  There is also humor in the juxtaposition of Adrian battling with dead people during the night and going Christmas shopping at the mall with his family.

If you are a fan of Christopher Moore, you will love this book. This is the first book I have read by Schneider, but will not be the last. Luckily, he is a prolific writer, so he has a list of books just waiting for me – and you – to discover.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Christmas Ornaments to Crochet – Create Beautiful Christmas Decor

Christmas Ornaments to Crochet

By Barbara Christopher

Deck your halls by creating these lacy, delicate ornaments for your Christmas tree. You can use them instead of bows on packages or hang them just about anywhere throughout your home to brighten up the season for pennies. You will be able to make a flurry of snowflakes in an afternoon or while you are watching your favorite Christmas movie.

There are step-by-step instructions for each of the patterns. From snowflakes to tiny stockings, each ornament works up quickly. By changing the size of thread you use, the size of the ornament can be adjusted without changing the pattern. The author suggests that the designs look best if they are crocheted tightly, so you may have to go down a size needle to make sure your stitches are tight enough.

Once the ornaments are finished, you will need to starch them to make them stiff enough to use them for decorating. Ms. Christopher explains how to make your own sugar starch, but recommends commercial boilable starch. Don’t let this necessary step deter you from creating these delicate designs. My grandmother made doilies much the same as these ornaments. Having watched her starch and block them in my childhood is a warm and comforting memory, so I honestly cannot wait to crochet and starch some for Christmas this year.

I recommend this book for experienced crocheters only because of the size of the project. If you are a novice, I would suggest that you make a scarf or hat with yarn and a larger hook before using thread and small metal hooks. But don’t let me rain on your parade if you want to jump in with both feet and create some of these beautiful ornaments no matter where your skill level.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

 

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Book Review: Making Christmas Bright With Papercrafts : Inexpensive and Adorable

Making Christmas Bright with Papercrafts

More than 40 Festive Projects

By Alice Hornecke /Dominik Meibner/Sabine Seyffert

Bring Christmas cheer to your home with these beautiful papercrafts. From decorating your home to entertaining guests and gifts for loved ones, Making Christmas Bright with Papercrafts. A little bit origami and a little bit of stencil work along with craft paper, scissors and glue you will be ready to dive in to create over 40 craft projects.

The designs are different levels. You can fold an adorable Christmas tree from plain green napkins for your holiday table for pennies. Maybe you would like to create pretty packages to hold yummy Christmas cookies out of craft or corrugated paper.

Christmas on a budget is easily achieved by creating decorations, gifts and advent calendars. Make your own Christmas cards, bows for gifts and wreaths. Because there are over 40 projects, there is something for everyone at every skill level. Many of the projects can be completed by children with help from an adult or older child.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Christmas Cats – The Purr-fect Christmas Gift

Christmas Cats

More than 40 Festive Projects

By Marjorie Sarnat

Christmas and cats go hand in hand. Marjorie Sarnat has created 31 beautifully intricate designs for you to color. Bring the Christmas spirit into your home by coloring these amusing and adorable Christmas designs.

There is an adorable pair of cats ice skating on a starry night and a tangle of little kittens on a page of lost mittens. Kissing cats under the mistletoe and cats with teddy bears, a cat that cooks and caroling cats are waiting to become the one you choose to color first.

The designs are complex with many small areas. I suggest adults or older children with the dexterity and patience to color the small spaces are best suited for Christmas Cats. Perhaps you have a cat lover on your Christmas list that this book would be purr-fect for. I know I do!

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Quiet Screams to the Quiet Healer – Fascinating Debut Novel

Quiet Screams to the Quiet Healer

By Nilanjana Haldar

This is the story of Sanjana, told from her point of view. She grows from a frightened school girl listening to her father abuse her mother to a confident young woman. Now a doctor, she becomes part of a secret society formed to heal and help others being abused, as well as those with mental health problems, bolstering them by sharing her strength and experiences.

Her journey begins like many others living with daily abuse, but brings a bright ray of hope that life can and will change if you take steps to do so. She discovers there is forgiveness in cleansing, which changes her life as well as many others.

Her life intertwines with a mysterious man that seems to be available to help whenever she is in need, but disappears from her life as soon as she is safe. Other connections and some mystical events by seemingly ordinary people will intrigue the reader until the very last pages when all is explained.

The novel is set in India and it has a different cadence than most books written in English. But that being said, it is not difficult to read, nor is it confusing. I liken it to speaking to someone who knows English perfectly as a second language and often adds bits of their native tongue into the dialog. I have a dear friend from Pakistan whose voice I heard in my head when some of the characters spoke. I was thoroughly engaged with the plot and characters from start to finish.

Ms. Haldar is a doctor and motivational speaker as well as an author and poet. This is her debut book. The pain both physically and mentally was gripping and unnervingly real for the characters and reader. The underlying story of strength, courage and transformation of the characters to strong, healthy individuals is heartwarming and uplifting. This novel  contains graphic incidences of abuse.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Jane Austen Embroidery – Fascinating History, Beautiful Stitching

Jane Austen Embroidery

Regency Patterns Reimagined for Modern Stitchers

By Jennie Batchelor & Alison Larking

When you hear the name Jane Austen, of course you think of her as the famous author. But Jane Austen Embroidery will add a depth to Ms. Austen that most people are unfamiliar with. Per all accounts she was an accomplished embroiderer and truly took great joy and pride in the beautiful and utilitarian items she stitched. Items she created are currently housed at the Jane Austen’s House Museum, on display for all to see.

The main source for patterns back in Ms. Austen’s time was various women’s magazines. Included in this very book are 15 patterns that appeared in Lady’s Magazine from the 1770’s to 1810. Perhaps Jane herself stitched one of them and now you create them as well.

The authors have added a section on tools and resources for traditional embroidery. While it is different from most modern items embroidered, the basic stitches are the same. If you have embroidered before using the counted cross stitch method or a stamped image you should be able to jump right in and begin. Diagrams, pictures and step-by-step instructions will have you stitching in no time.

From start to finish this is a fascinating book about Ms. Austen and one of her favorite past times. It is a given that there are lovely items to create with easy to read tips and directions that will ensure your success. And on a history level, it is truly a fascinating read. I will look at Ms. Austen differently now. She is not just one of the most revered authors of all time, but a skilled embroiderer as well, taking as much pride in her stitches as she did with her words in Pride and Prejudice.  

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Shawls Wraps and Scarves – 21 Elegant & Graceful Hand-Knit Patterns

Shawls Wraps and Scarves

21 Elegant & Graceful Hand-Knit Patterns

By Louisa Harding

Knitting a hand-knit shawl, wrap or scarf is like giving a hug to the lucky person you are making it for every time they wrap it around their shoulders. The patterns in Shawls, Wraps and Scarves have been lovingly been created to highlight stitches, yarns and color. Harding draws upon her photographs and memories to bring these works of art to knitters of all skill levels.

With full page color photos as well as the finished dimensions, type and amount of yarn needed, “needles and notions” and gauge. She also adds notes such as “I suggest using a circular needle” and “I have used markers every 20 stitches because this will help keep track of short row shaping”. As a knitter these comments are highly valued.

If you want a quick and easy shawl, try “Lark’s Alvina”, the pointed castoff elevates a simple shawl to stunning. “Evanthe” has delicate beads worked into the fabric for a bit of unexpected wow. Want to play with colorwork? “Raizel” uses two colors to create a pretty paisley wrap. I honestly could go on, telling you the highlights of each of the 21 patterns, each one beautiful and unique in its own way.

I highly recommend this book for knitters both beginning and seasoned. The instructions are clearly written and easy to follow. Patterns that need them also have charts for you as well as the written instructions. The back of the book has a section with abbreviations and a glossary, general information, yarn information and some information about the author that cannot be missed.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

 

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Book Review: Printmaking – How to Print Anything on Everything

Printmaking

How to Print Anything on Everything

By Christine Medley

Printmaking may not be a hobby you have considered, but this book might just change your mind. The how’s, whys and supplies are clearly outlined. Using beautiful color pictures among the step-by-step instructions will have you starting a new craft that will soon be your favorite.

Beginning by showing the reader the 4 types of printmaking, as well as plate types (blocks, stamps, found objects) your interest will be stirred and creativity will be awakened. On to cutting tools for carving designs and actual printing you will start to imagine the personalized cards, pictures and gifts you will be able to make.

But hold yourself back until you read the chapters on ink, paper, cleanup as well as design and production. I often get excited and want to jump in with both feet, but printmaking does take a bit of precision that is best taken on after reading the entire book before starting. That doesn’t mean you can’t jot down some ideas and notes for when you start.

Printmaking, How to Print Anything on Everything, is written for adults, not children. The tools needed as well as the various inks and precision needed requires adult supervision at the least if you choose to have your children help.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Big Book of Balloon Art – Learn From a Master!

The Big Book of Balloon Art

More Than 100 Fun Sculptures

By Gerry Giovinco (aka Captain Visual)

Balloon animals fascinate adults and children alike. For a few dollars, you can create a zoo of colorful animals, hats, magic wands and even a little red wagon. Gerry Giovinco shares his knowledge and craft so that you can wow everyone with your balloon art.

From the type of balloons, to blowing them up properly (the amount of air is super important to the final product) and learning the all-important twists, Giovinco gives us clear written instructions with diagrams. When you get to chapter five and beyond, you will be making a colorful menagerie of critters and several popular hats.

Each pattern has written instructions and diagrams to ensure your success. While most of the designs are a bit complicated for children, there are a few that they can easily master. The cobra just needs a twist and a couple of bubbles and a headband is one easy twist.

A big bag of balloons is only a few dollars, and you will have hours of fun creating balloon art for friends, family and maybe even a few strangers that see your creations and want one for their children. I recommend this book for adults and children, with adult supervision and assistance for younger kids.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Easy Aircraft Origami

Easy Aircraft Origami

By Jayson Merrill

Jayson Merrill is back with his fifth origami book, Easy Aircraft. This origami master’s latest book contains 14 awesome projects. Each one will soar into the sky, taking flight after creation.

Step-by-step, clear and concise instructions are included for each of the aircrafts. Symbols and signs such as the different kinds of lines and arrows used in the instructions as well as the procedures for proper folds are clearly taught. Using detailed drawings to demonstrate each fold, you will be completing your aircraft with confidence and ease.

From the Hawker (16 steps) to the Mourningstar (39 steps) and the 12 aircraft between them, you will enjoy creating and flying each of them. It is a great way to engage your child. Taking them to a park or the backyard, you will have countless hours of fun together.

I recommend this book for adults or teens. As previously stated, your youngsters will enjoy the finished aircraft, but the precision needed for success is better left to adults.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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