Books and Reviews at Greenberry House

Like most booksellers, reading is a large part of my life here at Greenberry House. I have a special old chair, so worn that it sags, where I love to curl up with a good book. Old favorites, exciting new writers, spiritual or challenging, fiction or fact; all pass through my hands and many are worthy of comment. I plan an occasional mention here of a recent book I've read, either to recommend or to warn!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Holding pattern

Thursday, April 09, 2009

200 Braids to Twist, Knot, Loop or Weave

by Jacqui Carey

Interweave Press, Publisher, 2007



It would never have occurred to me that someone could put together a book on trims, much less an interesting and clever book of 250+ pages filled with pictures, techniques and information about materials, including beads.  The techniques are clearly illustrated with full color photographs and each step is made to look easy and attractive.  Along with twisting, knotting, looping and weaving, other techniques covered are interloping and ply-split darning, plus there is a nice section on working with beads to enhance your creations.  A section of completed braid and trim examples is arranged by design and structure, with references back to the techniques involved.  There's even a section on how to use the completed trims and braids in your projects as decorative design elements, edging, and how to finish the braids and trims attractively.


This is an interesting and useful book that would appeal to any textile artist, with techniques that can be used with quilting, crochet, knitting, weaving and more!


Single Crochet for Beginners

by Cindy Crandall-Frazier

Krause Publications, Publisher



$22.99.  A very beginner friendly book that takes one stitch, the single crochet, and teaches how to alter the fabric made from this simple and most practical stitch.  A very interesting section on crochet hooks reveals the very different styles available, and why a reader might prefer a hook with a more pointed head, for example, as opposed to a blunt one.  Still another interesting section features the technique for working back and forth in the round to create a fabric that can match an article worked flat in the usual back and forth stitchery of crochet.  More than thirty projects are included, with step-by-step instructions, and there is a quick facts guide to color and fiber to help with future projects.


I have been crocheting for more years than I care to remember, but I found several new hints and techniques in this book, even though it is geared toward the beginning crocheter.  I also had the pleasure of meeting the author recently and admire her enthusiasm for crochet and look forward to seeing more of her and her work!


$15.95.  Sassy Debbie Stoller has done it again with a book for crocheters and wanna-be crocheters that has all the boldness and excitement of her earlier knitting projects.  The stitch instruction section is lively and well illustrated with photos and step-by-step drawings of each stitch progression, and the titles of the sections are are entertaining as they are informative.  40 patterns are included ranging from simple for beginners to advanced for the more skilled.  Designs for younger women in particular are featured and the patterns are fresh and contemporary, using interesting yarns and yarn combinations.  I especially like "Violet Beauregard", a sassy skirt, and the patterns for crocheted purses.  Several designers contributed to the patterns and there is a biography of each designer included.  The Happy Hooker is a delightful book with some personal thoughts from the author about handwork and traditions, and might even convert a few knitters!

Bags With Paper and Stitch

Innovative Surface Techniques for Embellishing Bags

by Isobel Hall

Interweave Press, Publisher, September 2007



$24.95.  Papermaking is something I know very little about.  So recent Fiber Femmes articles and this interesting book are intriguing me toward yet another fiber obsession.  When will it end?


I think a real newcomer to the art of papermaking would probably benefit from either a class or a basic book before tackling the beautiful projects in this book.  Many of the terms and materials used were totally unfamiliar to me.  There are large sections of instruction for the techniques, though, and a little background would enable anyone to produce beautiful and intricate pieces from Hall's instruction.  There is a very good section on handles and fastenings for bags, with some creative suggestions and ideas.


The book is beautifully photographed and the styles and finished objects pictured are inspirational.  While I wouldn't consider this a beginner's book by any means, I think the dedicated papermaker would find Hall's book a wonderful guide to a world of creativity. 

Crochet Me!

Crochet Me

Designs to Fuel the Crochet Revolution

by Kim Werker

Interweave Press, Publisher, October 2007



$21.95.  Get out your hooks, Crochet fans!  Kim Werker, editor of Interweave Crochet magazine and the founder of, has gathered together a group of hip designers and created a book of innovative and stylish designs.  The eighteen patterns range from bags to sweaters and leave granny squares and crocheted flowers far behind.


I particularly liked the looks of both the Babydoll Dress by Amy O'Neill Houck and the Leaves Sweater by Annette Petavy.  Both designs use fine yarn to accomplish a beautiful drape.  In fact, there were only two designs that I saw in the entire book that used worsted weight yarns; all the others use DK weight and finer.  One great feature, especially for a hand spinner, is the substitution section for each pattern that gives a guide to the actual size of the yarn used.  There is a section on techniques and a list of suppliers. 


One of my favorite things about this book is that each designer is profiled extensively, and most of them have blogs and web sites!   

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

It has been quite awhile since I've been inspired to write a book review, but this lovely gothic piece, first by this author, certainly deserves some attention.  I was immediately lost in the wonder of this story.

This is the story of two women, both reclusive in their own ways,  who are brought together by story.  The story of the older woman, a powerful writer who as hidden the details of her life from the world.  Now she wants to tell the truth, to a young woman who has no idea that she, too, has a story.

As a Southerner, I know the importance of story, and I deeply identified with the power of this idea.  The novel is well-written, captivating and elusive as the heroine weaves the threads of the story together.  Along the way she discovers  the power of her own story and the ability of the story to change the world.  Throughout the novel plays a haunting atmosphere of musty bookstores, ancient libraries and the wonder of the word.

I was a tiny bit disappointed in the ending, although I really didn't expect how everything would play out.  Things were maybe a little too tidily wrapped up, but all and all this is a lovely book, well worth curling up with in the big old chair on a rainy, cold or snow day.  

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 30, 2007


Images of America: Patrick County

Tom Perry will be here at the shop to sign his books and talk about his many projects and interests in Patrick County on Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 10 AM. His new book is a beautiful pictoral overview of Patrick County's history. Y'all come out and visit, and if you can't get to Meadows of Dan, Perry's books are available at his web site.
Labels: Books, The Shop

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Island at the Center of the World

Random House, 2004
When a very intelligent, perceptive gentleman of good local family recommended this book, I immediately put in an order for it. There's nothing that appeals to me more than local history, and this is local history on only a slightly broader scale.
The Dutch settlement of the colony of New Amsterdam is a little known facet of American history. Recent discovery and translation of the many documents produced by that colony has shed a new light on this early settlement, revealing the vibrant beginnings of a city known for its vigor and unique character.
The story soon comes down to the conflict between two strong-willed and powerful men. Adriaen van der Donck, a young lawyer and historian with a vision for the future of New Amsterdam and Peter Stuyvesant, governor and representative of the company that owned the colony clash over the rights of the colonists and the government of the new world. As the story of their political manipulations and struggles continues, the reader soon realizes that New Amsterdam's rowdy active seaport was the true mother of New York. Many aspects of Dutch culture and attitude continued after the English took over the colony and were assimilated into the New World.
The notions of freedom for the individual, an entirely new concept to European minds, originated, so Shorto claims with justification, in the fertile grounds of Dutch thought and education. In a Europe struggling with war and ignorance, the Dutch institutes of learning offered refuge for some of the finest minds of the era. Adriaen van der Donck and his generation were strongly influenced by Dutch thought and culture, and through them a new idea ranged through North America.
Shorto's book is fast paced and entertaining, featuring a broad ranging look at the well-known, not so well-known and obscure inhabitants of the island that became Manhattan. Reading this book gave me a new perception of colonial history and I can recommend it to anyone interested in the smaller and bigger pictures of the growth of America.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cane River

Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Warner Books, 2001

I come from two long lines of strong women. They survived the hard life of settling in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, the pain and loss of childbirth, disease, economic hardship, the Depression, the helplessness of dealing with alcoholism and many other tragedies and difficulties of life. But none of them, to my knowledge, had to suffer the indignities of slavery. Lalita Tademy's book, Cane River, tells in fictional form the stories of four generations of the women in her family.

The story, focusing on the women that raised children, mostly by white men, in rural Louisiana during the years before the Civil War and into the 1930s, brings home the true tragedies of slavery. The first woman of the family to come to Cane River was Elizabeth, torn from her two children in Virginia and shipped South, still a slave with no control over her fate or the fates of her children. Generation after generation struggle with the truth of being of dark skin in the South, as her daughters and granddaughters bear children to white plantation owners against their will, finally using the desires of these white men against them to better the lives of their children.

The great tragedy for me in this book was that these wonderful women, each beautiful and strong, was unable to realize the glory of their color. Being dark was a burden, and lightening the skin of the next generation became an unacknowledged goal for Suzette, Philomene and Emily as they fought for security in white society for their children. Being able to "pass" as white made life easier, but the resentment that built up in the community against the white men who lived openly and acknowledged their children by these black women shattered lives. Tademy's search for her heritage began in a resentment against the attitudes of the earlier generation against dark skin. What she discovered was that each generation dealt with prejudice and hardship in the only way they knew, and her respect for these women and their difficult choices becomes a wonderful story of their lives.

Although this is fiction, there is a lot of truth in this portrayal. The story doesn't end with a "happy ever after", and it sometimes seems to me that the struggle is still as hard as ever. It's long past time that we learned lessons from our tragic history.

Return to Greenberry House.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert, Penguin Books, 2006.

A friend loaned me this book to read, and after two pages I had to go out and buy a copy for myself. I have a feeling that this paperback will become frayed and tattered before I grow tired of it. I only wish I had been able to read this book when I was in my early thirties instead of in my late forties.

After a catastrophic divorce, Liz starts a spiritual journey that is special because the reader can relate to the adventure, told with humor and honesty. It was mostly about eating in Italy, with wonderful, sensual descriptions of the food and the experience of learning Italian. Gilbert makes the language sounds as delicious as the food. Then it was on to India, where prayer and meditation, and the struggles really began. Finally, in Bali, everything came together and it becomes clear that Gilbert has learned what it takes to live a life of understanding and love.

Throughout the journey Gilbert meets wonderful people who care for her and teach her as she grows. It reminds me of my own life journey, full of beautiful minds and hearts that keep me on my path.

Elizabeth Gilbert has a wonderful web site that tells more about the book and her life. I plan to buy a few more copies of Eat, Pray, Love to give to friends, especially younger women!

Edited to add:

I was mentioned in a USA Today review of this book! Somewhat thrilling!

Return to Greenberry House.

Labels: ,