A patchwork quilt of life…

“Little Sister’s Quilt” by Susan and Emily Holbert (1850-1860)

I can come up with clothing designs. I can draft patterns. I can sew at the couture level. I can embroider.  I can bead.  I can even applique.  What I can’t do, or can’t do yet, is quilt. For someone as experienced in the sewing arts as I am in you would think quilting would be an easy thing to master, and yet something has held me back from trying. For that reason, when I was asked to review Southern Quilts: Celebrating Traditions, History, and Designs by Mary W. Kerr I jumped at the opportunity to explore ‘all things quilting’… Continue reading “A patchwork quilt of life…”

It’s a very very very fine house…

The Winter White House Postcard

For the past few days I’ve been doing a deep dive into Palm Beach and Boca Raton architecture as a by-product of reviewing Addison Mizner: The Architect Whose Genius Defined Palm Beach” by Stephen Perkins and James Caughman.  I was drawn to the subject having spent a number of years living in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and lower Miami Beach, where I was surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial-influenced homes you can only find in South Florida… Continue reading “It’s a very very very fine house…”

You can’t judge a book by the cover…

Decisions, decisions…which book to read first

A belated Happy New Year to one and all.  My 2018 began just like my 2017 ended, with me driving thousands of miles to see loved ones spread far and wide. I’ve been wondering why I haven’t been as creative as I had hoped and then calculated between Thanksgiving and January 6th I drove just a tad over 7,000 miles. I guess that’s a good reason for not getting much done, huh?  Thank god for rental cars with heated seats and satellite radio along with kids I adore who had hours of far-ranging playlists and podcasts which combined to make those miles a pleasure to drive.

On the downside, so much driving meant a lack of time for any substantive reading.  I spent most of December lost in Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, a story I really enjoyed and was sorry to finish.  When I reached over for my next read I realized my bedside stash had dwindled to a crisis level.  That’s why I was so excited by the nine books that Santa (aka my Momma) gave me for Christmas.  I always say the only present I really want is to spend time with my family but I will never say no to the gift of a book.

After I finish the two library books I am currently reading I can begin to get lost in my newest set of 9 (past ‘nines’ can be found here).  Have you read any of these books?  Which would you recommend I read first?  I’d love to know…

*You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover – Bo Diddley 

Simply the best…books of 2017


While the exact number escapes me I have read a LOT of books this year.  I love our library system (believing it is one of the best ways our tax dollars are used) and typically check out 6-12 books each month, as well as buy or ‘inherit’ others, all of which total around 100 (give or take a few).  Going forward, I’ve decided to track my reading to determine an exact number, details of which I will share with you this time next year.

As for 2017, I can truly say that the five books pictured above were my absolute favorite reads of the year.  Each writer delivered a fresh perspective on love, loss, pain, yearning, and family.  I came to care about the main characters, hating some and loving others, always curious to see what was in store for each.  These books kept me reading late into the night in expectation of what would happen next and I was sorry when I finished the last page.  Even more astonishing, these books have stuck with me as I continue to reflect on issues as varied as as rape, slavery, abortion, crime, and religion – none of them light topics but all treated with respect and curiosity through the author’s engaging, dramatic, and unique story-telling.

How about you?  What were your favorite books of 2017?  Are you looking forward to reading anything special in 2018?  I’d love to know…

*Simply the Best – Tina Turner

Kids and Dogs…


A short tale about a long dog

From the day my first child was born we read together every night.  When our second child arrived, he was instantly included in our reading ritual.  Our nightly routine began after bath-time, with me nestled between two sweet cuddly boys reading as many books as they wanted until all three of us were asleep.  We read hundreds of books each year and many of those were on repeat for weeks at a time.  I miss those days, and I miss having the opportunity to check out the latest in children’s literature.  That’s why I was thrilled to read an advance copy of The Very, Very Long Dog by Julia Patton.

Bartelby is a very, very long sausage dog who lives in a bookstore and (just like me) loves to read.  He has a group of loving friends who like to take him for his daily walks around town. Bartleby never knows what his back end is doing until he finds himself in trouble. His friends are always there to fix the problem, until one day they can’t. It is then that Bartleby realizes he is the problem. He becomes very depressed and refuses to leave the store.  His friends love him so much they create a noisy solution to his problem, so Bartleby always knows where he starts, and ends.

I loved this warm story about a group of friends who accept each other no matter what.  The illustrations are simple and sweet, utilizing pastel colors which are as warm as the story.  It’s such a lovely story that would be well-suited for babies through age 6.  The Very, Very Long Dog is available beginning December 5, and I will be purchasing a copy to give as a gift to a special little girl in my life.  I hope she enjoys the ‘tail’ of Bartleby and his loving friends as much as I did!

*Kids & Dogs The Perro Sessions – David Crosby & Jerry Garcia

When the bear would come to town…

It’s a bear’s life

I spent the last two weeks helping my mom recover from some surgery complications.  If you’ve ever spent time sitting bedside, wishing someone you love back to good health, you can empathize with my need to periodically escape with a good book.  Beartown: A Novel, by Fredrik Backman, provided exactly the diversion I needed.

The book has been on my 2 B or Not 2 B Reads list for quite some time, so when I saw it on the library shelf I felt like I had just won the book lottery.  I got home only to find I needed to get to my mom’s side as quickly as possible. I threw some clothes and Beartown into my luggage, hoped a plane, and two nights later finally found time to start the first chapter, which consisted of two succinct sentences.  “Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.” I was instantly transported, and hooked.

This is the second book by Mr. Backman that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed (read my thoughts on the first, A Man Called Ove, here).  He has a talent for creating fully realized, believable, and relatable characters.  In Beartown, Backman has fashioned an entire town of characters whose intermingling backstories and current relationships play out against the pursuit of a national hockey championship and a tragic crime that impacts every character along the way.

This book is sure to make my ‘Best Books of 2017’ list, and I am guessing it will make many other ‘best of’ lists too. Have you read Bear Town? Did you like it? Will it make your best of list?  I’d love to know… .

*Three Great Alabama Icons – Drive-By Truckers 

As the world falls down…


I have not been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction since reading The Road (which still gives me occasional nightmares) so I was surprised to find myself engrossed in ‘Bannerless (Bannerless Saga #1)’, by Carrie Vaughn, from the very first page.

After finishing Bannerless I decided if I survive some world-altering event I hope to end up in a Coast Road-like society, where conservation is king, tolerance rules, and government is low-key and localized. Individuals must earn the right to breed and crimes are primarily crop surplus or ‘bannerless’ pregnancy related.  That is until a murder occurs, and Enid of Haven (our protagonist) is charged with figuring out what happened and by whose hand. Bannerless alternates between a coming of age love story and whodunit tale while exploring the meaning of family, responsibility, and shared history.

Ms. Vaughn is categorized as a YA fiction writer.  Is it wrong that this Grey Goddess still enjoyed her tale?  I hope not, because there are more Bannerless books to come and I want to read them all.

How about you?  Do you like post-apocalyptic fiction?  What are you reading now?  I just began The Driver (by Hart Hanson, which I am also enjoying) and would love to know what books are keeping you up and reading late into the night…

*As the World Falls Down – David Bowie (Labyrinth)

Embrace another fall…


Fall 2017 New Reads

Even though fall doesn’t ‘officially’ begin until September 21st Labor Day always marks the beginning of autumn for me.  I am ready to put summer behind and embrace the fall – for me the season of football, oversized sweaters, hearty meals eaten fireside, and lots of reading.  Here are a few of the books I am looking forward to reading before the arrival of winter…

  1.   Future Home of The Living God – Louise Erdrich (available November 14th)
  2.   Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan (available October 3rd)
  3.   The Address: A Novel – Fiona Davis
  4.   The Golden House – Salman Rushdie
  5.   A Boy in Winter – Rachel Seiffert
  6.   Here We Are Now – Jasmine Warga (available November 7th)
  7.   See What I Have Done – Sara Schmidt
  8.   The Indigo Girl – Natasha Boyd (available October 3rd)
  9.   Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng (available September 12th)

How about you?  have you read any good books this summer? Are you looking forward to reading anything special this fall?  I’d love to know…

*Embrace Another FallRobert Plant

720 in the books…

July 2017 Books
Summer time and the reading is fine

It’s been some time since I made a ‘9 at a time’ book purchase.  I’ve been relying on my local library to satisfy my reading needs, often with limited success.  If you use your library then you can relate – the shelves don’t always offer the books you’d like to read, so you make ‘will do’ choices which aren’t always as engaging as the cover art and book flap accolades led you to believe.

Thanks to a very thoughtful – and completely unexpected- thank you Amazon gift card I just placed an order for nine books that I hope will take me through the dog days of summer and keep me from playing library ‘book roulette’ until the fall.

How about you?  Do you prefer buying or borrowing books?  What are you reading now? What are you looking forward to reading in the next few months.  I’d love to know…

*720 in the Books – Ella Fitzgerald

Twelve eyes of evil…


Do you ever have high hopes before starting a book but after beginning realize you’re already familiar with the plot, even if the cosmetic details like name, location, and time differ?  I often find this is the case, especially since I tend toward books with themes of love and family in their many iterations. I count myself fortunate to have recently read a number of books with plots that are markedly different and excellently written (including Moonglow and The Book of American Martyrs).  Now I can add another unique read to that list – The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti.

‘Twelve Lives’ central theme of family and love is told in alternating chapters voiced by Samuel (a very successful career criminal) and his teenage daughter Loo (a bit of a criminal herself).  Watches, whales, and wounds all feature into the plot, along with Samuel’s brother-from-another-mother Jove and Loo’s boy/friend Marshall Hicks, and each propels the story forward until it culminates in Samuel’s 12th, and Loo’s 1st, life tale.

Have you read this book? I liked the story so much I am going to read Ms. Tinti’s The Good Thief next.  If it is half as good as ‘Twelve Lives’ I will have yet another book to add to my 2017 favorites list!  Keep reading….

*Twelve Eyes of Evil – The Broken Family Band