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!.