This is a delinquent review--I first read Christa's book last year, soon after it was published. It's a perfect book for beginning machine quilters, aThis is a delinquent review--I first read Christa's book last year, soon after it was published. It's a perfect book for beginning machine quilters, and a great book for those of us who are trying to get better.
I recently took out Machine Quilting with Style a few weeks ago when I was in the process of quilting a number of quilts and needed good ideas for good-looking, fairly straightforward quilting designs. I found exactly what I was looking for! I also needed a bit of a refresher course in certain quilting techniques and this book provided amply.
So thanks, Christa, for helping me in my time of quilting need! I highly recommend this book for beginning and advanced beginner machine quilters. Big plus: lots of cute quilt patterns! ...more
3.5, maybe 3.75 (but I can't quite make myself go all the way up to 4). I read this a couple of months ago and would be hard pressed now to give an in3.5, maybe 3.75 (but I can't quite make myself go all the way up to 4). I read this a couple of months ago and would be hard pressed now to give an in-depth review. But here are my general impressions: I found the character of Catherine well-done. It would be easy to dismiss her as a spoiled, rich dilettante, but I think Swan makes her a likeable, real character, flawed but also funny, with enough self-knowledge to keep her from being annoying. My problem--and to be fair, it's possible this is more my problem than the novel's--is I found William, Catherine's love interest, so unappealing that it sort of spoiled the story for me.
I think the book is well-written. Swan's secondary characters, particularly Catherine's sister, best friend and mother, are vividly portrayed and interesting. This is a debut novel, and it's good, but it's my hope that in her next book Swan doesn't feel the need to create a psychological thriller (to be honest, I'm not sure that's what this book really is, though it's being touted as such). The plot stretched credibility; for the most part, the characters did not. A writer worth watching....more
After reading the many negative reviews of I'm Glad About You, I find myself wanting to defend it. Which is weird, since I can't see myself actually rAfter reading the many negative reviews of I'm Glad About You, I find myself wanting to defend it. Which is weird, since I can't see myself actually recommending it. I've seen it called a beach read, but that's not quite right. It's too realistic for what most of us want from a beach reach (although I actually read it at the beach--go figure) and at times I found it a slog. Maybe I'd recommend this for young actresses who think they'd love to make it big. I'm Glad About You should disabuse them of this notion.
Many have written of the story's main characters, Allison and Kyle, as unlikeable, but I didn't find them so. I thought they were interesting and complicated, and I found Allison charming. Okay, Kyle is a bit of a pill at the story's beginning, which is to say he's unhappy and living a life that's at odds with the life he dreamed for himself. Instead of being a Doctors without Borders sort of doctor, he's a pediatrician at a large suburban practice. He is a serious Catholic with serious ideas. And he doesn't seem to be over his high school sweetheart, Allison, although he's married to the beautiful domestic goddess (and really unpleasant human being), Van.
When we first meet Allison, she's a struggling actress in New York, hoping for a life of art in the theatre. What she gets instead is a role on a bad TV show that launches her into stardom--or at least rising starlet-dom. While in many ways she stays true to her humble midwestern roots (she and Kyle are from Cincinatti, where Kyle still lives), she's willing to trade sexual favors to get ahead in a business she keeps wondering if she wants to get ahead in.
Allison and Kyle's stories for the most part run on parallel tracks, though occasionally they intersect when Allison comes back home for holidays or to run away from her new life. What pulls you through the novel in part is the question of whether or not they'll get back together. Clearly the attraction between the two of them is still strong. I won't spoil it for you, though I will say that by the novel's end you may not care.
Not so much because you don't care about the characters. I did, and Kyle grew on me over the course of the story. Part of the problem is the bulk of the story is Allison's, and almost everyone in Allison's story (other than Allison) is unlikeable and amoral. There's a lot of ugliness that I thought Allison tolerated for far too long, although I see how she's convinced herself she's just doing what everyone does to get ahead in show business. After awhile I found the Hollywood stuff tedious, and I wished there had been more back and forth between the two narratives, more balance between the stories.
Come to think of it, everyone in Kyle's story is also unlikeable. So that's a problem. But I did grow more and more interested in Kyle and felt like he developed as a character as the story went along. You see how important living a moral life is to him, and how his sense of what that entails deepens and becomes more complex over the course of the book. Readers might feel frustrated by Kyle's choices, but I found them true to who he is and wants to be.
The writing is good, and the story's ending, while sure to be unsatisfying to those who like things wrapped up neatly with a bow and a smiley face sticker, struck me as realistic and interesting. So while I wouldn't exactly recommend I'm Glad About You, there are certainly things in this novel to recommend it....more
This is one of those "I really wanted to like it" books. The sentence-level writing is gorgeous, and the subject matter--working in a high end NYC resThis is one of those "I really wanted to like it" books. The sentence-level writing is gorgeous, and the subject matter--working in a high end NYC restaurant--is (for some of us) nearly irresistible. And at first I liked Sweetbitter very much. Young girl moves to New York, gets an amazing job, is immersed in the life of the city ... What's not to like?
But after a hundred pages or so (maybe even fewer), I started to get frustrated. While I was enjoying protagonist Tess's introduction to fine food and wine, I kept waiting for, well, a plot. Eventually I could no longer deny what I'd begun to suspect: there was no plot, unless you call a 22-year-old backwaiter falling in love with the attractive-yet-troubled bartender a plot. It's not.
Tess's relationship with Jake the bartender is as tedious as you'd imagine. The more interesting relationship is the one between Tess and Simone, the restaurant's doyenne and longest-serving server. Simone takes on Tess as her protege, teaching her about wine, urging her to go deeper, learn more. Simone in many ways is who Tess wants to be--well-traveled, at home in the world, mysterious, cultured.
The problem is neither Simone or Tess (or Jake, the troubled bartender) are fully developed characters. And they're the main ones, so imagine how unmemorable the secondary characters are. Simone is intriguing, but ultimately she seems like a type instead of real person. Same with Tess, same with Jake. But they're so close to being more than that! I finished this book wishing it had gone through one more round of edits (you will grow tired of the drinking and the snorting and the vomiting, I promise; you will begin to skim), in which the author had gone more deeply into her main characters. I had the feeling she didn't want to reveal too much about them because she was holding back for the penultimate reveal ... but to be honest, what we learn at the end of the book doesn't have much of a payoff. I think it's supposed to be shocking, but it isn't. Or it's not really that interesting--so, mildly shocking in a boring kind of way. I'd rather have real characters.
Anyway, if you're twenty and living at home in the suburbs this summer, dreaming about how great life will be once you're shed of your parents and your job at the mall, you'll like this book more than I did. If you're me, you'll read to the end (after vowing to give up in the middle), skimming as you go, because you're curious how things will turn out. But of course you already know how things turn out. They always turn out that way....more
I happened to find this on my library's New Books shelf and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did--this is a masterful, wide-ranging collectionI happened to find this on my library's New Books shelf and decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did--this is a masterful, wide-ranging collection of stories, one that looks life head-on, without sentimentality, yet manages to avoid cynicism. Families are dysfunctional, but not without affection. Lives are complicated, and sometimes dark, but not without hope. Okay, there's at least one story I'd call grim, but its O.Henry ending is exactly right. Perhaps most importantly, every story is interesting. Even stories that I thought might not be my cup of tea ended up yielding rewards. Highly recommended.
First, this is a gorgeous book. The photography is wonderful, the quilts are beautiful. I know some people don't like the font, and okay, it's small aFirst, this is a gorgeous book. The photography is wonderful, the quilts are beautiful. I know some people don't like the font, and okay, it's small and a little light, so be forewarned. I thought it looked pretty cool, but the naysayers do have a point.
I'm a story person, so I love that each quilt comes with the story of where Heather found her inspiration for its design. I found myself looking at the world differently after reading this book, seeking out patterns as I walked my dog around the block or while out running errands.
As always, I appreciate Heather's emphasis on color and color theory. The designs here are on the simple side, but the quilts themselves pack a punch because of how brilliantly color is used.
I would recommend this book for newer quilters looking for fairly easy patterns that will yield fantastic results or to any quilter who wants to explore color more deeply. For me, Quilt Local is as much an art book as a project book, one that I'm sure I'll continue to look at for inspiration. ...more
What I most enjoyed about this book was the abundance of stories about quilters. Over seventeen quilters are profiled (including one quilting circle),What I most enjoyed about this book was the abundance of stories about quilters. Over seventeen quilters are profiled (including one quilting circle), and each one is given her (or his!) own chapter and a fairly comprehensive quilting biography.
My only complaint is the quilters are not paired with pictures of their quilts; in fact, many of the quilts shown here aren't connected to the quilt stories. Nonetheless the quilts are beautiful and the book itself is quite attractive. ...more
After years of training, Paul Kalanithi was about to begin his career as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer. This heart-After years of training, Paul Kalanithi was about to begin his career as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer. This heart-wrenching book, written in the short span of time between Kalanithi's diagnosis and his death, chronicles his life before cancer--the student torn between literature and science, the young doctor dissecting corpses, the marriage to another doctor--and his life as a patient. Kalanithi is an elegant, humane writer. Well worth reading....more