I have been neglecting my blog...actually both blogs lately. I think about them often and of my blogging friends, but I keep finding reasons not to be online. It's a beautiful day and the sunshine is calling. Soon it'll be cold and dreary so I must enjoy these warm dry days while I can, right? Our cats agree especially Squirrel and Dusty. They can spend all day outside. But, that's not my only excuse. I have done a lot of reading and listening to books this summer.
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness is the third book in the All Souls Trilogy. I have waited a long time for this book. When I saw the publishing date for the third book, I decided to listen to the first two (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of the Night) again. I'm glad I did. There is so much detail in Deborah's stories that I had forgotten quite a bit of the important hints that become very crucial in the last book.
If you like reading about vampires, witches, and daemons with a different twist then you will enjoy this fantasy search for a special alchemy book that holds the secrets that links all four beings or creatures. My ears were plugged in constantly wondering what they would find in "Ashmore 782" and how the book would change them in the end. Just to be clear....I am not a fan of most vampire books like the "Twilight" series. I did read three of Anne Rice's Lestat series and the Mayfair Witches series when they were first published.
Deborah's story addresses deeper questions like how the creatures came to be and were they a dying breed. There's plenty of our history mingled into the story along with taking a more science researcher's view of alchemy and the different creatures' DNA. She also addresses how women/witches have fought and evolved their images over the centuries. There is also the forbidden love between a witch - Diana and a vampire - Matthew, the support of both their families and friends. The details are quite lengthy at times, but this just gives more dimension to the characters. In all three books, the characters do a lot of traveling between Europe and the U.S., as well as, time-walking or as we know it time travel.
My favorite characters were not the main ones. One was Matthew's nephew and vampire, Gallowglass is a Scotsman with a good sense for comic relief during stressful moment and good timing when he was needed at the most crucial moment. I would love to hear his story someday. Another favorite character was actually a house. Diana's aunt lived in the old family Bishop home filled with family ghosts, of course. It was the old house known as the Bishop House that had a mind of its own and was quite funny at times in the first book. Closing doors, tossing items at people, or building a new room when it knew there was a guest arriving. It always cracked me up when someone living there would ask "Are we expecting a guest because the house just added a new room.". I was a little disappointed that the Bishop house wasn't quite itself in the third book. It did manage to drive Diana's aunt crazy by playing Fleetwood Mac tunes all day. Still, I loved spending my summer in Diana and Matthew's world. I plan to listen to them again. Links to Audio Version
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton If you like Downton Abbey, you will probably enjoy this book. Except instead of the hearing the story from a family member, we see their life through the eyes and memories of a young House Maid and later Lady's Maid, Grace. The story starts out with a movie scene script that leads us to 98 year old Grace being asked to remember that fatal night in 1924 when a young poet decides to kill himself in front of two sisters during a summer party. A young American hopes to find out and tell the truth of what happened that fatal night. Grace is the last living soul left to tell the story. So, begins Grace's walk down memory lane back to 1914 when she first started working for and living among the rich with all their secrets, disappointments, and dreams.
I suggest reading this one. I liked listening to the English narrator and found her quite relaxing to listen to, but she cannot do an American accent and heaven forbid when she tries to sound like a Texan! They sounded like snobs with long drawn out vowels. I would have preferred her English accent to her Texas accent since the story is being told by Grace. Why not leave it sounding like Grace telling the story?
I plan to read not listen to more books by Kate Morton. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the mystery, and the surprise twists that I did not see coming at the end. Link to Audio version
Game of Thrones Stark Family words: "Winter is Coming". "No One is Safe!" should be George R. R. Martin's words and I mean NO ONE! I have never read a book or books where the main characters are just as likely to die as the faithful sidekick. I have to admit that knowing this had me on pins and needles, often hyperventilating while flipping pages as fast as my eyes would allow me to read. I worried throughout all five books for all my favorite characters. Sad to say that quite a few are gone. Curse George's Pen! The worse part is that this is not the end of the series. There are two more books to go, but I am ready for a break. This will give me some time to get my blood pressure down again!
So, about the books. There are so many characters in this series that I'm happy to say there is a family chronicle for each House. There are four top families: King Robert's House Baratheon, House Stark, House Lannister, and House Targaryen with many, many more. It can be confusing at time and hard to keep the characters/family/country straight, so I did refer to this section quite often.
This is a fantasy set in times of medieval Kings, Lords, Ladies in Waiting, and Knights on quests. It is Camelot's dark side...a very dark side filled with many unusual creatures and people like skin-walkers, Wizards, dragons, huge wolves known as direwolves, and then there are the walking dead - the Others who come with the cold of winter. There is a lot of fighting, battles, 'off with his/her head' moments, and well, it can be a little bloody at times, but not as graphic as the HBO series. Could be that my imagination doesn't get as graphic and yet, I could visualize, smell, and feel the moment thanks to George's wonderful descriptions of how a room was designed and decorated or what and how food was being served or someone's clothing.
I really liked the first three books. I found the last two books harder to read. Part of the reason was the loss of some of the characters. The last two books were actually one book and had been split by characters instead of by time. From the very first book, each chapter is written in a character's view which is great except that almost every chapter ended in a cliff-hanger. Was the character still alive? What or who did he/she see? So, many of my favorite characters were not in the fourth book and that left me wondering what had happened to them. Every once in awhile, there would be a hint or rumor of what was happening to a character, but nothing confirmed. Talk about tossing us a crumb once in awhile to keep our interest so you cannot skip #4 no matter how frustrating. Reading #5 wasn't much better. It felt like the characters were floundering around or maybe I'm just not happy with what is happening. I can only hope that George will take a little pity on his fans and let some of the characters live or finish more quests or finally have a few reunions or get rid of someone we all despise.....
On The Cutting Board
I'm working on more Happy Campers. I decided to make a pile of ready to embroider sets for this winter. Setting up the right fabrics and designs take time, not to mention, a lot of space. For the past week, I have had piles of fabrics spread out across our bed with the kitchen setup as the ironing station, a chair filled with old and new designs, and the dining table became the scattered thoughts' area or design center with all sorts of papers, light box......yea, the list goes on and on....
Here are four I started to work on and then decided that I should just work on cutting out more campers and worry about embroidering them later.
I have lost count as to how many I have prepped like the ones above. I probably have close to twenty ready for this winter. Oh, I also have a few wall hangings, but only one quilt to work on during the winter. I heard people are already working 50 hour weeks, so I'll be amazed if I get through most of my planned projects before January. Although, I have found that the more stressed I am, the more I sew. I might run out of projects instead....well, I can dream, can't I? :)Happy Campers. Well, I'm down to six. Yep, I sold two without listing them. That was a good feeling since I have not been working very hard to get people to view my shop lately. I just hope this luck holds out when I return in January.
Okay, back to prepping or maybe I should decide on another quilt or two...hmmm