A little bit of this and a little bit of that today. Books first, though. I've got quite a stack of library books at the moment. They all look good and I hope to squeeze in as many as I can. Unsurprisingly I've read an inordinately large number of library books this year. I seem to read about three library books to one of my own lately. As for this pile, I've got to prioritize, which usually means the ones that have the closest due dates and can't be renewed are always at the top. In no particular order I've got:
Pure by Andrew Miller -- It won the 2011 Costa Best Novel Award. It's set at the beginning of the French Revolution about a young engineer charged with redesigning the overflowing cemetery of Les Innocents. It sounds quite descriptive!
I'm sure I've mentioned Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, which is supposed to be an excellent thriller. "A sexy and suspenseful psychological debut thriller that explores romantic obsession, the darker side of female friendships, and the line between love and violence."
I've heard mixed things about Juliet Nicholson's Abdication. She's written a number of nonfiction books and here tries her hand at a novel. Although the story is on the surface about King Edward VIII's abdication of the throne for Wallis Simpson, I think it is more about the lives of the secondary characters. Could be good as I love the era, as long as I know going into it that the actual abdication takes back seat to other events in the story.
Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone is at the top of the pile (it has the longest line of people waiting to read it after me, so I don't want to have to go to the back of the line if I don't read it now). I think this one has gotten lots of publicity already--less about the up and coming Louise Brooks, than the woman who acts as her chaperone in NYC in 1922. I've read a bit and liked what I've seen so far, so I'm looking forward to getting into the story.
I requested Eline Vere by Louis Couperus for the Dutch Lit Mon th this month. I don't expect to finish it in June (here's me being realistic) as it is over 500 pages and rather chunky dimension-wise. I have started it and have fallen into the story easily. I wasn't sure how the translation would be, but it reads well.
Another book I've been looking forward to, Sara Foster's Beneath the Shadows, is also a thriller. This time it's set in cold, snowy Yorkshire, which very much appeals to me at the moment as I sit here typing (and perspiring) in 90F plus heat. It's June, and I shouldn't whine about it--too soon for that with the whole summer ahead of me. The blurb calls it a story of gothic suspense akin to Rosamond Lupton and Sophie Hannah.
And I think I've also mentioned Suzanne Joinson's Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar as well. My fingers are itchy to start all these books (did I mention that already?). This one has two parallel stories--one set in contemporary London and the other 1923 England/Kashgar (do the two characters ever get to Kashgar?).
Yesterday I ordered supplies to stitch this sampler, "Pink Hill Manor", by Blackbird Designs. I've owned the chart for about a year and am in the mood now to stitch it. I've also got an ulterior motive as I have decided to enter some of my recent needlework projects into the State Fair. I've never entered my work into any sort of competition, and haven't a clue whether anything I do would be good enough to win anything, but it sounds like it could be fun and might even provide motivation to me to make better progress on my work.
To that end, I need to decide what I want to enter. The work has to be something completed within the last three years. And it has to be something that I think might actually have a chance of catching a judges eye. Do you remember my "Mystery Sampler"? It is also a Blackbird Design and I am more than halfway finished with the stitching. I think the last two sections would go fast if I could just get past this more labor intensive (lots of filling in of stitches) middle part. Once it is sewn together and framed I think it would be a pretty striking piece.
This is an eight-corner pincushion (you can see the top of it and the underside), which would be easy to finish, and maybe fairly quick to stitch. The designer is Just Nan and it's called "When Barnabee Met Bella". Barnabee and Bella at bees and they are recurring 'characters' in a series of needlework designs by Just Nan (I've got a number of them by the way). This is one of my favorite ways to finish a design, though it might have to go into a "miscellaneous" category.
And there is a sampler category, in which this would fit nicely. However, it is only perhaps a third of the way finished. The State Fair is in late August, which means I don't have a lot of time and should really concentrate on just one project (or one project and the little pincushion).
How to choose? If you were a judge, which would you be most impressed with?
I've fallen behind in writing about the books I've finished. I've fallen behind in letter writing and now I have needlework that is calling for my attention. I say this all the time (and then never do it), but I might post less this summer, so I can have a bit more time (offline) to do some other things. It's really hard when there are so many things I'd like to do, but no matter how organized I try and be, I can't manage anywhere near what I'd like to accomplish!