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What Will 2016 Look Like?

I have gone through immense loss and tremendous personal growth in 2015. It has been a difficult journey and, truthfully, one I am still traveling. The thing about grief is that it provides a rich environment for reflection. Yes, it is painful. But with a little help, I decided to dig deep, feel those emotions, and thus work on healing in a way which would leave me stronger and more complete than before my loss. I will always grieve for my sister – that goes without saying – but, I want to honor her life by living my life to the fullest.

LavenderFarm.WP012009-07-02For those of you who visit this blog, you will have noticed some changes. I barely posted in 2015 and I stopped reviewing all the books I was reading. I needed my space. I needed to think about what I wanted to share and how I wanted to share it. I knew that I did not want to feel like my reading was linked to the obligation to review. So the first big change in 2016 is that I will no longer accept any books for review. And I will not be reviewing every book I read. If the spirit moves me, I will post my thoughts on reading…but I have decided to release myself from the obligation to do so.

The creative life is something I have always loved. I started knitting when I was in Junior High School – my first project was a Lopi sweater. I spent hours doing counted cross stitch for many, many years. I dabbled in jewelry making. I tried scrapbooking. I hooked rugs. But in 2009, Paula and her daughter, Abby, came for a visit and I made my first quilt with Paula’s help. I loved it! I loved working with texture and color and watching fabric turn into a warm and comforting quilt. Thus began my quilting journey.

When Paula died, I inherited most of her fabric stash, and all of her unfinished quilts. I intend to finish all those quilts someday (it may take me awhile!) and I am using and loving much of Paula’s fabric. At first I was afraid that quilting would bring me sadness – it was one of the things Paula and I shared and loved. So much of what I learned about quilting began with her. We would talk several times a week on the phone, and 75% of those talks revolved around quilting and fabric and our next or ongoing projects. The photos below document our jump into collaborative quilting.

CollaborativeQuilt.Process30001CollaborativeQuilt.W&P.W'sQuiltTop0001Surprisingly, instead of feeling sad when I went to the sewing machine, I felt buoyed by Paula’s spirit. I felt closer to her. Creating became a “Zen” place for me, a place where I could work through emotions and heal from my pain. I experimented with Improv Quilting and my first improvisational piece reflected so much of my journey (you can read about that here).

Improv.HeartBeat.Label0001So the next big change you will see here on my blog is there will be more posts about the creative life and quilting. I want to share my experiments – the successes and failures, the ups and downs, but mostly the joy of “making.” I do not intend to have a “schedule” for blogging. I will write when I feel there is something I want to share. I hope you will stick with me even if there are days or weeks when I do not post!

When I first started my blog, it was a personal space to share stories and thoughts. It morphed into a book blog eventually, and although I still shared some personal stories, it was mostly a place to talk about literature. It seems right that things have come full circle and it will now be a personal space again, a place of reflections and creation and a glimpse into my life.

Thanks for taking the journey with me!

creativeliving quote

Reading Since August…

Hello Peeps!

Yes, I have been reading, just not reviewing!

The best books of my fall/winter reading:

OurSoulsOur Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015, 179 pages)

What do you do when your spouse dies and the years are ticking by and you are aging and lonely? For Addie Moore, the answer is to take a risk on love. Set in Colorado, Haruf’s novel is a beautiful meditation on love, loss, and aging.

5stars

SonThe Son by Phillipp Meyer (ECCO, 2013, 561 pages)

I never read Rust by this same author (although I have it on my bookshelf) and now I am feeling very motivated to pick it up. The Son is classic western historical fiction that follows three main characters in one family and spans decades. Vivid, and arguably “the Great American Novel,” Meyer’s novel is transporting and gives the reader a deeper understanding of America’s violent past and the demise of its Native American peoples.  5stars

GodInRuinsA God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson (Little Brown & Company, 2015, 468 pages)

The companion novel to Atkinson’s Life After Life focuses on Ursula’s younger brother Teddy as he moves through the dramatic days of World War II. It is not necessary to read Life After Life to appreciate Atkinson’s original prose (although reading the first book will certainly add depth to this one). Intelligent and ingenious, this is a book that will stay with me. 4hStars

MarriageofOppositesThe Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (Simon and Schuster, 2015, 365 pages)

Camille Pissarro was one of the greatest artists of Impressionism in the late 1800s.  Born in St. Thomas to Jewish parents, he eventually moved to Paris where he made his name. Alice Hoffman’s historical novel recreates the life of Camille’s mother, Rachel. Married off to an older man when she was just a teenager, Rachel becomes mother to this widow’s children, and later has several more children of her own. When her husband dies unexpectedly, his handsome nephew Frederic arrives…and Rachel finds true love, although their marriage is frowned upon, catapulting her and her family into scandal. Camille was Rachel’s favorite son by Frederic – a boy who grew into an artist with amazing vision. Luminous and historically intriguing, The Marriage of Opposites is a book to savor. 4hStars

Some good reads:

AmongtheTenThousandAmong the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont (Random House, 2015, 322 pages)

Julia Pierpont’s debut novel opens with a package sent to Deb Shanley from the woman who is having an affair with Deb’s husband, Jack. But instead of Deb, the box is opened by her child, 11-year-old Kate. Filled with hundreds of printed emails chronicling the affair, the box sets in motion the destruction of a family. Tense, occasionally funny, and starring the fictional world’s biggest narcissist (Jack), Peirpont’s novel is mostly successful if not a bit uneven. 3hstars

TheRisingThe Rising: Murder, Heartbreak and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town by Ryan d’Agostino (Crown, 2015, 288 pages)

Dr. William Petit suffered an unspeakable crime on July 23, 2007 – armed strangers broke into his home and bludgeoned him, then raped, tortured and murdered his wife and two daughters before setting their house on fire. Journalist d’Agostino takes readers into Bill Petit’s life to bring us face to face with loss, grief, faith and recovery. The power of the human spirit to survive horror and then elevate beyond it is a compelling story. 3hstars

Disappointing books:

InsectFarmThe Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble (Mulholland Books, 2015, 308 pages)

This novel had an interesting premise – two brothers with their own obsessions – one of whom is “slow” and meticulously organizes a universe of insects in the garden shed. Touted as a tight psychological suspense novel, I was ready to be scared. But the secrets in this novel are easy to figure out, and then ending fell flat for me. 3stars

GosetawatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (Harper Collins, 2015, 278 pages)

There was so much hype about this early novel of Harper Lee’s, that I suspected I might be disappointed with it. Regardless, I picked up a copy to read. Go Set A Watchman takes readers forward into the future of “Scout” as a young woman who is returning to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father. Much of the novel feels unedited and lacks the depth of the characters which entranced me in To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee explores racism in the South during the 1940s, but it lacks the punch that her Pulitzer Prize winner had. This one won’t be a classic. 3stars

HeartGoesLastThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese, 2015, 308 pages)

Anyone who reads my blog must know how much I love Atwood’s work. I had so much hope for this novel…but I walked away from it feeling disappointed. Set in the future, The Heart Goes Last examines a married couple trying to stay afloat in an economic and social collapse. I believe that Atwood wanted to write a satire – and she does…but the plot is weak and the characters silly and unbelievable. Instead of being horrified by a future controlled by psychopaths, I found myself merely grimacing. Don’t bother with this one. 2stars

*********************

What She knewMy last read for this year is in progress – What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (William Morrow, 2015, 470 pages) is a fast paced psychological thriller that features a mum out walking with her eight year old son…and then he disappears. It is a “who dunnit” and has my attention!

 

Winner: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

I am very happy to announce a winner for a copy of the fabulous novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Thanks to all who entered. I used Random.org to select a winner. Congratulations to:

Carrie at Books and Movies

I’ll be forwarding the mailing address you provided to the publisher who will be sending out the book. Happy Reading!

Sunday Salon – October 9, 2011

October 9, 2011

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of The Sunday Salon, a place where readers meet to talk about books. Check out the Facebook page to get more links to other Sunday Salon posts and to join us.

This week I finished reading Marisa de los Santos’s latest novel: Falling Together. Many bloggers have been disappointed with the novel, but I loved it (read my review and enter to win a copy of the book). Once again, Santos creates wonderful, warm characters and writes with a poetic charm. I found myself completely immersed in the world of Pen, Cat and Will. I was sorry to see the book end.

Next I picked up Me Again by Keith Cronin for a TLC Book Tour. I have read about 75 pages, but have now put the book aside. This may be a DNF for me – and if it is, I won’t be reviewing it. There are many reasons why I am not relating to Cronin’s novel, but if you are interested in the book, check out other reviews on the TLC tour because this is a book which is getting great reviews. After reading through other blogger’s thoughts, I am wondering if my professional position as a physical therapist is interfering with my ability to just “go with the flow” of the book.

For my next read, I decided to pick up State of Wonder by Ann Patchett which is being discussed over on the Bookies Too Yahoo group this month. I’m only 35 pages in, but I am liking the book so far. Look for a review by mid-week.

I won’t be reading much today. My sister, Paula, is here for a ten day visit and we are having so much fun working on our collaborative quilt project (watch for some photos and updates as we begin to put our quilts together). We’ll be heading up to Ashland, Oregon for a two day trip early this week which should be wonderful. So if you don’t see as many posts from this week, you’ll know why!

I should also mention that I appreciated all your kind words and get well wishes after my bee sting adventure last week. I seem to be mostly back to normal now with just a little bit of redness still around the bite…I’m still looking out for that bee, however!

What are YOU doing today? Whatever it is, I hope it involves a great book!

Five Years of Blogging…

Today, the 14th of February 2010, marks exactly five years I have been blogging! I did not start out as a book blogger – instead my early posts were all about my life and the people and animals who shared it…and my very first post was a photo of me, Kip, Argus and Caribou. Here is a look back at my blog over the years:

I have enjoyed the journey:

  • Along the way, you have celebrated with me when my family expanded to include two cats (Gizmo and Maia)…and of course, Raven. And you grieved with me when I  had to say good-bye to Caribou and Argus.
  • I’ve met hundreds of like-minded people from all walks of life and from all over the world. I’ve discovered the world is not as big as one might think – and I have grieved at the loss of other bloggers…first Nattie, then Dewey.
  • I have lost track of how many books I’ve given away…and how many I’ve won over the years. My stacks have grown larger; the books I read have become more numerous. I have met some wonderful publishers, publicists and authors … and discovered so many new books and authors by reading other blogs (now over 300 on my Google Reader).

The world of book blogging has changed in five years…Twitter did not exist in 2005 and ARCs were not coming to bloggers in the volume we see them today. This spring, the first Book Blogger Convention will occur in the same venue (and affiliated with) the largest book publishing event in North America – the BEA. And many book bloggers will finally meet face to face.

I am grateful that I found my way to book blogging five years ago. I am grateful to have connected with so many readers. My life is richer, more interesting, and much busier thanks to my blog.

THANK YOU to all of you who have taken this journey with me. And to make that thank you just a bit more tangible, I’m giving away a couple of books (because, really, what would an anniversary be without presents?!?!?).

Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor – soft cover, brand new (read my review)

The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin – Advance Readers Edition, never been read

This giveaway is open to EVERYONE (no geographic restrictions). I will choose TWO winners (one for each book).

To Enter:

Simply leave me a comment by February 21st, 2010 by midnight PST. I’ll announce the winners on February 22nd.

Good Luck!!!

NEW winner for The Last Surgeon

Well, I emailed Maddie and gave her more than a week to respond…and she hasn’t. SO, I decided to draw another winner. Once again I used Random.org and the winner this time is:

Teresa W. who wrote: “This would be a new author for me, sounds good!

Teresa, I’ll be sending you an email – please respond within 7 days to that email with your snail mail and then I can send your information to the author so he can send you the book!

Spam Continuing to be a problem…

Faced with over 100 spam comments twice a day (all of which I feel I have to look at because once in a while a REAL comment is captured by my filter), I have been forced to shut off comments on several posts which seem to be the ones targeted. Unfortunately, some of these are recent posts. I will wait a few days, then turn comments back on.

Is anyone else out there getting this many spammers? It seems to be rather recent for me in terms of this volume.

Behind, as usual…

lateMy apologies to all those who have left me comments in the last week. I am WAY behind on responding to comments and just wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate your visits to my blog and your thoughtful and kind comments. I promise to get caught up this week!!