Elizabeth Gourley’s Big Book of Beautiful Beads-Over 100 Beading Projects You Can Make

Overview: Who doesn’t like beads? Sparkly, shiny, and delicate pieces that can be connected to make a useful whole. They’re LEGOs for grown-ups. Let’s check out these patterns.

Story Telling: This is a pattern book. An omnibus, in fact.

Likes: This book has patterns, and information for both amateurs and the more advanced beaders.

Favorite Section: That would be the beaded flowers.

Favorite Patterns: I’m looking forward to trying a few of these amulet bags.

Conclusion: This is a book that should be in every jewelry maker’s and beading enthusiast’s library.


Dean Koontz’s The Night Window-Jane Hawk 5

I received this book courtesy of Random House Bantam for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: It’s time for the final battle with the would-be gods of the new world. The Techno-Arcadians believe that they have America by the throat, all they have to do is turn everyone in the States against–what they think is–the sole enemy of the revolution. Jane Hawk has a few tricks left up her sleeves, as well as a small army that does not have a whole lot to lose. Let’s place our bets on the winner.

Story Telling: We are still full throttle in a techno-thriller. This is also the closing book of the Techno-Arcadian conspiracy.

Dislikes: Calling all psychopaths and sociopaths! Goodness, I’m not sure how many of those nuts that were part of the Techno-Arcadians, but we got one or two extras thrown in.

And there was something unsettling about the ending. It’s not how I’ve come to expect Mr. Koontz to end his novels.

Likes: There were many instances of Americans doing what they do best in this novel. Everyone has seen times of great disasters, when Americans go above the call of duty. It’s who we are, aside from a few self-centered people.

And for every monstrous personality introduced, we were gifted with two or three heroic ones. The balance was definitely kept straight.

Favorite Quote: As this is an Advanced Reader Copy, Random House as requested that quotes are checked against the final product. That’s about three months away.

Favorite Character: We get two. Cornell is back, and proving to be quite quick on his feet.

And Porter Crockett is the kind of man that you want on your side during these kinds of messes.

Favorite Scene: It’s when Porter and Tom are in the diner.

Conclusion: This is a good series. The only thing that could possibly explain the loose threads is that Mr. Koontz has admitted that Jane has seven books. This is only book five.

Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch’s The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

Overview: We have all heard of how, when the Continental Congress declared America’s independence from Great Britain, George Washington was elected to lead our army to victory. But have you heard the whole story? Including the potential assassination attempt? You will now.

Story Telling: This is a novel, but it’s also a non-fiction book. Depending on the author, and reader, the combination can make for an enjoyable read.

Dislikes: My only problem was the fact that Mr. Meltzer and Mr. Mensch came out and called many of our militia men ignorant, or illiterate. This was not the case, at least not from what my reading partner and I’ve been able to learn. Unless you were the unfortunate child of the rare parent who had to be the smartest person in the family, then you were well educated. The average graduating age from grade school, the 12th grade today, was twelve. And one of the requirements to graduate was the ability to read and understand Latin. These men were not idiots, not by a long shot.

Likes: It was fascinating to see how the Founding Generation handled the stress of the upcoming battles.

John Jay obviously was a lot more than a powerful lawyer, and Chief Supreme Court Justice. This guy was big on law enforcement.

Favorite Character: If I can’t pick George Washington, then I’m picking John Jay.

Favorite Quote: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” You get bonus points if you recognize the quote without reading the novel.

Favorite Scene: We got two of them. The first comes with General Washington ended the fight between two different militia groups.

The second one is what happens to the statue of King George III.

Conclusion: This was a great read. Enjoy it for the pacing, and the story telling. You might just learn something as well.

DK Publishing’s Preserve It!-Bottled Fruits, Jams & Jellies, Pickles, Cured Meats

Overview: Are you interested in growing your own produce? If you are, then what do you do with it when it comes in? This book is all about the art of preservation. Here’s a shocker: preserving is far more than jerky, pickles, and jellies.

Story Telling: We have a recipe book. The only difference is that most of these recipes aren’t meant for immediate use.

Dislikes: If I have any complaints, it’s with some of the slower preservation techniques. And then it’s more because of a lack of explanation.

Likes: There are several useful grafts to aid both the new and more experienced preserver.

Also, there are several recipes in each section. This makes it so that you have a good grasp on the ideas behind each technique.

Favorite Recipe: I’m looking forward to trying the Hot Pepper Jelly.

Conclusion: This is a good resource for the homesteader and anyone else who wants to have a garden. Enjoy it, and your end results with the rest of your family.

Virgil’s The Aeneid

Overview: Have you ever wondered what happened to the Trojans that survived Troy’s fall? Well here’s the answer, partially anyway. Aeneas has been given a decree to found a new home for his kinsmen and friends who have escaped both Troy’s fall and enslavement to the Greeks. Will they make it? And are their troubles far behind them? Let’s find out.

Story Telling: We have another epic poem. This one is more of a mythological founding, sort of like Gen. Washington and the cherry tree. And a word of warning: this is an unfinished commissioned work.

Dislikes: Dido wasn’t done right. Her whole part was a warning, I get it, but it still wasn’t right.

Likes: Aeneas was loyal, even if that loyalty was only to his family and friends. Jesus warned us against that ideology.

Favorites: I don’t have any this time around.

Conclusion: I’ll admit that this was a book to be read for educational purposes. But see here, it was read ahead of that purpose, so I was blind to the fact that it wasn’t finished and it was commissioned. Granted Virgil didn’t kiss up to his patron, but still I may have been able to enjoy the book somewhat if that awareness existed. Enjoy the story, you can see why the Sermon on the Mount is so important to our lives.

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex-Oedipus the King-Theban Plays 1

Overview: Oedipus has been ruling Thebes since his defeat of the Sphinx so many years prior. Now Thebes is under a pall of plague. According to the Oracle of Delphi, it’s due to an unresolved murder. Can Oedipus solve this mystery? And does he even want to?

Story Telling: This is a rather ancient play, in a form that we aren’t quite used to today.

Dislikes: The subject matter of this story is a bit disturbing.

Likes: Justice is a terrific thing to bring about, as long as you don’t mistake it for revenge. Or the reverse of that idea, mistaking revenge for justice.

And Oedipus showed how much he cared about his family.

Favorites: The only favorites that I have is Merope and Polybius.

Conclusion: This is a disturbing play that just happens to have a good theme. Read it if only because our Founding Fathers probably did.

Homer’s The Odyssey

Overview: The Trojan War has been over for quite some time. But, what could be keeping Ulysses/Odysseus? Telemachus is curious, and then there’s the problems with Penelope’s, his mother, suitors. Will they find the truth? And what does Ulysses/Odysseus plan to do about it all?

Story Telling: This is another epic poem from Homer. You could even call it a partial sequel to “The Iliad.”

Dislikes: King Agamemnon’s wife was pretty treacherous. Today we would be asking if he had a few life insurance policies.

And the serving women did do a bad thing. But does being seduced by a jerk and promised the moon equal the death penalty?

Likes: Penelope was very loyal to her spouse. Too bad her ‘suitors’ caught on to her little trick.

And Ulysses/Odysseus’ inability concerning the truth aside, he was determined to get home.

Favorite Character: It’s Penelope.

Favorite Quote: When Ulysses/Odysseus went down into the underworld and met up with his former colleagues, Achilles had this to tell him. ““Say not a word,” he answered, “in death’s favor; I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man’s house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead.””

Favorite Scene: It’s when Penelope tests Ulysses/Odysseus with the state of their marriage bed.

Conclusion: This is a good story about hospitality, home-coming and loyalty. Enjoy it, even if you are just looking for an adventure.

Homer’s The Iliad

Overview: Let’s head back to the era of the Trojan War. Achilles, Odysseus/Ulysses, King Agamemnon and other heroes of that war are about to really get into a big quagmire of troubles, passions, egos–let’s not forget the egos–that intends to lay waste to the best made plans of men. Sounds like it might be fun, at least for the readers.

Story Telling: This is considered to be an Epic Poem. You have to hand it to Homer, he managed to write one long poem. It took me three days to finish this one.

Dislikes: Oh boy. Talk about an ego trip. Achilles’ pride causes him to be a bane to quite a few people. I know the poet refers to it as Achilles’ Rage. Pride just seems to be the precursor to it.

And Helen. She seems to be proud of the fact that she’s the cause of all this nightmare of a disaster. Sick woman.

Likes: Nestor and Odysseus/Ulysses gave good counsel.

Patroclus held a lot of courage.

And Hector, while he was reckless, truly wished to protect Troy, his home.

Favorite Character: It’s a toss-up between Patroclus and Hector.

Favorite Quote: It has to be when Zeus/Jove and Ares/Mars had their little conversation. “Do not come whining here, Sir Facing-both-ways.”

Favorite Scene: It’s Book XXIV. That made the whole story worth it.

Conclusion: Read this poem, at least as a warning against letting your passions rule your life. And if you are religious, just treat the old gods as characters in a book. After all, the only way not to learn from a book is to never read it.

Dolly Parton’s Dolly-My Life and Other Unfinished Business

Overview: Dolly Parton is one of the few country stars that is easily recognized across musical boundaries. This could be because of her theme park, her roles in the movies, her television series, or just because of her unique physical presence. This is her story, as it leads up to the early ‘90’s.

Story Telling: We have an autobiography. Don’t mistake it for a memoir. Memoirs are more about feelings, and autobiographies are more about accuracy.

Dislikes: I don’t know if it’s Ms. Parton’s unwillingness to deal with unpleasant situations, or if she was just being politically correct to save her career, but she seemed to be kind of–shall we say–flighty. She doesn’t draw a hard line on anything.

Now, Jane Fonda, also known as Hanoi Jane, isn’t disliked by the patriotic crowd because she ‘spoke out’ against the Vietnam War. It was the fact that she was scolding our boys as a guest of the Vietnam leaders. That’s the best case scenario that I am aware of. We aren’t getting into the worst cases.

Likes: Ms. Parton does encourage her readers to go for their dreams.

And she was willing to help her parents and loved ones to the best of her ability.

Favorite Scene: It was hearing what happened after Ms. Parton felt like she made her mark in the world.

Conclusion: This is an interesting book. Enjoy it for the stories if nothing else. I really enjoyed it.

Jane Austen’s Emma

Overview: Emma Woodhouse would seem to be a very modern woman, complete with the disinclination towards marriage. The thing is, this book is just about two hundred years old. But hey, does that really matter? Emma just wants to play matchmaker. Besides, her former governess has just married, and moved out of Hartfield. But, there’s this pretty, young woman living at Mrs. Goddard’s. She might be fun for an experiment.

Story Telling: We have a classical love story. And one of the first coming-of-age novels that ever existed.

Dislikes: Emma isn’t really a bad person, even at the beginning of the story, but her starting personality just rubbed me the wrong way. Both Mr. and Mrs. Elton were just wrong. No matter how influential, or wealthy, you are, you don’t get to over-run another’s get-together. Plus, if you make the mistake of who is returning your affections, you own up to it. Belittling the innocent is petty at the best, and cruel at the worst. But, what makes Mr. Elton so bad is that he is a preacher. What a hypocrite.

Frank Churchill was pretty sneaky with it came to his aunt.

Likes: George Knightley is one of the best parts of this novel. More on him later.

Robert Martin was tenacious when it came to Harriet Smith.

Jane held a firm personality, and she’s pretty well described as an introvert.

Isabella doesn’t have much screen-time, so to speak, though with her similarities to Mr. Woodhouse, this is a good thing. She was willing to help her sister out of a big mistake.

Favorite Character: George Knightley always tried to bring out the best that Emma could be. It appeared to be a thankless job at times, especially considering how Emma was raised.

Favorite Quote: When Mr. Woodhouse is lamenting on whether the boys will have to go home, Mr. Knightley has the best answer. ““No,” cried Mr. Knightley, “that need not be the consequence. Let them be sent to Donwell. I shall certainly be at leisure.””

Favorite Scene: It’s when Emma tries to make amends to Jane.

Conclusion: This is a great coming of age story. Emma had a lot of growing up to do, and it shows how hard she worked at it.