Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Magic of Digital Nature Photography by Rob Sheppard

I do not consider myself a photographer in any sense of the word.  I am a "PWAC" - person with a camera.  (I wish I could remember where I first came across that acronym, but I can't).  But I recently took up the hobby, and am loving it!  There are many, many photography books out there and finding one that works for you, can be more difficult than sorting out some camera controls.  One book that I came across that is both beautiful and helpful is Rob Sheppard's The Magic of Digital Nature Photography.  

If there's one thing that appeals to me about Sheppard’s approach it's that photography is not about the technology, nor how big and new and fantastic your camera is.  For me, Sheppard finds the balance between the joy of just being out with a camera, and the technical know-how required to capture the image.  This book breaks down all the technical learning that must be mastered by the improving photographer, but it is presented in short concise everyday language that does not overwhelm the newbie.  Sheppard's photographs in the book are stunning and a visual treat for anyone.  The quick tips and "connections" sections are where the reader will connect the technical information with the artistry of photography; how to "see" photos, and find inspiration.

I thought this book was worth the investment so I keep my own copy close and refer to it often both for technical information and inspiration.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Now and in the hour of our death by Patrick Taylor

One of our staff has read many of Patrick Taylor’s books about a quaint little town in Northern Ireland.  However, she says the novel, Now and in the hour of our death is different.  This novel is about the “Troubles”. 

Davy McCutcheon and Fiona Kavanagh are in love, but they live in different worlds.  Davy is a bomb maker for the Provisional IRA and Fiona is a teacher who is fed up with all of the violence.  They plan to move to Canada as soon as Davy does one last job.  Things don’t go well and Davy ends up sentenced to decades in prison.  Fiona moves to Vancouver, tries to forget about the past and build a new life for herself.  After nine years Davy and some pals break out of prison.  Davy is haunted by the deaths he has been responsible for.  He wants to leave Ireland and look for Fiona in Canada.  His fellow IRA escapees want him to continue the fight. 

In some ways the book can be a difficult read because at times the ordinary Irish person is caught between two major forces – the IRA and the ruling British.  Both sides seem to have no scruples about forcing ordinary people to do their will; whether it's some job for the IRA or providing information to the British.  The staff member says that the story reinforced her belief that military conflict creates more hardships and problems than it does solutions.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

For lovers of fantasy that enjoy books that include magic, adventure, mystery and romance, The Queen of the Tearling, a debut novel by Erika Johansen, might be worth a try.  This is the story of a nineteen-year-old girl, Kelsea Raleigh, who must return to the land of her birth.  The young princess is faced with the daunting challenge of bringing humanity and justice back to her land.

Kelsea was taken away from the capital of Tear after her mother’s death and raised by two loyal servants until it was time for her return to the capital with a price on her head.   As she is taken through the countryside she has never seen before, she is outraged by the poverty and suffering her people are enduring.  With the guidance of the magic sapphire worn around her neck since her mother died, Kelsea challenges the authorities before she even enters the doors to the Keep and sets a new path for her future.  During the journey she makes both powerful enemies, and loyal friends.

One of our staff who enjoyed the book says that this a fantasy story not to be missed and hopefully Erika Johansen will be working on a sequel as there are too many stories that still need to be told.