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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Travel Back in Time with Medieval Mysteries

Posted by Joyce D.

I first fell in love with the concept and characters in the Sister Fidelma Series and then over time discovered these other series. They are set in different countries and give you an interesting glimpse into what it would be like to live in a different time. I also found it fascinating to get a glimpse of the Catholic Religion as practiced in Medieval times.  

Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne (Sister Fidelma Series)
In A.D. 664, King Oswy of Northumbria has convened a synod at Whitby to hear debate between the Roman and Celtic Christian churches and decide which shall be granted primacy in his kingdom. At stake is much more than a few disputed points of ritual; Oswy's decision could affect the survival of either church in the Saxon kingdoms. When the Abbess Etain, a leading speaker for the Celtic church, is found murdered, suspicion falls upon the Roman faction. In order to diffuse the tensions that threaten to erupt into civil war, Oswy turns to Sister Fidelma of the Celtic Church (Irish and an advocate for the Brehon Court) and Brother Eadulf of the Roman church (from east Anglia and of a family of hereditary magistrates) to find the killer. But as further murders occur and a treasonous plot against Oswy matures, Fidelma and Eadulf soon find themselves running out of time.

A Trust Betrayed by Candace Robb (Margaret Kerr Series)
It is Scotland, in the spring of 1297, and Margaret Kerr's merchant husband, Roger, has been missing since winter. Though he originally set out for trading purposes, Margaret now worries that he may have been caught up in the rebellion against the English -- or may have been killed. Roger's cousin Jack travels to Edinburgh seeking news of the missing merchant, but his body is returned home bearing wounds that could not be self-inflicted. Now Margaret sets out in search of her husband and the truth about Jack's death. The journey takes her to British-occupied Edinburgh, where Margaret's uncle reluctantly agrees to let her stay at his inn. As the two become part of the perilous activities, they risk endangering his clandestine war-time work.

The Apothecary Rose by Candace Robb (Owen Archer Series)
Once the king's captain of archers, now he must penetrate a poisoner's secrets...
Christmastide, 1363-and, at an abbey in York, two pilgrims die mysteriously dead of an herbal remedy. Suspicious, the Archbishop sends for Owen Archer, a Welshman with the charm of the devil, who's lost one eye to the wars in France and must make a new career as an honest spy.
Masquerading as an apprentice to Apothecary Nicholas Wilton, whose shop dispensed the fatal potion, Owen's dark curls, leather eyepatch and gold earring intrigue Wilton's wife. But is this lovely woman a murderess? and what links the Wiltons to bumbling Brother Wulfstan, ascetic Archdeacon Anselm and his weaselly agent Potter Digby, and the ragged midwife Magda the Riverwoman? Answers as slippery as the frozen cobblestones draw Owen into a dangerous drama of old scandals and tragedies, obsession and unholy love...

Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael)
In the remote Welsh mountain village of Gwytherin lies the grave of Saint Winifred. Now, in 1137, the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey has decided to acquire the sacred remains for his Benedictine order. Native Welshman Brother Cadfael is sent on the expedition to translate and finds the rustic villagers of Gwytherin passionately divided by the Benedictine's offer for the saint's relics. Canny, wise, and all too worldly, he isn't surprised when this taste for bones leads to bloody murder.
The leading opponent to moving the grave has been shot dead with a mysterious arrow, and some say Winifred herself held the bow. Brother Cadfael knows a carnal hand did the killing. But he doesn't know that his plan to unearth a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice...where the wages of sin may be scandal or Cadfael's own ruin.

The Novice's Tale by Margaret Frazer (Dame Frevisee Series)
In the fair autumn of Our Lord's grace 1431, the nuns of England's St. Frideswide's prepare for the simply ceremonies in which the saintly novice Thomasine will take her holy vows. But their quiet lives of beauty and prayer are thrown into chaos by the merciless arrival of Lady Ermentrude Fenner and her retinue of lusty men, sinful women, and baying hounds. The hard-drinking dowager even keeps a pet monkey for her amusement. She demands wine, a feast...
And her niece, the angelic Thomasine. The lady desires to enrich herself and her reputation by arranging a marriage for the devout novice. She cares nothing for the panic and despair she leaves behind her. But all her cruel and cunning schemes are brought to a sudden end with strange and most unnatural murder. 
As suspicious eyes turn on the pious Thomasine, it falls to Sister Frevisse, hosteler of the priory and amateur detective, to unravel the webs of unholy passion and dark intrigue that entangle the novice and prove her innocence... or condemn her.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Grooving Guitar: Non-fiction Favorites in 787.87

Posted by Amanda E.

If you’re interested in learning how to play the guitar or just want to build up your chops, you should peruse EPL’s collection of guitar instruction books.  We have resources for people at every level and crossing many musical genres. 

Starts at the basics and gets to the advanced.  Teaches theory using songs that many people are familiar with like Unchained Melody, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Smoke on the Water.

This was the first guitar instruction book I ever picked up.  I still refer back to it when I am in a slump.  Teaches chords and keys through the use of very simple folk songs.  Strum patterns are printed along with the music.  Teaches both basic fingerpicking and plectrum technique.

Starts at the basics and gets deep pretty quickly.  This book is a great chord reference tool which is how I have mainly used it.  The 4th section “How Chords Relate to Scales and Keys” led to one of my musical ‘AHA” moments. 

This is for an intermediate or advanced player.  Heavy reliance on theory and assumes that you have a solid understanding of the basics.  I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants to play in a group setting.  Whether you are playing lead or rhythm, this book will really develop your understanding of music fundamentals

I haven’t used the whole 52 week system but I have had this book at home several times and there are a few of the exercises that are a regular part of my daily guitar practice sessions.  These exercises are a great help in improving dexterity and hand strength.  There are 2 CDs included with the book so you can hear the exercises being played if you are more of an audio learner, as is the case with many musicians.  Sheet music is in TAB and notation.

I checked this one out when I was building my first electric guitar.  Great schematics.  This book really helped my understanding of how the electronics work in a guitar.  It is a very technical manual but everything is labeled and explained very clearly.  Also, a really helpful glossary! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Non-Fiction Favorites in 746.4: Knitting!

Posted by Amanda E.

I learned to knit about five years ago.  I’m self taught, and by that I mean I learned mostly from the books that were available to me at the library, with a few helpful Youtube videos thrown in.  The Edwardsville Public Library has cultivated a great collection of knitting/fiber arts books.   If knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, dyeing or any combination of the above are up your alley, I recommend you browse the 746.4s in our non-fiction section.  It should keep you occupied for awhile!

The following is a list of some of my favorite knitting books:

I knit my first hat from a pattern in this book. In fact, Simple Knitting is where I got the patterns for quite a few of my first projects.  It has well written instructions that are aimed at the beginning knitter and her designs are things that I still wear and use to this day. 

A classic.  Knitting’s current revival owes much to Elizabeth Zimmerman and her teachings.  She helps the beginner learn to knit and also how to understand knitting, how to not just follow a pattern but know why it is written a certain way and how to tweak the pattern for your own ends. 

The ultimate dictionary of knitting.  Seriously.  I ended up buying a copy of this one for myself because I had it checked out so often.  Anytime I’m hung up on something I look it up in here.   Bring a strong bag if you’re going to check this one out.

I’ve never knit anything in this book for a man.  They are all for me!  Knight’s yarn choices and patterns are clean and crisp and classic.  She is one of my top five favorite designers.  Her patterns are very well written.

I think I’ve knit about 20 of the 25 hats in this book.  A few, like the Pebbled Beanie and the Brier Toque, I’ve knit more than once.  An interesting variety of very wearable hats.  I learned quite a few new techniques from this book at the start of my knitting life.

Morgan-Oakes teaches the magic loop technique in this book, which is not nearly as mystical as it sounds.  Magic Loop allows two socks to be knitted at one time which effectively quells ‘Second Sock Syndrome’.  Great sock patterns here but learning magic loop is what makes this book awesome.  You can use the technique for anything that comes in pairs.  So, socks and gloves basically.

I’ve turned to this one for last minute gifts on a few occasions.  It also has patterns that are great for that gorgeous yarn that you only thought to buy one skein of and have no idea what to do with.

I’ve never knitted one of the patterns in this book but I’ve referred to it several times.  It has great information about shaping.  It illustrates a variety of decreases and increases.  I’ve incorporated the information from this book into patterns that I worried would look too baggy or boxy on my, with great success.

Lace knitting is my jam right now and it all started with this book (and is fueled by a healthy Ravelry obsession).  I absolutely love making triangle shawls with sock weight yarn.  This book has quite a few gorgeous shawl patterns and some lovely stoles and gloves and a great guide, in the beginning, for how to read a lace chart and the different methods of beginning a triangle shawl.  I recommend Elizabeth’s Cowl for a repetitive beginner’s lace pattern.

This book cracks me up.  It is basically what it sounds like from the title, a few basic patterns for a knitted doll and a full wardrobe for him.  The tiny sweater patterns are what make this book for me.  I want to wear the doll sized cardigan. 

Half of the reason I love to knit is because of my love for yarn and fibers.  This book is a great guide for learning to dye your own yarns.  There are tutorials for dyeing with Kool-Aid and with Acid Dyes.  Most of the tutorials use tools that you probably already have around your house.  Kool-Aid dyeing in a crock-pot?  Yea, it was totally fun.   This one is another that I’ve had checked out so much that I had to buy my own copy.