Saturday, May 29, 2010

"City Quilts" by Cherrie House

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"City Quilts" by Cherrie House is new book hot off the presses at C&T Publishing. Since I love quilts that are both simple and make use of solid color fabrics I knew from the beginning that this book would hold interest for me. Having grown up in New York City the photos in the book were quite evocative for me. I think that Ms. House did a remarkable job of designing simple but dramatic quilts reminiscent of every day city living images. Although I love using solid colors I think that the quilts in this book also lend themselves equally well to using prints.

The beginning of the book includes a well done section on the basics - I like everything about this book and am looking forward to beginning one of the patterns. Also included is an excellent section on color choices, a bit of theory  and tips on developing your ability to  "see" patterns in everyday sights. I have collected quite a quilt library over the years and so there are not that many new books that come out that I truly want to spend the money on to add to my ever expanding collection - but this one is a good bet for your permanent collection! I don't think it will disappoint!
Going on the premise that a picture really is worth a thousand words I have included scans of some the wonderful quilts in this book - and the great photos that led to the creation of the pattern!

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Fabric Dyer's Dictionary " by Linda Johansen

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remember that all photos may be double clicked for a closer look

This is a new book that arrived today from C&T Publishing. Despite the fact the the author, Linda Johansen, and I share a last name -I don't know her. Ratz! My favorite dyeing books have always been Anne Johnston's and Elin Noble's. I started dyeing cloth by using them and always refer back to them. This book has a new place next to these others in my library. This is a book that I really, really like. It is written clearly, concisely and is exceptionally well illustrated. The book is laid out well. The basics are, of course, covered in the beginning of the book with detailed handling and mixing instructions. She also goes over the importance of record keeping - something that I was never very good at doing. I just always loved the kismet of the process - I liked never knowing what would happen. She compares the clear, muted and black colors offered by both ProChem and Dharma Trading. It's a handy little table.

Each page details instructions for using fat quarters, half yards and yards of fabrics.
This is a nice, handy way to present the needed information.

The pages below are for creating a rainbow. She delineates the process for clear, muted and dark rainbow colors. Clear, concise and easy to understand.
Linda Johansen has had 5 books, I think it is, published through C&T Publishing. I am so pleased to have this as an addition to my dyeing library. I think it's a book that will please anyone who has an interest in hand dyeing their own fabrics. Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your wonderful local book store or directly through C&T Publishing.

The end of the book is devote to some specialty techniques; tie dying, rolling, patterning, layering, using dye powders and pleating and dipping

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"The French Mistress" by Susan Holloway Scott

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Susan Holloway Scott is another author whose works I have become addicted to recently. The period that covers the reign of King Charles II (1630-1685) has only recently become interesting to me. For some reason the Jacobite era - and that of King Charles I have not interested me. King Charles II, however, seems like he was a very interesting fellow - albeit a notorious womanizer who kept so many mistresses that I can't imagine how he didn't lose count! The author has written a series of fascinating books that recount the stories of some of Charles' most famous mistresses. This one is a bout Louise de Keroualle, daughter of an impoverished French nobleman, who leaves her family's crumbling chateau to enter the service of Madame D'Orleans (sister of King Charles II) wife to King Louis' sadistic, cruel brother the Duc D'Orleans. Louise learns much of value at the French Court but her fresh, youthful beauty goes largely un-noticed in the lascivious court of King Louis XIV.

Louise remain largely alone until her mistress is allowed to visit her brother, King Charles, in England. The English Court impresses Louise as being very different than the French Court, much more relaxed and less formal. During their stay in England Louise forms an admiration and crush on King Charles. Upon their return to France her mistress dies unexpectedly from what is largely believed to have been a poisoning. Louise is suddenly cut adrift - not knowing where she will next be able to find a position. She cannot go home without having completed her task of securing an auspicious and wealthy marriage. Most of Madame's other maids-of-honor have already returned to their country homes - or have been taken in elsewhere. Louise waits.

Ultimately it Louis that decides to send Louise to the English Court as a spy and it does not take long for her to be noticed by his Majesty, King Charles. The book recounts the story of their love, how Louise rises to become Charles' maĆ®tresse en titre  (favorite mistress), how she has a son by Charles - with Charles ultimately ennobling both mother and child. Louise becomes the Duchess of Portsmouth and her son Charles, among other titles, become the Duke of Richmond. The book also chronicles the political tensions of this era. Louise is scorned because she is both French and a Catholic. She considers returning to France but can;t leave "her Charles". Upon Charles death at only 54  and his death left Louise de Keroualle utterly devastated. Ultimately she does return to France and lives out her life for another 50 years after the death of "her Charles". She never marries.

Charles left no legitimate heirs to his throne since his wife, the suffering and very patient Catherine of Braganza, was unable to have children . He did acknowledge a dozen children by his mistresses however. Five by Barbara Villiers (Lady Castlemaine) and his son by Louise deKeroualle (Duchess of Portsmouth). In fact, an interesting tidbit of information is that Princess Diana was descended from one of Charles illegitimate sons and, in the event Price William inherits the British Throne he will be the first monarch to be directly descended from King Charles II

As you may be able to tell. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am searching out more of Susan Scott Holloway's very entertaining and enlightening book to add to my reading collection !!

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Journal Junkies Workshop. Visual Ammunition For The Art Addict" by Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler

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I have kept written journals for more than 20 years, but at some point I realized that I wanted my journals to contain more images and color. I always had added copies of photographs to my journals - but I wanted to learn to make art in my books. Art that make me remember my feelings at the time more completely when I went back to review my journal books years later.

I have been doing visual/art journaling for several years now. Oddly enough I still keep a more private written journal but my visual albums are just as I had wanted them to be. I am still learning and growing though so I am always on  the lookout for new books about journals and art journaling. 
There  are so many wonderful techniques out there to learn! I learned about "The Journal Junkies Workbook" from a recommendation on Amazon - after all of the years that I have been using Amazon they have found some real winning titles that I have been glad to hear about from them.

I am a book sniffer and paper 'fondler'. If I am planning to use a book a lot I like to enjoy the feel of the paper, the scent of the paper and the typeface used in the book. This book utilizes a great quality paper with a smooth, semi-gloss finish. I have found that most titles published by North Light Books are really well produced. Great quality and very attractive.

 What I especially like about the techniques in this book is that they are, for the most part, simple techniques that are well executed and exceptionally well illustrated. A fast look at the Table Of Content
will give you a good idea about the scope of this book.  Check out the forward on page 7 written by Kathy Eldon - very moving. Most of the included techniques are pretty straight forward and not overly labor intensive - illustrating great ways to use generally easily available tools in inventive ways. I am truly enjoying this book and I think that you would like it too - if you have an interest in art, visual journals, art, journals, collage or mixed media design. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"The Queen's Pawn" by Christy English

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I was delighted when I was given an opportunity to read and review this book!  Because there is such a dearth of information about Eleanor of Aquitaine I especially enjoy books that delve into what her life's story might have been. The additional high point of this book  is that it includes the story of Princess Alais (the 'pawn'), daughter of King Louis of France (who was also Eleanor's first husband) by a previous marriage. Alais is seldom a character in books since even less is known about her life than about Eleanor's.

Ms. English has done a stellar job at recreating a part of Eleanor's life - after she left King Louis and was married to King Henry.  Princess Alais was betrothed to Eleanor and Henry's oldest son Richard and she was sent to England to be brought up in the ways of the English Court prior to her marriage. She falls in love with her intended but feels betrayed when she discovers him in a compromising position with one of Eleanor's maids-of-honor. Ultimately Alias comes to feel betrayed by not only her fiance but also by Eleanor - who had adopted her as a daughter and who had loved her far beyond her role as a soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Alais soon seduces King Henry becoming his lover -  unseating even the powerful Rosamund Clifford in Henry's affections. This, then, is her revenge against Richard and Eleanor. Fast forward to a time when Eleanor has crafted a plan to have her three sons,Geoffrey, Henry and Richard to rebel against King Henry. Alais and Henry's relationship had become more tepid in the two years that they have been together. Alais, heavily pregnant with their child learns that Henry is about to move against Richard whom Alais still secretly loves. Rushing to Eleanor's rooms (where Richard , conveniently, is talking with his mother). Alais warns them of Henry's planned attack - thus saving Richard and returning to her long missed place in Eleanor's affections. Henry banishes Eleanor and holds her in various castles in the ensuing years while Alais is banished to a convent after miscarrying a daughter that she named Rose. The final chapters of the book deal with the time after Alis and Eleanor are effectively imprisoned - and the, after the death of Henry when they are both released by Richard. Richard ultimately marries  Berengaria of Navarre and what happens to Princess Alais is lost to the  annals of unrecorded history. It is thought that she perhaps returned to France.

This book is a wonderful, well-researched look at life in a 13th century castle. The every day comes alive with well crafted, well researched glimpses at what a meal in the great hall would have been like - or what a solar or bed chamber might have looked like. Christy English also offers a concise history of the true facts at the end of the book, which I appreciated very much - it allows some perspective and also reveals how closely she did follow the true facts as far as possible. This book really allows the reader to escape into another world and that, to my way of thinking, is the mark of a really good read. I am looking forward to Ms. English's next book with eager anticipation!

Note: This book was provided to me for the purpose of review only. No other remunerations was received

Sunday, May 9, 2010

" The Founding" Cynthia Harrod- Eagles

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I read this first book of the Morland Series after I read book two "The Dark Rose". Sourcebooks has done a wonderful job with the  re-issue of this series. The covers are much improved over the earlier editions that would have previously fallen into my "bodice ripper" if I had been asked to judge the books at that time.

This book covers the founding of the Morland Dynasty. The year 1434 during the War of The Rose. Eleanor Courtney, a young and beautiful ward of Lord Edmund Beaufort and his wife - another Eleanor, is betrothed to Robert  Morland of York - heir to a stapler  fortune (wool merchant) and a family of good standing. high standing. Eleanor is shocked that she, whose blood is royal stick, would be sent off to marry a man who she considered to be a mere 'farmer'. Her sights had been set higher - towards Prince Richard - an heir the England's throne.

The story weaves it's way through Eleanor's eventual love for Robert, the births and deaths of children, grand children  and great grand children. The lives of the family are intertwined with the rise and fall of princes and kings during the turbulent years of the War of The Roses. Loyalties are tested severely, lives  and loves are lost and found again. I found this book to be a excellent read. Fast moving, well developed characters, and fascinating history all tinged with love stories that are well presented and not at all "bodice ripperish' ! I am now hooked on this re-issued series and can't wait to read volume three " The Princeling".  If you go in search of these fine books - be aware that the older versions may have different titles - since they were originally published in Britain. Stick with the Sourcebooks editions and you can't wrong. Another word of caution - they are highly addictive and you will not want to read just one! Enjoy

Saturday, May 8, 2010

'The Courtesan' by Diane Haeger

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As I have, I think, mentioned in the past, I seem to have become a real fan of Diane Haeger. I have not yet read a book of hers that I have not thoroughly enjoyed. "The Courtesan" was no exception!

This book follows the life of Diane DePoitiers,  favorite mistress of King Francoise 1st of France. As the story begins to unfold we are introduced to Diane, as the widowed Comtesse de Sancerre, is reintroduced to the Court soon after her elderly husband's demise. It is apparent that the Sancerre's left Court amid some cloud - as they had been apart from the Court for some time. As Diane returns the daily life at Court the King's current mistress, the infamous beauty, Anne d'Heilly, makes life utterly miserable for Diane. Disparaging, jealous and vicious, Anne was not about to let the King become interested in Madame de Sancerre.
Diane ultimately requests to be know by her former name, Diane de Poitiers. She rekindles her friendship with Francois' son, Henri - a young man who has few friends and who is plagued by depression, dark thoughts. Henri is disliked by his father and belittled by his brothers, but Diane sees a sensitive, good-hearted  young man lurking beneath the surface. The rest of the story, as they say, is history. Diane and Henri ultimately become lovers despite the age difference that causes them to become shunned by members of the Court and Francois himself. In a twist of  fate, through the deaths of his  male siblings, Henri becomes King Henri, marries the infamous Catherine D'Medici, a powerful woman who loves Henri, provides him heirs to the throne but still cannot secure his love. Diane remains the most powerful person in Henri's life, the one he turns to for comfort, discussion, and love. The book covers some fascinating "What if" conjectural scenes- such as 'what if' in order to protect Henri from Nostradamus' fateful prediction about the end of Henri's life- Diane and Catherine become odd co-conspirators to keep him safe?

I found that I could not put this book down once I started it! This novel follows history quite closely, but also has some areas of particularly well done "filling in the gaps".  I think it is one of Ms. Haeger's best books. Read this book ! I am sure that it will not disappoint you if you love great historical fiction.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Macbook by John Ray

 My MacBook by John Ray

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This little gem of a book applies to Macbooks, Macbooks Pros, and Macbook Air computers. I have had my Macbook Pro for 3 years and and I can honestly say that learning my way around this amazing computer would have been faster and easier if I had this book as a resource at the beginning.

This book covers it all from opening to closing and in a clear, concise, very well illustrated way.I recently upgraded my software from Tiger to Snow Leopard and this book even helped with this. Although there is enough technical date in the book to satisfy a techy type I think that the book is also well done enough that it is easy for a rank beginner to be able to use and learn from. It's an excellent reference book that now lives close to my Macbook Pro. I can highly recommend this book

Saturday, May 1, 2010

 Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Lessons To Start Blogging Like a Pro" 
By Tris Hussey

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When I was given the opportunity to review this book I hoped that it would be interesting, but honestly was not expecting it to be that great. After all I have had a blog for years – but I was hoping to learn something new that I could use to make my blog(s) better. The bottom line is that I have already dog-eared, page marked and underlined lots of great information in this book! It’s excellent. I think that the “6 easy projects” part of the title is a bit misleading. To my way of thinking this is a book about how to build a blog – and/or how to build a better blog – I am not seeing the “6 easy projects”.
I have already learned so much from this book. In fact I have – within a week of reading this book- changed blog hosts, am trying an off line blog writer software and now understand far more about setting a blog up right. This book is chock full of information that will help you to start a blog from the ground up with some good understanding of what it all means and how it all works. Best of all it is an equally great book for a person like me who has had a blog for some time. I understand much more now – and am all fired up to learn more and make the blogs I have better. I’ve also subscribed the to the author’s blog.
This is a book that will help most any blogger… I highly recommend it and I have to admit that I never thought I would be ‘gushy’ over a book about blogs!
Note; This book was provided to me for reviewing purposes – no other remuneration was received.