Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Inspired by Reading" Book Club, October & November 2015

“Inspired by Reading” is a book club established by artist 
Andrew Thornton. Members read the month’s selection, chosen by Andrew, then create something inspired by the book.

October's selection:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs review:

"As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age." 
This is such an original fantasy novel! I love the character of Miss Peregrine: strict, precise, loving, and protective. I am delighted by the author’s use of nearly archaic language, for example, “peculiar” to describe children with unusual powers. These aspects, combined with the misty island setting and the time-travel mystery, made this a very enjoyable read for me.
I drew my inspiration from the phrase “the bird… in the loop… on the other side of the old man’s grave”, and from the antique photos used in the book. I designed a necklace of gray beads (like the stone of the old man’s grave): pewter pearls, labradorite, and cloudy quartz, plus a Green Girl Studios bird button, a loop of button pearls, and a pewter locket by Nunn Designs, featuring a photo of my maternal grandmother on her wedding day—a personal touch.

I am the coach for my school’s Page Turners team (PageTurners is a literature-based competition for students in grades 3-12.) This book was on our Fall list. I told the kids about “Inspired by Reading” – they’re looking forward to seeing what the club members make!

November's selection: Serena by Ron Rash review: "The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains--but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning."
After reading the above description, I did not want to read the book (greed, murder, and deforestation -- whimper), but I decided to give it a chance; and was quickly absorbed by the setting and the story.  I loved the descriptions of the forested land, and am now interested to read more about the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The characters, on the other hand… the author’s device of the Greek Chorus as played by the logging crew was a welcome spot of humor, and worked pretty well, but sometimes contrived to make those characters laughable, rather than sympathetic.  I most enjoyed Rachel’s story, though the female characters all seemed like stereotypes: the murderous queen, the innocent madonna, the wise old crone, the malicious gossips.
For my inspiration, I went with the natural resources of the setting: dark green wooden beads, copper spacers and pine cone charm, glass beads in the colors of the forest, plus a bit of deep green sari silk, to represent Serena's dress.
Check out the links below to see more creations for both of these books!


  1. I really love both of your pieces. The necklace is so perfect and inspired. The bracelet seems great for Serena, but I confess I didn't read it. I have it, but it does sound quite depressing. I'll have to read it at another time.

  2. The Peculiar necklace is really classic and upscale looking! I love that you added the picture of your grandmother in the centerpiece--now you can never sell it!

    1. Thank you, Eric! It will be a Christmas gift for my mother -- shh! (But the picture can be easily removed and replaced with another, because the piece is a locket)

  3. I'm totally smitten with your bird in the loop necklace! Perfection! And such a great touch that you brought a piece of your own history into your design. I never thought about the loggers as the Greek chorus... thanks for pointing that out. The sari silk with the pine cone are a nice touch on your bracelet for Serena. Love the mix of greens there!