Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees


I have added a book review of A Sound Among the Trees on my Millionaire Tips website. It is a book about a modern day bride who moves into a house in Virginia with a troubled history.  It is rumored to be haunted by a Civil War spy.

I have successfully participated in the 30 Hubs in 30 Days challenge, and am currently working on the 100 Hubs in 30 Days challenge.  Basically this means I am writing a large number of articles about quilting, genealogy and personal finance.  I am running slightly behind schedule, because I am trying to make sure that I keep up the level of quality as I increase my output.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts


I won the book Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts: 13 Quilts Projects to Piece and Applique in a giveaway by C & T Publishing on their blog, and received it yesterday.  It is a beautiful book with 13 beautiful patterns.  There are some that are completely applique, some that are completely pieced, and some that have a mixture of both.

The quilts represent quilts that were discussed in the eighteen novels by Jennifer Chiaverini about the Elm Creek Quilters of Waterford, Pennsylvania. It was a real treat to see the quilts and see how they compared to the ones I imagined while I was reading the novels.  The quilts are beautiful, and the instructions appear to be thorough, but generally do not provide quilting instructions.

There is one quilt that is appropriate for a beginner quilter, but the remainder appear to be for the confident intermediate or advanced quilter.  This is a refreshing change from the many beginner books I have been drawn to lately.  Sometimes we need to stretch and expand our skills, and a book like this is a good way to do just that.

Many of the quilts involve using templates, curved piecing and / or intricate applique. I think we should not limit our quilting techniques to those that use modern rotary cutting if a template provides additional value, but there was a square that was provided as one of the template needed for a quilt. It would have been nice to modernize the directions to avoid using templates when they are not necessary.

I have also reviewed the book on my Millionaire Tips website, and have included pictures of some of the quilts in the book on that site.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Day Way



I have to admit that I don't read a lot of diet books. They seem so depressing. They rush into what you should eat and what you shouldn't eat and what exercises to do, and they quickly get overwhelming. I read this book because it was a free for review book from Waterbrook Press, but I am glad that I did. The One-Day Way: Today Is All the Time You Need to Lose All the Weight You Want by Chantel Hobbs spends one chapter on exercise, and one chapter on food.  They are important chapters and provide lots of good information.  There are many (31) different simple exercises to try. And the food provides a weekly menu of simple, easy to prepare, normal foods to eat.  But what I like best about the book is that the rest of the chapters helps you create the mindset to successfully live your life in a healthful manner without beating yourself up for past mistakes or getting overwhelmed with lofty goals.  Choosing today as the point of no return, you won't be looking at whether you were successful yesterday.  You keep moving forward day by day.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrity Sudoku

I picked up a couple of books for light reading on the plane.  Even though these two books traveled to Italy with me, I wound up not reading very much, and finished another book instead.  I did manage to read them since then.  They were a lot of fun to read.  Liza Kelly creates sudoku puzzles and writes a newspaper column.  She somehow winds up being around murders, which are somehow related to the puzzles, and of course investigates the murders. The books include sudoku puzzles (with answers in the back), and tips on how to solve them.  There are a series of books written by Kaye Morgan which include:
Sinister Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)
Murder By Numbers (A Sudoku Mystery)
Death by Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)
Ghost Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)


In Celebrity Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery), Liza is hired to create puzzles for celebrity week on the hit show D-Kodas.  An earthquake and a missing celeb, who turns out to have been murdered sets off the mystery.



In Killer Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery), Liza is one of the competitors in the West Coat Sudoku Summit. One of the contestants drops dead in the middle of the competition and soon other competitors are also falling dead. Liza has to solve the mystery, before she becomes a victim.

These books are part of a series of books from Berkley Prime Crime which includes Earlene Fowler with quilting mysteries featuring Benni Harper, Needlecraft mysteries, scrapbooking mysteries, knitting mysteries, decoupage mysteries and sewing circle mysteries.

I found the sudoku books entertaining and fun. The mysteries are interesting, with lots of characters, some humor, and the story of Liza's life is moving ahead in the story. The puzzles are placed in the book to fit at the top or bottom of a page, so they don't fit in exactly in place with the story, but once you know that, it isn't a big deal.

The tips are also educational, but I think reading the series in order might help with some of the explanations. Some of these explanations are cumbersome to read through - which is understandable when you have to explain where the number is and how it is related to other numbers in the set, but they do make sense if you pay attention and think it through one step at a time.

One problem with borrowing these books from the library is that another patron already filled out the solutions in one of the books. I did get some satisfaction when I noticed that a puzzle had been solved incorrectly. It is a rather difficult one, and I am still working on finding a way to solve it. In the book, someone gives a lecture on how to solve the difficult one, but the explanation is not given in the book, probably to keep the focus on the crime.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Stuff


When my family cleaned my house while I was on vacation, I was a little worried. I had just finished reading a book Boomer Burden about planning to or having to handle your parent's stuff after they are deceased. What if my family got a glimpse of what it would be like after I was gone? My sister did say that I didn't have as many things as she thought I would.  But that's not all, I was also reading this book about compulsive hoarding.

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Professor Gail Steketee, PhD is a very insightful book about the accumulation of things and the thinking processes of the people who collect things. It helped to see what the people were thinking, what their reasons for collecting and keeping things are, etc.  The authors really seem like they want to help people, not make fun of them or sensationalize their condition for profit.

I have often thought that having a quilting stash is hoarding in a way.  If I buy fabric for a quilt I am going to be making soon, then it is fine. But buying just for the purpose of adding it to the stash seems like hoarding to me.  By the time I go looking for fabric in the stash, it might be too out of date and ugly for me to use. It is unlikely that a good fabric will not be available at the store when I am ready for it. I have to keep telling myself that, since I also have a counter-argument: I know I like scrap quilts, and having a collection does help when I make them.

I am not a hoarder. You can see my floors and my walls, except the part that is covered by furniture and decorations. But a lot of the excuses do make sense to me, and I think all of us have a little bit of hoarder in ourselves. And to that extent I am a hoarder.  Even before these books, I have been trying to reduce the amount of stuff I have. I think that besides the fact that it will help my family when I am gone, I think having less stuff makes it easier to clean the house, and have fewer places dust can hide, and I will have less to worry about moving if and when I move.  But in the meantime, the stuff is taking a great deal of my time, as I sort through it to decide what to give away and throw away and what to keep.  And to find better places in my home for the things I am keeping.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Alarmists


Alarmists, The is the third novel written by Don Hoesel, but it is the first one I've read. There is action, suspense, a love story, exotic locales, and religious debate.

Sociologist Brent Michaels is a sociologist who has been asked to join a special Pentagon unit to uncover why there seems to be an upsurge of activity - both man-made and natural disasters. He and the unit find activities from all around the world in December 2012, and as we all know, the Mayan calendar says the world will end on 12/21/12. They have to try to make sense of data from all around the world and try to determine the connections. They decide that these are not caused by normal causes - that someone is manipulating events.

The book alternates telling the story of several characters, especially Brent Michaels and Mr. Canfield, who uses the alias Miles Standish. Canfield is hired by a wealthy businessman, Jeremy Maxwell, whose aim is to become the richest man in the world, like King Solomon.

I really enjoyed reading this book.

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for this review.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Get Your Own Free Books





If you want to get your own free books to review, the process is very simple.


First, you find the program or programs you want to join. You can simply look on your favorite publisher's website to see if they have a review program. Since we are required to include a disclosure, "I received this book from XXX publisher in exchange for this review", you can look at reviews on your favorite online retailer to see which publisher keeps showing up on books you like.

Or you can look for book review programs on a search engine.

Second, simply read their rules for the review program and simply sign up.  Then choose a book to request from their list of available books. Most of the rules are pretty simple. Generally they ask you to review your book on your blog, and on a major retailer's website. Then you let them know you did the review, usually on their website, but sometimes by email.  If you do it on their website, they might have a place for you to review it on there as well.  The copy and paste function works well for putting your review in all two or three places as required.

Here are the ones I subscribe to:

Waterbrook Multinomah Publishers

Booksneeze


Bethany House

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Daughter's Walk


If someone said they would give you a million dollars to walk to New York City, would you do it? 


This book review of The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick has been moved to Millionaire Tips.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding


Just in time for the royal wedding, depending on how fast you can knit, you can create your own royal wedding. Maybe make up your own exciting story.

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding by Fiona Goble gives you directions on making this large cast of adorable characters for the wedding.

I'm sure that all of them are much more advanced than my meager knitting skills - I have trouble with a simple scarf for a doll.  So I can't give you a review for how well the instructions are written.  But aren't they just so cute!

If you aren't interested in the wedding, know that there are also other similar books on knitting a nativity scene, and about knitting dogs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Union Quilters




The Union Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel



The book review for The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini has been moved to Millionaire Tips.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Courting Miss Amsel




Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a love story set in 1882-1883 school year in the small town of Walnut Hill Nebraska. After having cared for her younger siblings after the death of her mother, Edythe Amsel is finally leaving her father's depressing home to move to Nebraska to teach in a one room schoolhouse. She is independent and has teaching methods that are shocking to the town. She is dealing with an unruly child and fending off advances from the town's bachelors.  Miss Amsel is reading the Bible for the first time, and there are many references to her conversion in this book.

Joel Townsend is a farmer who is raising his orphaned nephews, and could use a wife. He also has outlandish, more modern farming methods.

The story was a lovely read, and it was a nice change to read fiction for a change.

This book, like the Union Quilters talks about the beginning of the womens' suffrage movement.  I don't know enough about history to know if the methods are accurate for the time period. For example, I am not sure a teacher of that time would think to teach her students how to cook, since that would be something that would naturally be taught at home. It is pretty far from reading, writing and arithmetic. It is possible that the "outlandish" teaching methods are just our modern methods taken back in time. Whether it is true or not, I don't think it matters.  It makes for a good story anyway.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hello

Good morning.  I am creating this blog to post my book reviews.  I am a member of several (three right now) book review groups. Generally about once a month, a publisher generally gives us a list of a few books, and I choose one.  It is mailed to me, and after I have had a chance to read it, I post my opinion about it.  I am not required to post a positive review. I have to admit that I don't read all books all the way through. Time is too precious to waste if finishing the book isn't going to add any value to the review.  Since all three of these publishers publish Christian books, some of the books do tend to be very religious, although others merely mention Christian themes.

I enjoy this, because it gives me a chance to expand to books in subject areas and opinions that I would not pick up on my own. This does mean that this blog will contain reviews for books that range from really bad to mostly mediocre to awesome.

To keep it balanced, I do like to pick up books from the library and review those as well.  Those are generally ones that I think are worth the read.

I link the book titles to Amazon, so you can see how much it is and what others think about it. I am a part of their referral program, so if you choose to buy a book through them, I will get a referral bonus.

I hope you enjoy!
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