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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: 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: Cat in My Pocket Embroidery

Cat in My Pocket Embroidery

Ten Purrfect Projects

By Hiroko Kubota

Born from need, continued with love, Kubota creates hand embroidered cats. With her newly published book, Cat in My Pocket Embroidery, she shares her knowledge and artistry, allowing us to recreate her fun felines.

From choosing the proper threads to use (single strands of size 25 embroidery floss) to the proper fabric (plain weave, nonstretch and smooth such as linen or cotton) is thoroughly discussed. Other items needed to complete your project are needles, an embroidery hoop, transfer paper, pins and a seam ripper. The author gives readers recommendations for each of the tools needed. Also included are ten cat templates to trace or photocopy to ensure your success.

Stitching techniques, starting and finishing have step-by-step instructions as well as photos and illustrations to ensure a successful outcome to your project. Kubota recommends starting one of the first three projects before branching out to the remaining seven. Each of the first three have between forty-six to forty-eight steps. The remaining seven projects have fewer steps, because you have already learned the proper way to introduce color and texture with your stitches.

I recommend this book to experienced embroiderers. But if you are a novice stitcher and feel compelled to embellish a shirt, purse or tote with one of these adorable cats, do not let me dissuade you. The instructions, images and illustrations are clear and concise. If followed, anyone with a little practice are destine to be successful.

As most crafters acknowledge, it is as much the enjoyment of the creative journey as it is the appreciation of the finished product. Kubota states, “I am pleased to say I am not the only person who appreciates the warmth, personality, and individuality of handcrafted products…”. I could not have said it better.

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: Sayings and Expressions Stained Glass Patterns

Sayings & Expressions

Stained Glass Patterns

By Anna Croyle

Sayings & Expressions brings us beautiful designs to be created using stained glass. There are 40 contemporary designs including two styles of alphabets and numbers. Additionally, there are beautiful designs including flowers and sayings such as “Home Sweet Home” and “Gone Fishing” with cute and quirky things like cats, bees and fish. My favorite is the “Tasting Room” that spotlights wine and grapes.

If you are a stained-glass artist, you will enjoy the inspiration and designs included in this book. But if you are a novice, you will need to find a book with actual instructions, not just designs. The author suggests Stained Glass Craft Made Simple by James McDonell, which includes general instructions, tools and materials needed for beginners.

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 Inspirations Coloring Book – Dash Right Out and Get Your Copy

Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book

By: Jessica Mazurkiewicz

Christmas will be here before we can blink an eye. I always like to shop early for stocking stuffers and Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book is perfect for adults and teens alike. Each of the thirty-one pages is just waiting for colored pencils, markers or crayons to make them come alive.

Unlike most adult coloring books, Christmas Inspirations is interesting without being overly intricate. The pages are festive and fun, some have more detail than others, but all will put you in the mood for the holiday season.

Perhaps you would like to dress up your home with the artwork created from this coloring book. If so, you may want to get one of the frames that hold children’s artwork and switch out the different pages depending upon your mood that day. Each page is perforated, so it will be a snap to take each one out of the book either before or after you complete it if you so choose.

From “Feliz Navidad” and “Dashing Through the Snow” to “Keep Calm and Jingle On” each page has an inspirational or humorous quote surrounded by holiday icons such as Santa, gifts and traditional decorations. My favorite page is full of Christmas sweaters – ready for you to make ugly or beautiful depending upon your mood. The quote on that page is “May Your Sweaters be Ugly and Bright”.

Amuse yourself and/or someone you love by picking up Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book before the holiday rush.

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: Christmas Color by Number – Brings Out the Artist in You

Christmas Color by Number

By: George Toufexis

Say Merry Christmas with this beautiful color by number adult coloring book. Each of the forty-six designs are best done with color pencils of your choosing due to the small spaces that might be difficult to color with markers or crayons. But if you want to use a different media than pencils, each page is blank on the back as well as perforated so no other images will be rendered useless due to bleeding of such things as markers.

Be sure to read the intro page that also included tips and techniques. Of course you know how to color, but the hints on shading, letting colors “bleed” together and directional pencil strokes will come on handy.

Twenty-four colors are used in each of the color by number pages. There are thumbnails of the completed pictures on the inside of the front and back covers. Additionally, there is a list of the colors used and their corresponding numbers. But don’t feel you have to use the numbers. This is your picture and if you want to make a purple dog or an orange Christmas tree – go for it. Personally, I like color by number. My method is coloring all of the small areas first. I also do all one color, then the next color, etc. until the finished picture emerges. Maybe you think I’m crazy and you prefer to do a section at a time. However you enjoy these pages is totally up to you.

My favorite page is the puppy sleeping under the Christmas tree. More than one of our dogs and certainly our cat declared the tree skirt “theirs” for the holiday season. Be sure to pick up Christmas Color By Number before the snow flies so that you can create your holiday masterpiece before Christmas. And pick up a few for friends and relatives – it is an affordable, fun and creative way to welcome in the holiday season.

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: Dogs in Origami – 20 New Designs

Dogs in Origami

By: Nick Robinson

As I review Robinson’s Dogs in Origami, my beloved mixed breed sits by my side. I am sure many of you have or have had a dog that has touched your heart and possibly taken over your home with tennis balls, squeakless toys and unmatched faithfulness and love. This new book of origami is for you.

There are 20 projects complete with instructions and diagrams to assist novice and seasoned origami folders. As in Robinson’s previous books, the first few pages gives the reader tips and instruction on folding, choosing the correct paper and various techniques that are used in the book.

The projects are cute, but most of them do not especially say “dog” when I look at the pictures. Some of them could be any four legged creature – I felt the busy patterns on the origami paper detracted from the finished product. A couple of them are super “doggish”. My favorites are Woof! Woof! Puppy, Bodo’s Dog and Nodding Dog. The funniest one, and by far my favorite is Perro Liberando. This cute little pup is in action, doing what dogs frequently do – pooping. Yup, poop is funny in any medium, origami is no exception.

This is not a book for younger children due to the detail of these designs. They may be difficult for a younger child, especially one that has never done origami before. That being said, adults and teens should have no trouble following the explicit directions given by Mr. Robinson as well as the other contributors to Dogs in Origami. The Biography section at the end of the book highlights each designer that contributed to the book, so be sure to see which of the contributors is your favorite.

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: Knitted Toys 20 cut and colorful projects – Worth a Second Look!

Knitted Toys

20 cute and colorful projects

By: Jody Long

You might recognize this title from last year when I reviewed Knitted Toys for Netgalley. When I received a copy from Dover Publications this week, I sat down and read through it again and felt it warranted another shout out because it is an informative book with adorable patterns.

Like any good knitting pattern book, it begins with the list of supplies that are needed as well as helpful tips such as how to stuff your toy creations properly so that the toy will not lose shape or be lumpy through lots of hours of loving as well as surviving the washing machine. It was particularly interesting to find the suggestion of using plastic straws for shaping. They don’t break, are not sharp and can be washed and dried without breaking.

The patterns are colorful and varied. The airplane and firetruck are great for little boys and girls; it is nice to see something different from the usual animals even though all of them are adorable. Samuel the Snake will be easy for little hands to hold and the Squishy Beach Balls are great for indoor play.

My favorite pattern is still Primrose the Nighttime Teddy. She has a nightcap and nightgown and will be the perfect buddy for a child to take to bed at night. My other favorite is Rusty the Puppy. He looks so squishy and cute I can just see a toddler cuddling up with him for a nap and dragging along on their daily adventures.

I hesitate but need to note that beginning knitters may need a bit of practice before creating these cute animals. All of the patterns are clear and should be a snap for experienced knitters. There are small paragraphs of instruction for the basic stitches in the introductory pages. They are easily understood if you have knitted previously, but a new knitter may need a bit more info. But who am I to rain on someone’s parade? There are YouTube videos for everything including some wonderful detailed knitting instructions so novice knitters, go for it!

Most knitters have yarn in their stashes that would more than complete one or more of these terrific toys. The patterns would make perfect take-a-long projects because each piece can easily be stashed in a purse or backpack.

As I wrote before; I highly recommend 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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