Embroidered Life, by Sara Barnes, follows the craft of embroidery as practiced by Sarah K. Benning. And it is the ultimate craft inspo!
Craft of Sarah K. Benning
From beautiful botanicals to bold affirmations, the work of self-taught fiber artist Sarah K. Benning gives any embroidery enthusiast, art lover, or plant fanatic a new appreciation for the craft of needlework.
I absolutely loved the art that is this book in itself. It sheds light on Benning’s embroidery process and her successful business model, while also offering behind-the-scenes insights that really inspired me to pick up the needle and thread after almost a decade.
Aesthetics of this craft
There are also some amazing pictures of the various embroidery works done by Benning and they are so lush and beautiful! A lot of her works feature nature and plants and the colour green overall, and it was no wonder I was so very attracted to it. Following each picture, the author has also included notes to explain the meanings and processes behind the stitches.
How it inspired me
It also obviously pushed me to make my own embroidery piece and so I too ended up embroidering my personal logo. I had a great time making it and I realized that it is a kind of meditation. It just feels so good to sit down in the warm sunshine every morning and do the stitching. I really felt at peace doing it.
Craft for life!
Moreover, the book is so aesthetic, and the addition of the die-cut case with actual stitching on the front cover just amps up the aesthetics! Like the embroidery which is a very physical thing, the inclusion of this stitching on the front too is iconic for emulating that sense of touch.
A smashing book!
I think by now it’s obvious I think it is a 5/5 star book, don’t you?
Lost Transmissions is a lavish storehouse on lost or under-appreciated works of sci-fi and fantasy, in various fields like fashion, music, literature, etc!
I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Sci-fi and fantasy storehouse!
This book is an amazing collection of essays, interviews, etc. If you are into sci-fi/fantasy, this is definitely a book you need to pick up. It also has been specifically divided into segments of Literature, Film & TV, Architecture, Art & Design, Music, Fashion and Fandom & Pop Culture.
Why pick up this sci-fi/fantasy book
I personally have been interested in fantasy for quite some time now. However, sci-fi is a genre that I need to explore more, and so this was a perfect revelatory starting point for me. Whatever your interests might be, it covers the wide ground. That is why, I believe, this book has something for everyone! The content is very expansive and since it covers a myriad of different topics, it also throws light on how sci-fi has affected broader culture. Not only is this a very informative book, but it is also really fun to read.
My likes and dislikes:
While the literature segment was my favourite, I skimmed through the fashion and music segments. I am sure that for some others, those two might be interesting. One of the pieces worth mentioning is ‘On Fantasy Maps’! A mention by me about a piece on the Voynich Manuscript was enough to make Dad eager to read the book too!
A superb cover and apt title!
The cover, as well as the whole presentation of the book, is superb. The illustrations also help make this a definitive book in the genre. The title was also very apt – as the book does talk about forgotten sci-fi related stuff – “transmission” is a really well-chosen word.
This classic poetry collection is an intensely private reflection on Walt Whitman’s attraction to and affection for other men.
One of the most beautiful books that I have ever owned, Live Oak, With Moss, is simply filled to the brim with the poet’s haunting love for the beloved. Whitman’s longing just soaks the page and flows to your heart. The way the poet has combined nature with these poems is stunning. It made these so much more potent, real and raw. Apart from this burgeoning sense of longing, these subtly erotic poems are filled with the hope for a distant time and place when there will be a wholesome space for all these men to gather and simply be themselves.
I am reading Song of Myself from Leaves of Grass, for a class this semester. So, reading Live Oak, With Moss was illuminating in a way I never thought possible. I was overwhelmed by the words and the emotions they swelled up in me.
Live Oak, With Moss, is without a doubt, one of the best collections I have ever read and felt.
A consuming historical fiction novel, The Orange Grove is set in 18th century France. This historical fiction is full of suspense, rivalries, and secrets!
A thoroughly entertaining and delicious read, The Orange Grove by Kate Murdoch, is a historical fiction set in 18th century France. From the synopsis itself, I could imagine that it would be full of political rivalries, power plays, secrets, etc. So I had high hopes for the book. I am glad to say that it definitely exceeded my expectations.
With a glorious world-building, the plot largely takes place in Blois, in the chateau of Dux Hugo d’Amboise. Inhabited by the Duc, his wife the Duchesse, and five mistresses, it is a regal world. But this aspect itself was baffling for me – for a modern-day woman like myself, this is a curious living situation. As one would aspect, the women, although living in a more or less harmonious existence, often have certain insecurities brewing between them. The Duchesse is acquainted with the ways of her world – any respected nobleman could have mistresses. However, Charlotte is only okay as long as the Duc loves only her. But when the Duc takes on a new mistress, a young noblewoman. He seems thoroughly besotted with her and so, Charlotte feels threatened. And it is from this insecurity that rises, that the story really starts.
The author portrays the tense environment well. It is clear that the author has done extensive research on this subject and this historical era. The women resort to underhanded means and ways to gain favour at the Duc’s hand. There are various secrets which, if revealed, may shake the roots of the power relations. The setting and plot have been well constructed.
Characterization of Henriette
The character of the protagonist, Henriette, is a morally sound person, I feel. She too has secrets to keep, just like everyone else, but I admire her willingness to help and support another woman instead of viewing her as the enemy. I think this has been the root cause of disharmony among women throughout history. Women are raised to perceive one another as competitors. However, in recent times, this has definitely changed I believe.
The characterization when it comes to the others too is well done. We see the characters escalating toward a certain point, the climax so to say, and then follows their rise or downfall. What is also commendable is how wonderfully the author has kept the reader engrossed throughout – whether it is in the case of Henriette, her daughter Solange, Solange’s cute friendship with Tomas, the other mistresses, the tarot reader Romain, etc.
The themes of friendship, enmity, status and power, morality, loyalty, etc. have been thoroughly played through the characters in the book. In the end, it was thrilling to see how these people support and hate or pull tricks on one another all for the sake of power. Fashion, culture, sexuality, entertainment, culture, etc have also been shown throughout the lives of these characters. It has been a consuming read and I enjoyed each and every page of this novel. I rate this 4.5/5 stars.
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys is a retelling of 6 popular stories from Greek mythology. The author lends his humourous spirit to this collection!
Greek Mythology: Stunning art pieces
First off, I want to just spend a moment to rest my eyes on the stunning cover! I love the yellows and the browns and it is just so aesthetic! The warm tones provide the perfect spot of colour in this dismal weather.
A Wonder Books for Girls and Boys
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys is basically a retelling of 6 popular Greek stories – The Gorgon’s Head, The Golden Touch, The Paradise of Children, The Three Golden Apples, The Miraculous Pitcher and The Chimaera. Most of us have already heard of Medusa and Midas in some morality play or moral stories, in one way or the other. This, Hawthorne’s method, too, proved to be a hearty experience.
The stories are written in the story-within-a-story format and in this way, the author has involved a brilliant framing device. ‘Cousin Eustace’ a bright lad of 18, is telling these stories to his younger cousins, adding his own flavours to the curry, so to speak. Hawthorne’s blend of humour abounds this collection.
The stories are not truly ‘faithful’ to the actual Greek legends, but instead, Hawthorne has added his own spirit and essence to these. He has rewritten these stories in a gothic or a romantic style. Although essentially the same, there are many funny instances that will make you laugh out loud at times. Each of these stories provides an exceptional experience to the reader and makes for one hell of a time!
Although there are also morals clearly thrust forward, it is not overbearingly so. Thus, it proved to be an interesting read and not preachy at all! I rate this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to you all. It is quite short and you can read it in an hour. You could also read it out to your children or siblings and I am sure that they will love them as well.
The Octopus Curse is a poetry collection by Dr. Salma Forook and I have yet to come across a more aesthetic anthology of poetry. Needless to say I loved it!
The Octopus Curse by Salma Farook is a collection of powerful poems, focusing on love, heartbreak, resilience, travel, self-love, feminity and women’s issues, etc. I have read What Your Soul Already Knows by the author last year and I had found it to be the best motivational book there ever was, without sounding too preachy and such. As such, when the author approached me for her second book, of course, I had to say yes!
Like her previous book, the words in this book too continue to be just as meaningful and full of depth. I love how the execution has been made. The words are rhythmic and lyrical and thus very heart warming as well as soothing to the ears. Through these different pieces, the author has inspired the reader to confront their feelings and accept them and most importantly, to be at peace with themselves.
The book is a work of art and a more aesthetic poetry collection, I have yet to come across. I am so glad I got to read this book when I did because this was just the right time for me. Perhaps, if I had read it at some other moment of my life, it wouldn’t have touched me as much as it has. Many thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy.
Here’s one poem that I absolutely loved. Check this one out!
You can also check out the book here: Amazon (the ebook is free upto 5th of November), Goodreads
The Dutch House is a hauntingly beautiful family saga following the lives of the inhabitants of the eponymous and magnificent Dutch House.
Synopsis : At the end of the
Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to
begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to
enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a
lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for
his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.
The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older
sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the
house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are
thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all
they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them
that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot
overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are
only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they
return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But
when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the
relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is
The Dutch House
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is a beautiful and haunting saga revolving around the characters, all stemming from the eponymous Dutch House. Throughout the novel, we see the house as a character in itself. It forms an intrinsic factor is affecting the lives of all the people involved. Because of the opulence, this house brings with it with its majestic architecture, it also brings with it a huge responsibility and the issue of image.
The Dutch House’s meaning
On the one hand, we have Cyril Conroy who had bought this magnificent house as a gift for his wife; it is his pride and he loves it. His children Maeve, and her younger brother Danny love all its nooks and crannies. But on the other hand, to his wife, it is nothing more than a burden, one that intimidates her.
The characters of Sandy and Jocelyn
The house help Sandy and Jocelyn are also portrayed as characters who love the children, the lady of the house and are always permanent fixtures, who, although on the side, are unavoidable and welcome rather. They add the warm bits throughout, showering the children with love and care where there is a lack.
The bold and brave: Maeve
I simply loved Maeve’s character. She is shown as this hard-working and kind soul who just goes on and on even in the face of hardships. I love her role, especially as an elder sister. She is always there for her brother and never hesitates to give up so that he can achieve more.
The indulged brother: Danny
Danny, on the other hand, felt like a bit of a spoilt person to me. He is forever incapable of making mature decisions, I felt and was confused as to what decision to make. He seemed like a passive person most of the time and that makes him a bit unlikeable to me.
The evil stepmother: Andrea
Coming to Andrea, the ‘evil’ stepmother, I feel that she is sort of an enigma. The author has not really provided a solid back story to her and her two daughters which is why I think I have mixed feelings for her. On the one hand, I hate her for being the typical cruel stepmother and on the other hand, my mind is still holding on, unable to let go without knowing more about her.
The Dutch House is a beautiful book
Overall, I loved the way the author has written this beautiful book. It is a truly beautiful and nostalgia-inciting book, one that pulls you into the world. The way the house got back into the particular owner’s hands (I am not going to give you a spoiler), felt as if the story had come to a full circle. In a way, it was satisfying to behold. This has been one of the best books I have read this month, without a shadow of a doubt.
So hey guys! How’s it going? A couple of days ago, I uploaded my second YouTube video and it was sort of a how-to. How to decorate an autumn-themed bookshelf and reading nook? This is the most comfortable place for any book lover, and for that matter, anyone, to be honest. You can watch movies and listen to music and just chill with the homies. Autumn is the best time of the year when the world is just so photogenic and the temperature is great.
I had a ton of fun doing this. So without further ado, let me share the thoughts I kept in mind while creating this setup. I hope you guys try it out too.
Since I was recreating a Fall look, the colours I focused on were yellows, browns, reds and dark browns and a bit of black as well.
I tried to organize them in an order of increasing saturation. So I went from yellow, orange, red to a bit of brown, dark brown and a few purple ones too.
For decoration, I focused on three things:
A background – I used my DIY page-wallpaper for this. This adds depth and texture to the whole scene.
A bit of green – Yes, this is very much contrary to the theme, but rules are meant to be broken yeah?
Plaques – I put up my NorthEast creator Award plaque for display as well as this beautiful peacock one, which was my grandmother’s.
The autumn-y nook
In this area, I simply put down an old mattress, covered it with a white bedsheet and then strewed some brown cushions over it. You can also throw a shawl or a warm and soft blanket over it.
Candles and fairylights!
The most easy way to make something atmospheric? Candles all the way! I lighted up a few and put them all over the area. Fairylights are the other option. You can have both or you can have either. They also render a very photogenic effect to the place.
I would suggest putting a small table or stool nearby, for your ease and convenience, and where you can perhaps put your music player, or laptop or food.
And so, here’s how you make the best autumn-themed bookshelf and reading nook! I hope you enjoyed this post and I have a few more ideas coming up for this DIY segment of my blog! I’m excited and I hope you are too!
I read this poetry collection over the course of two weeks because I usually read poetry quite slowly so that I actually feel the words and can mull them over. Walk With Wings was an enjoyable read that I delved into. The poems were all divided into 5 sections: Monsoon Love, Winter Sorrow, Autumn Grace, Spring Resilient, and Summer Freedom. In short, poignant verses, Tene’s poems are a compilation of reflections on her experiences, thoughts, and feelings through love, loss, pain, healing, and resilience. The collection takes you through the life story of the author while offering advice, notes, and affirmations, which were written to empower the author during difficult times. Walk With Wings tells the story of Tene falling in love, making bad decisions, learning from her mistakes, and discovering how to love her life and herself.
pieces here deal with hard work, discipline and the sacrifices we have to make
in order to pursue our dreams. They have been so relatable to me and I was in
love. It is always empowering in a way – to know that what we are feeling is
not just us. So many people are suffering and knowing that gives a sort of
strength – if so many others are dealing with these issues, and progressing,
perhaps we can too?
of the pieces felt like quotes so irked me a bit, but then again, the content
is something you can easily relate to and that makes it the best, I think. Self-love
and empowerment are the two common threads that link all the different pieces
in the book. I think that my personal favourite is Summer Freedom perhaps,
because it is a process I am going through myself – I am healing myself by
learning to accept my own self. I am de-stigmatizing the faults I had
previously found in my skin which had once made me so very uncomfortable in
this skin I wear. Very enjoyable read and i rate it 4/5 stars.
#qotd : Do you have certain books you go back to whenever you need some healing?
A suggestion I have is What Your Soul Already Knows by Salma Farook. It is another book that I loved and I keep going back to it. It is a self-help/motivational book. I am generally not much for this genre but this one book was amazing.
books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
No. of pages:
Reading level: Middle-grade
Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she
discovers dinosaur bones on her family’s peach farm in Texas. Fans of Wendy
Maas and Lynda Mullaly Hunt will love this perfectly pitched story about
friendship, family, and loss from Suzanne Crowley, the acclaimed author of The
Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous. After her grandfather died from a heart attack while
driving his tractor, Esme has avoided returning to the spot where he lost his
life. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, up the hill while chasing
fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from
underneath the abandoned tractor. Esme
sees the bones as a message from her grandfather; a connection beyond the
grave. But when word gets out that Peach Hollow Farm is hiding something
valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme must
find a way to understand who has her best interests at heart—especially as the
memories of her grandfather begin to slip away. From acclaimed author Suzanne Crowley, this engaging adventure set on a
Texas peach farm is just right for fans of Rebecca Stead and Ann M. Martin.
had honestly no idea that I would come to love this book so much! Finding Esme
is truly a one of a kind middle-grade novel that I enjoyed delving into, as did
about the characters, the protagonist Esme is one I found to be utterly wonderful
and dynamic in her own rights. She is so matured for a mere twelve-year old and
while it awed me a lot, at times, I could not help but feel sad for she has
lost quite a part of her childhood. As she so ardently asserts to her
grandmother, she is after all a kid who has been force to grow up too early. It
also does not help that Bee admittedly treats her like an adult.
on the other hand, is a hard woman. She has faced a lot in her life and her
great tragedy perhaps defines a lot of this novel – I believe this backstory is
crucial in the way it has also defined the lives of Esme, her brother Bo, her
mother June Rain and her father Harlan. (If you want to know what great tragedy
I am talking about then you should surely read this book!) It is not a tragedy
in as much as a terrific incident or something of catastrophic expanse, but the
implications of that melancholy secret is utterly poignant and moving.
of Bo, I absolutely loved this cuteball! Having a brother myself really made it
possible for me to relate to Esme on another level – the bond that one has with
siblings is simply unbreakable. Bo is fun and offers the bit of humour in this
story. One cannot help but fall in love with him. His understanding of the
things around him is also utterly profound and I found him, in some amount,
Rain broke my heart. It is only towards the end that we know so much as to why
she is what she is and behaves as she does. Sweetmaw, who is Bee’s sister is
also another lovable character. I also quite liked Finch’s character and he
truly is a good friend to Esme. We also see his story as the author really
wraps around the lives of the people with each other. The end product is
plot was also really enjoyable and while the overall pacing was good, I think
that the beginning was a bit slow. Nonetheless, it wraps up the story
themes of family, friends, love, were well evolved in the story. We see so many
shades of human emotions that it was an utter ride in itself. Love, hatred,
jealousy, competition… everything was included and the result was something
very real. The supernatural element was also what I think formed a lot of the
backbone in this story, but of course that is a personal interpretation. I suppose
I cannot stress enough on how deep and impactful this middle-grade novel turned
out to be! And as such, I feel that this is a story people of all ages will
enjoy – the kids for the mystery, and the adults for the various hidden layers
of meaning and implications within the story.
absolutely enjoyed this story and I rate it a 4.5/5 stars!
Selected among Book Sense and Indie Next top
picks, and Amazon and Bookbub Editor’s Picks for Best Books, Suzanne writes
novels that School Library Journal calls “amazing” and
“poignant” and VOYA calls “heart-stirring” and
“marvelous.” Suzanne, the author of both middle grade and young adult
fiction, is a wife, mother, a crafter of dollhouse miniatures, an avid
traveler, dog hugger, nap expert, and chocolate lover extraordinaire. Suzanne’s
novels have received starred reviews in SLJ, KLIATT, VOYA and BCCB, and have
been selected for state and national reading lists. After living all over the
United States, Suzanne and her family now make their home back in her native
state of Texas. www.suzannecrowley.com
Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam,
and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She
publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction
etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the
NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines
etc. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Moromor Deuta is truly a book that I suppose almost every Assamese youth has read, and if not, then it is surely something that I would recommend them all to.
So this year, I have my very own reading challenge #readyourmothertongue wherein, I read at least 1 Assamese (I am from Assam, and my mother tongue is Assamese) book each month. Now I do not read as many Assamese novels as I do English ones and as such, my proficiency in considerably less in this language. I am trying to get better at it, however, and that is why I had picked up the famed Burhi Aair Sadhu by Lakshminath Bezbruah, for my beginner’s pace in January. In February, the book that I picked up – Moromor Deuta – is s story for kids, with its easy language, but the meaning is universal and it touches all of us.
I was first introduced to this story years ago when I was sick (I had the pox) and I had to rest and I was so bored that my mother bought me new books. One of them was ‘Dear Father’, a story which was originally written in Assamese, but Mom had got me an English version. I had loved the seemingly simple plot then and continued to pick it up again and again over the years. But this time around, as I read the real version in my mother tongue, it touched me deeply. This story will resonate within all the readers’ hearts.
The plot, while seemingly a simple one, encompasses a variety of morals and various themes. The family bonding, parents’ and siblings’ love is by far the focal one in my view and the author leaves with a bang. The reason why I read the English version, again and again, all those years back, is simply why this book, and this time in my mother tongue, did not fail to strike me – when I used to be angry with my parents, I inadvertently used to pick this one up and the message, which was loud and clear, continued to calm me down – it is simply that no matter how harsh one’s parents may seem at times, they never even once fail to think of the betterment of their children. And even if their rules and their authority may seem too much at times, we kids need to understand that they always have or good in mind.
The language used by the author is simple and easy to understand – I certainly did not find much difficulty in reading this book, considering that I haven’t read any ‘novel’ in Assamese before. I am truly enjoying this reading challenge and I hope it will be successful in bringing you closer to your roots as well.
I rate this book a solid 5/5 stars.
About the reviewer:
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .