It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing the end of Cozy Little Book Journal. I will no longer be reviewing, tweeting about, or blogging about books. Period. This means the end of all of my secondary blogs as well, including this one, I'm afraid.
I'm so sorry to all of the authors and publishers who were counting on me to promote the countless books they've sent me over the years, and I'm sorry to all of the readers who have come back to my blog again and again. I appreciate all of your support and encouragement and I'm so sorry to disappoint anyone. I assure you I did not take this decision lightly.
Most people don't realize this but I've not been well for several months now. I've had medical issues that have impacted my life in various ways and I really need to focus on my health now. For a long time, blogging seemed like a good fit for me. I could read and review books even when I was too ill to do much else. Lately, however, the stress of all of my book-related commitments, combined with feeling physically ill and emotionally exhausted, has made it a hobby that I dread more than I treasure. I've hated having reading turn into a chore instead of a joy.
Apart from health concerns, I've also gotten tired of a lot of other aspects of having a book blog. I'm sick of having authors' friends call me an idiot on Amazon because I didn't like a book. I'm tired of being sent dozens of crappy book files every month, despite repeatedly telling self-published authors that I'm in no way interested in their Christian children's books or their vampire YA. I'm tired of always being a few hundred books behind in my reading list, then feeling guilty if I choose to read a library book instead of one I'm "obligated" to read. I miss re-reading my favourite books just because I feel like it, instead of trying to speed-read the endless book files I have on my Kobo.
Don't get me wrong. I've loved so much about book blogging. I'd say I've loved it way more than I've hated it. I've loved being a part of a community of committed readers who discuss books with the enthusiasm of sports fans discussing a big game. I've loved interacting with authors, illustrators, publishers and publicists, the majority of whom have been the most amazing and lovely people. I've treasured the moments when my honest excitement for a book can make an author's day, and I've loved when they've taken the time to tell me that. I've been in awe of so many authors and artists and I've felt like I was backstage at a rock concert, getting to exchange letters and emails with my literary heroes.
I've loved sharing this experience with my daughter. She's five, but she never starts a new book without reading not only the title, but also the name of the author, the illustrator and the publisher. I didn't do that when I was her age. She's only a beginner reader herself, but she can already easily identify when a book is written or illustrated by someone she knows because she's come to recognize art styles, writing styles, and author photos. She thinks computers are mostly for downloading book files. I love that.
Nonetheless, I've decided that it is time to take a break from blogging. My daughter is starting school in a few days and I'm trying to stay healthy enough to share each day with her. Of course we'll still be reading and discussing all our favourite books. We just won't be doing it online.
Thank-you again to everyone who has supported and participated in my book blog, in every capacity, over the past four years. Unfortunately it's goodbye for now (possibly forever) but I really appreciate all of you. Thanks for understanding.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Doesn't matter, I'm still excited. Less than a week to go!!
Saturday, May 3, 2014
If I can make these, then literally anyone can
At the same time, if you are someone who loves the look (or idea) of handmade items for your home but have absolutely no idea where to begin, this book might be perfect. The photos are aspirational and--as promised--modern, even though they're referencing a nostalgic time gone by. For instance, the author refers to her grandmother as "the only person she ever knew who wore an apron" then shows you how to make an apron. It's the book for people who find Pinterest exciting but too complicated.
But because the projects are so simple, At Home With Modern June does make me want to try the few ideas in the book that are slightly more intimidating (to me at least) like the Roman blind or the bed skirt ruffle. Since the other things are so easy, how hard could these ones be? If I actually do get a Roman blind finished, I'll be sure to update you with my results!
Ultimately Kelly McCants captures perfectly the current trend of "modern nostalgia," mixing old-fashioned patterns and ideas with modern sensibility and accessible techniques. The projects are probably too simple for the serious sew-er (see? it's hard to write that word) but are a great starting point for someone who desperately wants to be able to point at something in their home and say proudly, "That? Oh yeah I made it."
|Simple and adorable apron|
At Home With Modern June:
27 Sewing Projects for Your Handmade Lifestyle
by Kelly McCants
Publisher: Stash Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
View on Amazon
This review originally appeared on my other blog, Cozy Little Book Journal.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
|The Big Book of Things to Make,|
by James Mitchem
DK Publishing: March 18, 2013
View on Amazon
Fantastic! As always, DK Publishing delivers exactly what it promises. This is like the quintessential book of kids' crafts. It's got all those things I vaguely remember from my own childhood (pinhole cameras, bottle rockets), plus a bunch of things I used to know when I was a daycare teacher but have since forgotten (homemade slime, milk art), and a couple of things I just never knew at all (if you make jello with tonic water it glows under UV light -- why?). Basically it's one-stop awesome.
And it has a whole bonus section of "things to do" that includes tips for how to play detective or pirates or even how to make your own board game. You know, for kids who want to better at playing and figure the answer is probably in a book (hint: it totally is). I was that kid. Actually, I still am, which is why I strongly approve of this book.
This review originally appeared on my other blog, Cozy Little Book Journal.
Friday, February 28, 2014
|Anya Ayoung Chee, looking terrifying|
I've never been an Anya hater. I know they're out there (and they are many) but I've never jumped on the "Anya didn't deserve to win Season 9" bandwagon (now Gretchen's win from Season 8 is a whole different story). I've always loved her and thought she was a good choice as mentor on Tim Gunn's new show, Project Runway: Under the Gunn.
Back in her own season of Project Runway, the criticism was basically this: she famously said she only learned to sew in the months leading up to coming on the show, so everybody (including most of her fellow competitors) took this to mean: (A) that she DIDN'T know how to sew; and (B) that she didn't know ANYTHING.
I've always found both of those things to be unfair. Anya Ayoung-Chee went to design school. She had been designing and making her own clothes for years, including pageant gowns which I'm sure aren't easy. But she had gotten a lot of help with things like pattern making and sewing with fancy sewing machines (like the ones she'd be using on the show), so when she decided to audition for Project Runway she decided she'd need to learn to sew properly. Which is how she spent the months leading up to filming. Hence she "just learned to sew" for the show.
The thing is, there are a LOT of contestants who don't even do that much. How many times have we heard contestants complain that they don't know how to thread a needle in commercial sewing machines, or that they never had to sew or make patterns before because they have "people" for that? How many times have we seen contestants acting bitchy to the self-taught designers because they didn't go to design school?
It happens nearly every season, but almost no one got the kind of criticism that Anya got. So why? What was different about her?
|Anya, looking tired but fabulous in Season 9|
Well a couple of things. First of all, she was honest about her crash course in sewing and didn't apologize for it. A lot of other designers come on the show without even bothering to make sure they're going to be able to handle the basics (like using the kinds of sewing machines they have on Project Runway) but they all make a million excuses about it (I hand sew everything, I have a different kind of machine at home, I have assistants for that, my sewing machine is in metric, I don't believe in electricity). Anya just made sure she knew how to do it before she came on the show. Point Anya.
Secondly, she did really REALLY well, which pissed off the other designers. They interpreted her "just learned to sew" as "doesn't know anything" and then got mad when that wasn't the case. Plus she's very pretty and accomplished in other areas (wasn't she Miss Universe or something?) so I think a lot of them really wanted to not have to take her seriously. But she kicked their asses and didn't apologize. Again, point Anya.
So I never had a problem with her winning her season. I liked her designs, I liked her, I thought the criticism was overblown and unfair, and I didn't feel there was a clear front runner who should have won instead. Certainly there were other contenders, but no one who I thought was clearly the intended winner (like, ahem, Mondo in Season 8). I was on board with Anya.
But now I'll admit I'm starting to have some doubts. Was everybody right about her after all? Anya's mentoring style on Under the Gunn is, at best, confusing.
Do you all remember when the challenge was to design a look inspired by Vampire Academy, a teen vampire movie, and Anya told one of her designers (what was that guy's name again?) that his looks were "too junior" so he should think about what a 35-year-old would wear instead? When have the judges ever wanted that?? And especially on a teen-inspired challenge? It's crazy talk.
Then when that designer was in the bottom two and Anya was asked to pick who should go home, she picked him! "I can't help but feel responsible," she said tearfully. YA THINK? Of course she's responsible!
|Anya putting a hex on What's-His-Name for not being good enough|
Then this week her mentoring strategy seemed to begin and end with making all her designers feel guilty that they weren't living up to her expectations. How is that helpful?
She was particularly hard on what's-his-name, the boring guy with the white shirt that made him look like he was catering breakfast for the show, um, Nick? He's so boring I can't even commit his name to memory. Still, Anya's idea of encouraging him was to imply that he had tricked her into thinking he was a good designer and that maybe he was just a big fraud. Ouch.
What a shock he was on the bottom again.
And yet again, two of Anya's designers were in the bottom and they made her choose which one should go home. That can't be great for team morale. Her designers must always be worrying not only about whether the judges like them enough to keep them, but whether or not Anya does. Eesh.
On the plus side, Nick Verreos seems to be doing a lot better as a mentor (his team's win last week really helped) and Mondo is, as always, killing it. I think it'll probably be someone from Mondo's team who wins the whole thing, but we'll see.
Next week: Anya Ayoung-Chee slaps her designers and makes them cry. (jk jk...well, maybe)
Monday, February 24, 2014
|Alexandria von Bromssen|
S12 (6th), S11 (9th)
S11 (4th), AS3 (10th)
|Joseph Aaron Segal|
|Michelle Lesniak Franklin|
|Tu Suthiwat Nakchat|
S10 (4th), AS3 (4th)
S10 (6th), AS3 (3rd)
S10 (8th), S9 (17th)
S10 (3rd), AS3 (9th)
S10 (14th, 11th)
|Ven Budhu, S10 (7th)|
|Anthony Ryan Auld|
S9 (7th), AS2 (1st)
S9 (15th, 11th)
S9 (2nd), AS2 (4th)
|Laura Kathleen Planck|
S9 (5th), AS2 (6th)
|Serena Da Conceica|
S9 (3rd), AS3 (5th)
S8 (3rd), AS3 (11th) (as Ari South)
S8 (5th), AS1 (10th)
S8 (10th), AS2 (7th)
S8 (8th), AS2 (5th)
|Kristin Haskins Simms|
S8 (4th), AS1 (3rd)
S8 (2nd), AS1 (1st)
S8 (11th), AS2 (13th)
S7 (7th, 5th), AS1 (9th)
S7 (2nd), AS2 (2nd)
|Janeane Marie Ceccanti|
|Jay Nicolas Sario|
S7 (3rd), AS1 (6th)
|Seth Aaron Henderson|
S7 (1st), AS3 (1st)
S6 (2nd), AS2 (8th)
|Carol Hannah Whitfield|
S6 (4th), AS1 (11th)
S6 (1st), AS3 (6th)
|Ra'mon Lawrence Coleman|
S5 (4th), AS1 (5th)
S5 (3rd), AS1 (4th)
S5 (2nd), ASC (2nd), AS3 (2nd)
|Stephen "Suede" Baum|
S5 (5th), AS2 (11th)
S4 (12th, 4th), ASC (4th)
|Christiana "Kit Pistol" Scarbo|
S4 (10th), AS1 (13th)
S4 (12th--quit, medical)
|Kathleen "Sweet P" Vaughn|
S4 (5th), ASC (3rd), AS1 (12th)
S4 (2nd), AS1 (8th)
S3 (1st), ASC (5th-8th)
S3 (5th), AS2 (9th)
S3 (4th), ASC (5th-8th), AS3 (8th)
S3 (2nd), ASC (5th-8th), AS2 (3rd)
S2 (6th), AS2 (10th)
S2 (2nd), ASC (1st)
S2 (4th), AS1 (7th)
S2 (3rd), ASC (5th-8th)
S1 (4th), AS1 (2nd)
S1 (12th), S2 (12th)
S1 (3rd), AS2 (12th)