Monthly Archives: August 2014

Exploring Crowdfunding

This month’s tech challenge from Nebraska Learns 2.0 is another winner, at least for me. (If you don’t know this site, check it out: . You’ll also love Michael Sauer’s Travelin’ Librarian blog at .) I only knew about crowdfunding in a very general, abstract way until starting this exercise. Now I’m hooked – not so much on using it to raise money (though I do now have some ideas for our library!) but definitely on using it to help fund other people’s projects.

I spent a couple of afternoons exploring Continue reading


DOZENS OF STARS for Nest, by Esther Ehrlich

Nest, by Esther Ehrlich (Wendy Lamb Books, 2014), more than lives up to its editor’s promise. This is an exceptionally fine novel, not just for young people but for all readers. From the first sentence, I did not want to put it down. At the last sentence, I did not want it to end but knew it should end there and am still thinking and feeling the whole book.

Ehrlich is definitely a writer I want to follow. Nest is her first novel and, in my opinion, should take every award it may be eligible for; it is that good. The characters are wonderful, every word of dialogue rings true, the problems are universal and important, the pacing is excellent, and the voice – I cannot overstate how true it is. I am amazed that a first novel could so faithfully portray an eleven-year-old narrator and simultaneously be so well done that we understand clearly what the child does not, while everything is shown, not told. Ehrlich pulls you right into the story and keeps you there, fully sensing and feeling every bit of it.

Thank you, Wendy Lamb, for introducing us to Esther Ehrlich and Nest


5 stars for The Crocheter’s Skill Building Workshop by Dora Ohrenstein (Storey Publishing)

The Crocheter’s Skill Building Workshop by Dora Ohrenstein (Storey Publishing) is one of the best – if not THE best – of its kind that I’ve found. I’m definitely adding it to my personal library and ordering a copy for our public library.

Ohrenstein covers everything for the novice through intermediate level crocheter, and the book is truly a workshop text, excellent for use in classes or alone. Read just the first thee chapters, which cover yarn and tools and tension, and you’ll have a thorough understanding of how yarn texture, weight, and material, hook size and material, and tension, separately and together determine everything from stitch height and density to overall shape and drape. You’ll also want to read the rest of the book, because the how-to photos and their accompanying directions are so clear and the exercises are so excellent..

Chapters four, five, and six cover fundamental techniques, shaping and construction, and crochet in the round. Chapters seven through ten deal with advanced shaping issues, textured stitches, color, and finishing, and the book ends with five projects for honing skills. The high quality photos, clear directions, and excellent exercises continue, and Ohrenstein also shows consummate skill in showing how to recognize and deal with problems as they arise.

If you want to learn crochet, get better at it, or teach it, The Crocheter’s Skill Building Workshop is the book to buy.


4 stars for Rachel White’s Blood Tells (Less Than Three Press LLC)

Rachel White’s Blood Tells is the first gay novel I’ve read in quite a while, and I’m glad I did. I read it in two sittings – I would have read it in one but was interrupted mid-book – and did NOT figure out who the primary antagonist was until the hero did. That’s one thing I liked about the book. Clues abound and none of them are misleading, but the mystery remains until it’s solved.

I also like that the adventure/suspense and romantic plots of Blood Tells grow entirely out of the characters’ motivations, personalities, and histories. The characters are well drawn, interesting, likeable, and relatively complex, though I do wonder a bit that, although fathers are present, no mothers are. This could be an interesting feature of this fantasy world, where sorcerers are abundant but suspect, the monarchy and army and buildings feel feudal, and spells and curses mix equally with guns and trolleys, but both the fantasy elements and the setting in general feel far less important than the characters and plots.

In any case, I’ll be watching for more from Rachel White.


Sept 13 Fund Raiser for Val Library – SaladLuncheon/QuiltRaffle/StyleShow

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW! for the Sept. 13 Woman’s Club sponsored Style Show/Salad Luncheon/Quilt Raffle. This is the main fund raiser for the Valparaiso Public Library. Funds raised provide most of the money for new books for the library. The luncheon is held at the Valparaiso American Legion. Doors open at 11:00 a.m. The luncheon begins at noon.

Tickets are only $7 for the luncheon and $1 for the Quilt Raffle. Or, you can get 6 quilt raffle tickets for $5. Tickets are on sale at the library, at the Bank, and through members of the Woman’s Club.

As usual, you can expect delicious food. Club members will furnish a variety of salads, from crunchy tossed veggies to pastas and meats and fruits and desserts. There’ll also be dessert breads and sandwiches and lots of other yummies, as well as coffee and tea.

Club members will decorate the tables in individually interesting ways and an area merchant will provide outfits for the style show, which will feature club members and their daughters and grand-daughters. There also will be lots of door prizes, so you’ll want to save your luncheon ticket stubs for the drawings.

 Vintage Memories Web

Jean Ang made this year’s lovely quilt — the latest in a long, long line of quilts she’s made for the annual auction. It’s called “Vintage Memories” and is gorgeous, as her quilts always are.

All Muck and Mulletts by Samantha Nash (Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2014): Not My Cup of Tea

Usually I enjoy humorous stories about quirky villagers, especially when the author writes well. But not this time.

For those with the right sort of sense of humor (which mine obviously is not), the village brawls, poaching, and tantrums may be slapstick enough to provoke laughter, but for me the characters’ main common feature was stupidity – suitable perhaps for a country rube joke but not designed to create “winning” or even remotely endearing characters. Which probably explains why I had such a hard time telling the idiots (other than Mazzer) from each other – I got bored.

My three-stars feel like a gift, but only because I expect authors to at least like some of their characters. Readers who don’t care about that may like this one.