Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Needlepoint Book

Let me just start by saying that I was blown away by this book - whether you are new to needlepoint or have been doing it and just want a reference book on hand, this is the book for you. I have never read the original version of this book, but quickly appreciate the fact that they have updated this book. I imagine even in it's original state, it was a well-rounded needlepoint book!

I won't lie ... I was expecting a book with a few pages on how to get things ready, and then a list of stitches. But this book is so much more!

The first half talks about the materials you need, the type of canvas you can stretch in, the type of yarn to use, design elements, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. Each section is pretty comprehensive as well.

I especially enjoyed the section on design - what to look for a good pattern (or how to design your own). I loved the section on color theory as well. As someone who has stitched before and not needing a primer on the basics, these sections that provided more deeper knowledge for someone like me were quite welcomed. And yet, the information was presented in such a way that it isn't overwhelming for a someone new to stitching.

The second part of the book is a comprehensive stitch encyclopedia. The stitches are separated out by type: straight, diagonal, box, cross, etc. With pictures and word explanations to go along with each one.

This is definitely a book I would want to add to add to my library! And I think any stitcher of any level would appreciate having it too. Whether you need to turn to it to see how to get started and work on basic stitches, or you're an experience stitcher who needs to look up that one complicated stitch you know you've done once before but can't quite remember this is a must have book in craft book collection!

Note: I was given an e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for reviewing it. As always, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Momma Don't You Worry

Momma Don't You Worry by Louie Lawent, is a cute, quick e-book for young children (ages 5-7).  It's a catchy poem with some cute illustrations that I think kids and parents will both like!

In Momma Don't You Worry, a young boy, who feels he is all grown up at the ripe, old age of 6, doesn't understand why he must stay by his mom. So he tells his mother not to worry about him so very much. Of course, as children are prone to do, he wanders away to look at something else and ends up lost.

As a mother of three, I remember this phase very well. Oh, who am I kidding. I still have a 9 year old who doesn't always stay by me even when he should. But it's hard to explain to kids why they are still little kids when they feel so grown up inside.

It's a quick read, and one I think a child could memorize easily and be able to "read" along with as well. (Side note: memorizing books and reading along with them is actually a great step towards reading, which many kids at the 5/6 mark are working on, so this book serves a double bonus!)

I would have loved to have read this book to my kids at that age, and still read it to my 9 year old now so that maybe (ahem, in parking lots) he'll still hold my hand even though he thinks he much too grown up to do so! ;-)

Note: Mr. Lawent approached me and asked me if I would be interested in doing a review for him. I said yes and was given an electronic copy of the book to look over, but as always, all opinions and thoughts are my own!

The Dream Lover

Note: I was given an e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for reviewing it. As always, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was very anxious to dive into the Elizabeth Berg's novel The Dream Lover: A Novel of George Sand as I've been a fan of Berg. However, I have to say I was disappointed in this book. Mind you, it's not terrible - the book is okay, but it's not the book I expected from Berg.

This book is a historical fiction novel around the life of Aurore Dupin, a Paris author in the 1800's who wrote under the pen name of George Sands. It is clear to me that while Berg has taken liberties with telling Sand's story, Berg also did a lot of research into her life as well.

The first part of the book is split between two time lines. We flash back and forth between Aurore's childhood and then her early adulthood years. Eventually, the two time lines catch up and the book just moves forward from there.

The book felt slow to start to me. Unfortunately, I can't say I was hooked from the beginning. Though, it did get better as the book moved along - certain parts of the story line were more intriguing than others and those moved along quite well for me - Aurore's time with Maria Duval and Chopin.

I also wasn't a fan of the back and forth of her childhood and adulthood. Though, some of the parts of her childhood were important to the rest of the story and needed to be included I just wasn't a fan of the format.

That said, it was intriguing to learn about George Sand - even if parts are fictionalized. The life of a woman in 1800's France - with divorce being illegal, how Aurore walked around in men's clothing, and had many affairs. She achieved a sexual revolution that I think most people in 1960's of America were looking for. And through it all, the gossip, the scandal, the love found and lost and found and lost, she was France's first best-selling female author.

Her life is definitely worth looking at, and learning about. And while I didn't give this book 5 stars, I am glad I read it. And I think it is worth reading to learn a bit more about Aurore, aka, George Sands.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lens of War

Lens of War, edited by J. Matthew Gallman and Gary W. Gallagher,  is both a book of beautiful pictures and haunting pictures. It is a book of history and present day and people's stories. It is a book that will bring those who haven't seen many pictures of the Civil War right into the action, but give those who have a deeper understanding of them.

Gallman and Gallagher have compiled essays written by people about one photograph from the Civil War that has some meaning to them, that has touched them in some way, or sparked curiosity in them. Each writer brings their own take of these photographs into their essay. This gives the reader a wide variety of photographs to look at and a bevy of information to read. And yet, it is not overwhelming and does not seem like too much. These snippets of the Civil War that come to us in each essay are informative, passionate, and interesting.

Lens of War is broken up into the following sections: Leaders, Soldiers, Civilians, Victims, and Places.

The first essay, in what seems quite fitting, is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. This portrait seems to be the compilation of two pictures - the right half of the face different from the left half. Which draws the viewer right into the picture and sparks the imagination. Harold Holzer has been taken with this picture for most of his life and now investigates why the picture wasn't more widely circulated when it was originally taken. Though this we go down a path that link photography with paintings and sculptures.

In another essay, by Carol Reardon, we learn about the pensions that were given to fallen and injured soldier's families. $8.00 monthly to the families of fallen enlisted men. $8.00 that was hard to come by and hard to get. $8.00 for the whole family, regardless of if it was just a mother, or a wife, or a wife with 8 children to feed. For me, this was fascinating as it was a part of the war I had never learned about before.

Of course, the most haunting images come in the victims section. The pictures here strike right to the core. The reality of the war - which took a great toll on so many people. You want to skim through the section as quickly as possible, and yet, you can't look away. This is what war is. Even with abolition of slavery, there was a high price to pay. Worth it? Yes. But one we should acknowledge and these pictures and essays give us space and time to do that.

Overall, I felt this book was fabulous. I could stare at the photographs for hours. And yet the essays give me a chance to explore the photo deeper, to learn more about the Civil War and to get it from the perspective of quite a few people. I believe this book would be a great read for anyone: those who love to read about the Civil War and to study it more in-depth and those who just want a taste of it.

*Note: I was given an e-copy of this book through NetGalley with the express intent that I would review it. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hello October.

Umm, yes, can someone please tell me when October showed up? Because I swear it was August or something like that last week.

Alas, it's October. (and no, I do not yet have any Halloween costumes made. Because I'm procrastinating). Anyway, since I last wrote we've had at least 3 more illnesses come into this house. 2/3 kids are on some sort of medication and the third child now has a sore throat. All of that aside, I've actually been able to accomplish a few things! Yay!

Last week I finished reading Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Frauenfelder. I was sent the book by Kim, who said she read it and was kind enough to lend it to me!

So I just think this is a wonderful book that has made my dream for chickens become even more serious than it was before! Because chickens are cute and practical and I think everyone should have some! I will admit thoguh, at times I was torn: keep reading or stop and go try what Frauenfelder was talking about (yes, I now want to make some instruments, do some wood carving, build something, make something, anything, everything!). This is a book I want to keep forever and ever. But I also want others to read and love it. I think I need to buy two copies of this book. One to keep and one to share. I loved it just that much. (And also, I want to go and check out all the books and blogs and other things he mentions so I really do need to have a copy to keep!). This is going to be a book that leads me to more books, that lead me to more books, and so on and so on. And I love those sorts of books as well.

To date I haven't yet tried anything specifically talked about in the book. Because of life. But that's okay. This book isn't a how-to guide. It's more of a motivational book - his main message is get out there and do it. You will screw up. It won't be perfect. And that is not only okay, but really really great. And just to prove that, he doesn't just talk about his successes, but shares the stumbling that took place along his journey! I just loved the whole book. One of my favorite quotes in the book came from Mister Jalopy (one of Frauenfelder's friends)

People are afraid they are going to screw something up, that they're going to ruin something. And unfortunately, it's valid -- they will. You will scrw stuff up. Things will be broken. But that's one step to overcome to get on the path of living this richer life of engagement, of having meaningful connections to the objects around you. It's that necessary step you have tot take - the courage to screw things up - so you're able to fix things, or make stuff from scratch or to refurbish stuff to live according to your standards.

Wow. That spoke to me. Because I get it - fear of failure holds me back. It holds back others I know. Failing is scary and I believe we are taught from a young age something to be avoided at all costs. And I think we'd be much better off if we threw that kind of thinking out the window. =)

So you should absolutely read this book. Then you should overcome fear of failure. And just get out there and do. Because doesn't that sound like so much fun? =)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good Morning!

It's here ... today is Do Good Day!! We are so excited at my house for this!! It is going to be an amazing day - not only are several of us in Chicago getting together, but all told - there will be 77 bloggers spread out across 11 cities all doing good tomorrow!

Why 77? Because American Eagle is launching 77kids - clothing stores aimed for kids. 77 comes from the year American Eagle was founded - 1977. So 77kids partnered up with to bring these 77 bloggers together to do some good!  I think this is a FABULOUS way for 77kids to celebrate their opening!

I am lucky enough to be working with some fabulous bloggers in the area - Melissa, Jen, Lydia, Paula, and Dawn to serve lunch at the Ronald McDonald House! It's going to be so great - I can just tell already!! It seems like all the Do Good Day teams have some great plans going on for today - please head on over here to check out what everyone has planned! So many great things going on - just wonderful!

Yesterday, to prepare two of the kids and I went to target to pick up some items on the Ronald McDonald House Wish List. They had so much fun getting to help pick out what to bring. So while I grabbed paper towels, laundry detergent and hand soap - they picked popcorn, juice boxes, and popsicles! We also grabbed a few books - most notably The Wizard of Oz, as it's a favorite in this house! 

After lunch, the group is going to split up and the kids and I will be heading back to our town to pass out some fliers around our town. We are still debating - hitting parks or hanging out at the local train station. I know, I know, last minute - I swear not on purpose - we had some other ideas of where to pass them out that fell through, so we're onto plan d, e and f LOL!  

I promise to come back tonight or tomorrow and tell you all about it! And maybe even get my kids brave enough to share their thoughts with you. I'll be tweeting through out that day as I can - so feel free to follow me over on twitter!

And don't forget to head on over to Hyacynth's blog and tell her if you did some good today too =)

Disclosure: I am working with The Motherhood on behalf of 77kids by American Eagle, and was paid a monetary stipend for participating in this project.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Live To Tell

Live to Tell: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel

by: Lisa Gardner

Finished: May 22, 2010
5 stars

Live To Tell is a book I could NOT put down. Hook, line and sinker from the moment I read the prologue - I needed to keep reading. This is a book with several twists and turns. Just when you think you know who did it, another twist. Another clue pops up that makes you rethink, wonder, and try to figure out who really did it!

Gardner is a talented author who clearly knows her audience. She keeps your hooked, she adds twists, the characters draw you in and you want to see what happens.

Detective D.D. Warren is a dedicated Boston detective and has been for 12 years. She works hard. Does her job well. And is the kind of woman who you know, in the end, will always get her man so to speak. However, for all her success in her career, her personal life is lacking. This is starting to bug her - and in fact the book opens with her finally on a date, only to get interrupted to report to a crime scene. At first glance, it looks as if a father has decided to murder his entire family and then commits suicide himself. However, a few days later an eerily similar crime takes place and what once looked like an open and shut case is no longer.

Danielle is a pediatric psych nurse. As a child, she was the lone survivor of her father's killing spree - in which the rest of her family is murdered, he commits suicide and she is sparred. She struggles with why he left her, and yet at the same time, doesn't really face what happened that night. As the anniversary of her family's deaths approaches and the crimes mentioned above center around where she works - it is becoming increasingly harder for her to try avoid facing the past.

Victoria is the mother of 2 children. Her oldest son Evan, who is 8 years old, suffers from some very severe mental illness. He goes from being a very sweet a loving child who enjoys watching the History channel to a very violent child - and tells his mom multiple times he wants to kill her.Victoria's husband has left (with their younger daughter) because he doesn't feel they are safe in the house with Evan. Victoria is a mom who is just trying to do the best for her son that she can. She clearly feels his issues must be because of something she did and it's almost like self-punishment for her to try to deal with him alone. She doesn't get much sleep - Evan doesn't sleep much. She has to lock up knives and other items that Evan could use to hurt her or himself.

As these key player's lives become intertwined and meshed together, it's hard to put the book down. My heart broke for all the suffering that takes place in the book. I won't lie - this book is not all sunshine and roses. It's most storms and thorns. And yet, it's hard to walk away, it's hard to stop reading. The characters become friends. I felt concern for them and needed to see how it all ends.

I highly recommend this book. I will definitely be looking for more D.D. Warren books and reading Gardner in the future.

*Please note, I was given this book to review from LibraryThing through their LibraryThing Early Reviewers (LTER) program, which has absolutely nothing to do at all with this blog.