Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Somebody Else’s Troubles – Must Read Literary Fiction

Somebody Else’s Troubles

By J. A. English

 

Travers Landeman is not a happy man. He has always done what is right, often at the expense of his own peace of mind and happiness. On the day he decides to disappear he doesn’t hesitate or have regrets about leaving. He does have regrets for some of the choices he made in life. Guilt can be overwhelming and is one of the demons that haunts him. Becoming a man of action instead of reaction was not an easy journey, but he is willing to take the first step. While most of the people in his former life don’t really care that he is gone, there is one man that is determined to find him. If he succeeds, this could ruin the new life that Travers has created.

On the tiny island of Mabuhay, he meets Marguerite. She spent time in the United States going to school and learning how cruel life can be. She does not talk about what happened, but does not trust white men.

Somebody Else’s Troubles is interesting and complicated. Amidst self-loathing and regret, peace is found by forgiveness and love. It is easy to read but hard to forget. J. A. English brings his characters into controversial situations, then shows the consequences of how they deal with them. He makes the reader think about situations they may have encountered or will encounter; he brings a realism into the story that will resonate with readers on a deep level. This is the best work of literary fiction I have read in years, I loved it.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs 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: 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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Book Review: Inspired Shawls -Stunning Patterns for Knitters

Inspired Shawls

15 Creative Patterns for Year-Round Knitting

By Laura Zukaite

Inspired Shawls is Fashion Designer Laura Zukaite’s brain child. She has created 15 stunning shawl patterns that range from easy to expert. All of her creations include beautiful color photographs, diagrams, charts and detailed, easy to read instructions. General abbreviations are listed at the end of the book, but any special abbreviations/instructions are conveniently printed on the first page of the pattern along with the gauge so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth to the end of the book as you are knitting.

The beauty and diversity of these patterns is a knitter’s dream. Some of the shawls, like the Catagena and Nazca are as delicate as butterfly wings. Others are colorful and warm. I love the Geo Aztec Shawl. Knitted in DK/Light Worsted weight, with adorable tassels on each end makes this fun and functional shawl a favorite.

There is an interesting page about Ms. Zukaite’s design journey. Born in Lithuania, she learned to knit as a child. Now living in New York, she has studied at Parsons School of Design and has designed for Gap and Ralph Lauren to mention a few. She has published patterns in various knitting magazines and is the author of Lux Knits, Lux Knits; The Accessories as well as Inspired Shawls. I love the color, patterns and the inspiration in Inspired Shawls.

I highly recommend this book to knitters from novice to expert level. Happy knitting!

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: Side Trip – Join Joy and Dylan On A Trip You Will Never Forget

Side Trip

By Kerry Lonsdale

Guilt drives Joy to live her sister’s best life instead of her own. All of her choices in life hinge on this question: “What would Judy do, say or wear”. That is how she finds herself on a road trip, marking off the Route 66 Bucket List her dead sister created several years ago.

What Joy or Judy didn’t plan on is a stranger accompanying her on the trip. Against her better judgement, Joy picks up a man in Ludlow, California. Dylan is a musician, desperate for a ride after his car breaks down at a tiny roadside diner. Joy feels sorry for him and agrees to take him to his next stop. Their mutual love of music allows Joy to lower her defenses and agree to take Dylan to the rest of his gigs on Route 66 and drop him off at the airport before meeting her fiancé in New York. The only caveat is he has to accompany her on the side trips along the way that will allow Joy to complete the Bucket List. He agrees and so begins an adventure like no other for both of them.

Both Dylan and Joy have secrets and baggage. They have lives outside of the VW Bug that transports them through the heartland of the United States. As the miles roll by, they become closer. If only Dylan didn’t live his life in California and Joy didn’t have a fiancé, they might act upon their growing attraction. Road trips cannot last forever. Theirs is quickly coming to an end.

Ms. Lonsdale takes the reader along for the ride with her characters. We hear the music in the Bug as well as in the seedy bars Dylan sings in at night. She makes us long for the warm rains that are made for dancing with abandon that the travelers encounter one afternoon.

The strong characters are engaging, interesting and could be someone you know. The road trip itself is much more than a setting, coming alive on the pages as we travel along on Route 66. The plot has some twists and turns I did not expect, but absolutely loved.

This is the second book I have read by Kerry Lonsdale, and so far, my favorite. I really enjoyed her previous book, Last Summer, but I could not put Side Trip down, I loved the entire ride of reading this book; the characters, setting and plot. It has a hint of romance, a bit of mystery and ticks all the boxes for woman’s fiction and it is the perfect summer read. I highly recommend Side Trip; you won’t want to miss it. If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, you will love Kerry Lonsdale’s books.

In addition to Side Trip, Ms. Lonsdale is an Amazon, Wallstreet Journal, and Washington Post bestselling author of the Everything series (Everything We Keep, Everything We left Behind and Everything We Give) as well as her standalone novels Last Summer and All the Breaking Waves.

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 © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Wreaths for Every Season – 24 Projects to Wow You

Wreaths for Every Season

24 Projects to Make Throughout the Year

By Stasie McArthur

There is nothing more welcoming than a beautiful wreath on your front door. It is fun to change wreaths with the seasons and holidays throughout the year, but let’s be honest, it is expensive to purchase ready made wreaths.

Stasie McArthur has solved this problem by writing Wreaths for Every Season. It includes twenty-four patterns for you to create at a fraction of the cost of store-bought wreaths. She reminds us that inspiration can be found everywhere, so keep your eyes open for everything that would look fabulous on your personalized handmade wreaths.

She lists the basic supplies need, such as paint, floral wire, tie wraps and pipe cleaners. To get started browse through her book, checking out the beautiful color photos to see what inspires you. The material list is included for each wreath, as well as step by step photos and written instructions to complete them. Make them your own by choosing flowers, fabric and bows that will make your wreath unique.

This fun and useful book will allow you to create stunning one-of-a-kind wreaths. You may want to create one for a friend of family member. I highly recommend this book to everyone that likes to add a personal touch for everyone that enters their home to see and enjoy.

 

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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