Friday, April 28, 2006

TGIF - or what to do when you have a d'oh day

I don't know if anyone else has these days when you wake up 20% less smart than the day before? Recently I've had a few days like this and today is one of them. You wake up and it takes forever to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. Thinking seems slower - thank goodness you haven't forgotten how to get yourself dressed.

You feel like you are thinking through a head of mattress stuffing. You are no longer your normal verbally acute self. Words escape you at an alarming rate. You suddenly understand the term "slow" because it feels like someone has hit the mute button on the smart part of your brain.

Thank god it is Friday so that I'm not going to be a danger to the population for the next two days by trying to negotiate my way through work. Eek!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Have Sock, Will Travel

I have joined the sock camp. I have to confess that until now the only socks I've knitted were done with chunky yarn from Pattons which turned out a sock that was not wearable with shoes.

What first began to draw me to today's world of socks was attracted by the beauty of the hand-dyed sock yarn. I love the colour combinations people put together to create the lush colours (which is what sent me on a hunt to Lettuce Knits for some of the coveted Socks that Rock yarn). But this past weekend, I experienced some of the larger benefits of the sock phenomena.

- I pack for the BookCrossing convention in a frenzy of book lust. Box of books to release - check. Socks and underwear - check. Books wrapped in pretty paper for swapping - check. Halfway to Toronto I realized with extreme horror that I had forgotten to pack knitting! How was this possible? What was I going to do during the workshops on Saturday?

Now do not despair too long since, luckily for me, I was staying with a fellow knitter who was willing to let me dive into her stash! Heather generously allowed me to snag some sock yarn and needles so that I could keep my hands busy during Convention meetings on Saturday. (No really, I am getting to the portability part..)

Sitting there in the workshop I realized just how handy socks are. They are small and easily slip into a bag. The double-pointed needles lay flat for storage in a purse. The project doesn't take up a lot of space around one either - unlike a bulky sweater. Wow!

Community - I wasn't the only sock knitter in the room! There were other sock knitters up near the front and they quickly sensed other socks in the room and came round for a look-see. Many non-knitters are fascinated by someone knitting socks. I think it is all the needles sticking out, makes the entire process seem much more mysterious than it really is.

Am I addicted? Too soon to say but definitely I have entered the first flush of romance with this knitting phenomena. And this cute slouch sock with be journeying with me to the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival this weekend. Perhaps I will be able to find it some attractive mates to join the stash...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

BookCrossing Convention Update

I can't believe the number of books! Table after table of books people brought to share with other BookCrossing. I think there were four 8 foot tables chock full of books. I managed to restrain myself and only came out with about 15 but who knows how good my restraint will be today...*whistle*.

I had a lot of fun "meeting" so many BookCrossers and BookRelay in person! Shouts out to all my book's to lots of fun today and tomorrow.

Friday, April 21, 2006

So cute!

I just had to post this new picture of Aaron with his Mom, Jenn. He's grown so much and this is one of those priceless shots.

It's Convention Time!

BookCrossing convention here I come! I'm going to meet lots of my BookRelay friends and swap out tons of books with other book lovers. I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend.

I'm packed up and ready to go with lots of books sent on ahead with Rhonda and Jennifer. Rhonda spent the last two nights visiting from Indiana and is spending today with other BookRelay friends visiting BookCloseOuts and Niagara Falls. Me? I'm at work, sneaking a few minutes here to post since I won't be back on again until Sunday night when I trundle home with my pile o' books with a book hangover. LOL

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Today's Post...or How not to spit water through your nose

Don't read Walter Kirn while drinking water...or you will end up drenched.

Found today on does Kirn come up with this stuff?

If unborn children really had rights, the infant daughter of the actress Katie Holmes and the temporarily-humanoid immortal starseed that styles itself 'Tom Cruise' would have been delivered by a lawyer. Breaking the absolute silence of the delivery room, the lawyer, on the infant's behalf, would have sued for spiritual guardianship and demanded that all profits earned from sale of the child's story and image-- including 'virtual' profits in the form of publicity for its parents -- be deposited in a trust account to fund its lifelong psychotherapy needs. It would also be stipulated that such therapy could not be interfered with or curtailed by 'Cruise' or his religious representatives.

Monday, April 17, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Saving Cascadia by John J. Nance

John J. Nance’s 17th book, Saving Cascadia, departs from the formula used in many of his earlier novels, which focused much of the action in airplanes. While fans of the genre may be disappointed in this new direction, they will still get some edge-of-their-seat flying time - just in helicopters rather than jetliners – combined with a ticking time-bomb in the form of an earthquake.

Seismologist Dr. Doug Lam has spent years researching his theory of Resonant Amplication: the idea that continuous small resonances sent into a “locked zone” can eventually trigger the big one for the Pacific Northwest, an earthquake larger than any the region has seen since the Alaska earthquake of 1964 or the largest tsunami to hit the region which was triggered by a massive earthquake in 1700. For 300 years, seismic activity has been building up in the Quilieute Quiet Zone, just waiting for the trigger to release another magnitude 9+ earthquake.

All someone needs to do to trigger that major catastrophe is to “pull the plug” on the pent-up seismic activity, and construction of Cascadia Island’s new casino resort may have done just that. Now Doug has to figure out a way to stop the devastating tsunami he knows could take many lives at any moment and save the woman he loves.

Saving Cascadia has all the requisite features of an eco-thriller: a discredited scientist, impending natural disaster, politicians who refuse to see the truth, conflict between family members and a heroine on the run from unknown bad guys. Rather than allowing this novel to become just another formulaic thriller, Nance uses his significant scientific knowledge to raise the bar for the rest of the genre.

Having completed extensive research for his 1988 book on earthquakes, On Shaky Ground, Nance is dealing with familiar subject matter in this offering. Solid research is a prerequisite for any author who wishes to add a true psychological thrill to their adventure tale. Presenting a scenario that has the potential to happen creates greater tension and engages the reader’s imagination more quickly. Here Nance handles the earthquake research with confidence, providing enough context to create credibility without bogging down the pacing with too much background.

Where Saving Cascadia does fall flat is in the romance between Doug and Jennifer Lindstrom (pilot and CEO of Nightingale Aviation). The relationship felt forced, as if it was added purely to create additional tension, but only succeeded in hindering the exact tension it was meant to enhance. Since there seemed to be little spark there, Jennifer’s supposed jealousy felt contrived and distracted from the action spinning quickly out of control.

Nance displayed a much more able hand in the relationship between Jennifer and her father, Sven. The complex psychological mess swirling between them rings true and aids in fleshing out both their characters, while also ratcheting up the price-tag on the natural disaster when their conflict threatens to hinder rescue operations. The believability of these characters creates a stronger emotional bond for the reader, pulling them deeper into Nance’s world.

Unlike many fast-paced thrillers, the surprise twist in Saving Cascadia came completely out of left field, taking this reader by surprise. In hindsight the clues were present, but so well integrated into the plot that they didn’t stand out like a beacon in a lighthouse.

John J. Nance has built an impressive body of work since first publishing in 1990: 13 fiction and 5 non-fiction. A licenced commercial pilot, veteran of the US Air Force, internationally recognized air safety analyst and advocate, author and public speaker, he folds all this technical knowledge into his writing. Saving Cascadia, released at the end of January 2006 in mass market paperback, and the soon to be released Orbit (March 2006) are his newest works.

See the review as it is posted at Curled Up with a Good Book - Saving Cascadia.

BOOK REVIEW: The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue

“I learned the constellations when I was little…At one time, I believed the mythological creatures and objects were truly there, held in place by giant pins. The light points of their configurations, you see. I thought if any of those pins came loose, they would be at the mercy of thin air – and they’d fall to the ground and crush me. So for a couple of years, I’d only go outside on cloudy nights. I decided that would give them something on which to land, other than me.”

An astonishing novel is always a gift to readers but, when that gift comes as a debut novel, the reader is left floundering. How can this illuminating author be so in tune with her craft so early in her career? Ronlyn Domingue has gifted the world with a literary novel that is unique on so many levels; a novel that compels the reader to think and to challenge their conception of reality and love, as well as the construction of the novel itself.

The Mercy of Thin Air is first and foremost a novel of discovery. Set in the past, present and “between”, on the surface level, it tells the story of Raziela Nolan, who dies before experiencing most of life. Razi reflects on growing in the 1920s as a woman determined to become a doctor and who becomes a fierce advocate for women’s emancipation and reproductive rights. Through her narration, readers are slowly drawn into the story of her love affair with Andrew and the circumstances of her death. Interspersed into these reminiscences, Razi spies on the turbulent relationship of Amy and Scott, a young couple whose home she currently inhabits.

On a deeper level, this novel delves into philosophy, on the nature of love and loss, existence and memory. Grief defines characters in The Mercy of Thin Air. It is a buffeting force that polishes some into individuals who are lean in emotion, able to withstand the all-consuming nature of grief. Others give into loss and live in the pit of despair. Domingue provides readers with subtle examples of the role this enigmatic emotion can play in our lives and beyond. Emotions, for some, are the mooring that holds us in place – the pins – which can be dislodged by an overflowing of strong feelings, leaving us in a free-fall where anything can happen. This theme – “the mercy of grief” – creates a strong foundation in the novel.

The Mercy of Thin Air also provides an interesting insight into the history of women’s rights. Both Razi and Amy are heavily involved in activism and it is this political aspect of their natures which draws Razi to explore the mysteries surrounding Amy’s life. Domingue cleverly utilizes this plot line to force readers to confront their personal views on reproductive and gender issues.

The Mercy of Thin Air began as a short story, with the second draft being submitted as Domingue’s thesis at Louisiana State University. The comparisons to Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones are inevitable but, as Domingue states in an interview with Cynthia Harrison (February 12, 2006):

“As for The Lovely Bones, it wasn’t an influence. The Mercy of Thin Air began as a short story in January 1999, and I started to work on it as a novel shortly after that. I didn’t read Sebold’s novel until I was nearly done with the last draft of The Mercy of Thin Air. I was curious about her novel but didn’t read it so that it wouldn’t interfere with my creative process. I knew comparisons would be inevitable, and I wanted to be prepared when agents and others asked.”

The character of Lionel, someone Razi meets “between”, acts as the “chorus” – asking the questions Razi is unable to and focusing the reader’s mind on the nature of existence. What is the nature of those “between” and how is it that they still “are”? Domingue has addressed that question by researching quantum physics and various religions and philosophies, all of which play a part in shaping this extraordinary novel. She allows the question to exist throughout and she forces readers to draw their own conclusions, rather than taking the easy way out by answering.

In the end, The Mercy of Thin Air is a different novel for every reader. For some, it relates the quantum physics answer that all possible actions/lives exist at once. For others, it is the Buddhist concept that the past, present, and future are all found in the present moment. Still others will find it to be, as Domingue states, “…about how fragile we are as physical and spiritual beings.”

See the review as it is posted at Curled Up with a Good Book - The Mercy of Thin Air.

A Worrying Trend - Could this be a good thing?

"Several trends are driving the popularity of the memoir today. One is the public's continuing fascination with reality TV. The programming genre's obsessive interest in the lives of ordinary people and B-List celebrities has migrated to the printed word." From the Wall Street Journal via BookSlut

What happened to the good old autobiography? Is it a dying artform?

Continuing controversy over the Harry Potter books

A Gwinnett County, Georgia, parent wants to remove the Harry Potter books from the county's public school libraries. Why? I'm glad you asked:
On the forms, she wrote that she objected to the series’ “evil themes, witchcraft, demonic activity, murder, evil blood sacrifice, spells and teaching children all of this.” She wrote she had not read the series because it is long, and she is a working mother of four.

I don't know which is my favorite part: the fact that she didn't read the series "because it is long," or the reference to "evil blood sacrifice." (Is there good blood sacrifice?) Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers react to the controversy, and thankfully bring some perspective to the issue:

"I am a Christian. I feel that Christian rights are being abolished in this country. Everyone talks about our views being pushed on them. But what about our beliefs? Don't we have any rights at all?"
— Posted by "red" on the message board

I have heard the Constitution has something to say about free expression and nonestablishment of religion, but I haven't read it, because it is long. (Thanks to Leila and Tim for the links.)

This was posted on BookSlut today and I had to follow the link through to the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The reader response that got me was this one:

"I totally agree with this parent seeking to have Harry Potter books removed. If we suggested the Bible be on a list of mandatory books for students to read as a part of their novel requirement, there would be an immediate protest. Therefore, as a Christian, we must begin to take a stand and begin to show accountability for what our children are being taught and exposed to."
— Posted by Mendi on the message board (ed. bolding added by me)

This raises an interesting point. I'm sure most parents would have no problem with the Bible being read as a novel as part of a literature course. What most people object to, I'm sure, is it being taught as religion in public schools.

I, personally, am all for studying the Bible as an important piece of literature since it has had such an influence on common literary themes, just like Greek and Roman myths have, and I know I studied those in school.

*ducks in preparation for the flames*

BookCrossing Convention

This weekend is the annual BookCrossing Convention and this year it is being held in Toronto. I'm excited to final get a chance to meet many of the members that I've spent the last year and a half chatting with online. So if you're in Toronto this weekend and you spot a book in the wild, pick it up and help in on its journey - you'll make a bookcrosser happy!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Muriel Spark died

I saw this on BookSlut today. I love the work of Muriel Spark and I'm so sad to hear that she has died. Author of 20 books, Muriel Spark is probably most famous for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

I have been collecting her works for some time now and look forward to truly learning to know the work of this fabulous author. The literary world has lost another star.

Lettuce Knits - I finally managed a visit!

This morning I paid a visit to Lettuce Knits. I keep hearing about this fabulous knitting store on the various knitting blogs. Their recent newsletter announcing the arrival of a new shipment of Socks that Rock meant that an immediate visit was required! Luckily I had already planned an overnight trip to Toronto to visit my friend Jennifer.

What a fantastic shop and yet so compact. The Socks that Rock were prominently displayed in the front window and after about 15 minutes of debate, the Moss Agate won out. I also left with a beautiful double point set of US #1 Rosewood needles from Lantern Moon.

After the yarn shopping, we wandered the shops in Kensington Market. I picked up some spices and a fun pair of sequined mules in spring green.

Fiction Book Reviews - Master List

This is a list of the novels (non-category) that I've reviewed to date.

* The Virgin of Flames - Chris Abani

* Haunting Bombay - Shilpa Agarwal

* Chicago - Alaa Al Aswany

* The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani

* The Annotated Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen, annotated and edited by David M. Shapiro

* The Brooklyn Follies – Paul Auster

* Samedi the Deafness - Jesse Ball

* The Way Through Doors - Jesse Ball

* The Butterfly Workshop – Gioconda Belli

* Anonymous Lawyer: a Novel – Jeremy Blachman

* Warrior and Witch – Marie Brennan

* The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier

* The View from the Seventh Layer - Kevin Brockmeier

* Boomsday - Christopher Buckley

* Wonderful World - Javier Calvo

* My Lady of Cleves - Margaret Campbell Barnes

* Famous Writers School: a Novel – Steven Carter

* After Helen - Paul Cavanagh

* One Mississippi – Mark Childress

* The Nature of Monsters - Clare Clark

* The Rain Before It Falls - Jonathan Coe

* Slow Man - J.M. Coetzee

* The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly

* Out of Character - Vanessa Craft

* The Saffron Kitchen: a Novel – Yasmin Crowther

* The Dead Fish Museum: Stories – Charles D'Ambrosio

* Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly – Robert Dalby

* House of Many Gods – Kiana Davenport

* Goodbye Lemon – Adam Davies

* The Thin Place - Kathryn Davis

* Spinning Dixie - Eric Dezenhall

* The Mercy of Thin Air - Ronlyn Domingue

* The House of Paper - Carlos María Domínguez

* The Stolen Child - Keith Donohue

* The Best Place to Be - Lesley Dormen

* The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards

* The Ministry of Special Cases - Nathan Englander

* Troubling Love - Elena Ferrante

* Enchantments – Linda Ferri

* My Name is Bosnia - Madeleine Gagnon

* Contagion - Patrick M. Garry

* The Dodecahedron or A Frame for Frames: a novel of sorts – Paul Glennon

* Queen of the Underworld – Gail Godwin

* Three Views of Crystal Water – Katherine Govier

* The Uncrowned Queen – Posie Graeme-Evans

* The Color of a Dog Running Away - Richard Gwyn

* Austenland: a Novel - Shannon Hale

* The Rhythm of the Road: a Novel – Albyn Leah Hall

* The Priest's Madonna - Amy Hassinger

* The Secret of Lost Things - Sheridan Hay

* Ticknor - Sheila Heti

* The Exquisite - Laird Hunt

* The Seas - Samantha Hunt

* The Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs

* The Marble Orchard - Paul Johnson

* The Attack - Yasmina Khadra

* Mission to America – Walter Kirn

* The White Rose - Jean Hanff Korelitz

* Kabbalah: a Love Story - Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

* The Girls - Lori Lansens

* The Boat - Nam Le

* Lavinia - Ursula K. LeGuin

* A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka

* The Inhabited World - David Long

* Family Planning - Karan Mahajan

* Foreign Tongue - Vanina Marsot

* Remainder - Tom McCarthy

* Church of the Dog - Kaya McLaren

* The Brambles - Eliza Minot

* The Rest of Her Life - Laura Moriarty

* The Restoration of Emily - Kim Moritsugu

* Natural Flights of the Human Mind - Clare Morrall

* Wizard of the Crow - Ngugi wa Thiong'o

* The Feline Plague - Maja Novak

* Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips

* The End of the Alphabet - CS Richardson

* Homeland - Paul William Roberts

* The Rent Collector - B. Glen Rotchin

* Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife - Sam Savage

* Black & White - Dani Shapiro

* Was She Pretty? - Leanne Shapton

* Work Shirts for Madmen - George Singleton

* Maddalena: Book One of The Golden Tripolis Trilogy - Eva Jana Siroka

* The Man of My Dreams - Curtis Sittenfeld

* Salmon Fishing in Yemen - Paul Torday

* The Ministry of Pain - Dubravka Ugrešić

* Petropolis - Anya Ulinich

* Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir

* Angelos - Robina Williams

Chick Lit & Romance Book Reviews - Master List

In an effort to reduce the long list of reviews in my sidebar, I decided to create an entry of each of the category of books I review. That way I can update this entry and link to just this entry in the sidebar.

This is a list of the chick lit and romance novels that I've reviewed to date.

Chick Lit
* Swimming Upstream, Slowly – Melissa Clark

* Some Like it Haute – Julie K.L. Dam

* Toss the Bride - Jennifer Manske Fenske

* The School for Husbands - Wendy Holden

* Miss Understanding - Stephanie Lessing

* Hooked - Jane May

* Upside Down Inside Out - Monica McInerney

* The List: a Love Story in 781 Chapters - Aneva Stout

* Innocence – Kathleen Tessaro

Romance novels
* The Taming of the Duke – Eloisa James

* Teeth in a Pickle Jar – H.B. Milligan

* The Kiss - Elda Minger

Paranormal Romances
* The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Annette Blair

* Luscious Craving - Cameron Dean

* Passionate Thirst - Cameron Dean

* Even Vampires Get the Blues - Katie MacAlister

* Just One Sip - Katie MacAlister, Jennifer Ashley, and Minda Webber

* Light My Fire - Katie MacAlister

* He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot - Stephanie Rowe

* Must Love Dragons - Stephanie Rowe

* Damsel Under Stress - Shanna Swendson

* Kitty and the Midnight Hour – Carrie Vaughn

* Kitty Goes to Washington - Carrie Vaughn

* Kitty Takes a Vacation - Carrie Vaughn

* 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover & Hex Appeal - Linda Wisdom

Mystery Book Reviews - Master List

This is a list of the mystery books I've reviewed. Most of the mystery books I've reviewed so far, tend to be of the cozy mystery type. With time I'm sure this will expand. I've put the "type" of mystery in brackets after the author's name, as an FYI.

* Interior Motives: a Deadly Décor Mystery - Ginny Aiken (cozy)

* And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander (historical)

* One Good Turn: a Novel - Kate Atkinson

* Empire of Light - David Czuchlewski (psychological)

* The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters: a Novel - Gordon Dahlquist (gothic suspense)

* The Keep - Jennifer Egan (gothic suspense)

* The Cruel Stars of the Night: a Mystery - Kjell Eriksson (police procedural)

* Bad Blood - Linda Fairstein (legal)

* Sins and Needles: a Needlecraft mystery - Monica Ferris (cozy)

* A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Finch (historical)

* Volk's Game - Brent Ghelfi (thriller)

* Lake of Sorrows - Erin Hart

* Waking Lazarus - T.L. Hines (Christian psychological thriller)

* The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death - Charlie Huston (noir)

* Sonnet of the Sphinx - Diane Killian (cozy)

* The Monsters of Gramery Park – Danny Leigh (psychological)

* Conduct in Question - Mary E. Martin (legal)

* Final Paradox - Mary E. Martin (legal)

* The Oxford Murders - Guillermo Martínez

* How to Marry a Ghost - Hope McIntyre

* Season of the Witch - Natasha Mostert (gothic suspense)

* Saving Cascadia - John J. Nance (thriller)

* Find Me: a Mallory novel - Carol O'Connell (police procedural)

* Sisters on the Case - edited by Sara Paretsky

* Nineteen Seventy-Four - David Peace (noir)

* Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl

* Angelica - Arthur Phillips (historical)

* Secret Asset - Stella Rimington (espionage)

* Friend of the Devil - Peter Robinson (police procedural)

* The Interpretation of Murder: a Novel - Jed Rubenfeld (historical)

* A Deadly Yarn - Maggie Sefton (cozy)

* The Thirteenth Tale: a Novel - Diane Setterfield (literary)

* Murder by the Slice - Livia J. Washburn (cozy)

* The Bullet Trick - Louise Welsh (psychological)

* The Blind Assassins - Robert Wilson (police procedural)

Young Adult Book Reviews - Master List

In an effort to reduce the long list of reviews in my sidebar, I decided to create an entry of each of the category of books I review. That way I can update this entry and link to just this entry in the sidebar.

This is a list of the young adult books I've reviewed to date.

* Confessions of a Teen Nanny – Victoria Ashton

* The Unwritten Girl - James Bow

* Johnny Kellock Died Today - Hadley Dyer

* Incantation - Alice Hoffman

* Me, Dead Dad & Alcatraz – Chris Lynch

* Un Lun Dun - China Miéville

* Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett

* Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog - Ysabeau S. Wilce

Children's Books
* The Butterfly Workshop - Gioconda Belli

* In Arctic Waters - Laura Crawford

* Night's Nice - Barbara and Ed Emberley

* Miss Bea's Seaside - Louise Harding

* Imagine Harry - Kate Klise

* Balloons Balloons Balloons - Dee Lillegard

* Peek-a-Boo, I Love You - Sandra Magsamen

* Hondo & Fabian - Peter McCarty

* Sergio Makes a Splash! - Edel Rodriguez

* Dragon Dancing - Carole Lexa Schaefer

* What Time is it, Mr. Crocodile? - Judy Sierra

* Wangari's Trees of Peace - Jeanette Winter

Knitting Book Reviews - Master List

This is a list of the knitting books I've reviewed to date. They cover a wide range of topics and "categories" of knitting books. If you have a knitting related book you think is a must have of every knitter, or the best look at a topic, please leave a note in the comments here and I'll try and review it.

* The Natural Knitter: how to choose, use, and knit natural fibers from alpaca to yak - Barbara Albright

* Knitting Classic Style - Véronik Avery

* Pretty in Punk - Alyce Benevides & Jacqueline Milles

* The Knitter's Guide to Yarn Cocktails - Anastasia Blaes and Kelly Wilson

* The Best of Interweave Knits - ed. by Ann Budd

* Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave - Ann Budd and Anne Merrow

* Twinkle’s Big City Knits: 31 chunky-chic designs - Wenlan Chia

* Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time – Betty Christiansen

* KnitKnacks: Much Ado About Knitting - introduction by Kari Cornell

* Home Knits: Luxurious Handknits for Every Room of the House – Suss Cousins

* Suss Design Essentials - Suss Cousins

* Pretty Knits - edited by Susan Cropper

* The Northampton Wools Knitting Book: the Store Patterns - Linda A. Daniels

* Mother of Purl: Friends, Fun, and Fabulous Designs at Hollywood's Knitting Circle – Edith Eig

* Inspired Cable Knits: 20 Creative Designs for Making Sweaters and Accessories – Fiona Ellis

* Inspired Fair Isle Knits: 20 creative designs inspired by the elements - Fiona Ellis

* Knitting Beyond the Edge - Nicky Epstein

* Knitting Never Felt Better - Nicky Epstein

* Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers - Nicky Epstein

* Kaffe Knits Again - Kaffe Fassett

* Mason-Dixon Knitting - Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne

* Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature – Norah Gaughan

* Indigo Knits - Jane Gottelier

* Andean Inspired Knits: Designs in Luxurious Alpaca – Helen Hamann

* Knitting Little Luxuries - Louisa Harding

* Miss Bea's Seaside - Louisa Harding

* Natural Knits for Babies and Moms – Louisa Harding

* Knitty Gritty Knits - Vickie Howell

* Wendy Knits - Wendy D. Johnson

* Runway Knits: 30 Fashion-Forward Designs - Berta Karapetyan

* Every Mother is a Daughter: the neverending quest for success, inner peace, and a really clean kitchen (recipes and knitting patterns included)- Perri Klass & Sheila Solomon Klass

* Classic Knits & Glamour Knits - Erika Knight

* knit.101 - editors of knit.1 magazine

* The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing - Linda Labelle

* Knits from a Painter’s Palette: modular masterpieces in handpainted yarn - Maie Landra

* New Ideas for Today's Knitting - Jean Leinhauser & Rita Weiss

* Andean Folk Knits: Great Designs from Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador & Bolivia - Marcia Lewandowski

* Naughty Needles - Nikol Lohr

* Morehouse Farm Merino Knits: more than 40 farm-fresh designs - Margrit Lohrer

* Knitting Color - Brendon Mably

* The Elegant Knitter - Gina Macris

* Nature Babies - Tara Jon Manning

* Knits Three Ways - Melissa Matthay

* Knitting Lingerie Style - Joan McGowan-Michael

* The Museum of Kitschy Stitches: a Gallery of Notorious Knits - Stitchy McYarnpants

* Greetings from Knit Café - Suzan Mischer

* Romantic Hand Knits: 26 Flirtatious Designs that Flatter Your Figure - Annie Modesitt

* Big Girl Knits: 25 Big, Bold Projects Shaped for Real Women with Real Curves – Jillian Morena & Amy R. Singer

* Luxury Knitting: the Ultimate Guide to Exquisite Yarns Cashmere ● Merino ● Silk - Linda Morse

* Knitting Memories - edited by Lela Nargi

* Knitting Through It - edited by Lela Nargi

* Spin to Knit: the Knitter's Guide to Making Yarn – Shannon Okey

* The Knitter's Book of Yarn - Clara Parkes

* Field Guide to Knitting - Jackie Pawlowski

* Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

* Knitting Rules! The Yarn Harlot’s Bag of Knitting Tricks - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

* Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair - Laurie Perry

* knitspeak: an A to Z guide to the language of knitting patterns - Andrea Berman Price

* Punk Knits - Share Ross

* Lacy Little Knits - Iris Schreier

* No Sheep for You - Amy R. Singer

* Victorian Lace Today - Jane Sowerby

* Knitting for Him - Martin Storey & Wendy Baker

* Knitting America - Susan Strawn

* Lion Brand Yarn Vintage Styles for Today: more than 50 patterns to knit and crochet - edited by Nancy J. Thomas and Charlotte J. Quiggle

* Expectant Little Knits - Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott

* Knit 2 Together: Patterns and Stories for Serious Knitting Fun - Tracey Ullman & Mel Clark

* The Best of Vogue® Knitting - by editors of Vogue® Knitting magazine

* The Vogue® Knitting Stitchionary Volume Three: Color Knitting by editors of Vogue® Knitting magazine

Non-Fiction Book Reviews - Master List

In an effort to reduce the long list of reviews in my sidebar, I decided to create an entry of each of the category of books I review. That way I can update this entry and link to just this entry in the sidebar.

This is a list of the non-fiction books I've reviewed, alphabetical by author.

* Jane Jacobs: Urban Visionary - Alice Sparberg Alexiou

* Abode of Love: Growing Up in a Messianic Cult - Kate Barlow

* Every Book Its Reader: The power of the printed word to stir the world – Nicholas A. Basbanes

* The City of Falling Angels - John Berendt

* My Life as a Furry Red Monster - Kevin Clash

* Grayson - Lynne Cox

* Pursuing Giraffe: a 1950s Adventure - Anne Innis Dagg

* The Weather Makers: How We Are Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth - Tim Flannery

* Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction - Martin Gilbert

* Secrets of a Satisfying Life: discover the habits of happy people - David D. Ireland

* The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class - David S. Kidder & Noah D. Oppenheim

* Every Mother is a Daughter: the neverending quest for success, inner peace, and a really clean kitchen (recipes and knitting patterns included)- Perri Klass & Sheila Solomon Klass

* Path of Destruction: the devastation of New Orleans and the coming age of superstorms - John McQuaid & Mark Schleifstein

* It's the Crude, Dude: war, big oil, and the fight for the planet - Linda McQuaid

* The Things That Matter: what seven classic novels have to say about the stages of life - Edward Mendelson

* Time was Soft There: a Paris sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. – Jeremy Mercer

* The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing, Book Bearing Guide to Life - by Kathy Patrick

* When the Rivers Run Dry: Journeys into the Heart of the World's Water Crisis – Fred Pearce

* The Secrets of Judas: the story of the misunderstood disciple and his lost gospel - James M. Robinson

* The Mural at Waverly Inn - Edward Sorel and Dorothy Gallagher

* You Can't Win If You Don't Enter - Carolyn Wilman

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Check this out!

My friend Susan writes with a capital W. My scribbles are book reviews and this collection of the pressing concerns of my mind. She Writes and someday soon I'll be telling you all to go out and buy her books.

In the meantime, wander over to her blog and get to know Trevor and Mitchell and the rest of Shapeshifter (their band). Spend some time and read some great outtakes that may or may not end up in the finished novels. Oh, and at the website you can read the first few pages of Trevor's Song.

Check back on her blog often as regular outtakes are added.

BOOK REVIEW: Mother of Purl by Edith Eig

There has been a resurgence in the popularity of knitting, driven by celebrities who stepped into the spotlight, needles and yarn in hand. An increasing number of glitterati have taken up the craft, knitting on sets and even appearing, yarn in hand, in movies and TV shows. No longer an activity only for little old ladies, knitting has come a long way, thanks in part to Edith Eig, knitting guru to the stars.

Eig is the owner of La Knitterie Parisienne, the knitting shop now famous for its celebrity clientele based in Studio City, California. For ten years, she has been dispensing advice, teaching knitting neophytes and helping individuals create the “perfect” sweater. More recently, she hosts Knit One, Purl Two on DIY and HGTV. Mother of Purl: friends, fun, and fabulous designs at Hollywood’s knitting circle is her recently released entry into the increasingly crowded knitting market.

With so many new knitting books hitting the shelves each month, how does a discriminating hobbyist which is worthy? This reader assesses each on three categories: technical information, patterns and entertainment value, before deciding to take the plunge.

How does Mother of Purl fare in analysis? Eig provides solid instruction to take the beginning knitter through the stages of learning this craft rather than teaching experienced knitters new skills. She shares interesting tidbits about teaching celebrities knitting basics, which should help put novices at ease, and explains the variety of equipment needed to get off on the appropriate hand-knit, sock-clad foot.

Mother of Purl begins its pattern section with the ubiquitous scarf patterns; however, these aren’t just any scarves. Readers are invited to knit up the “Very Sex and the City” scarf that Eig gave to the cast after they wrapped the show or to create the scarf knit by Scarlet Johannson in Lost in Translation. The rest of the patterns include a little bit of everything – ponchos, afghans, sweaters and suits. The yarns Eig recommends for these projects are mainly novelty and/or very expensive, and would be difficult to locate in a basic craft store.

Anyone who enjoys celebrity gossip will love this book. If constant name-dropping is not your cup of tea, then you will want to skip Eig’s offering, as the celebrity references are sprinkled liberally among the 240 pages. While this may not be the knitting book for everyone, Mother of Purl will have your fingers itching to pick up some decadent yarn and head out for a night of stitching with some knitting friends. She has truly captured the community spirit present at knitting circles throughout the world.

See the review as it is posted at Curled Up with a Good Book - Mother of Purl

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Gratuitous Ticia Photo

Just because she wants to say hi to the other kitties out there in blogland.

UFOs - Update on the &*%! Sweater

All around me are unfinished objects. I promised myself that &*%! sweater for my Grandmother (only on the needles for two years) will be finished before I start/work on anything else. The body is sewn together, front plackets done, collar done and sleeves 85% done. I'm knitting both at the same time which is a bit slower but worth it.

So this week I've been working away at the sleeves while finishing up my marathon viewing of Season 2 of Stargate SG-1. I have two episodes left to go and somehow I don't think the sleeves will finish at the same time. I think it's going to need season 3 to finish up this sweater.

Once that's done I can sew in the ends on my Olympic scarf and present everyone here with a photo of the beautiful finished project.

Friday, April 07, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Inspired Cable Knits by Fiona Ellis

Fiona Ellis’ debut knitting book Inspired Cable Knits: 20 Creative Designs for Making Sweaters and Accessories is a work of art that is aimed at both novice and experienced knitters. More than just a collection of sweaters, this beautiful book takes the reader through Ellis’ creative process, lifting designs and textures found in the natural world and translating them into cable patterns. Inspired Cable Knits features very clear charts, as well as written instructions for those who prefer not to work from stitch charts.

Cables, for anyone who may be wondering, are the knitting stitches featured on traditional cream-coloured Aran, or Irish, sweaters. Highly textured stitches, they are created by moving stitches in front of, or behind each other.

Divided into four sections; change, nature, energy and time, each highlights a different theme that Ellis has incorporated into her designs. The section that called out to me most strongly is the one labeled “inspired by time”, which focuses on the value of slowing down. Ellis took the classic garments that are worn over and over and took elements of these, giving them modern twists.

Cable knits are my favourite type of knitting and Fiona Ellis obviously has a feeling for them as well as she states in her introduction that “I love their crunchy, nubbly textures.” The traveling stitches require close attention as they build a complex, highly textured piece of fabric. Most likely the fascination for me is in the mathematics required to accomplish this type of knitting. What is interesting is that these are the same characteristics that make many knitters throw their hands up in horror.

Ellis believes that all knitters will benefit from the journey exploring cable knits and that the focus required leads to a contemplative state of knitting and mindfulness of the entire process and organic nature of knitting. To assist knitters in achieving this goal, she has included a “mindfulness” pointer with each pattern to engage the knitter’s mind in the process of creativity.

Inspired Cable Knits
is a beautiful book will provide many hours of pleasurable browsing and dreaming of future projects. I know my copy won’t languish long before I pick up the needles to cast on a project taken from its pages.

See the review as it is posted at Armchair Interviews - Inspired Cable Knits.

Errata for Inspired Cable Knits may be found here.

BOOK REVIEW: Maddalena by Eva Jana Siroka

Eva Jana Siroka’s debut novel, Maddalena, feels like it has come from an earlier age, one where novels are paced slowly and setting is as important as action. This beautifully illustrated novel, featuring twenty-three original watercolors by the author, took ten years to research, write and illustrate. Siroka, a renaissance art historian, has taken the story of Titian’s famous painting, Penitent Magdalen (originally owned by the historical Alessandro Farnese’s brother-in-law) and brought it vibrantly to life.

Set in 16th century Rome, Maddalena is the story of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese’s love for Monna Rebecca, a Jewish apothecary; her conversion to Christianity; and his quest to become Pope. Maddalena (the converted Rebecca) is of the wrong class, religion, and color, but this does not deter Farnese, determined to possess Maddalena, even if it will cost him the papal chair.

Maddalena is also the story of a papacy weakened by epic corruption and a struggle for power, told through the eyes of Bartholomaeus (Berti) Spranger, a Flemish born painter to Cardinal Farnese and later the Pope. The reader is introduced to a period that saw the birth of great art and musical achievements yet included the harshest days of the Catholic Inquisition, a time when the simplest transgressions could lead to horrific punishments. As this intricate novel unfolds, the reader journeys with Cardinal Farnese in his struggle to balance his passion for Maddalena and his ambitions.

Siroka bring this important period in Rome’s history dramatically to life. Her writing is at its best when transporting readers to the streets of Rome, evoking the sights, sounds and smells of the teaming city. The author’s years of research into the lives of sixteenth-century, North European painters has paid off by creating a dazzling world. Initially the variations of character’s names used, and the shear number of secondary characters is overwhelming and daunting; however the plot quickly draws in the reader.

Notwithstanding the fascinating history woven into this powerful novel, first and foremost this is a novel of love and relationships. This reader eagerly awaits Bartholomaeus, the second book of The Golden Tripolis trilogy, which will be set in imperial Prague.

See the review as it is posted at Armchair Interviews - Maddalena.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James

Imogen spent years determined to capture the heart of Draven Maitland and marry him, despite the fact that he was affianced. In Much Ado About You, the first book in the Four Sisters Regency series by Eloisa James (which focuses on Tess, the oldest Essex sister), Imogen succeeds in her heart’s desire and spends two weeks married before Draven is killed in a riding accident. Now the third book in this series - The Taming of the Duke – focuses on Imogen, who is determined to enter the delicious world open to respectable widows, that of taking a lover. She has decided that Gabe, brother of her guardian Rafe, fits the bill nicely however Rafe and Gabe have other plans for the adventurous widow.

James’ series feature innovative plots, vibrant dialogue and an authenticity that comes from immersing herself in studies of the relevant time period. As a scholar of Shakespeare, the nod she gives his plays when choosing her titles is intentional. The Taming of the Duke takes the basic plot of The Taming of the Shrew and turns it on its head. Raphael, Duke of Holbrook, is an unlikely hero, mired as he is in an alcoholic stupour caused by guilt and pain. Readers gain an understanding of Rafe’s history in the first two novels in this series but it is only in this third offering that he develops into a possible hero – needing to overcome his addiction to alcohol rather than the vitriolic temperament overcome by Katherine in Shakespeare’s offering. Gaining mastery of his alcoholism wouldn’t have been easy, as in the 1800s alcoholism was a moral failing rather than an illness. That James is able to pull this all together into a delightful novel shows just how skilled a pen she wields.

Romance novels comprise 53.3% of all mass market paperback novels and 34.6% of all popular fiction, with an astonishing 51.1 million readers in the US alone. (2002 statistics, compiled by Romance Writers of America) One of the fastest growing sub-genres of romance is the inspirational romance, which adds a spiritual obstacle that must be overcome, strong family values, duty, honour, chastity and integrity to the traditional romance template. James, ever the scholar, chooses to show how religion was part of the daily life of men and women in the 1800s rather than limiting herself by writing within the chaste boundaries of this popular category.

Mary Bly, using the pen name Eloisa James, has been living a double life for many years. Only recently did Bly, a professor of English literature who teaches at Fordham University in New York City, “come out of the closet” to her academic colleagues. The Taming of the Duke is her 10th novel.

See the review as it is posted at Front Street Reviews: The Taming of the Duke

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Independent Bookseller Day - April 21

So here's a call to action for all you book lovers. On April 21, go visit your local independent bookstore and buy something. Tell them why you appreciate them being in your community.

Thanks to Booklust for reminding me of this important day! But as she says..."But really, we should keept April 21st in our hearts every day, and remember to Think Independent, Read Independent, and Buy Independent."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Kiss by Elda Minger

Tess Sommerville is due to be married to the man of most parents’ dreams. Successful, rich and powerful, Paul Atherton blew into Tess’ life and swept her up in a whirlwind courtship. While out with her best friend Brooke the night before the wedding, Tess begins doubting her decision, and of course this is the moment Will Tremere, her high school crush, decides to walk back into her life.

Later that night, Tess stumbles upon Paul in a highly indiscreet position with another woman - in the very church where the wedding is to be performed. In a moment of panic, Tess calls the number Will gave her and offers to join him on his drive to California. And thus begins The Kiss, a new contemporary romance novel from Elda Minger.

The Kiss has many standard features that propel the plot forward: the getaway from and chase by the evil fiancée, a super-controlling family, the road trip as metaphor for Tess’ personal journey of discovery (and development of a backbone) and of course, the blossoming romance between Tess and Will. So what is there that sets this contemporary romance apart from the rest and makes it worth the reader’s investment of time and money?

More than anything else, what recommends The Kiss is the vibrant cast of secondary characters. Favourites by far are Toby and Sugar, the canine companions for the road trip, and Elaine, the psychic, who communes with them from the West Coast. Rather than making this a groan-inducing plot feature, Minger infuses the characters with enough kookiness to keep the right level of camp and fun.

Her deft writing and sense of timing ensures the novel never goes so far over the edge as to be unredeemable. Elaine, Brooke (the best friend) and Kim (Brooke’s cousin) are the needed balance for the stock characters played by Paul and Madeleine (the controlling step-mother).

There were two areas that were disappointing with The Kiss and addressing these would have definitively moved this novel into a league of its own. First would be further development of Paul and Madeleine’s characters. By moving beyond the standard mold set by the genre, Paul and Madeleine would have ceased to be cardboard stereotypes and become full-scale protagonists, perhaps even evoking some sympathy from the reader. Given that The Kiss runs 304 pages - and 30-40 of those pages could have been edited to create a tighter novel - Minger had room to explore their motivations in greater depth.

The second area where Minger could have differentiated herself is in Tess’ breakdown. Readers can certainly sympathize with her pain and understand the need for her to have time to heal. Having it last nearly half the novel wears thin and threatens to pull The Kiss into the realm inhabited by many of the “poor me” genre of chick lit. This reader wanted Tess to hit the anger phase earlier and found patience quickly vanishing with her lack of backbone.

Elda Minger is well known for her best-selling romance novels (more than two dozen), and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Romantic Times' Best American Romance. While she has written many types of romance novels, her recently published works are contemporary in style and setting. The Kiss is sure to please both ardent fans and win her some new ones.

See the review as it appears at Curled Up with a Good Book - The Kiss