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MusingCrow "ZQuilts" (Friday Harbor, WA, United States)

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The Creation of Anne Boleyn: In Search of the Tudors' Most Notorious Queen
The Creation of Anne Boleyn: In Search of the Tudors' Most Notorious Queen
by Susan Bordo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.40

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Read! Highly Recommended!, 21 Jan 2014
For me, this was a book like no other! I have not found myself underlining, making margin notes and dog earring a book for many years - but this book just ignited me so much that I had to make notes, notes and more notes! I did not merely really like this book, I loved it! No, I have none of those conspiratorial affiliations or associations - this book is just unique and very different. I'm a history buff, especially a British history buff, and I love the cultural aspects of history. This book could have been more tailored to my interests!

Susan Bordo is a philosopher, cultural & feminist historian, and humanities scholar from the University of Kentucky. She has presented us with a finely detailed, acutely researched and edifying history about the 'becoming' of the famous English Queen, Anne Boleyn. Ms. Bordo details precisely how the myth of Anne Boleyn has been created, defined and re-defined over the centuries.

This is not just a history book, nor is it to be considered necessarily biographical in nature. It is rather a book that details how the cultural history of Anne Boleyn over the centuries has morphed into the myth behind the Queen and about how those myths have shaped our understanding, and our version about the 'reality' of this fascinating woman, who, many feel, was a modern age woman confined by the 'feminine strictures' of her 16th century world. Anne Boleyn; was she a saint or a sinner? Was she really the instigator of reformed religion in Britain? Was she, in fact, malformed? Did she truly have the adulterous relationships that led her to the scaffold or was this simply a conspiracy that allowed Henry to bed a more fecund woman who could, he hoped, provide him with a true heir to his throne? How have the myriad characterizations of Anne in books, plays and movies, shaped our common perception of her as a female and Queen? What do we really know about the woman who was Anne Boleyn.

Drawing from myriad and prime sources such as the writings of Eustace Chapuys ,and Thomas Wyatt, Ms. Bordo sets the stage for the beginnings of the mythology that would develop. Topics covered in this book include how a variety of plays and movies, and the actors and actresses in them, have formed a part of our cultural understanding of Anne Boleyn. Ms. Bordo goes into detail about how each actress who has portrayed Anne Boleyn, and each writer who has written about her, have added their own 'personality' stamps to our conceptualizations about this legendary Queen. She has interviewed many of the living actress' and writers up to, and including, Natalie Dormer who played the Queen in the acclaimed TV series, "The Tudors" and writers such as Hilary Mantel. "Additionally, Ms. Bordo has spoken to the directors of plays and films about Anne Boleyn as well. She has researched all of the biographies and extant writings about this, most famous, Queen, and she delineates how these very diverse depictions have shaped our modern understanding and cultural opinions about this maligned, but thoroughly modern, Queen and woman by looking at her in relation to the realities and social norms of her own time.

I especially like an included quote from the famous author, Hilary Mantel, ( author of "Wolf Hall" and "Bringing Up The Bodies" fame) which states "...we always write from our own time...". How true is that? Each generation puts it's own stamp on the 'reality' of history and historical figures. Ms. Bordo attempts to sift through the various 'versions' of Anne Boleyn that have been devised by many authors, film makers, actors, and 'news' sources over the ages to try to distill what the reality of Anne Boleyn was.

I even enjoyed the Chapter headings of the book! They are all so descriptive! Here are a few:
Part One : Queen Interrupted
Henry: How Could He Do It?
Part Two : Recipes for Anne Boleyn
Annes After Lives from She-Tragedy to Historical Romance
The notes and sources pages are monumental! The pages are filled with rich fodder for future reading. The sources include books, periodicals, and websites. Another favorite inclusion is a "fact checker" which posits the facts versus the fiction in some well read books such as "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory.

When I read historical fiction I remember, first and foremost that I am reading historical fiction - not history. One of my favorite things to do is read a good historical novel along with a non-fiction book concerning the same time period. I enjoy understanding to what extent the author has used the facts and how they have woven their fiction around the facts.! I think doing this had provided me with a wealth of solid historical background that I would certainly not have enjoyed had I merely read the fictional work. I love factual history, which in many cases, can be even more fascinating than fiction!

Have a look at "The Creation Of Anne Boleyn's" Face Book page and the author's blog/website.

This book was a delight to read, and I know, without any doubt, that it will be of interest to a wide array of people; those who love history, those who love British history, cultural historian fans, those who question how the media can "make or break" popularity. It's winner of a read!

This is the advertising verbiage for the book:

"...Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne's life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne's death more than her life. How could Henry order the execution of a once beloved wife? Drawing on scholarship and critical analysis, Bordo probes the complexities of one of history's most infamous relationships.

Bordo also shows how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto "mean girl," feminist icon, and everything in between. In this lively book, Bordo steps off the well-trodden paths of Tudoriana to expertly tease out the human being behind the competing mythologies...."


Machine Embroidered Flowers, Woodlands and Landscapes
Machine Embroidered Flowers, Woodlands and Landscapes
by Alison Holt
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.23

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb!, 6 Dec 2011
For anyone who loves the work of Annamieke Mein or Jane Hall you're in for a treat with this latest book from Alison Holt. Lush and beautiful are words that just don't quite describe this book that is part eye-candy and part super well done instruction.

This is a book that is really about the art of 'seeing' and translating what you see into poetry made with thread. The instructional part of the book is very well written, with excellent photographs that illustrate the process very well. Search Press has always, in my opinion, spotted good books and publishes them to their full, beautiful, potential.
I am, indeed, quite excited about this book and I know that it will be a "keeper" for. me. I think that it will have wide appeal since many of the techniques can be translated into hand embroidery if desired. Artists, quilters, embroiderers, textile and fiber artists alike will find something to tickle their imagination in the pages of this beautiful book. I can do nothing but highly recommend this gorgeous publication!


Sea Witch
Sea Witch
by Helen Hollick
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting!, 19 July 2011
This review is from: Sea Witch (Paperback)
The story of "Sea Witch" is rooted in the 'golden age' of piracy - around 1716 - and the action extends from the infamous 'horn of Africa' to the beaches of the well known pirate haunts in the Caribbean. If you can, for a moment, consider what Johnny Depp would be like if he was 100 per cent more charismatic you would have an idea of how good the main protagonist of the series, Captain Jesamiah Acorn, is. His command of the sailing vessel "Sea Witch" give series it's name. The main female character, Tiola Oldstaugh is a white witch and healer who saves Jesamiah from a murderous attack perpetrated by a band of pirate hunters. Ms. Hollick used an anagram of "all that is good" to fashion Tiola's name. Brilliant ! I think that Tethys - the soul of the seas who is portrayed as a living entity - (which I'm sure some seafarers would swear is true!) is one of my favorite elements of the series. Tethys has sworn that the handsome, invincible Captain Acorn will be hers. Tiola's task is to use the forces of her will and her love to prevent the sea from laying claim to her proud pirate, Jesamiah.

In 'Sea Witch' volume we are also introduced to the characters of Philippe Moreno, Jesamiah's bullying, vindictive, grasping brother and Stefan Van Overstreet, the wealthy and domineering Cape Town Dutchman who also wants Tiola as his wife - for all the wrong reasons. These main characters set the stage for what becomes a love story, a history of the pirate culture and a thoroughly engrossing story that you simply will not want to put down. I would advise that you have the entire series in your hands because as soon as one book ends you will feel the need to begin reading the next.


Quilt National 2011
Quilt National 2011
by Lark Books
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of My Favorite Textile Art Books, 5 July 2011
This review is from: Quilt National 2011 (Hardcover)
I always look forward to the release of Quilt National.This volume marks the collection in the 17th biennial exhibit that highlights the best of the best on contemporary textile art.

This edition doesn't disappoint! The art work is truly the best of the best and each page is worthy of time for appreciation. The photography is brilliant. No one does photography better than Lark and this book is no exception to that rule. If you love textile art this is one of those "must have" books for your collection. Any stitcher, quilter, art quilter, or mixed media artist will find something to say "wow!" about. This book is a bargain and really is a keeper.


A Discovery of Witches
A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical! I Want More !, 14 Jun 2011
This review is from: A Discovery of Witches (Hardcover)
I've seen mixed reviews of this book and was curious about it. I don't often feel a sense of sadness when a book ends - but I did when this one ended. I loved this book! It's a creative, imaginative, fantastical work of fiction.

The book depicts world that is populated by humans, vampires, witches and demons. A academic witch who has turned her back on her familial (descendants of Salem, Massachusetts witches) witching powers becomes acquainted with a vampire in the Bodleian library at Oxford. He's a fascinating, handsome professor who has, among many, a good Scottish friend named Hamish - who's a demon. Witch and vampire fall for each in a big way - a big "no-no" in the world of 'creatures'. This forbidden love triggers the fury of the 'council' and, in a facile twist of prose, brings together an odd assortment of 3 witches, 3 vampire and 3 demons...all of whom make for a sub council dedicated to true love for all. The reluctant witch must learn to use her ancestral powers in order to survive the wrath that her romance has unleashed.

I can see where some readers might not be able to enjoy this book because they find the whole story implausible. It is, of course, implausible. Fiction is, almost by definition, generally, implausible. I read this book and thought of it not only as a truly imaginative work of fiction but also as allegorical ; where some loves are still considered taboo and where we still think that some sorts of people are blood suckers, demonic or spell casters. What I wanted from this book was entertainment - and I got that in spades. It's rollicking tale of love, sorcery and the coming together of all creatures in a common desire for good. What I don't understand is how a reader would not at least appreciate this book as the well crafted, thoroughly imaginative tale that it is. I think of it almost as a fairy tale for grown ups. A unisex fairy tale.

I liked this book so much that I also listened to the audible version - which makes the story all that much more enjoyable. It's perfectly narrated by the talented Jennifer Ikeda. Rumor has it that this will be a trilogy and I simply can't wait for the sequel to be in my hands.

This book is a love story and rollicking romp into the mind of a gifted writer. This book needs to become a movie. It would be fantastic! Okay - I've had my rave and will go back to my perusals.


Masters: Book Arts
Masters: Book Arts
by Curated by Eileen Wallace
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Book Arts and Creativity !, 7 Jun 2011
This review is from: Masters: Book Arts (Paperback)
I must admit to being somewhat addicted to Lark's "Masters" series. I love the format, you can't top the photography and the inspiration gained for a relatively small cost is priceless. Ever since art journaling has taken a larger part of my time I have been smitten with the idea of making journals and books. No. I haven't tried it yet because I am in the process of trying to figure out what addictions (reading, painting, journaling, fountain pens, painting etc etc) to keep and which, if any, I can let others master allowing me to be an enthusiastic, happy consumer of the fruits of their efforts.

"Masters: Book Arts" includes some utterly amazing works of art. Things that I would never begin to think about - let alone consider creating. Do you love books? Journals? Calligraphy? Inspired creativity? Then this is a book that will bring you a lot of pleasure. It's truly a feast for the eyes - beautifully curated, spectacular photography and another hit for the "Masters' series!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2012 2:51 PM BST


She Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
She Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
by Helen Castor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting! History That's Better Than Fiction!, 31 May 2011
I had eagerly awaited the release of this book and waited until I could take my time and read it slowly- taking notes if I wished. I wasn't disappointed! The book begins with a genealogy of the Tudor Succession and as Edward VI is dying. The book is an utterly fascinating, eminently readable, treatise about the tradition of female rulers prior to the time of Elizabeth I.

Included are:

Matilda: Lady of England 1102-1167
Eleanor: An Incomparable Woman 1124-1204 (long lived indeed!)
Isabella: Iron Lady 1295-1358
Margaret: A Great and Strong Laboured Woman 1430-1482

and, as the books returns to the time of the Tudors and the death of Edward VI, in "New Beginnings"
Mary and her disastrous marriage with Philip of Spain. The book ends as Elizabeth I is handed the reins of of government and becomes both the King and Queen of her kingdom.

Each section is preceded by a both a genealogy as well as a map of the Kingdom as it existed at that point in history. Very helpful while you are reading about the constantly changing boundaries of the various countries. The genealogies really made me realize how small the pool of available spouses for royal marriages really was at the time. Papal dispensations for consanguinity matters must have been a steady source of revenue for the Church! Ms. Castor has an uncanny ability to write non-fiction that reads as enjoyably as fiction. I was sorry when the book ended - wanting more of this truly riveting history. The struggle of female rulers really was the the beginning of the fight for women's rights and the fact that these amazing, talented, strong women managed to rule as they did is a wonder. I wonder how many modern women would have the tenacity and determination to breach the boundaries of proper 'etiquette' as these female rulers did. It boggles my mind at how strong and focused they must have been. No doubt they would be the sort of successful women who would, to this day, be called She Wolves, baracuddas, or another word that begins with the letter b----.

I wished that the book had more illustrations - but then I always wish that. I always want more images to pair with the words in a book. The included 8 pages of color images are well done - but more would have been better (of course!) This book will, I think, hold wide appeal to history buffs - especially those who are Anglophiles as I am, as well as for people who study women's rights and societal issues.

I will be on the pre-order list as soon as I hear about Helen Castor's next book !


Big Little Felt Universe
Big Little Felt Universe
by Jeanette Lim
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fanciful , Creative Fun!, 24 May 2011
This book is such fun! With this book you can, indeed, create your own felt universe populated with all manner of funny felted treasures! As with all books from Lark the projects are extremely well illustrated and the written instructions are very clear. The book is broken down into sections. Cake, Camping, Plants, Holidays, Veggies, Office, Tools ... and more. All available to make your virtual felted world seem like the real thing. This book is unique, fanciful , creative and just plain fun. The details are quite spectacular and I can't imagine anyone not having fun just looking at this book - making the projects is the icing on the cake - and there's a recipe for icing in the book!

This book will, of course, appeal to felters but I think that it will also appeal to a wide range of crafters, and sewers. If I was a Mom I would have a great time making these little treasure for my children... providing them with their very own camp fire without the burn or scissors with the potential for cuts! This book is well done and thoroughly enjoyable !


Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I
by Margaret George
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling!, 2 May 2011
This review is from: Elizabeth I (Hardcover)
One might think that reading through 688 pages is daunting but I tend to prefer longer novels - they allow me to really reside in the book and get to know the characters. One of my favorite female heroines is Elizabeth the First and one of my favorite historical novelists is Margaret George so I figured this would be a perfect combination - and I right!

The novel is co-narrated by Elizabeth herself and begins in 1588 as she enters late middle age . Co-narrator is her cousin, Lettice Knollys - the woman who had the audacity to actually marry the queen's main squeeze - Robert Dudley, The Earl of Leicester. Covering the last 25 years of Elizabeth's illustrious reign this book puts a very human face on the great Queen - complete with her need to keep notes to jog her memory, hot flashes that are troublesome, the sadness of the loss of more and more long time friends and trusted advisers.

The characters are rounded out, well developed and made very human - among the stand-outs are William Shakespeare, Francis Drake, Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, William and Robert Cecil and the indomitable Earl of Essex - Robert Deveraux, the step-son of Robert Dudley and the son of Lettice Knollys- who Elizabeth had taken under her wing and upon whom she had lavished many rewards and titles.

The book follows Elizabeth commitment - she is wedded to her country and it's people rather to any man of her choosing - and Lettice who lives a passion filled life of loves and losses. Lettice was banished from the Court upon her marriage to Robert Dudley and the book follows the querulous nature of their relationship and the gradual thawing of the Queen's displeasure as the pair meet on common ground - the garden of Hever castle - former home of their forbears - Anne and Mary Boleyn.

Also featured in the book is Elizabeth's life long friend and confident Catherine Knollys, wife of Sir Francis Knollys and daughter of Mary Boleyn (Lettice Knollys was Mary's grand daughter). Catherine, in the book, is considered the family peace maker. We feel the threat of the Spanish Armada and the Irish threat of the great O'Neill, Lord of Tyrone. All of the political fears and skirmishes of the time are brought to light almost like having a ear on history - like being a fly on the walls of Whitehall and Richmond Palaces. Riveting stuff!

This book is meticulously well researched and it paints a vivid image of what it must have been to be Elizabeth, The Virgin Queen. Historical details bring the period to life and the characters are almost 'touchable'. I loved this book and will, I think, choose to also listen the audible version. I found that Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" really came thoroughly to life when I listened it...and think listening to this book might really highlight my delight with the book even more.

If anything - I would have liked this novel to go on longer. I savored the last pages of this book and was saddened when I finished the last page. It's a book I will, no doubt, re-read.


Vintage Jewelry Design: Classics to Collect & Wear
Vintage Jewelry Design: Classics to Collect & Wear
by Gerda Flockinger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Feast For The Eyes, 28 Mar 2011
I was thoroughly surprised when I received this book. For some reason the title made me think it was more about designing jewelry - but as I paid more attention I became captivated by this gem of a book. It is, in fact, about jewelry design - but it's about the history of jewelry design! As a history buff - this book was really up my alley! Although I don't wear a lot of jewelry myself I sure do appreciate it. Thanks to this book I can now identify the period style that most appeals to me. Who knows - when I win the lottery I may go in search of Belle Epoch jewels!

As you can tell from having a look at the contents page the book breaks down the history jewelry design into decades. What was fashionable during this time - and why was it fashionable? How the particular period of history influenced the design and appeal of fashionable jewelry. Fascinating!

As always Lark books are visually appealing. The layout and photography is always spot on. The author, Caroline Cox is a visiting professor at the London College of Fashion and the focus of her work "explores the relationship between fashion, beauty and culture". Ms. Cox is both a lecturer and a cultural trends advisor. I can't think of much more interesting work

Lark layouts often seem to employ a grid. I think this approach works very well especially at the beginning of a chapter -it gives the reader a glimpse of what the pages in the next chapter will cover. The grid will depict the that period covered is, for example, 1910- 1919 and then there are thumb nail examples of the fashion, jewelry designs and art that was in vogue at the time

The book beautifully covers baubles, bangles, beads, gemstones of incredible value and beauty as well as examples of contemporary fashions and art. Historical notes about well know jewelry designers are included - Faberge, Tiffany, Schlumberger, and Schiaparelli just to name a few. Want to know the history of Bakelite and celluloid? This is the book to grab and read. I love the photos in the book - of famous models, celebrities, high society folks and the titillating world of high fashion.

I love the way the book ties everything together. Historical references refer to why certain styles, trends and materials came in to fashion when they did. That information is rounded out with a perfect collection of corresponding fashions, make-up styles and artistic works that defined the decade.

Am I little 'gushy' about this book? Yes! Why? Because it was such a delightful surprise and because it fits right in with my enjoyment of all things fashion, costume, and historical. This book will have a wide appeal I think because it does cover so much. It's perfect, of course, for jewelry designers and all of us who love gems and jewels, but it also will appeal to artists, designers, fashionistas and history buffs. I love this book and it does - for certain - have a spot in my permanent library!


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