Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

This was my first introduction to Neil Gaiman’s stories.  The book is a collection of short stories that are a mixture of strange, edgy, frightening, absurd, and confusing.  My favorites were The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, February Tale, and Black Dog.

I wondered as I was reading if some of the stories were the beginning of a novel that was then abandoned. The stories were all so different that I really would not know what to expect next and left me confused about the author.  While some of the stories were interesting, some just left me shaking my head.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek

The Great Grammar Book is an essential tool for students and writers.  The book begins with a one-hundred question diagnostic test to allow the reader to assess their strengths and weaknesses.  It is written in traditional text book style with brief explanations of the rules, followed by an exercise to put what is learned into practice. I thought the chapter on Successful Writing Strategies to be especially helpful.  My only criticism is with the way it is advertised as entertaining.   Some of the sentences given for editing were statements of trivial facts, but I did not read anything that added interest or entertainment value to the book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Knitting Block by Block by Ncky Epstein

Afghans, scarves, sweaters, vests and more all made one block at a time. There are instructions for a variety of basic blocks using different stitch patterns, but then it goes one step beyond the basics. There are also instructions for a variety of embellishments, such as frames, bobbles, designs using i-cord, and even embroidery. Also included are fair-isle, embossed and other special stitches to offer a variety of ideas. The projects in the book are beautifully classic. They are neither old fashioned nor too modern. The instructions are clear and concise with both charts and written instructions. There very simple blocks for beginners, challenging blocks for advanced knitters, and more patterns for every skill level in-between. I was a little disappointed with the single page on “joinings”. Since this was a book to make things out of blocks, I expected more information on how to put the blocks together.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Die Again (Rizzoli & Isles) by Tess Gerritsen

This was my first book in the Rizzoli and Isle series. Although there were some back stories, this was very much a stand alone book. It was quite gory with detailed descriptions of blood and guts – literally – at the crime scenes.  I genuinely liked the characters. I have seen the TV show, but did not expect them to be the same in the book. Maura was the closest and I could picture her similar to the TV version. Either way the book stood on its own.

It was an interesting mystery with crimes in the US and in Africa. The author did a wonderful job creating the mental images of the safari and the conditions in the jungle.  The jumping back and forth in time and place was done very well and I did not find it confusing at all. Perhaps the change to first person narrative helped make the transition clear.

It was a little confusing at the end but it certainly kept me guessing. This is a well-written story with a good mystery and culminates to a satisfying conclusion.
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