Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Culinary Craft

The creators of Hello, Cupcake! strike again with What's New, Cupcake? These ideas are so creative and entertaining that they really truly look like works of art! It would be a shame to eat them but that's what we do (somewhat reluctantly). There's something for everyone...robots, koi goldfish, sand castles, Chinese takeout, and even french fries.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Size Matters

Wondering what to do with all that seemingly useless stuff stashed in the garage, basement, or attic? Don't pitch it. Give it new life using one of the ideas in The Big-Ass Book of Crafts. Compiled by master crafter Mark Montano, this hefty volume lives up to its name, containing the widest variety of craft projects I've ever seen in one place. Packed into its nearly 400 pages are detailed how-to instructions to all things crafty including: reviving old furniture, creating plates unique enough to spark mealtime conversations, making personalized stationary, updating old picture frames and mirrors, and much, much more. Crafts range in difficulty level from easy to expert. Although not all projects are practical (some of the stuff is downright bizarre!), everything in The Big-Ass Book of Crafts is decidedly unique. And it's a fun book to page through even if you don't plan to try any of the project ideas.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Better than Garfield!

His popular Youtube videos have taken the internet by storm and caused millions of LOLs worldwide. Now Simon's Cat brings his antics to the literary world with his first ever self-titled book. Through simple yet effective black and white drawings, London-based animater Simon Tofield brings to hilarious life the daily adventures of an unnamed cat as he attempts to catch birds, pesters a neighbor's dog, plays with a yard gnome statue, and, as always, finds new and creative ways to demand more food from his hapless human. Although Simon's Cat's behavior is somewhat exaggerated at times, it is obvious Tofield took his inspiration from genuine cat behavior--and tried to remain true to that inspiration as much and as often as possible. This is one of the many reasons Simon's Cat's adventures remain fresh and funny long after Garfield's biting sarcasm has gotten old. A quick read that will have anyone even remotely familiar with cats ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing).

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Other Half

What's Eating Gilbert Grape author, Peter Hedges, has written a compelling novel that delves into the intersecting lives of a select group of New Yorkers. The Heights begins with happily married Tim and Kate. Tim takes a break from his modest teaching job to complete his languishing dissertation and take care of the children while Kate accepts a lucrative (but socially important) job. The beautiful and wealthy Anna Brody moves into the neighborhood, then Kate's former love, a handsome Hollywood star, reappears, and things get complicated. The characters propel the story through its twists and turns, resulting in a great summer read.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Prince of Mist

The only thing better than getting fully-engrossed in a suspenseful story is getting fully-engrossed in a suspenseful story on a dark and stormy afternoon. Thus was the case with The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The thunder and lightning added atmosphere to this already deliciously spooky read!

When the Carver family moves to a small coastal town to escape the threat of war that creeps ever closer to the city, 13-year-old Max is the first to sense that something is not quite right about his seemingly picturesque new home. Soon after exploring a mysterious garden of statues he discovers behind his new house, his sense of unease about the place morphs into one of fear. Lending credit to this is a series of terrifying and unexplainable events that shake the lives of Max and the members of his family. Soon Max, his older sister Alicia, and their new friend Roland are unwillingly pulled into an age-old curse involving an evil and possibly deadly entity known as The Prince of Mist. The only living soul who knows the truth about the curse (and how to stop it) is a reclusive old man who lives in a battered lighthouse--and he's not talking. Max, Alicia, and Roland must unlock this mystery before it's too late, before the Prince of Mist claims yet another victim. But is the truth something they're prepared to handle?

Wonderfully creepy! Recommended for horror/suspense fans craving a story with more depth and imagination than the standard and highly-overrated blood and guts approach.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wills and Trusts with a Chuckle

Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights by Andrew W. Mayoras & Danielle B. Mayoras
The estate problems of famous people are entertaining and enlightening. I thought many times as I was reading "how can people be so stupid?" The authors are estate planning attorneys and know what they are talking about. There are practical tips for avoiding a family fight, such as "If you have a trust, fund it." There is also a helpful glossary of legal terms at the end.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pottery 101

"Ceramics for Beginners" sounds like an oxymoron, but Wheel Throwing is the second title in a series that is designed to teach novices the basics of making pottery. The book has step-by-step detailed instructions with accompanying photos for the process, from start to finish, for a variety of projects. Your results might differ from the examples shown, but it is fun to try and try again!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pure Beauty

I'm a Michigan native so I might be biased, but once you see the variety of natural wonders and scenic sites contained in Pure Michigan, you'll be amazed at all the wonders of the Mitten State. Eight photographers captured many quiet wonders and magical moments from lake to lake. We certainly are fortunate to call this place home!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Personal Triumph

When Hope Prevails: The Personal Triumph of a Holocaust Survivor by Sam Offen
This book, written by an elderly survivor of the Holocaust, is stark in its simplicity. The horror of it is very real but the triumph of survival leaves hope for us all. Sam and his two brothers survived but their mother, father, sister and many other relatives were killed. It is difficult to read about the gas chamber. Sam came to the U.S., married and had a family and lived to tell the story. He will be speaking in person at Oxford Public Library on October 7, 2010, at 7 p.m. Register now!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fresh Veggies

The local Farmers' Market is open for business and if you're like me, you often wonder how well you'd do at vegetable gardening. If you're up for the challenge, The Everything Grow Your Own Vegetables Book would be a great first stop on your dirt journey. The chapters include information on raised beds, containers, composting, pests, tools, planting, and harvesting. If you've missed the Michigan deadlines for this year...the last chapter's for you: "Plan for Next Season."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Last Ride

FDR's Funeral Train by Robert Klara
This historical narrative is really two stories: one of FDR's death and the transporting of his body to Washington DC and then to Hyde Park for burial and second, a history of the train and especially Pullman cars and the Presidential car, Ferdinand Magellan. It is definitely worth reading.

The Host

In a distinct departure from the vampire romances that have made her a teen lit icon, author Stephenie Meyer focuses on a different, more mature audience with her first adult novel, The Host. In this science-fiction thriller, which takes place in the not-too-distant future, parasitic aliens called Souls have invaded Earth. These creatures have taken over the bodies and minds of humans, all but driving the race to extinction. The Host focuses on one such Soul called Wanderer, who has been implanted into the body of a young woman named Melanie. Only Melanie refuses to fully surrender her mind as expected. Overwhelmed with feelings and memories from the very life she has been trying to erase, Wanderer is soon driven unwillingly to find a colony of surviving humans hidden deep within the desert. Among these survivors is the man Melanie loves and the child she'd do anything to protect. Wanderer's sympathy for the humans turns to curiosity and then to love. How can Wanderer put her feelings aside and complete her mission? Never before has this creature been so emotionally torn about a duty that, before, felt so right. An action-packed story that begs the question: What makes us human?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir by Wendy Burden
As a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Wendy Burden enjoyed a life of privilege when she was staying with her grandparents but an entirely different life when she was with her mother. The contrast makes interesting reading and the authors seems to be truthful although one wonders how she could remember so many details from her very early years. The details about the mansions in "Burdenland", her grandparent's estates from Maine to Florida are fascinating.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lake of Dead Languages

The Lake of Dead Languages, by Carol Goodman After the tragic deaths of her best friends, Jane Hudson swears she'll never reteurn to Heart Lake, a once-posh upstate New York boarding school for girls. Now, twenty years later, fate brings Jane back to her old alma mater--this time as a Latin teacher. As history begins to seemingly repeat itself in strange and terrifying ways, memories from Jane's past begin to resurface as if slowly floating upward from the depths of the very lake that claimed the lives of her friends. With these memories dawns clarity and fresh insight into what really might have happened all those years ago. Can Jane uncover the truth before it's too late? Goodman has crafted fast-moving, deliciously gothic mystery. Highly recommended!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Enlightened Photography

If you're planning on vacationing and aspire to take better outdoor photos, you would do well to read Transient Light by Ian Cameron. The book discusses the importance of lighting and how to capture it most effectively with a camera. The author's samples make you see ordinary sights with a whole new appreciation.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Secret in her Past

In the fine novel, The Biographer, a woman's past comes to light, in spite of her efforts to conceal it. Greer Gorden lives in Italy with her artist husband,Mischa. Married when she met him, they began a passionate love affair that ended in their flight from her marriage, job and friends. Twenty five years later, Mischa becomes a famous artist and a biographer begins to research their life. This forces Greer to re-examine her past while she is trying to conceal it. ML "Duigan is a wonderful writer...a psychologically compelling and thoroughly delectable read." The Sunday Telegraph