Sunday, January 8, 2017

December Reads

Even with the busy holidays, I managed to read eight books in the month of December and ditch one other. Here they are:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
J.K. Rowling

This is the screenplay version of the book. I really enjoyed this story, even though it was a quite a dark tale. I have not seen the movie yet, but hope to. The magical aspects of this brought to mind the wonderful times reading the Harry Potter books. I don't know whether Rowling intends to take these characters forward, but the story left you wanting to know more about them.

The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster

This is a classic, or so I've read. I did enjoy this book with its very clever wordplay, but I found that a few pages went a long way. Took me a fair amount of time to finish, but I'm glad I did.

Mr. Dixon Disappears
Ian Sansom

Loved, loved, loved this second book in the Mobile Library series. This was laugh out loud funny! The quirky characters of rural Northern Ireland interact with the common sense librarian who runs the local bookmobile. What fun!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

I've been hoping to read more of the classics, and started with a beautiful antique edition of Alice in Wonderland. I had recently purchased the book Heartless (a new release), and thought I better read the original before reading a story based on the original. I'm sure you all know the story, but it was a pleasure to actually read it.

The Misremembered Man
Christina McKenna

A good, not great, story. I got this as a "kindle deal of the day," so I didn't have a lot invested in it. I probably would continue with this author if her other books were also "deals." The story takes place in Ireland and centers on a very lonely man looking for companionship and an equally lonely woman looking for something more in her life, too. Interspersed with their present day story is the talk of the man's upbringing in an orphanage where the conditions and treatment of the children were horrendous.

To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee

Not sure how I missed out reading this in high school and college, but I did! Obviously this is a classic, and it certainly felt that way as I was reading it. What a wonderful story and a wonderful group of characters. With a few exceptions, I loved them all! As I got near the end, here was a wonderful coincidence.
"Aunt Alexandra was hooking a rug and not watching us, but she was listening. She sat in her chair with her workbasket beside it,
her rug spread across her lap. Why ladies hooked woolen rugs on boiling nights never became clear to me."

The Stockholm Octavo
Karen Engelmann

I didn't love this book, but it was good. There were parts that dragged, and I almost gave up on it, but saw it through to the end, and I was glad I did. Interesting bits of history around the time of the French Revolution were mixed into the story which took place in Sweden and centered on the "octavo." The octavo centers on a group of eight cards representing eight people who can help you achieve your vision. Worth a read, and the cover art is so beautiful.

Did You Ever Have a Family
Bill Clegg

Tragedy strikes the night before a wedding. The story, told in many voices and therefore different perspectives, reveals just what a family is and can be. I loved this book. It was an easy read, with likable characters whose stories were heartbreaking and uplifting at the  same time. Definitely recommend.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Happy new year one and all! Hope your holidays were peaceful ones and that you are looking forward to 2017.

I wanted to post my favorite bird photo of mine from this past year. This is a picture of a Peregrine Falcon taken in Parker Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island in Massachusetts. One of my favorite places in the world! I was so pleased to add this bird to my life list in 2016. What an incredible bird!  It has been clocked at 200 m.p.h. while diving from great heights.

The word "peregrine" means wanderer. I hope in this new year, you will all be able to "wander" to new places, explore new arts, and search out the many wonders this world has to offer us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Japanese Book Binding

Last winter I signed up for a Creative Bug membership. They have all sorts of crafts represented and some wonderful art classes. I have taken several of the classes, and although some of them are simplistic, I've gotten something out of each one. Membership is $4.99 a month. What I love about Creative Bug is the variety of options you have. Keep in mind, these are not Craftsy-like classes.

One of the classes I stumbled upon under "Paper Crafts" was a Japanese Paper Marbling class taught by Jody Alexander. It was a wonderful introduction to marbling paper. I got the supplies, and as soon as the holidays are over, I intend to practice and hopefully come up with something useful. Along with the marbling class, Jody also teaches a Japanese book binding class. What a wonderful gift to give -- hand marbled paper bound into a book! So here's what I just got from Dick Blick Art Supplies:

If you look carefully, you can see the stitching on the edge.

Really looking forward to trying these techniques out. If you are interested in investigating Creative Bug, here is the link: