Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017


I dug into my enormous stash of Anna Griffin supplies and made a bunch of cards last night for some of my spring and summertime birthday and holiday needs.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Statistics, odds and ends.

So in a couple of weeks my ten years of reading will be over and I'll start a new year. In ten years' time, I have read 1,358 books (and will hopefully add at least one more to the total before December 31.)

The year in which I read the most books was 2008: 168 books. This was the year after I joined Paperback Swap, and I was reading and trading maniacally. (I was a member for six or seven years, and then I came to a point where the books I wanted to read were not the ones being traded any more. But I found some fantastic books through that site.)

The year in which I read the least books was this year, 2016. Right now my total stands at 69. One reason for this enormous drop-off (I have always easily broken 100 books every other year) was too much time spent following politics online, and another reason was an unrealized need for progressive lenses. I started reading more once I could see better!

I don't set reading goals. I like to let my desires and interests take me where they will. But I really do hope to do better than 69 books next year. I suspect reading will be a good escape in the midst of whatever 2017 holds.

I've listed my good reads, now what about my bad reads? I don't have a lot of one-star books on my list, because if a book is that bad, I usually just don't finish it. I have no qualms about dropping a book--or drop-kicking it! Several one- and two-star books loom large, though:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
Empire, Orson Scott Card
The Ladies of Missalonghi, Colleen McCullough
Little Bee, Chris Cleave
The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte, James Tully
A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh
The Astronaut Wives' Club, Lily Koppel
Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Katherine Howe
The Storied Life of A.J Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

These all went past merely bad into the realm of actively pissing me off, for being poorly plotted, under-researched, and/or just plain obnoxious. Fortunately, these books are fairly rare.

I'm excited to see what great reads await me in the next ten years!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Seven and Eight.

Here's my little snowman tart warmer I picked up at JoAnn's on Black Friday. I've always been a candle girl, and am new to the tart warmer, but I think I'm hooked.

And I took a close-up of our little tabletop tree. I got red tartan plaid bows at JoAnn's in the same Black Friday sale, so I decided to do the tree in red and gold. This required picking up some gold ornaments, gold snowflakes, red berry clusters and what not. The tree has red and white lights. And a big dark red bow on top. I don't love it like I did last year's, but it's quite pretty.

Also-rans, non-fiction.

Four-star non-fiction reads are still pretty awesome. Here are some of the ones I still remember and think about.

Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of Brian Wilson, Peter Ames Carlin
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, Terry Ryan
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic, Steven Johnson
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson
An Autobiography, Agatha Christie
Picasso's War: The Destruction of Guernica and the Masterpiece that Changed the World, Russell Martin
Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, Michael Walker
The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the End of the First Millennium, Robert Lacey
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, and Other Things I've Learned, Alan Alda
Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, Gary Giddons
The Perfect Summer: Dancing Into Shadow in 1911, Juliet Nicolson
Travel As a Political Act, Rick Steves
The Lincolns in the White House: Four Years That Shattered a Family, Jerrold M. Packard
King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War, Catrine Clay
Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital, Nelson D. Lankford
Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, Francine Prose
The Day We Found the Universe, Marcia Bartusiak
About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, Ben Yagoda
Bossypants, Tina Fey
Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter, Randy L. Schmidt
Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage, Gyles Brandreth
Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh
Vita and Harold: The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, 1910-1962, Nigel Nicolson
A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception and Survival at Jonestown, Julia Scheeres
The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, Glenn Frankel
The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Anne-Marie O'Connor
The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah," Alan Light
A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees, Dave Goulson
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, Sheri Fink
One Summer: America, 1927, Bill Bryson
The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, Paula Byrne
Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King, Mike Pitts
Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, Claire Harman
The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule
Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President, Betty Caroli

Five and six.

I'm getting behind in my journal because I'm having some snafus with my photo developing place. (Wal-Mart, of which I shall never darken the door again.) Here's the Christmas card we are sending to family and friends this year. (I had to chop it up to fit it on the page.)

And here's yesterday's entry, just a couple lines on the horrible weather and the coziness of having a tidy, dry, warm home. I put some tiny doilies on it to connote coziness!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Also-rans, fiction.

Looking back over my ten years of reading lists, there are many, many 4-star books. That's probably the largest category. And if I were to go back and re-read some of them, some would probably become 5-star books. And vice-versa.

These are some of the fiction books I rated with 4 stars. I've picked the ones that really stand out in my mind as special and memorable, even years later.

The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Water For Elephants, Sara Gruen
The Art of Detection, Laurie R. King
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
Those Who Save Us, Jenna Blum
The Portable Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
Under the Dome, Stephen King
Ahab's Wife, Sena Jeter Naslund
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
Dissolution, C.J. Sansom
Dark Fire, C.J. Sansom
Sovereign, C.J. Sansom
Revelation, C.J.Sansom
Homeland, Barbara Hambly
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith
The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
11/22/63, Stephen King
The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The House Next Door, Anne Rivers Siddons
Stettin Station, David Downing
The Rose Garden, Susanna Kearsley
Needful Things, Stephen King
How It All Began, Penelope Lively
The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery
Atonement, Iam McEwan
Little Dorrit, Charles DIckens
Harvest Home, Thomas Tryon
Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey
The Ivy Tree, Mary Stewart
The Dog Stars, Peter Heller
The End-of-the-World Running Club, Adrian J. Walker
Lincoln, Gore Vidal
The Anchoress, Robin Cadwallader

Items of note: 
The four books by C.J. Sansom are the first four in his Matthew Shardlake series, about a crippled lawyer in Tudor England. Sansom really captures the fear and dread of living in the time when Henry VIII was embarking on the destruction of the Catholic Church in England.

Brat Farrar and The Ivy Tree appear next to each other in the order I read them...Tey's story came first, and Mary Stewart wrote her own gender-swapped version a few years later. This is a tale of assumed identity and inheritance, lots of fun in both versions.