Friday, June 22, 2012

Junk-Box Jewelry, by Sarah Drew (nonfiction) - recycled bracelets, earrings, necklaces

book cover of Junk Box Jewelry by Sarah Drew published by Zest Books
What to do with that earring who's lost its mate?
Hmmm... you've saved all the beads from that broken necklace...
There's got to be a way to showcase that stunning sea glass without drilling holes in it!

With some crafting tools, wire, and jewelry "findings" (clasps, jump rings, etc.), you can turn these assorted bits into great jewelry - elegant or funky, casual or ooh-la-la.

Sarah Drew shares techniques and ideas from her successful handmade jewelry business in England so that you can let your imagination transform parts, pieces, and pearls into wearable art.

With lots of color photos and instructions, this Zest Books paperback hits the shelves on June 26, 2012, so zip in to your favorite independent bookstore  then, and ask your local library to order it, too.

When folks start asking to buy your one-of-a-kind jewelry, be sure to grab Kenrya Rankins' Start It Up (recommendation) so you can build a great business plan for your new enterprise.

Book info: Junk-Box Jewelry: 25 DIY Low-Cost (or No-Cost) Jewelry Projects / Sarah Drew. Zest Books, 2012. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation:  If you want to create new jewelry from interesting bits and pieces, then this is the book for you! Sarah Drew provides clear instructions and diagrams for basic and intermediate wire-crafting techniques, plus twenty-five innovative jewelry concepts from funky to fancy.

Once you have a few very basic tools and the right kind of wire and jewelry fittings from the local craft department, then you’re ready to start looking around your house, rummage sales, and even the beach for the colored, sparkly, smooth or shiny items that will feature in your creations.

Perhaps you’ll start mastering your wire techniques by remaking old beads into a new Retro-Bauble Bracelet or a fanciful Bling Ring. A Vintage Lace Choker has white glue as its secret ingredient, ornamented by a few well-placed reclaimed beads or faux gems.

You’ll learn how to suspend a beautiful stone as a pendant without drilling a hole in it, go green by making your own colorful tube-beads with magazine photos for a Newsstand Necklace, and turn hardware store finds into “charms” that will make your Toolbox Bracelet unique.

With a little practice, you can crochet wire into fanciful Cuff Bracelets or twist and twirl it around pearl-beads to fashion an intricate Art Deco Bracelet. For the prom or that special night out, create Elegant Earrings and a Juliet Headband to match your favorite outfit.

Once you’ve learned these basic jewelry techniques, you’re only limited by your imagination and the intriguing pieces of old brooches, sea glass, silk flowers, and thrift-store treasures that you find! (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ladies in Waiting, by Laura L. Sullivan (fiction) - royal scandal, queenly dignity, kingly contempt

book cover of Ladies in Waiting by Laura L Sullivan published by Harcourt
The king's mistress overturning orders given by the queen?
Secret treaties with opponents against war allies?
Spies, and plots, and elegant dances...

Modern-day soap operas have nothing on Charles' court, as he fathered many illegitimate children before marrying his Queen, Catherine of Braganza. If the Protestant king has no royal son, then his Catholic brother will succeed him on England's throne.

Following the days of our Ladies in Waiting  came a vicious run of the Plague and the Great Fire of London - Restoration England was no place for the timid!

Disguises and secrets and romantic notions amid royal protocols and power plays - pick up this intriguing book today at your local library or independent bookstore

Book info: Ladies in Waiting / Laura L. Sullivan. Harcourt, 2012. [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation:  Three young ladies-in-waiting christened Elizabeth come to assist the new Queen as she arrives in the 1662 court of King Charles II. Gossip, treachery, and court intrigue swirl around them as Zabby, Beth, and Eliza become friends, protecting the Queen.

Sweet little Beth has a most frightening mother determined marry her off to the most influential nobleman possible – and will truly horsewhip anyone who tries to lay one finger on this delicate maiden. Never mind that Beth wants to marry her childhood sweetheart, who has lately vanished, trying to recapture the fortune that his father squandered.

Arriving from her learned father’s Barbados plantation to study with her grandmother, Zabby is wise in things scientific, but a veritable babe in elegant manners and dress. Luckily for His Majesty, she is well-versed in medicine as he falls ill with the plague in a Dover inn and she nurses him back to health without the court being aware of the danger.

Elisa’s father frets that being at court will sully her pious upbringing, but the fifteen-year-old knows only that being in London will bring her that much closer to her goal of becoming a playwright. Perhaps the right costuming will even allow her to attend plays without an escort…

Queen Catherine herself has a most formidable rival in the King’s mistress, the Countess of Castlemaine, who has already borne him two illegitimate sons. How can the petite Portuguese fight against that voluptuous beauty? Her ladies-in-waiting are determined to help the Queen turn this political marriage into one of love and affection.

Rumors of an assassination plot, disguised journeys to the theater district, experiments in the King’s scientific elaboratory, and a highwayman who preys on the nobility – what other obstacles must the Queen and her ladies-in-waiting overcome in Charles’s scandalous royal household? (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fracture, by Megan Miranda (fiction) - drowned, but not dead: death-escaper or death-bringer?

book cover of Fracture by Megan Miranda published by Walker
Her bright red parka, barely visible beneath the ice.
Decker's insistence that they rescue her.
Delaney was completely blue when they pulled her out.

Ten people every day die from non-boating drownings.
Delaney should have been one of those awful statistics, but somehow she survived eleven minutes under Falcon Lake's ice in that December-frigid water.

Death seems to keep calling her, as she feels okay and not-okay, trying to make things right with Decker, who blames himself for her accident. And that guy Troy acts like he knows everything about her and what she went through...

Debut author Megan Miranda has been a science teacher and researcher, so all the medical and death details are exact; her storytelling skills make Fracture  a winner.

For a short story featuring Decker, you can unlock "Eleven Minutes" from the Fracture Facebook page by paying with a tweet or FB share. We'll get the whole story from Decker's perspective in Vengeance  in 2014.

Book info: Fracture / Megan Miranda. Walker & Company, 2012. [author's website]    [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation:  Held underwater for eleven minutes by the ice, Delaney should be dead or brain-dead. But she’s not. She’s not herself either, as she finds herself pulling away from her best friend Decker and drawn to death scenes.

It was Decker who pulled 17-year-old Delaney from the icy Maine lake, who kept up resuscitation until the paramedics arrived even though everyone said she must be dead. If they hadn’t taken a shortcut across the lake ice at Decker’s insistence, this probably wouldn’t have happened, so he blames himself over and over, especially during her six-day coma.

Her brain scans show massive damage, yet Delaney is walking, talking, thinking as if nothing had ever happened. Well, except for being able to see death about to happen… and being drawn toward the dying like a magnet. Or is she there when someone dies because she’s causing it?

A new guy in town is interested in her (nice change from the same kids she’s known forever), but something is a bit too different about Troy. As Delaney tries to find out more about him, she discovers strange things and connections she’d rather forget.

Will Mom and Dad stop their new overprotective behavior soon (please)? When will Decker start acting like her best friend again? When will Troy stop acting like she knows something that she definitely doesn’t? When will the dying stop sending out beacons toward her?

Eleven minutes can change everything – you’ll remember Delaney’s story long after you close the covers of this suspenseful debut novel. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.