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Reading Wicked March 9, 2010

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I am in the middle of actually listening to the book Wicked the life and times of the wicked witch of the west.

The voice of narrator of John McDonough is absolutely perfect for this story.  I am about halfway through the narrative and look forward to the end.

One word of comment – I have never read a book that has made me want to read another book, by a different author.  This book makes me want to read the Oz books.  I want to hear how this author has captured that universe.

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An Echo in the Bone – book review March 4, 2010

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I have not changed my “now reading” tab in quite some time.  That is because I have been reading – well listening on audiobook – An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon.

I adore this author.  She is famous for saying “I like big books”, and this one, at 832 pages, definitely qualifies.  It is the latest installment in the saga (I really think we have moved beyond just story at this point) of Claire and Jamie.  This particular tome follows the stories of five different characters as they venture across Scotland and America in two different times.  Ms. Galbaldon has woven these four stories together into a satisfying whole as people meet and miss, make assumptions right and wrong, and just generally go about life as well as one can in war and trying times.  This book is set against the backdrop of the American Revolution.  There are ample examples of actual historical events in this book, notably the battle of Saratoga.  In an interesting afterward the author comments on several of the real people and events featured in this book.

I chose to listen, rather than read, this book.  The book was read by Davina Porter, who does a great job of making the voices real.  I especially love her french, it is authentic and it sounds right.

A last note: visit Diana Gabaldon’s website.  It is excellent.  She is not shy about giving to her fans.  There is so much information on this site; there are even podcasts.

This is most definitely a gold medal book.  Go out and buy it in either the paper form or as an audiobook.  I can heartily recommend both.

The Art and Soul of Glass Beads review February 22, 2010

Posted by hollyspinner in book review, Craft, gold metal books.
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This is my very favorite kind of book.  The kind that shares in the lives of artists and has inspiring pictures of the art.

The subtitle to The Art & Soul of Glass Beads by Susan Ray and Richard Pearce is “14 bead artists share their inspiration and methods.”  This book shares a little bit of each beadmaker’s life and journey.  The beginning of the book gives some glass bead theory.  What is the perfect bead – is there a perfect bead? There is two pages chronicling the how-to of making a bead, giving some great starting-out advice and fabulous resources.  Then the author jumps into the meat of this book, the artists and their art.  Each artist shares his/her story how they got into making glass beads and how that process and product has impacted their life.  With each artist is beautiful pictures of their beads alone and a piece of jewelry that utilizes their beads.  Each artist’s contact information is provided along with a bit of advice, a favorite, book, source of supplies or bead store.  The last few pages provide simple jewelry making techniques used to make some of the pieces.

This book is personable with so much information.  It is definitely a gold metal book.

And the winner is February 18, 2010

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I enjoy reading all kinds of books.  I wanted to come up with a system to rate the books that I review here on the old blog.  First I thought stars or something to that effect, but the truth is I would never put a review of a book that I didn’t like, so all of the reviews would be in the high stars thereby canceling out the whole point of a rating system.  Then I was watching the Olympics and a light bulb went on over my head.  What about medals? They all are good, some are just better than others so…

Here are the reading review medals for the hollyspinner blog:

I made the medals at the Official Seal Website and composed the motto In Gaudio Verbum – joy in word on the Latin motto generator, both fun places to spend some time.

Silver Wire Fusing January 28, 2010

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Here is the second of the birthday books.  I am super excited about this one.  I have been contemplating jewelry making for some time now.  The idea of making jewelry springs from a place of thrift – it is cheaper to make it yourself.  There is also the idea that if I make it myself, it will be one of a kind and it will be perfect for me, because, hey, I made it.  Now there is all different techniques to make jewelry: stringing, cold connections, soldering and fusing to name a few.  This was the first instructional book that I have seen on fusing and I was curious to see what it was all about.

Silver Wire Fusing by Liz Jones is wonderful.  I love, love, love the projects.  I want to make them all, but it is the technique and the simple, easy way that it is explained that I am really fired up about (pun intended).   It looks like magic.  Fire, silver and a little imagination and viola beautiful jewelry.  The way the author describes the process in the beginning of this book is perfect “It’s a no-mess, no-fuss version of silversmithing that anyone can learn and enjoy.”  I am taking Ms. Jones words to heart.  The book is laid out in the usual fashion of instruction books.  It begins with laying out the basics tools and workspace, then a basic tutorial in fusing with some practice exercises.   The bulk of the book is a  cornucopia of beautiful projects.  It appears that the later projects build on the skills learned earlier in the book.  Each project clearly lists the necessary tools, materials and skills (along with the pages that explain that skill in detail).  Clear step-by-step instructions along with illustrative photos and hints provide a clear picture how to construct each project. The last few pages include an inspirational gallery, basic jewelry making techniques, a resource page and index.

I would definitely recommend the purchase of this book.

Knitting for Baby January 27, 2010

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I had a package arrive on my doorstep, a late birthday present from my awesome brother.  He had picked a couple of books off of my Amazon wishlist.  Here is a little birthday book review

The first book I pulled out of the box was Knitting for Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas

I love the layout and the aesthetic of the book.  It has simple lines and a modern feel.  There is a very informative how-to basic skills sections in the beginning with easy to follow drawings illustrating the text.  The projects are arranged in order of complexity.  All of them have great pictures, with clear instructions.  I tried to pick just one favorite and it was really hard.  I made the “beginner booties” which went well and would definitely make again.  I really love the “baby’s first ball” and “baby’s blocks” which are both basically the same idea, but one is a cube and one is a sphere.  There is a great variety of patterns.  There are some sweaters, both for baby and mommy, toys, a diaper bag, mitts and booties.  At the end of the book there is a list of yarn sources.  Overall I think this is a well done book and would advise adding it to your bookshelf.

Castle Waiting January 14, 2010

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I read a book today – the whole book- all 457 pages.  It helped that it is a graphic novel with lots of great comic (as in book) illustration. That book was created by Linda Medley , of course it was Castle Waiting.

I love a good picture book, that is a book that uses words and pictures together to tell a tale. This is no child’s story, told with complexity,  this series of interwoven short  stories teach lessons in kindness, tolerence and community.  At first blush it has all the trappings of your average fairy tale: fairies, talking animals, gypsies, princesses, witches and nuns, (well sort of).  The characters are believable and I wanted to hear each of their storeis.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  I am so glad that I found this book at my local library.  I see there is also a volume 2.  I hope I can pick this one up and find out what happens to the inhabitants of Castle Waiting.

But, but wait there’s more June 17, 2009

Posted by hollyspinner in book review, Knitting.
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Due to baby and other stuff in my life I have basically ignored what is new out there in the fiber world at large.  So I was perusing the knitting section at my local library and found a new domino knitting book Vivian Hoxbro.  I loved her first book on domino knitting so much I actually own it.  The second book is just as wonderful as the first, explaining the idea behind the project, giving a lot of jumping off room for one to make their own pattern, which I love to do.  I am especially enamored with the sock/slipper pattern.  I really like knitting domino knitting, because it is a bunch of little pieces of knitting connected together without seaming.

Then, as if that wasn’t fabulous enough, I found another of my favorite knitting books Mason Dixon Knitting at a garage sale.  I was so excited.  Then the next week I go to the library and there is the next Mason Dixon Knitting book. In this book I found a project that neatly solves a problem I have.  The problem of too much undesirable wool – in natural colors.  Added bonus it has an easy steek, so I can learn steeking as well.

Kiddie Knit Lit January 15, 2008

Posted by hollyspinner in book review, Knitting.
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I was reading with the daughter for the Book-It program, pizza is such a great incentive to read.  The book she chose was He Bear She Bear by Stan and Jan Beresnstain.  It’s a bright beginner reading book for young readers, you know, big print, small words.  The book goes through all the things girl and boy bears can do. Girl bears can paint, build, bulldoze, sew, doctor, race, study fish, and trampoline.  Boy bears can fix, sell, drive, climb ladders, paint art, cowboy and Knit, knit socks, specifically.  I was so delighted to find this little bit of knitting in such a charming children’s book.

Yarn where you least expect it December 13, 2007

Posted by hollyspinner in book review, Podcasts.
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This is not a book review of a knitting book, it’s a mystery.  The path to this book is about as twisted as the plot.  Let me start at the beginning.  I am quite the bibliophile and not only enjoy reading but also enjoy listening to podcasts about books.  So one day I was lisening to Words at Large, CBC’s  (that’s Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for all of you south of the boarder) podcast about books and such.  I was listening to epidsode 80 where Ian Rankin (who, incidently, has the most amazing speaking voice) was being interviewed in front of a live audience.  He spoke with such pathos about Edinburgh, the city where his books are based, and about his main character John Rebus a Detective Inspector who does not play well with others and does not always follow the rules.  So I went to my local library looking for the first book Knots and Crosses but, alas, they did not have in thier collection.  I checked out Let it Bleed which was the earliest in the series that I could find.   It is a good police procedural with a whodunit and a colorful cast of characters.   I was reading along trying to figure out who did do it, when I happened upon chapter 29.  Rebus is looking for something.   He is checking out a building in Leith Walk interviewing various tennants.  One of the tennants is Combined Knitwear.  He goes in the shop and there is “Wool, Lots and lots of wool.”  and Detective Inspector John Rebus, who has to drink rather copiously in order to sleep dreamlessly, has a moment of peace.  It was such a lovely moment.  If you like a good whodunit with lots of twists and turns and don’t mind a bit of blood and swearing I would certainly recommend this mystery