Monday, September 20, 2010

"Ultimate Jewelers Guide" by Joanna Gollberg

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 please remember that all photos may be double clicked for a larger image

I am generally a bit skeptical when I see a book that touts itself as 'the complete' or 'the ultimate' guide to whatever subject is being discussed within it's pages. Having had he pleasure to review books for Lark over some time has given me an insight however - yes, there can be rather complete - or dare I say - ultimate guides. I was especially interested to see what the pages of this book held since my new metal mania has hit me hard. Mind you, I can't see myself making jewelry - but I have also learned to never say never as, with me at least, one never knows! This book, much to my delight has many pages devoted simply to using metal, annealing metal, working metal and finishing mental - all great information for a newly born, metal fascinated, being that I am. This book includes ample discussions of tools - varieties and suggestions for using; gem settings and styles of cuts; metal working techiniques such as hammering, firing, annealing - truly this is a book that gives you all of the information you might need to begin your journey into the world of making jewelry. At the time I was not sure what I would think about this book - but now I know. It is a lovely, beautifully presented book that definitely is assured of 5 stars in my opinion! It is, in fact an 'ultimate 'source for all things jewelry making related! Well worth having in your library!
I had wanted to know more about the repousse technique - and here it is right in the pages of this book!

 Tools and how to use them correctly

Just what I needed - information about heating and annealing metals!

More tool time - my favorite time. I have always had a deep affection 
for tools and gadgets thanks to my engineer father

Hammering metal - more info that was right up my current alley!

Ah! Gems...would that I could afford to play with these beauties! If you want to and can afford to though this book manages to tell you all you need to know about it to get started.

This book was provided to me by the publisher for the sole purpose of an honest review. 
No other remuneration was received

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Mark Art

The PageKeeper is my current favorite - simplicity itself - but it works very well

As a life long bibliophile I have, on occasion, purchased or been given some lovely book marks that transcend the droll roll of marking your place in a book but rise to the level of Book Mark Art. Some markers hold memories, others are simply markers that work and work well, while others both work and are eye candy. I love book markers and think any true reader should experience the joy of having at least one beautiful marker. In case you are wondering - no I have not lost a marker - amazing but true and I AM knocking wood as I write that!

The PageKeeper noted above is simple and effective. It's my current favorite and I had to have at least two - that is a record for me - generally one of any kind is enough - but this one works so perfectly that I had to have more than one! I mean who reads only one book at a time?!

This is a "memory collection" and I love gracing the pages of my books with these beauties whose memories make me smile. The beautiful lace bookmark is from my friends Jim and Louise Lane. It's from Hampton Court Palace - a place I want to re-visit so much! I have never been able to take it out of it's wrapper! The "Creation" book mark was designed and made by my friend Julie Wildman - whose calligraphy is utterly spell binding - she is (can you tell?!) a calligrapher and graphic artist). The eagle book mark was given to me by Cathy Pike in 1992 when I left American Airlines to venture into an unknown life and re-invent myself. The plane was from when I got my pilot's license in 1983, the "No Puffin" marker is from a trip to Alaska and the Z is because it begins my last name - my maiden name I mean.

The group above is of the more "normal" flat variety, Alaska was from another trip to that breath taking state. The face is a favorite painting and was given to me by friend, Lauren Franciosi, The lighthouse just arrived on Friday from friend Karen. It's a lighthouse in Greenport, New York where I lived long ago. Karen lives there now and a group has had the lighthouse restored so she sent me this lovely reminder of another page in my life. The poem next to the lighthouse was sent to me by my adventure buddy, Sarah Smith - she moved away to to the East Coast and this small bookmark always keeps her near. Next is a marker that is from a salmon recovery project -my DH was involved with the recovery project in his own way for many years and this makes me think of those days when he went and feed 30,000 salmon babies twice a day until they were big enough to release. Next in the row is from author Brandy Purdy who writes historical fiction that I am quite fond of. She sent this with a book for me to review. The two markers on the bottom are from our local library and I just happen to fancy them a lot! Can you begin to imagine a world without reading and books? I sure can't!
A close up of the lighthouse and the friendship poem

AHHHHH - the two markers shown above are truly works of art. The are made by Hook Mark and they are very special. The one on the left is from friend Jim Lane. It was a Christmas gift one year. He gave his wife, Louise a cross - the Buddha for me. I had bought the less precious one on the right just because I loved the green glass. These are wonderful marks and make very special gifts. Lots to choose from.

Below on the left is some gizmo that works okay but more often than not manages to just get tangles on things. It works alright. I don't even remember what company makes it - but I did get it at a bookstore. I remember that much. On the right is a very efficient. lovely and usable maker made by Levenger. This is the largest size they make and it has a place for two pens - or a highlighter and a pen or pencil on the top. Beautifully well made and a good bargain to boot! They come in a smaller size for regular mass market small paperbacks - this one is more for trade sized books. They come in other colors and it's a very efficient marker!

That it for my short stroll through the Art of The Book Mark - at least those that I have. Odd how something so small can hold memories, be a work of art or elegantly hold your place in a great book. Yes, I do love book marks and am always open to trying out  a new one!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Princeling by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (The Morland Dynasty Series)

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This is the third book in the Morland Dynasty series that I have read - and I have to admit that I am still smitten with both the series and with the writing style of Ms. Harrod-Eagles 

You can find my reviews of the first two books in the series "The Founding" here and "The Dark Rose" here.  "The Princeling"  takes place during the reign of Elizabeth I when the tensions between Protestants and Catholics (the Morland clan) are at their peak. The religious tension of the times does not escape the Morland family where some members have come to embrace the 'new' religion while other family members cling to the faith of their forbears.

Ms. Harrod-Eagles keeps the sub-plots intricately and adeptly woven and the fabric of the lives of the Morlands is revealed - replete with a real 'feel' for what life would have been like during this period of spiritual tumult.  There are many characters in this book and their lives, through births and deaths, are strongly interwoven - but I did not find it all difficult to follow each family member as they moved through their lives and affected the lives of their family. Some chose to leave the family whilst others remained. One son, William, leaves to pursue a career as an actor in the seedier parts of London. Another son, John, who is the Morland heir, heads North to the Borderlands where he meets and marries Mary, the bold, challenging daughter of cattle lord 'Black' Will Percy. One of the Morland sisters, Lettice - the gentle one of the clan- is married to a pitiless Scots Baron, Lord Hamilton ,who life revolves around the treachery within the Court of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Each time I finish a book in this series I am ready to read the next one. In fact I think it would be best if I was, indeed, able to have the whole series on hand - ready to read one after the other. I don't believe that I would become bored with the reading and I know that I could maintain the relationship continuity more easily if I had multiple volumes ready to read on my bedside table.  Sourcebooks has done a wonderful job in re-releasing this excellent series. Better covers, nice paper and a good font choice all make the reading even easier.  You can see the entire series-to-be on Cynthia Harrod Eagle's website along with more information about the Morland's lands and aYahoo discussion group.

I am, as you can tell, a real fan of this excellent series. Whilst the characters may be fictitious the history and the 'feel' of these books are based on real happenings, buildings and history, all of which Ms.Harrod-Eagles explains quite well on her website. She also has a handy page that places the volumes of the series in order. I am ready for the next couple of books "The Oak Apple" and "The Black Pearl". Obviously, I highly recommend this series. It's highly addictive!

Note: this book was provided to me by the publisher for purpose of honest review. No other remuneration was provided

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton

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This book kept me up reading later than I should have for several nights. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and, as a first effort, I think there must be more good reads to come from this author. There were some aspects of the romances that made me think "maybe not!". I think that the author stretched to hold some of the plot and romance together but that did not stop my enjoyment. I am a fanatic about historical fiction - but I always remember that it is, in fact, fiction - not non-fiction - and so I allow some slack on that account. I can really recommend this book. If you are a picky historical history reader you may find elements that don't suit you - but make no mistake that Ms. Norton has done a a lot of research and presents her book with a tremendous amount of historical fact - you can easily imagine yourself as part of the book as you read it. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and recommend it to fans of historical fiction set in the early 13th century.

What exactly is the sixth surrender? You can find the answer to that question. Read no further if you don't want to read a spoiler...

"...siege,storm,surprise, subterfuge, suborning...they say are the means of gaining a well guarded secret...there is s sixth you know what that is, my lady?... surrender..."

note: this book was provided to me by for the purpose of honest review - no other sort of remuneration was received.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

500 Gemstone Jewels by Lark Books

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I am not a jewel driven kind of gal - most of my money goes into art supplies and the comfy clothing that I chose to wear is not conducive to wearing too many jewels. Paint and glue would not be compatible with the unearthly beauty of the gems and jewelry displayed in this beautiful book! That being said - if I could have jewels such as the ones in this book I might take a second look at my clothes and make myself fit to wear these amazing pieces. Ah! To be wealthy enough to be able to collect some of this art-to-wear.

As I have mentioned before - I am a big fan of Lark Books publications and their compendiums are generally the best of the best. This is no exception to that rule. The jewelry that is displayed in this book is all pure eye candy and is sure to bring out the lust for personal adornment even to those of us who generally don't have a yen for bling - like me. This book is chock full of the latest and the greatest in modern jeweled adornment.You will find everything from pins,  earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings to odder things like a contact lens that is filled with gems - alien looking to be sure and I wonder how long it would be comfortable in your eye - but it looks great in the photo! There are small 'Earth Spirit Guides, small sculptures, airy tiaras fit for the highest of debutantes. Mostly though this is a book about personal adornment - haute jewels as it were. With few exceptions I would be over the moon to be able to own any of the glorious examples in this book. The photography - as is always the case with Lark Books is superb. There was nothing to do but give it 5 stars for being a book that I will take great pleasure at looking at over and over again - no, I don't think I can give this one up! Kudos to Lark and to the amazing artists that are featured in this book!

note: this book was provided to me by Lark books for the purposes of honest review. No other remuneration was received.

Monday, September 6, 2010

'Elizabeth's Women' by Tracy Borman

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I loved this book! I ordered it  from Britain before it's US release because I did not want to wait (check out the Book Depository  or Amazon UK when you simply can't wait for a US release of a book ). This cover is the British edition cover. I liked it better so I used it here - you can see the US cover on the Amazon link I've posted at the bottom of this post. I think this is just about my favorite book about Elizabeth I. It's jam packed with small details and information about Elizabeth that are most often overlooked by many authors who seem to concentrate on her relationships with men and her political acumen.

This book is about Elizabeth I - the queen who has always captured my imagination and has held my interest. I wish I could time travel so that I could hear her voice - see her walk. No - not yet possible! 
I think that Elizabeth was so much more than we can ever know. I think she was, most likely rather officious and rude to many of her ladies and maids in waiting - but charming and gregarious when handsome men were involved! That being said said Elizabeth was an amazing female ruler in a time when it was anathema for a country to have such a strong, apt, female leader! This book is about the women in Elizabeth's close circle of trusted female confidants. It's an aspect of Elizabeth's life - a large aspect of her life, that is often overlooked in favor of the larger issues of Elizabeth's life. The book is broken into sections that cover, her mother, Anne Boleyn, her sister, Mary, her step-mothers, Jane, Catherine and Katherine, her governesses, ladies in waiting, cousins, men and the travails of being a female ruler in a country that believed no female could effective rule by herself. Although this edition was 392 pages of relatively small print it flashed by like a novel - I could not put it down!

Ms. Borman's style is easy to read but she in no way "dumbs down" the information. I am off to order her first book now  - if I can find one that I can afford that is! " Henrietta Howard: King's Mistress. Queen's Servant". If you love history I think you too will love this book! No disappointment here !