Yearly Archives: 2013

Happy New Year – and a Book Giveaway


Can you believe it is 2014? The time just flies by these days. I love New Year’s day as it always feels like a new start. I love to purge and organize and plan. I got a head start on my purging this year and found a couple of books which were duplicates in my stacks. I thought it would be nice to have a little book giveaway here to celebrate the beginning of the new year.

Below are the two books I’m giving away. I’m sorry but this one is open only to people with US mailing addresses (I’m trying to be better on my budget this year!). You may enter both giveaways by following the links I’ve provided. Giveaway is open from January 1, 2014 through January 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm PST – I’ll draw two winners randomly and announce their names on my blog sometime on the 8th of January – I’ll also drop the winners an email to confirm their mailing addresses.

Okay, so without further ado – here is what I’m offering:


The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos

Simon and Schuster; new trade paperback

Book Description from the Publisher:

Named “a must read” by Entertainment Weekly, this masterful debut takes us to the poignant and powerful heart of a family caught up in Greece’s brutal 1967 military coup d’état. As these characters struggle with their passions, both personal and political, and their stories of love and resistance play out against the backdrop of this turbulent period, their lives begin to unfold in surprising ways. A widowed doctor and her daughters, their poet uncle and his wife, must each make their own peace with when to stay silent in the face of atrocity, and when to act.

Set in Paris and Athens, The Green Shore is an ambitious, lyrical tour de force that captures the human cost of a terrifying historical moment. In flawless, gorgeous prose, award-winning novelist Natalie Bakopoulos draws us into the lives of unforgettable people who vividly illuminate not only this place and this time but, fundamentally, what it means to be human.

Learn more about this book by visiting the publisher page.

To enter to win a copy of THE GREEN SHORE: Click here to take survey


All Russians Love Birch Trees by Olga Grjasnowa

Other Press; new Advance Readers Edition

Book Description from the Publisher:

Set in Frankfurt, All Russians Love Birch Trees follows a young immigrant named Masha. Fluent in five languages and able to get by in several others, Masha lives with her boyfriend, Elias. Her best friends are Muslims struggling to obtain residence permits, and her parents rarely leave the house except to compare gas prices. Masha has nearly completed her studies to become an interpreter, when suddenly Elias is hospitalized after a serious soccer injury and dies, forcing her to question a past that has haunted her for years.

Olga Grjasnowa has a unique gift for seeing the funny side of even the most tragic situations. With cool irony, her debut novel tells the story of a headstrong young woman for whom the issue of origin and nationality is immaterial—her Jewish background has taught her she can survive anywhere. Yet Masha isn’t equipped to deal with grief, and this all-too-normal shortcoming gives a particularly bittersweet quality to her adventures.

Learn more about this book by visiting the publisher page.

To enter to win a copy of ALL RUSSIANS LOVE BIRCH TREES: Click here to take survey

The Creative Life

Creative Journal.010001

What brings you joy? Fulfillment? A sense of well being? A feeling of satisfaction?

For me – it is the simple act of creating.

Creativity comes from deep within ourselves and has roots in our dreams, desires, the way we see ourselves in the world, our connection to others.

Do you write? Or quilt? Or paint? Or make music? Do you love to plant a garden? Or arrange flowers? Or decorate your favorite room?

All of these things are creative pursuits. They feed our souls. Bring us happiness. Make our worlds more beautiful.

Today, I committed to a year of creativity. I bought a sturdy book from the art store, some colorful pens, and a glue stick and started a creative journal. A place to jot down ideas, ruminate about color and design, and capture my creative thoughts. I started with a collage – photos and words ripped from magazines, randomly pulling out images that I liked or were inspired by…and then seeing what they told me about color and shape, mood and design sense.

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I learned I love the warm colors – the reds and oranges and bold colors that are vibrant.

I learned that whimsy and courage and positivity draw me in.

I found I liked curves and flower shapes, that modern retro delighted me.

How about you? Do you understand your creative roots?

quilting happinessI found inspiration for my journal in a book I recently purchased: Quilting Happiness by Christina Lane and Diane Gilleland. There are wonderful quilt projects in this book, but what I love the most about it, are the creative exercise towards self-expression. I’ll be talking more about this book in 2014, you can be sure! Until then – I hope you find time today to do something creative, to feed your soul, to bring more beauty into the world.

The Best Books I Read in 2013

In 2013 my reading took me to a nineteenth century farm in England, South Africa, the slums of Mumbai, a village under the searing Afghanistan sun, and a small village in Chechnya. I was stunned by a tale of a serial killer during the Great Depression, and haunted by a brutal attack on a North Dakota Indian Reservation. I was entranced by memorable characters like Bernadette, Mr. Darwin’s gardener, Ade, and Charlie Crosby. I was reminded of the racism behind the Boxer Rebellion, the mystery of death, and the extraordinary powers of animals. I laughed. I cried. I was transported by beautiful prose, and moved by profound observations. 2013 was another fabulous year of great books.

Here is my long list, short list and winner for the best books I read this year. Short and long listed books are in no particular order.

LONG LIST – 2013

QuietDell lifeafterlife WheredYouGo

Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips (Scribner, October 2013) – Based on the true story of Henry Powers who was a serial killer during the Great Depression, and lured his victims through lonely-hearts advertisements which promised marriage. Jayne Anne Phillips has done a masterful job of recreating the events of 1931 and in the process introduces the reader to beautifully wrought fictional characters. Her novel is a blend of fact and fiction, eliciting strong emotions and in the process giving a voice to the victims of Powers’ crimes. (read my review)

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Reagan Arthur Books, April 2013) – Who among us has not wondered about the small choices we have made which steer us down a path we might otherwise not have found ourselves traveling? Atkinson’s writing is flawless, darkly comic, and filled with a poignant insight into what makes us human. (read my review)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (Back Bay Books; Reprint edition, April 2013) – A wildly entertaining, sometimes poignant, and often hilarious story about parenting in the 21st century, religion, American culture and finding oneself in the process. (read my review)

MountainsEchoed Enon ThisIsParadise

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead Hardcover, May 2013) – And the Mountains Echoed is a novel about family, loss, identity, and connection with others. Hosseini explores the idea that a simple choice will echo across time and have deep ramifications for generations to come. (read my review)

Enon by Paul Harding (Random House, September 2013) – Enon is the protagonist’s journey through the painful year following his daughter’s death. Eloquently written, difficult to read without sadness, and beautifully observed, the novel examines grief, despair, redemption, and how the passage of time can bring about the slow process of healing from loss. (read my review)

This is Paradise: Stories by Kristiana Kahahouwila (Hogarth, July 2013) – This is Paradise: Stories is a haunting, beautifully crafted collection from a penetrating and talented new voice in fiction. Kahakauwila writes with a finely honed and observant point of view. Her characters jump from the pages, real and fully formed. Readers who are new to short fiction will find this collection accessible and poetic. (read my review)


AdeAde by Rebecca Walker (Little A / New Harvest, October 2013); Hardcover; Literary Fiction (Novella)

Walker explores the big themes of identity, romantic idealism, and the impact of civil war on the lives of individuals. The writing is luminous and beautiful, the characters captivating. Long before the end of the story, the reader sees the conflict and watches as Farida slides toward a reality she has not yet imagined. It is tense and riveting – the kind of literature which holds the reader in its thrall while it comes to its inevitable conclusion.

Read my full review.

RoundHouseRound House by Louise Erdrich (Harper Collins, October 2012); Hardcover; Literary Fiction

Despite the serious themes in The Round House, Louise Erdrich manages to inject humor which often made me laugh out loud. I have come to appreciate Erdrich’s ironic sense of humor, and this ability to lighten her often dark stories is just one reason I look forward to reading her work. The Round House is filled with memorable characters, ingeniously plotted, and delivers its message without being preachy.

Read my full review.

Dr. Darwin’s Gardener by Darwin's GardenerKristina Carlson (Peirene Press, June 2013); Soft Cover; Translated Literature (Novella)

In the end, Kristina Carlson delivers a story rich and profound with writing that feels like one long poem about what it means to be a human and struggling to understand the greater question of life.

Read my full review.

RiverOfDustRiver of Dust by Virginia Pye (Unbridled Books, May 2013); Trade Paperback; Historical Fiction

River of Dust is a wholly original novel with luscious prose and compelling characters. Pye puts a spin on the essence of faith and in the waning pages reveals a dark secret which the Reverend has kept from his wife. The effect is a vividly imagined book that gives readers a glimpse into what life was like for Christian missionaries living in China in the early years of the 20th century. But more importantly, perhaps, it examines the importance of understanding cultures different from our own, and asks the essential question: What are the universal connections we have as humans, regardless of our culture or religion?

Read my full review.

ColourOfMilkThe Colour of Milk by Nell Letshon (Harper/ECCO, December 2012); Hardcover; Literary and Historical Fiction

Leyshon’s writing is powerful, incredibly moving, and filled with a grace that many authors are not able to find in their prose. This is a penetrating and compelling look into the life of one young girl during a time in history when women were considered property and had no real rights. It is shocking, empathetic and provocative.

Read my full review.

WhiteDogFellWhite Dog Fell From the Sky by Eleanor Morse (Viking Adult, January 2013); Hardcover; Historical Fiction

White Dog Fell From the Sky is a novel of tremendous scope and depth, giving the reader an unflinching look into a region of astounding beauty and cruelty, a look at political and military brutality against the backdrop of a vivid culture which depends on the environment, ecology and the unrelenting flow of wildlife for survival.

Read my full review.

BEST FICTION of the Year


A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Published by Hogarth (May 2013)

I love fiction set in other countries and Marra’s first novel, set in Chechnya between 1994 and 2004, is an amazing and emotional book about the impact of war on every day people. Marra humanizes the conflict in Chechnya by creating memorable characters. The book takes place over five days, but allows insight into the characters by taking the reader back into their pasts.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena weaves the lives of these primary characters back and forth in time. In doing so, Marra explores themes of interconnectedness, hope, betrayal, and love. Even while showing us the horror of a neighbor informing on a friend, Marra defines the very essence of what it means to be human.

I read this book in the early part of May, and I still think about it from time to time which is a sure sign of literary greatness. Anthony Marra’s book is well deserving as the best book I read this year. Read my complete review for more information.



Handling the Truth by Beth Kephart

Published by Gotham (August 2013)

Last year Beth Kephart’s novel, Small Damages, was my favorite book of 2012. This year, her non fiction book about the writing of memoir easily made my list for the best non fiction book of 2013.

Don’t be fooled by the slimness of this book – it is thick with knowledge and shared wisdom, plump with book recommendations, and fat with the kind of observations which I have come to expect from Beth Kephart’s writing.

Beth Kephart is a writer with great talent. She never, ever disappoints me. And Handling the Truth is a work of lasting importance. Read my full review for more information.

2014 Creative Goals

I started quilting in 2009 – it will be five years in the Spring – and I have come a long way since my first quilt. I don’t make the same mistakes anymore, I make new ones! It used to be challenging just to sew a scant quarter inch seam or cut a square accurately. Lining up the seams and stitching rows used to make me sweat. Now all those things seem very basic and easy to me.

In 2013 I tried a lot of new things in sewing. I learned how to make a hidden zipper and sew a pillow. I tackled curved seams. I tried more difficult designs and did not shy away from challenging fabrics like linen. I joined a few sew alongs, signed up for my first Craftsy class and made lots of new friends in the quilting world. I should dub 2013 as the year of the pillow as it seems I made more pillows this year than anything else! Here is a collage of my creative work in 2013:


1. PlPlayfulPiecingPincushions.Stack.030001ayfulPiecingPincushions.Stack2, 2. The Metro Pillow, 3. Chevron Pillows.Front, 4. ReadBetweenTheLines, 5. CompassPillow.QuiltDetail, 6. ModernDiamondPillow.Front, 7. FramedPillow.Front, 8. PlaygroundPillow.Back, 9. DapperTR.Front10001_1, 10. ModernDiamonds. on rail, 11. ModernChevronPillow.front detail, 12. Simply Retro Vintage Pillow.front, 13. SophieChurnDash.draped on table, 14. RetroTableTopper.DetailCrabBlock, 15. VintageFlowerGirl.onbed, 16. KK.front, 17. SpringVineTR.ontable, 18. Starlight.FoldedOverChair, 19. HeartPillow.SideView, 20. BrrrPillow.01, 21. quiltsForBoston – Healing, 22. Simply Retro Vintage Pillow.HiddenZipper., 23. SweetLifein PBJ.Sunshot, 24. FramedPillow.Back.

So today I got to thinking about what I wanted to do in 2014. What new skills did I want to learn? What quilt patterns were calling out to me? Was there something new I just had to try in the new year?

I’ve come up with a list. Nothing is set in stone. These are just some things I want to do and I hope they happen in 2014:

  • Learn to make a Dresden block and make a quilt using that block
  • Experiment with improvisational piecing
  • Use different textures in one quilt: linens, linen blends, voile, satin, silk, etc…
  • Continue to experiment with design and consider writing some tutorials
  • Learn to applique – both hand and machine
  • Start a creative journal where I can document ideas and play with design and come to a better understanding of my creative style

There is probably more!

I hope you’ll come back often in 2014 to see how I’m doing!

Some Christmas Sewing…That I can Now Share!

*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger view

With just under a month before Christmas, I decided to sew some Christmas gifts. It was a little insane to start so late (and I am vowing to sew gifts ALL year in 2014 rather than wait until the last minute – we’ll see how that goes!). I couldn’t show you what I was doing for obvious reasons…but now that Christmas is over and the gifts are unwrapped, I thought I’d show you what I did.


These darling little pin cushions use the pattern by Camille Roskelley – I learned how to make them by taking advantage of a sale and enrolling in her Playful Piecing class over at Craftsy (she also teaches you how to make several of her quilts in that class). I made these particular pinnies for some sewing pals of mine. You can see more detailed photos of them by visiting my Threadbias projects page.

You all might remember my obsession with pillows in 2013. Well, I decided to just keep on being obsessed right through the end of the year.

My niece, Sam, recently got her first apartment – so I decided to make her some modern pillows for her living room. I used Simply Style by V & Co along with some other coordinating fabrics to make this pillow:


The pattern is The Metro from the Pillow Pop book (this project is also associated with the Pillow Pop Sew Along group which you can join over on Threadbias). I used Black Yarn Dyed Essex linen and Bella Bleached White for the solids. The pillow features a hidden zipper and pieced back and measures 20″ square.

 SamPillow2.Back0001 SamPillow2.HiddenZipper0001

The quilting is simple echo quilting around the front design with a little extra quilting inside the large square blocks.

SamPillow2.Quilting0001 SamPillow2.Quilting20001

You can’t just have one pillow on a couch, right? So I made a coordinating pillow for Sam using the same fabrics. The pattern is “Playground” from Camille Roskelley’s Simply Retro book. As with the previous pillow, I used Black Yarn Dyed Essex Linen and Bella Bleached white for the solids.


There is a pieced back and a hidden zipper. The pillow measures 20″ square.

SamPillow1.back0001 SamPillow1.HiddenZipper0001

Once again, I used echo quilting around the front design.


Sam has a sister, Abby, who is in her second year of college. My sister had made her a wonderful, happy quilt for her college bed, and I thought a pair of coordinating pillows would be just the thing:


I was inspired to make these pillows when I saw these fantastic Chevron pillows on the Let’s Eat Grandpa blog. I like the use of two colorways, but decided to put a binding on mine. The pillows use primarily greens and pinks – with a splash of yellow so it wouldn’t feel like too much like Christmas! They measure 18″ X 18″. The backs are pieced and I did a hidden zipper to make them reversible.

Again, I chose echo quilting. And I couldn’t resist using some of Bonnie and Camille’s Scrumptious fabric for the binding – a red and salmon diagonal stripe that coordinated perfectly.

ChevronPillows.QuiltDetail0001 ChevronPillows.Binding0001

The pin cushions and pillows (both Sam and Abby’s) were a big hit – and super fun to make – which made me very happy!

Did you make anything crafty for gifts this year??!

Merry Christmas!

It is sunny and cold here in Northern California! I hope you are enjoying beautiful weather on this wonderful Christmas day. Merry Christmas to all of you!Decorations010001






Mailbox Monday – December 23, 2013

mailboxsqurrielWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Because I am making changes on my blog for 2014, this will be my last Mailbox Monday post. I may still post about new books from time to time, but I will no longer be doing a formal mailbox post.

Here are the books that have arrived at my house over the last several weeks:

gretelanddarkcoverGretel and The Dark by Eliza Granville (Penguin UK, February 2014). This book is described as “a dark, distinctive and addictively compelling novel set in fin-de-siecle Vienna and Nazi Germany – with a dizzying final twist.” The publisher recommends it to those readers who loved The Book Thief (that would be me), Pan’s Labyrinth, The boy in the Striped Pyjamas (me again), and The Bloody Chamber.

This is one of those books that I think I might really like – and I’m planning on reading it soon. Check out the fun packaging it came in from the publisher:


Eliza Granville was born in Worcestershire and currently lives in Bath. She has had a lifelong fascination with the enduring quality of fairy tales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and The Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich.

GoldenStateGolden State by Michelle Richmond (Bantam Books, February 2014). I received this book from the publisher through Library Thing’s Early Review Program. I loved Richmond’s The Year of Fog (read my review) and so I was interested in reading her newest novel. Description from the publisher:

Doctor Julie Walker has just signed her divorce papers when she receives news that her younger sister, Heather, has gone into labor. Though theirs is a strained relationship, Julie sets out for the hospital to be at her sister’s side—no easy task since the streets of San Francisco are filled with tension and strife. Today is also the day that Julie will find herself at the epicenter of a violent standoff in which she is forced to examine both the promising and the painful parts of her past—her Southern childhood; her romance with her husband, Tom; her estrangement from Heather; and the shattering incident that led to her greatest heartbreak.

Michelle Richmond is the author of The Year of Fog, Dream of the Blue Room, and the award-winning story collection The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Michelle lives with her husband and son in San Francisco, where she is at work on her next novel. Learn more about Richmond and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any great books arrive at YOUR house this week?



Where the heck did 2013 go? Here we are on the cusp of 2014…another new year. And with a new year, comes a time for reflection.

I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately. It has grown stale for me. I lack the energy for it I once had. Recently I made the decision to close down The Orange Prize Project and The Notable Books blog. I am also stepping away from the Chunkster Challenge (although the challenge will continue under the leadership of Vasilly). My reading fell drastically in 2013. There was a time that I was reading over 100 books a year. But that has not happened now for two years.

This blog has been a book review blog since 2007. That is a long time to be focused on one area. I don’t intend to stop reviewing books or talking about everything literary. But I will be expanding my scope in 2014 and there will be some big changes in how I do business here.

Perhaps the biggest change is that I will no longer be accepting books for review from publishers, publicists and authors with VERY RARE EXCEPTIONS. I may do a book tour and giveaway from time to time, but I will not be tracking review books every month and scheduling my reads for the most part. I have probably close to 500 to 700 physical books. Maybe more. I haven’t counted them. But what I know is that if books stopped arriving at my house this moment, I would have enough reading material to last a long time.

And all those books? Well, at one time I was excited about each and every one of them. I was dying to read them. But they’ve been gathering dust and cluttering up my space for years…and it is time I started reading them. So my focus will not be on the newest books, but on the books that I already own. Books that arrive unsolicited may be gifted to others, donated to my local library or join my stacks…but I won’t be logging them in my files and scheduling them to read.

I will be keeping my book journals page – I love the literary prizes and will continue to track those and read from those lists as I want. I also enjoy keeping a book journal each year and want to continue to log links to my reviews.

I’m have also deleted my reading challenges page because I am not planning to join challenges. My personal challenge to read books from around the world has been moved to my Projects Page.

Those of you who have stuck with my blog over the last two years have probably noticed I am rather addicted to sewing and quilting. And those posts of my projects will continue. I am planning to update my creative ventures page soon as a way of journaling my creative work.

I also will be posting about a variety of other subjects as inspiration dictates: travel, animals, photography, food, movies, music, etc… All those things that I enjoy as part of my larger life. Because, I am not all about books. I have a lot of interests and I’ll be sharing those as I wish. I won’t promise weekly posts or set memes. Things are going to get looser here. Less stressful. More fun.

I hope you’ll stick with me through this transition. I hope that moving my focus a bit away from books will not disappoint you. But in the long run, this blog began as a personal blog, one where I was free to express myself without rules and schedules. And I think it is time to get back to that…at least for now.


Holy Orders – Book Review

holyordersPerhaps he did not want to be happy. He had little talent for it, that was certain. Besides, happiness was another of those words, like love, the meaning of which he could never quite grasp. He wanted to tell her about his vision of the canal bank in the dark, how all evening since she had arrived he had kept seeing it, and how it filled him with mysterious longing. He wanted to make her understand, too, what a danger he was, what a menace, to those who came near him, who tried to come near him. But then surely she knew that.  -from Holy Orders –

The sixth book in the Quirke series by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) opens with a body floating in a canal in Dublin – what first appears to be a child, but is later identified as someone Quirke knows – a friend of his daughter, Pheobe. The death is ruled a homicide, the victim bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. What begins with a murder investigation, devolves into uncovering corruption in the Catholic Church and forces Quirke to deal with his dark demons from childhood.

Holy Orders is perhaps Black’s most darkly psychological novel to date in this acclaimed series. Finally, readers begin to understand the factors which have made Quirke such a cold, distant and troubled character. Even Pheobe, his damaged daughter, has secrets of her own which surface in this novel about sexual identity, facing one’s mortality, and the power of the Church in 1950’s Dublin.

Quirke is vulnerable in this book – he begin experiencing hallucinations and questions not only his physical health, but his emotional well-being too. But just as the reader begins to hope for resolution, a twist in the story (right at the end) catapults the reader into uncertainty.

This is perhaps my favorite book in the Quirke series to date. Black/Banfield is at his literary best with deeply introspective prose and spot on character development. Holy Orders is haunting and resonates with a sense of doom and catastrophe. Quirke, who has always been the stalwart protagonist, reveals a more vulnerable side to his personality and his very survival feels threatened.

“I might be going away myself,” Quirke said, glancing at the sky.

“Away? Where to?”

He smiled. “Like you, I’m not sure.” -from Holy Orders-

Readers who like their stories tied up with a neat bow at the end, might find themselves a little frustrated with how Black/Banfield wraps this one up. On the other hand, those who love a great series will find themselves anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Highly recommended.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher through the Library Thing Early Review Program.


Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays – Book Review

PrettyInPatchworkBack at the beginning of the year I decided to join the Pretty in Patchwork Holiday Sew A Long over on Threadbias. I wanted to have some fun sewing with others while learning new techniques. The Sew A Long required the purchase of the book and then certain projects were pre-selected by the hosts for everyone to do. I managed to sew every pre-selected project but one (the Advent Calendar in October). Please note that there are actually 32 projects in the book to choose from.

At the bottom of this post are the photos of each project I made with a link to the post about them. Click on the photos to enjoy a larger view of each project.

I thoroughly enjoyed sewing from this book – in large part because I did it as part of a group and everyone shared their projects and discussed any problems they were having and how to resolve them. The projects are varied. Some are more time consuming and more difficult than others (for example, the Modern Diamonds Lap Quilt is not for beginner sewists, while other projects like the gift card givers are extremely simple). One of the things I liked the most about the book was how many new skills I was able to practice.

What I learned sewing from this book:

  • Reverse Applique quilting
  • Hidden zippers
  • Envelope closures for pillows
  • Curved piecing
  • Construction of drawstring bags

Many of the projects can be adapted to other holidays or toned down for something that can be used year round. The author also included some information about personalizing projects which was really fun (check out the Fun Fun Bunting and the Read Between the Lines Pillow below).

The book is not without its weaknesses, however. Unfortunately there were several errors in the book which complicated construction. Because I was sewing as part of a group, these problems did not prevent me from constructing the projects…but it did cause a few headaches. On the Fun Fun Bunting, several of the letters had to be redesigned to make them work out in the overall design. The Harvest Vine Table Runner (I renamed it as the Spring Vine), had templates which were not the correct size (Lark Crafts have since updated the error and provided new templates here). New sewists may become frustrated at trying to figure out how to correct a pattern. Errors in books like this always annoy me as I feel each project should be completely vetted before publication.

Another weakness in the book is a lack of pictures which show how to do certain construction techniques. There is some assumption that the person using the book will have basic sewing knowledge and will not need extensive explanations. Because many of these projects included new skills for me, I would have found myself floundering if it had not been for the helpful advice of more experienced sewists on the Threadbias group.

Those wishing to sew from this book should be aware that the templates at the back of the book are not all full sized. Many require copying at 200% or 400%. This book could be improved by offering full sized templates which do not require sizing.

Despite these issues, this is a sweet sewing book with lots of great projects. It is organized well and provides the opportunity to practice basic sewing skills. My favorite finished projects from the book were ALL the pillows, along with the Modern Diamonds Lap quilt, Drawstring Bags (which make great packaging for gifts), and the Spring Vine Table Runner (stay tuned for a quilt sized version of that one of these days!).

Pretty in Patchwork Holidays by John q. Adams is recommended for advanced beginners to intermediate sewists.


Projects by Month

The Brrrrr! Pillow (January):


Reverse Applique Heart Pillow (February):


Spring Vine Table Runner (March):


Modern Diamonds Lap Quilt (April):


Drawstring Gift Bags (May):


Fun Fun Holiday Bunting (June) – post is on Threadbias:


Modern Maples Throw (July) – post is on Threadbias and only the top is complete at this time:


Holiday Shopping List Folio (August) – post is on Threadbias:


Read Between the Lines Pillow (September):


Reindeer Grove Pillow (November):


Gift Card Givers (December) – post is on Threadbias: