Monday, July 26, 2010

Hand Lettering by Marci Donley and DeAnn Singh and Thank You Notes by Jan Stephenson and Amy Appelyard

 * * * * *
This review could have been done as two separate reviews - one on each of these book- but, quite honestly, I loved them both a lot and they both seem to go hand in hand  - and they are about  two of my favorite things - lovely lettering and really nice, snail mailed, hand made, cards - so I decided to review them both together. I collect books on lettering and calligraphy. I love lettering and I try to improve my own beginner calligraphy as often as I can. I was curious what this book was going to be like. I LOVE it! The authors - and Lark Books - did an excellent job! 

"Hand Lettering" is really well thought out and is a really nice, easy to use, non intimidating book on lettering. The table of contents ( all photos can be double clicked for a better view!) is really comprehensive. The beginning of the book is about, of course, the basics. The sections on various pens is one of the most complete I have ever seen - and all sorts of pens, markers, brushes and fountain pen calligraphy pens are discussed in detail - along with some more unique writing implements like dental stimulators and pieces of sponge. A lovely section about papers in included of course, along with a section about measuring devices, a section that covers all of the types of cutting tools you might want to use and how to put together a "ready the letter" box of supplies.
This book is so full of so much great information and so many really wonderful alphabet styles that I can't imagine how the got it all into a book of this size! You're right I am a bit 'gushy' over this book and, quite honestly, I was not certain that I would be. I don't generally hand out 5 stars very easily - but this book (and the next too for that matter) really do deserve the. This book will be a "must have" addition to the library to calligraphy beginners and scrapbookers as well as to more advanced calligraphers. I highly recommend this one - it's staying here with me !

This alphabet below really brought back day-glo memories!

My favorite types of Druidic alphabets
Here is the "Ready To Letter" Box page

Moving right along to the next, great 5 star beauty book. Making notes and letters look nice has been a nearly lifelong fascination for me. I always spent a lot of time on letters and on decorating the envelopes for the letters since I can remember - probably about  when I was 12 years old. I still prefer the beauty of snail mail to email. Fat more personal and entertaining...and I do want our postal system to survive so I take great pleasure is designing and sending cards! I couldn't wait to see what sort of techniques were contained in the lovely book entitled, simply "Thank You Notes". This is another book that I am totally enthralled with. I think that it also has such well done, fail proof directions and well thought out information that you can't go wrong.
* * * * *
This book begins with a shorter, but thorough, section on materials. The cards in the books are grouped by thought in a way. Thank you to my sister, my better half etc; Thank You for a special day, the cash, for being there, for lending a hand, for being sweet.... you get the idea. The thing is that all of the thank you cards - as pertinent as they are to the specific sort of thank you - the cards and the techniques can easily be used for any other reason to send a delightful card. It's the great variety of techniques that this book gives you that really makes the book shine in my eyes! The techniques are all very clearly explained with particularly well done how to photos. You can't go wrong with these instructions!

I adore this little bird banner thank you card!

Here is another favorite! I think I like this one because I have been working on making shaped cards for special occasions myself lately!

How adorable is this one?!
This 'helping hands' card is probably my favorite - I love the creativity and the colors and the way the whole card was done. It will be the first one I try from the book !


Note: These books were generously provided to me by the publisher for honest review purposes only. No other remuneration was received.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Dark Rose by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

* * * *
Since this book was only recently released by Sourcebooks I decided that I should re-post my earlier review - which was posted a bit earlier than I should have. As I have mentioned - I am thoroughly enthralled with this series (The Morland Dynasty) and with the wonderful writing style of the author!

I had never read any books by this author before having the lucky chance to review this edition of 'The Dark Rose' from Sourcebooks Landmark.  I am now hot on the trail of the first volume in the Morland Dynasty series and will, more than likely, become a devotee of this excellent author!

This book is based on a fictional family with the last name of Morland and the time from is during the reign of Henry VIII - this volume roughly covers the years 1513 to 1549. It is, more or less, a romance, although there is much much more to this story. The historical facts as presented are quite close to factual although the lives of this fictional family - think the Ewings of the old "Dallas" television series.

The book is replete with romance, marriages, deaths, forbidden loves, natural disasters, crop failures, intrigues with the royal family (think Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr), rebellions, religious disputes - this book has it all  - and presents it all with a flair and believability that sets this author's talents apart from many other historical fiction writers. The book is founded on a fictionalized family but the events and history that surround this family are definitely based on good, hard historical facts.
This is a reprint of this excellent book - and some of the older covers are ones that I probably would not have considered buying in the past. I like this cover and I think it suits the book well.

I'm off to buy more volumes in this series. I don't believe that any historical fiction enthusiast will be disappointed in reading this excellent historically based novel!It's due for release in July I believe and can be pre-ordered easily - and often with a discount - on Amazon or through your  very important local bookstore. This is a great read!
In my early post of this review  that I first published in March of this year I added photos of two old style covers that I unearthed on line. One was the more recent, and better of the two IMHO, whilst the other one I most likely would not have thought to buy way back when I was managing a bookstore!If you're curious have a look in the March blog archives,

To Hold The Crown: The Story of King Henry VII & Elizabeth of York By Jean Plaidy

 * * * *
I must have read this book many years ago because I remember reading all of Jean Plaidy's and all of Victoria Holt's book. Unfortunately, I have slept since those years so this was a new and excellent read for me !

To me- the history of the Tudor dynasty is really fascinating. Henry Tudor was, after all, a bit of a usurper. He had a rather flimsy claim to the crown of Britain. What a stroke of luck it was then to marry Elizabeth of York, the daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville -who is to me one of the most interesting women of the era. The marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York united the red rose with the white and untied the houses of Lancaster and York - finally ended the the War of The Roses that tore Britain apart for so long. This marriage was, at first, one of politics, but to all accounts it became one of love and respect.

Of course, not all was peaceable withing the kingdom and, as people, especially powerful people, will do there were overthrow plots and conniving galore. The sad and untimely death of Henry and Elizabeth's beloved son Arthur becomes a pivotal point in history - as the next son in line ultimately is crowned King Henry VIII.  This is a fast reading, highly enjoyable story that cannot fail to please. I couldn't put it down - for what must surely have been at least the second time !!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

" To Defy A King" By Elizabeth Chadwick

 * * * * *
 I must admit to being a huge Elizabeth Chadwick fan - which is why I ordered this prior to it's release in the States. Check out the Book Depository for tittles that you simply can't wait to read. They have excellent service, great selection and FREE shipping no less!

I loved this book and read it while I was recuperating. It was the perfect book for getting lost in another time and place! It recounts the life of Mahelt Marshall - eldest daughter of greatest knight of all William Marshall. The action takes place during the reign of King John - when, it seems everyone, even those most loyal to the crown as William Marshall was, are suspected of treason for one reason or another. Quite honestly this book made me want to read more about King John because he comes across as a neurotic, paranoid kind of man who thinks that all of his subjects are out to over through him (hummmm - maybe they were - that might make sense come to think of it!). He holds two of William Marshal's sons captives as surety for William's allegiance. I got bad vibes about this King just from reading the book.

With his sons held captive William Marshall arranges an advantageous marriage for his beloved daughter Mahelt to Hugh Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk Roger Bigod. This book is the story of Mahelt's marriage, and, in a way, of her "coming of age" when women were thought of as little more than breeding machines. The book covers the years 1204 to 1217. The books skillfully tells the tale of the Mahelt's family allegiance to her father came into conflict to her marriage family's ambitions at times.  He marriage to Hugh is tested as as the vicissitudes and tyranny of John's reign causes  both as well as religious upheaval within the country. Keeping one's footing in the good graces of the Court becomes a slippery slope as all of the main characters attempt to hang on to to what they have and stay alive in the process.

There is something about Elizabeth Chadwick's work that reels me in and hold onto my consciousness as I read her books. I am transported to another time - when the place of women was so much different than it is today. Ms. Chadwick's book's, I believe, really do make the 13th century come alive in a way that some other books of the same period fail to do. I believe that this book is stong enough to be read without having read Md. Chadwick's earlier books but it is also true that if you have already read "The Greatest Knight", "The Scarlet Lion" or the "Time of Singing" you might have a better grasp of the historical background as a whole. One thing I think I can assure you of is that if you love historical fiction and begin with this book - you will be looking for each and every other book that Ms. Chadwick has written before you close this book on the last page! Fabulous book

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Where Womena Create" Book Of Insporation" by Jo Packham and Jenny Doh

* * * * *
There is a subtitle to this book that  is " In The Studio and Behind The Scenes With Extraordinary Women". The list of the creative women included in this book is impressive: Vickie Howell, Pam Garrison, Alisa Burke, Danita, Theresa McFayden, Joanna Figueroa, Angela Cartwright - as well as Jo Packham and jenny Doh - to name a partial list of the included amazing talent in the book!

Sometimes I tend to stay away from books and magazines that feature beautiful work spaces because I get jealous - I can't stand up in my own sewing area. Then I realize I am being childish and decide to have a look at the awesome places that people put together that allows them to create their art that makes us all so happy to look at!

When I first looked at this book I was not certain how I would feel about it - but it only took a few minutes to fall in love with it . There is so much to be learned from the artists that we admire. They "made it" because of the way they think and the way they work - so there is much to be gleaned by reading their personal stories and having a look into their private creative spaces.

This is another winning Lark Books publication that I think belongs in the library of any creative person who wants some inspiration, some new ideas - or to learn something from from other amazingly talented, creative artists. I had to give this 5 stars - which I seldom do - because it really is a lusciously illustrated, very well done book!

This book was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of reviewing the book. No other remuneration was received

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Craft Corps: Celebrating The Creative Community One Story At A time" by Vickie Howell

* * * *
I have searched the net for a more vibrant rendering of this book cover but can't find one that I  am able to use. Face Book has one but I am not allowed to copy it. Of course, most crafter's know who Vickie Howell is. You can find the Vickie Howell's Craft Corp on Face Book and on Vickie's website.

I have a lot of books stacked here waiting for reviews - craft, art and historical fiction so I am going to try and get some of the reviews finished before I have to stick my toes back in the water at work next week. I really have to admit that when I saw this book my initial reaction was rather ambivalent. It did not seem like a book that was going to capture my imagination. Once again, I was surprised at myself because I did, and am, indeed, enjoying this book quite a bit. Thirty of the top crafters of today's burgeoning crafting movement are highlighted in depth through an interview with Vickie Howell - lots of questions and answers. Interspersed throughout the book though are also small blurbs about crafters just like you and I - these are all about a half page each. I have never been much for reading how other people create - I have to admit to being somewhat of a loner and I like to try tings out myself and see if I sink or swim before I go to an expert for help. Sort of like reading instructions - they are there to pull out when all else fails right? This book though makes it fun to learn about the experts work first before jumping in head first.

The famous names that Vickie interviews include people like Amy Butler, Ed Roth, Claudine Hellmuth, Alex Anderson, Traci Bautista, my own hero Mary Englebreit, Denyse Schmidt - well, you get the idea... the cream de la cream of the crafting community - but covering a multitude of craft areas. That's the cool thing. This is not a book about knitters, or jewelry makers or clothes makers or art journalers - it is about about all of it - the entire raft movement in in today's fast moving world.

Despite my initial reservations I was pulled into the book and found myself thoroughly enjoying the questions and answers that Vickie asked this group of the movers and shakers in the word of crafts and crafting. I actually did find it interesting to know what made some of these creative folks tick. What their first memories of crafting are, were they supported in the endeavors by their families?, important moments in their careers? All more interesting than I had thought it would be.  The book is chock full of fabulous ideas, unique and talented personalities that you can't help but learn something from as well as great photos and notable information about unique crafters who you may just want to keep an eye on. Lot's of blogs with eye candy to browse though along with a page of interesting community resources to check out and enjoy and a page of book club questions as well

"Craft Corps", published by Lark Books is a store house of great information, inspiration and interesting facts. If your interested in what makes well known, successful crafters tick, or if you are just a lover of well done craft and art work - this book is a good one to consider adding to your collection! Well done!

Please note: 
This book was kindly provided to for review purposes only - no other remuneration was received