Saturday, August 30, 2008

Out of the gate

Some authors like to gently lead their readers into the story, while others prefer to grab you by the lapels from the first word. Here are some thumping first-liners from our newest novels:
"It's hard to know how to feel when your best friend blows out a man's stomach with a shotgun" - In the Light of You by Nathan Singer.
"His name was Paul Lewis and he didn't know he had seven minutes to live" - Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski.
"Hans Walther Kleinman, one of the great theoretical physicists of our time, was drowning in his bathtub" - Final Theory by Mark Alpert.
"Dag was riding up the lane thinking only of the chances of a Bluefield farm lunch, and his likelihood of needing a nap afterwards, when the arrow hissed past his face" - The Sharing Knife: passage by Lois McMaster Bujold.
"A scrap of yellow crime scene tape bobbed in the rising tide of Boston Harbor where the brutalized body of Deirdre McCarthy had washed ashore" - The Angel by Carla Neggers.
"Hope seemed an odd emotion for a man about to be executed, but that was the only name Cayal could give the thrill welling up inside him as they led him up the steps of the platform" - The Immortal Prince: the Tide Lords book one by Jennifer Fallon.
So before you crack the binding on some of these fast-paced novels, take a deep breath, because there's no time for dawdling.

Friday, August 29, 2008

We're all in a tizzy

One of the unwritten rules of my blog is that I only talk about things I actually have in my hand, because after I post the review, I put the item out on display at the front desk. No sense talking something up if it's currently unavailable, right?
I am breaking that rule this morning because of this morning's news from Dayton, Ohio. Like most Alaskans, I am totally gobsmacked that Governor Sarah Palin has been chosen as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee. Enough said about that.....
If you would like to know a little more about Sarah's background and her early days as the mayor of Wasilla, we have her biography: Sarah : how a hockey mom turned Alaska's political establishment upside down by Kaylene Johnson. It includes photos of Sarah in her basketball uniform, as a beauty pageant contestant, and commercial fishing. I would think most people in this state already feel like they know a great deal about our first-term governor, but if you're new to politics or you want to bone up on the details, this is one resource for information. It is currently checked out right now, but you can place a hold on it.
And since we now have biographies of all the other candidates in this year's election (Dreams from my father : a story of race and inheritance by Barack Obama, and Worth the fighting for : a memoir by John McCain), I feel compelled to add Joe Biden's autobiography to the collection. Look for it soon!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Looking ahead

This is not the last time I will mention this, but I thought I would give everyone a heads-up about our next author visit. On Tuesday September 16th, author Susan Wiggs will be in Ketchikan to discuss her books. A bestselling romance author, Wiggs has her first hardcover novel arriving in bookstores this fall, and it has already received good reviews (the title is Just Breathe, and we currently have it on order). Well known for her touching romances that incorporate both triumph over adversity and a sense of humor, Wiggs is a wonderful reading choice for anyone who enjoys Nora Roberts or Debbie Macomber. We have eight of Ms. Wiggs' books on our shelves, so I am posting this entry 3 weeks before her visit so that people will have a chance to read them (if you haven't done so already) in time for the Sept. 16th presentation.

On a side note, I would like to let everyone know that I am taking a brief hiatus from the blog. My mother-in-law is coming to visit, and like all wise daughters-in-law, I am scouring my house from top to bottom in preparation for her visit. (I am not - like someone I know - putting new siding on my house, but it's darn close). Have no fear...just because I'm not here yakking about them, it doesn't mean that there aren't lots of new novels, CDs and audiobooks sitting out there on the shelves for your perusal. See you again on Saturday....

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Lest you think that the only type of music we put on the shelves is rock, I would like to mention a few of the other new CDs we've added to the collection this week.
The High Kings are apparently the hottest thing since sliced Irish soda bread. Produced by the same group that brought you Celtic Woman, this 4-man band sings traditional Irish ballads and folk songs. No 'Danny Boy', but this disc does have 'The Rocky Road to Dublin'. If you liked Celtic Woman, you'll like these guys.
Lady Antebellum is the eponymous debut CD by a country-music trio that has been generating quite a bit of buzz in the last couple of years. Featuring strong vocals and a great country-rock sound, this is a very listenable album from a band to watch.
For anyone who wants to listen to a really beautiful voice, try Romantic Arias by Jonas Kaufmann. This German tenor performs pieces from La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca, Faust, Rigoletto and La Traviata. This is an album not just for opera fans, but for anyone who has enjoyed Andrea Bocelli or The Three Tenors.
Intricate guitar music is the draw on Air on a G String. David Russll performs pieces by Bach, Couperin, Saint-Luc, and Weiss with a beautiful, precise style. Every note is distinct, yet light, and the overall effect is very nice. The perfect album for rainy fall days when you are curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee.
Laura Story, the woman who wrote the gospel hit "Indescribable" for Chris Tomlin in 2004, has her debut album on the shelf: Great God Who Saves. A collection of hopeful inspirational songs sung in Story's soft, beautiful voice. She also includes her own version of "Indescribable" here, as well as some other nice ballads.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Biographical novels

There is something about basing a novel on real personalities and situations that adds an extra zest to the tale - as a reader, you can't help but wonder how much is factual and how much is due to the author's imagination. When the novel is based on an obscure historical figure, it makes it that much more compelling. Try one of these three new novels for a dose of intrigue, history and love:
The Aviary Gate, by Katie Hickman, is set in the Sultan's harem in 16th-century Constantinople. A British merchant and diplomat, Paul Pindar (real person) gets word that his long-lost love, Celia (imaginary person), may actually be inside the Sultan's harem. He had thought her dead in a shipwreck, but now he must decide whether or not to risk his diplomatic mission and attempt to rescue her. In the meantime, Celia is coping with palace intrigue, shifting alliances and a possible plot against the structure of the harem.
Mistress of the Sun, by Sandra Gulland, retells the rise and fall of King Louis XIV's beloved mistress, Louise de la Valliere. Crippled in an accident, impoverished by the death of her father, she is able to enter the French court as a maid of honor, where she captivates the young king with her athleticism and spirit. Alas, like all royal courtesans, she is in a tenuous position where the various factions at court can easily pull her down.
Stealing Athena, by Karen Essex, follows not one but two enchanting women from the past - women whose stories entwine over the centuries. Aspasia is mistress to Pericles, ruler of ancient Athens. A woman of beauty and intelligence, Aspasia helps Pericles browbeat and cajole the Athenians into constructing the Parthenon as he struggles to retain his power. Two thousand years later, the young wife of Britain's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire charms and cajoles the Turks into agreeing with her husband's plan to dismantle the famed Parthenon. When the Earl of Elgin attempts to return to Britain with his marble treasures - treasures that are still referred to by his name - he is taken as a prisoner of war by Napoleon Bonaparte and his poor wife Mary is left to try and gain his release.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Practicality with a flair

Many moons ago I worked as a cook and baker at a local cafe. I still have my chef's knife and my apron - a hideous, stained, heavy cotton monstrosity made for someone a foot taller than me. But hey, an apron's just a hunk of fabric that keeps your clothes clean, right?
That's what I used to think until I looked at the designs in our new book A is for Apron: 25 fresh & flirty designs by Nathalie Mornu. Incorporating the work of many different designers, this book showcases aprons so cute that it seems a shame to confine them to the kitchen. The looks vary, from old-fashioned cuts and fabric to retro prints and tailored lines. There is also a completely whimsical design called "Marie Antoinette" that involves layers of taffeta, silk, organza, chiffon and tulle. Beautiful! You will also find aprons here for gardening (big, deep pockets), dog washing (the secret is to use oilcloth), and little paint smocks for kids. Lace, pompoms, applique, embroidery, rick-rack and fabulous fabrics elevate these practical designs to the level of decorative art. In addition to providing sewing and embellishment techniques, Mornu also walks the readers through a brief history of aprons, complete with a lovely gallery of vintage aprons. Fun, fun, fun.
I'm not a big fan of aprons, but I might just change my tune after this inspiring book!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When will we ever learn?

Regardless of your political affiliation, at some point your candidate has lost an election and you have said to yourself "How could people not vote for my wonderful candidate?" Well, those questions are addressed in our new book Just How Stupid Are We? facing the truth about the American voter by Rick Shenkman. Reporter, commentator and associate professor of history at George Mason University, Shenkman examines the ways in which apathy, media saturation, lack of responsibility and shortened attention spans have altered national politics. Far from blaming the politicians and spin doctors, the author argues that a good deal of the blame for shallow, nasty politics rests on our shoulders: the American public that punishes thoughtful politicians with indifference and rewards cutthroat tactics with votes. In a way, his arguments hearken all the way back to the founding of the country and the debate over just how much power to give to the common man ('Salt of the Earth' if you're Thomas Jefferson, 'Ignorant Rabble' if you're Alexander Hamilton). It's refreshing to see someone attack a problem at it's root, but I have a feeling that the people who are most in need of a political dope slap won't care enough to read this book. For committed political junkies, however, there will be much head nodding and fervent agreement.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Liner notes

One of the most fragile items we deal with here at the library are liner notes, since people never listen to a new CD without leafing through them. We can't laminate them and still get them to fit in the CD case. The edges get bent and torn as they're jammed in and out of the case, they get wet and stained, or they go missing. So they're of some interest to librarians, and as I was sifting through our newest stack of CDs, I started critiquing the liner notes themselves.
Local interest alert: the liner notes for the new Death Cab for Cutie album, Narrow Stairs, features one of those amazing old Chilkoot Pass photos (to tie in with the 'Narrow Stairs' theme, I guess). Each page in this booklet is slightly longer than the previous, creating a cute stair-step effect (again with the theme!). However, it's a bear to get out of the case. If you want to see the liner notes, check this CD out soon before they get totally trashed.
Aimee Mann's new album, @#%&*! Smilers, was interesting to catalog. We mulled over the various substitutions and See Also possibilities for "@#%&*!" but we decided to leave it alone. My advice: keyword search for 'smilers'. The lyrics are easy to read and the graphics have a cute retro look (think Krazy Kat or very early Popeye). Thumbs up!
For Still, the BoDeans decided to go with a somber look for their liner notes. And since the lyrics are printed in tiny black font on a dark brown background, you have to really want to know what they're singing about to try and decipher this. Get your magnifying glass and a flashlight, or just hum along.
I hesitate to call the sheet that comes along with Warpaint, the newest offering from the Black Crowes, 'liner notes'. It's more of a poster, really, as it contains no song titles, no lyrics, and no information about the band. Guaranteed to get torn off in the first month, this poster is one of the few times our catalog contains more information than the actual item.
The title of Van Morrison's new CD says it all: Keep It Simple. Black font (Times New Roman? Georgia?) on a plain white background, with all the credits on the last page, and a two-tone portrait of Morrison on the front. But then, people who pick up a Van Morrison CD aren't looking for a lot of bells and whistles. Just gimme some music, Van.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Listened to any good sci-fi lately?

Amongst the group of new audiobooks that we've put on the shelf this week is a science fiction story by one of the genre's classic authors: Philip K. Dick. Dr. Bloodmoney, or, how we got along after the bomb is a post-nuclear holocaust story where the animals have gained the ability to speak, technology is practically non-existent, and humans are dealing with their own physical and psychological aftereffects. The fascinating characters are the true selling point for this book.
Dick joins other popular SF authors on our audiobook shelves, such as Orson Scott Card, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut and David Weber. We have also added the first novel that bestselling author Stephenie Meyer has written for adults: The Host. In this book, peaceful aliens have come to Earth, taking over the minds and bodies of humans and creating a paradise of peace and happiness. One human, Melanie Stryder, refuses to relinquish her mind and instead persuades her alien occupier to help her search for her lost love, another resistor against alien possession. Listeners will be captivated by this story involving a love triangle with two bodies and three minds.
If you're hungry for even more SF on audio, try our free online audiobooks at ListenAlaska. There are 50 SF titles available for download, featuring authors such as Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey, Robert A. Heinlein, Douglas Adams, Terry Brooks and the Doctor Who series. Best of all, you can access this service from any computer in the world at any time of the day or night (you just need your library card number and the ability to download the free software onto the computer). Think about that the next time you travel South....

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Romanov Bride

Historical novels are a wonderful way to bridge the gap between fiction and nonfiction. A well-researched, well-written historical novel will fulfill a history buff's love of fact and a literature reader's love of a good story. Robert Alexander has produced a sweeping story of devotion, passionate belief and class divides in The Romanov Bride.
Based on the life of Grand Duchess Elisavyeta Fyodorovna, this book recounts the atmosphere and events surrounding the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Romanovs. Granddaughter of Queen Victoria, sister of the Tsarina Alexandra and wife to the Governor-General of Moscow, Elisavyeta was a renowned beauty who was devoted to her husband Sergei. She converted to the Orthodox church, and upon Sergei's assassination by anti-Tsarist revolutionaries, she withdrew from society and founded the Convent of Sts Martha and Mary in Moscow. One of the last of the Romanov family to be arrested after the October Revolution, she was tossed into a mine shaft in 1918 and left to die.
Robert Alexander has created a fictional character - Pavel - to present the reader with the experiences and sufferings of the poor in Russia. A young worker whose wife is shot by Tsarist troops during a peaceful protest, Pavel quickly becomes involved in violent uprising against the Romanovs, including the assassination plot against Grand Duke Sergei and the eventual arrest of Elisavyeta.
Using these two characters whose loved ones have been destroyed by the political unrest and violence of the early 20th century, Alexander is able to show the huge class divide that existed in Russia. At the same time, he is able to explore the different ways people react to loss and suffering. This is a very interesting book that has received a lot of critical attention.
We have this compelling story available in both print and audio formats. If you would like to learn more about the background, or read an interview with the author, Penguin Books has produced a Reader's Guide for this story:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Unforseen consequences

There are many works of nonfiction out there that do not lend themselves easily to the audio format. Car repair manuals, for instance. ("What did he say? Which nut am I supposed to loosen? Don't cut which wire?"). However, there is such an animal as literary nonfiction - books based on fact, but written with a flowing narrative style - that fits well with audio. We have two new examples of this on our audiobook shelves: books in which the author/protagonist finds himself caught up in a situation he did not expect.
The Monster of Florence is by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. Preston, who has written a number of successful thrillers with Lincoln Child, moves his family to a villa in Florence. Upon finding out that he is now living next to a murder scene - a murder committed by a mysterious serial killer - Preston makes the fateful decision to investigate the crime with the help of journalist Mario Spezi. Things become truly strange when Preston and Spezi find they are being investigated themselves - by the Italian police.
The Soloist: a lost dream, an unlikely friendship, and the redemptive power of music is an interesting account of an unlikely friendship between L.A. Times journalist Steve Lopez and a homeless schizophrenic who was once a student at Juilliard. Lopez wrote a series of newspaper articles about this troubled musician Nathaniel Ayers, and during the course of his encounters with him, Lopez comes to believe that he can help change Ayers' life. And here, of course, is where Lopez deals with true challenges and heartbreak. The Soloist fleshes out the backstory behind the newspaper columns, and lets the listener in on the world of schizophrenia. This book is being made into a movie starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not-so-new videos

Well, they're new to us....
You may or may not be familiar with the television series Rain Country, which was produced by KTOO-Juneau in the mid-80's to mid-90's, but it was a fun little show. Every half-hour episode would feature stories about life in Southeast Alaska: the culture, the people, the arts, the wildlife. We already had about 40 episodes of this Alaskan staple, but the Alaska State Library very generously gave us another 3 dozen shows that we didn't have. We're slowly plugging away at cataloging them and getting them onto the shelves, and we have 5 new ones available. Learn about caving on Prince of Wales, transplanting mountain goats to Ketchikan, recipes for salmon eggs, life in a float house with no electricity or running water, and interviews with Nathan Jackson, Dolores Churchill and Ray Troll from the 1980's. This series is rapidly becoming a record of the way life used to be in Southeast, so be sure to try it out.
If you're looking for some more video nostalgia, we've also added The Great Alaska Cruise: a Doug Jones travelog (1990), and Glaciers of Southeast Alaska (1988). Glaciers don't change in 20 years - or if they do, it's glacially slow - but it's fun to remember when cruise ships held 700 people instead of 2100, and the streets were a little less crowded.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fine art on film

Having been named one of the 100 best small arts towns in America, it's no surprise that the people of Ketchikan like to experience art: music, plays, sculpture, dance, painting, craft.....if it's creative, bring it on. So we have a few new DVDs for the artist in all of us.
From the House of the Dead is an acclaimed video production of the last opera Czech composer Leoš Janáček wrote. Based on Dostoyevsky's Memoirs from the House of the Dead - a retelling of his own prison experiences - this is not a lighthearted musical à la Gilbert and Sullivan. Instead, it's a bleak study of the primitive character of mankind. Set within the confines of a gulag, this work manages to convey the way humans hold on to their societies and their hierarchies even in the most animalistic, degrading situations. An opera for opera buffs.
Choreography by Balanchine is a little more upbeat, but no less moving. The members of the New York City Ballet perform pieces from 6 different Balanchine ballets: 'Chaconne', 'Prodigal Son: a ballet in three scenes', 'Ballo della Regina', 'The Steadfast Tin Soldier', 'Elegie' and 'Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux'. Featuring the amazing talents of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Suzanne Farrell, Peter Martins, Karin von Aroldingen and Merrill Ashley, these dances are truly beautiful to watch. This DVD is a must for any family involved with Ketchikan Theater Ballet.
Arts and Myths is a series that examines the mythology, use and creation of works from various non-Western regions. A headdress from the Kayapo tribe of the Amazon, a fiddle from Mongolia, a weaver's tool from the Dogon clan, a pendant from the Maori, a reliquary from Gabon and an effigy from the Marquisas Islands are all presented in this DVD. This is a very interesting way to learn about different cultures and the ways in which traditional and contemporary beliefs intermingle.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lists, lists, lists

People love lists, and for the last few years the American Film Institute has been gratifying the public's thirst for this by producing a series of "Best of..." lists. This year they announced the "10 Top 10" - the ten best films in ten different genres: Animation; Romantic Comedy; Western; Sports; Mystery; Fantasy; Sci-Fi; Gangster; Courtroom Drama; and Epic.
Some of these films are relatively recent, but many date from the 30's and 40's, and there's even a Charlie Chaplin film on the list (City Lights - #1 for Romantic Comedy). But where to find all these movies, especially the old ones? You'll be glad to know that your local library has 87 of these 100 critically-acclaimed films on the shelves or arriving soon. If you would like to scroll through the list and see what appeals to you, you can go to the AFI's website. You can also come down to the library and browse through the shelves, where you will find many other classic films. In fact, we just added four new Billy Wilder (a beloved director of romantic comedies from the 1950's and 60's) DVDs to the collection:
The Fortune Cookie,
Some Like it Hot,
The Apartment
Kiss Me, Stupid

Friday, August 8, 2008

New audiobooks

Another week, another batch of new audiobooks for your listening pleasure:
Flight by Sherman Alexie. Alexie loves librarians, and we love him. This story is almost a little like Virginia Woolf's Orlando, in that the narrator seems to metamorphose from chapter to chapter. He changes ages, races, times and situations, but he maintains his sense of self-identity throughout: a troubled young Native American who has just made a very bad decision. Is he doomed to travel down this path, or is there a way for him to redeem his conscience? This audio version is ready by the dishy actor Adam Beach (Flags of our fathers, Smoke signals).
Oil!, by Upton Sinclair, was the basis for the acclaimed movie There Will Be Blood, which featured an Academy-Award winning performance by Daniel Day Lewis. A tale of social injustice and political corruption, this story was inspired by the oil scandals of the Harding administration (for an entertaining overview of the Harding scandals, read this chapter from Frederick Lewis Allen's history of the 1920's - thanks to the students at the University of Virginia for providing this online text). This classic Sinclair novel is read by Grover Gardner, a favorite of audiophiles.
Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell is our first audiobook from the creator of the wildly popular Sex and the City. If you enjoy glamorous tales of high-powered women living an upscale life in New York City, you'll like this story of three women at a crossroads in their professional and personal lives. Bushnell also has a new book coming out this fall - One Fifth Avenue - that you can place on hold through our online catalog.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summer Reading Club

I'm taking off my librarian hat and writing as a parent for this one, and I will start with a confession: if it wasn't for the Summer Reading Club, I would not be helping my daughter learn to read this summer.
Wow, that's a nasty admission for a librarian to make. My daughter, who will be starting first grade this month, is at a critical moment of learning to read. She went thorough phonetics in kindergarten and learned the different vowel and consonant sounds, and she is now at the point where she needs to practice, practice, practice. As someone who reads all the time, I forgot how much darn work it is when you are first starting out and how hard it is to enjoy a story when you are slowly sounding it out word by word. It's work for her, and it's work for me. It's much more fun to read a book out loud to her (especially now that we've moved from picture books to chapter books, which have a little bit more plot to them), but that's not what she really needs right now - she needs to read herself.
And it's the library's Summer Reading Club that has kept us both going. If you want to fill those reading booklets in, and you want your prizes, and you want your name in the big drawings, you have to keep reading. Just the visual incentive of coloring in those little leaves in the booklet has been enough to keep my daughter plugging away at her books, and I can hear the huge progress she has made this summer. She is rapidly reaching the point where reading will be a joy, not work, and I would like to thank Summer Reading Club (and the Children's library staff that put it all together) for giving me and my child the incentive to read.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


The first time I picked up a David Sedaris book, one of the essays made me laugh so hard I was literally crying. While his new book, When You Are Engulfed In Flames, did not move me to quite such a level of hilarity, it frequently made me laugh out loud (it helped to try and conjure up his nasal delivery in my mind as I read). The essays in this latest work deal with his life in France ("In the waiting room" was my favorite), memories of his parents - always good for a laugh - and his unique method of quitting smoking, which involves moving to Japan. You can get a very good idea of the type of persona Sedaris projects in his book when you hear that his reason for giving up cigarettes had nothing to do with health, economics, or because of his mother's death from lung cancer. Instead, he sacrifices his constant habit because only seedy hotels allow smoking anymore and recent success with lecture tours has spoiled him with 4-star hotels (I've always avoided upgrading to first class on airlines - even when it's free - because I'll never be able to confine myself into the sweaty coach section again).
Personally, I did not really enjoy his last book (Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim), so it was wonderful to see Sedaris return to his old form. If you enjoy his appearances on NPR and This American Life, you should definitely pick up his new book. And rest assured, we will be getting it in audio format, since Sedaris' delivery is half the fun.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Films of social consciousness

Looking to take a break from Harold and Kumar? Try one of our new films that address some of the most critical issues facing the world today: the genocide in Darfur, the human impact on the environment, and genetically modified corn additives in our food supply. Sounds dreary and depressing? Maybe, but these films are all interesting enough to keep you glued to your screen, and there is a message of hope in each one.
Darfur Now: six stories. one hope is narrated by acclaimed actor Don Cheadle. Rather than just a litany of the atrocities that have occurred in this beleaguered nation, this film focuses on the different ways in which people are trying to fix the situation. Darfur Now also shows you how you can help save the people of Darfur.
Human Footprint is a National Geographic production that shows just how large an impact we humans have on our environment. Moving across the human lifespan, this film demonstrates the scope of the resources we use up and the waste we leave behind. Hearing numbers is such an esoteric experience that it's easy to blunt the impact - it's much harder to ignore when you actually see what we consume. Fortunately, the filmmakers offer suggestions of ways to cut your consumption and reduce your own global footprint.
King Corn: you are what you eat is a funny documentary in the style of Super Size Me. A couple of college buddies return to their Iowa hometown and put themselves through the entire corn production process (with a little help from the real farmers in the area and a government subsidy). It's eye-opening to see how ubiquitous corn has become. Here's a challenge: go through the grocery store and see if you can fill your cart with food that doesn't contain some type of corn additive: corn syrup, corn starch, modified corn syrup solids, etc. It's harder than it sounds.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Books for Crafty Folk

Like Mr. McGuire in The Graduate, I want to say just one word to you: plastics.
Any number of colors, shapes, textures, sizes and uses are possible with a piece of plastic. For crafters, this can be a great source of inspiration. Tonia Davenport expounds on these possibilities with her book Plexi Class: cutting-edge projects in plastic. She begins with an overview of techniques for cutting, shaping, embellishing and drilling sheets of Plexiglas. The first half of the design ideas are for jewelry: rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. These pieces are very attractive and some of them are quite delicate-looking (I don't ordinarily associate plastic with delicacy, but it's all in the design). The second half of the project ideas are for a variety of accessories: hair clips, belts, notebook covers, purses, night lights, frames, dog collars and checkbook covers. The level of difficulty varies for these projects, but the results are all very fun. (I'm a total klutz, but if anyone would like to make me the adorable little clear box purse featured on pages 95-99, I'd be tickled).
If you are a paper artist who has become bored with the same old projects, let Giuseppina 'Josie' Cirincione introduce you to dimensional collage with Bent, Bound and Stitched: collage, cards and jewelry with a twist. Papers, cards, buttons, game pieces, trinkets and little mementos are cleverly layered together and attached with wire, thread, stitching and glue into little 3-dimensional artworks. To be perfectly honest, the projects in this book all look very similar and seem to run together after a while. BUT: each project uses a different technique, and once you've tried out these folding, stitching, bending and assembling techniques, you'll be able to let loose with your own ideas and inspirations. Think of this book as a practical guide rather than a strict recipe for art.