Monthly Archives: March 2019

Book Review: Beautiful Press-Out Butterflies – Taking Paper Airplanes to a New Level

Beautiful Press-Out Flying Butterflies

By: Richard Merrill

Beautiful Press-out Flying Butterflies takes paper airplanes to a whole new level. By following the simple instructions on the first page, you and your child can create a squadron of brightly colored, detailed butterflies. Each of them has information as to where in the world that particular butterfly lives as well as interesting facts.

Not all butterflies eat the same nectar. For example, the Julia butterfly can be found from Brazil to Texas and Florida but in the summer migrates to Nebraska. It usually eats nectar from the Lantana flowers, but also alights on caiman’s heads (relatives of crocodiles) irritates the caiman’s eyes with their proboscis then drinks the tears. That is one brave butterfly!

Each page will teach your child about butterflies. Then with a few simple folds and a coin (to help balance your butterfly when it soars, your child will spend countless hours flying them indoors and outside.

Merrill dedicates his book to his late grandfather, Dr. A. I. Good, who was an avid lepidopterist (butterfly expert). Thanks to Dr. Good’s inspiration, we can all learn about and enjoy butterflies with this enchanting 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: Milk Soaps – Make Your Own Luscious Soaps

Milk Soaps

By Ann-Marie Faiola

Soap making has been around for years. My grandma used to make it out of lye and ashes and dad always complained it did the job but it wasn’t necessarily easy on your hands. Store bought soap used to be a luxury. Now we purchase soaps in many different colors, shapes and scents from stores, but I prefer handmade soaps. Local artists create wonderful soaps, many of them unique with colors and ingredients that smell fabulous. They are often pricy and there is a reason for this. There is a lot of work that goes into making your own soap, but if you read Milk Soaps, you will have step by step instructions to help you succeed if you would like to give it a try.

A balance of a high-pH substance such as lye or sodium hydroxide and oil will make soap. But the process is not quite that easy. A “carrier liquid” is needed, most of the time water is used, but true to the book’s title, the recipes in this book will use milk. You can use any kind of milk. I loved the chapter on the different types. Most memorable are camel and make your own nut, grain and seed milks. There are special techniques for working with milks in soap, one of them outlines how to use frozen milk.

Why does the author use milk instead of water? It is all about the lather. With milk soap, the lather is creamier and the foam is finer and silkier. Milk is a natural moisturizer to soothe and soften your skin.

Ms. Faiola includes 35 skin-nourishing recipes. She gives the reader detailed lists of items needed as well as how to safely use lye. It is an extremely caustic substance and should always be used with the proper safety equipment and attire. Dressing like a lab scientist not only looks cool, but keeps you safe from getting lye on your skin or in your eyes.

Making soap is complicated. Milk Soaps gives you all of the written instructions, tips and tricks to create your own fabulous soap. It is interesting to read even if you don’t want to make your own soap, it will give you information that you can use to choose the perfect soap from your local artisan or farmer’s market. If you do choose to make your own soap, you may find it is fun and all of your friends and relatives will love helping you try out new scents and color combinations.

After reading this book and seeing the work soap making entails, I understand the reason for the price of handmade soap, and appreciate the work that the soap maker has put into each bar of soap. Soapmaking is truly an art.

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 Reviews: Two New Craft Books to Entertain and Delight

Origami of the Sea

By: Dover Publications

Beginners and those who already love the art of Japanese paper folding will enjoy this book of sea creatures. It begins with the basics. While there are 200 sheets of beautifully colored sheets of origami paper included, there are also guidelines to purchase additional sheets at your local stores. The proper way to fold the paper is also outlined in clear, easy to understand instructions. There are additional pages of techniques that have diagrams to ensure your success no matter what your previous origami experiences have been. There are also video links at the top of each page of instruction to assist you if needed.

Soon you and/or your children will have a sea of creatures created from nothing more than paper and a few folds. My personal favorites are the simple fish. Make a school of them to hang from your child’s ceiling. The boat is simple and colorful and the shark would be fun to play with while imagining undersea adventures.

The only drawback is the pages are loosely bound so that the Origami paper can be easily removed without tearing. That also makes the instructions easily removed. I would suggest either popping the instructions into a Ziploc bag or use a hole punch and yarn to keep them together and prevent them from being misplaced.

Thanks to the following for their contribution to Origami of the Sea. Vanda Battaglia, Pasquale D’Aurai, Francesco Decio, Marc Kirschenbaum and Nick Robinson created the diagrams, videos and text. The beautiful photographs are courtesy of Dario Canova and Nick Robinson.

The Royal Stickers

By: Eileen Rudisill Miller

Children love Princes and Princesses. Disney has assured a steady stream of fairytales that are beloved by all. But real life Princes and Princess are even more fascinating because they are actually real people.

Ms. Miller has created a cute little book of stickers that feature William and Kate and Harry and Meghan. Beautiful wedding gowns and dashing military uniforms as well as tiaras, rings and bouquets.

The Royal Stickers will make a great addition to your children’s Easter Basket. I usually have small books like this tucked away for my grandchildren. It is fun to surprise them with small treasures like 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: The Night Window – Heart Pounding Thriller

The Night Window

By Dean Koontz

Wainwright Hollister is a man who always gets what he wants by whatever means he has to employ. Now he is the ringmaster of sorts for the adjusted people rightly named the Techno Arcadians. After an injection that alters their brains, Hollister can control their actions. They are puppets playing to his grand plan of taking over the United States – then most likely the world.

Jane Hawk has been on his trail since the senseless suicide of her husband at Hollister’s hand. But the stakes are high. She no longer works within the law enforcement community. She had to go rogue since Arcadians have infiltrated all forms of government from local cops to the highest political offices. She is relentlessly searching for a way to stop them before they ruin the country and closer to home, the rest of her family. Jane will do anything to save her son.

In this fifth book of the Jane Hawk series, she teams up with an unlikely ally, computer geek Vikram Rangnekar. She doesn’t ask for or want his help, but she needs him. Rangnekar has been working in the background for some time unbeknownst to Jane setting up what could be the only way to infiltrate Hollister’s army from within. With grave reservations, she puts her trust in Rangnekar and the two of them begin what will either be the end of the Techno Arcadians or the end of Jane and possibly the world as we know it.

The Night Window is the fifth book in the Jane Hawk series. I have read two of the previous books, and have always felt I knew enough of the background provided in each of them to understand exactly what was going on. Koontz is one of my favorite authors, his characters and plots have a depth that most authors only aspire to. But that being said, his books read like the page-turning thrillers that they are. Sometimes I need to slow myself down to appreciate his beautiful analogies and turns of phrase. He is the Michelangelo of prose, painting masterpieces with his words. For example, here is how he creates the vision of snow in the reader’s mind: “Snow raveled now in countless skeins through the loom of the day and formed a pristine fabric”. So be sure to take your time, even though the pace is fast, enjoy the sheer beauty of the writing.

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: The Connelly Boys – Outstanding New YA Urban Fantasy Series

The Connelly Boys – (Celtic Witches #1)

By Lily Velez

Being one of the handful of girls in the entire school stinks. But seventeen year old Scarlet Monroe has little choice in the matter. Everything in her world has changed recently. Her mom died after a long battle with cancer. She had to move to Ireland to live with her father, whom she barely knows. And now she has to go to the school where her father teaches. So here she is, a female in an elite all-boys Catholic Prep school just trying to make it through the day without incident.

Choosing a seat next to a boy who seems indifferent, she gazes out the window while doodling because she doesn’t even have the required books. When she sees a vine moving in a tree as if it is a snake, she assumes she is losing it. Shaking her head, she tries to listen to the professor and ignore the strange sight.

During a tour of the campus, Scarlet sees a guy she can’t take her eyes off of. Her tour guide warns her away from Jack Connelly, stating that he is cursed and that his entire family is probably cursed as well. Recently, the grandfather that is raising him and his brothers jumped off a cliff to his death, leaving the boys in the care of their uncle. Scarlet is shocked, but still feels inexplicitly drawn to Jack.

As soon as Scarlet and Jack meet, she begins to encounter things that are much more intense than moving vines. The infamous Connelly Boys – Jack, Conner, Lucas and Rory would soon become her unwilling allies and friends. Could the rumors about them being supernatural beings actually be true? And how could Scarlet possibly be a part of the world that has powers that most humans do not have or want. But she will do anything to help the father she is just beginning to care about even if it ends up being an epic battle of good versus evil.

This YA Urban Fantasy is full of action, twists and turns as the teens are called upon to save their loved ones using ancient spells, weapons and their own ingenuity. Velez writes one of the best battle scenes between demons and witches I have ever read. It is as if the Harry Potter series and the Sookie Stackhouse series had babies for our reading pleasure.

The characters are rich and complex. I was surprised and pleased to find out the identity of the person orchestrating the evil. When the character was revealed, it absolutely made sense but I didn’t figure it out beforehand, which delights me to no end.

This is the first book in the Celtic Witch Series. It is also the first book I have read by Ms. Velez. I cannot wait to read book #2 in the series.

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

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