Amy Artisan

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Unraveled: Stitches and Pages, 0718

Joining in with Kat & friends for another Unraveled Wednesday – sharing current knitting and reading…

This week I’ve started into the final lace section of my Shades of Green shawl. While I started into this section with the correct number of stitches, I still managed to bungle the first row of lace pattern – unraveled back, reknit and still had issues. But, onward with the knitting! I ran out of color #2 midway through the final section that used it – so we’ll see if I have  enough of color #3 for the full lace as written.

On the library reads front, I’ve just finished Dead Line – the fourth installment of the Liz Carlyle thriller series that I discovered in June. This continues to be a cup of tea that I’m enjoying working through as books are available. Over the weekend I was transported to Atlanta 1962 as I read Visible Empire, set in the aftermath of a true story – the Paris airplane crash that claimed the lives of 103 Atlanta arts patrons. Now I’m started into The Atomic Weight of Love  – not far enough into the book for any comments on it yet.

What is on your needles these days? What good reads are filling your time?

Recent Reads – June 2018

Ah, summertime reading! June was filled with an eclectic assortment of reading. Some NetGalley reads…recent releases…some continuations of favorite series and more.

Fiction Finds

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain – As I previously shared…This recent release returns to Hemingway’s Women – this time, the focus is on Martha Gellhorn. Martha became his third wife and their stormy relationship plays out in the pages. But more than just “a Mrs. Hemingway” we see Gellhorn as a writer in her own right – someone who jumps overseas to be in the midst of the global turmoil unfolding; someone who struggles to find her voice in the stories she tells – both news reporting and fiction storytelling. As I finished this tale, I was definitely interested to learn more about Martha and appreciated the afternote that the author included in the book – and am also intrigued to track down some of her own works.

A Storied Life by Leigh Kramer – The debut novel from a blogger who I follow…in recent years, it has been fun to see Leigh’s journey to finish this novel and the path to publication in June. I saw someone compare this book to Amy E. Reichert novels and that is an apt comparison, especially having the locale be as much of a character in the story as the people (although, sidenote…why do we we always have to compare one author/book to another?!?!). Leigh tells a compelling story of love of self, love of family, finding love and romance all set against a family matriarch’s decline with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Drawing on her experience in hospice social work, her love of Chicagoland and the Chicago White Sox, art, and romance novels Leigh paints a complete and engaging tale that radiates such hope in the midst of a seemingly grim season in family life.

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Stawser – A recent release that falls squarely into the “woman suddenly vanishes and those left behind are left to unravel a life that isn’t what it seems.” This time, a woman and her preschool twins disappear without a trace from their home in a small Ohio town. This tale didn’t draw me in as much as some – I think it might be time for me to give this genre a rest for a bit.

NetGalley Notes

NetGalley continues to be an interesting source of books. These are recent good fiction reads from my NetGalley bookshelf.

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble – Set against the backdrop of a picturesque harbor and surrounding lavender fields and forests, The House at Saltwater Point is a rich tale of suspense, mystery, drama, family and love. Families shattered, families trying to come together, a possible terrorist plot, a stolen cache of drugs, a missing (and presumed dead) sister – all of these threads come together in a story that pulls you in and keeps you interested in how it resolves. The characters in the story are filled with depth and emotion beyond what you typically find in a suspense/thriller – Colleen Coble writes so that you are pulled into the characters and their stories…not just rushing to solve the mystery. This is the second book in the Lavender Tides series – while I believe you could read this as a standalone book, I’m glad I sought out the first book in the series before diving into this one – it was probably a richer reading experience with that background. I look forward to what the third book in this series will hold.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Book is available July 3rd.

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris – Sold on a Monday transports you back to the Great Depression and takes you on a journey that starts when a struggling Philadelphia reporter sees two children on a porch in front of “kids for sale” sign and snaps a picture. From that simple click of the camera, lives as changed forever – when an editor sees the picture and asks for the story behind the photo wheels are put into motion that are difficult to stop. Along the way you are drawn into the stories of the struggling reporter and the ethics & conscience he experience with the choices he makes; the newspaper secretary with dreams of being a journalist while also raising the son that she has “hidden” from her Philly existence; a widow struggling with her health while raising 2 young children; a banker trying to bring his wife back from the abyss after the tragic death of their young daughter; a New York mobster and glimpses of the NY underworld and more. Reading the description of the photo that Ellis captures on a Sunday afternoon to set this story in motion, I immediately thought of the Depression era images of mothers and children captured by Dorthea Lange. Kristina McMorris does a masterful job of building characters and a construct against the backdrop of the Great Depression and delivers a compelling story that has you engaged to the final pages to see how it resolves and who is able to find happiness. This was my first book by this author and I will definitely look to read more from her.
An e-ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is available on August 28th.

In June, I also enjoyed a variety of cookbooks via NetGalley and am queuing up some food related posts to highlight them – some sneak peaks have been popping up in my Instagram feed.

Serial Stories

The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker – The next investigation to solve with Bruno, the Chief of Police in St. Denis, France. This time, a local vineyard and barn are set on fire and as the fire is extinguished the unmistakable scent of petrol make this an arson investigation. As Bruno solves the case, GMO crops and ecological terror and hippie communes and local wineries vs. international conglomerates weave throughout the tale. Another pleasant visit to St. Denis.

At Risk & Secret Asset by Stella Rimington – As I previously shared, I’m not sure how this thriller series wasn’t even on my radar. As a fan of the show MI-5/Spooks as well as Alias and several others in that vein, this series is definitely my cup of tea! I’m working my way through this series and enjoying every tale, so far.

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny – Another great mystery for Inspector Gamanche to solve in Three Pines. This time the tale includes a young boy with a vivid imagination, a seemingly mythical war machine hidden in the woods, intrigue and national intelligence and crimes from long ago. This book continues my view that time in Three Pines is time well spent.

What are you reading these days? 

Linking up with Show Us Your Books, hosted by Stephanie & Jana.

Recently – June 2018

Ah, JUNE…a month filled with the “official” start of summer…heat…humidity…summer rainstorms…fresh produce…and more…these are the things that filled my JUNE days…

Focusing…continuing to devote time to my job search…networking events…personal branding…connecting with local job seekers…initial interviews, and more…knowing the right position is there…

Reading…a total of 13 books during the month…an assortment of reads to be shared in upcoming book posts…6 NetGalley reads…the latest installments in some serial stories…and an assortment of others…the debut novel, A Storied Life, from Leigh Kramer was a delight to read! (And also sharing reads on the blog: here, here, here, and here.)

Knitting…diving into a fade project with my Shades of Green shawl…I’m now into the third green and nearing the final extended lace sequence…

Spicing…placing a good size order with our favorite The Spice House from Chicago…we had been talking about needing to make an order when there was a campaign to buy spices to send to Sailors and Marines…that was the nudge we needed to get an order placed and also share some seasonings with those aboard the USS Truman…Yes, the “California Seasoned Pepper” is a favorite so we didn’t mess around & ordered a pound of it – it’s frequently used in place of black pepper around here. The “Gateway to the North” has maple sugar from Marinette County so it is apropos to have – & is delicious on pork. Excited to try their “Everyone’s Everything Bagel Blend” – I’m looking at you, hard boiled eggs & fresh tomatoes. The “Lakeshore Seasoning” is a favorite way to accentuate farmers market produce. A good Garlic Salt is a pantry staple. And finally going to give a try to making our own vanilla extract.

Marketing…starting our Saturdays at the farmers market is definitely our routine now. A couple of weeks have included meeting up with friends at the market and introducing them to our favorite vendors. All market visits end with delicious local iced coffee/cold brew for each of us. A bonus is when our salsa stand is serving up chorizo tacos to start the day.  Of course, all the fresh produce leads to all sorts of fresh meal fun…

Cooking…Chorizo + Potato Tacos in lettuce shells…simple, flavorful, refreshing with the crisp of the lettuce…once with market Yukon gold potatoes and once with sweet potatoes…recipe inspired by a segment on America’s Test Kitchen (PBS) – but we thought tortillas were an unneeded starch…

Cooking…Asparagus, Kale & Lemon Risotto…using cauliflower rice….this was simple, bright and paired wonderfully with pork…recipe from the Whole30 Recipes feed on Instagram

Cooking…BLT Coleslaw…a delicious twist on coleslaw that combines the best of a BLT with fresh cabbage and provides a great side dish…will be making this again, for sure as we are getting tomatoes from gardener friends…recipe from the Whole30 Recipes feed on Instagram

Jamming…making a delicious Sweet & Sour Jam from a NetGalley cookbook…this Golden Beet & Apple Jam is a fantastic addition to all sorts of plates – a little dab brightens and transforms leftovers, sandwiches and more…

Cooking…Zucchini Pancakes with LakeShore Dollop…putting market zucchini to use with a simple supper side…recipe from The Spice House, it popped up as a suggestion when I last ordered our favorite Lakeshore seasoning blend…

Cooking…a Sheet Pan Salad for a Sunday supper…started by wilting a kale, blueberries, peaches and sweet onion and then adding pork chops to finish…

Streaming…watching Miss Butterfly’s choir camp concert streaming from the music hall at The University of Texas on a Saturday afternoon…

Watching…Mom & I have had some eclectic viewing between Netflix and checking out library DVDs…a bit of a British series streak: Home Fires, Rosemary & Thyme…starting into A Place Called Home in Australia…movies including The Founder, the delightful Ethel & Ernest, A Monster Calls….

Looking ahead…nothing major on the horizon in July…but more market runs, books, knitting & job focus are filling the time just fine…

What filled your JUNE days?

Connecting up with Leigh’s What I’m Into link-up and Kristen’s What’s New with You? link-up.

Visiting Anne

(seeing how this week is 1 year since we were in PEI, it’s high time to continue sharing our adventures…)

Indeed, Anne of Green Gables was the catalyst for our trip to PEI. Rebecca is a huge Anne book fan (and is proud of never seeing the onscreen adaptations). Our goal was to see some of the Anne sites but also find the right balance with just enjoying the island for its own charm.

On Tuesday evening, we headed towards Charlottetown to enjoy a preview performance of Anne of Green Gables – The Musical a clever and fun send-up of Anne in a classic musical format. This production was in its 53rd season. For dinner before the show, we enjoyed patio dining at a farm to table restaurant, Terre Rouge Craft Kitchen – the clouds looked ominous as we were seated but the rain managed to hold off until the last bites of our meal. It was a packed theater for the performance and it was fun to see the multi-generation family groups partaking in their annual tradition of the show and also see the varied audience there to enjoy some classic fun. The laughter and reactions of a gentleman across the aisle from us can only be described as pure joy & added to our enjoyment of the evening.

Our PEI home was essentially across the street from the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace – so our first stop on Wednesday morning was this house. We were the first visitors of the day – after an introduction presentation, we wandered through the rooms of the house on our own. I picked up a couple of non-Anne books & was treated to them being stamped by a special museum stamp.

Our next Anne destination had us driving over the Lake of Shining Waters and to the Anne of Green Gables Museum. Descendants of LMM still own this house and it is filled with family heirlooms – some of which inspired elements of Lucy’s stories. Rebecca also enjoyed the Silver Bush novels and said it was very evident that this house was Silver Bush.

From the museum, we headed towards Cavendish and the Green Gable Heritage Place. This was the “most crowded” place we visited and even that crowding was minimal.  We wandered through the house that has been decorated as Green Gables is described in the novels. In Anne’s room, we smiled at the brown puff sleeve dress hanging on the closet door. After touring the house, we ventured a bit down the 2 paths on the property: Lovers Lane and the Haunted Trail.

After a morning and early afternoon with Anne, we decided it was time to get lunch. When our first choice restaurant option had a full parking lot and people waiting outside we went with plan B – look for nearby restaurants via the map search feature on the phone. In just a few minutes, we were at By the River Bakery & Café. We each opted for a soup and sandwich combo: for me, the seafood chowder & roast beef sandwich were the perfect choice; for Rebecca, the corn chowder and a ham & cheese sandwich. On our way out the door, we picked up some scones for future breakfasts (& boy were they delicious…even as they aged).

After lunch, we were in the mood to just drive and explore so we headed toward the town of Summerside. While it no longer evokes the charm Rebecca read about with Anne, we did enjoy a walk along their recently refurbished boardwalk/shoreline park. Then, a quick stop at a grocery store for some breakfast basics and some island honey to bring home. On our way out of town we spotted a cute coffee shack so we treated ourselves to iced coffees from Jo Momma’s Coffee Hut.

Back at home, we enjoyed a bit of relaxing and reading before it was time to go next door for dinner at The Table, an amazing evening that deserves its own post…

Previous stops on this adventure: Acadian Adventures & Meandering to PEI

Quicklit: 3 May Fiction Reads

Since May was such a prolific reading month, I’ve split the reading lists across a couple of posts. For this edition of QuickLit, I’m highlighting three fiction finds that made for enjoyable May reading.

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern – I picked this up while browsing the new releases at the local library. This is a quiet and character driven story set in a Carnegie Library in a small New Hampshire town that is sputtering along in spite of local manufacturing drying up. Over the course of a summer, a librarian fleeing her past, a home-schooled teen girl forced to work in the library when caught stealing a dictionary and a former wall street banker are drawn together as they each are recovering from their own trauma and looking for new life and opportunity. I’ll admit that the first chapter had me wondering if I was going to continue reading because it didn’t seem to be tied to the book jacket description – but continuing on revealed a worthwhile read.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon – It’s safe to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed each book by this author. She has a great way with taking historical stories and creating an engaging and complete fictional tale around the facts. In this new release, the heart of the story is how Anna Anderson spent 50 years battling to be recognized as the Russian Grand Duchess, Anastasia Romanov. This well crafted story was told in a most unique format – chapters from Anastasia (pre-Romanov execution) are told in 1st person chronological order and chapters from Anna are told in 3rd person reverse chronology. Well worth the time to dive into this Romanov read.

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict – An engaging story of a young Irish woman who assumes a different identity enroute to the US and end up being placed as the lady’s maid for Andrew Carnegie’s mother. As Clara navigates learning the ways of being a lady’s maid she realizes that Mrs. Carnegie is still figuring out her place in society as the family has ascended from working class into the upper echelons of Pittsburgh society. Clara and Andrew form a forbidden friendship over a shared love of books and reading – as their relationship turns into more, Clara vanishes. As Andrew Carnegie hunts for her, the foundations for his charitable legacy & Carnegie Libraries are being established in his thinking and planning. An engaging “what if” story set against a well know figure of American industry whose philanthropy continues to this day.

What are you reading these days?

More May reading is found in my “Show Us Your Books” post and these 3 food reads.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s QuickLit. Also, joining in with Three on Thursday, hosted by Carole.

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