Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Gap Cowl

While we were in Philadelphia our lovely hosts took us on a tour of Penn. What a beautiful campus! In my dreams I would have gone to a campus covered in Ivy with a statue of Ben that I could eat my lunch with. The imaginary talks we could have! I used to share my lunch with the same one footed bird every Tuesday and Thursday so sharing it with Ben would be a treat!

 As we were getting out of the car I spotted a wonderful cowl in The Gap (sadly their site says that it is unavailable!). I ran in and checked the stitch, the width of the garment and walked out a very happy knitter. "Ha! I can make that and it won't cost near the price!"I do love the fact that my yarn addiction has made me a very thrifty shopper.

 We've been home for about 2 weeks now and someone has already come up with the pattern! I love Revelry Knitters! They are such kind and sharing folks!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Being from Phoenix, AZ I don't get to see one of these often. I freak when I get to see a jack rabbit. Just imagine the excitement when I saw this little guy. We went to NewYork City and Philadelphia in November. There were plenty of squirrels in central park, but Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia was positively crawling with these cute little guys! We got to utilize our hats and they kept us warm and oh so cozy. Thing is I couldn't handle 10 days away from my knitting needles....I came prepared for the onset of the symptoms. And started another hat. another 4x4 rib, in a lovely purple, green, teal, variegated yarn.

I loved our vacation! I really loved meeting all the boardies that came out to see us and the folks we stayed with. But I was ready to come home and see my dawg. I missed her so much! I was so excited in fact that I *lost* the hat! We had not checked in 24 hrs ahead of time for the flight so we were stuck in the 2nd and 3rd last rows of the plane. I was blessed by sitting in front of some kid of about 10 or 11 years old that went stir crazy an hour into the flight and began to play musical chairs. Up-hair pull-down-hair pull-up-hair pull- down hair pull. Then he began to kick the backs of the seats! It was a lovely flight. So by the time we actually got to get off the plane I was BURSTING with a bit of irritation and a TON of excitement to go get the lovely dawg from her kennel. I shoved the bag of yarn and needle into a free space in one of the suitcases, or I thought I did. By the time we put away the suitcases no yarn, half finished hat, or needles had been found =O

24 hours later my husband found them! WHEW! I was way more upset about losing the needles then the hat.

During my mad crazed search for historical sites (there are many in Philly) I came across some lovely urban crochet! 

These were across the street from the design school in center city. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yarn everywhere and none I want to use

It seems that once a month I post. It's nothing personal. I just do not think of it, but since Autumn is upon us (finally) and winter is just round the bend my knitting needles have come out. And I have completed 2 hats since the beginning of September. One for my husband from limulusknits  which is a 4x4 rib. Its a nice hat, a little wonky towards the end ( I think I was tired of dpns) and one for me from i dream of knitting. His hat is a a little short for his head, I will have better luck next time! And mine is a little too long. I suppose I added too many rows of seed stitch. Again "Oh well, better luck next time." The hat itself is adorable and I imagine when my hair is curly ( as I sometimes wear it) I will be thankful for the little extra give to the fabric.

Some time ago I purchased some Noro Silk Garden because I liked the colors ( a sucker for variegated yarn) and brought it home. Its been sitting in my stash, in its ball and now I take it out I don't really care for it. I am going to make yet another hat from it I think. I love hats, not that here in sunny Phoenix,AZ you actually need them, but I like them. And best of all they are easy and fast to whip up.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I have struggled to write a coherent post lately. Mostly I forget until its late and nearly time for bed, so I say to myself I will do it tomorrow. Tomorrow has become September. Oops!

I also propose that September be changed to Emotember (stolen idea from a board member- thanks!) as most people, it seems, are having a case of the mondays all month long. I am not excluded from this. I train interns. And one of my interns recently snapped his fingers at a coworker of mine to make a point for her to email him with a scheduled appointment.Eeeek! He is lucky she did not rip him to shreds as I know she is capable of. I have seen the feisty little woman make her voice be heard more than once! I snap at my dog to get her to heel. But she is NOT a human being! Oy! And so the drama of my special intern has begun. He is just over-eager and really wants a lot of control in our little office. He will soon find control = an individual session. And that will be uncomfortable. So to extend a hand I am going to sit down with him later this week and "break the ice." Try to loosen him up a bit and remind him to have a sense of humor. We are humans working with other humans who have terrible problems. We have to have a sense of humor. But i also know there are some pre-conceived notions that all interns come in with. Our clinic serves a homeless substance abusing population and there is a lot of judgment out there and I have yet to meet an intern in my 5 years who want to work substance abuse. Sad, but true. 

I have been busy planning a trip to the northeast to see friends and do history geektastic stuff, like go take silly pictures with the statues of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, eat at the City Tavern (Martha Washington's Turkey Pot Pie here I come!) and wander New York City and central park. We are meeting several friends in Connecticut then road tripping to New York City, meeting up with more friends, wandering the city, then another road trip to Philadelphia to see more friends. Our flights were cheap! We are paying a total of $300 for a hotel and the rest of the money will be spent frugally. We are still saving for Europe, but I needed to get out of here.  So as of right now the trip total is in the comfortable range. The last trip out east was a killer on our wallet : O

I don't think that will happen this time!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Travel Bug

I have got a serious travel bug.  Not hard to figure out why I have this niggling, I haven't left the state in 2 years. Blurgh. That is too long. But we are in the middle of some major fix-its and travel right now would just deplete our funds. So we figure out other cheaper ways to entertain ourselves. They work most of the time, but I can't wait until these expenses are paid and we can continue to save to get out of here.

 We are sincerely trying to avoid touching much of our savings and stick with the one car without the  payment for as long as we can- this means for as long as I can handle it before I demand to have a second car so I can roll into work later than 5am. But for as much as I *hate* my schedule I do find that getting work over and done with that early in the day is really nice. So I get up and go at 3:20 ( I've  pushed it back 10 minutes lately- too hard to face the world at 3:10am.)

Recently, I have been torturing myself, looking at travel websites and "planning" cruises or just 4 day weekends at amusement parks. I haven't been to an amusement park since....since I was a teenager! The last was Disney when I was 19. But this would be Universal Studios in Orlando to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am such a dork where Harry is concerned.

But the powers that be have reminded me we have a couple of commitments that cannot be put on the back burner....SXSW 2011 and the move of one mother in law. Oh and a wedding for one of my best friends, who apparently wants a bachlorette party in Las Vegas. 2 major expenses that I am not sure I can even pull off right now or in the next year with all these other expenses that are taxing us.  So we save and save. We are still waiting on the HOA to approve our "construction defect" repairs and a bathroom that needs some love. After those are done I sure hope that we can get our butts to Europe. So tired of waiting on this. And I'd like to do it before England's damp and cold could stop me from acting like a kid.

We have looked at a 7 night cruise of the Mediterranean  then taking a train north to Paris ( I have to see Versailles, Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre, and the Marais neighborhood) then over to London and then up to Edinburgh. I am not sure if the cruise will be at the end or start of the trip yet, but a 10 day trip just turned into 21 days. I am not complaining. The poor dog will need to go to Pete and Mac's as I cannot leave her with family and I cannot shut her up in a kennel for that long. Pete and Mac's would provide doggie day care and playtime for 6 hours each day. I haven't found another kennel that can do that nor one she is as happy at as she is at Pete and Mac's. Last time she was happy to see us, but didn't want to come home! haha. In my mind that is better than the alternative where she just gets to lay in a kennel and get a walk a couple times a day.   This is going to be an expensive trip, but aren't all trips to Europe somewhat expensive? Funny, the cruise is the cheapest part!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The hunt for a good book to read

I have to admit the first trailer for HP7 set off another Harry Potter reading frenzy. But once I was done with that it was back to historical fiction. I do love historical fiction. I adore historical non-fiction as well, but sometimes that is a little too dry and I can't always make it through. It did take me about 2 months to read Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser. Great stuff, but it was just a slow read for me.  Recently someone had suggested I pick up Margaret George and give her a try.

I did. I ordered Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles and have not been too disappointed.I am nearing the end of the book and already starting to look for a new book to bury my nose in.(I am so glad my husband is just as much a reader and quiet individual as I am!) And once again I ordered too many books.....I read them all and usually pretty quickly! I also loathe the nearest second hand bookstore....they have NOTHING and give you NOTHING for trade...not worth the frustration, so I order from Amazon and be done with it.

What did I order? The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner and because I have not read it in forever....Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small. I read this book at the age of 15ish, I may have been older. Then I continued to look for others, preferably a saga I can sink my teeth into. I like familiarity. I think I stumbled upon something worth reading....Jean Plaidy also known as Victoria Holt or Phillipa Carr. Before her passing she had 100 million books sold and has written more novels then I think I can read in a year. So I will give her a try.

If there is anyone out there that has some suggestions please feel free to comment and let me know.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pushing forward

For years....3 to be exact, I have struggled with writing a book. Just totally struggled. I have had all the fire in the world at work, leaped buildings in a single bound to get home and then NOTHING would come. I forced myself to write anyway. I was making myself sit down and type. Eventually, I excused myself from the torture and just went back to reading. My number one excuse being that my wrists and arms hurt. But even when they didn't I would find something else to excuse it away.I would process things while knitting or crocheting, but that still was not putting pen to paper. I figured I was nourishing myself, feeding my brain with  inspiration, concepts, and imaginary play things. I would become bitter when someone told me they stayed up all night writing and then would look at me like I am crazy when I say I wish I could do that, but I have to get up at 3am. So on and off I wrote. But only when the fire was under me and my heart was wild with a scene. Truth is it was/ is part of the process. I spent more time blaming work for making me exhausted. I spent more time blaming my husband for "not pitching in." He was and still is, but since I wasn't getting what I wanted after trying so damned hard I was angry. Angry at myself, but not wanting to see that.

About 2 months ago I read an interesting idea....some authors outline their entire stories before they sit down to write. It is not a new idea by any means. I must have read it a million times in all the writing books I have read over the years.  Not having been an outliner in college (even in graduate school) I wasn't sure what this would do for me, but I knew sure as hell that I was not going to get anywhere just spitting out disjointed scenes. Some authors can do that, but it just wasn't working for me. I bought a wire bound notebook and promised myself and my story that I would fill it, all 180 pages, with notes about the world my imaginary characters were inhabiting. I am still working on it and loving it. Many many colored inks, scribbles, doodles, single words or sentences written in the margins. It feels and looks creative and so it keeps me going. I can say it looks like an anthropologists field guide to a new and interesting swath of land! I even have my colored pencils and sketch pad ready for a map. I can say that it is NOT what I thought it would be when I first started and I am comfortable with the adjustment I really can see these things I am writing and the deeper I get the more excited I get. So even as exhausting as work is I can still come home and write it down.  So a few lessons learned: If I type it up.... its gone, never to be thought on again. So not until I am ready. Not until I am totally solid on what I am writing will I do that. I also ban the single scenes for the time being. I now color code my notes and then when a particular idea is ripe I pluck it, re-write it and place it in the binder of loose leaf paper. These things then get organized and color coded.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ten Nice Things

Our dear Doglet Miss Em
My dear husband who puts up with my solitary ways
4 day weekends
Family in all their crazy and not so crazy moments
Homemade Iced Coffee drinks
Homemade Sausage Biscuits
A clean house
A room of my own
A desire to do something better with myself
Courage to make those changes for the better

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Disappearing Act

I haven't posted much lately. Mostly because I've been busy creating and sadly, working. But if I didn't have a day job I suppose life would be a lot more ordinary- my job, some may say career and I do on occasion, is anything but ordinary. I enjoy it 65% of the time. 30% of the dislike stems from lack of sleep and not being able to enjoy any kind of night life unless I take the next day off. The other 5% is from the "necessary" paperwork that seems to be multiplying year after year.

I've recently changed my layout and I think it goes quite well with my leanings. I am most at home with a book in my hands, a cool drink within reach, and my dog at my side. If only I could be paid to do that! I am also an unpublished writer. Currently world building and outlining have been my main distractions. Distractions that I am most happy and grateful to be able to do.

What have I been reading? Well I began to search outside my usual genres. I read a smattering of fantasy, J.K. Rowling and Patricia McKillip are the extent of fantasy I have read. I spend a  lot of time with general fiction, some of it being classified as literary fiction (sometimes I beg to differ.) And of course Historical fiction and non fiction. I tried to read Super Cannes by J.G. Ballard but became annoyed with the protagonist. Honestly, the man needed to find a hobby other than the one he thought was a good idea. I also picked up The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox. This book was very "Meh." At page 50 I set it aside and decided it may be a good read at another time or good kindling. Too bad I don't have a fireplace and its 110F degrees out. And so having nothing else to read and the first trailer for HP7 came out I began to read Harry Potter again. I could read HP5-7 over and over and over and over again.

But now that reading frenzy is over with I am restless about what to read next.  Any suggestions?

Monday, May 24, 2010

On Hiatus

I've been knitting up a storm lately and not reading or writing at all. That is odd for me, but Dancing to the Precipice was a very heavy book and I think I may have burnt myself out of the French Revolution for awhile.
And A Rose for the Crown was just so 'meh' that I started to search for something else to do.

So I redecorated my office/ guest room. And then because I love being in this room I started to knit with needles again. It took off from there. I finished a hat (today- pictures are still in the making) and am taking a break, for now. I'll start back up later this week I think.

for now here is the pattern I used :

its a lovely hat.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


A Rose for the Crown was alright. It always takes some time to get used to multiple viewpoint pov. I don't feel close enough to the main character and it keeps the story from sticking with me. It keeps me from making the book into a page turner. 3rd person multiple viewpoint makes it forgettable and horribly confusing if you are just reading to read and haven't fallen in love with the characters....which is what this book was.

First person? ehhhh. I like it more than multiple pov, but I do prefer 3rd person single viewpoint better than all. 2nd person in a novel just irritates me, makes me feel like I am being preached at. 

But I digress, I know this story could not have been told any other way. There was way too much going on, for it to be anything but what it was. So it was in the stories best interest for sure, but I wish she would have not jumped viewpoints mid-chapter and sometimes it seemed mid paragraph. Maybe she wasn't and I didn't get what she was up to, like I said I wasn't in love with the characters or the book. There were so many characters of the same name that it did get confusing when Jack was talking about John and John and Richard and Richard. After awhile I got used to it, but it took pleasure away from the novel.

One major complaint I have....Judith Merkle Riley's review on the book cover...." Move over Amber St. Clare!..." HA! This heroine had nothing on Amber St. Clare. Kate, the main character of the novel, is so not the femme fatale that Amber is nor is she as devious or as wicked when it counts.  She is not out for glory as Amber. Amber ran her own life, Kate? Did within reason and perhaps that is why I just didn't fall in love with the book. Headstrong she was, I will give her that, but it was all reasonable and rational.

I have stayed with historical novels for the time being and have started Margaret George's Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles. The novel, thus far (the whole 59 pages I have been able to read) have been absorbing. It is the kind of book I would like to spend a lazy rainy day with. It is Third Person single viewpoint and that makes all the difference. It is also geographically pleasing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Purple Iris

This is one giant granny square, perfect for couch snuggling.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Whoa! Dancing was a great book, but heavy heavy on the information and I need to take a breather before moving on to Fatal Purity. So I picked up an easy read.... and have just started it. It could be too simple, but we shall see. A Rose for the Crown appears (in the first 100 pages) to be pretty straight forward, peasant girl gets a chance, peasant girl meets prince charming, they fall in love, the end.  Nothing wrong with that, as it is the way they get there that is the interesting part. It's been ages since I read anything about The War of the Roses. My history will be fuzzy and that will be to the authors advantage. I won't get my knickers in a twist when the author takes too many creative liberties. (yes, I can and do complain a lot about that!) I think this is a book my mother just may love so I will save it to pass it on to her. 

My crochet afghan is coming along nicely. It is 48X48, maybe a little larger as I have worked on it since the last measurement was taken. I used an acrylic ombre yarn in purples, blues, and greens. It is quite pretty. I also used a solid band of lavender to break it up a little. I think it will go great in a little girls room and I hear the little girl I am making it for will be here next month! It will be hard not to give it to them when I see them, but I will wait until her birthday and have it shipped. When it is finished I will post a pic, but not until then as I can't wait to finish and block it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I find it hard to choose what I am going to do once I come home from work these days.

I adore Dancing to the Precipice. It is well written and reads as smoothly as a novel. Absolutely absorbing. I love the fact that fashion and color and food are so entrenched into the French culture that even in the 18th century people would riot if there weren't enough apricots at market and the way one rebelled/revolted was by the manner of dress and the colors they wore.  Well, before the real bloodbath began this was also true. And it definitely is not seen as clearly as the sans-culettes to the American who has no real grasp of the French sensibilities, especially those of the 18th century French.

Neither one of these things come as a surprise. This blood soaked, splattered, and smeared period in history follows the Renaissance, the Sun King, etc etc. However, after reading other books about the French Revolution I feel that Caroline Moorehead incorporates the whole culture into the telling of this one woman and her families lives and how utterly changed their lives become. She leaves no rock unturned.

That is my first conundrum.

Do I read the night away? Taking a break to prepare and eat dinner and enjoy time with my family of course.


Do I knit.

I tried knitting with needles and it was so terribly painful for me. Of course my tension was way too tight, but I couldn't get past that no matter how many times I tried. I held those needles like my life depended on it....much like I hold a pen when I am writing!  My hands are long and thin and after decades of writing and typing and making, building, and playing with clay they are not what they used to be. My mother had given me a set of Knifty Knitter Looms saying she couldn't figure it out and had lost interest.  They had been sitting around for quite awhile.

Knifty Knitter looms are plastic looms, that have a very large gauge (you would use size 11-17 needle to be about the same gauge as the knifty knitter loom.) I decided to see what I could do with them. I researched online for about a week, looking at other sites and found a select few that made sense to my beginners mind. Isela Phelps is the queen of the loom, at least what I can tell by who publishes and who has the most comprehensible You-Tube tutorials.There are some funny You-Tube videos out there and I think I saw most of them. Her instructions were very easy to follow and so I set to work.  I made my first hat in about 4 hours, spread between 2 days. It will fit a child, as on an adult it has a reservoir tip and that is not good fashion. Well unless you are promoting safe sex.

After my hat I decided I would try several other stitches. The knifty knitter instructions are very poor and according to them there is one stitch. And it is a really ugly stitch and if you do not double your medium gauge yarn  or wrap the pegs 4 times and leave four pegs wrapped at all times your hat tends to look anemic. So back onto You-Tube I went and Voila! I found how to knit and purl as well as how to make a flat panel on a round loom, and how to make your flat panel lay flat and not curl. I think I found others, but can't be sure and to be honest right now that is all I am going to use for awhile until I get confident in using the loom. As I recall in all my reading and researching about knitting, knitting and purling are used in a great many other stitch patterns.

I love knitting looms! However, chunky yarn is not a yarn for all seasons. I began to look for looms of smaller gauges and found them. They are expensive when you realize that a set of 4 round knifty knitter looms are 12.97 at your local Wal-mart. I decided to go look at a few craft stores and see what I could find. I also needed more yarn for this twin sized crochet afghan I have been working on since December.  I settled on a knitting board (found it on clearance!) A knitting board is the same concept as a loom just a rectangular piece made of oak with solid stainless steel pegs. The pegs do lack the grooves that the plastic pegs have on the knifty knitter. I like the grooves, it keeps the pin tool from slipping off, but the knitting board has a bit of a different technique I guess. I really don't know, I have not used it yet.It is also a table project and not a lap project, which could prove to be difficult if I keep sidetracking myself away from finishing my office once and for all!

Right now I am working on a shawl for my mother. When I last talked to her she must have insisted that I find a pattern for a shawl about 4 times. We were on the phone for about ten minutes. I asked her if she wanted a shawl and she never she's getting one out of the crappy homespun I have, that she gave to me with the looms. It is about a third of the way done. It looks fantastic! No dropped stitches and if and when you do drop a stitch you follow your new loop back the the old tightened one and that one will loosen up without an issue. I don't care for homespun ( I think this may be why my mother gave up on using the looms.) It's a fussy frayed yarn that looks pretty as a skein and as a finished project, it's just a bugger to work with!
It's very high maintenance.

On the reading front I am almost half done reading, but I am taking notes (there is an awful lot of info and I : want to learn this info so I can make nerdy references that no one else understands-joke! I am noting for my own purposes so that when I sit down to write about this period I have notes I can refer back to, rather than shuffle through a million pages.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dancing to the Precipice

This book is not a diary that was translated. I suppose that is what I expected when I ordered it. I am pleasantly surprised. Antonia Frasier can be a bit dry and is the author of the majority of the biographies I have read. I like Alison Weir, but some of her books have been slow and I have struggled to get through the ones I have read. Dancing is not only written as a biography of one woman's life; Moorehead also studies and explains clearly what shaped the early 18th century and family in which Lucie was born.

And that is what excited me most. There is plenty of rich description to really pull you into the streets of Paris, the country retreats, the salons of the aristocracy where so many ideas of the Enlightenment were discussed, l'art de virve was cultivated and nurtured. And as much as I am not a slave to fashion this book does delve into the insane costumes of the French aristocracy. But it does not dwell.

It is an absorbing book. I sit down to read it and am loathe to break away. Unfortunately, I've been struck with a cold so I have not been able to do as much reading as I'd like, but I think after I get enough rest and my sinuses decide to clear I'll have ample time over this long weekend to really dig in.  I even may do a bit of knitting. I was given some new looms that I would like to try out.

* a little about me*
I lead a quite life for someone in their 30's. I have not been graced by the little pitter patter of human feet. I am married and work ( sometimes too much) as a counselor in my community and do not engage in too many activities of indulgence. I love to laugh and find pleasure in simple things like books, a cup of rich coffee, a small piece of dark good chocolate, a glass of red wine, fresh strawberries and brie, intelligent conversation that is sincere and not laced with sarcasm and invalidation. I am fond of the outdoors, but am not a camper.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


  It was a great book, a haunting melancholy love story, that had very little action in the romantic novel sense. The novel is more about the love for one's country, one's countryman, and fair treatment of others. It is a hero's novel that has passion for justice. I am thankful it wasn't romantic dribble.

The author stitched together a very believable novel and as he put it in his own words " My job, then, was not to change what is known but to use my own imagination to fill in the gaps of what isn't known." ( Tipton, James, 2009.)  

Annette Vallon was , in real life, a counterrevolutionary, who aided  refugees during the Terror, the Directoire, and Napolean. She was also the mother to a child of Wordsworth and was watched, suspected, but never caught by The Committee of Surveillance, later the Committee of Public Safety, and  Napoleon's Secret Police.  For twenty-five years this woman with no thought of personal gain aided persecuted persons.

I do have to say that many books lead me on a kind of scavenger hunt. I love the author who gives me a book list or reading/learning material. James Tipton did not disappoint.

New books of interest:
David Andress, The Terror, Civil War in the French Revolution (2005)
Emilie Legouis, William Wordsworth and Annette Vallon (1922)
R.R. Palmer, The Twelve Who Ruled (2005)
Aileen Ribeiro, Fashion in the French Revolution (1988)
Simon Schama, Citizens (1989)
Elisabeth Scotto, France, The Beautiful Cookbook (1989)

I have picked up The Seven Ages of Paris (2004) by Alastair Horne and am reading the 100 or so pages that concern the reign of the Sun King to Napoleon. I use this book as a primer, something to fill in the gaps where my information is lacking or just not there. I have not read it from cover to cover and probably won't. It's kind of like the additional material a college class gives to increase your understanding.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Have I found a new gem!?

As the title of my blog suggests I am obsessed. Obsessed with history, particularly with Restoration England, the French Revolution, and a pretty big francophile and Anglophile. I am nearly done with James Tipton's Annette Vallon and would like to remain in the same era, rather than traverse into Renaissance Scotland/ England and read Mary Queen of Scots. I knew I should have started with her first!  But who knows that could have led me off into a whole other era and I am really happy where I am at the moment.

I'll get to that book eventually, later this year. But I have an awful lot of reading to do now to fulfill my current learning compulsion.

The new gem I think I have found is Dancing to the Precipice: the Life of Lucie de La Tour de Pin , Eyewitness to an Era by Caroline Moorhead. At first I wondered if this was the same author who wrote that horrid Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, but thankfully it is not!  Hidden Diary was just drab,cold, and dry. It lacked emotion and detail in the retelling of history and if I had wanted that I would have bought a textbook.

Dancing is non fiction, a biography, that is pieced together from the memoirs of an incredible survivor.Below is an article from Time on this amazing woman....the article does not talk about this particular book though.

The reviews are good, but I have a hard time putting much faith in reviews. I am ordering it, by the time I am finished with Annette it should be here....Yippee!

Sometimes I think I should have just become a librarian. I probably would have been so much happier.

Books: Portrait of a Lady

Books: Portrait of a Lady

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The fly on the wall.

Annette Vallon: A Novel of The French Revolution is a marvelous novel!

  I am an elitist snob when it comes to books. There is an awful lot of books out there and I am not about to waste my hard earned money on too many that are flops.I buy many more new books than old. I re-read if I cannot find a book to take my interest. I will spend hours in a library happy just to be near the books. Books make a house a home to me. It does not matter where it is at, as long as I have some of my library I am at ease. Like old friends the characters will take me on their adventures while I am safely ensconced in my armchair. This book will definitely be something that is read again, saved on the shelf, and offered out on loan only to those responsible enough not to lose, tear, or spill coffee or tea on it.

  This novel reads smoothly, there are no jumps in time that are not clearly defined and no 21st century silliness inserted into a historical character. Mr. Tipton has researched his characters, the times, the social norms of the period and worked within those parameters. He did not resort to cliche to describe, but has allowed the characters to gracefully show themselves as they are. The scenes are allowed to develop and the events are naturally occurring. Nothing feels forced or contrived. The authors word choice is perfect. The language that is used is intelligent.

  On the topic of the French Revolution I do not feel cheated in any way, shape, or form. The author does not skirt the issue, but brings it into the forefront and makes one able to empathize with the characters and their plight.With the fair amount of knowledge I have about the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror I have not been confused or left to look up a term  The reader is the fly on the royalists walls.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Annette Vallon A Novel of the French Revolution

Readers can tell when an author has put time and love and care into a novel. I have read far too many books that lack in craft and are merely to make ends meet.This of course separates the meat from the gristle, but you cannot always tell that by the cover, the reviews, or when you flip open the book at random and begin to read. I think it's fair to say that we all have wasted our money on a book that is not even worthy of the shelf. Perhaps it would be best relocated to the used bookstore?

This book had very good reviews and a history channel icon on its spine/cover. Was it the mark of a good book? Perhaps. I had read a fair amount about the French Revolution, both fiction and non. I had been disappointed by the lack of historical novels on this terrible and fascinating period of France's history. (yes I know there are some books out there, but they lacked authenticity and fully developed and genuine period characters.) It was pretty exciting to find that an English-literature professor had delved into the topic as well as into the topic of one of the more romantic love affairs, that of William Wordsworth and Annette Vallon. I ordered it from Amazon and was waiting on tenter hooks for UPS to deliver it. Finally! It arrived!

I'm not so far in, but the tenderness that the author takes to tell the story, to realize the characters and scene, to fill in the gaps between what is known and not known of these two free spirits, the pacing of the story, is noteworthy. I plan to take my time with this novel, reading it at leisure and enjoying it as the story unfolds.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Readings for 2010

I do love a good piece of fiction, historical, literary, even a mystery here and there. But this year I'd like to read as much Historical Fiction and Nonfiction as I can. I suppose this is a kind of warm up exercise for writing. Mayhap I will try my hand, lord knows I have read enough to write plenty.

Reading, for me, is more about learning. I like a good romance, like the next girl, but only when I am on vacation. And sadly that does not happen nearly often enough.  I cut my teeth on romance in high school and as my age advances toward forty I find that I like a good bit of fat to chew in my everyday life.

 These are in no particular order and by no means is it a complete list.

Mary Queen of Scotland & The Isles: A Novel by Margaret George
Nell Gwyn:  Mistress to a King by Charles Beauclerk
A Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV by W.H. Lewis
Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne
Athenais: The Life of  Louis XIV's Mistress-The Real Queen of France by Lisa Hilton
The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV
Annette Vallon A Novel of the French Revolution by James Tipton
Wuthering Heights Charlotte Bronte
Emma by Jane Austen 

As I finish each one I will post my thoughts on the books. If you have any titles you would like to share please do not hesitate to drop me a comment. I am a voracious reader. I am always up for referrals!