The cold, dark days of winter are the perfect time to dive into the wonderful world of “cozy” mysteries. Cozy mysteries, also referred to as “cozies”, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. If you’re new to this subgenre here are some authors to get you hooked.
Alan Bradley is the author of a series of mysteries with the wonderful 11 year old protagonist Flavia de Luce described by some as “a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes.”
Louise Penny is the writer of 12 (and counting) Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries. The first in the series is Still Life, but feel free to jump around as each of these novels will stand on its own.
Alexander McCall Smith has several cozy mystery series to his name, but his first, and my favorite, is the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency led by Botswana’s premier lady detective, Mma Precious Ramotswe and her loyal associate Grace Makutsi.
To close out our blog series on crafting titles, here’s a neat little book called Embellish Me: How to Print, Dye, and Decorate Your Fabric by Laurie Wisbrun.
Full disclosure: I have never used any of the techniques in this book, but now that I’ve read it I want to try them all!
“Embellish Me is the ultimate guide to achieving the perfect surface finish for your fabric-based projects. Comprehensive step-by-step instructions are accompanied by detailed illustrations that illuminate an extensive range of fabric alteration and embellishment techniques. Learn tie-dyeing, bleaching, and shibori; block, silk-screen, and digital printing; and beading, embroidery, and applique. This information-rich guide will equip you with all the information you need to apply these techniques to any number of fabric projects, from tote bags and clothes to cushion covers, lampshades, toys, and home furnishings.”
A blog series on crafting books wouldn’t be complete without a knitting title, this week Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter: The only instructions you’ll ever need to knit sweaters that make you look good and feel great!
This is a wonderful book of patterns that help you make the most flattering sweaters possible. A must-read for any knitter.
“There’s nothing worse than spending countless hours on a handmade garment, only to find that the fit is horrible and unflattering. Knitwear designer Herzog, known for her online and in-person workshops on creating well-fitting knitted garments, compiles years of experience into this confidence-building book. After some self-analysis, knitters will easily be able to determine their own body type-top-heavy, bottom-heavy, or proportional-as well as sweater designs that complement each shape. Herzog not only shows each design on a model, she explains why the design works for that body type, allowing women of all shapes and sizes to find garments with similar elements. The directions for the sweaters are clear, and Herzog presents suitable modifications for each garment.”
To continue our series on crafting books, I’d like to turn our attention to crocheting with Clever Crocheted Accessories edited by Brett Bara.
If you’re anything like me, you like quick projects. I may have the desire to knit or sew or crochet but it needs to be a manageable piece or I get bored and/or frustrated–also my skills just aren’t up to those big projects anyway. 😉 If you like to crochet this is a great book that includes 25 weekend projects.
“Crocheters will satisfy their hunger for unique small projects with former Crochet Today editor Brett Bara’s Clever Crocheted Accessories . Brett collected 25 delightful, practical pieces that make perfect gifts–though you may be tempted to keep them all to yourself! The ideal curator, Brett shares a first-rate lineup of projects. Whether you are a beginner or experienced crocheter, there is something for everyone: hats and caps, including a cloche, porkpie hat, and tam; scarves, shawls, and cowls, from chunky to drapey to snug; eye-catching mittens and arm warmers; delicate lace socks and cozy man-slippers; flirty bags; and sparkly jewelry.”
To continue our blog series on crafting books, here’s Modern Bee: 13 Quilts to Make with Friends by Lindsay Conner.
I have always loved the idea of a quilting circle. A group of people connecting and creating beautiful quilts. If you’ve ever wondered about starting your own quilting bee, this should be your go-to text.
“Create. Grow. Connect. This how-to book features 13 projects for a virtual one-year quilting bee. Crafted with a modern aesthetic, the patterns are inspired by traditional quilt blocks as well as bits and pieces of daily life. As you quilt along with this book from month to month, you’ll master sewing techniques of increasing difficulty from easy to advanced. Each project includes instructions for assembling the block and for finishing a full-size quilt. You’ll also find a comprehensive section on quilting basics and plenty of tips on organizing your own virtual bee.”
This January the blog will be highlighting craft books, to kick things off here’s Wrapagami: The Art of Fabric Wraps by Jennifer Playford.
I just discovered this fascinating book and I can’t wait to head to the fabric store so I can start adding a little something extra to the gifts I have to give.
“Discover how to use a simple square of fabric to beautifully wrap gifts of any shape or size–with Wrapagami . In this gorgeously photographed book, award-winning designer Jennifer Playford, inspired by the traditional Japanese fabric wraps known as furoshiki , shows exactly how to use fabric to create modern, eco-friendly (they’re reusable) gift wraps. It’s so easy–all you need is a square piece of fabric– and with a few simple twists and ties, you can creatively wrap a wide variety of shapes from simple rectangles (such as books) to more challenging shapes (bottles) to things you might previously have thought un-wrappable (melons). Clear written instructions, easy-to-follow diagrams, and beautiful photos of the finished wraps make it easy to wrap expertly the first time. Jennifer shows the basic techniques for every shape, and presents twenty-five stunning wraps, complete with decorative embellishments for every occasion, from weddings to birthdays. Also included are innovative ideas galore for using wrapagami every day (carry your lunch, and then use the wrap as a picnic blanket) and reusing the wraps (to wrap again,or repurpose in a multitude of ways). Let Wrapagami inspire you to start a new tradition!”
To conclude our December blog series on must-read YA fiction, here is the indescribable Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.
A novel that defies explanation. The best I can do is a summary from the publisher:
“What do you want from me?” he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More. Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn’t a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all. In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.
Unlike anything I have read before or since. Fascinating.
This December we’re exploring must-read YA fiction. This week’s recommendation is the fascinating novel Madapple by Christina Meldrum.
The secrets of the past meet the shocks of the present. Aslaug is an unusual young woman. Her mother has brought her up in near isolation, teaching her about plants and nature and language–but not about life. Especially not how she came to have her own life, and who her father might be. When Aslaug’s mother dies unexpectedly, everything changes. For Aslaug is a suspect in her mother’s death. And the more her story unravels, the more questions unfold. About the nature of Aslaug’s birth. About what she should do next. About whether divine miracles have truly happened. And whether, when all other explanations are impossible, they might still happen this very day. Addictive, thought-provoking, and shocking, Madapple is a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention–and of the darkest corners of the human soul. (Summary from the publisher.)
Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? Do not miss out on this unusual book.
This December we’ll take a look at must-read YA fiction. This week’s recommendation is Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.
A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2015) AND the Michael L. Printz winner for 2016, Bone Gap is a stunning novel.
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. But Finn knows what really happened to Roza. He knows she was kidnapped by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a tale of the ways in which the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
Blending realism, evocative imagery, and echoes of myth, Bone Gap should not be missed.
This December we’ll take a look at must-read YA fiction. First up, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.
Haunting, surreal, and beautifully written, Imaginary Girls is one of my favorite novels. Not one of my favorite YA novels, but one of my favorite novels ever.
Two years after sixteen-year-old Chloe discovered classmate London’s dead body floating in a Hudson Valley reservoir, she returns home to be with her devoted older sister Ruby, a town favorite, and finds that London is alive and well, and that Ruby may somehow have brought her back to life and persuaded everyone that nothing is amiss.
Read this, please. And every other novel by the incomporable Nova Ren Suma. You will not be disappointed.