Monday, December 19, 2016

Time for a book report

I mentioned a couple of days ago that a friend who runs a quilting retreat center nearby had asked me to read and review a book someone had suggested she might want to stock for her guests.  I decided to get on that right away and I finished it yesterday. The book is Dust Between the Stitches, written by Cleo Lampos.  I'd never read anything by her before so I went in with a really open mind.

And by the way, I have no affiliation with the author or publisher or any other component of this book. I'm simply expressing my opinion after reading it.

The setting is 1930's Colorado--the height of the Dust Bowl--and the characters are an elderly farmer, his 2 adopted "orphan train" grandchildren, his biological adult granddaughter and the itinerant preacher who lives in a cabin on the property.  The story involves 1) the granddaughter getting her bearings as teacher of the one room schoolhouse, 2) hoping to save the farm from foreclosure, and 3) a tiny bit of romance thrown in for good measure.  Woven through these plot lines is the Sunbonnet Sue/ Overall Sam quilt that the granddaughter is stitching.

All of these plot elements could be used as jumping off points to develop into a really good book, but I think the author wasn't able to capitalize on them as well as could have be done.  I found the writing quite amateurish--I kept getting confused from paragraph to paragraph as to what was happening and I had to keep rereading to figure out if the people had stayed in the house or gone outside, for example, or which person was actually speaking. I became frustrated.  The characters as well weren't developed as completely as I like--they seemed shallow and with only one or two dimensions, whereas I believe humans are multidimensional. Also, the granddaughter was able to cut out and hand applique two quilt blocks per evening and I found this somewhat unrealistic based on my experience. But maybe I'm a slow stitcher!

The book is filled with references to  Christianity and the Bible with lots of emphasis on placing trust in God's plan. I find this seems to be common in books about quilters and while many quilters embrace the Christian faith to one degree or another, for those of us who aren't Christian, it can be off putting.  I found it amusing that while the emphasis was in trusting in the Lord to solve the problems faced by the characters, it was the people in the story who came up with solutions.

I'll return this book to my friend with my review of it. I was able to finish the book, but I kind of had to force myself to do so. If I hadn't agreed to review it, I would have set it aside unfinished.  Unlike many of the books I read, I was very happy when it ended.  Will she keep it for her guests?  I don't know. It's not the type of book I enjoy reading, but maybe others will.

Well, that task is crossed off my list.  Yesterday, I finished baking the orange cranberry bread and Don and I delivered the loaves to the neighbors--in -11 F cold!  We didn't stand at the doorway chatting, I can tell you!  I also made the Beef Bourguignon and have two dinners in the freezer for Jo to enjoy.  And that was about it for the day.  No activity in the sewing room at all.

Let's see what's on my list for the coming week.  Today, I have house cleaning to begin, a haircut and then off to the movies with Don to see Manchester by the Sea in Eau Claire and to finish up the last of the Christmas shopping for the grandsons.  Before Christmas Eve, I want to finish the Snowman ornament

and maybe make up a half dozen or so to add to the Christmas gifts, and I want to finish up the needle cases

 and the Christmas pillow I embroidered.  I'll get the bobble fringe when I'm in town this afternoon.

I also want to do something with these fabrics I got a month or so ago in Duluth.  

And I have a couple of other Christmas projects that I'd like to begin so I'm ahead of the game for next year.  I think that's enough of a list for this week.  As always, no wagering on whether I complete this list or not.  ha ha ha

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