Hello again, book lovers. Sorry it’s been so quiet in here but I’ve spent the bulk of the past two months in the hospital and wasn’t able to post here very much. I am pleased to say that, failing any more complications or surprises, that I am on the mend and ready to get back to work making beautiful handmade literary jewelry for all of you obsessive book lovers, readers, and bibliophiles. I am in the process of getting the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop back up and running. I am not 100% there yet but I have some great Mother’s Day gifts, teacher appreciation gifts, and graduation gifts for book lovers posted and available for purchase in the shop and I expect to have more of your favorite book jewelry back in stock in the next few days. I am planning a Grand Reopening Sale when my shop is fully stocked and officially back in business so be sure to check back here (or subscribe to my newsletter) to get more details about that when they are available. I am also in the process of writing up book reviews for all the books I read while I was recovering, so stay tuned for those.
In the meanwhile, I want to thank you all for your patience and for the good thoughts / messages of encouragement many of you sent via Facebook and Instagram while I was sick and stressed. I really appreciated it!
P.S. I WAS able to post to Instagram and spent last month celebration National Poetry Month by posting a different poem or quote from a poem each day. It was pretty great and definitely worth checking out. If you don’t follow me on Instagram yet, you can see my posts here.
Hello again book lovers! Sorry it’s been so quiet here lately. I’ve been dealing with some health issues and had to spend some time in the hospital recently. I am home now and recovering but updates are probably going to be sporadic as I rest and recover. I also have to have an operation in a few weeks time so it will be a little while before things completely get back to normal around here. (Sorry about that). But with Black History Month coming to an end and since the film version of the book is up for a couple of Academy Awards this weekend, I wanted to pop on and share my book review of Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures. Enjoy!
A few weeks back, my family and I went to see Hidden Figures. The film – the story of three African American women, Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, and their contributions to the space race – was excellent and I highly recommend it. It was so good, in fact, that I wanted to know more about Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary’s story so – despite being an almost exclusive reader of fiction – I decided to pick up the book that the movie was based on, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley. If my goal was to know more about this topic, this book more than delivered. The book is a much broader and deeper look at the hidden figures of the space program. Rather than a feel-good story about just three remarkable women, the author gives a detailed and in-depth account of several generations of African American women who worked as computers, engineers, and mathematicians in the Space and Aeronautics program at Langley Research Center. The book also covers a much longer period of time than the movie did, celebrating the contributions the women made to Langley from World War II to the space race and beyond – rather than just focusing on the 1960’s – and placing those contributions in the social and technological context of the times. I am not very mathematically orientated so – I have to admit – I glazed over a little when the writer delved into the technical aspects of the women’s work, but otherwise I enjoyed getting to know more about the (until now) hidden figures of the space program and their contributions to history.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a series of Valentine’s Day outfits for book lovers inspired by famous literary couples. So when one of my Instagram followers suggested that I do a Gone with the Wind outfit inspired by Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, I was intrigued. I started to envision the outfit that a modern-day Scarlett O’Hara would wear when she sets out to prove to Rhett that he really DOES give a damn about her and convince him to come home to her. This is what I came up with.
Say what you will about Scarlett O’Hara but the girl knows how to turn heads and rock a green dress! From the iconic green floral dress she wore to the Twelve Oaks BBQ to the green dress she made from the curtains, green seems to be Miss Scarlett’s signature color so I knew whatever look I made had to start with a killer green dress! I considered a lot of dresses with long, full skirts as a nod to the book’s Civil War setting but decided that, given a choice, Scarlett would have ditched the hoop skirts and crinoline the first chance she got, and opted from something more modern. I’ve always thought of Scarlett as a fashion rebel who wasn’t afraid to make a statement and flaunt her sex appeal so I went with this form-fitting cocktail dress with a deep neckline and paired it with matching heels and a pair of Gone With the Wind earrings from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop. All together, this Gone With the Wind outfit is perfect for a wedding at Tara, date night with your own, personal Rhett Butler, or a hot night on the town in Atlanta.
It’s a snowy day here in New York, the kind of day that is perfect for gathering round the fire and listening to old tales of clever heroines having adventures in wintry Russian forests. Of course, if you don’t happen to know any old Russian folktales, you can get the same sort of effect by curling up with The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. There’s been a lot of buzz about The Bear and the Nightingale lately. I’ve seen it compared to the Night Circus and to Neil Gaiman’s work so I was extremely eager to get my hands on the book and see if it lived up to the hype. I am also a big fan of books that play with fairy tale motifs and this story, which plays with Russian folklore and stories, seemed to have a lot of potential.
The book tells the story of a young girl, Vasya, who is able to see and interact with the household spirits and various fey-like creatures in the fields and forests that surround her father’s home. This ability and Vasya’s family observance of the little offerings and rituals that honor these creatures keeps the family safe and ensures their prosperity. When Vasya’s father brings home a new bride – a hysterical, tortured woman who can also see the household spirits but who is convinced they are demons to be feared – the balance between their people’s Christian faith and the old ways is thrown off. And when a charismatic, fanatic of a priest arrives – bringing fear and threats of hellfire with him – the protections erode completely. The dead begin to walk, a cruel winter descends, and a dark force starts to rise in the forest. Only Vasya, with the help of Lord Frost, the spirit of Winter and of Death, can stand between her family and the Bear who is coming to devour them.
Now that I’ve read The Bear and the Nightingale, I must admit to having a more mixed reaction than I expected. I hated the one-dimensional, tired old trope of a villain, a fanatic, intolerant priest who, in his quest for glory and control, dominates the village with his message of fear and becomes an unwitting pawn of the darkness. But the world that Katherine Arden built is rich and interesting and I loved her use of Russian myths and fairy tales. From what little I know about Russian folk stories and the little details Arden weaves into the tale, especially the part of the story where Vasya is brought to Lord Frost’s home, there is room to delve deeper and explore in this world. It also seemed to me that The Bear and the Nightingale had every indication of being the first books in a series. If I am right about that, then all the interesting characters that are introduced and then disappear, (like Sasha, Vasya’s brother who leaves home to become a warrior monk in the service of God and Russia’s Grand Prince), and all of Vasya’s future adventures that are alluded to but never explored go from being a side note to potential books look forward to. So, while The Bear and the Nightingale didn’t exactly live up to my immediate expectations, I am willing to say that it is an excellent investment in future stories and I look forward to seeing what Katherine Arden does next.
What do you think, book lovers? What’s your favorite book to curl up with on a snowy day? What should I read / review next? Let me know in the comments below. And until next time, take care and happy reading!
P.S. Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your book-loving Valentine? There’s just a few days left in the C. S. Literary Jewelry Valentine’s Day Sale.
Go Shakespeare – chic this Valentine’s Day with a romantic Romeo and Juliet outfit inspired by William Shakespeare’s timeless tale of star cross’d lovers. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, prom night, weddings, date night at the theatre, and romantic, starlit rendezvous on your balcony, this elegant outfit features handmade pearl drop jewelry with text from the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene.
Good morning book lovers! With Valentine’s Day on it’s way and today being National Spouses Day, I thought it would be a good time to share a book lover’s outfit inspired by the romance between one of my favorite literary couples, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables books. Their progression from nemesis / rivals to chums to soul mates is simply the most wonderful love story and I wanted to create a look that captured the spirit of their relationship. So I took a pink sweater with a sweet white color, a pair of black slacks, and pink flats and then added an Anne of Green Gables heart necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop. All in all, this Anne of Green Gables outfit is sweet, classic, and perfect for everyday romance with your best friend.
There’s no better way to spend a snow day that curled up on the sofa with your favorite Jane Austen novel. So when the snow started to fall here in NY, I was inspired to create this relaxed book lovers outfit. I wanted something that captured the warmth and relaxation of a day spent watching the snow fall and dreaming of Mr. Darcy so I paired a thick, comfy sweater and a pair of slacks in warm neutral tones with a romantic Pride and Prejudice Heart Necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop. Add a cup of tea and a fire in the fireplace and you have the perfect snowy day!!!