After fading as a home craft for awhile, sewing is popular again. Fresh new fabric designs, the embracing of retro styles (aprons are super popular) and the desire for handcrafted items have fueled the new interest. Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol fits right in with this new wave of sewing. She offers simple, practical designs that are both sophisticated and innovative. Her instructions are straightforward and encouraging; even a beginner can quickly – and successfully – get started. Projects range from tote bags to pillows to bibs to a lap quilt and are easily adaptable to your skills and interests. The hard part will be picking out the perfect fabric!

Looking for something to do with your favorite guy this weekend? Celebrate Father’s Day with one of these fun activities you can share.

1. Ride the River. This fun bike ride on Sunday not only takes you on a tour of the Quad Cities, you get to cross the river on the Celebration Belle. Winding through Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, East Moline and Rock Island, returning via the Centennial Bridge, this is a great way to see your community up close. Because of expected flooding this year, some of the route will be changed but will still start from the Union Station in Davenport. Be sure to wear your helmet!

2. Go the All-American route and take in a baseball game. The Quad City River Bandits will be playing the Beloit Snappers this Sunday at 1pm, weather and field conditions permitting. Treat Dad to a hot dog and watch the home runs fly.

3. Prefer to stay indoors? Check out the DVD collection at the Davenport Library and pick out a movie (maybe one featuring a superhero to watch with your own hero!) Just add popcorn and soda for your own private screening.

4. Take Dad fishing. West Lake Park just outside of Davenport offers four lakes to fish for bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass. The park also has hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic tables and boat rentals.

Share a memory – they’re ten times better than a tie!

WARNING: Just looking at this book may cause you to gain weight. (But it’s worth it)

Cheesecake, that little slice of heaven on a plate, reaches new heights in Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook by Alan Rosen. Junior’s, located in Brooklyn, has been renowned for their dreamy cheesecakes since they opened in 1950. Now their secrets, including how to bake a cheesecake so that it doesn’t crack on the surface and the recipe for their signature sponge cake crust, are available to everyone.

Want some variety with your cheesecake? Look no further. Recipes range from Classic New York Style to Cappuccino to Pumpkin Swirl to White Chocolate Raspberry. There are sections for Celebration Cakes (Easter Egg to Christmas Tree), chocolate (Brownie Swirl to Heath Bar), and layered ( Strawberry Shortcake to Boston Cream Pie) Along with lots of tips for professional results, you’ll soon be an expert cheesecake baker. And very popular with your friends and family!

Looking for a fun summer read? Try The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell.

This hilarious tale takes place on the lovely Emerald Isle. The main character, creative writing teacher Aaron McCloud, travels to County Kerry, Ireland, to immerse himself in self-pity following an unrequited love. He stays with his Aunt Kitty who happens to be a very successful author herself. She specializes in re-writing or “correcting” old literary classics. (You really don’t want to know what she’s done with Oliver Twist).

On his first day there, Aaron’s bus encounters an overturned truck with pigs running amok. In an effort to impress the attractive swineherd, Lolly McKeever, Aaron attempts to catch one of them. Though unsuccessful, the pig decides he likes Aaron, and literally follows him home. Before they can return him to his rightful owner (even though Lolly won’t claim the animal belongs to her) the pig digs up Kitty’s garden, thereby revealing the skeleton of the missing Declan Tovey. Who killed him? Well, Aunt Kitty accuses Lolly of the crime, Lolly accuses Kieran Sweeney, and Aaron suspects his Aunt — thus beginning this comedy of errors. At times the main characters seem to be speaking in soliloquies, but I guess they’ve all just kissed the Blarney Stone a time or two. This is a quick read (less than 200 pages), an enjoyable romp, and the first part of a planned trilogy. Catch it while you can.

Russia, that great giant that straddles both the West and the East, has a long and often bloody history, a unique culture and a diverse people. Many great classics have been written by Russians but what to read after War and Peace? (You have read War and Peace, right?!) Try these for more insight (and a decidedly quicker read) into the Russian soul.

The Dog Who Bit a Policeman by Stuart Kaminsky

Twelfth in the series, this follows one-legged Moscow cop Porfiry Rostnikov in a post-Soviet Russia that is rife with corruption. Among other things, Porfiry deals with an illegal dogfighting ring, the Moscow Mafia, murders, and various personal problems. This is engrossing storytelling at its best.

Russka by Edward Rutherford

Presenting a sweeping historical overview of Russia in the style of James Michener, Rutherford delivers an epic story focusing on how historical events affect the common person through the generations.

The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander

A fictional retelling of the final days of Czar Nicholas II and his family as witnessed by a young kitchen boy who has kept what he saw secret. Now an old man and about to die, he’s ready to tell the truth. Filled with historically accurate details, this is a beautifully written novel with a surprise ending.

The Industry of Souls by Martin Booth

Mistaken for a spy, British citizen Alexander Bayliss spends 25 years in a Soviet gulag and the next 20 in a Russian village. When his family discovers he is still alive, he must decide whether to stay or return to England. This amazing novel reveals the human side of gulag life, how the collapse of the Soviet Union affected her people and the strength of the common man.

Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

Introducing Inspector Arkady Renko, this modern classic is the must read novel of Soviet Russia. Cynical, honest, brilliant, Renko investigates a triple murder where the victims fingers and faces are missing. Intelligent writing, complex mysteries, dark humor and real tension combine to make this one of the best mysteries ever written. Future installments, which follow Renko thru post-Soviet Union turmoil, are also highly recommended.

Agatha Christie’s mystery, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a beloved classic; however, critics have said that Christie broke a fundamental rule of mystery writing when she revealed her murderer. How could this author, so renowned for her puzzle-making ability, have have made such a mistake? And, of course, no one thought to question detective Hercule Poirot’s conclusions. Until now.

Pierre Bayard has written a delightfully enjoyable mystery about Christie’s book. (Spoiler alert: if you intend to read Christie’s book first, then don’t click on the Bayard link because the murderer [as revealed by Christie] is revealed in the book’s description.) In his book, Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? Bayard questions Poirot’s conclusions and makes a very strong case for his argument that the famed detective is wrong!

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the original, you might want to read that first and then pick up Bayard’s book (although Bayard’s book stands up perfectly well on its own). If you’re a fan of mysteries (and even if you don’t particularly like Agatha Christie) you won’t be disappointed.

64 years ago today, the Allies successfully launched the largest single-day military invasion ever and turned the tide of World War II. Known as Operation Overlord, it involved more than 130,000 troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and marked the beginning of the end of the war.

Joining the long list of books and movies that have covered this event, The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara brings this day vividly to life. Many different viewpoints are shown, from historical figures (Eisenhower, Churchill, Rommel) to the foot soldiers on the beach. They are shown as real people, with doubts, fears, faults and great courage. The horrors of war are not sugar-coated – blood is shed, mistakes are made, people die. Both an overview of the event and it’s long-term impact and an intimate portrait of the cost of this day, this is an epic page-turner that is impossible to put down.

This is the second volume in a planned trilogy; The Rising Tide covers the German invasion of Europe and the Allied invasion of North Africa.

One of the fun things about being a librarian is that sometimes publishers will send us “advance reader’s editions.” These are books that have not yet been published and often times they have not even been reviewed. Usually when we read a book, we’ve already read upteen reviews for it or at least heard about it from Oprah. So it’s very refreshing to pick up a book without having any preconceived ideas about it. Well, okay, in this case Stephen King had written a blurb recommending it, so I did have some idea. And no, it’s not a horror book. It’s called The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski.

Edgar, born mute and communicating through sign, is a boy growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, a farm on which they raise and train the special (and fictional) Sawtelle breed of dogs. Life is pretty peaceful for the family until his uncle Claude returns and decides to stay. Later, when Edgar’s father dies unexpectedly, Edgar tries to prove that Claude had something to do with it. Unfortunately, his plan backfires, and Edgar is forced to flee into the nearby Chequamegon wilderness. Struggling to survive and provide for the three yearling dogs that accompany him, Edgar grows up quickly.

The ending may not be what you hope for or expect, but it is precisely because of it that I predict this book will become excellent fodder for future book discussion groups. Look for it when it comes out!

Summer means lots of opportunities for getting together with family – reunions, barbeques, vacations. Today’s small, simple-to-use cameras make it easy to capture the moments, big and small. Joel Sartore’s Photographing Your Family is a great place to find information not just on how to use your camera, but how to take great pictures.

One of the terrific things about this book is that Sartore has wonderful ideas for getting photos of the everyday events – a sleeping child, cookies being baked, time spent at the park or museum. Get in close, try different angles and work at capturing the personality of the person. Great photos are not stiff, formally posed portraits but the spontaneous snapshots of life in action.

Also included are tips that won’t overwhelm you on editing your images, pointers on composition, and ideas for storing and displaying your masterpieces. Because every day should be a day worth remembering.

The Savage GardenLinked murders 400 years apart create the suspense and intrigue in this literate novel of family secrets, loyalty, and betrayal. Adam Strickland goes to Tuscany to write about a famous memorial garden, but the garden hides secrets – was Flora Docci actually murdered and why? As Adam delves into the mysteries of the garden he is also drawn into a more recent wartime murder involving the son of the matriarch of the villa, putting his own life in danger.

If you liked The DaVinci Code with it’s mysteries wrapped in ancient texts, or are intrigued by twists and turns of wartime loyalties, you’ll love The Savage Garden.