Helen's Closet Patterns, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Fall Sewing: York Pinafore and Jade Tops

I have been trying to fill in my cold weather wardrobe with handmade basics and the York Pinafore and the Jade top are the perfect combination. This past holiday weekend, I finished a second fall version of the York and two more Jade tops, all of which will mix and match with my other fall York. With tights it is the perfect cold weather outfit. img_4778-1I sewed my second fall York using a light brown wide-wale corduroy that I bought for a song at FabScrap – a wonderful non-profit based in Brooklyn that is working to keep fabric out of landfills by recycling and reusing fabric that would otherwise be discarded. img_4679I lined the pockets with blue linen left over from a summer version of the York. You can see how nice the fabric is in this close-up. It is really soft and drapes so well-really surprising in a corduroy as they are often stiff.
img_4718I had heard about FabScrap but had never visited their operation and then the Love to Sew ladies came to NYC and hosted a meet-up of local sewists there and I was lucky enough to be able to go.  I am a big fan of the Love to Sew podcast and Helen and Caroline were so warm and friendly in person and it was really fun to spend time with other sewing friends. It was such a fun evening!
img_4151At FabScrap, volunteers sort donated fabric and what can’t be sold as yardage is recycled and made into industrial felt. They even have recycled buttons and zippers and sometimes sell fabric online. They recently had a flash sale of corduroy for $5 a yard that I jumped on. I bought four colors thinking that it would be a great basic to have for clothing for myself but also for little jumpers and pants for future grandchildren and I am so glad I took the plunge. It will make great garments (I have plans for Lander pants and this amazing Charlie Caftan hack ) and the scraps will end up in some patchwork quilts I am making out of leftover heavyweight plaid flannel scraps. Altogether a great purchase. This summer I wore my Yorks with Gemma Tanks and now that the weather is colder, the Jade knit top is the perfect shirt to go under the pinafore. I made two this weekend including the navy and white striped version img_4677-1as worn here:
img_4785and have several more cut out. I discovered Cloud 9 organic cotton knits this spring when I was a tester for the Jade and made this version:img_0088This fabric is a dream to sew with and is incredibly soft and comfortable to wear. I stocked up on several different colors and stripes this summer and I am sewing a wardrobe of shirts. It spoils you for any other knit. I highly recommend it. It would make great children’s tops as well.img_4723I also sewed a dark grey version of the Jade from lovely soft cotton knit fabric bought long ago from Peekaboo pattern company. I know this will get a lot of wear. It goes with everything.
And there you have it. Two great patterns that are quick to sew, don’t use a lot of fabric and mix and match with many possibilities. More versions to come!  Perfect for walking all over the city, something I have been lucky to do this fall. I really enjoyed walking through Central Park img_4522 and going to the Guggenheim img_4552where I saw this amazing exhibit which is totally worth a visit. img_4544I will definitely be going back.  img_4540This past Sunday it was so warm (50 degrees in November!) and my husband and I spent the day exploring Clinton Hill in Brooklynimg_4850 where we got to see the inside of the beautiful library at the Pratt Institute (yes I am wearing my Tamarack Jacket here-this was a selfie in the distance-the mirror was on the opposite wall and I couldn’t resist.)
img_4836We also went to a favorite bookstore where I bought this book (so good so far) and
img_4878 ended the day with ice cream eaten on the waterfront. It felt like spring-a perfect fall day.  (this is not us-just another lucky couple enjoying a beautiful NYC night.) Happy Fall!img_4865-1

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Uncategorized

Nursebean Reads: Fall 2018

I have continued to do a lot of reading this fall across a wide range of topics and genres. I find great new books through several trusted sources: Anne Bogel, whose Quick Lit post I am linking to today, the Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia, a small independent bookstore- the owner’s taste generally matches mine (I follow her on Instagram and subscribe to her monthly Shelf Subscription) – and more recently I have followed Austin Kleon and find that many of my favorite reads have been recommended by him. Here are 14 recent reads and a couple I am currently reading.

I liked all of these books and would recommend all as good reads but my favorite was The Overstory, a bit upsetting in places but such a good read-it really has stayed with me. It reminded me a bit of The Nix which I read and loved earlier this year. I also loved Florida and Awayland, two short story collections, A Spool of Blue Thread, a backlist title by a favorite author and two memoirs about living in New York City in the 1960s and 70s: Just Kids and Arbitrary Stupid Goal. I also really enjoyed several mysteries.

I loved both Florida and Awayland. Each collection of short stories is beautifully written, inventive, a little weird and each contains a couple of absolutely stunning stories that take your breath away,

I rediscovered Anne Tyler this year when Clock Dance was a Shelf Subscription book. I had read almost all of her books years ago but missed the last few when I was back in school. I really enjoy her quirky characters and A Spool of Blue Thread did not disappoint.

I love Kate Atkinson’s writing so had to read her latest book as soon as it was published. I definitely enjoyed it but it didn’t blow me away as the last two did. But certainly worth reading.

I read both the Penelope Fitzgerald and Ali Smith books because I somehow went down a rabbit hole on the topic of books about libraries. I enjoyed them both.

I love memoir and found Arbitrary Stupid Goal and You and the Road and a Bike, both of which I enjoyed, through Austin Kleon. Arbitrary Stupid Goal gave a window into NYC and specifically Greenwich Village in the 70’s. In the same vein of New York memoirs, I finally read Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids which I highly recommend. What a life she has led. And I really enjoyed listening to Rick Bragg’s stories about life in the South.

I read several good new mysteries: the new Cormorant Strike book, Lethal White, which is great on audio, an older Tana French Dublin police squad mystery and the first book in a fun new British mystery series: The Word is Murder.

Finally, I read the latest Michael Lewis take on the Trump transition team ( or lack thereof). It was really interesting and didn’t depress me, although maybe it should have. I found his profiles of scientists really interesting and really learned a lot reading his book while being entertained.

I am listening to Middlemarch. This will be the year I finish it. I am loving it on audio narrated by Juliet Stevenson (thanks to Modern Mrs Darcy for the recommendation) and plan to read the text version next year because there are so many passages I will want to go back to.

What are you reading and loving?

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Bias Binding, Helen's Closet Patterns, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Fall York Pinafore

img_4321I wore the Helen’s Closet York Pinafore all summer as you can see here, here and here and with fall coming, I wanted to try making a warmer fall version. I had in mind a wide wale corduroy but didn’t find what I was looking for and this soft, cotton corduroy fit the bill. It was easy to work with and it is low-maintenance. Since I started sewing for myself, I have tried to only sew things I can wash at home and almost never dry-clean anything anymore.I had some beautiful paisley rayon challis left over from making this dress and I used it to line the pockets and to make the hem facing and bias binding.Bias Binding Close-upI love the little pop of patterned fabricI like to line the pockets and this paisley lining is really lovely, almost feels like silk.It was a bit slippery going with the bias binding but worth it. I  made a size large as I have been doing but probably could have taken it in a bit because the fabric doesn’t drape like linen. I plan to make several Jade tops to go with it but here it is worn with a very old Gap t shirt that I am holding on to until I make a me-made version. Sewing your own knits really spoils you for anything else.

I went shopping in my closet and found shoes I hadn’t worn in a while (purchased 19 years ago, does that make them vintage?) but love with this outfit. It reminds me a bit of the classic Marc Jacobs look from You’ve Got Mail, sort of upscale librarian or book shop owner, (or nurse practitioner ).  It will be great with boots this winter.This fall I am busy as I always am in the fall, teaching new nursing students, so I appreciate my go-to patterns that enable me to still make a wearable garment in a day. This was a Sunday project. Probably more versions to come, likely a black wide wale version. img_4293-1I have to say that my Tamarack Jacket goes with this outfit as it goes with just about everything. I am loving wearing it.img_4306My pockets were not as neat as I would have liked on the inside and so I cut a large square of the lining fabric and hand-stitched it over each pocket on the inside of the jacket. I love the neat look and I think it will be more durable and it doesn’t interfere at all with putting anything in the pocket. I also like that I was able to include some of the selvage with the designers’ names. img_4341I am slowly building a fall wardrobe of basics that work together. The Paisley dress, this pinafore, a grey Blackwood cardigan and my Tamarack Jacket are the first four. I plan to make a some versions of the Elliot Sweater, the aforementioned Jade tops, a Berlin jacket in a dark grey boiled wool and some Beatrix blouses, all of which will mix and match well with the pinafore and my ready-to-wear jeans, leggings, corduroys and boots. I am not quite ready to jump on the me-made jeans bandwagon but it is a lot of fun watching so many different versions pop up online.

What are your fall sewing plans? Do you make garments with an overall wardrobe in mind? I am excited to follow the #fall10x10 challenge on instagram. It is fun to see how many outfits people can make with a capsule wardrobe. I am not quite there yet but maybe next year!

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Helen's Closet Patterns, Liberty Fabric, Sewing

Seersucker York Pinafore

This has been the summer of the York Pinafore. It has been really hot in the Northeast and when I made my first versions of the York, I realized that it would work well with many hand-sewn tank tops in my wardrobe and be a cool, loose work uniform. I also love that it can be made with 2 yards of fabric and that so many fabrics I already owned worked well for the pattern. So a couple of weeks ago, I cut out three more versions: one practically a duplicate of my much-worn linen-cotton version seen here using scraps left over from this Gemma:

When I originally bought this linen-cotton fabric 3 years ago, I bought a large piece and had many plans for it. I used it to make this Pearl shift which I love but never used the rest of it so had quite a bit in my stash. It turns out it was just waiting all this time to become a York or two. I also cut  one in a lightweight navy linen that I bought this year when I decided that I needed more linen in my life and a third in a cotton seersucker that I bought on sale this spring (and can no longer find where I bought it) which I hoped, but wasn’t sure, would work well in terms of drape. It is so lightweight, that if it did work, I knew it would be great for the 90 degree days we have been having. Turns out it worked great and I love it.

For all of my Yorks, I have lined the pockets. It occurred to me early on that it would be quicker to do that than to turn all the edges under and would simultaneously enclose and finish all of the pocket edges. I am really happy with how this has worked. Here are the pockets of my newest Yorks, all lined up with the top edge topstitched and ready to be sewn onto the front of the pinafores, along with a Ruby blouse bodice that will likely work well with all three. I like the challenge of making pocket linings and bias binding from fabric scraps from prior projects. I am not sure I am really saving a ton of money with the large amount of fabric I purchase but it at least gives me the illusion of thrift and I like the challenge of finding scraps that will work. I have used cotton lawn and voile as linings because I didn’t want to add a lot of bulk to the pockets and change the drape of the garment.

Here are the pocket pieces from my seersucker York ready to be sewn. I cut out the pocket piece from the main fabric and then use that as my template to cut the lining. I generally make the lining a bit larger and then trim once everything is sewn together.

Here are the pocket pieces sewn together and then turned right sides out prior to topstitching.

When I sew the pockets, I cut two of each of the pocket pattern pieces-one from the regular fabric and one of the lining fabric- and sew them together except for the seam that will eventually be sewed into the side seam, I then turn the pockets inside out and press and then sew to the front piece of the pinafore. Then I sew the side seams with wrong sides together and then again with right sides creating a French seam. Lots of trimming of fringe and stray threads happens in between sewing the two seams. I wasn’t sure how French seams would work with the pockets but I am here to say, 6 Yorks later,  that it has worked great. Here is a close-up of the edge of the pocket turned up so you can see the lining. I used a floral cotton lawn by Liberty of London left over from this blouse.

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And here are some pictures of the finished garment.

Front:

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Back:

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Inside view so you can see the trim:

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And as worn.

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I love that little partially hidden pop of floral liberty fabric. I am wearing my Seersucker York with my white double gauze Gemma Tank. I will be making another or these (or two) this winter as it is my go-to top. Goes with everything.

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I used leftover solid cotton lawn when I sewed a York in a cotton-linen canvas print: navy for pocket linings and bias binding and yellow for the hem facing. 

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The canvas was so crisp it was a pleasure to sew with.

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And here are the finished views:

Inside so you can see the bias binding and hem facing:img_2634

Finished front:

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And finished back view:

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And as worn:

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Most of my cotton lawn scraps come from the many Gemma Tanks that I made over the last few years, many of which work with my Yorks, creating endless mix and match outfits. Is it any wonder I keep making York after York? I have some pink linen fabric that I bought earlier this year planning to make a top but now I can’t get a pink York out of my head. Stay tuned!

 

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Reading and Books

Favorite Books So Far: Summer 2018

I have read 75 books so far this year and these are my favorites. I continue to get such good reading recommendations from my three favorite reading podcasts: What Should I Read Next? From the From Porch and The Librarian is In. Many of my favorites were Shelf Subscription Books, a monthly gift I give myself. Highly recommend! Linking up to book whisperer Anne Bogel aka Modern Mrs. Darcy. If you don’t follow her, you should. 😊

My current read is this new book about a road trip written by a fellow sewist. I am only a couple of chapters in but am loving it. Zoom in to see who recommended it! I loved The Mothers and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. What are you reading and loving this summer?

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Bias Binding, Helen's Closet Patterns, Sewing

Ojos Flame Challis York Pinafore

img_3226Ever since I saw this beautiful version of the Helen’s Closet York Pinafore, I knew I wanted to make one for myself. One of my goals this year has been to use some of nicer fabrics in my fabric stash (the ones I have been saving and afraid to cut into) to sew garments. This is a very sheer, float-y rayon and I have wanted to sew something but hadn’t been able to decide which pattern to try.

This weekend the temperature in Connecticut finally dipped below 80 degrees and I decided to take the plunge.

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Helen’s version of this longer pinafore used a facing and spaghetti straps instead of bias binding. I originally thought I would do that too but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I could achieve a similar effect by tapering the straps. I ended up piecing the front strap because I decided on this approach after I cut everything out (I had originally thought I would do the spaghetti straps but then changed my mind) but I don’t think the piecing is noticeable and it actually enabled me to get more length out of the relatively small piece of fabric.

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I tapered the straps so that they would be 1.5 inches at the top of the shoulder and used a navy cotton lawn for my bias binding. I feel as though the lawn gives a bit of structure to the strap and is less slippery so that the straps don’t slide off my shoulders. It is total heresy, I know, but I didn’t stay-stitch or under-stitch when I sewed the bias binding. I generally don’t. I try to handle the neck and arm holes very little and I don’t pin the binding on, I just hold it gently in place and sew.  When I iron the folded binding before top-stitching it in place, I just iron the fold into the lawn, not the rayon. Then I fold by hand and use wonder clips to hold it in place before I sew the top seam. You can see pictures of how I do this in my Gemma Tank posts. I spent a lot of time sewing bias binding when I made many Gemmas two summers ago and this approach is pretty quick and gives me good results.

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All in all this was a very quick sew. I like how swishy it is (you can see it in action on my Instagram post) and I like it with my white double gauze Gemma

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and also with my chambray Gemma, and I actually have a navy lawn Gemma that is almost finished (the source of the scraps I used for the navy lawn bias binding) which I think will also work well.

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I may also make or buy an inexpensive navy slip dress to layer under the pinafore which I think would be a nice casual look. I like that this garment works with dressier sandals but also with flip flops, as all the best summer dresses do.

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I feel as though I achieved a similar feel to Helen’s floral longer York but preserved the nice armhole shape which is one of my favorite design elements (and good motivation to keep swimming those laps at the pool!)

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I cut the back piece a bit longer than the front, not on purpose-it just worked out that way- but I ended up leaving it a bit longer in back because I liked how it turned out.

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This is my fourth York Pinafore. I have three more cut out. What can I say? When I love a pattern, I love a pattern and this is such a good one. It is all I have been wearing this summer (with my many Gemma tanks). You can see some of the many outfits I have been able to make by searching the hashtag #wearyouryorkday.

Here is a version in Cloud 9 Linen-Cotton canvas print:

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And this incredibly versatile version in Essex Linen which I blogged here:

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It goes with everything I own, literally.

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And my original lightweight linen muslin which I love so much:

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If you haven’t tried this pattern yet, what are you waiting for? Go forth and sew a linen or cotton or rayon York! You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading and Books

Nursebean Reads: Summer 2018

This summer has been a season of reading. Despite an entire month (May) when I did not read one book and instead sewed all the things (see exhibits A and B) and a weekend during which I sewed multiple versions of my new favorite pattern (exhibit C), I still managed to read a lot of books, most of them really excellent. I have especially enjoyed reading on my front porch. And I was so lucky to have a vacation in a cabin in Maine in early June. Really is there anything better than hiking during the day and reading in front of a fire in a cabin in Maine?Here are the books.

The Nix was my book club’s choice for July. It was published in 2016 and I had seen it in the library forever but didn’t have a clue as to what it was about. It is over 600 pages so a bit of a commitment but I was so drawn into the story that I couldn’t put it down. So good! If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. I borrowed it as a e-book from my library but there were so many passages that I wanted to underline and couldn’t. I will be buying this to have my own copy. That is very rare for me. The only other time I have gone out and bought the book after reading it during the last year was this book which if you haven’t read it, why haven’t you?

After finishing The Nix, I didn’t think I could read another book as wonderful but then I read A Place For Us. This is a debut novel and the author is 26. The writing is beautiful. The characters are beautifully written and I cried my way though many sections. I read it in a weekend. Once I got caught up in this family’s story, I couldn’t put it down. I knew it would be good because both Anne and Annie recommended it but I still couldn’t believe that someone in her twenties could so accurately capture what it feels like to be a parent, a child, a sibling, but she really gets it. Do yourself a favor and get on your library’s wait list because this is going to be a top 10 book of the year. Of this I am sure. One of the themes in this book is substance abuse so if this would be hard for you to read about, would skip this one although it is not the central theme which is family.

I also really loved the next book which I heard about on the What Should I Read Next podcast. It is quite short and almost fable-like. Translated from the Japanese, it tells the story of one woman but made me think about so many aspects of what it means to be an individual in a culture that is not always accepting of differences-not the Japanese culture per se but the culture of being any individual in any society. I think it would make a great book group book. So many things to discuss.

I read this next book about being a woman, being a parent, being a mother, being an adoptive mother, written, amazingly by a man. I loved how it depicted the central character who is very human and who makes decisions that you might or might not agree with. Similar in some ways to A Place For Us, it speaks to the ways that all of us make decisions from the place of our own limited understanding of a situation, usually with the best of intentions but sometimes with ramifications that we don’t anticipate. This would also make a great book club read.

I discovered Kelly Corrigan this year and the Middle Place is the third book of hers that I have read and I loved it best. The way that she writes about her father is just beautiful. More tears. Just read it. She does talk about her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment so if those topics would be challenging for you to read about, would wait on this one.

I discovered The Throwback Special because it was recommended on From the Front Porch which along with What Should I Read Next, is a must-listen every week. These two podcasts are my major sources of great reads. I recently discovered a third reading podcast which I am also loving, the New York Public Library’s podcast, The Librarian is In. What I love is that each of these three podcasts (I discovered the second two when their hosts were guests on WSIRN) is that I get different reading recommendations from each of the three. I feel as though each of the three channels different types of books and aspects of my reading personality. I highly recommend all three. Fun to listen to and great sources of great books.

Anyway, back to The Throwback Special, I really loved the writing and the way the author captured the way men relate to each other and to sports. The rituals, the trivia. And I remember actually watching the football game that inspires this group’s annual outing in real time so it felt like reliving a part of my own history. I read a lot of books about families and couples and women but not so many about men and how they relate to each other and their roles. This does an excellent job. I highly recommend it.

Tangerine is a very atmospheric read that has a noir feel. I enjoyed the description of Morocco where the story takes place and the suspenseful feel of the book. I didn’t love the characters so much. I have a hard time with books where the characters are people whose lives I can’t really relate to. I have seen mixed reviews by people I follow. Some have really liked it, others not so much. If you like suspense and mystery and don’t need to love your protagonists, give it a try.

I was late to the party on this next book but I found it to be a very enjoyable light read. Perfect for my summer cabin reading. And the books on the cover glow in the dark! So definitely worth reading the paperback rather than the e-book. 

I was also the last person on the planet to read this next book which if you are the other person who hasn’t read it, I highly recommend it. Another perfect summer read. A couple of tears, mine (this month’s theme, maybe.)

The Heart’s Invisible Furies was recommended me by Catherine whose blog is a must-read for me. I have loved all of the books that she has written and all of the books she recommends. She also posts amazing recipes.

Anyway, this book. Beautifully written, wonderful characters, heartbreaking at times and a really interesting look into what it was like to live in Ireland the last 75 or so years. Since one branch of my family was originally from County Cork, I was really shocked by much of what I learned about the religious and political institutions and their impact on peoples’ lives. It is one thing to have a general idea of the beliefs and the institutions and another to read in such specific detail of the lengths that fellow human beings had to go to and probably still have to go to to just to live quiet lives loving who they love. Highly recommended.

I loved the new Anne Tyler book. She writes characters who I fall in love with and I really enjoyed the relationship between her 61 year old protagonist Willa and a young girl she befriends. Now I want to go back and read the rest of her books that I have missed. I have read about 15 of them but I think that leaves at least 5 that I haven’t yet read. She is so prolific. Lucky for us! This was my July Shelf Subscription pick, a gift I give to myself each month and the way I make sure not to miss great books. Many of the books on this list were sent to me from the Bookshelf as Shelf picks.

I finally read An American Marriage after being on the library waiting list for months. Worth the wait. A really powerful story. I was drawn into the characters’ lives and couldn’t put it down.

On a lighter note, I read this delightful middle grade book that reminded me of one of my favorite childhood series, The Melendy Family books by Elizabeth Enright. I loved it and it made me miss living in a brownstone in Brooklyn when my kids were little.

Also in the New York vein, I also read this short book by Roz Chast about living in New York. Loved it and highly recommend. I heard about it on this episode of The Librarian is In. So fun!

And for a total guilty pleasure I read the first two books of the Crazy Rich Asians series. I definitely enjoyed the first more that the second but they were both fun and I have the 3rd saved for an upcoming plane trip.

So many good books! What have you been reading and loving this summer?

I have written so many posts about books that I have loved, all of which you can link to here.

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