Monday, November 23, 2009

Cozy Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to those who entered our giveaway for Kate Jacobs knitting books and cozy goodies! Haleyknitz is the big winner! Congrats!!

Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colon

Allison wrote a review of Cherries in Winter here. But I thought I would just add a few words. I breezed through this little memoir enjoying it quite a bit. I not only enjoyed reading about each generation of Suzan's family, but also enjoyed her style of writing and her attitude toward her situation.

I'm not sure I can explain why, but my favorite anecdote in the book is the one where Matilde spends a week's worth of wages on beautiful blue vases. Her husband is appalled by this behavior but she simply says to him, "We will have these vases long after our stomachs are full again." Sometimes it's just nice to have a few pretty things around us even if they aren't in our budget. :-)

I recommend this book for a nice quick cozy winter read!

Source disclosure: I received a galley copy from Doubleday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Last Chance!!

Just a friendly reminder that our Cozy Autumn Giveaway ends tomorrow!! Enter now for your chance to win!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Contest winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Green Books Initiative giveaway! The winner is Ilse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Green Books Campaign: Ethnic Knitting Exploration

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

Ethnic Knitting Exploration is printed using FSC-certified paper and/or recycled paper. Personally, I am conflicted about print books. I prefer them, and I haven't switched to an electronic reader for that reason. However, I am concerned about the environmental impact of print books. Using FSC-certified and recycled paper is a greener solution without giving up the magic of turning pages or the ability to lend a favorite book to a friend.

Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland by Donna Druchunas: This is a fascinating read, and a great resource for knitters interested in exploring the traditional techniques of these three cultures. This is not, however, a pattern book. Instead, Druchunas gives you all the tools you need to design a custom project based on your measurements, preferred structure and motifs, and your choice of yarn, with tips for tweaking established patterns. Along the way, she includes information about each culture's approach to knitting, traditions, and materials (e.g., an interesting definition/explanation of Lopi yarn in the Iceland section). She offers sample projects with charts for plugging in your measurements for determining the number of stitches needed for a perfect fit. Projects include fingerless mittens and raglan pullovers (Lithuania), a capelet, yoked pullover and cardigan (Iceland), and a poncho and Aran pullover (Ireland). A final section includes further information on cardigans. This book is absolutely packed with information, but the organization is brilliant and makes it very easy to design and execute a project that will fit perfectly and incorporate the elements you like best.

Source disclosure: I received this book courtesy of Nomad Press through the Green Books Initiative.

Are you an adventurous knitter? Does this book sound perfect for you? Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win it!

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This contest is open worldwide. Enter before Friday, November 13 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Angels Inc. by Bruce McBay

I liked the premise of this book: two children form a club to help people who need it, but their good intentions cause problems. The execution, however, is rather choppy, making it difficult for the reader to identify with the children. I think this is a cute early reader, and the urge to do good provides ample discussion opportunities for parents to ask children to think about how they can help others. In a brief chapter book, there were really too many attempts to help others crammed in. There is some humor, but every scene is so brief and superficial that it's not very well developed. Further, the children's motives are unclear. Clueless Wendy decides out of the blue that she'd like to help people (which is commendable, but not explained) and Zach agrees to go along with her plan as long as he can eat ice cream every day. Zach appears to understand (in a way that Wendy does not) that their actions are causing problems rather than solving them, but he doesn't seem particularly bothered by that. A plotline about neighborhood thieves is thrown in near the end, which is so abrupt I checked to be sure my copy wasn't missing the final pages.

Source disclosure: I received a review copy of this book through LibraryThing.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colon

Suzan Colon loses her dream job in 2008 as the economy is tanking, and part of her economizing includes learning to cook. She digs out her grandmother's recipe file and finds the sturdy, inexpensive recipes that have seen her family through generations of hard economic times. This slender volume is interspersed with those recipes and stories from Colon's family history. At first, I wondered how I would be able to identify with a woman whose idea of economizing includes skipping the $20 sushi lunches and plucking her own eyebrows instead of paying $40 a week, but Colon is humble and grateful and constantly recognizes that others are much worse off than she is. She also realized that her days at the magazine were numbered as the economic downturn began, so her economizing begins well before she loses her job. The recipes are meat-heavy and old-fashioned and didn't appeal to me, but they tell a good story. The title refers to the exorbitant price Colon's grandmother, Matilda, spent to have cherries in winter, despite the family's financial troubles, referring to the idea that to survive hard times, sometimes you must act rich, even for a moment, by indulging in a small luxury.

This was an inspirational little book, and a fascinating look at generations of women who have suffered through hard times without losing their positive outlook on life.

Source disclosure: I received a bound galley courtesy of Doubleday.

Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper is subtitled "A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat," but it may as well be subtitled "THE stocking stuffer for the animal lover on your Christmas list." I was delighted to receive an advance copy, and I was not disappointed. With a foreword by the veterinarian who rescued Homer, this gentle, inspiring story tells how Gwen's life became entwined with that of a very special cat. Homer was brought to Dr. Khuly to be euthanized because a severe infection would require removal of both his eyes. Instead, Dr. Khuly performed the surgery, then searched high and low for someone willing to take on a blind cat. Gwen Cooper, a twentysomething staying with a friend (having recently lost the boyfriend who had supplemented her nonprofit salary), was reluctant to take on a third cat, but something about Homer spoke to her, and she brought the little guy home. This memoir documents the twelve years following Cooper's adoption of Homer, and it tells her life story partly through the lessons she learned from her brave, extraordinary, loving cat, as she tries to become the person she wants to be in career and relationships.

I happen to be a cat person, and one of my cats was born blind, so I enjoyed this story on a unique level, but I was also predisposed to judge it with a critical eye because I'm not much of a memoir fan. Homer's story is riveting, however, and Cooper tells it well. Her own story is no less interesting; for example, she moves back in with her parents to save on rent while she starts on the bottom rung of a new career - a brave act in its own way. She considers Homer to have inspired her to be brave and open to the world around her. Her account of 9/11 and its aftermath (she lived and worked very close to the World Trade Center) is particularly impressive. I could have done with a bit less gushing about her boyfriend, but I suppose that's to be expected, and it was relatively painless to skim past. Homer is the star in this book, overcoming his disability with aplomb to become a loving companion whose leaps of faith amaze everyone around him.

If you know a cat person, or an animal lover, you can stop looking now: Homer's Odyssey is undoubtedly the perfect holiday gift.

Source disclosure: I received an advance copy courtesy of Random House.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cozy Autumn Giveaway!

Giveaway time again here at On My Bookshelf...

Autumn is my FAVORITE time of year hands down! I love the changing colors, I love the leaves everywhere. I love watching my kids play in the leaves, trick or treating, Thanksgiving, etc. Just love the coziness of it all! So in honor of my favorite season, I've put together a fun giveaway.

I have a hardcover of Kate Jacob's The Friday Night Knitting Club as well as an ARC of Knit Two! One winner will get BOTH books. I'm going to throw in a gift that goes along with it as well, just to add to the coziness (hint: it has to do with warm beverages).

Contest rules:
1) Leave a comment WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS. If you don't leave an email in the comment, you will be disqualified. In your comment, please let me know if you happen to be a knitter as well as a book lover and I might throw an extra little surprise in the box if you win!
2) Leave meaningful comments on any other posts (old or new posts) for extra entries. One entry per comment.
3) Open only to US and Canada addresses.
4) Contest open Nov. 2nd through Nov. 2oth.