Monday, September 27, 2010

Mailbox Monday - September 27th

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Bermudaonion this week. The meme was originally created and hosted at The Printed Page, but it has gone on tour now.

This past week I got:
A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill
Nonfiction, sent to me for review.

The Morpheus Factor  by Ashley McConnell
A Stargate novel and the last of the books I ordered this summer.

Knitting For Dummies
Doesn't the title say it all?

Sword of the Lady by S.M. Stirling
The sequel to Scourge Of God in the Change series.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Dog Named Slugger - Leigh Brill

A Dog Named Slugger
Leigh Brill
Bell Bridge Books
Copyright: 2010

The product description:
The true life story of a dog who changed everything for one woman. For the first time in my life, I didn't need to pretend, I didn't need to be tough: I only needed to be honest. "I have cerebral palsy. I walk funny and my balance is bad. I fall a lot. My hands shake, too. That means I'm not so good at carrying things. And if I drop stuff, sometimes it's hard to just bend down and get it." I waited anxiously for the interviewer's response. She smiled. "It sounds like a service dog could be great for you." So began Leigh Brill's journey toward independence and confidence, all thanks to a trained companion dog named Slugger. The struggling college student and the Labrador with a "a coat like sunshine" and a tail that never stopped wagging became an instant team. Together, they transformed a challenge into a triumph. Together, they inspired and educated everyone they met. Now, Leigh honors her friend with the story of their life, together.
 A Dog Named Slugger was sent to me for review purposes. Right off the top, I'll admit that I'm a sucker for animal stories, which is why I accepted it in the first place. This isn't the first book I've read about service dogs either. There's one I read years ago that I'm currently trying to find the title to. But, based on that, I knew I'd be interested in this one.

The book tells of the author's college years up to the present as she makes her way in life with cerebral palsy, as she discovers the help that a service dog could provide. At the same time it's the story of a remarkable dog's life and the changes he makes in her life. That dog was a golden lab called Slugger. From the simple things he was trained to do: helping her balance, picking up dropped items to more incredible and spontaneous ones like helping others around her and fending off a burglar.

Unfortunately dogs' lives are so much shorter than ours. At the end of the book I was sitting there with tears running down my face. At the same time, I'd known that was how it was going to be - most animal stories of this sort end that way, and I was glad I'd read the book. Now I'm recommending it, and recommending it strongly.

Everyone knows about guide dogs for the blind, but other types of service dogs are still less well recognized and I hope that Slugger will help to change that. This book is certainly well suited for readers from twelve to a hundred and twelve.


I'll admit it. I've been horrible about keeping up with this blog lately. I certainly haven't lost interest in reading and blogging about books though. Thing is, I've become hooked on a new hobby, one which is eating up a lot of my reading time. I've gotten sucked into Crochet in the last week or so. It really is lots of fun, and so much faster than knitting - something else I need to learn how to do properly. At the same time, the crochet has inspired me to go back to spinning again, so I've been taking a turn at that once more. I do have a book review to get written up tonight, so that should be something at least - and I've gotten a couple of new books.

I'm really waiting for Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey and The Forest Laird by Jack Whyte to get into the stores though at the moment.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Stitch 'n' Bitch Crochet: Happy Hooker - Debbie Stoller

Stitch 'n' Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker
Debbie Stoller
Workman Publishing Company
Copyright: 2006

The Book Description:
Debbie does crochet! Debbie Stoller, the “knitting superstar,” has been leading an entire movement of hip young knitters with her New York Times bestseller Stitch ’n Bitch and its follow-up, Stitch ’n Bitch Nation, together with over 521,000 copies in print. But guess what? For every one knitter in the world there are three crocheters—which translates into millions of hip, crafty, 18- to 35-year-olds ready to be happy hookers with Stitch ’n Bitch attitude, sexiness, ingenuity, and cool.

Written in the author’s cheeky chick style, this heavily illustrated book—featuring four-color photographs and instructional illustrations throughout—is chock-full of instruction, inspiration, and to-die-for designs, from a Fishnet Skullcap to a lacy evening wrap. For knitters and new crafters exploring the hook comes the primer: the advantages of crochet and the ways in which knitters (and nonknitters) benefit by learning this sister craft; a discussion of tools; all the cool yarns available, and what the different gauges mean; plus basic techniques and stitch patterns—including the chain stitch, picot, flowers, filet crochet, changing yarns, and finishing. Then come 40 fabulous, funky projects—the kind that make Stitch ’n Bitch rule—for crocheters: Pom Pom Capelet, Retro Clutch Purse, Anarchy Irony Hat, Ms. Pac Man Change Purses, Doris Daymat, Va-Va-Va Voom Bikini, Animal I-Pod Cozies, Kid’s Sock Monkey Poncho.

No, these aren’t your grandma’s doilies. 
Don't let the title put you off. I've gotten a couple of raised eyebrows over it. This is a very helpful book if you're learning to crochet. And, even if you already know how, I'd bet you will find the patterns useful. One of my coworkers knits and crochets so I asked her what she'd recommend for me to learn from. This was her answer. The book also comes up fairly regularly on the Ravelry website for knitting and crochet.

The first half of the book is the tools, yarn and stitches, all clearly illustrated. I've never crocheted before (well, o.k. I'd played with the chain stitch as a kid, but that's all), and only a day later, I've figured out the first stitch. Admittedly, I spent a lot of time ripping out the failures, but a closer look at the illustrations and diagrams pointed me in the right direction.

And, it's fun to read. The writing style is very light-hearted and friendly, which is always a plus, as are the very clear steps and descriptions for how to do things.

I can't wait to try out some of the shawls and sweaters displayed in the second half of the book, where the patterns are. There's also a really neat looking necklace and bracelet pattern I want to do. Each of the patterns has several great looking photos in full color too.

In the mean time, I'm now hooked.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hand of Isis Giveaway Results

Wanda is the winner of my giveaway of Hand of Isis that ran from August 1st to August 30th. The rules for this past giveaway can be found here.

Black Ships - Jo Graham

Black Ships
Jo Graham
Orbit Books
Copyright: 2008
978-0316068000 Product Description:
The world is ending. One by one the mighty cities are falling, to earthquakes, to flood, to raiders on both land and sea.

In a time of war and doubt, Gull is an oracle. Daughter of a slave taken from fallen Troy, chosen at the age of seven to be the voice of the Lady of the Dead, it is her destiny to counsel kings.

When nine black ships appear, captained by an exiled Trojan prince, Gull must decide between the life she has been destined for and the most perilous adventure -- to join the remnant of her mother's people in their desperate flight. From the doomed bastions of the City of Pirates to the temples of Byblos, from the intrigues of the Egyptian court to the haunted caves beneath Mount Vesuvius, only Gull can guide Prince Aeneas on his quest, and only she can dare the gates of the Underworld itself to lead him to his destiny.

In the last shadowed days of the Age of Bronze, one woman dreams of the world beginning anew. This is her story.
This review is for a reread of Black Ships. I first read the book back in March, so not all that long ago, but I loved it as much this time as I did then. That first review can be found here.

The story is that of The Aeneid, though retold from the viewpoint of a woman named Gull - one of the Trojan slaves rescued at the beginning of their travels. Everything seems to fit historically, and those things changed, such as Carthage becoming Egypt make sense in the quest for historical accuracy.

Jo Graham has become one of my favorite authors, up there with Katherine Kurtz and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Every time I read or re-read one of her three books in this series, Black Ships, Stealing Fire and Hand of Isis, I notice new things. For example, the various flashes of the future and the past that tie the whole series together. Now I'm wondering who the Roman was, and I'm rather curious about the grave they found and reburied. Loved all the ties to Charmian and Hand of Isis.

Honestly, the moment that really sticks in my head from reading Black Ships was the time they spend on the island of Thera (now known as Santorini). It's so powerfully written.

Amusingly, this is a book I had to buy a second time. I know I have a hardcopy copy, but I couldn't find it anywhere. Black Ships became a book that I just had to read. Something about not being able to I think. So, I ended up buying a copy for my Kobo e-reader. Probably I'll end up doing the same thing for Hand of Isis eventually.

Jo Graham's books are worth it though. I really recommend them all.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What Would You Recommend? - Fiction Set In India

This is a question I get asked all the time working in the bookstore: "What would you recommend for somebody who loved "_________"? (fill in the blank)" Usually I can come up with something, but that something can be a bit of a wild guess if it's not a book or genre I normally read. This is where you helpful people come in. If you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

This week I'm asking about an area where I'm sadly out of date. When it comes to stories set in India, the ones I've read are never in stores anymore: Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald, and M. M. Kaye's two famous books: The Shadow of the Moon and The Far Pavilions.

A couple of people have recommended The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan and sequels to me, and I just bought it the other day, though I haven't had a chance to read it yet, and of course, there's Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, but aside from that and The Forbidden Daughter, I have no idea of any other books in terms of fiction.

For non-fiction (and even for those who are looking for fiction) I tend to recommend Margaret Macmillan's Women of the Raj, and the books of William Dalrymple.

What else is there for me to either read or recommend, or preferably both?


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