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Friday Night Book Club: A Love Letter to Art

I cheated on this one. It’s not actually one of our book club books, but I’m going to recommend that it become one – because if you take love, art, World War II and the south of France and put them together in novel form, it’s an almost guaranteed win for me.

In Lisette’s List, Susan Vreeland transports us to the years between 1937 and 1948 – from the onset of war, to an increasingly distressed French countryside, to the war’s aftermath, to Paris, to the rebuilding of hearts and souls and cultural treasures – and in the process, composes what amounts to a kind of lavish love letter both to art and to Provence. Known for her art-based novels (A Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, and The Forest Lover among my personal favorites), perhaps affection was her intent; if so, she succeeded.

With imagined conversations involving Pissarro, Cezanne and Chagall, and main character Lisette’s passion to “learn what makes a painting great”, with the tragedies of war and the luxurious, natural beauty of southeastern France, Lisette’s List paints a feast of color, tones and textures, lovingly framed by a well woven story that’s beautifully blended with a rich cast of characters. Added bonus: you might never look at a painting quite the same way.

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Friday Night Book Club: A Russian Feast

Some books read like a symphony. They start out innocently enough, a little tug here and there to capture your ear, then they rise and float as different instruments chime in – and before you know it you’re swept away by the melody, by thunderous twists and gentle pauses, cheerful refrains and deep undertones carrying heart and mind to unexpected places.

A Gentleman in Moscow is such a book. It’s also a book that reminds me why I find the written word so magical.

In telling the story of an aristocrat under house arrest in Moscow’s finest hotel during the 1920’s – 1950’s, a world within a world is brought to mesmerizing life – a world as surprisingly large as it was obviously small, as delightful as it was touching, while offering a glimpse of Russia during a broad span of massive change  – and Amor Towles masterfully ties it all together with a steady beat of delicious writing.

Like a fine wine (or perhaps a Vodka?), there were passages so yummy I had to pause now and then to savor the flavor. Like moments in a symphony that hold you briefly but luxuriously suspended in time and space, I would find I’d stopped to relish a particularly brilliant sentence. (But, don’t worry, you won’t pause for long, because you’re already anticipating the next movement.)

A Gentleman in Moscow had all the key elements right – irresistible characters inside a beautifully written, well-crafted tale. Well done, well done.

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Crazy for Books

I think books are pretty marvelous things, and that anything that encourages reading, inspires creativity and ignites the imagination is also marvelous. And because it’s gift-giving time, just maybe you or someone you know will consider some of my works worth the giving! It’s been a joy to create them, and an even greater joy to watch them being appreciated. I hope they’ll make lots of people happy this holiday season… the little and the tall, the big or the small; there’s something for all to enjoy. 😉

With peace, love and magic – Patricia

saxton_4books-promo_redWhere?

All books
Or individually:
52 Weeks of Peace
A Book of Fairies
Book of Dragons
The Book of Mermaids
Magnetic Mermaid Dress-up
Totes, mugs and more

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Friday Night Book Club

You should never read the ending of a book in the morning (kind of how you should never go to bed mad, or put sugar in herbal tea) – because what if someone comes to your door, and there you are sobbing.

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And if you’re not teary, you at least need some time to sit with it a while, linger a little, say good-bye to the characters you’ve met along the way. You need time to return to reality.

Fortunately, no one rang my doorbell when I finished reading A Man Called Ove this morning.

I didn’t expect to have so many emotions while reading this book. I didn’t expect to break out laughing. (Though I adore humor – who doesn’t? –  I’m a tough nut to crack when it comes to eliciting an actual “hahahahaha!” from books or movies.) And I didn’t expect to cry. I thought it might be filled with quirky people I didn’t particularly like. Turns out, it was filled with quirky people I did like. I also liked the writer’s often tongue-in-cheek writing style – another happy surprise, and not something everyone can pull off, but something Fredrik Backman did spectacularly well. And in the end, I had to accept the fact that this book touched me deeply. For whatever reason. I loved it. And I think most people will find that they, too, will laugh and cry and feel.

………

For you book lovers out there who might like to read along virtually, my friends and I gather on the first Friday of each month. Some other Book Club books we’ve read since my last Friday Night Book Club posting (which, I confess, has been quite a while) are – in order of preference, my favorites first: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sender, The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, Circling the Sun by Paula McClain, The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

I’m also reading Diana Gabaldon’s entire Outlander Series outside of Book Club, because I’m obsessed with them. Currently on book five, The Fiery Cross. And I have a long list of books on my GoodReads author page if anyone wants to connect over there.

Peace, love, happy reading.

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Magic, Captured

“I don’t get it,” the little boy said.

He was looking at my Book of Fairies. Assuming he was astounded by my artwork, his mother began explaining how I made the pictures for my books – how I drew them by hand, using a pencil to sketch and then add more detail; how I used pens and paints for color.

“But I don’t get it,” he repeated. And his mother said “I know, it’s pretty amazing right?”

“No”, the little boy said, shaking his head and scrunching his nose. “I don’t get magic.”

Then he thought a little more and added “I don’t get magic. I only believe in ninjas.”

Yet there we were, sitting at my kitchen table, the air thick with that very thing, that elusive stuff called magic.

Not the hocus pocus kind. No card tricks or rabbits emerging from empty hats. But moments when you can’t help but feel the stir and sweet bristle of magic in the air – which is the best way I can describe my meeting with this little boy’s family last September. (And I realize this could be a “you had to be there” kind of story, but I’ll tell it anyway, because it’s a sweet story – and because sometimes the stars align, and when they do, I tend to pause and take note.)

It had ordinary beginnings. A friend introducing one friend to another on facebook. My initial reluctance (how many facebook friends does one need?), then giving in. New friend sharing pictures from her daughter’s fairy-themed birthday party, my Book of Fairies as centerpiece. (Hearing that people may do this is one thing; seeing it – gorgeous photos of the book surrounded by fairy decor and childhood joy – is quite another. My heart was full.) Notes shared back and forth. Connection and friendship blossoming. A few months later, “…we’ll be in your area, my daughter would love to meet you and have the book signed?”

It’s a beautiful day when they stop by. And there it is – that unexpected stir and bristle in the air. We smile and hug as if we’ve known each other for eons. We do ordinary things like chat and look at art and drink tea and eat the brownies I’d prepared – but nothing feels ordinary. The light is crisp and clear, the mood exceptionally easy. A veil lifted. And somewhere in there the children steal my heart.

We get around to signing the book. Sitting on my front stoop, a white butterfly lands on my writing hand. It stays while we talk and stays while I sign the book and stays while we talk some more. It stays and stays, and stays until we question whether it’s indeed alive (although I would swear I felt little feet moving on my skin). Eventually my new young fan gently nudged her fingers under its wings and turned to a nearby plant where our butterfly friend floated a few wing beats to land on a leaf. (So, yes, it’s quite alive.) And as if watching over us, it stays there for the rest of our time. I don’t know about you, but butterflies I’ve known don’t generally attach themselves to people.

The air was bright with magic that otherwise simple afternoon. You could almost see it. We all felt it. For all I know there might have been ninjas there too.

Here’s a little bit of it captured. (With gratitude for the universe conspiring to bring us together.)
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All photos © Lacey Marie Photography

 

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Honoring Mom

Carolyn Naught Saxton / 1920 - 1980

Carolyn Naught Saxton / 1920 – 1980

[Yes, two Mother’s Day posts today! Because it’s become a bit of tradition, I share this one as I have in years past.]

When I was a little girl, my mother was “my world”. She did all the things you’d expect a mother might do, like hold your hand, read you a story, fix meals, teach manners, dry tears, cheer you up and on. She also loved to laugh. She loved to give. She loved life, and tried to worry only on Tuesdays.

And while she left this world too soon, she left gifts. Cherished, timeless words; gifts from the heart, mind and spirit.

So on this day reserved for mothers, I’d like to share some of those words, from one of her books of poetry, The Pine and The Power. I share them with love, in honor and life-giving celebration of mothers near and far, here or remembered.

…………………………..

God help our children to transcend the dark

And walk the earth with dignity and cheer;

God help them seek the mountains, persevere

The road that twists through thorn and tanglebark,

Ascending finally where eagles mark

Their point of vision. Help our children find

Two masters ~ one the spirit, one the mind ~

And rediscover constancy of heart.

Help us to find cathedrals in the skies,

A will to walk the long uncharted mile;

(The will to find in winter’s legacy

The ochre sands from which the lime trees rise!)

Help us to know the measure of the child ~

To live in time and in eternity.

© Carolyn Naught Saxton

…………………………..

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Dragons Be Here!

It takes a long time to make a book. Particularly challenging when your models have very large claws and tend to breathe fire. But the work is done; the wait is over – the restless beasts (and restless author/illustrator) are thrilled that their book is now out into the world.

With great pleasure I bring to you “Book of Dragons” – the third book in what has become my trilogy, of sorts, of mystical creatures. (Mermaids, then Fairies, now Dragons.) Along the way I came to know a few dragons quite well, and learned a lot from them. (They really like classical music, for one thing – who knew?) I hope you and the children you know will enjoy learning about them, too!

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I’ll keep you posted about upcoming book signings and/or events. In the meantime, you can head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy!

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"Scary Illustrations" and Other Great Reviews

Everyone likes a great review. When you’re published by a small independent publisher, you appreciate them even more. And so, I send my heartfelt thanks to all who’ve written reviews for my books over at Amazon.

I love the 5-starred ones best (of course!), but they say “no review is a bad review”, so I appreciate them all – even the one about the fairy book illustrations being scary. (That had to be my favorite “negative” review. Because, really?)

And as I’m soon to launch a new book, I’ve got books on the brain. (Well, sure, I often have books on the brain, between writing them, reading them, and designing covers for others – but today, even more so.) So I wanted to send out a nudge to anyone who’s a fan of any of my 3 current books or my mermaid toy, encouraging you to head over to Amazon and write something sweet.

It really makes a difference, and helps get more books into more hands, especially those young ones whose imaginations are so alive. Thank you dearly!

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Gifts to Inspire

Here’s my collection of offerings for the holiday season!

And I’d just like to say that igniting imaginations and bringing smiles to young and old is an honor and one of my greatest pleasures. My deep thanks to all of you who’ve helped keep these books alive and appreciated! I hope they’ll delight many new hearts this season. Blessings to all – Patricia

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(All products are also individually listed on my Shop page. Happy Holidays!)

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Stars & Stripes: A Visual Tribute to the American Flag

In May 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. A year later, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, establishing an official flag for the new nation:

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

However, between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several legislations that changed the shape, design and arrangement of elements on the flag, eventually settling on extra stars and stripes to reflect each new state. This broad span of time without specific guidelines resulted in many design interpretations – which, in a way, also reflects the deeply rooted sense of freedom so cherished by Americans. The expressions were rich and proud, eventually evolving into the flag we pledge allegiance to today.

Carrying that theme of evolvement forward, in 1986 I discovered a beautiful book by Kit Hinrichs, called “Stars and Stripes” – a compilation of exceptionally creative American Flag images created by some of the finest graphic artists of our time. I found it absolutely delightful, and a great tribute to the creativity and talent that abounds amongst us – and the creative freedom we’re able to enjoy in this great land of the free and home of the brave.

Below are just 13 samples of the many ingenious designs from that book honoring our American flag.  Enjoy, and Happy Birthday USA!

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all images copyright of creator

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