Saturday, November 28, 2020

REVIEW: Sweet & Simple Needle Felted Animals: A Step-By-Step Visual Guide (nonfiction book) by Sachiko Susa, translated by Leeyong Soo

Sweet & Simple Needle Felted Animals is a crafting book. I bought my copy brand new.


Of the four needle felting books I now own, this is the one I'd most recommend to beginners. It has an excellent variety of projects and actually talks about things like "how do I know when I'm done poking the wool?" and why it's best to make the parts smaller at first and then build them up gradually. It sticks to the absolute basics of needle felting and, as far as I can tell, doesn't even mention wire armatures or flocking, and none of the designs require either of these things.

Like every other one of these books I've seen, it starts with a section on tools and materials. Finger guards are listed as being optional, and lol no they are not, unless you're extremely careful. This section includes a nice "grams to ounces" chart that's helpful if you're in the US and your scale for wool measuring (which isn't strictly necessary, but is helpful for at least determining if you have enough wool for the project) doesn't have a setting for grams.

Friday, November 27, 2020

REVIEW: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery (book) by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady is the second book in Springer's Enola Holmes mystery series. In terms of its intended audience, I still think it's probably aimed at older Middle Grade or younger YA readers.


Enola is still in London, and has thus far still managed to stay free of her brothers and the restrictions they'd impose upon her. Granted, only Sherlock is looking for her very hard.

Enola now cycles between three different identities: Ivy Meshle, the secretary of the fictitious Dr. Ragostin, who supposedly specializes in finding missing people; Mrs. Ragostin, the naive child-bride of Dr. Ragostin; and the "Sister of the Streets," a mute nun who walks the poorest parts of London at night, giving out blankets, food, and occasional coins. An encounter with Dr. Watson reveals that Sherlock knows more about her current situation than she expected, so she attempts to contact her mother for advice and tries to find out what else Sherlock might know. In addition, she investigates a case that Sherlock rejected, the disappearance of Lady Cecily, daughter of Sir Eustace Alistair.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

REVIEW: Needle Felted Kittens: How to Create Cute and Lifelike Cats From Wool (nonfiction book) by Hinali, translated by Victoria Oyama

Needle Felted Kittens is technically a crafting book, but it could also be viewed as an artbook. I bought my copy brand new.


This book presents examples of Hinali's needle felting work and provides instructions for creating six different cats (well, five cats and a head).

The initial pages feature gorgeous full-color photos of Hinali's cats, and one hamster. The next sections cover the materials Hinali uses (with mentions of specific brands and products that can only be obtained in Japan), a couple techniques for blending wool, the tools Hinali uses, needle use advice, tips for cutting wool so that it looks more like real cat fur, cat proportions, and the three primary needling techniques Hinali uses. There's also a brief Q&A section.

The first set of instructions, for the little orange and white tabby kitten, are the most detailed (although it should be noted that even the tabby kitten instructions don't say how much wool the project requires, not even a ballpark amount). After that, the instructions mostly stick to body posing advice, how to fill out the wire armature with core wool, and which needling techniques to use on which parts of the body.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

REVIEW: Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!, Vol. 2 (book) by FUNA, illustrated by Itsuki Akata, translated by Diana Taylor

Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! is Japanese fantasy, specifically isekai. It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. I bought my copy brand new.


The beginning of this book reminds readers that the princess Mile (who was then Adele) saved is still looking for her and thinks that she's the avatar of a goddess. The bulk of the story has nothing to do with that, however. Instead, the focus is on Mile's new life as a hunter, taking on jobs with her all-girl party, the Crimson Vow.

The girls decide to start taking on more difficult jobs in order to test their skills and gain more experience. Just figuring out which situations are difficult for them and which are easy is helpful. However, then Reina proposes that they gain experience fighting human opponents - fighting monsters is one thing, but what if they can't bring themselves to go all out against other humans when necessary? And so they find a promising looking merchant escort job.