Thursday, April 29, 2010

Freestyle Machine Embroidery by Carol Shinn

While looking through my many needlecraft magazines, I came upon a project done by Carol Shinn that I thought was amazing, so I was delighted to see that she had published a book on her techniques called Freestyle Machine Embroidery: Techniques and inspiration for Fiber Art. I have been looking for quite a while for a book that showed how to do freestyle machine embroidery which is not the same as doing machine embroidery using digitized designs. With freestyle machine embroidery, you use your sewing machine as a paint brush and thread as the paint, sewing down layers of color to make a picture or design.

In my quest I have come upon books that while supposedly about this type of embroidery, spend half the book talking about painting backgrounds, etc. Well if I could paint backgrounds I think I would stick with painting and forget trying to learn how to machine embroider the picture. This book, however, explains some simple projects that you can do with painting blocks of color (or you could print the blocks out using special ink jet photo transfer paper) and then explains how to use your threads to sew out these simple designs. Once you have learned these simple techniques then you go on to learn how to show transparency of colors in your designs. There are plenty of pictures so that you can understand the step by step process including showing the blocks and the spools of thread used in the project and how they combined.

The author explains the materials she uses and the whys of what she uses and at the same time going on to describe other material that can be used and how you would need to stabilize it. She also spends time on explaining how a design can distort due to the quantity of thread taking up fabric depending on the way the stitches lie. This is the first I recall hearing about the possibilities of distortion from all the books I have read on freestyle machine embroidery in so it was certainly good to know. Along with her own work she shows examples of other artists and explains their basic techniques and philosophy about what they do.

At the back of the book was a page of recommended reading with a long list of books that I hadn’t heard of. I think my Amazon wish list will be expanding if I can’t find the books through my local library. All in all Freestyle Machine Embroidery was a terrific book and one I highly recommend if you are interested at all in this sewing technique. Perhaps after reading this book, I will now be able to go back to my other books on machine embroidery and understand the techniques for combining the thread better.

This is basically a copy of a review that I wrote for Amazon. I gave this book 5 stars as it is very informative, inspirational, has great photos and lots of them. I learned a lot from this book and as soon as I have time for yet another project will be trying out her technique.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

10% Off Coupon for our Bookstore

Just wanted to tell you about the promotion that we having going right now for our store, Moonwishes Books. Purchase $30.00 or more of merchandise at our store, use Google Checkout to pay your invoice using coupon code ReadMe! and you will receive 10% off of the entire order, not including shipping. This coupon is good at Google checkout Only. Coupon good until July 31, 2010. Use this coupon as many times as you wish until expiration date. If you see some books that we have listed on Amazon that you would like to be able to buy while taking advantage of this coupon, let me know which ones they are and we will be happy to list them at our ecrater store, Moonwishes Books for you to purchase from there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blogging To Drive Business by Eric Butow & Rebecca Bollwitt

I had already chosen a book on blogging to review, Create Your Own Blog, when I had the opportunity to pick this book also. I thought that I might be able to compare them and if content was missing from one then I should be able to pick it up in the other. Well I must say I was very disappointed with Blogging to Drive Business. It was apparently written for someone who is a CEO of a large brick and mortar company that needs to be convinced, still at this point in time, that his company needs a web presence. Unless I missed it, this book didn’t address the needs of a completely internet run business or a sole proprietor business. In general the book covers the philosophy of being on the internet, who in the company should handle writing the blog entries, how to hire a blogger, etc. As to the actual composition of the blog for the company, that part of the book skimmed through those points, giving a paragraph or two to each of the major blogging sites with no real recommendations given or points on how to really go about setting up and using the blog. If you didn’t know anything about blogging in the first place, I doubt that you will get much information from this book to help you. Although the authors tried to make the information flow in some kind of order, they continually seemed to go off track.

The illustrations were mostly screenshots and were all too small also, but even with my magnifying glass I couldn’t see what the point of most of them were. The font size of the text also seemed to be on the small side which makes reading difficult. Terms and expressions were thrown around assuming that the reader would be familiar with them. This was rather odd as the book seemed to take the stance that it was geared towards the reader that didn’t know anything about blogging or using the internet to drive business to their company, but if the reader didn’t know the internet terms then they would be lost and not understand what the authors were writing about.

As someone that owns an on-line store, I didn’t feel that I got anything out of this book that would truly help make my store more of a success or enable me to drive more business to it by using a blog. I found a couple of nuggets that might be helpful but certainly not an entire books worth so I was glad I got the book for free to review and hadn’t spent my money on it.

This is a copy of my review of Blogging To Drive Business for Amazon, I only gave it 2 stars, both for technical difficulty of small fonts and impossible to see screenshot illustrations, and also because its content is seriously lacking and chaotic. If you want to learn how to both blog and drive business with your blog I would suggest Create Your Own Blog instead.

Create Your Own Blog by Tris Hussey

I choose to read this book, Create Your Own Blog, when it was offered to me as I had been thinking of starting another blog and was wondering what was new on the Blogging front. A book like this, the first thing you need to worry about is how out of date it has become between the writing of it and the actual publishing. This book was published in January 2010 and my reading of it took place in April 2010. While some things had changed such as TypePad now has a free `microblog', for the most part the book itself was packed with lots of useful and timely information. It was presented in a clear manner. As long as you have basic knowledge about computers such as receiving and sending emails, surfing the net itself, etc. and are interested in having a blog of your own, this book is a very good guide. It's format covered what you needed to know in a very logical manner and can be used to help you set up, promote and keep up with your blog.

My only complaint about this book was the size of the screenshots. Considering between one quarter to one third of the book consisted of screenshot examples, they were all too small to see without a magnifying glass. As the screenshots were an important part of the message of the text itself this would be detrimental to those who are visual learners and need to see what to do.

After reading the book, I was able to sit down and start a blog and was able to add in bits and pieces that I hadn't known were available until reading this book. You can see the blog I created at . I still have things I would like to do with the blog and many posts to add to it, but this book was a great help and has plenty of ideas for also promoting your blog to get readers. I definitely recommend this book, but keep a magnifying glass handy!

This is a copy of my Amazon review of Create Your Own Blog. I gave the book 4 stars due to the problem with the illustrations being too small to see without a magnifying glass. If you are looking for a book to help you start your own blog, this book should do the job.

Read and Exercise at the same time!

A circular library lets you read and walk at the same time. Go see this great idea, although it does have one flaw. Where is a cup holder and snack bowl for munching on the go?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Welcome to Moonwishes Reads!

Today was a perfect day to open up my new blog. I went out to my mailbox and it was like Christmas as I had 3 boxes from Amazon in the mail! I am part of the Amazon vine program that helps to review new products for Amazon. On average I get 4 new books a month to read and review for them, but this was a happy month and I got to pick six new books. Usually I get Advanced Reading copies which still need some editing or tweaking. Sometimes I get lucky and get a store ready for sale book. The first book was an Amazon purchase of mine, Freestyle Machine Embroidery by Carol Shinn which will help inspire my other hobby of sewing and needlework. Today's Vine Program haul was The Summer Hideaway by Susan Wiggs, an author I have never read before and Blogging to Drive Business by Eric Butow & Rebecca Bollwitt. Last week I had picked another book on blogging, Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro, and so wanted to compare the two as I had been thinking of starting an new blog or two to help promote my on-line business Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts where we sell sewing patterns. To get my toes in the water so to speak, I decided to start this blog about and for books as reading has been a passion all my life.

At Thanksgiving, my oldest son encouraged me to start writing down all the books I read in a notebook and I have been trying to remember to do that. At this point I am in the vicinity of 80+ books read since Thanksgiving 2009. I would encourage all readers to do this to not only keep track of what you have read and how many books you have read, but also make notes about how you felt about the book. Was it good? A waste of time? Something that made you wonder who would bother publishing it? I have a varied interest in books with my favorites by mystery, thriller, suspense novels and any needlecraft book. My oldest son doesn't read as much as me, but gives fantastic oral reviews of books he has read and that always encourages me to want to read those books also. Every visit home for him becomes a book exchange between us as I pass off books I think he would like to him and he brings me books he thinks I would like.

I hope you will enjoy this blog and participate in it. I am happy to get book recommendations especially if you can tell me why you think a book is worth reading. If you wish to purchase a book I recommend, I trust you will use our Amazon links as they in turn will help support my book buying habit. Any publishers that would like to send me a book to review, I'll be happy to do so. Just contact me about it.