Saturday, September 30, 2017

Books and Flowers

Happy Saturday, My Lovelies!  I hope you're having a wonderful weekend, filled with family, friends, and fun activities!

Two of my favorite things in the world are books and flowers.  I have a Pinterest Board dedicated to them, and I hope you'll follow me on Pinterest if you're on there and I'll follow you back!

These are some of the books I'll be sharing with you here on The Sketchy Reader soon:

I featured this book yesterday.  Here's a link in case you missed it!

Aren't all of these book covers beautiful?  I'm a sucker for beautiful book covers, aren't you?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, September 29, 2017

Banned Books Week: Please Read This Post!

This week is banned books week.  I'm always surprised at the most challenged books list from the previous year, and in 2016 Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and Looking for Alaska by John Green are on the list.  I've read both, and I love them!

I don't blog about politics, mainly because I am sick and tired of everything being politicized.  I think it's nothing but evil trying to divide us.  Trust me, you can find common ground with anyone if you try.

However, I felt compelled to share the following story with you, my dear readers, because it is important.  

Our First Lady recently donated several Dr. Seuss books to an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The crazy ass librarian SENT THEM BACK stating that, and I quote:

Seuss’s illustrations are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro wrote in a letter to Trump on Tuesday.

You read that right!  Dr. Seuss is racist propaganda, and the children in "her library" shouldn't read such "harmful" books.  What bothers me most is this librarian made it about her and not the children.  Liz Phipps Soeiro should not be working with children.  Ever!

.....and all this happening during Banned Books Week....

My question is:  Where does the American Library Association stand?  What about the Freedom to Read Foundation?

Here is a link to the story.  I hope you read it, because honestly this scares me to the core.  And it should you, too.

Parents and grandparents:  Know what's going on in your children's schools.  Stay involved and hold adults accountable for their actions!

Not a lot makes me mad, but I am fighting mad over this one!!!

I hope you enjoy your weekend, and I hope you take the time to read a banned book!

Until next time...

Read banned books!
Ricki Jill

Literary Friday: How To Find Love In a Bookshop *plus* It's National Coffee Day: Homemade PSL!

Pumpkin spice latte made at home!

Happy Literary Friday and National Coffee Day, My Lovelies!  This week I read How To Find Love In a Bookshop by Veronica Henry, but before I share my review, I want to share my recipe for making Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Pumpkin Spice Latte


1 T Pureed Pumpkin
1 T Vanilla Extract
3 t  Maple Syrup
1/4 t pumpkin pie spice
1/8 t cake spice
1 c whole milk

(You will need a shot of espresso for later)


Whisk together above ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until mixed well.  Heat until steam starts to rise, and continue to whisk frequently as the milk mixture heats-up.

Once mixture is warm, steamy, and frothy, turn off heat.  Now it's time to make your espresso.

Now that your espresso is ready, add the milk mixture.  Stir in sugar to taste.

This is an action shot!  

I wanted to do a little taste comparison from my "competitor."  Starbucks' PSL is sweeter than mine, but mine is spicier, and I could sweeten it more if I wanted with more sugar.
I love Starbucks' PSL but it's good to be able to make it at home sometimes.

Serves One!

NOTE:  Cake spice is often used in coffee cake, and I think it mixes well with PSL.  I use Penzeys cake spice.  If you don't have any, just substitute pumpkin pie spice.  But you must have pumpkin pie spice for the recipe to work!  Also, make sure you use puréed pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling.

Now on to my book review....

According to Goodreads:

The enchanting story of a bookshop, its grieving owner, a supportive literary community, and the extraordinary power of books to heal the heart

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers--a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father's death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia's loyal customers have become like family, and she can't imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.

There's Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there's a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage--she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.

Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future--and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.

My Review:

I saw this book in my local indie bookshop, and I just had to have it because I'm a sucker for books about bookshops.  If I had all the money in the world, I'd build myself a little bookshop with a coffee/cake cafe attached and play all day!  ;P

How To Find Love In a Bookshop starts out a little slow.  The backstory at the beginning is about Emilia's father Julius and his whirlwind love affair with Emilia's impulsive mother, Rebecca.  This is necessary to set-up Emilia's current predicament, and it also sheds some light on Julius's character.  Next,  several characters and their backstories are introduced; this novel is a collection of narratives surrounding Nightingale Books.  Once all the stories are set-up, then the plot thickens and things move along quickly.  (This book reminds me of the movie Love, Actually because of the loosely related stories.)

Briefly, the narratives include: a senior Oscar-winning actor whose long ago "fling" arranges a tell-all book signing at Nightingale Books;  a young couple copes with parenthood and lifestyle change from London to the sleepy village of Peasebrook;  a young man is torn because he's tasked with influencing Emilia to sell the shop, yet he yearns to be a better man and win back the love of his life; a shy home economics teacher is crushing on the village cheesemonger; the young lady of the manor is about to be married, and her close (male) friend who works for the estate is not happy; and Emilia has a crush on a musician who is totally out of her reach. My favorite thing about the book is that so many of the characters are flawed in an endearing way, and all learn and grow, becoming better people.  That's what books are supposed to do: teach us something about ourselves and our world, enabling us to flourish. 

If you enjoy books with an ensemble cast, several intersecting plot lines, and a little romance, then you will enjoy How To Find Love In a Bookshop.  As this story builds to the Christmas season, it would be a wonderful companion to a hot drink, a warm fire, and a cozy chair by a Christmas tree!  

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Updating my Mood Board in the Library/Classroom

I'm feeling moody today, My Lovelies.  More accurately, I'm updating my mood board with a few wonderful Etsy finds from one of my favorite Etsy stores, Winged World.  Artist Vickie Moore loves "to preserve obsolete library card catalog cards by turning them into pieces of art."  And I for one am so happy that she does.  Our daughters didn't know what they were when I showed the illustrated card catalog cards to them.  Card catalogs became obsolete after 1992 with the advent of computerized catalogs, although many of them were not online until the early 2000s.

The mood board is on the work table where I blog, so I like the table to remain neat, and it's an added bonus to be inspired by fun art.

The tiny little factory cart is a replica of the large one here in the library.  These are books that are on my TBR list.  I hope to finish reading them all by Christmas.

The smaller cards are actually Vickie's business cards, and I think they are too cute to put in drawer so I placed them on my mood board, too.

I love Madeline!  

I loved the Harry series when I was a little girl.  Harry the Dirty Dog is a favorite, and this card is for Harry and the Lady Next Door.

Do you have a mood board?  What's on it?
(I want to be a looky-loo and snoop a peek at your mood board, bulletin board, fridge, whatever you use to stick things that inspire and make you smile!)

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What I'm Reading Wednesday: The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel *plus* The Westie Wizard Mug

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reading The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Single Volume.  I like how Volumes I and II are now combined in a single book.  

The Graveyard Book is a Newberry Award winner book for children.  I read it to Shelley when she was in sixth grade.  This, along with Gaiman's Coraline, are Shelley's favorite childhood books.  She likes them better than Harry Potter.

According to Goodreads:

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family... 

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

This is the same story, beautifully illustrated.  

These pages feature Nobody Jones and Silas.  

I've been feeling a bit under the weather because I got my flu shot, so I really want to just rest this afternoon after my art class this morning and read and drink some hot tea!  My sweet friend Sarah from Hyacinths for the Soul sent me this:

YUMMY!  We love the caramel tea!!!  But what could be inside the pretty tissue paper?

It's Finlay!  He received his Hogwarts letter and was quickly sorted into Ravenclaw because he's such a smartypants.  

The water is in the kettle right now, and I shall fill it with delicious English Caramel Tea, milk, and honey.  Don't you love how the mug matches the book!  ;P

So what are you doing today?  Are you reading anything fun?

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Winner of my September Letter

Hello, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all are having a great week so far.  This week is proving to be a busy one as we prepare to go out of town for a horse show.

And now, the winner of her choice from the September Sketchy Reader Letters (and companion book) is:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations,  Marion!   Please email me your contact information because I'd like to get your prize mailed tomorrow.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Practical Magic Issue of Faerie Magazine *plus* Autumn Floral Arrangements Round-Up

Greenhouse from Practical Magic

My version of the the greenhouse in our dining room

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  I recently received the Autumn 2017 edition of Faerie Magazine: The Practical Magic Issue.  

I purchase this magazine from time to time because the articles are all about fantasy, and the photography is stunning.  I definitely wanted this issue because I like Practical Magic and Alice Hoffman's books in general.  This issue is dedicated to the Owens family, especially Aunt Jet and Aunt Frances; Alice Hoffman has written a new book, The Rules of Magic, a prequel to Practical Magic.  It's about the aunts' lives in New York City during the 1960s.  

This book will be released on October 10th.  I will read it and write a review soon.

In this issue, there are tips on how to host a Practical Magic party including recipes, an interview with Alice Hoffman about the new book, and the prettiest craft: a wire dress form covered in the most beautiful autumn leaf dress.

Another photo from my Practical Magic party from several years ago.

I also enjoyed reading about Hollie Witchey (her real name), a model and homeopathist, whose line of skincare products and candles sound divine.  The beautiful autumn flowers featured in her article inspired me to look back at some of my own autumn bouquets and create a few new ones this season.

This candle is the Secret Garden candle, and you can order it from Witchey's site HERE.
I also love this beautiful early autumn floral arrangement.  The arrangement in the magazine was similar, but it also had yellow and pink roses with the orange ones, and they were arranged in a beautiful hammered copper pot.  I wish I had something pretty and copper for autumn arrangements!

Here are a few of my favorite fall arrangements from years past:

I like using white roses in autumn because they remind me of the Owens family's green house in the movie Practical Magic

Asters are always great choices for fall arrangements.

While writing this post I stumbled upon a helpful review entitled "The Gossamer Pleasures of Faerie Magazine"  written by Amanda Fortini.  It gives an excellent overview about the magazine's content, aesthetic, and beginnings.  

One quote I love from the article is:

"As I perused page after page, I began to form an image of the Faerie reader as the sort of crafty, romantic woman who decants her own herb-infused oils and stores them in jars of amber glass on her windowsill. She designs her own wrapping paper. She knits hats that end in animal ears. She has a tarot deck, a crush on Neil Gaiman and a worldview she’d describe as rose-colored."

This could almost describe me perfectly (especially the part about having a fangirl crush on Neil Gaiman) except I can't knit (I do like crafts), and I do not have a tarot deck because I'm a Christian, and I already know my future.

This page from my art journal was inspired by my younger daughter's love for all things fae.  She originally found Faerie Magazine years ago in a store and shared it with me.  I spent countless hours with her when she was young playing on Pixie Hollow.

Have you ever read Faerie Magazine?  What did you think about it?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, September 22, 2017

Literary Friday: The Way to London

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reviewing another WWII-era historical novel, The Way to London by Alix Rickloff.  

About The Way to London

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 19, 2017)

From the author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall comes this gripping, beautifully written historical fiction novel set during World War II—the unforgettable story of a young woman who must leave Singapore and forge a new life in England.

On the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever.

Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England.

Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore. Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Alix Rickloff

Alix Rickloff is a critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance. Her previous novels include the Bligh Family series, the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy, and, as Alexa Egan, the Imnada Brotherhood series. Find out more about Alix at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow her on Pinterest.

My Review:

When I first started reading this novel, I didn't care for the main character Lucy Stanhope at all.  I didn't care for her when she was a drunken tart in Singapore;  I didn't care for her when the Germans torpedoed her ship off the coast of Africa en route from Singapore to England (as a matter of fact, it wouldn't have fazed me in the least had she gone down with the ship);  and I especially didn't care for her when she made it to Nanreath Hall in Cornwall and didn't lift a finger for the war effort, the selfish tart.

But once she met Bill (and they meet under harrowing circumstances), I started to not have quite as much disdain for her.  Slowly but surely the selfish, hardened Lucy began to grow a brain, heart, and conscience.  I think Alix Rickloff did an excellent job with Lucy's development, and I even began to admire her by the end of the book.  In other words, if you can get over the disdain you might feel for this character in the beginning and keep on reading, I think you will be satisfied, too.

If you would like to read a World War II historical novel with an exotic setting, well-drawn characters, over the top family drama,  a sweet, yet believable romance, and one of the most farcical journeys from Cornwall to London ever written, then you should read The Way to London.

I also read The Secrets of Nanreath Hall as part of the Once Upon a Book Club Subscription, and I loved it!  Both books were set at the same time and place (Nanreath Hall) and I kept expecting Anna from The Secrets of Nanreath Hall and Lucy to bump into each other but it never happened. *sadface*  Maybe there will be another book to tie them together because I felt like The Secrets of Nanreath Hall could use a sequel.


I received an ARC of The Way to London from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill