Encaustic Mixed Media by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch

Category: Art

Published by North Light Books, 2011; 127 pages

First Line: “Our souls respond with pleasure to seeing, touching and experiencing beautiful art.”

Inspirational in it’s thorough instruction and “there are no mistakes” attitude, I learned many new techniques for working in encaustic from this book. It has illustrations demonstrating each method as well as examples of finished work.

Unplugged Kitchen by Viana La Place

Category: Cookbook

Published by Wm. Morrow & Co., 1996; 344 pages

First Line: “Cooking is a living, breathing act that defies codification or regimentation.”

I may just get rid of my food processor! The sensory pleasures of slicing, dicing and grinding foods for simple dishes are beautifully described here. Many recipes, but all of pretty standard fare, and many helpful suggestions.  Reconnecting with what we serve and how we prepare nourishment  for ourselves and our families is what this book promotes.

Growing More Beautiful  by Jennifer Robin

Category: Self-Help

Published by Arteful Press, 2008; 215 pages

First Line: “When the first blossoming trees herald the arrival of spring, do more than just admire them as you drive past.”

There is some useful information here on choosing the right styles and colors in clothing. The author shows up in several photographs throughout the book; looking marvelous, with her great head of wild gray hair, fantastic smile, and one [low-cut, hot-pink, clingy or otherwise outrageous]daring outfit after another, she certainly appears to understand and follow the precepts she puts out there. Mostly, though, the advice leans toward “seeing yourself in a new light” or “practicing being positive”, which is just another angle on the blame the victim undercurrent in many self-help books. If you feel like you could present yourself better – obviously, if you have picked up this book – you are looking at yourself in the wrong way. Hmmm…

Anne Frank Remembered  by Miep Gies and Allison Leslie Gold

Category: Autobiography, History

Published by Simon and Schuster, 1987 (with an afterword by the authors, 2009); 264 pages

First Line: “I am not a hero.”

This is not happy reading, as we all know how the story ends, but it is a detailed account of the events surrounding the Frank family’s time in the “Secret Annex”, written by the woman who helped to hide them. I learned answers to things I had wondered about – particularly, what repercussions there were from the Gestapo for the people that had harbored the family – and many things I hadn’t known about the development of the war.

The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley

Category: Fiction/Mystery

Published by Simon and Schuster, 2010

First Line: “I have learned that you can be too grateful for love.”

This mystery is the author’s second in this series, set in a fictional town in northern Michigan. The first, Starvation Lake, was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. I read that book last year and enjoyed it, so was happy to find that Gruley had come out with another.  These are good, solid mysteries that grab and hold my attention. The secondary plot-lines are interesting and believable, and the author displays a keen understanding of the places and personalities he writes about.

The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin

Category: Fiction/Literature

Published by Milkweed Editions, 2011

First Line: “The cold wind off the lake sets the pines in motion, sets their needled tops drawing circles in the sky.”

Three stories weave through this book, set in three different centuries and involving three very different women. What they have in common is their proximity to Lake Superior. In 1622, Grey Rabbit and her family struggle to survive along the shores of the big water, Gichigami. In 1902, Berit and her husband Gunnar, a fisherman, live on Minnesota’s north shore. In the year 2000, Nora runs the Schooner bar on the shore of the lake in Wisconsin. While the story lines held my interest and I grew to know and care about each protagonist, the author’s strength is in the way she perfectly conveys the mystery and power of this Great Lake. She truly understands Lake Superior, and the people that depend on it.

Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger

Category: Fiction

Published by Atria Books, 2011

First Line: “Later, when it no longer mattered, they learned that the horror that had come from the sky had a name: derecho.”

This is the twelfth in the series of Iron Lake mysteries by this author. I’m always glad to see another one come out. His characters are likable and interesting, and his story lines always keep me guessing.  The protagonist, Corcoron (“Cork”) O’Connor is Ojibwe/Irish, sometimes Sheriff  in a small town in Minnesota. His friends and extended family create plenty of room for believable adventures.

Dead Dancing Women by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Category: Mystery/Fiction

Published by Midnight Ink, 2008

First Line: “This Monday was like all Mondays up in northern Michigan. No better. No worse.”

I like mysteries in general, when I want a quick, not-too-deep book to occupy my. I like a mystery that is a part of a series, as it allows for characters and locations to become more familiar over time. I am particularly drawn to mysteries-in-series that are set in Michigan, especially northern Michigan. So, other than the fact that the title is a bit tacky(I notice that all of the Emily Kincaid mysteries by this author have titles beginning with “Dead”.), this book had a lot going for it, from the start. Having read it, I’ll say it’s about as good as a hundred other formulaic mysteries churned out each year. No better. No worse.

Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Category: History

Published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2011

First Line: “The man with six weeks to live is anxious.”

I know this story; we all do. Still, I expected I would learn some things about the events surrounding Lincoln’s assassination, and I did. I learned a lot. What I did not expect, in reading this account, is that I would be on the edge of my seat, hoping against hope that plans would be changed, villains would be thwarted, and the inevitable would not happen. In that, of course, I was disappointed, but that is the only way this thrilling history disappointed me.

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