Monthly Archives: February 2019

Book Review: Art Studio Secrets – Unlock Your Creativity

Art Studio Secrets

By: Majorie Sarnat

How are you creative? Before you say to yourself you are not an artist or creative, think again, outside the box this time. What is your medium? Mine is words and yarn, because writing and knitting allows me to express myself. So, back to you – are you a gardener, baker or woodworker? Then you are an artist. Would you like to become better at what you do or create paintings, sculptures and other works of art? Lucky for us New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Sarnat has compiled over 300 tips and tricks to help you develop your skills as an artist, using many different mediums.

Art Studio Secrets inspires and informs the readers in an easy to read format. While most of the information in the book is aimed at adults, here are some tips that are appropriate children. Each kid-friendly tip is marked as such. You and your budding artist will enjoy spending time with each other. Creativity always trumps electronics. One of my favorite kid tips is using a plastic ice cube tray to hold acrylic paints. This cuts down on messes, keeps the colors separate and can be covered so the paint can be used again within a few days.

Each tip is a paragraph or two in length and organized in chapters for your convenience. All are titled to catch your eye. Such as “Size Matters”, “It’s Good to be Negative” and “Make Things Look Shiny”.  Just reading though the tips you will become excited to put paint to paper or pull out a pencil and sketch.

While reading Art Studio Secrets, I found out that dating back to the 1600’s artists created trading cards. Meant to be given away and not sold, they are the size of baseball cards. In the 1990’s Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) began creating cards that are signed, dated original mini works of art. Ms. Sarnat suggests creating them with your kids to use as Christmas tree decorations. Giving them as gifts would delight grandparents. They would also make the perfect Christmas gift tag that can be cherished by the recipient instead of tossed out with the wrappings.

Even if creating something inspired by this amazing art book is just a few minutes of relaxation for you, never to be seen by anyone else that is okay. I firmly believe that art feeds your soul no matter what medium you choose and it doesn’t matter if it is just for you or to be shared with others. Ms. Sarnat will enlighten and inspire you with ideas and information. Wake up the artist that lives within you and your children by reading this book.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting – Fun for Experienced and New Knitters

Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting

By Ella Austin

New and seasoned knitters will enjoy the patterns and techniques in Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting. Basic patterns are included for items such as a scarf, socks, hat and reversible cowl. The key to this informative book is how to work with color and master new techniques to create beautiful knit items.

My favorite part of this book is the depth in which the author goes to ensure success with colors. If you have ever knitted with two colors that are both beautiful, yet find the finished product not pleasing to your eye, Ms. Austin gives you the tools to create the color combos you are searching for. To start, look for things in nature, art, food or honestly anything that catches your eye. I don’t know anyone that likes to swatch, but swatch the colors together and see if they are pleasing to your eye.

Easy to read info regarding hue, value, saturation will make you look at your yarn in a different light. Tidbits of information will help you create the knitted fabric you are picturing. My favorite is to take a black and white photo of your two colors to see if the combination has enough contrast to make the pattern pop. It is easy to do with your smart phone. Most of them have the option of turning your photo to black and white. On my Samsung, I just take a picture, go to edit, and then click on the icon on the bottom that shows three connected circles. It will then change the colors of the picture across the bottom of the screen and one of them is black and white. If your colors bleed into each other making it all look the same, you may want to try another swatch.

All of the patterns are written out and charted so no matter which you prefer to use, the author has you covered. The tutorials on what could be confusing instructions in other publications are perfectly clear and easy to follow. Pictures are included as well as step by step instructions to ensure your success. It is always beneficial for me to see an actual picture instead of a drawing when learning a new technique or in the tricky part of a pattern. The patterns are great, but the star of this book is colorwork and the color techniques you will learn.

Adding the new dimension of color to your knitting will make it pop in ways you may not have imagined. A simple or difficult pattern will transform with the colors you use. Armed with the information in Beginner’s Guide to Colorwork Knitting you will be creating works of art with your needles and yarn.

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

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman.

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Book Review: Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship – Making School and Experiments Fun

Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship

By Cynthia Platt

Illustrations by Rea Zhai

Parker Bell is super excited. Today is going to be the biggest science announcement at school ever. She loves everything about science and cannot wait to grow up to be a famous scientist like one of her science heroes. Jane Goodall, famous for her work with gorillas and Mae Jamison, the amazing astronaut are her two favorites. She has pictures of them in her bedroom, which doubles as her Mad Science Lab. She loves making things like the automatic feeder for her guinea pig, Algebra. But sometimes gets in trouble with her experiments. One time she took the toaster apart to see how it worked and couldn’t put it back together.

Soon the best day ever turned sour from the start. Why is Theo sitting in her seat on the bus instead of her best friend Cassie? She hasn’t liked Theo since he messed up an experiment in class with her and she got the lowest points ever. The science announcement doesn’t happen until the very end of the school day. And then, they announce that three kids have to be on a team for the Science Triathlon instead of two. Why can’t it be just her and Cassie, they would crush it. But now what will happen now that Cassie adds Theo to the team without even asking her?

The three children will have to get along to win this competition, but Theo will hardly speak to Parker. Strangely, he talks to Cassie all the time. Is Parker going to lose her best friend? She is determined to not only win the Triathlon, but also run a side experiment to see if she can become a better friend with Theo in the process.

This chapter book has great ideas and lessons for grade school kids. It encourages science, friendship and learning. The examples of great scientists such as Goodall and Jamison will spark further interest and discussions with your child. There are nods to sharing, not always coming in first as well as recycling. Youngsters will also enjoy the guinea pig and chicken facts. The overall information at just the right level for a chapter book is perfect.

I hope Ms. Platt plans to bring back Parker and her friends. A new series starring these characters would delight me as well as countless kids and the adults that care about them.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman.

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Book Review & Giveaway! Make in a Day Wedding Crafts

Make in a Day Wedding Crafts

By: Natalie Wright

Weddings these days can cost as much as our first house. I’ll admit that house was purchased in 1977, but wouldn’t you like to spend less money on your decorations and use that savings for your honeymoon? Natalie Wright has created cute, budget friendly wedding crafts to make your special wedding day perfect.

From place cards to centerpieces she has you covered. The complete, detailed instructions for each and every one of the 15 projects are included. Lists of materials, pictures and written instructions of each step as well as beautiful color photos of the finished items are included.

If you don’t have a wedding coming up in your family, look outside the box. This book will give you great ideas for birthday parties and other celebrations. You are only limited by your imagination. For example, the Glitter Sneakers are destined to be a hit with your daughter! Easy to make with four items, this craft would be a huge hit during a sleepover. Just have the girls bring a new pair of white canvas sneakers, you provide the craft glue and glitter and each of them can create something they will all love. As a mom, I would do this craft outside because we all know that glitter seems to magically multiply when used in the house.

My favorite craft in the book is the Wood Lantern. You can make it rustic or chic, depending upon your décor. There are two sizes so they could be used as centerpieces or decorations. Personalized by the stain or paint you choose as well as filling them with candles, fresh flowers or potted plants. They will fit beautifully in your wedding or party. The best thing about them is that they will be used after the festivities on your deck, porch or inside your home to remind you of your special day.

Dover Publications has graciously sent me a giveaway copy of this book. All you have to do is like this post, retweet or share to be in the drawing to win. The winner will be announced on my blog writeknit.wordpress.com March 5, 2019.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Impostor – Find and Color Activity Book – Fun for All Ages

Find & Color – The Impostor Activity Book

By: Diana Zourelias

This fun activity book makes me want to sing one of my kid’s favorite Sesame Street Songs – “One of These Things is Not Like the Other”.  The bonus is, this book is challenging enough to be enjoyed by adults and easy enough to be loved by children. It takes the adult coloring book rage to a new level by adding the challenge of finding the one picture on each page that is a little bit different from the rest. And kids have been doing this with Sesame Street for ages.

The detailed pictures are whimsical and fun. Coloring them will give children and adults many relaxing hours coloring them either all alike or each differently. Finding the one different picture either before or after coloring can change the difficulty of the task.

Each page has three to twelve images that seem identical but one is an impostor. The first half of the book is based on fairy tales such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and The Princess and the Pea. The second half of the book is titled “Awesome Animals”. Here you can find fun furry friends doing crazy things like a kiwi bird eating kiwi fruit, platypuses dancing and zebras playing checkers. Each unique page is detailed and fun.

Young and old will enjoy coloring the pictures and finding The Impostor. Grab your colored pencils or crayons and spend a little down time from TV and other electronics. This book would make a long car ride seem much shorter and a boring plane ride smooth sailing for kids and adults. I suggest surprising your kids with a new box of crayons and The Impostor Activity Book on your next trip. It will make travel fun and more relaxing for you and your 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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Foiled – Kid’s Action and Adventure Book Not to be Missed

Foiled

By Carey Fessler

Best friends cannot keep secrets from each other. That is why Billy has to show Kate, his next door neighbor and bestie what his dad brought him home from work. Kate is interested, but she is in trouble for not doing her chores and has to wait until later to see it. When she finally gets to see the pieces of foil Billy has, she is amazed that it flattens out by itself when either of them crumple it up. Billy’s dad is in the military, and swears Billy to secrecy because he wasn’t supposed to bring the foil home with him.

Little did they know those tiny pieces of foil would lead them on a wild adventure. They have to escape capture from an agent with the CIA, drive cars and fly an airplane. Will they ever be reunited with their families? Will the CIA agent catch them and take away the magic foil? Are there aliens involved?  There are so many questions, and all of them are answered in due time in this action filled story that will have kids and grownups cheering for the good guys and happy with the ending.

Foiled is set in the late 1940’s near Roswell, New Mexico. It is based on facts and spiced up with fiction. As a kid, I remember them talking about Roswell, the UFO and the aliens that everyone speculated had landed in the 40’s. It was still a mystery when I was a kid in the 1960’s. Today, it is still a mystery of sorts and the author explains the true facts she includes in her story and the things that are fiction at the end of the book.

I am far past 9 years old, but thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was interesting and fun to read. The throwback to party line phones, 4 digit phone numbers (yes, I remember my 4 digit number from those days) makes you realize you have traveled back in history. The lack of computers, cell phones, tracking devices and all other things that ruin good action novels these days are not included because they did not exist.

Per Ms. Fessler’s website, her books are action adventure books for children 9 and older. It is fabulous that she puts an approximate age range as a guide for parents and others who love and buy books for the young people in their lives. It makes it so much easier to choose a great book that the kids will enjoy.

This is Carey Fessler’s fourth book, but the first that I’ve read. I highly recommend it for the youngsters in your lives (be sure to borrow it after they are done).  Just imagine the great conversations you can have about history and what the world was like when you were growing up after you have both read it.

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

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman.

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Book Review: Little Darlings – Haunting Psychological Thriller

Little Darlings

By Melanie Golding

Lauren Tranter is in the maternity ward giving birth to her twin sons. No one told her it would be this difficult; in fact, things went so badly the doctor literally has to pull them from her body with forceps. Both boys are declared healthy. If wanting to be fed constantly and crying insistently is perfectly normal for babies, than Morgan and Riley were, by all accounts normal.

Lauren is exhausted and her husband Patrick is not much help. Due to the difficult birth, she needs to stay longer than other mothers. Sharing a room with several other new moms, she could hear the other mothers bonding with their newborns. All she felt was tired. No sleep and constant feedings has exhausted her. Night time was the worst. One night Lauren hears a woman singing behind the curtain that hides the bed next to her. She also hears what sounds like two babies. Thinking the woman had twins just like her. Lauren got up and was shocked to see a filthy woman with two bedraggled babies in a basket on the floor. The woman tries to make a deal with Lauren to trade one of her babies for one of the woman’s. Hysterical, Lauren locks herself in the bathroom and calls the police.

Everyone, including her husband, thinks Lauren is having mental issues. No one has seen or heard the woman except her. She tries to keep the boys near her and safe, but one slip begins her worst nightmare. Morgan and Riley have been replaced with the old woman’s twins and no one else can see that the two boys are not hers. She will do anything to get them back, but what will it cost her? Her only ally may be DS Joanna Harper, who just can’t leave the case alone, even though her supervisor tells her to stop pursuing the ramblings of a woman who is clearly gone off the deep end.

This is the best psychological thriller I have read in ages. Ms. Golding knows how to keep readers up late at night reading just one more chapter until the wee hours. The depth of characters makes you feel like you know them. Is poor Lauren really delusional or is she right and something evil found her and won’t let go?

Little Darlings is Melanie Golding’s first novel. The perfect plot with interestingly true to life characters makes this a novel you won’t soon forget. If you are a fan of Dean Koontz, you will love this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Bookish and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

 

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