Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sew Iconic by Liz Gregory

Sew Iconic is a step by step book to sewing ten dresses that have been featured in movies.  More than that, it’s an amazing reference for those who are learning to sew or wish to learn more.  The first section of the book breaks down sewing techniques such as resizing patterns, creating darts and attaching fasteners.  From there the book breaks down the techniques for sewing the ten selected dresses.

The book comes with the patterns on two sheets that the reader will have to transfer to cut out the pattern desired.  The dresses are in order of easiest to most difficult, starting with the brown and white polka dot dress from Pretty Woman.  Each dress section is broken down into information about the actress, the movie and the designing of the dress before going into recreating the dress at home.  The instruction finishes with how to achieve the same look as the actress with accessories and makeup.

There are two videos available online at the books Tumblr site to further assist with understanding how to make these dresses. 

All in all I think this is a great book.  I’m not sure I see myself in these dresses but I like the instruction given and would definitely add this to my craft shelf as a reference guide.  At this point in time, I feel it’s better to start making your own clothes again.  Not only can this guarantee that you love the piece but, with the cost of buying clothes that don’t seem to hold up to every day wear, it’s practical. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vampire Knight (1-3) by Matsuri Hino

I love Manga – it’s special and different when compared to American comics/stories.  Manga borders on the silly while having serious moments.  This one is no exception.  I loved it.

Yuki is the adopted daughter of the headmaster of a special boarding school.  The day classes are fairly normal but at night a different set of students come to learn and they are vampires.

Yuki works as the special guardian with Zero.  Their job is to keep the vampires a secret and prevent them from harming the human students.   Both Yuki and Zero have been victims of vampires in the past which led them to the academy.  Yuki has no memory of her life before vampire Kaname saved her from another vampire. 

As is common in Manga there is a love triangle between Yuki, Zero and Kaname.  I get the feeling that she loves Zero more but we’ll see.

If you love silly romance or anything vampire – I recommend this series. I’ve read through volume 3 and I hate having to wait to get my hands on future volumes.

Matsuri Hino also wrote Captive Hearts – a super silly comedy about a man who is cursed to fall in love with a particular girl.

She has a great style and I love her inserts about her life as she writes these stories.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vampire Taxonomy by Meredith Woerner

Written like a science book, Vampire Taxonomy defines the various vampires from pop culture.  Meredith Woerner takes examples from the more popular vampire stories/movies and some lesser known to create a how-to sort of book.

She breaks down the vampires into five categories – Romantic Vampire, Villainous Vampire, Tragic Vampire, Halfsies, and Child Vampire.  Each category offers information on how the vampire looks, their preferred habitat and a variety of other factors.

Written tongue in cheek, this book is just fun.  It really gets one thinking about the differences and similarities of vampires in pop culture and in history.  This may not get a scientific award but Meredith did her research.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer

Artemis is at it again. This time he has taken the stolen fairy technology and turned it into a device that will revolutionize human technology. To make money quick, he shows the device to American business man Jon Spiro. Things go wrong quickly when Jon double crosses Artemis, steals the device and Butler is left dying on the floor.
Artemis must ask the fairies to help him clean up the mess but in return they ask that he allows them to remove his memories of their existence. It’s a turning point in the series, a place where the reader can see real changes in Artemis. It’s as if he’s teetering on the edge of good and evil. He’s struggling with his identity. Knowing the fairies has sure made him a better person – will removing his memory of them revert him back to being cold and calculating.
More importantly, will they get the device back from Jon Spiro who seems to stay one step ahead of them the whole way. Another great edition to the Artemis Fowl series. I skipped the e-book from NetGalley this time and listened to this in audio format. Nathaniel Parker lent an amazing depth to the story. His accents reminded me of the origin of the characters who all sound American in my head. If you haven’t picked up Artemis Fowl yet, what’s stopping you?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gary Gianni’s Monstermen and Other Scary Stories by Gary Gianni

This was an interesting collection. The first half consisted of five graphic /comic stories by Gary Gianni. His Monstermen series was introduced as a companion to the Hellboy series. Lawrence St George is a film maker and hunter of the supernatural. Partnered with Benedict, an ancient knight who can’t die, they search out and stop a variety of demons from taking over the world. They are quick stories reminiscent of those from the early days of movies. St George looks a bit like Vincent Price. I would believe these are set in a time such as the 1930’s if it wasn’t for the occasional glimpse of a computer or other technology now and again. I rather enjoyed these. I do prefer color to black and white but the drawings gave it a spookier, old movie feel. There’s enough action to pull you through and enough character development that you feel like you know the characters towards the end. I look forward to more Monstermen stories. The second half of the book didn’t delight me as much as the first. It was stories but not told in graphic/comic form. Personally, I think it disrupted the flow of the book. Not that the stories were bad but they felt like they should be a separate book. The stories were illustrated by Gary Gianni but not written by him which made it feel more like a separate book. Had they been additional stories about Monstermen maybe I would have felt differently.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

1000 Steampunk Creations by Dr. Grymm

A neat collection of steampunk art in book form. I picked up this book from the local library and it was a perfect way to experience this book. I’m not sure it’s really a keeper but the work included is quite interesting. The art ranges from drawings to sculptures to costumes to jewelry. I did find by the end of the book, I was getting a little bored. 1000 images is a lot of images especially when you are not looking at work from all that many artists. There were several pictures that were just different angles of the same piece of work. If you like interesting art or steampunk, this is a great book to pick up. I found myself wanting to try some steampunk art myself. Who knows, there might be some great inspiration in this book for you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hellboy Volume 12 by Mike Mignola

This volume co-incides with the BPRD Hell On Earth Volume 2. It’s a fairly complete story of Hellboy fighting a dragon that signals the end of the world. It’s entertaining enough and easy to read separate from the other volumes. I will say the ending makes me wonder if there will be Volume 13. I love Hellboy and this graphic novel did not disappoint. It’s mostly action but I did feel there was not enough Hellboy wit that is common in most Hellboy stories. I like that this story incorporated the King Arthur myth. It’s definitely a good volume to pick up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

This is the story of three generations – Big, Liza and Mosey. Big believes that every 15 years they are cursed. This started when Big became pregnant with Liza at 15 and then Liza got pregnant with Mosey 15 years later. Mosey has just turned 15 and Big is trying to be vigilant. The year starts with Liza having a stroke which leaves her broken and withdrawn. Big knows that a pool will help and has a neighbor help take down the old willow tree in her yard which starts off a chain of events that will bring dark secrets out into the open and test the strength of Big’s family. Told from all three perspectives, this was an amazing journey. I loved Liza’s story since she was the one who couldn’t interact much with the others. She was a delightful character who added a lot to the story. Though her body didn’t work, her mind was working hard. I devoured this book, as I have all of Joshilyn Jackson’s books that I have gotten my hands on. They are different from other southern chick books. There’s a darker edge in her books, one that really shows the devil is in the details. There are such powerful connections between the characters and a love that transcends.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Cape by Joe Hill

The story of the cape was published in 20th Century Ghosts. It was such a popular and bizarre story of a grown man who rediscovers the power to fly using a cape. I was excited to hear that the story had been turning into a comic book mini-series (4 issues) but I wasn’t overly excited to read it since I had read it already. That didn’t mean I wasn’t curious so I accepted when the offer came to review the first issues. I was blown away. The illustrations are just creepy enough to give you the full impression of this character’s mental health. The story is just strange but more importantly this issue starts where the short story ends. Eric’s girlfriend has fallen to her death and the cops believe there’s something more going on here. However, it’s hard to understand how a woman fell to her death when there was nothing to fall from. We know what happened but will everyone else discover how Eric got his revenge and will they believe it. This issue is just as bizarre as the original story and you really don’t like Eric but you can understand him. His life is not all that great and he sees his problems as the fault of those around him. I can’t wait to pick up more issues to find out how Joe Hill resolves this story.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Artic Incident by Eoin Colfer

A wonderful sequel to Artemis Fowl, the second in the series. At the beginning of this book, we find that Artemis has been returned to school. He’s been ordered to meet with the school counselor. The thing about Artemis is he knows that no one is smarter than he is and the counselor is just another adult who doesn’t understand him. A call from Butler and an escape from the school, lead Artemis to discover his father’s whereabouts. For the first time in two years, Artemis has a real chance at bringing his father home. The rescue won’t be an easy one but he’s prepared. That is until the fairy people return. Artemis is the only human they know with the resources to open up a human/goblin smuggling ring. They bring him in for questioning. Artemis is innocent and they agree to help him retrieve his father. However, there is a villain amongst the LEP and a plot that will destroy everything. It’s up to Artemis, Butler, Holly Short and Captain Root to save the day. There’s a return of Munch Diggins who has been causing his own ruckus. I don’t want to share too much for those who have not read the first one. I think I like this book better than the first. Artemis is such a complex character and I love that the book is told from all sides at once. It’s not confusing at all and opens up the reader to all the character’s thoughts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Star Trek Legion of Superheroes by Chris Roberson

How fun does this sound – mixing Star Trek with DC superheroes. I just knew I had to sample this new comic series. I have to say I was disappointed. The story opens with the Imperial forces (is that really what they were called?) attacking a peaceful planet because they refused to pay taxes. Then the introductions to the Legion of Superheroes left me uninspired. Why are there no cool superheroes in the legion? Perhaps these are the flunkies that get the worst assignments but with names like Chameleon Boy and Brainy I can see why. I wanted something cool. I loved the description of this story – who could resist the mash up of superheroes and Star Trek? I just don’t think the end result was worth it. I found the whole thing far too cartoony. Maybe they are going for a sixties nostalgic feel – a combination of Hanna Barbara and the over the top Star Trek series. I’d believe it if Captain Kirk looked more like William Shatner. As it was the Star Trek characters resembled poorly drawn versions from the television show. This series was completely lost on me. Maybe it’s because I’m not the right audience. It’s always possible but I can’t tell you who would be the perfect audience. My dad might be the target but I can’t picture him even pretending to read a comic book, let alone the entire series.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

*Had a little computer problem yesterday so yesterday's post is up today along with today's post. I'll be scheduling posts for the remainder of the week since I'll be out of town so I hope they post without problem. I loved Artemis Fowl the first time I read it years ago. I still love it today. I’m glad I took the opportunity to re-read the first book. I’m thinking about reading them all again ending with the newest book this summer. Artemis Fowl, to me, is the anti-Harry Potter. In this first book, he is twelve years old. His father is missing and his mother is withdrawn. The family name and fortune are on the line and Artemis Fowl takes matters into his own hands. He’s going to steal fairy gold. What happens from there is a story about a boy who is stuck in two roles. He is only twelve but incredibly intelligent. He could use his gifts for good but that’s not who his family is – the Fowl’s come from a long line of men who make their money off the backs of others. He has been taught to be evil. However, you can’t help but empathize with this boy. You delight in his schemes but your heart breaks for him as well. In some ways, he’s doing this for his family. The story is funny and charming. It’s not the same comradery as Harry Potter but Artemis is not alone in these stories. This first one sets up a series of friendships that will be tested time and time again in future books.

Locke and Key Volume 5 by Joe Hill

The first issue of volume 5 of the Locke and Key series proves that Joe Hill is still the master. I’ve read one full volume and have some understanding of the world of Lockcraft so this was not a difficult story to follow. I don’t think it’s be really difficult for anyone, except for the last panel which stumped me. This volume is set during the time just before the Revolutionary War. Two siblings have lost their family and are losing their home. Their family has been supporters of those who choose to fight against England. The hidden army uncovers something much more dangerous than the soldiers and it’s up to the boy to come up with a way to save their home and the army they have hidden. I need to get my hands on the full series – it’s wonderful. A mix of horror and fantasy, Joe Hill weaves a story that sucks you in and spits you out at the end shaking and in awe.

Friday, May 11, 2012

False Friends Faux Amis Book Two by Ellie Malet Spradbery

Don’t let the title of this book mislead you. This is not a teen drama but a French conversational. It’s an interesting title but the information is quite solid. The book is broken into six sections – False Friends; French Expressions; Twins, Triplets, etc.; Lists, Miscellaneous; and English Expressions. False Friends focuses on words that sound the same in English and French except don’t necessarily mean the same thing. It’s an interesting look at the two languages because you get the feeling they should be the same. French Expressions covers some familiar phrases and some not so familiar. Twins, Triplets, etc. – French words that have more than one English meaning. List – series of words with a common theme such as insects, birds, and words associated with automobiles. Miscellaneous says learn to play cards in French but I didn’t get how the words were associated. English Expressions – just as it says, English expressions translated to French. This is not a book for a casual learner. This is designed for someone who wants to move deeper into the French language. There’s little pronunciation information for the words nor information on how to add them to sentences. I believe the author assumes the reader is already familiar with the language. I’ve had French in high school and college and I still found some of the words and phrases beyond my understanding but it was definitely fun to read through.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Echo’s Revenge by Sean Austin

This book was fun. Probably not the best written book out there but I still enjoyed. I find it funny that so many books lately have been breaking the rules to what is considered good writing. I have found the rules were too stuffy anyway. I love the chaos of this book. There are so many characters but two main characters – Reggie and Jeremy. I love that you get perspective from multiple characters. I didn’t think it made it confusing but it definitely added to the chaos which was perfect for this book. Reggie lives with his mom, her boyfriend and his brother Jeremy. Life is just about surviving the day to day – his mom is a total flake and her boyfriend is an abusive jerk. Reggie and his brother escape into ECHO’s Revenge, an online interactive game. Reggie is a master at the game and is invited to be part of a focus group. He goes feeling like he’s got something positive in his life. The group is not the best experience but he still feels special. His mom’s boyfriend discovers his trip and the punishment is severe. Time for escape, Reggie and his brother run away. The boys don’t realize that their running away have saved their lives. ECHO is real and he is working his way through the gamers. (The book gets a little hooky here as the pictures of the missing gamers appear on milk cartons the next day but it’s just requires a little belief suspension.) The boys now have two things they are running from – their mom’s boyfriend and ECHO. They are not without support and with each new person, Reggie learns something new. It is this knowledge that helps him survive when ECHO finally catches up to him and his brother. It’s almost a coming of age book as we watch Reggie grow during this ordeal. It’s a fun and exciting book. The style is easy to read and engaging. I’m glad this is the first of a series and I get to watch it blossom as well. For more fun offers interactive play with the characters and books.

Cemetery Club by JG Faherty

This was supposed to be yesterday's post but I fell behind and didn't get it written. Cemetery Club started off rather slow. I did not like the beginning. The first few segments were snapshots of the history of Rocky Pointe but I wasn't connecting to the town. The modern day story started with Todd. Todd had just been released from Wood Hill Sanitarium after serving 20 years for killing several people in his teens. Todd is looking forward to spending his time reconnecting with his mother and continuing his research on what really happened to those people. He suspects he raised a demon. Meanwhile, whatever it was has risen again. John Boyd witnesses the aliens take over a cemetery maintenance man who kills another man before dragging his body into a neighboring crypt. Todd is beaten by police before they even explain why they are arresting him. It's at this point that I am convinced I can no longer read this book. I was so angry. So far the book had failed to grasp my attention and here, in this modern day, this man was completely violated by the men who are sworn to protect. I nearly quit. I nearly wrote a terrible review because I had had it. But I wanted to give the book a chance and I'm glad I did. Once Cody Miles, Todd's lawyer, entered the scene the story took on a completely different feel for me. I was sucked in and I couldn't stop. The fun thing about this book was the debate about what exactly had invaded the community - was it demons or was it aliens? There were good arguments for both and I wasn't disappointed when I learned what the truth was. The beings turn their victims into zombies and that was fun. I hadn't read a zombie book yet so it was great. I loved the characters. I loved how they were real and how they were really struggling with what was the right thing to do. There was even a human villain who I thought could have been used a little better but I could totally picture him in the movie. I didn't like the ending but then I liked the characters a lot and the ending hurt. I won't spoil it for you but I was disappointed. I wanted them to be my heroes and I wanted a happily ever after. The fact that the ending made me feel made it a great ending. I could completely see this movie. It's a small book so it may never happen but I would love to see that movie. There were some editing issues with the book - I won't lie. One character's name changed from Hank to Frank for a few pages and then back to Hank. It was a little off putting but I didn't care. I chalked it up to the quaintness of the publishing. It wasn't well formatted for a nook so there was some fun font issues but I ignored them and stuck with the story. If you like horror, especially Stephen King, I recommend this book. It reminded me a bit of IT but with zombies instead of clowns.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Baby’s in Black by Arne Bellstorf

Wow what a sad and wonderful history. I picked Baby’s in Black because it had something to do with the Beatles (my family are huge fans). This is the story of Stuart Sutcliffe who was the original bassist for the Beatles when they started in Germany in 1960. Stuart did not consider himself a great musician but followed for the sake of his friend John Lennon. He was soon discovered by Astrid Kirchheer. They fell in love and she nurtured the artist that he was meant to be. Sadly, Stuart had an underlying illness that the doctors were unable to determine which resulted in his death. The beauty of the story is in the telling of their relationship. Drawn in black and white, this graphic novel has a haunting yet light touch. You can’t help but feel for both Astrid and Stuart who never were able to marry. His future was so bright and yet was not meant to be. That did not mean that he didn’t influence the lives of others who went on to have amazing careers. This is a must have for any Beatles fan even though it does not focus on them exclusively. The story is simple and fairly modest making it suitable for young fans.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Enchantment by Pati Nagle

I really hate writing reviews for books I didn’t like or just couldn’t read. It goes against everything I believe. I love books and most of my reviews are glowing because I only review what I like. As I get asked to review more and more, it means finding that I don’t like some books. More often than not, I push through unless it’s NetGalley then I politely decline writing a review. I can’t remember when I was asked to review this book but it’s been sitting in my tbr pile for far too long. I have spent the last week trying to muddle through the first 50 pages. I finally made it to page 86 when I said that was it. I was done. I was going to walk away and call this once lost in the tbr file. I can’t even remember who asked me to review it and they haven’t gotten back in all this time so would anyone notice if I just overlooked this review? The truth is – no, no one would notice but I would feel like I was lying. Am I a bad journalist if I only post reviews of books I like? Okay, it’s not quite that bad but it was when I started. I need to share the bad with the good. This isn’t the worst book ever written. The language is fine. The plot is okay. It’s just really boring. Just before the start of her senior year in high school, Holly discovers a being living in a spring near her house. The being is dying. She wants to focus on him than on finding a college to attend the following year. In 86 pages, I could tell you very little about Holly (to be honest, I’m not positive that’s her name). In one meeting, she is madly in love with the guy who she knows is not human and can’t leave the spring. She’s nearly obsessive. Day three she has to go with her sister, as her sister returns to college. The whole time she’s sure that the man in the spring believes she has abandoned him. Um, hmm. I found the characters very one dimensional – there was no feeling in this book. I wasn’t being pulled in. Maybe, it’s me. Maybe I just was the wrong audience. Maybe this was the wrong book. I don’t know. I just know that Nancy Pearl said to subtract your age from 100 and then that’s the number of pages you have to read before deciding a book is just not going to work for you. I’d love to say that I read those pages but truth is – I gave it many more and even trying to skim over the story didn’t help me like it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Agaves by Greg Starr

Agaves are a type of succulent plant characterized by rosetta-like structure – leaves that spread out from the base in a circle. Interest in these plants for landscaping grew in the 1980s but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that Agave’s popularity surged. They are drought and heat tolerant plants that are naturally found in the southwestern region of the United States and into Mexico. Greg Starr offers information on how to incorporate Agave plants into your landscape regardless of where you live. Some species can tolerate severe cold while others can tolerate wetter climates. He goes on to explain how you can help your Agave thrive even in the less than ideal conditions. The majority of the book is a detailed explanation of each species of Agave. With each description, Greg Starr offers landscaping information and how best to raise that particular species. He includes information on where they can be found in nature and what conditions can be found there. The book is beautifully photographed with pictures of Agaves in various states of growth. The information appears to be simple but until you put it to use I couldn’t really say. I would have liked to have a reason to grow Agaves instead of they look neat. I wish the author would have sold the idea better but then if you weren’t already interested you probably wouldn’t be picking up his book. I like gardening books but I have limited experience and even less space. I would have loved to find out how to eat an Agave plant or to learn which were edible and how to harvest them.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dollhouse Volume 1 by Andrew Chambliss

A post-series story following the characters of Dollhouse, this graphic novel is a must have for fans. Those not familiar with the show may find some of the plot confusing but the writer’s did a good job of introducing characters and the Dollhouse. The story begins with a phone call. This is not your normal call but one that threatens to take away all that makes you you. For some, they turned into mindless killers. Others turned into makers of mindless killers. Those who avoided the call are trying to survive in this apocalyptic world. Being this is volume one, there is no tight ending, no wrap up to the story but there was enough of a conclusion that made the story feel whole while still encouraging the reader to see out volume 2. This book makes me want to watch the show all over again – guess what I’m watching on Netflix tonight?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Naked Foods Cookbook by Margaret Floyd and James Barry

The concept of naked eating is to eat clean, whole, unprocessed foods. The authors ask that you investigate your food before bringing it into your kitchen. This is not only a good practice for the environment but will allow the preparer to create more healthy dishes. The first few chapters of this cookbook explain the concept of eating naked as well as how to stock your kitchen and preparation methods. The recipes contained have vegetarian versions and all are gluten-free. The authors are supportive of raw organic milks but include ways to make dairy free milks at home. I liked that the recipes varied from raw to cooked and included vegetarian and meat ideas. The recipes are all rated based on difficulty and easy to find. The book ends with sample menus and food seasons. All in all this is a good book for those who are investigating eating raw, vegan or unprocessed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Death of a Dreamer by Alison Behnke

The story of the tragic killing of John Lennon, Alison Behnke offers a well-rounded view of not only the death of John Lennon but of his life, the life of his killer and the world they lived in. The book has six chapters each focusing on a separate part of the story. Chapter 1 is a brief biography of John Lennon with Chapter 2 shifting to focus on his political side – the side that fought for freedom and peace as well as the politics that surrounded him. Chapter 3 switches sides and offers the biography of Mark David Chapman. This is the lesser known part of this story. Mark David Chapman was a complex and sympathetic character who, to this day, is still shrouded in mystery. Chapter 4 gives the reader detailed information of the days that lead up to the assassination of John Lennon from both perspectives. Chapter 5 is the trial and the conviction of Mark David Chapman. The book ends with the standard wrap-up and where are they now. Anyone interested in the Beatles and John Lennon would benefit from this book. It is written for a juvenile audience and does a fair job of explaining all the roles and words that come into play. I was fascinated by the story. In the end, it was hard to draw sides. While Mark David Chapman did commit a heinous crime, I can’t help but feel sorry for him and feel that a life in solitary confinement is more than a punishment. I find that the world surrounding this incident has nearly as much fault and I am not alone. It makes me wonder what the world could be like if we strive to give peace a chance and if political conflicts can ever be solved.