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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Round-Up

Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber: The movie is a guilty pleasure at Christmastime, so I thought I should finally read the book.  The storylines are fleshed out more, and there were some subplots that were dropped for the movie.  While she has some genuine insights into human behavior, the resolutions of the various storylines were too pat.

And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris: another enjoyable outing with an interesting mystery and, as a bonus, the return of one of my favorite characters.  I am interested to see where she goes in the next few novels, because things seem to be gearing up for a shake-up of the characters and setting.

Death's Old Sweet Song by Jonathan Stagge: An enjoyable, old-school mystery, of the style they really don't write anymore.  It caught my attention because the murders are based on an old, old song I sang as a child (and sing to my children) -- "Green Grow the Rushes-O." The novel had some frank discussions of sexual mores and a touching subplot involving what we now call PTSD, which serve as a reminder that past generations weren't always as naive and ignorant as we like to think.

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel: Bechdel's previous comic left me wanting to know more about her mother, so when I saw this at the library I snatched it up.  Unfortunately, it is more about Bechdel's own issues with her mother, and the therapy she's had over the years, rather than her mother herself.  Still, Bechdel's writing and drawing are as compelling as ever.

In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent: a layperson's guide to invented languages, and their (few) successes and (many) failures.  Okrent's writing is delightfully witty and down-to-earth, and she does an excellent job showing the idealism and tragedy that underlie so many efforts to build a better language.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller: your standard young-woman-flees-personal-and-professional-disaster-in-the-city-and-finds-true-happiness-in-the-country novel.  Miller's heroine is more unconventional than most, which was a nice change of pace, and the book made me both hungry for the delicious meals the characters made and nostalgic for my childhood in a small New England town.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Calico Heart Garland

The idea came from Sarana Ave's Heart Strings.  I made mine longer and with more hearts, using my pile of new and vintage calicos.  It's all hand-stitched, too.  I used tan wool and a running stitch to sew the fronts and backs together, leaving a gap for stuffing:
Once I stuffed them, I sewed up the last bits and strung them onto hemp cord with a large, dull needle.

For the moment I have them with my birdies:
(I'm still working on the best way to display the birdies.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

The Privilege of the Sword was unlike any fantasy* novel I've read.  The novel contained all the elements one would expect from a story like this -- the young protagonist who is not as lady-like as she is supposed to be; the flighty, more feminine best friend; the rakish, dangerous lord who breaks all the rules; the corrupt, vengeful antagonist; the aging mentor; the street-wise orphan; quasi-regency society; romances both true and false; the supreme importance of honor -- but nothing played out as I expected.  Kushner did something entirely fresh and unusual, yet mostly plausible, with these tropes.  The result was a compelling novel I took in as if I were completely new to reading fiction; no small feat given how much I've learned about story-telling conventions over the years.

I don't think I will read the other two novels in this series, however.  For all that I appreciated, and even enjoyed, what Kushner did, the world she created is not one I want to return to.  Despite all the ribbons and lace and swordplay and adventure, it is a fundamentally amoral, materialist world, filled with people who are clever and witty but not sincere, always seeking pleasure and never experiencing joy.

*I use the term loosely.  It is set in a world similar to but not our own, yet there was no actual magic.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

1 Year of Stitches: Week 5

Tried some new stitches this time in addition to my favorites. The dark fuschia line is the braid stitch, and the purple line next to it is a mystery stitch I found on pinterest (with a dead link, natch); I think it is a combo and variant of the heavy chain and broad chain stitches.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Renaissance Jewels

I got Blueberry Cove Beads' Renaissance Box for my birthday:
Ooh, pretty!
I couldn't resist all those red beads and gold(en) charms, so I made a necklace:

The little treasure chest charm on the top strand opens up; I'll have to find something dear and tiny to put in it.