Modern Bee: 13 Quilts to Make with Friends

To continue our blog series on crafting books, here’s Modern Bee: 13 Quilts to Make with Friends by Lindsay Conner.

modernbee

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.”

 

Wrapagami: The Art of Fabric Wraps

This January the blog will  be highlighting craft books, to kick things off here’s Wrapagami: The Art of Fabric Wraps by Jennifer Playford.

wrapagami

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!”

 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

To conclude our December blog series on must-read YA fiction, here is the indescribable Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

jellicoeroad

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.

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

This December we’re exploring must-read YA fiction. This week’s recommendation is the fascinating novel Madapple by Christina Meldrum.

madapple

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.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This December we’ll take a look at must-read YA fiction. This week’s recommendation is Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.

bonegap

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.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

This December we’ll take a look at must-read YA fiction. First up, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.

imaginarygirls

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.

 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

To close out our series of November posts on writing and creativity, I’d like to share my personal favorite, On Writing by Stephen King:

onwriting

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer. Indispensable.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

To continue our November blog series on writing on creativity, the most thumbed-through book on many writers’ desks, Bird by Bird:

birdbybird

An excerpt from the book:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

This November, I’d like to share books about writing and creativity. Up first, Big Magic by the incomparable Elizabeth Gilbert:

bigmagic

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy. (From the publisher.)

 

A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias

happymarriage

A Happy Marriage is the story of Enrique Sabas and his wife Margaret, alternating between the first three weeks of their acquaintance and the bittersweet final weeks of Margaret’s life as she says goodbye to her family, friends, and children. Laced throughout with intimate recollections of moments of crises and joy from the middle years of their relationship, the novel charts the ebb and flow of marriage, illuminating the mysteries and magic of marital love. Neither sentimental nor cynical, and written with an intense devotion to character and emotional suspense, A Happy Marriage reveals a partnership that brings maturity and great pleasure to the lives of two people. Bold, elegiac, and stunningly vivid, A Happy Marriage will break every reader’s heart–and perhaps infuse some marriages with greater love.*

*Lovely synopsis taken from the publisher. I could not have written it better.

For more novels exploring marriage, check these out:

Life Drawing by Robin Black

The Violet Hour by Katherine Hill

The Odds by Stewart O’Nan