Beading Report

I think beading is more prolific than knitting.  There are more options of things you can do with beads, and the projects are a lot faster to complete (in some cases) than knitting.  Plus, bead designs are available everywhere – you are more likely to see people wearing jewelry than a knitted item.

It could become a daunting task to try to come up with new designs. Or maybe not? There are soooo many different types of beads and new bead types being produced that it may be easier to come up with combinations and patterns that are unique.

On the other hand, knitters may come up with new knitting stitches or yarn / stitch combinations more than noticed or publicized.

It is a fascinating world to be creative with so many choices.

So the really cool thing is that I’ve come up with some ideas and looked online to see how other people have done them…and I can’t find anything!  That is so exciting because it tells me that I am on to something new and different.

The first time this happened, I was making a necklace to wear to the opera in Milan. (I know, how lucky am I?!) I bought a fabulous dress and knew that I wanted to wear a necklace that was totally unique and made specifically for it.  I had read about creating large beads from small ones – a fairly common idea – but then I decided to hang them from the necklace like little pendants.  I could not find any advice on how to do that.  What fun!  Like recipes, patterns are usually just recommendations, so this was actually perfect. I could do what I wanted to make it work.

So amazing!

While planning the jewelry to take on my trip, I realized I had many necklaces but very few earrings. So I decided to take the major components of the different necklaces and make one pair of earrings that would go with them all.  Call it funky, definitely call it unique. This is what I ended up with – and love! because I don’t think anyone else would ever put this combination together!

Beading Report

Now, I’m playing with the herringbone stitch, which is a simple stitch but looks terribly advanced! For some reason, I enjoy doing the tubular rather than the flat stitch. I think it’s more interesting to watch the product develop as a tube.  This is a fairly standard spiral herringbone design, but in the middle section I have Swarovski crystals spiraling in the opposite direction.

I made a point to have both sides match up.  While not unique at all, this was a major challenge for an asymmetrically-driven crafter.  It was a gift for a very symmetrically-oriented friend, who appreciated my extra effort in this regard!

October 2015 Reading

October 2015 Reading

After I Am Pilgrim, it was hard to focus on other books. My October 2015 Reading list is bare, well maybe not as bare as last month!  I only bought one book, though I did try two samples from Amazon. How fortunate to have samples first because I did not like either.

Books Bought October 2015

A Man Called OveFredrik Backman

October 2015 Reading

Good Manners for People Who Sometimes Say F*ckAmy AlkonCould not get through it.
The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontes, and the Importance of HandbagsDaphne MerkinCould not get through it.
A Man Called OveFredrik BackmanI liked it, and I have not finished it yet.
One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-The-World Journey with Our ChildrenDavid Elliot CohenSeemed promising, but my check-out expired before I could dig my teeth into it.
At the Water's EdgeSara GruenGood
First FrostSarah Addison AllenSimplistic but enjoyable
The Trouble with Poetry - and other poemsBilly CollinsGood
The Boston GirlAnita DiamantUnable to make headway
Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers EverywhereLauren LetoThis was a sample. Thank goodness.
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My LifeAndy MillerDitto to the above rating.
We Never Asked for WingsVanessa DiffenbaughReally liked it.

A Man Called Ove is a well-written book about a man described as a curmudgeon…and how he deals with life, or how he doesn’t deal with life and how he deals with death. We had a great book club discussion, and I am determined to finish it!

I had seen Amy Alkon’s book, Good Manners for People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, at the library and decided to buy it to read while away. What a mistake. I did not like the writing style nor the content for that matter. Apparently, Amy Alkon is an advice columnist, so maybe she is better read one paragraph per day.

I have only liked one Anita Diamant book (no, not The Red Tent!) – Day After Night – but I thought I’d give The Boston Girl a chance. The first chapter was enough (too much?) for me. I did not care enough about the character to continue.  The audio book of The Boston Girl is read by Linda Lavin.  That may make the character more enticing…but straight off the page…it did not draw me in.

I did read At the Water’s Edge and First Frost, which were fine.  At the Water’s Edge would probably create a good book club discussion because it covers different topics about society – different classes, WWII recruitment, relationships, and more.  I did finish it, and would recommend it, but I actually forgot I had read it until I reviewed my list for this post!

First Frost is a fairy tale. It is not realistic at all, as is true of Allen’s book Garden Spells.  The book reminded me a LOT of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  I loved those books by Betty MacDonald as a kid!  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle had medicine to make children be nicer, stop having tantrums, etc.  This book is VERY reminiscent of dear Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

October 2015 Reading

I really loved The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh so her new book We Never Asked for Wings was on my list.  For some unknown reason, I was reluctant to get started. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t be interested and might not like it. I’d rather not read it than be disappointed.  Also, the book cover illustration made me believe that I would be disappointed.   But I opened it…and really enjoyed it.  It’s a story about a woman who had her first child when she was in high school, and let her mother raise her children until her parents move back to Mexico.  Her son is in high school and her daughter in first grade.   She has to step up to the plate and become the mother.  The book is also about the son, and how he is able to spread his wings.  I recommend it.

October 2015 Reading


September 2015 Reading aka I Am Pilgrim

September 2015 Reading

I Am PilgrimTerry HayesI think I liked it.
More discussion below.

Yes, that’s right. I only opened and closed one book this month.  Continuing my reading from the previous month, for my October book club, I Am Pilgrim consumed my time and attention and took me from all other reading possibilities.

I Am Pilgrim

“Screenwriter and producer Hayes makes his fiction debut with an exceptional thriller that boasts an utterly credible narrator who has had so many covert identities he can barely remember his original name. Soul-weary Scott Murdoch (aka the Pilgrim) has retired from the top echelon of ultrasecret espionage, but duty and faith in the human spirit call him back into service…Like many pilgrimages, this one is painfully long and packed with unexpected menace, its glimpses of the goal fitful and far between, but readers will agree that this journey of body and soul is well worth the effort.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Did I like it? I don’t know.  Here’s the thing.  The main character was telling the story.  So no matter what happened, I had the comfort level and expectation that he does not die.  That made me feel better.

Many times I said to myself, “I would never have read this book if it were not for book club.” and “I would not have continued reading this book if it were not for book club.”  My paperback copy was 785 pages.  When I hit page 475, I wanted to continue reading.

Here’s another thing.  This book was frightening. It was making me read about the jihad society and terrorism.  It made me wonder what is actually going on over there, and how scary the world is now.  I don’t like that. I am thankful every day that I live in this country and that I am safe, and my children can live happy productive lives.  I don’t aim to present myself as a shallow person, but too many details just make me depressed about the state of the world.

This book was disturbing.

But it was also about relationships.  And I like books that explore relationships.  How far would you go for love? For hate? How does someone with relationships where most of the people in his life have disappointed him take his experiences to figure out other people’s motivations?  That is the underlying story that kept me reading.

I haven’t even decided if I would recommend it.  It is way too long.  It often has the feeling that it was written to be turned into a movie instead of just writing for the beauty of telling the story.  It is violent, and scary.  It addresses topics that I don’t want to think about.  But even after finishing it over a week ago, I am still thinking about it.  The characters are well defined and believable, even scarily authentic (to my limited knowledge of the Arab world). There are a few missing links in tying the story together (MINOR SPOILER ALERT: like how does the US agent tell the terrorist’s story, when at the end he doesn’t follow the thread in his search?) which was a tad disappointing.   I guess I might recommend it with the caveat of saying, “I’m not sure I liked this book, but it is worth your time to read it. …And let’s discuss it when you’re done.”

Books Bought September 2015

Good Manners for People Who Sometimes Say F*ckAmy Alkon
The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontes, and the Importance of HandbagsDaphne Merkin

I bought these two books as reading material for an upcoming trip, but didn’t open them until October, so no comments until my next Reading update.

What I’ve Been…

I have been remiss in posting and want to give a quick update of what I’ve been doing…

The Poncho
I Am Pilgrim
Herringbone stitch
No sugar
Trip to Italy
Tidying Up along with the usual procrastination and daydreaming (all part of the process)

The Poncho for my friend. This pattern is two 50″x24″ rectangles that are sewn together to make a poncho. It’s quite creative, but very slow-going because I have been so distracted lately.
I Am Pilgrim for my book club.
I keep reminding myself that I joined the book club to read books that I normally would not pick out on my own. This is one such book. It’s about spies and terrorists and murders and 9/11. All things that are very bleak. I have been depressed about the state of the world while I’m reading this book.
Herringbone stitch – I am digging this stitch! I think it looks more professional than the peyote stitch and I am having such fun with it.  (Just a visual reference below – another post with my own projects to follow…)

No sugar…again. I fell off the No Sugar Wagon awhile back – a little in my coffee, a sweet now and again, and before I know it, I’m eating a lot of sugar. Now I am avoiding it along with gluten, and it makes the No Thanks choices so much easier. I am sleeping better and am not hungry or have any cravings.  There was cake at work yesterday (I am a frosting fanatic!) and I looked at it…did think about that frosting…but walked on by and did not go back. Yay me!
Trip to Italy – coming up…going with college friends. Can Not Wait!
Golf – oh my goodness. I am addicted! I played twice last weekend. I think that it’s mathematical, exercise without thinking you’re exercising, and social. And you only play against yourself really, so no one else is depending on you to do well, like in a team sport.
Tidying Up along with the usual procrastination and daydreaming (all part of the process). I tidied up my books, er, let me clarify, my non-knitting, non-beading, non-craft-oriented books. I had some from college and decided I could let go of them. Now I’m trying to decide if my art books should be donated to Goodwill or given away. I want to make sure they go to nice homes.

The trip is almost upon us and I’m sad that I’m already making plans for when I get back…except that they include golf, knitting, beading and getting together with friends.  Oh, yes, and book club.  It will be interesting to hear everyone’s opinions.

Also, use that reply box down there to offer up other book club suggestions. I’d love to see what other clubs are reading.


July & August 2015 Reading

July & August 2015 Reading

Here is my report of my July & August 2015 Reading.  Lack of interest and summer activities kept me away from reading time.  However, I did stumble upon the book Florence Gordon by Brian Morton in my local (e-)library about an intelligent cantankerous 75-year old woman and her relationships with her family, friends, and herself.  I greatly enjoyed this book because it was so believable and I was able to relish, understand and empathize with each character’s perspective (and a few days after I finished it, I realized that Florence reminded me of my grandmother).

I usually end my reading posts by selecting my favorite, but this month is different.  It’s two months’ worth of reading and I’ve already shared the book I liked the most!

The others…

July & August 2015 Reading

Gourmet RhapsodyMuriel BarberyJust a few chapters in...
Funny GirlNick HornbyOkay
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingMarie KondoVery good
Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the GlobeNational GeographicNot great - ended up just perusing it.
A Fall of MarigoldsSusan MeissnerOkay
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary ObsessionAllison Hoover BartlettOkay
The Knox Brothers (a Sample)Penelope Fitzgerald Did not like
The Bookshop (a Sample)Penelope FitzgeraldDid not like
Freedom Fries and Cafe Creme (a Sample)Jocelyne RapinacDid not like
The Little Paris BookshopNina GeorgeDid not like
A Paris ApartmentMichelle GableOkay
Florence GordonBrian MortonLoved it
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and EatBee WilsonDisappointed
Then and AlwaysDani AtkinsTERRIBLE!!!!
The Paris ArchitectCharles BalfourOkay
I Am PilgrimTerry HayesStill reading...
Mastering Herringbone Stitch: The Complete GuideMelinda BartaGood
Mastering Peyote StitchMelinda BartaGood
Favorite Bead Stitches, 2013Beadwork Magazine CompilationInspiring!
Stringing, Fall 2015MagazineEnjoying it

I have had Penelope Fitzgerald on my To Read list for awhile, so I downloaded  The Knox Brothers (a Sample) and The Bookshop (a Sample).  I enjoyed neither sample and was very happy I didn’t make a full purchase of either!

I also continued my Paris fascination  by finishing The Paris Architect and purchasing A Paris Apartment (that I had seen someone reading at a community pool) and The Little Paris Bookshop.  They went from Good to Okay to Un-finishable, respectively. The Paris Architect was good until the author didn’t know how to end it.  That just cast a pall on the rest of the story. A Paris Apartment was a light summer read.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  I had been looking forward to The Little Paris Bookshop from a book review.  Yet, I was not drawn to any of the characters and the story became so preposterous that I stopped after the first third.  How disappointing.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat was on my Want to Read list for some time.  I really like reading about how necessity becomes tradition & how common behaviors are influenced by our surroundings.  Unfortunately, a lot of these food/society/tradition histories read like college thesis dissertations – which I’m betting many of them originally were.  I just can’t get into that style of writing, and had to put it down.

I was drawn to The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession because it was about a man who stole valuable old books.  In the introduction, the author speaks about people stealing books from their libraries.  GASP!  I can’t imagine!  Well, actually, I have a very old copy of Mrs. Gaskell’s account of Charlotte Bronte.

July & August 2015 Reading
Tell tale clue at the spine bottom
Tissue paper over the title page!
Tissue paper over the title page!
July & August 2015 Reading
From 1901!

I looked at it the other day, and in the back there was the little envelope where the date due card is inserted.  For the life of me, I cannot remember if I “just never returned it” (they won’t miss it!) or if I bought it or some other scenario.  I guess I could take it back and see if they want it.

July & August 2015 Reading
Egads! 4 cents a day since 1976!

I did not enjoy The Man Who Loved Books Too Much because there was just too much detail and not enough action or interaction so I did not finish it.  I was very disappointed because I really wanted to like it.

Then and Always – the worst book ever!  I borrowed it from the library’s e-collection.  One of the problems with e-books is that you can’t pick them up and leaf through them.  I felt like I was reading someone’s high school English creative writing paper.  (It reminded me of a really bad paper my BFF and I wrote in high school! [You know who you are, and you also know to which paper I am referring!]) The ending was so stupid that I realized it WAS probably self-published.  I sometimes judge myself of being a snob because I try to read only books that are published by a large company, but then I remember that at least those books have been edited and reviewed before being released.  Not to say that all books published by a large publishing house are good, but at least they’ve already been vetted.

Books Bought July & August 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingMarie Kondo
The Little Paris BookshopNina George
A Paris ApartmentMichelle Gable
I Am PilgrimTerry Hayes
Mastering Herringbone Stitch: The Complete GuideMelinda Barta
Mastering Peyote StitchMelinda Barta
Favorite Bead Stitches, 2013Beadwork Magazine Compilation
Stringing, Fall 2015Magazine
Thai Slow Cooker Cookbook: Classic Thai Favorites Made SimpleRockridge Press
Flight of PassageRinker Buck

I was looking to expand my beading skills so picked up a few more books and magazines.  A report on the beading is coming soon…

The good news is that I read more books than I bought. Some months it’s been the reverse! The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is compelling. I am reading it bit by bit, activity by activity. So far I’ve cleaned out the clothes in my house.  I got rid of 7 garbage bags of clothing, purses and shoes.  Finally, my closet has only the clothes I really wear and/or really love!  Books are next.

I Am Pilgrim is a venture into new territory.  My book club is reading it for our October session.  It’s a thriller and it’s longer than what we usually read.  My take on it so far (and I’m only at page 96 out of 785 at this point) is that I must like it a little because I haven’t picked up anything else to read at the same time.

I ironed my sheets

I Ironed My Sheets

I know. I want to tell you about the books I read in July.  I’ve also been beading and knitting.  But what I want to really share with you is that I ironed my sheets this morning.

I ironed my sheets
Ye olde ironing board

There is something about taking the time to actually iron these days. And sheets, what a luxury!

I did not have the TV or radio on. Just me, the sheets, the deliciously lemon-verbana scented ironing spray, the iron, and the ironing board.  Taking some leisure time to pamper myself.

I ironed my sheets
Extra pampering with the ironing spray

As I ironed, I treasured that at this point in my life I am able to do this for myself.  No kids running around, no pressing schedule.  I can just iron my sheets.

I am in the midst of reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, whose message is to surround yourself with things that give you joy.  She even discusses folding, and how your intentions and care go into the items you fold.  I paid extra special attention to my folding this morning.

I ironed my sheets
Nicely put away

The sheets almost look like a pile of handkerchiefs in the linen closet.

I have ironed my sheets before, every time they’re washed.  It is such a pleasure (and I usually do my best to avoid ironing!) to take the time to do this for myself.

My linen closet smells better. When the sheets are on my bed, I feel luxurious.  Every time I sleep in them, I take pride in my effort and accomplishment.

I ironed my sheets

It is joy.

Stringing Along

I thought that stringing would be super simple and almost didn’t even want to try it, but it is very appealing so decided to give it a go.
It is not as easy as it looks.
I started with an Italian-themed necklace for a good friend.
I arranged the beads, strung them, held it up as if I were trying it on, and it was just not balanced.
I unstrung them, tried two other combinations before being satisfied. Then, dealing with the chain and the clasp and the jump rings was very intimidating!
I’m glad I persevered – I was very happy with the results, and my friend loved the gift!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The beads with the Italian images are made of paper and then shellacked. I found them on Etsy.  The round greenish beads with the dots around the circles are ceramic.  The green squares, triangles and green beads are stone (jasper).  The gold and light green beads are freshwater pearls, and the small pink beads are glass seed beads.  I found all these pieces in different places and loved putting them together.

I also made a thank you gift for a friend with whom I stayed over the Fourth of July weekend.
Again, balance, color, size, etc. all come into play, as well as the technical skills to attach the clasp.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The long oval orange striped beads are vintage paper mache that I found on Etsy.  The pink dotted bauble at the bottom is glass.  The orange and gold beads are vintage glass.  Again, the gold beads are freshwater pearls, and the small yellow and pinkish beige are glass seed beads.  What fun pulling all these together!

I decided to combine the “off loom bead weaving” with the stringing.

I started trying out a tubular peyote stitch (sounds like I know what I’m doing?!). It really started out as a practice, but I decided to continue with it. I had a sketch of what I thought I might do, but creativity took over in the process. I added two pieces of Jasper (the turquoise) and then a vintage bead cage surrounding another piece of Jasper. On to a ceramic piece before completing the circle.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I made it, I thought the two pieces of Jasper would be the focal point at the bottom of the necklace. However as I wore it, it seemed to prefer to have the bead cage at the bottom.  And you know what? I like it better that way too!  Luckily, my hair is short so that the peyote and little fringe is still visible in the back.  I like that twist, a little surprise for people to see.
Stringing Along

While I was at it, I made a necklace for another good friend, who enjoys stone necklaces. I also used the stone shapes that I used in the Italian necklace, as well as some sparkly glass beads in the squares, and some agate chunky beads. Instead of chain, I used some glass seed beads that glitter next to the stones. She loved it. I did too, but gave it to her anyway!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 2015 Reading

June was not a month of prolific reading, or purchasing for that matter.

Books Bought June 2015

So Brave, Young and HandsomeLeif Enger
A Woman's Guide to Successful NegotiatingLee E. Miller and Jessica Miller
Gourmet RhapsodyMuriel Barbery
Miss HargreavesFrank Baker
The Whistling SeasonIvan Doig

Ivan Doig’s books have often been on my library wish list, and with his death this year, have been more on my mind to read lately.  I was perusing my local bookstore and came across The Whistling Season, which I opened to this exchange:

“Miss Trent loped!”

“Did she.” Father’s eyebrows lifted commensurately.  “That must have been a memorable change from her usual gait.”

“Father, Toby means ‘eloped,'” I said.

Well, who could resist this book!  I knew I had to read it.  So I bought it.

But haven’t read it yet.  Hopefully it will be on my Books Read list soon.

Gourmet Rhapsody is “the other” (hoping for more) Muriel Barbery book, which actually takes place before The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I am only a couple of chapters in, but already have a passage marked as well written/amusing.

Books Read June 2015

Gourmet RhapsodyMuriel BarberyJust a few chapters in...
The Funny Thing is...Ellen DeGeneresAmusing
Laughter TherapyNPR Wait, Wait, Don't Tell MeOkay
Home Sweet AnywhereLynne MartinVery good
The NightingaleKristin HannahVery good
Funny GirlNick HornbyOkay
The Paris ArchitectCharles BelfoureGood

When I was reading Funny Girl, I had to check that this was “my” Nick Hornby, whose book Ten Years in the Tub I love. Yes, the same one! But I did not love Funny Girl. I did read it to the end, but that was probably because I knew I like the author.

I really enjoyed Home Sweet Anywhere about an older couple, who instead of retiring in one place, sell their home and decide to live around the world, in different places months at a time. As someone who still has to work for a living, it was reading about a fantasy for me, but was not for the author and her husband. It opened my eyes to what could become a reality, if one chooses. It is well-written and informative about realistic planning, costs, as well as their relationship, which is important because they are completely dependent on each other without other family and friends around.

For some reason, I have been reading a lot of Holocaust-related books lately. Throw in The Paris Architect for yet another one. This one, like The Nightingale, was from the perspective of non-Jews. I gave it a not so great review online because I feel that the ending is very weak. However, I was intrigued to read it through to the very end, so I probably need to correct the review that it held my attention to the end.

As to a favorite book this month…if forced to choose it would be Home Sweet Anywhere. I did enjoy reading it, though skipped through some chapters.

On to July…better books to tell you about then!!!


My mother came up to visit me for a staycation.  We were on the same page about taking it easy, and it was great!  We did go out of the house each day, whether to take a walk, run errands, browse the local shops or go out to eat.  We didn’t leave the house until sometime after noon each day, and spent the time at home reading the newspaper, knitting, beading, crossword puzzles, etc.

I wanted to share the following sales with you for July….a long weekend’s coming up, you may want to stock up on some supplies…
This Interweave sale is through July 10th.
Save 80% on Select Products at Interweave Store

Take 10% Off at Patternworks with Offer Code PWJULY10

Take 10% Off at Keepsake NeedleArts with Offer Code NAJULY10

Up to 67% off stock clearance items

Create and Craft Flate Rate Shipping

My mom also quilts…
Take 10% Off at Keepsake Quilting with Offer Code KQJULY10

Have a great July 4th weekend!

May 2015 Reading

Books Bought May 2015

A Replacement LifeBoris Fishman
The NightingaleKristin Hannah
The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieMuriel Spark
The BBQ & Outdoor Grilling BookScott Cooper
Wreck of the MedusaAlexander McKee
Knitting Yarns: Writers on KnittingAnn Hood
The Red NotebookAntoine Laurain
The Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel Barbery
Stringing, Spring 2014Magazine
Stringing, Spring 2013Magazine

Books Read May 2015

A Replacement LifeBoris FishmanThumbs down; could not finish it.
The NightingaleKristin HannahLoved it.
The Red NotebookAntoine LaurainLoved it.
The Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel BarberyStill reading
Stringing, Spring 2014MagazineGood ideas!
Stringing, Spring 2013MagazineGood ideas!
Calling Invisible WomenJeanne RaySo so.
First FrostSarah Addison AllenStarted, but returned to the library.
Need to check it out again.
Mrs. Queen Takes the TrainWilliam KuhnThumbs down (did not finish)
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia ChildBob SpitzEnjoyed it, did not get a chance to finish.

May seemed like a long month in terms of reading in that I was able to read more than expected. I read a wide variety of materials and took advantage of my Book Bub emails to pick up some really good deals to add to my library and To Read list.

My May reading covered a span of choices with a great many surprises of what I enjoyed, and met my expectation of at least 1 book that I did not like.  Let’s start with that one.  My Temple book club selection has consisted of at least 4 books by Russian male writers in their 30s whose families have migrated to the US.  A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman is one such book (our previous book in this genre was The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis).  A Replacement Life tells the story of an aspiring writer (employed by a magazine) whose grandmother dies and his grandfather asks him to write his grandmother’s story to submit for a Holocaust payoff.  I did not get very far in the book. I didn’t like the style of writing, and I couldn’t relate to the story or the characters.

Surprisingly, I voraciously read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  The story, the characters and the writing had me hooked by page 5.  At this point, I checked to see how many pages were in the book (440) so that it didn’t end too soon.  I had been a bit reluctant to read another Holocaust book, but this one was absolutely captivating.  It is from the perspective of non-Jews, which was eye-opening at how much they also suffered, and a story about the bravery of women was so refreshing.  The characters’ relationships were fascinating, surprising, and moving.

The Stringing magazines were a break from reading about off-loom beading techniques. Originally, I thought that stringing would be too basic, but this style has interesting designs, and they also provide practice of standard skills, like attaching clasps, using different stringing materials, beads, chains, etc.  I made this glass bead bracelet and am quite taken with it! (My mom knit the scarf in the background.  She picked up knitting after about 50 years….apparently knitting is just like riding a bike, because she did a great job!)

Dearie and Mrs. Queen were library audiobooks to be able to “read” while knitting.  Dearie, about Julia Child, was good but I didn’t get a chance to get very far before I had to return it.  Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, a contrived story about a monarch’s attempt to use modern technology, like a computer, and then figuring out the public transportation system, was just dreadful. I only listened to a couple of chapters (if that) before stopping.

I picked up Wreck of the Medusa, the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the BBQ & Outdoor Grilling books through Book Bub, all for $2.00 or less.  Wreck of the Medusa: Mutiny, Murder, and Survival on the High Seas,  previously titled Death Raft (wow!), is the true story of a shipwreck in 1816.  My all-time favorite book, Dean King’s Skeletons of the Zahara,  is a similar recounting of a shipwreck near the Sahara Desert, where the sailors were captured and then sold, and many survived!  I am drawn to these survival stories.  Maybe some past life connection?  And who could resist a Muriel Spark at a good price?

I find that whenever I read a good book, like The Nightingale, the next book has to be extra special.  I did something right this time, because the next two books just pulled me right in!  The first, The Red Notebook, by the French author Antoine Laurain and translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce, is about a woman whose purse is stolen and the man who found it.  It’s a story about fate, luck, possibilities, and relationships. I loved it.  I found myself moved by it even when I wasn’t reading it, and when I didn’t even realize I was thinking about it.  I recommended it to my book club and they’re reading it this month.  I hope they enjoy it as much as I did!

May 2015 Reading

I seem to be on a new twist of reading translated French authors. I am currently reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. This book takes place in an expensive apartment building in Paris. One of the plots is about the super, who strives to meet her tenants’ expectations that she is slovenly and uneducated while enjoying the arts and philosophy in secret. The other plot is about a young girl who is tired of the stupidity of life and its inhabitants and is planning to end her life on her next birthday when she turns 16.

I bought this book as a hard copy and I am so glad I did!  It was one of those purchases of wandering around the bookstore and stumbling upon it.  I’m happy that I have the hard copy (paperback) instead of digital because it’s easier to share with others, and it can be kept on the bookshelf to be seen (by me!) and remembered, and picked up again, unlike on a digital device.  I was reading a bit before going to work this morning, and I thought that this might actually replace my favorite book, Skeletons of the Zahara by Dean King, that has been my go-to favorite for years.  Hedgehog is so well-written, amusing, believable, intelligent, and keeps me wanting to read more each time I have to put it down.  More on this book when I finish it in June.

Yes, my favorite book this month…well, I really thought it was going to be The Nightingale. Then it was The Red Notebook.  But now it is definitely The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

What a great month!

Save 80% on Select Products at Interweave Store

Chronicle Books Craft Books Sale