Review: Three Dimensional Beadwork by Sigrid Wynne-Evans

Three Dimensional Beadwork
by Sigrid Wynne-Evans
Rating: ****
Read 9/29/2013

Splendid! Wynne-Evans gives instructions that are not prescriptive but more suggestive. She trusts that the person reading her book is already at a high level of beadweaving expertise, and just guides one along. The ideas are stellar, the photographs adequate. Though there are patterns, they are presented as guidelines rather than rules, and there’s a lovely feeling of collaboration buzzing throughout the book.

Review: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet
by Madeleine L’Engle
Rating: *****
Read 9/29/2013

I’m spending a month away from home for work. I thought it would be lovely to listen to old favorites, and have whiled away many contented almost-sleeping hours listening to Louisa May Alcott and Elizabeth Enright. Then there was this. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love unreservedly. But in a strange place? In the middle of the night? There’s not a lot of sleeping going on.

This book conjures up my childhood, with the spectre of nuclear war, more cogently than nearly any other fiction I’ve read. L’Engle’s dialogue may be wooden, but her characters manage to overcome that and take up root in one’s psyche.

I can’t say anything objective about this, I don’t know why I even try.

Review: Return To Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright

Return To Gone-Away
by Elizabeth Enright
Rating: *****
Read 9/29/2013

“Sometimes a story can open a world for you: you step into it and forget the real one you live in.”

I love these books. Not least because these two books were in the vanishingly small number of books that my son would deign to read. Not least because Enright understood boys right down to the bone. Not least because of the botanizing. Certainly because of the quality of the prose, which is unequalled. Certainly because of the characters.

Seriously, if you haven’t read any Enright? Stop dicking around on the internet and go read as much of her stuff as you can find.

Review: Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

Gone-Away Lake
by Elizabeth Enright
Rating: *****
Read 9/27/2013

09/13 Howling wildernesses! Tarquin et Pindar! Inner pie! How do I love this book? Let me count the ways. Having it on audio to listen to while I fall asleep is so splendid I can’t begin to say. Being far from home, waking in the deeps of the night, and instead of being disoriented, finding oneself on Craney Crow- well, the comfort is inexpressible.

12/12 Revisited this all-time favorite on audio during a road trip. I was stunned to learn that even though I reread it often, and I’ve read it countless times to my son, my husband had never heard of it. He loved it- to no one’s surprise. What’s not to love? It’s hilarious, it’s poignant, it’s got howling wildernesses, outer space and inner pie. It’s got The Gulper. So well-written, so evocative.

Review: Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen by Glen Huser

Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen
by Glen Huser
Rating: ***
Date read 9/28/2013

I enjoyed this story of a kid in foster care and a woman in elder care who come together serendipitously and go off on a big adventure. There was no warm fuzzy sweater drawn over the realities of the nursing home, and all the adults involved in administering foster care seemed quite real and well-meaning if sometimes wrong-headed. I dug the principal characters, who traded off chapters. Fun without being smarmy.

Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
By Maria Semple
Rating: ***
Read 9/27/2013

I can’t remember why I thought I wanted to read this, other than maybe the Seattle setting. It’s another one of those “not my thing” books that turned out okay. The dialogue is what makes the book, I think. The characters do pop right off the page, and are for the most part very realistic. Bernadette herself was my favorite because it’s easy to see how things could happen to a brilliant architect/artist so she finds herself in the position Bernadette winds up in. Frothy fun with the odd nugget of brilliance.

Review: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

The Saturdays
by Elizabeth Enright
Rating: *****
Date read 9/29/2013

I love these books. I hate, hate, hate the new covers. Hate. What in the world could be better than Maginel’s little girl’s watercolors? Ahem.

Oh how I love Enright’s books. This one has a special place in my heart, naturally. They all do. This one has the alligator! Oliver! The bob! The opera- though even Enright failed to make me appreciate opera in real life.

One must never forget Enright’s keen eye for botanizing. One can rest assured that if Enright says it’s blooming, then it is in fact blooming at just that season in just that locale. A virtue far to seek lately.

Review: Long Live the Queen by Ellen Emerson White

Long Live the Queen
by Ellen Emerson White
Rating: ****
Date read 9/25/2013

I’m probably never going to love this as much as many of my friends. But it’s engrossing and riveting and well-written. It’s not my favorite, not even my favorite by this author, but it’s really, really, good. Meg is utterly believable, if someone you never want to try to make friends with. Let alone date.

I love the snarky humor. I hate the commas.

Review: White House Autumn by Ellen Emerson White

White House Autumn
by Ellen Emerson White
Rating: ***
Date read 9/23/2013

I loved the Vietnam books by White so much. This series is good, but I think it suffers in comparison. I’m just not as involved, though I really like the character of the President a lot. I’m also ambivalent about the updating of older books, which seems pretty clunky in this case.


Review: The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein

The Fallback Plan
by Leigh Stein
Rating: ***
Date read 9/19/2013

I heard about Stein through a link someone posted to Facebook about modern poets to watch. My library didn’t have any of her poetry, but did have this slight, engaging novel. While I adored the homage to many favorite children’s books, I failed to identify with the 20-something, living at home angst. Stein is clearly in love with words and images, and it seems to me that her poetry somehow peeks through her prose. The plot is sort of plotless and meandering, like the 20-something protagonist. I suspect that I’m going to like her poetry better than I liked this book.