Looking for a fun, fast project to bring a little pop of color into a room? Victoria Hudgins, founder of the lifestyle blog A Subtle Revelry, outlines this straight-forward DIY for Colorful Rolled Tea Lights from her new book, Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed.
Any excuse is a good excuse to make a day at home a special one, and these colorful rolled tea lights will brighten up a room in more ways than one. I love the vibrancy of colored beeswax, and these small candles almost look like confetti strewn about!
Skill level: Beginner
Time needed: 30 minutes
Using an X-Acto knife, cut the beeswax sheets into three 4 x 2" (10 x 5 cm) pieces per candle.
Make the wax malleable by warming it up in your hands for a moment. Overlap the short ends of two of the pieces slightly and press together. Add the third piece in the same manner to connect the three pieces into one long skinny piece (about 11½ x 2" [29 x 5 cm] long).
Press a tea-light wick into the wax at one end. Starting from that end, gently roll the wax strip tightly around the wick to form a spiral.
Press the end of the roll into the candle base to connect.
Excerpted from Materially Crafted by Victoria Hudgins with the permission of Abrams | STC Craft. Photography by Jocelyn Noel. Read our review of this book.
It's another big week for new paperback releases, with a strong roster of titles for both fiction and nonfiction readers:
My Salinger Year
By Joanna Rakoff
Vintage • $15.95 • ISBN 9780307947987
Rakoff's compelling recollections of her first job—working in the New York City literary agency that represented, among others, reclusive writer J.D. Salinger—was one of our favorite memoirs of 2014.
By Ruth Reichl
Random House • $16 • ISBN 9780812982022
In her delightful first novel, the former editor of Gourmet and author of the best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples combines a young food writer's coming-of-age story with an alluring World War II mystery. The paperback edition includes a reader's guide.
The Shell Seekers
By Rosamunde Pilcher
St. Martin's Griffin • $15.99 • ISBN 9781250063786
It's hard to believe, but this 1987 bestseller from the beloved British writer has never previously been released in an American trade paperback edition. Why now? This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Pilcher novel September and the 15th anniversary of The Winter Solstice. So her U.S. publisher is releasing new editions of all three books. Adapted for both film and television, The Shell Seekers is the kind of engrossing family saga that makes it an ideal beach read.
Everything I Never Told You
By Celeste Ng
Penguin • $16 • ISBN 9781594632921
Ng's moving debut novel, which landed on many best of the year lists and was selected by Amazon as the top book of 2014, opens with a stunning relevation: "Lydia is dead." In meticulously constructed layers, the novel reveals the repercussions of the teen's disappearance and death on her Chinese-American family in small-town Ohio. The paperback includes a Q&A with the author.
A Spy Among Friends
By Ben MacIntyre
Broadway • $16 • ISBN 9780804136655
When it comes to treachery, it's hard to top the story of Kim Philby, who headed Britain's spying efforts against the Soviet Union while secretly working for the enemy. In this masterful biography, which has been optioned for TV by Lionsgate, MacIntyre focuses on Philby's close friends Nicholas Elliott, of Britain's MI6, and James Angleton, of the CIA, both of whom were blindsided by Philby's betrayal.
By Laline Paull
Ecco • $15.99 • ISBN 9780062331175
The heroine of Paull's fascinating novel is an unlikely character: Flora 717 is a worker bee with lowly status in her hive. But when environmental issues put the hive under stress, Flora takes on new roles and begins a climb to power. Based in fact but keenly imagined, this is the ultimate in "buzz" books.
Patricia Park reimagines the perennial Jane Eyre as a Korean-American young woman in Queens in Re Jane. Our reviewer writes, "Park’s portrait of Korean-American life feels authentic and is ultimately endearing. Charlotte Brontë would be proud." (Read the review here.)
We asked Park to tell us about three books she's enjoyed reading lately.
After I turned in the last manuscript pages for Re Jane, I finally turned my eye back to the stack of books on my TBR (To Be Read) list. I read fiction and nonfiction, and I’m thrilled to share my latest reading rotation with you now:
I was woefully late to the Frank McCourt conversation; I finally read it because my dentist told me Frank McCourt was her teacher at Stuyvesant High School. Angela’s Ashes touched me on so many personal levels—themes of migration and reverse migration, steeped in the blue-collar world. It reminded me of my father’s own immigrant struggles—scrapping and saving to make it to America (or in McCourt’s case, making it back to America) with nothing more than a suitcase and a dream. I have never read more delicious descriptions of floury potatoes or milky tea or fried toast (pig heads, maybe not so much). And all told with such humor! I don’t come from a family of big readers, but it was the kind of book that immediately made me want to buy it for everyone I loved. I forced my older brother to listen to the audiobook, and as we laughed at McCourt’s hilarious retellings of his otherwise miserable childhood, I think the experience brought us (if a little) closer together.
I’ve read Lahiri’s short stories, but hadn’t read her first novel until just recently. Then I reread it for a conference presentation I was giving on Show Vs. Tell in literature. Lahiri does an enviously skillful tell—one expository paragraph with details like “ashtrays the size of serving platters” and whiskey and wine bottles stacked on top of the refrigerator will do the work of pages and pages of scenes. I love the way she presented the main character Gogol’s attempts to fit in—with both his Bengali and his American identities. I think his struggle is one that many of us “hyphenated-Americans” deal with on a daily basis.
What a wealth of information about the Brontës! With each page turn I found myself learning a new Brontë fact, and it changed the way I (re)read Jane Eyre. Brontë had set out to show that a female lead “as plain and as small as myself” deserved her own novel, at a time when convention dictated that only beautiful female characters got airtime in literature. There was a real-life St. John Rivers—modeled after Brontë’s friend Ellen’s brother, a rather straight-laced clergyman who saw in Charlotte the makings of a good pastor’s wife. But she turned him down with the following quip: “I have no personal repugnance to the idea of a union with you—but I feel convinced that mine is not the sort of disposition calculated to form the happiness of a man like you.” There was also a real-life Rochester. While teaching in Brussels, Brontë carried on an emotional affair with the married professor Monsieur Heger, whom she first described as “small, ugly, short-tempered and, above all, Catholic.” The Brontës is a 1,000-page whopper, but what a comprehensive and quite readable biography of a prolific family.
Thank you, Patricia! See anything you'd like to pick up, readers?
(Author photo by Allana Taranto)
Hugh Acheson, a James Beard Award-winning chef with four Atlanta restaurants, has compiled an inspiring cookbook, The Broad Fork. This guide to seasonal eating features recipes for more than 50 veggies and fruits, and with a harvest of summer berries coming soon, this recipe for Raspberry Cobbler with Drop Biscuit Topping is sure to come in handy.
I once cooked a guest-chef dinner at the great Atlanta restaurant Woodfire Grill, and the dessert course was made by chef Scott Peacock. Scott spent much of his professional life cooking and writing with Edna Lewis, one of my all-time favorite Southern culinary writers and one of the most important chefs in Southern food. Scott, who is himself a wildly talented man, clearly had learned some nuanced dessert skills from Edna because out of the kitchen emanated a truly scrumptious cobbler, wonderfully soupy with drop biscuits nestled into it, soaking up all of the fruit goodness from a mix of juicy berries. This recipe is an ode to both Scott and Edna, two of my favorite people ever to shape biscuits.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the raspberries with the 1⁄4 cup sugar and set aside to macerate at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. While the raspberries are macerating, assemble the biscuit dough: In a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, remaining
1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the sea salt. Pulse to combine, and then add the butter. Pulse until the butter has flaked into small pieces. Add the buttermilk and pulse until just combined. Remove the dough from the processor and set it aside.
4. Add the lemon zest and cornstarch to the raspberries, stir to combine, and place the mixture in a 6x8 inch baking dish. Dollop spoonfuls of the biscuit topping over the raspberries. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Debut novelist Catie Disabato "picks up" where her mentor left off in this faux-journalistic novel about two disappearances, one a Lady Gaga-esque pop star and the other music journalist Cait Taer. Multilayered doesn't begin to describe this tale packed with footnotes, commentary from Disabato, explorations into philosophy and history and the investigation itself, which includes secret notebooks, interviews and more. As complicated as all this sounds, Disabato is a clever guide and will charm readers hoping for something wholly original.
After Molly disappeared, a few kooks came out of the woodwork to offer elaborate explanations. A popular Illuminati conspiracy theory website called The Vigilant Citizen weighed in with their particular brand of insanity. On August 12, 2009, the website published a long article called "Molly Metropolis: An Illuminati Puppet," which claimed Molly was a mind-controlled puppet and every time she posed for a picture with her hair over her eye (which, admittedly, happend a lot in her early press photos and the music videos for her Cause Célèbrety singles) she was making herself into the symbol for the All-Seeing Eye. The Vigilant Citizen wrote: "Those who have passed the 101 of Illuminati symbolism know that the All-Seeing Eye is probablyits most recognizable symbol."
According to The Vigilant Citizen, Molly Metropolis disappeared because her "Delta" or "killer" programming had been activated and she completed her "final Illuminati opersation," then vanished to hide the evidence of her actions.* With the story, The Vigilant Citizen ran an early publicity photo with Molly dressed in a black t-shirt with a deep v-neck; she holds the back of her hand up to her left eye to reveal the tattoo of an eye inside a triangle Molly has on her palm. Needless to say, the police never investigated "Delta programming/evil Illuminati mission" as a possible explanation for her disappearance.
What are you reading today?
Attention, avid readers: If you haven't added Literary Hub to your regular website rotation, we suggest you do so. LitHub, developed by Grove Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin and Electric Lit, endeavors to gather all the best bookish content from the best bookish websites (BookPage included!) and put all that literary goodness in one place. LitHub will also feature original content from authors such as Jane Smiley, news from literary insiders and updates from outposts in Europe.
BookPage is one of more than 100 companies and organizations partnering with LitHub to bring you the cream of the crop in cerebral content. From their website: "Literary Hub will be a place where readers can return each day for smart, engaged, and entertaining writing about all things books."
Alden Mudge's interview with acclaimed photographer Sally Mann from our May issue is featured today on LitHub. In the interview, Mann, who is known for her provocative and ethereally beautiful photographs, discusses tumultuous family history, her art and her new memoir, Hold Still. Go Behind the Interview for even more from Sally Mann.
May is a great month for mothers and daughters to celebrate each another's company—and that includes reading together! Here are four great choices for moms to read alongside their teens, or to share in mother-daughter book clubs. With themes like female identity, competing conceptions of beauty, mothers who are absent (or overly present) and even a bit of magic, these young adult picks are sure to spark interesting discussions. (Of course, these books can also be enjoyed by mothers and sons. Or fathers and daughters. Or fathers and sons. Or anyone who likes a great read!)
Glory's mother, a talented photographer, killed herself when Glory was in preschool. Now about to graduate from high school, Glory, a photographer in her own right, reopens her mother's basement darkroom for the first time. Through her mother's photography notebooks, Glory hopes to learn more about her mother, what drove her to her terrible decision . . . and how much like or unlike her mother she herself might be. Her friend Ellie's complicated relationship with her own mother adds a parallel storyline.
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is a multilayered, genre-defying book; it's also about the changing dynamics of teenage friendship, the uncertainty of post-high school plans and the dark and bizarre glimpses of a misogynist, dystopian future that Glory and Ellie begin to see after drinking a petrified bat (really). It's a story about images and visions and how what you see depends on how you look. But at its heart, it's a story about women's relationships with each other: as members of society, as friends and as mothers and daughters.
As was the case with Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, Just One Day doesn't fit neatly into one genre category. The first half of the book follows recent high school graduate Allyson on a whirlwind one-day summer tour of Paris with Willem, a young man she's just met. The second half takes place during Allyson's first year at college. Allyson's always been satisfied to go along with her mother's color-coded schedules and neatly-designed plans, but Willem's spontaneity has shaken her expectations and her desires.
As her mom continues to arrange her future, Allyson faces the need to stand up for herself as a person with interests and hopes of her own. But their newly emerging roles go both ways: Just as Allyson asks her mother to understand her motivations better, her mother asks the same of her newly adult daughter.
Moms and daughters who want to know more about Allyson and Willem can also read Forman's follow-up novel Just One Year and concluding short story "Just One Night."
Unlike the two previous books, mothers are barely present in Bray's imaginative, highly feminist, almost over-the-top Beauty Queens. Most of the book takes place on a desert island populated exclusively (at least at first) by teenage beauty contestants marooned there after a plane crash.
This Lord of the Flies-like premise allows Bray to explore intersections of gender, race and sexuality in an environment quite different from everyday society. Throughout, readers are invited to wrestle with questions related to society's expectations of women and girls: What constitutes beauty? What ideals should women aim to meet, and what happens when they choose other paths? And who counts as a 'woman,' anyway?
Like Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, Franny Billingsley's The Folk Keeper features a long-dead mother whose presence is continually felt. Like Just One Day, it's about a daughter learning to define the direction her own life. And like Beauty Queens, it takes place in a unique setting that's central to its story.
Orphaned Corinna is confident in her identity as a folk keeper: a boy (Corinna cuts her hair and disguises her clothes to look the part) who lives in cellars and protects country homes from mischievous faeries. But when a dying patriarch sends her to her family's ancestral home, Corinna begins to learn secrets about herself and her new surroundings. Many of these secrets revolve around her mother, the mysterious Lady Rona, whose death still haunts the cliffside estate.
Scottish legends, magical abilities and budding romance interweave in this quiet, introspective novel, told in the form of entries in Corinna's journal-like Folk Record. Although theoretically published for middle grade readers, The Folk Keeper is in many ways the perfect YA novel: It's about power, gender, identity and the interplay between who you're born as and who you choose to become. It's also a perfect read for mothers and daughters who want to ask . . . and maybe even answer . . . these questions together.
What are some of your favorite YA mother-daughter reads?
Locker Combinations is a Book Case feature by BookPage contributor and young adult (YA) literature expert Jill Ratzan. Using a variety of literary, cultural and educational perspectives, Jill guest blogs about the latest in YA lit and the general direction, trends and changes of the field. Read more BookPage reviews, interviews and posts by Jill here.
Two mega-best-selling novels lead the roster of paperbacks released this week:
The Invention of Wings
By Sue Monk Kidd
Penguin • $17 • ISBN 9780143121701
With more than a million copies sold since its hardcover publication in January 2014, Kidd's captivating historical novel is already a runaway hit with readers, and this new paperback edition should move it to the top of the list for reading groups everywhere. A book club kit from the publisher is available online.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
By Haruki Murakami
Vintage • $15.95 • ISBN 9780804170123
Another million-seller comes to paperback with this edition of the latest book from international literary star Murakami. A #1 bestseller in hardcover, the novel follows the “colorless” Tsukuru when his four best friends inexplicably shun him after college.
A Man Called Ove
By Fredrik Backman
Atria • $16 • ISBN 9781476738024
This quiet and thoroughly charming novel from one of Sweden's most popular writers has struck a chord with American readers. Ove, who has lost both his beloved wife Sonja and his job, is ready to throw in the towel, but his boisterous new neighbors, his mailman and even his newly adopted cat help to change his plans.
The Mockingbird Next Door
By Marja Mills
Penguin • $17 • ISBN 9780143127666
With the publication of Harper Lee’s newly discovered novel, Go Set a Watchman, just two months away, this controversial portrait of the author and her sister, Alice, at home in Monroeville, Alabama, is especially timely.
Back in January we shared our 15 most anticipated books of 2015, and now it's already time to talk about the best and biggest books published so far this year. Based on the number of pageviews on BookPage.com, we present you with the top 10 books that have readers talking.
After you've looked through the list below, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below. And then vote in our reader poll for your favorite book of 2015 (so far!).
#1: The Girl on the Train
By Paula Hawkins
British author Hawkins struck gold with this deliciously twisted thriller that became an instant bestseller. Told through three unreliable narrators—Rachel, the alcoholic voyeur; Megan, the other half of the "golden couple" Rachel watches from the train; and Anna, who lives down the street. When Megan goes missing and a media firestorm follows, Rachel feels compelled to get involved. Already optioned for film by DreamWorks, this edge-of-your-seat suspense is sure to continue its upward trajectory.
#2. A Spool of Blue Thread
By Anne Tyler
With 20 novels published during her 50-year writing career, Anne Tyler has cemented her reputation as one of our most consistent and talented American authors. Her newest family saga, A Spool of Blue Thread, focuses on the Whitshanks, led by Abby and Red, a long-married couple whose story of the day they fell in love has become legendary. But now their four children are wondering whether—and how—Abby and Red can continue to live alone in the Baltimore home that Red's father built as they enter their 80s.
#3. The Bookseller
By Cynthia Swanson
Debut novelist Swanson penned a surprise hit with her inventive portrayal of one woman's two distinct lives in The Bookseller. Exploring the "what if?" questions we all ask ourselves at a certain age, Swanson follows Kitty Miller along two life paths—as both an unmarried bookshop owner and as Katharyn, a suburban stay-at-home mother.
To an outsider, Grace Chapman has a perfect life: She’s a lifestyle maven with a best-selling author husband of 20 years, a beautiful daughter and an elegant home outside of New York City. But Green takes us underneath the veneer, and soon the cracks begin to show.
Larson is one of our most talented and exciting writers of narrative nonfiction today. In Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, he tells the riveting, tragic story of the final voyage of the luxury British ship, which sailed from New York City on May 1, 1915 with 1,959 passengers, and was sunk by a German U-boat off Ireland's coast just six days later. Larson weaves in an astonishing amount of research into this event which is often cited as the reason America joined the fighting in World War I.
#6. Etta and Otto and Russell and James
By Emma Hooper
Emma Hooper’s captivating debut novel is inspired by a piece of her own family history. Shifting back and forth through a couple's history, Hooper tells the story of 83-year-old Etta as she leaves her husband Otto behind to walk more than 3,000 kilometers to see the ocean. This touching and creative novel explores the fuzzy boundaries of love, memory and time.
#7. He Wanted the Moon
By Mimi Baird and Eve Claxton
When author Mimi Baird was 6 years old, her father, prominent Boston dermatologist Perry Baird, did not come home. In the following 15 years between that fateful night and his death in 1959, Baird saw her father only once. When she discovers a cache of her father's letters and his unfinished manuscript in the '90s, Baird sets herself the task of bringing her father back to life.
#8. It Was Me All Along
By Andie Mitchell
Andie Mitchell chronicles her lifelong struggle with binge-eating in her strikingly honest memoir, It Was Me All Along. Tipping the scale at almost 300 pounds at the age of 20, Mitchell confronted her dependence on food to numb her emotional pain instead of nourishing her body during a semester trip to Rome.
#9. Born With Teeth
By Kate Mulgrew
You may recognize Mulgrew from her acting in television shows such as "Orange Is the New Black" and "Star Trek: Voyager," but she proves to be an equally skilled storyteller in her tellingly titled Born With Teeth. Yes, Mulgrew chronicles her 40-year career, but the boldly honest and heartbreaking stories concerning her Irish-Catholic family and deep friendships are the true focus of this well-crafted memoir.
McCreight’s follow up to her breakout debut, Reconstructing Amelia, is another suspenseful story about the ripple effect of tragedy. When the corpse of a baby is found in the woods of a picture-perfect New Jersey town, each resident suddenly becomes subject to scrutiny and suspicion. Reporter Molly Sanderson has just suffered a stillbirth, so this case feels personal, but she’s determined to solve the mystery. Using flashbacks and multiple narrators, McCreight keeps the tension tight all the way to the satisfying conclusion.
What do you think, readers? Don't forget to vote in our reader poll for your favorite book of 2015 (so far!).