Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Portraits of Progress!"


New reading/knitting chair in place!
Newly started project - now that I have all of my needles - Berroco Burrow. I am loving this pattern and yarn (Berroco's North Star). This is so plush and comfortable. A New York (not Florida) shawl for sure!

Recently completed bucket bag.
What a difference hot water makes!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"One benefit of summer is that we had more light to read by." ~ Jeannette Walls



It's that time of year! Time for my summer reading recommendations! I admit that I have been in a reading slump. I think that between household things and a bit of summer laziness, I just haven't settled back into my usual reading routine. I keep thinking that the delivery next week of what I am referring to as my knitting/reading chair, will put me back in the groove.

In the meantime, I continue to look into new books and to read reviews. There are so many to consider! All images and summaries are from Amazon.com

1. Quiet Until the Thaw: A Novel by Alexandra Fuller

Lakota Oglala Sioux Nation, South Dakota. Two Native American cousins, Rick Overlooking Horse and You Choose Watson, though bound by blood and by land, find themselves at odds as they grapple with the implications of their shared heritage. When escalating anger toward the injustices, historical and current, inflicted upon the Lakota people by the federal government leads to tribal divisions and infighting, the cousins go in separate directions: Rick chooses the path of peace; You Choose, violence. 

A complex tale that spans generations and geography, Quiet Until the Thawconjures the implications of an oppressed history, how we are bound not just to immediate family but to all who have come before and will come after us, and, most of all, to the notion that everything was always, and is always, connected.


2.  Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

 

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
 
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.
 
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
 
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

3.  The Little French Bistro: A Novel by Nina George

Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage.  After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as “the end of the world.” 
 
Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life’s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it’s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.
 
With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France. 

4.  Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout


Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.

Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.

Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors.

5.  The Long Drop: A Novel by Denise Mina

William Watt's wife, daughter, and sister-in-law are dead, slaughtered in their own home in a brutal crime that scandalized Glasgow. Despite an ironclad alibi, police zero in on Watt as the primary suspect, but he maintains his innocence. Distraught and desperate to clear his name, Watt puts out a bounty for information that will lead him to the real killer. 

Peter Manuel claims he knows the truth that will set Watt free and has information that only the killer would know. It won't come cheap. Manuel is an infamous career criminal, a degenerate liar who can't be trusted and will say, or do, anything to make a buck. 

But Manuel has something that Watt wants, which makes him the perfect target for Manuel's consummate con. Watt agrees to sit down with Manuel and before they know it, one drink has turned into an epic, forgotten night of carousing across the city's bars and clubs that exposes the thin line between a good yarn and the truth. 

The next time the unlikely pair meets is across the witness stand in court--where Manuel is on trial for the murder of Watt's family. Manuel calls Watt to the stand to testify about the long, shady night they shared together. And the shocking testimony that Manuel coaxes out of Watt threatens to expose the dark hearts of the guilty...and the innocent. 


Based on true events, THE LONG DROP is an explosive, unsettling novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference. 

6.  No One Is Coming To Save Us: A Novel by Stephanie Powell Watts


JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, caters to and meddles with the lives of those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.
JJ’s return—and his plans to build a huge mansion overlooking Pinewood and woo Ava—not only unsettles their family, but stirs up the entire town. The ostentatious wealth that JJ has attained forces everyone to consider the cards they’ve been dealt, what more they want and deserve, and how they might go about getting it. Can they reorient their lives to align with their wishes rather than their current realities? Or are they all already resigned to the rhythms of the particular lives they lead?
No One Is Coming to Save Us is a revelatory debut from an insightful voice; with echoes of The Great Gatsby it is an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream. In evocative prose, Stephanie Powell Watts has crafted a full and stunning portrait that combines a universally resonant story with an intimate glimpse into the hearts of one family.

 7.  Not A Sound by Heather Gudendauf

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again. 
As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?  

 8. Saints For All Good Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan


Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn't sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora's favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

9.  The Stars Are Fire: A Novel by Anita Shreve

In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands' fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms--joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain--and her spirit soars. Then the unthinkable happens. Grace's bravery is tested as never before.

10.  Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave


London, 1939. The day war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up. Tom Shaw decides to ignore the war—until he learns his roommate Alistair Heath has unexpectedly enlisted. Then the conflict can no longer be avoided. Young, bright, and brave, Mary is certain she’d be a marvelous spy. When she is—bewilderingly—made a teacher, she finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget. Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary.

And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love, as well as war, that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.

Set in London during the years of 1939–1942, when citizens had slim hope of survival, much less victory; and on the strategic island of Malta, which was daily devastated by the Axis barrage, Everyone Brave is Forgiven features little-known history and a perfect wartime love story inspired by the real-life love letters between Chris Cleave’s grandparents. This dazzling novel dares us to understand that, against the great theater of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most.

11. Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.
Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.

12. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley : A Novel byHannah Tinti


Samuel Hawley isn’t like the other fathers in Olympus, Massachusetts. A loner who spent years living on the run, he raised his beloved daughter, Loo, on the road, moving from motel to motel, always watching his back. Now that Loo’s a teenager, Hawley wants only to give her a normal life. In his late wife’s hometown, he finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at the local high school.

Growing more and more curious about the mother she never knew, Loo begins to investigate. Soon, everywhere she turns, she encounters the mysteries of her parents’ lives before she was born. This hidden past is made all the more real by the twelve scars her father carries on his body. Each scar is from a bullet Hawley took over the course of his criminal career. Each is a memory: of another place on the map, another thrilling close call, another moment of love lost and found. As Loo uncovers a history that’s darker than she could have known, the demons of her father’s past spill over into the present—and together both Hawley and Loo must face a reckoning yet to come.

13. Glass Houses: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel) by Louise Penny


When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.
From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.
But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.
Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montréal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.
In her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time." ~ George Bernard Shaw

A couple of weeks ago, I posted pictures of our new cabinet for underneath the TV. It was a real surprise when it arrived (2 months after ordering) to discover the turquoise color. I immediately began searching online for a paint to bring it more in line with what we wanted.

The picture makes the wall color look blue, when it is much more of a gray.  

At the time, Bruce asked me if I realized just how difficult it was to paint furniture, to which I responded that I had an entire Pinterest board devoted to the subject!

I’m very pleased with how the paint job turned out. A far cry from the original color. I will tell you though that it was a day-long, arduous task. All that inside space!


As Bruce was placing all of the electronics, the surface of the paint did show some scuffs, so at some point I will apply a coat of clear polyurethane to the very top.

On another fixit note, I am also pleased with the fabric that I found to extend the too-short bedroom curtains. I think that it works well with both colors. This too, somehow turned into a day-long job!


Today’s project – the living room curtains – the right length this time (I hope).