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Lyn

I'm a fan of Alison Weir's historical biographies & she's just announced the beginning of a new series on England's medieval queens.
http://www.alisonweir.org.uk/news/index.asp
She's written books on Eleanor of Aquitaine & Isabella of France but there are many less well-known women from the Conquest to the Tudors. I wish she'd gone back to some of the Anglo-Saxon queens but the research for that would be difficult. Anyway, I'm looking forward to Queens of the Conquest & already have it pre-ordered.
I'm also reading Elly Griffiths' new Ruth Galloway mystery, The Chalk Pit, & loving it.

Danielle

Hi Lyn--How are you! I have felt so out of touch--thanks for the lovely comment! I have some of Alison Weir's books--after watching the BBC(?) series about Queen Victoria I am sort of in the mood for some historical fiction--like pre-modern times historical fiction. I had to check out the link--did you see she even mentions tapestry kits? I am adding Queens of the Conquest to my own wishlist. It is not published here until fall, but I bet my library will be getting it--thanks for the heads up. And I really must get back to Elly G's Ruth Galloway mysteries...if I didn't already have two mysteries on the go right now I might go pick up one of her books. ;)

Lark

I saw a murder of crows at the library today; they were sitting atop a street light discussing the situation in raucous cries that drew the attention of everyone driving by. I love crows. And seeing the three of them conversing made me wonder what they were plotting. It almost felt like the start of a great murder mystery. :) Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Danielle

That's a great story! I love that their collective name is a murder of crows, too. It's surely a sign of better weather coming when the birds are out and chattering away! When I hear them in the morning I know spring is here. Do you think they totally understand each other--I guess they must, right? I wonder what mischief they were up to! :)

Judith

Hi Danielle,
You mentioned in a not-too-long-ago post that you were interested in getting or hankering for some good fiction in translation.

Mind you, I haven't read the entire book, but I'm quite overcome by the first 30 pages of the Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld's most recent book. You may know him already--he has written dozens of books in Hebrew, though Polish was his first language. This new book, translated into English and published in the U.S. in 2017 is The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping.

Actually the "Man," at the beginning of the novel, is a 16-year-old boy who, though he is forever sleeping, is helped all along the way to Palestine after World War II. I've been so moved by the incredible writing and the compassion of the author for a young man who does not want to let go of the dreams he has each night,luxuriating in memories of his mother and father and the past. Later, he's in a kibbutz and is being shown "the way forward," and he tries, but, but,... and there's the story.

The writing is so beautiful, so true, so comforting, I was positively mesmerized in the first 30 pages, and that's not a verb I use casually.

I know it can seem sometimes that we have read all we can possibly read relating to the Holocaust, but this for me was different. I can remember, and I think most mature people can recall, a time in their life that was very, very hard, perhaps somewhat tragic, when sleep was seen as something welcome, to forget, perhaps, and, as with this young man, remember.
J.

Janet

For years I have put off reading anything by the author Iris Murdoch thinking she would be too highbrow for me. Then I broke down and ordered her prize winning novel The Sea, The Sea and to say I love it is not high enough praise. I'm reading it as slowly as I can to make it last. And next week my husband and I are flying to New York City to spend a few days. I'm excited.

Val

Possibly a little light history ?
https://twitter.com/donaeldunready

Readerlane

I recently enjoyed this short interview with author Ernest Gaines who wrote The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying. Makes me wonder why I don't look for more author interviews after reading their work! https://youtu.be/bIaUxGHeSfo

Readerlane

Also, you might like this story about an artist who uses plant roots to make textile like art: http://www.treehugger.com/culture/plant-roots-grown-into-patterns-diana-scherer.html. I love the pictures here although not sure I get all the details of how this works.

What gets me excited this week is studying for my Spanish class. I'm glad to have the class start up after the winter break and a little depressed by how much I forgot over those 6 weeks. Back to the vocabulary cards!

Danielle

Hi Judith, Thanks so much for your suggestion--yes I am still very much in the mood for (and have been very lax on following through) some good fiction in translation. I have read a memoir by Appelfeld and know he is a very good writer but I was not aware of this new book. I have requested it at the library and as it was (lucky for me) on the shelves at my branch I hope to pick it up this afternoon! I know sometimes you read along with Caroline for her war and literature readalong and was wondering if you had also picked up Magnus (so, I guess I am actually reading something in translation!--Just started this one). I wasn't sure if I would get on with it as it is presented in 'fragments' but I am very much enjoying it. It is told from the perspective of a nine year old German boy who must flee with his parents at the end of WWII. I won't say more so as not to give too much away, but it is surprising me in some interesting ways--a meditation on losing your name, family and homeland (definitely an important theme these days). I think you would like it if you have not picked it up (it is translated from French). I am excited to pick up a book again by an Israeli author, too (the Appelfeld). Best! :)

Danielle

Don't you love it when you get to an author you admire and want to read but are afraid to? And then find you love their writing?! To be honest I have looked at Iris Murdoch's books myself (I know I have a couple on my own shelves)but she intimidates me a little, too!! I will have to give her a try as well--she has always seemed so formidable to me! Yay--good for you for going away to NYC. I hope you have a fantastic time there. Maybe you will get to the Strand bookstore? ;)

Danielle

Hah--I had not seen that, but I am going to follow. Thank You-I need a little light amusement and so very Creative, too! (Just what I had in mind). :)

Danielle

I read A Lesson Before Dying when I was in college and took a Black Lit class (we read so many great books) but I have never read more since then by him. I really need to reread that book--or pick up another one. Thanks for the interview link--I am going to check it out. It sounds very inspiring indeed--thanks!

Danielle

Yay--another new to me cool link which I will now follow. Unfortunately I get a 'page not found' when I click through so they must have moved the story, but I will dig around until I find it as I am most intrigued. I am like you--I love learning new things and taking classes and those little breaks do make you (they do me anyway) a tiny bit lazy, so I am always happy to get back into a good routine. I have been thinking how I would love to learn to play the violin or the piano--as learning new things like languages is so good for your brain! I would love to learn Italian but I have never been able to find a proper class here in Omaha! I am sure once you are back in class it will all come back to you!

Caroline

I know how you feel. I keep collecting news and stories to cheer me up.
So I read this which I loved. A couple of shepherds have started to keep sheep on the periphery of Paris and walk them into the city. The city pays them a little few for the grazing and they keep the lawns in parks nicely clipped. Der Spiegel wrote about it here. It has many photos.
http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/schafe-in-paris-woll-waschgang-durch-saint-denis-fotostrecke-144383.html

Smithereens

Dear Danielle, I think it's time for another round of stories in the mail, what do you think? I am in London until tomorrow, and of course I had to go to the Persephone bookshop. Can you guess which ones I got?

Stefanie

I am going to be starting pepper seeds this weekend. Also, the Dashwoods are thrilled to be out in the muddy garden and yesterday I let them out after work and they immediately began scratching and flinging mud everywhere. It was a good thing I was wearing my wellies as quite a bit of it landed on me!

Val

Looks like Donaeld reads this https://twitter.com/BreitbartChron

but not this
https://twitter.com/JorvikTimes

they are complimentary and amusing..and we so need the light relief!

iliana

For some reason I'm also finding it hard to finish a book this month. Maybe I should have less books in progress and just stick with one! Something good? I'm making progress on my studio clean up so hopefully I can start crafting soon. Hope you are having a great weekend!

Kathy

It happens. We lose our appreciation or zest from time to time. Finishing a book might do the trick, or even starting a new and compelling one. You're probably one book/project/activity away from feeling all better :). (At least I hope so.)

It may seem silly, but one thing I'm enjoying right now is a new planner. I bought a Franklin Covey binder and inserts, and have been decorating the inserts with washi tape and stickers. I made a dashboard from cardstock, and am going to make my own dividers out of cardstock as well. I use my planner daily, and I like having something pretty. My old one was starting to fall apart, so for now it's been retired. If you want to fall down an internet rabbit hole, search for planner videos on YouTube, and you'll find a giant subculture of planner addicts. I'm not that far gone, but I did get some ideas from the videos.

Danielle

Ah, yes, thank goodness for satire! The one highlight of this madness--it does bring out a lot of creativity!!

Danielle

That is so cool! I love how they do things in Paris! In the past they have created a beach in Paris, too, haven't they? Everyone needs a little nature in their lives--I would be happy with a cat in the library! ;) Thanks for sharing the link--those photos tell the story perfectly!

Danielle

Yay--it is time for more stories. I need something nice to look forward to in the mail. How did you manage to walk away from the Persephone bookshop with only two books!! :)

Danielle

Seeds need to be planted before Easter, don't they (or before Lent even)--I have been told. Doesn't it make you feel good to grow things? Do the cats bother the plants or are they kept under cover? I bet the Dashwoods have been going a little stir crazy in their coop--we are all ready for nice weather (even though this winter has been strangely mild). This is a weird question--but do chickens groom themselves? All that mud and dirt and them scratching around....

Danielle

Have less started?! Naw! Well, maybe.... I try to just work in rotation--choose a few books from the bigger stack, but lately my reading has been pell mell. I think a good cleaning in any creative space makes you feel more creative--room to think and dream. I do that often in my bedroom--clear out and clean up! Good luck finishing a book or two in this last week of the month!

Danielle

I seem to be of the 'starting a new one' group. I have finished a few books this month, but they seem to only be easy graphic novels or really short books, and somehow it feels like I am cheating! Crazy!! Your comment intrigues me--I am going to have to search for those videos now. It sounds like art journaling--though maybe with a different purpose perhaps. Anything creative like that is inspiring!

Caroline

Yes, there's a beach. Europe is big on "renaturation" projects. I saw stunnig stuff from London - walls on which they planetd herbs for everyone to pick and now all the churches plant fruit and other blossoming trees for bees. I follow some of those accounts on Twitter. It cheers me up so much.

Danielle


Thank goodness for projects like these! I feel like here in the US we are digressing at rocket speed--every progressive and creative and thoughtful decision and laws are being repealed daily. It disgusts and saddens me. I am sure there will be pockets
of progressive people here who will have to take those ideas up and show leadership on grass roots levels as our elected leaders are firmly planting their heads in the sand. Ugh. I will have to look for those websites and Twitter feeds--I need something
cheery and light to combat all the other ugliness!

Stefanie

I do like growing things! The cats don't bother the seed starting operation at all. They like to help me fold the paper pots but once they get filled with dirt they lose interest. Not a weird question at all! Yes, chickens do groom themselves, like most/all birds they preen their feathers. They don't directly clean their feet but somehow in the process of everything else they manage to come out mostly clean.

Danielle

I like having plants but I am not a very good plant-carer! I need plants that don't require too much maintenance! :) Good to hear the chickens are fastidious--maybe most animals are--I guess they have to be really. Imagine a sloppy cat or something! :)

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