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Vision and Verb

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Featuring a sampling of our personal favorites in our latest gallery...

A reminder that ALL proceeds go to fund KIVA loans!

Recommended Reading

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Sea Change by Jeremy Page

 The Expected One by Kathleen McGovan




The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

Synopsis (from book cover):

It’s 1928, Freddie Watson is still grieving for his brother, lost in the Great War.  Driving through the foothills of the French Pyrenees, his car spins off the road in a snowstorm.  Freddie takes refuge in an isolated village and there meets a beautiful, captivating woman.  They spend the night talking of love and loss and war.  But by daybreak, Fabrissa has vanished and Freddie realises he holds the key to an ancient mystery that leads him deep into the mountains, to a cave that has concealed an appalling secret for 700 years…


I found this book by chance when I was looking for different book to read over the Christmas period.  I am glad I did, it is the perfect time of year for a  Christmas ghost story. The main character Freddie, is well drawn and the reader can feel the hurt and grief that he has been left with since the loss of his brother who declared missing in action during the war.

After a bout of illness a doctor suggests that Freddie tour the castles and ruins of Ariege to recover his shattered nerves.  The descriptions of the Pyrenees transported me there, especially as I had traveled near that area earlier this year.  Freddie starts to hear whispering in the hills and following a car crash this leads him on and unexpected journey and discovery.

I found the book a fun light read with interesting characters and setting.

PS: The book I had intended to read over Christmas turned up today.  It wasn’t where I thought I had left it…


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Publisher's Summary

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce's remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk 600 miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him - allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise - and utterly irresistible - storyteller.

©2012 Rachel Joyce (P)2012 Random House Audio

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I adore audiobooks. They allow me to reduce my eyestrain and to enjoy like a small child, the delight of listening to a story. It also allows me to work as I listen, like a grown up;) Of course, a good narrator makes a huge difference in the enjoyability of a book. This narrator does a wonderful job telling the story of Harold Fry. In fact he brings a kindness to the story. 

Overall, I enjoyed the ordinariness of the characters;feet of clay, with varied perceptions, but with understandable intentions.

Both the writing and performance capture small details in such an understated style that a second listen would remain a rich experience.

I've just finished listening, and I'm still enjoying that wonderful afterglow of a good story, well told. 


The Morville Year by Katherine Swift

 Synopsis (from book cover):

Now Katherine Swift, one of the most acclaimed gardening writers of her generation, takes a fresh look at the garden she created over twenty years in the grounds of Dower House at Morville, meditating on everything from the terrain and its history, to the plants and trees, and the odd habits of the animals and humans who inhabit the garden.

Is everything in the landscape older than you think?  Might a flower in your hat change your life?  Can cats and cardoons cohabit?  These are just some of the topics that Katherine Swift considers in this enchanting companion volume to The Morville Hours.

With specially commissioned colour photographs of the garden by Jane Sebire and line drawing by Dawn Burford, the book follows the turning wheel of the Morville seasons, from the green shoots of spring, through summer and autumn, to the stark beauty of winter, and back to spring again.  It is a journal full of surprises and enchantments that will appeal not only to gardeners, but to all who enjoy the natural world.

This book follows on from Katherine’s very successful book The Morville Hours and is once again the book is elegantly written. The chapters in the book consist of articles from the column she wrote for the Sunday Times when she was their gardening correspondent between December 2001 and July 2005.

Katherine talks about her day to day musings as she tends to her garden throughout the year. It covers the things that that worked out well in the garden, some happy accidents and future possibilities for the various garden rooms. It is however much more than a gardening book, covering diverse subjects such as astronomy, bees, the Morville cats, past American Presidents and other historical figures. In one chapter she muses about time and the use of a garden tree to construct a sundial within a turf maze and how it was ‘initially’ in time with the church clock.

Amongst the things I learned are that there are eleven thousand species of moss worldwide, that lichens are not one organism but two living in symbiosis and that bees do not hibernate over the winter, they are in perpetual motion and continually beating their wings to keep warm.

As with the The Morville Hours it is a book that I will read again and also dip into from time to time. I am looking forward to her next book which is provisionally entitled ‘A Rose for Morville’. I am also reminded that I must visit the garden, living in Shropshire I don’t really have an excuse not to.


Quiet - The Power of Intoverts 

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking


At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

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I couldn't put this book down. I downloaded and listened to it on my ipod..I read it..and then I listened to it once and again. It's given me the answers to so many questions about myself...and confirmed and affirmed that I'm not alone..and that - perhaps - I'm even 'normal'. A must-read for any and all of us who thrive in the space of 'quiet'.


The Buddha in the Attic


A novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago.

In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream.

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It's a quick read...but one that is so compelling that it makes it impossible to put down in the middle. It's written in a very unique style in the voice of the collective 'we'. An embarassing part of US history that is somehow buried in its past.