Category Archives: bookreviews

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

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under bookreviews

Book Review: Butterflies in Origami – Simple Beauty Made from Paper

Butterflies in Origami

By: Nick Robinson

The beauty of butterflies is indisputable. Robinson brings them into your homes with the ancient art of origami. He gives us detailed, illustrated instructions to create 20 projects, each one more delightful than the next.

Step-by-step he walks you through folding each butterfly. With written instruction as well as diagrams with arrows showing you how to fold each piece, your butterflies will come alive.

The paper is not included in this book, but there are clear instructions for choosing the proper paper to ensure success. Origami paper is inexpensive and easily purchased at craft stores or on the internet. The most import thing is that it has to be perfectly square. You can use other types of paper if you choose, as long as it is “crisp” and will be able to “remember” a crease.

If you are into butterflies, this is the origami book for you. Perhaps you have a young child that would love having them hanging from their bedroom ceiling, floating with the breeze. It is an inexpensively beautiful way to brighten up a room.

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under bookreviews

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under bookreviews

Book Review: Hitting the Books – Perfect for Cozy Mystery Fans

Hitting the Books

By Jenn McKinlay

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.

Librarian Lindsey Norris is back for the ninth book in Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lover’s Mystery series. Lindsey is a full time librarian and a part-time amateur sleuth. Lucky for her, the small town she lives in has its full share of nosy-rosies that feed her obsession with solving crimes. The only person it town that does not support her sleuthing is her friend Emma Plewicki, the chief of police.

Emma does not encourage Lindsey’s need to poke her nose in police business, but seems to tolerate it. As the top cop, Emma appreciates the help Lindsey gives her when solving cases. Of course the librarian is instrumental in finding crucial information to help solve the mysteries in this tiny town.

To be honest she doesn’t seek out drama. As Hitting the Books begins, Lindsey is working at the library, minding her own business, when someone runs down a friend of hers right outside. The case takes a nastier turn when someone tries to suffocate the convalescing friend; Lindsey is determined to get to the bottom of the murder attempts.

Aside from the mysterious attacks on her friend, Lindsey has a full personal life. She has recently moved in with Captain Mike Sullivan. Sully as he is called is an ex-Navy man, who loves her, but does not especially like the danger she flirts with while poking around in attempted murders. Lucky for Lindsey, he is supportive of all her endeavors and seems to always be in the right place and the right time to keep her safe.

It may sound like Lindsey is so busy solving crimes that she doesn’t spend any time in the library. That is far from true. She is busy managing the quirky characters that work for her. I would love to visit their library. They have a group that meets for “Crafternoons”. Think a book club on steroids.

The Crafternooners discuss a book they’ve all read, enjoy a delicious lunch and create a craft. I love the bond that is created in these gatherings. The characters share their lives and loves, worries and concerns all the while supporting each other. It is a great way for the reader to learn about the personalities and quirks of the characters.

enn McKinlay has written several different books in addition to the Library Lover’s Mysteries. This is the first book I have read by this author. Even though it was the ninth in the series, I did not feel lost or confused. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries, I highly recommend Hitting the Books, as well as checking out McKinlay’s other books. There is nothing more fun than finding a new author with a long list of interesting books to enjoy.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under bookreviews

Book Review: Blood Wedding – Superb Psychological Thriller

Blood Wedding

By Pierre LeMaitre (translated from French by Frank Wynne)

Sophie is a woman in conflict. At the very least she is mentally unstable, but she is quite possibly a murderer. Somehow she goes from being a happily married career woman to a fugitive in the blink of an eye and she cannot understand how the whole thing happened to her.

It starts with little things. Missing items, forgetting to do small errands, lost birthday gifts that turn up months later. These lead up to horrible mistakes at work. Soon Sophie begins to lose more than everyday items; she is also missing parts of her day. She finds herself in places and situations and doesn’t have a clue as to how or why she is there. Her husband is losing his patience and she is sure she has lost her mind.

Each slip of memory chips a sliver of her psyche away until she doesn’t know who she is anymore. It isn’t hard to disappear and reinvent herself when it became necessary, she does what she has to do.  What is hard is finding a new husband whose name she can take to solidify her new persona. But she has always known somewhere inside herself there is a strong, smart woman behind the façade she has built to hide behind. But is there enough of that woman left to save her?

Enter Frantz, the shy military man Sophie meets through a dating service. Frantz wants to help Sophie and she is so exhausted all of the time she is relieved to find someone she can trust to take care of her. Even if she doesn’t really love him, she needs him. He just might be her ticket out of the crazy life hers has become – or is she jumping from the frying pan into the fire by making a pact with the devil himself?

A catalyst, unbeknown and barely associated to Sophie, sets off a series of life changing events. The scariest thing is that any or all of the things that happen to her could happen to anyone if they are in the wrong place at the right time. It is terrifying to realize how easily Sophie’s life turned upside down and out of control.

If you look up Suspenseful Thriller Blood Wedding should be at the top of the list. I could not turn the pages fast enough to see what happened next. The plot is so solid I could not find an unanswered question.

The supporting characters have depth and are memorable without overshadowing but always important to the story.  Their interaction with the main characters enhanced and advanced the plot. The main characters are fully developed, multi-dimensional and seem to jump off the page to grab the reader’s attention. Sophie pulls you into her descent into madness, from which I fervently hoped she would be able to claw her way back to the person she used to be.

Nothing or no one is what or who they seem to be as the plot swirls around Sophie and Frantz. LeMaitre expertly grabs the reader, dragging you into the depth of Sophie’s despair and into the plotting mind of Frantz. Then he takes you on a roller coaster ride through a house of mirrors at breakneck speed, making you question the ideas you had when you met Sophie and Frantz. This adventure is one that readers live for. You will not be disappointed.

From the first page to the last the suspense never stops. I love this book. The lightning fast pace, perfect plot and characters that are unerringly realistic are reminiscent of a Hitchcock movie. Each page helps build the tension until the momentum explodes in the final chapters. The ending is satisfying, with no loose ends begging for explanation, which is perfection.

Pierre LeMaitre is an acclaimed, award winning author and screenwriter. His books are written in French, but many have been translated to English. Blood Wedding is the first novel I’ve read by LeMaitre, but it will not be the last.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher/author in connection with Killer Nashville in return for my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

 

Leave a comment

Filed under bookreviews

Book Review: Joe Peas – Delightful Character Driven Novel

joe-peasThe little boy, nothing but skin and bones with scorched hair and tattered clothes, was discovered by the American soldiers in 1944. He didn’t know much English, but could say Joe (as in G.I. Joe) so that is what he called himself. The when pressed for his last name, he looked around the mess hall and saw his favorite food – black-eyed peas and responded “Peas”. As a child, he lived through war and re-invented himself.

Fast forward many years. Joe Peas finds himself in a small American town extolling the pleasure of correctly painting houses. He schools the patrons of a local diner with his method of treating a house right to bring it back to a thing of beauty.

That morning, one of the locals enjoying Joe’s antics was Dr. James King. He is a doctor in this small town of King’s Mill. He is as dedicated to healing and helping his town as Joe is dedicated to beautifying it one house at a time.

Both men go on with their lives, Joe painting houses, Dr. King taking care of his family, the staff at his clinic and his patients. He runs a rehabilitation clinic that is barely making ends meet, but he loves what he is doing even though he is living life on the edge financially. Then there is the HOA in the community he lives in. The tyrant that heads the association delights in making sure the grass isn’t too long, the shutters are all painted the same color and the kids in the neighborhood don’t leave anything that resembles a toy within his sight. He “enforces” the rules by levying fines on the residents that have the audacity to not toe the line. His main focus seems to be on Dr. King – whom he assumes has deep pockets.

Fate steps in to push Joe and the doctor together again. Joe lands in the rehab center just when Dr. King is about at his lowest point with both personal and professional difficulties. The man that grew from that tiny ragged child had seen and done many things in his life, and was determined to help his new friend and doctor. The problem is, Joe has secrets that he wants to keep and helping may expose things in his life he wants to keep hidden secret.

Sam Newsome’s second novel, Joe Peas is a delightful tale of friendship, determination and the celebration of individuality. It was a light and quick book to read, but the characters had depth and emotions that pulled me in and kept me turning the pages.  The bit of mystery surrounding the years between Joe’s childhood and when he showed up in the second chapter as a man of “advanced age” with “animated speech and gestures suggested he was very active” kept me guessing. The end was exceedingly satisfying.

Joe Peas is the first book I’ve read by this award winning author. Newsome’s first book, Jackie won the Garcia Memorial Book Award in 2015. I expect many more awards and hope for many more books by this talented new voice.

 

3 Comments

Filed under bookreviews