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June 23, 2024

Books and Stories and Filigree in the Great Smokey Mountains

by Donna Huber

I just got back from Naturalist Camp at the Great Smokey Mountain Institute at Tremont in the Tennessee mountains. I went last year in the pouring rain, but this year the weather was gorgeous. I spent a lot of time hiking (I think I went on 4 different hikes), bird watching, identifying insects, and river snorkeling. I knew I would be doing all things nature but I was expecting so many bookish activities.

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My literary activities started as soon as I pulled out of the driveway. My audiobook hold for The Vacancy in Room 10 by Seraphina Nova Glass came in the day before and it was perfect for my drive up and back. Even though it is a mystery, it was pretty easy to follow the plot, even with a three-day break in the middle. I did have trouble differentiating between the two female characters - Anna and Cass - though there are two narrators. I often had to wait until one of them mentioned their husband to know whose POV the chapter was from (it is mentioned at the beginning of at least some chapters - I may have missed the mention the other times). 

April 2024; Harlequin Audio; audio (9h 43m)
Buy at Amazon

I'm an early riser so most mornings I was up at 6:15. I would spend 15 or 20 minutes doing yoga and then while sipping a cup of hot chai tea, I would read my book. This week's review book is one of the few true "beach reads" I have on my list this summer. While I wasn't at the beach, I did have a river. I also spent a few minutes each night reading before bed.

The Seaside Sisters by Pamela Kelley

book cover of women's fiction novel The Seaside Sisters by Pamela Kelley
June 2024; St. Martin's Griffin; 978-1250283597
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); women's fiction

One summer can change everything.

Brooklyn-based Hannah is a bestselling author struggling to write her second book after personal losses. Her older sister, Sara, still lives in Chatham, Cape Cod, where they grew up, and is married with four children. Once a dedicated librarian, Sara dreams of reviving her love affair with literature, but instead, she is stuck with too many family responsibilities and a fizzling marriage.

When Hannah gets the chance to retreat to her aunt's oceanfront house in Chatham for the summer, it seems like just the thing to get her creative juices flowing. And she’ll be able to spend more time with Sara, who is eager to find her way back into the workforce, to do something rewarding and book-related. The pair will spend the summer making friends, rekindling romance—especially Spencer, an old acquaintance from high school -turned very hot grump—and opening themselves up to the magic of books and the beach.

Buy The Seaside Sisters at Amazon

Wednesday night at camp, local Appalachian storyteller Elizabeth Rose entertained us with stories around the campfire. I found a clip of the story she told us on this Facebook page. She was very good and we all had Bobby McCade, Doodlidoo, and Sue Boy in our head the rest of the week.

Now I knew what book I would be reading while at camp and I had holds on a couple of audiobooks that were around the 9.5 - 10 hour mark so that I would have something to listen to on the car ride. I also knew from our camp schedule that we would have a storyteller. The one surprise literary connection came during art hour on Wednesday evening.

Last year we did felting and nature-themed drawings/paintings. The drawings and paintings were supposed to be realistic but mine was more cartoonish. This year we had the option of felting again, but also the option of doing acrylic or watercolor paintings using dots (using Q-tips). It was an art form that the Cherokee employed (as well as other indigenous people groups). A third option was filigree. If you are a fan of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, you may have heard of this papercraft. 

book cover of classic novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

In chapter 23 of the book, Lucy Steele and Elinor Dashwood want to have a private conversation and use the cover of the filigree basket Lucy is making for Lady Middleton's child. 

So what is filigree? It is a craft done by rolling thin strips of paper and arranging them in a pattern. You can make ornaments, 3D objects, or flat frameable arrangements (similar to a mandala). We just made one ornament or it could be the start of a larger project. It is kind of a mindless task to roll the paper but to set a pattern would take more thought. I'm already thinking of expanding my project and have found the paper at Amazon.

I had a lovely vacation that turned out much more bookish than I expected. Are you doing anything bookish this summer? What books are you reading this summer?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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