Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Books for Yarnies

Looking for new ideas? Here are a few new yarn art books that have come in recently:

Teeny-Tiny MochiMochi: More than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give by Anna Hracjovec
Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today's Top Crocheters by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss (Beautiful, but not easy)
Crochet Compendium: The Ultimate Collection of Crochet Techniques by Connie Ellison
Go Crochet: Afghan Design Workbook by Ellen Gormley (Some very cool motifs and combinations)

And a couple for the KNOTTERS in the group:

Macrame Today: Contemporary Knotting Projects by Darlyn Susan Yee
The Weekend Crafter: Macrame: 19 Great Weekend Projects by Jim Gentry

Come and get 'em.

Kathi Linz

How to Write Your Best Story: Advice for Writers on Spinning an Enchanting Tale by Philip Martin.

How to Write Your Best Story: Advice for Writers on Spinning an Enchanting Tale by Philip Martin has excellent advice on structuring a story, making memorable main characters and villains, and putting a twist at the end.

One bit that I gleaned from this book is, don't make your characters too likable.  That only makes them bland and forgettable.  Some of the examples used for memorable characters were Captain Hook, Long John Silver, the Cat in the Hat, Pippi Longstockings, and Sherlock Holmes. Each one has his/her eccentricities.  Each is unforgettable once you have spent time with them.

Check this book out for more important story-weaving tips.

Kathi Linz

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Odyssey of the Gods: The History of Extraterrestrial Contact in Ancient Greece by Erich von Daniken

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I read Erich von Daniken's book Chariots of the Gods.  I love history - the older, the better. I thought his idea about artifacts pointing to extraterrestrial contact was interesting.  But what I loved most was hearing about parts of history that I might otherwise have missed.

I have always enjoyed Greek mythology, so when I saw Odyssey of the Gods: The History of Extraterrestrial Contact in Ancient Greece by Erich von Daniken, I picked it up to see what he had to say about one of my favorite subjects.  Although I don't buy his overriding premise, Mr. von Daniken has done excellent historical research yet again.  In this book, he especially describes the stories of Jason and the Argonauts, the Odyssey of Homer, the Dialogues of Plato as touches Atlantis, and some of the advanced mathematics, technology, and maps of the time.  I thought it was worth my time.

Kathi Linz

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets Festive by Jen Yates

The next time you would like to have a good laugh, pick up Wreck the Halls: Cake Wrecks Gets Festive by Jen Yates.  The book has commentary by the author about photos of "professionally baked" cakes.  Trust me, these bakers will never be featured on Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes! 

I laughed so hard at a couple of the cakes that my dogs thought I was dying.  My husband laughed just as hard, but it was different cakes that tickled his funny bone.  You can't miss with this collection of humorous cakes.

Kathi Linz

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shut Up & Write! by Judy Bridges

If you have it in mind to do some writing, but you don't know where to start, how to get it done, or just plain "don't have time",  you should pick up Shut Up & Write! by Judy Bridges.  Judy is an accomplished writer and the teacher of the Redbird Studio writing center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She has put valuable information for writers in clear and readable form. 

My favorite part, however, is the section on how to motivate yourself to get the job done.  One example:  One of her students was complaining about not having enough time to write. Judy asked him if he had any money.  He had a twenty dollar bill.  She put it in her pocket and said, "You can have this back when you write thirty pages."  It took him a week.

Judy's point in this book - Here's how to do it, now get busy and do it!

Kathi Linz

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Huggable Crochet: Cute and Cuddly Animals from Around the World by Christine Lucas

Huggable Crochet: Cute and Cuddly Animals from Around the World by Christine Lucas has 24 patterns for crocheting adorable animals.  They are mostly from 8" to 15" tall.  The dolphin is 22" long. 

You'll find animals like a horse and cow to an octopus and snail to a giraffe and a lion. The kangaroo and penguin are cute, too.  My favorite is the hippopotamus.  She has a very interesting face.

Come, all you crafters.  Christmas is on the way.

Kathi Linz

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Two Books on Selling Crafts

I checked out two books on selling homemade crafts.  One is The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online by Kari Chapin.  The other is called Crafty Superstar: Make Crafts on the Side, Earn Extra Cash, and Basically Have It All by Grace Dobush.

Both books talk about everything from naming your business to packaging the product for shipment.  You'll read about online options, local options, and craft circuit options. The authors talk about supplies, taxes, and what to do if someone copies your product.

If you have an idea that you would like to live off of your craft or make a little extra money with it, these books might help you get ideas and get started.

Kathi Linz

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Crochet Compendium: The Ultimate Collection of Crochet Techniques by Connie Elllison

From beginner to expert, Crochet Compendium: The Ultimate Collection of Crochet Techniques by Connie Ellison will point you to something new and different from your usual project. 

You'll find pages and patterns for such techniques as mosaic crochet, slip-stitch crochet, wiggly, waffle-weave, tunisian or double-ended crochet, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, felting, and filet crochet.  That isn't the complete list. 

There are full-color photos to help you understand what to do.  There is also a chart to help you understand crochet symbols.  If you can't figure out the written pattern, it sometimes helps to see the symbols forming the design.

Kathi Linz

Death on the Aegean Queen by Maria Hudgins

I like the way Maria Hudgins set her mysteries in travel settings.  In the book Death on the Aegean Queen, I found myself on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea with occasional stops at various Greek islands.  The mystery is multi-layered with disguises, murder, red herrings, antiquity smuggling, and four law enforcement agencies all on the same ship. 

Dotsy Lamb certainly knows how to get herself into deep water.  With the help of a few fellow passengers, one of which has a photographic memory, Dotsy tracks down clues that the officials miss  - or don't find because she has picked them up.

A quick, fun read, and you might find yourself learning a little about antiquities.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Midnight Magic by Avi

Midnight Magic by Avi is a middle grade novel of excellent quality. 

Fabrizio is a young boy who is servant to a sleight-of-hand magician, Mangus,  in 1491 Italy.  In an age of superstition, sleight of hand looks like real magic.  Mangus has already been tried for demonic magic and put under house arrest.  Suddenly, a knock at the door on a stormy midnight brings Mangus and Fabrizio into the King's stronghold.  He is ordered to free the princess from the haunting of a spirit she claims is the ghost of her murdered brother.

The story goes on with Fabrizio overhearing things he can't tell, being told things under oath of secrecy, losing his way and finding his way through secret passages, and finally, helping Mangus to raise the spirit of the missing prince.

I can't tell you much more without ruining the story.  I think even an adult will enjoy this tightly-twisted tale told by an expert storyteller.

Kathi Linz

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Treacherous Teddy by John J. Lamb

If you like a fast-paced mystery not streaked with too much gore, or if you like mysteries and teddy bears, you might want to pick up one of John J. Lamb's Bear Collector's mysteries.

The Treacherous Teddy has one police car side-swiping, one stolen car, one murder/hunting accident (?) by arrow through the heart, one death by throwing off the balcony, one poacher desperately in need of a bath, one hotel kitchen staff serving poached wild meat, a realtor who is up to more than you might guess, an arson, a crusty old lady in a wheelchair, a teddy bear fair, and two amusement park executives. 

Odds are that unless you always solved the Perry Mason shows in the first fifteen minutes, you won't guess this one without cheating.

Hope you enjoy it.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Writing for Children and Young Adults by Dr. Marion Crook

In Writing for Children and Young Adults by Dr. Marion Crook, you will find useful information for writing both fiction and non-fiction.  There is a discussion on having or not having a literary agent.  How to approach publishers and which publishers to approach are carefully covered. There are ideas for promoting your book once it gets published. Also included is a CD with examples, worksheets for completing your project, recommended reading lists and various forms.

Kathi Linz

Saturday, September 10, 2011

25 Ways to Make Money Online by James Garton

If you think that making money online takes special skills (other than being able to use a computer competently) or that everything online is a scam, check out 25 Ways to Make Money Online by James Garton.

There are job ideas in here for full or part timers.  The opportunities have a wide range, so most people will be able to consider at least one online job.  Each listing comes with a description of the job and several websites where you can find out more or apply for the position.

Here are several of the possibilities: legitimate telecommuting jobs, blogging for profit, writing articles , freelancing, online auctions, ebook author, professional juror, manufacturers' representative, grant writer, and transcriptionist.  If you like the look of one of these or want to see the rest of the jobs listed in this book, come on in and check it out.

Kathi Linz

Monday, August 29, 2011

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks was a very interesting book. The book follows the fictional character Hanna, a conservator of old books, as she stabilizes & studies the Sarajevo Haggadah, a real Jewish book that is over 500 years old. As Hanna explores the book, she finds various types of damage & small objects (such as an insect wing) which she takes to professionals she knows in order to have them identified. As she learns about each incident of damage or object, the story changes from that of Hanna to a story describing how that damage or object came to be in the Haggadah. Although Hanna doesn't know the exact stories, the reader learns not only the details of the damages or objects but also the stories of the people associated with them. The stories of the Haggadah start with the most recent one when the book survived World War II & proceed in reverse chronological order until the book was made in Spain & even before it was even bound. These stories were like mini-books in themselves--lengthy descriptions of the people & their circumstances, ranging from Sarajevo during World War II to Spain during the Inquisition.
I enjoyed this book mainly for its stories of the Haggadah's past, but Hanna's story as she worked with the Haggadah was its own story also. Instead of actually reading this book, I listened to the audiobook that was narrated by Edwina Wren. I admit that a lot of my enjoyment of People of the Book came from the narrator. Since Hanna, an Australian, tells her story in first person, the narrator is Australian so listening to her accent was enjoyable. Also, though, the narrator used several accents throughout the book as characters from Sarajevo, Italy, Spain, & more places appeared in the stories. I also enjoyed these accents used by the narrator. While listening to the audiobook of People of the Book made the book even better for me, the book itself is a good story, & I would definitely suggest it to anyone looking for a good historical fiction book.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Alice Pope

I do not have the book in front of me at this minute, so I cannot properly attribute the writer of an article I found in the 2011 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Alice Pope.

Although I have a published book, it has been 11 years since it was accepted and 9 years since it came out in print.  I wanted to read the articles in this Writer's Market so I could find out about the current needs of editors and agents.  The articles were indeed enlightening.

One article concluded that it is hard work to get a story in order for submission, it is hard to get published, and you probably won't be able to quit your day job.  I thought, "Well, that's encouraging." (Read that with some sarcasm.)  The oddest thing about the article was that it was trying to make all those difficulties sound like a good thing, a happy thing. 

I still plan to do some writing and submitting.  I did already know about those issues and have managed to get a foot in the door anyway.  So here's to finding gold in the rest of the book.

Kathi Linz

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

From September 24 to October 1, libraries everywhere will be observing Banned Books Week. Books banned (or challenged) will appear in library displays to encourage customers to free their minds and read a banned book. The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls is one such book. Challenged for its profanity, criticism of Christianity, accounts of sexual abuse and prostitution, it is the amazing story of an unusual family.
Jeannette, a brother and two sisters grew up in an ever-changing environment. Moving from town to town, the family often “skedaddled” in the middle of the night. They camped in the mountains and in deserted desert towns. They slept in their car and in cardboard boxes
Jeannette’s father, Rex, was brilliant, a dreamer and an alcoholic. Her mother, Rose Mary, a would-be artist, preferred creating a painting to cooking a meal for her children. Both father and mother had an unconventional attitude about childrearing. The four Walls children basically raised themselves. Jeanette was three years old when she was seriously burned while cooking her own supper.
However, the children learned to read from their father, who also left them with dreams of a “glass castle.” Their upbringing was both a curse and a blessing. Cursed with embarrassing situations, like having to wear shoes held together with safety pins. Blessed with the desire to move forward and better themselves.
Walls was a respected journalist before writing The Glass Castle, revealing the truth of her childhood after twenty years of hiding her past. The “challenged” situations in her memoir are part of her history and need to be told. Despite poverty, fire, embarrassment, and near starvation, she tells the touching story of the Walls family with honesty and love.
Jane Kaufman

Monday, August 22, 2011

101 Weird Ways to Make Money by Steve Gillman

I didn't put the whole title in the heading.  It goes like this:  101 Weird Ways to Make Money: Cricket Farming, Repossessing Cars, and Other Jobs with Big Upside and Not Much Competition by Steve Gillman.

According to the introduction, this author has tried many of the jobs in this book or ones similar to them.  Did you know that there is a viable market for selling maggots?  Maybe you have a clean gene.  How about diaper service or crime scene clean-up?

Want a green business?  There's information on solar-roasted coffee, recycling electronic waste, and old oil-tank removal.

Are you computer savvy?  Maybe you can sell virtual real estate in game worlds or buy and sell domain names.

It seems like there is something possible for almost anyone in this book.  I noted a couple I thought were especially relevant to my skills, but not maggot farming.  lol

Kathi Linz

Write a Marketable Children's Book in Seven Weeks by Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley

I've read a LOT of books on how to write books, especially children's books. If you want clear, concise, easy-to-understand directions, then pick up Write a Marketable Children's Book in Seven Weeks by Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley. Very practical, very simple, lots of good illustrations and samples.

Kathi Linz

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer's Manual by Rita Mae Brown

Lately, I've thought about doing some more writing, so I picked up a couple of books by writers on how to write and sell your work. 

The first one I read was Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer's Manual by Rita Mae Brown.  It really does have some different ideas.  No other writer's manual that I've ever seen talks about physical exercise as a way to improve one's writing.  Actually, she has several good points in that chapter.

I'm not so keen on the chapter that says that I need to learn Latin to write well.  I have an excellent grasp on the roots of many English words, be they Latin-by-way-of-France, Greek, Spanish, Germanic, or Native American.

I especially will not follow her advice about using a fountain pen or Selectric typewriter instead of a computer.  No editor would take the manuscript. This book was written in 1988.

Rita, how about an update?

Kathi Linz

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flight to Heaven: A Pilot's True Story, a Plane Crash...a lone survivor... a Journey to Heaven-- and Back by Capt. Dale Black

I liked Flight to Heaven: A Pilot's True Story, a Plane Crash...a Lone Survivor... a Journey to Heaven-- and Back by Capt. Dale Black better than 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. 

Dale Black's death or near-death experience changed him for the rest of his life.  As many of these stories are, this is as much about the accident and recovery period as it is about heaven.  In Dale's case, he becomes an airline pilot and a mission pilot in Africa.  You find out about an emergency landing in Zambia years after Dale's near-fatal crash when the entire country is in blackout conditions and the airport is shut down.  He and the members of his team are immediately arrested and spend the night witnessing to their jailers.

I found this book to be very satsifying. 

Kathi Linz

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to Make Money Using Etsy by Timothy Adam

In the book How to Make Money Using Etsy by Timothy Adam you will learn how to market your crafts online. 

Etsy is a website devoted to handmade crafts.  If you love what you make and the people around you tell you to get out and sell your stuff because it's so wonderful, then Etsy might be the right marketplace for you.  You don't have to go out in the weather and set up a tent or pay craft fair booth fees.

Besides all the good information on setting up your store, Mr. Adam gives you information on marketing techniques inside and outside of Etsy, ways to draw people to your stuff. 

In eight interviews with top sellers given at the end of the book, you will find out everything from time management to shipping tips.  Even photography techniques are discussed. 

This book is a foot-in-the-door for anyone who hopes to make a living selling their crafts.

Kathi Linz

The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss

The complete title is The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss.

Please note that the author does NOT have any intials behind his name.  He is not a doctor and makes no claims to being a medical professional.  What he does claim is that he has regular contact with sports people and coaches of all kinds.  These people, probably more so than doctors, are on the cutting edge of what works.

If you want to lose some weight, if you want to gain some muscle, if you want to increase your energy levels, this book will give you several ideas.  Some of the ideas will sound familiar, like vegetables and lean protein are good for weight loss.  Others might surprise you, like taking a cold shower will help you lose weight because the body has to work harder to get its temperature back up.

If you want some new ideas, this might be the book that will help you find a different way to get where you are going.

Kathi Linz

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Around the World In 80 Days by Jules Verne

At 11:00 AM, on Friday, July 15, the Fantastic Fictioneers (JCPL's Book Discussion Group) will talk about Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days.  Imagine "The Great Race" in 1872. Travel by rail, steamer, and elephant - yes, elephant - move our globe-trotting heros along.

Englishman Phileas Fogg, a wealthy, strong, silent type and his newly hired man-servant Passpartout are off on their adventures. A journey, not for sightseeing, studying foreign cultures, or enjoying local customs but on a bet.  Phileas Fogg has wagered 20,000 pounds (2.11 million in today's dollars) that traveling around the world could be accomplished in 80 days.

Mr. Fogg has the trip planned to the hour and he, along with Passpartout, set out on October 2, 1872. Their goal is to return to London by December 2, eighty days later. Unknown to Fogg, a Scotland Yard detective is following them. He believes Fogg matches the description of a London bank robber and is escaping the country with his haul from the bank.

Fogg, Passpartout, and the detective are met with adventures - or rather misadventures - that are dangerous, exciting, and often comical. Especially enjoyable is their journey across the United States including encounters with bison and Native Americans.

My only disappointment was that the travelers never used a hot air balloon. That means of transportation  was created by Hollywood in the 1956 movie adaption of Verne's book.

Enjoy the book! Learn about world customs, geography, and history. Get to know two of the most quirky characters in literature.

Jane Kaufman

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

In August, the Fantastic Fictioneers will take on a nonfiction book called The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede.  It sounded like an interesting book, so I picked it up.

On 9-11, 2001, there were 4546 civilian aircraft over the United States and over 250 planes over the ocean when American airspace was shut down because of the attack on the World Trade Center.  Canada took in the international flights of which 38 planes landed in Gander, Newfoundland.  The town of about 10,000 people took in 6,595 passengers, housed, fed, and clothed them for 4 or 5 days. 

By the time the "plane people" got off their planes and went through customs with nothing but their carry-on luggage, they were bused to various area shelters, given clean sheets, towels and new toothbrushes, were fed, showered (often in residents' homes), and, in general, made to feel like they'd suddenly come home.

The book mainly tells the story of a few families/individuals and their experiences during what became a continental crisis.

I found out that 9/11 ripple effect had far-ranging effects.  I found out that there are still places in the world where people treat strangers like family.  It made me want to visit Newfoundland someday.

Kathi Linz

Around the Corner: Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman

Sometimes a plain piece of knit or crochet can be transformed by a beautiful border.  The book Around the Corner: Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman shows how to join yarn to both knit and crochet pieces and figure out the correct number of stitches for straight places, corners, and curves.  A short section shows how to add crochet to woven cloth.

150 crocheted edging patterns go from simple to fancy with suggestions on color choices to make your work absolutely stunning.

I recommend this book for crocheters and for knitters who crochet enough to make finished edges.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Germans in Colonial Times

The Germans in Colonial Times. (1901) Lucy Forney Bittinger.

Determined to learn more about the folkways of the German and Swiss immigrants who probably included some of my ancestors in America, I purchased this book at a genealogy conference and took it with me to read while car maintenance was performed.

Most of my information these days arrives online as I graze points of particular interest, and I hoped this book on what sounds like a dry topic would hold my interest for an hour or so. As it turns out, I didn’t want to put it down. The next day I continued through it between chores, as unable to put it down for long as I would have been with a good mystery. 

People with the North Carolina ancestors so common in this area often don’t realize many of those Carolinians originated in the area of central Europe that became unified in 1871 as Germany. In some cases the ancestors migrated through Pennsylvania and traveled the Great Wagon Road south into the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia and North Carolina.

Would I find clues in this book to help me locate immigrant ancestors? Certainly I found unexpected food for thought that no history class ever provided in such rich detail. The first chapter is “Conditions in Germany Which Led to Emigration.” 

The Germans who survived more than a century of warfare from the early 1500s through the 1600s lived in a ravaged, diseased environment. Bittinger details the hardships under kings and princes who denied prosperity and exacted harsh penalties for resistance to accepting their beliefs. She tells of Mennonites from Switzerland as well as the Palatines of the Rhineland, Moravians, Schwenkfelders, Dunkers, Brethren – all aliens among the English in the colonies.

Sea journeys also are described. Emigrants must have wondered if they had jumped from frying pan to fire!

“[T]he first emigration of Germans to America in 1683 was influenced by purely religious motives and not at all by social conditions,” Bittinger says. Later emigration starting about 1709 did relate to social conditions. A hard winter left areas with “ragged, miserable Germans” heading to the Low Countries, then England. While these countries had some sympathy for the refugees, they could ill afford the cost of taking care of them. 

What happens next is told in the stories of individuals and groups as they arrive also in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the southern colonies. Communities profiled as they develop include Germantown, Schoharie, Tulpehocken, Ephrata, Hagar’s Town, Shenandoah, Frederica, Purrysburg, Waldoboro, Orangeburg, Gnadenhutten and others. The narrative continues through the Revolutionary War with German connections to George Washington, Moll Pitcher and the Hessians. 

This book is indexed and has a chronology as well as a bibliography. It is held by some Evergreen Indiana libraries as well as the Indiana University Library at Bloomington. Full text of various editions also is available for free download online at archive.org, openlibrary.org, books.google.com and possibly other locations and can be viewed on Ancestry Library Edition or Ancestry.com. The search inside the book works better on some efiles than others. Let us know if you find this book helpful in your research.

- Charlotte

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff

If you liked the Harry Potter series or Rick Riordan's Last Olympian books, you will probably like Henry H. Neff's "The Tapestry" trilogy. 

In Hound of Rowan, Max McDaniels finds an alcove in Chicago's Art Institute which contains an old tapestry.  The tapestry begins to glow.  When Max leaves the alcove, he discovers a letter in his pocket which says he is invited to attend the Rowan Academy in New England.  It is an exclusive school for people with special talents.  And the alcove is no longer there.

Immediately, Max notices that he is being stalked by strange people and is nearly kidnapped.  As it turns out, more than forty other Potentials have disappeared.  Max makes it safely to Rowan Academy where he begins his training.  He is paired with a mythical animal called a lymrill.  It is about the size of a wolverine with steel quills.  To make matters just a bit more touchy, Max falls afoul of the school bully, Alex.

The story has the flavor of Celtic mythology without borrowing heavily from it.  The lymrill is an animal invented by the author, but it feels right in the story. 

Max is a rough-cut main character, not always following the rules, somewhat scrappy (yes, he was provoked), and occasionally a bit unexpected.  He gets in quite a lot of trouble and still manages to save the day in superhero style. 

In this first book of the trilogy, we are introduced to a world-class villain.  I have no idea how the good guys are going to defeat him, but I'm willing to read more in order to find out.

Kathi Linz

Monday, June 20, 2011

Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days is one of those classics that I kept saying I would get around to reading. I needed to read it for the June 22 Fiction by Night book discussion, and like most "required reading", I had to make myself sit down with the book and just start reading.

Almost immediately I got pulled into Jules Verne's story and found that I liked the characters and looked forward to reading the next chapter. I was also enjoying the experience of reading it on my new e-reader, finding that I could increase the size of the print, that when I turned off my e-reader that it held my place.

I found myself escaping on this adventure with Phileas Fogg, the unemotional English gentleman who has too much time on his hands, and perhaps, too much money. He spends his days at his club and makes a wager that he can make it around the world in a mere 80 days. His valet Passepartout, however, enjoys the sights and sounds and people in the countries they are madly traveling through. Fogg spends a number of days by rail and steamer simply playing endless hours of whist with like-minded English gents who are not interested in anything outside their own realm of experience. It was interesting to see Fogg gradually slip out of his "fog" and begin to experience the adventure. Passepartout unwittingly forces Fogg to get involved with others. By the end of the adventure, we see that Fogg has changed.

There is added tension to the plot. Detective Fix of Scottland Yard is following Fogg, whom he suspects of stealing 50,000 pounds from a bank. I was afraid this might be too contrived -- how could he follow Fogg without raising any suspicions? Would this book end up being resolved by a lot of convuluted coincidences?

I remember when the big 1956 movie production of Around the World in Eighty Days came out. It won an academy award for Best Picture of the Year. I suppose the movie is responsible for me associating hot air balloons with the book. Even the Bantam paperback edition has hot air ballons on the cover.

It's amazing to think of living in a time when travel was slow and unpredictable. Railways lines could end before you were at your destination. Phileas Fogg proved he was resourceful and determined. Does he make the trip in eight days? Read the book and come discuss it with the rest of group this Wednesday night.

The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes

The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes was not on the list that I'd been compiling of books that I might like to read, but I'd heard of it before & was looking for a book to start my summer reading program so I checked it out--& I'm glad I did!

Even though the book discusses the science behind DNA & genetic testing, it is an easy read. In addition to some discussion of genetics, the author shares stories of his career in which his team is involved in genetic testing of the Iceman that was found in the Alps in the 1990s & of the bodies found in Russia, also in the 1990s, that may have belonged to the last tsar of Russia & his family. I found these stories of using genetics in these ways very interesting because they put the revelance of genetics into a historic context that I wasn't expecting.

The author explains how similar genetic testing helped to prove how the peoples of both Polynesia & Europe came to inhabit those places & explains the concept of the "seven daughters of Eve"--the theory that almost all native Europeans are descended from only seven women. He also spends a significant portion of the book describing what life might have been like for these seven women. This part was slightly disappointing to me because instead of only describing the genetic background on each woman or even the world in which each woman lived, the author created fictional stories about each woman's life. While this was interesting enough (especially for me, a fan of The Clan of the Cave Bear), it wasn't what I was expecting & seemed kind of odd in a nonfiction book.

Even though I realized that this book is 10 years old--a period in which science could change drastically--I still found it very interesting & educational. Not only did it discuss genetics, but to some extent, it covered archaeology, anthropology, & history--something for everyone!

Monica Boyer

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Fantastic Fictioneers are reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer for their Friday, June 17th meeting.

Although this book is fiction, I came away with a lot of information about what happened to the Channel Islanders during the German occupation of the islands in World War II. The Channel Islands belong to England and lie just off the coast of France in the English Channel. Hitler was thrilled to capture them because they were part of England.

A few people were having a pork dinner one evening, having killed an illegal pig, and ended up being out past curfew. As some of them were walking home, soldiers stopped the little group and asked why they were on the street. Elizabeth totally invented a story about how they were part of a literary society that happened to meet that evening. They became so engrossed in the discussion that they stayed too late. The group felt compelled to meet every two weeks thereafter to prove that the story was true.

That is the beginning of the Islanders' story, but the book actually begins after the war, when a journalist is contacted by one Island gentleman asking her if she can find a book for him. He had found her address inside the cover of a book that had happened to make its way to the bookshelves of the literary society. Although not all of the story is pleasant, it reads quickly and ends well.

I posted another article about this book on April 12, 2010. If you are interested in this book and want a little more before picking it up, please check out my previous posting.

Kathi Linz

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later" by Francine Pascal

For someone like me who read both Sweet Valley Twins & Sweet Valley High books while growing up, finding out that there was a new Sweet Valley book that seemed to be for adults was exciting! Sweet Valley Confidential centers, of course, on Jessica & Elizabeth Wakefield, as do the other four or five Sweet Valley series, but takes place about ten years after the events of the Sweet Valley High series.

Growing up reading about the Wakefields & Sweet Valley, it was neat to read a book about the same characters & see their lives as adults. While the book is not high-class literature, it was a fun & nostalgic read that covered revenge, romance, & reunion with characters from my youth.

Monica Boyer

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Dinosaur Hunter by Homer Hickam

The Dinosaur Hunter by Homer Hickam took me through some interesting twists and turns.  I wasn't ever quite sure who were the "good guys" (other than Mike Wire, the main character) and who were on the other side until the very end.

Mike, an ex-cop/retired P.I., works as a cowboy on a ranch in Montana.  One gets the impression that, if it isn't the end of the world, you can see it from there.  Part of the ranch is leased from the Bureau of Land Management, and thereby hangs the tale. 

Norman "Pick" Pickford asks permission to hunt for dinosaur bones on the ranch.  He claims he never sells bones, he only hunts them for scientific research.  (Do I hear a "Yeah, right!?")  Town politics, a cranky BLM agent, Russian mobsters, and a Hollywood director all get involved, making for a strange summary, but a very entertaining book.  One of them gets killed - and it's not because of the bones. 

Kathi Linz

Wild and Wonderful Fleece Animals by Linda Carr

If you like sewing and have little ones who love stuffed animals, I have just the book for you.  Pick up Wild and Wonderful Fleece Animals with Full-Size Patterns for 20 Cuddly Critters by Linda Carr. 

The list of "critters" ranges from spider and octopus to panda and penguin.  I personally wouldn't mind having the tiger or hedgehog.

Come and grab this book to stuff an Easter basket, make a happier birthday, or fulfill a holiday wish.

Kathi Linz

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Facts Are Subversive" by Timothy Garton Ash

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in recent world events and how facts play a part in understanding these events. -Jim Wichman

Thursday, March 10, 2011

wear this, toss that! by Amy E. Goodman

An interesting book with great color photos of what to and not to toss. She says at the beginning the book is for all ages and shapes, but truly--her ideas "fit" young adults or older adults in very good shape! The book may help you get started on weeding your clothes, makeup and more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

A patron told me I should read Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross because it was funny. I didn't find "funny" in it, but it was quite a gripping story.

Miss Julia's controlling husband dies suddenly of a heart attack leaving her with millions of dollars that she knew nothing about. Not too much later, her husband's illegitimate son is left on her doorstep. She may have been the only person in town who didn't know about him. The plot thickens several times as people try to talk/trick her out of her fortune or steal the boy right out from under her nose.

While I was reading the book, I thought that some of the decisions Miss Julia made were not completely thought out, but if I were in her shoes, I might not have been any smarter.

I enjoyed it well enough to go looking for the second book in the series.

Kathi Linz

Monday, February 28, 2011

Savvy by Ingrid Law

I like picking up the Newbery Award winners and honor books. I don't think that being an adult stops a person from enjoying well-written children's books. So I checked out a book called Savvy by Ingrid Law.

The Beaumont children become "gifted" on their thirteenth birthday. None of them know ahead of time what their "savvy" will be. Grandpa can cause the earth to move. One brother can make weather change. Mom's ability is that she learns things very quickly causing the people around her to think she is "perfect". Mom tells her children that everyone has a savvy, it's just that theirs are a little different from most people.

Mibs is just short of her thirteenth birthday when her father gets into a terrible accident. He's in a coma at the hospital about 90 miles away. When Mibs wakes up on her birthday, she believes that her savvy is to wake things up. (This, by the way, is NOT her actual savvy.) She determines to get to the hospital to wake up her father. Thus begins a trip unlike any I've ever read about in any other book.

The sequel is called Scumble. It's a term that means getting control of your savvy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Title: Harmony: a New Way of Looking at Our World
Authors: Charles, Prince of Wales; with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly.
Call Number: 577 Cha
The authors describe the environmental damage that our industrial society is creating around the world. They attempt to identify the changes in our philosophy that allows most of us to be unaware of the problem. Then the authors propose a different but old philosophy that would help us to make changes to help solve these problems.
-Posted for Jim Wichman, retired IDNR nursery program manager who supervised the production and shipping of 150 million tree seedlings to Indiana landowners.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

"How do you ever know that you really know a person?" The Pilot's Wife proposes this question and leaves you asking many more. Questions about love and marriage, trust and betrayal, and human relationships are explored in this novel by Anita Shreve.

This Oprah Book Club selection is one of several Shreve novels set in a large New Hampshire beach house that started out as a convent. Kathryn is awakened in the middle of a cold winter night with horrible news - her husband's plane has gone down - no survivors.

In the days and weeks that follow, Kathryn must cope not only with her own grief, but also her daughter's difficult adjustment, the publicity, the questions, and the growing uncertainty of her husband's past.

The Library's book discussion group, the Fantastic Fictioneers, rated The Pilot's Wife 8 out of 10. Enjoy this Anita Shreve book and well as her other beach house novels: Fortune's Rocks, Body Surfing, and Sea Glass.

Jane Kaufman

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

At the beginning of The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, Alan Christofferson's life is as near perfect as a human's can be. His wife McKale is the center of his life and his business is prospering.

When McKale has a disabling accident, Alan devotes himself singlemindedly to her care. Even though this is a proper prority, is turns out to be a disasterous mistake. Alan's business partner destroys Alan's business. When McKale dies, Alan believes he has nothing left to live for, but with almost her dying breath, McKale makes Alan promise to live.

Alan decides to walk across America from Seattle to Key West. What begins as an escape gradually turns into a journey of discovery. The road is neither smooth nor easy, but Alan persists.

Even without high suspense in the plot, I find myself looking forward to the next part of the journey.

Kathi Linz

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Age of Autism by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

The authors provide a good discussion of autism and the difficulties in finding the cause of this disease. Also, the authors point out the dangers of polluting our environment with mercury.
Call Number: 616.85882 Olm

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Learn to Do Yo-Yo Crochet by Wendy Harbaugh

The book Learn to Do Yo-Yo Crochet by Wendy Harbaugh teaches you a technique to make rows (and other shapes) of crocheted circles. You join the rows as you go, so there is no sewing to do at the end of the project.

If you don't mind crocheting along a chain, this is a fun way to create many interesting and useful items.

Kathi Linz

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Greenhouse Gardener's Companion: Growing Food and Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sunspace by Shane Smith

I'm trying to learn how to use -well, not a proper greenhouse - more of a season extender. I picked up Greenhouse Gardener's Companion: Growing Food and Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sunspace by Shane Smith. This book has EVERYTHING you could possibly need to know to be successful at starting, raising, and even overwintering plants for food and beauty.

Kathi Linz

Organic Crops in Pots: How to Grow Your Own Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell

Organic Crops in Pots: How to Grow Your Own Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell has great ideas for using readily available containers to grow everything you love to eat.

Kathi Linz

Crops in Pots: How to Plan, Plant, and Grow Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs in Easy-Care Containers by Bob Purnell

I'm starting to think ahead to spring. Crops in Pots: How to Plan, Plant, and Grow Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs in Easy-Care Containers by Bob Purnell gave me some excellent ideas for ways to expand my garden space, plants that I might grow differently, and different plants that I might grow. Blueberries in a pot. Who'd have thought it? I'm glad someone did and then shared it with the rest of us.

Kathi Linz

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne and translated by Jordan Stump

Looking for a classic to read, I picked up The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, translated by Jordan Stump. Although I'd never heard of this book, since it was written by Jules Verne & since the back of the book claims that some consider it to be his masterpiece, I decided to let it fill my desire for a classic & started reading.

The book follows the lives of a handful of men & a teenage boy after their hot air balloon drops them on a deserted island. The group is very knowledgeable & hardworking & so is able not only to survive in their new environment but to live an enjoyable life with many unexpected amenities. The author goes into some detail about the science & mechanics of how these amenities are achieved on the island.

I liked the characters & enjoyed their camaraderie. (I admit, though, that the group's complete & often-vocalized trust in the engineer of the group was a little irritating.) I also found it enjoyable to imagine the places on this imaginary island & the small world that the group had created for themselves.

A warning: This translation by Jordan Stump includes an introduction by Caleb Carr. This introduction includes the solution to the mystery that is mentioned in the book's title so if you don't like spoilers, don't read Carr's introduction until after you've finished the book. I wish someone had warned me!

Monica Boyer

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

From Needles to Hook: Complete Guide to Converting Knit Patterns to Crochet

From Needles to Hook: Complete Guide to Converting Knit Patterns to Crochet is put out by the Needlecraft Shop. It purports to show you the method of changing knit stitches to crochet.

What I like about the book is that it lays the knit pattern next to the crochet pattern and you can choose to work your piece either way.

What I don't like about the book is that, while it says you can use crochet stitches to make something that looks and feels like knitting, the actual texture of the work will NOT feel like knitting. A single crochet stitch is constructed in such a way that it will always be thicker and heavier than a knit or purl stitch.

If you want a similar look, you can come close with these ideas. If you want a similar feel to knit material, learn to knit.

Kathi Linz

P.S. Same for From Knit to Crochet: How to Get the Look and Feel of Knitting with Crochet! also put out by the Needlecraft Shop.