Monday, July 23, 2018

Book reviews

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King

     I think the last time I did a book review, I was just starting to read "A Gentleman in Moscow" ***** by Amor Towles.  Well, I am here to tell you it was one of the best books I have read in a long time!!! I loved every page of it!  It begins in the early days right after the Russian Revolution.  Count Rostov has come before the Tribunal to be sentenced for having written a subversive poem several years ago. We discover he didn't really even write the poem but took the blame for a friend who would probably end up in the Gulag, whereas, the Count's sentence is to live the rest of his life in the Metropol Hotel where he had been living anyway!  The book takes us through 30 plus years of his life in the hotel...wonderful characters, fascinating historical  tidbits and quite a bit of intrigue especially towards the end!  Did I mention that I liked this book immensely!!!

      Another book I did enjoy was "What She Left Behind" ***** by Ellen Marie Wiseman...the story of a foster girl who is working with her foster parents who work in antiquities and restoration  cleaning out a now closed Insane Asylum...trying to piece together some of the stories of the inmates from their personal possessions left behind....I also gave this five stars, because it really kept my interest and tells a great deal about those institutions of the early 1900s...warning...not for the faint of heart!

     "Burnt Mountain"**** by Anne Rivers Siddons, a mystery taking place in the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia...not a hillbilly thing, but in the areas where the wealthy girl falls for boy parents don't approve of, etc..I found the story to be pretty intriguing.

     "The Cuckoo's Calling"*** by Robert Galbraith (actually JK Rowling under a pseudonym)  but nothing like Harry Potter and I didn't know it was hers until I did little research on the author for this blog! Her detective Cormoran Strike is a one-legged large man, who is full of angst but likable, compassionate, struggling to make ends meet.  He is Rowling/Galbraith's newest character and this is the first of the series written in 2013.  There are three more out and I will probably try to read them all as Cormoran is a pretty interesting character. A good audio book.

     "To Capture What We Cannot Keep"**** by Beatrice Colin...a historical novel about the building of the Eiffel Tower and the men who had the dream.  Very enjoyable...I found the descriptions of the development  and the moods/opinions of the tower as it was being built very interesting.

     "Night Woods"*** by Charles Frazier...another mystery taking place in the Appalachian Mountains. This time, murder and intrigue involving more poor folk! A good audio book.

      "The Chalk Man"***  by C.J. Tudor... a murder mystery/ intrigue reminiscent of "Stand By Me".  A murder took place when these kids were young; now as adults, it comes back to haunt.  A good audio book.

     "Laura and Emma"* by Kate Greathead  I am not alone in saying this book leaves a lot to be desired...the original premises is not girl wants to be independent, has a baby, but always knows she has her family wealth to fall back on...whine, whine...and then just as I am kind of beginning to think we are getting somewhere...the baby is now a teenager...the book ends...and the poorest, dumbest ending ever!  Did I mention I did not care for this book???

     "The Family Next Door"**** by Sally Hepworth. I liked this book.  It takes place in Australia; four lady neighbors living in probably a cul de sac. We get to know them and their problems; post partum depression is one of their concerns..a bit of hanky panky for another...past wrong doings coming to the surface!  A very good audio book.

     "A Is For Alibi"*** by Sue Grafton I had never read a Sue Grafton and when I read that she had died awhile back, I thought I would give her a try....she has written soooo many books!  I listened to this as an audio book and would listen to others.  Her protagonist is a lady detective, Kinsey Millhone who is your typical tough gal, get 'er done, kind of character.  This first novel was written in 1982 and Grafton's last was "Y Is for Yesterday" in 2017.  She died of cancer before she could get to her last one, "Z Is for Zero". It will be interesting to listen to  a more recent one to see if her style changed through the years even though Kinsey remained her lead.

     And my last book to review is "Ruthless Tide"***** by Al Roker (yes, THE Al Roker!) Again a very good read...although I did listen to it as an audio.  This is non-fiction about the the Johnstown flood which happened in Pennsylvania in 1889, one of our countries worst disasters.  A spellbinding account of what happened.  I didn't know Al Roker was an author; I'll need to see what else he may have out there!

     So that sums up what I've been reading or listening to lately.  I have learned to really like audio books to have on hand when I am busy doing other mindless, laundry etc.  I don't turn on tv until evening and I practically never listen to the news any more so audio has become my new entertainment!!  I still like a good ol' fashioned paper book, too, though!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

NTAQ Meeting

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 
― Edgar Degas 
     This past Monday, my most favorite art group met.  And as usual we had a great time! Our challenge for this month, presented to us by Michelle, was to choose one of the artists of the School of Bauhaus and create a quilt with one's choice as inspiration. The Bauhaus was the most influential schools of art and design in the 20th Dessau, Germany from 1919-1933.  The school was populated with many  well known artists on the faculty...Kandinsky, Josef Albers, Paul Klee and others.  Josef Albers' wife Anni was one of the prominent artists who started there.
     After researching several of the  artists' I chose Otti Berger.  Otti, as well as many of the others was a weaver.  She was very talented and innovative; but unfortunately she was living in very dangerous times.  Many of the school left Germany for England then on to  America when Germany fell under the spell of Nazism.  Being of Jewish ancestors, Otti did go to England, but being unable to  get a job...not being able to speak the language and being hearing impaired...she returned to her home and there in 1944 with her family she was arrested and taken to  Auschwitz where she died. If she had been able to stay in England, if it had been a year later, her story would have ended differently!

Her story as well as her talent is why I chose her as my artist for the challenge.
    I decided to make a quilt to honor Otti.  The first thing I did was to write her story, then to print it off on fabric.  This is accomplished by ironing fabric to freezer paper, cutting it to the size of computer paper and run it through the printer.

Step one

Step two

     Then I printed off a picture of one of her weavings on fabric, and added her picture onto the fabric by running it through the printer a second time.
Step three
    I then began to sew together strips of fabric, somewhat emulating the weaving I had printed off. And step four was to put it all together.  It is approximately 14" x 33"  in size.

Step four
       Here are some of my NTAQ buddies' challenges:

     And here is a picture of all of them together.  Most chose Anni Albers for their inspiration. Heather  chose Gunta Stolzl and my choice of Otti Berger were some of  the other artists at the Bauhaus as well as many others.
The Bauhaus inspired quilts by NTAQ

     We usually have some activity when we meet...sharing new techniques, etc.  so in keeping with the idea that many of the students/artists at the Bauhaus were weavers, I got some little cardboard looms, yarn,  needles, together to do a small weaving project.  We plan to bring them back to our next meeting to show what we did with our weaving!
Rhonda, Heather and Kay working on their weaving!