ARTFUL READERS CLUB “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden

MY cover design…

THE BEAR and the NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden is a book I never thought I’d read. My “extended family” grandson, Alex, recommended it to me. (It’s part of the WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY.) A gorgeous Russian medieval fairy tale that blossoms slowly into a thoughtful, emotionally complex story, with witchcraft, magic and history, Arden weaves together a variety of Russian folk tales to tell one beautiful story.

The book sweeps us back to the Middle Ages…into the vast wilderness of northern Russia, where it’s cold and wintery most of the year…you can almost feel the icy air on your skin, descriptions are so vivid. So, we have a wintery setting, a magical forest, fairy tale elements like demons, dark creatures and spirits…and finally, a feeling of uncertainty and superstition- the clash between the old time gods and the new, modern religious beliefs (with townsfolk still tied to the stories of old- the creatures that hide in the dark, the demons lurking in the corners, the spirits living in the woods and waters.) This is the atmosphere in which we find our protagonist, VASYA, and her family. Vasya is a child of nature, wild and willful, with powers that leave the villagers questioning the nature of those powers, many believing she’s a witch. She’s definitely a girl who doesn’t wish to follow the path society has predetermined for her…to marry or join a convent. There’s a great message here…girls can be anything they want to be, no matter what society may dictate- a difficult path back then, but oh so real now! I loved that!!

Arden’s writing is this book’s strongest selling point: evocative, beautifully descriptive, imagery that pops with details alive enough to make you smell the smoke and feel the cold; it’s haunting, vivid and poetic. I will definitely be picking this up again come wintertime, cozily bundled near a fire, with a cup of hot chocolate nearby, because this book is the sort of magical warmth and comfort that everyone deserves during the coldest times. For now…on to the next book in the trilogy…GIRL IN THE TOWER.


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: The soul of a gypsy have I…

This week SUNDAY POSTCARD ART ( has a gypsy soul…I can identify! We went to Romania specifically to see the Romani gypsies (or “travelers” as they’re called.) They’ve always been fascinating to me…their art, their very secretive culture, their stories and their way of life. We only saw a bit of their closed communities, but found that they’re well integrated in Romanian society (finally!!) By the way, Romania is a spectacularly beautiful country steeped in history, myths and legends…as are the Romani people!

Until next posting…stay safe.

Big Hugs, abbyj


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: Sun is shining…I’m so grateful!

Hi Dear Family and Friends,

It seems as though our world is opening like the buds on flowers and trees all around us. It’s our summer and there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

This week, in my online art groups, it’s all about the ladies…in one way or another. For SUNDAY POSTCARD ART ( our task was to show images either torn or broken. I chose TORN…with women as the main image:

What a shame to do this to a beautiful Humphrey Bogart poster… 😦

DIGITALMANIA ( has reintroduced us to MINJAE LEE, a young South Korean artist. Drama characterizes his art…he uses powerful colors and patterns on his subjects making them innocent and fragile as well as loud and aggressive. Here are a couple of his creations…

and here are mine, inspired by Minjae Lee…

Thanks for stopping by. Continue to be vigilant keeping safe.

Hope to see you next posting.

Big Hugs, abbyj



Wheels and Silhouettes are the keywords for my art this week…challenge group TAKE A WORD ( was interested in wheels of any kind and THE THREE MUSES ( asked to see silhouettes. I combined both in my two pieces. Here they are…

Again…short and sweet. Wishing you a joyful, healthy week ahead.

Hoping to see you next posting.

Big Hugs, abbyj


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: Art is a mirror for humanity.

Anahata Katkin is an Alaskan-born, Atlanta based mixed media artist and business owner. She’s DIGITALMANIA’s “in-residence” artist for this week. ( Her art is varied and interesting. Here are a couple of her creations…

…and here are my creations, inspired by Anahata…

More and more, the world around us is blooming with the flowers of summer. I must admit that I’m still wary and cautious, although the temptation to let it slide is strong. Please stay safe, dear ones…and let’s hope for brighter, more relaxed days ahead. Perhaps…even a vaccine cure-all!

Sending my love and best wishes for your good health and happiness,

BIG HUGS, abbyj



Dr. Seuss said…“The more you read, the more things you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” This quote was in my thoughts when I created this old woman reading by candlelight for art challenge group, TAKE A WORD (

Their theme wasn’t READING…it was CANDLELIGHT. Let it be said that I’ll read by whatever light is available, but candlelight is so restful to the eyes, isn’t it…and more romantic and atmospheric as well. I guess I had my Nana in mind when I created this…she loved to read! That’s probably where I got my love for reading and learning. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading while sheltering at home…have you?

Stay well, safe and cautious. That’s it for this posting…short and sweet. See you next time?

Big Hugs, abbyj


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: Creating art and following my bliss!

Angi Sullins and Silas Toball, together, are our inspirations for this week’s art creations at art challenge group, DIGITALMANIA ( .) Creating all forms of art from their studio in New Mexico, they paint, make photographs, digital art, collage, make books, short films, write poetry, write symphonies…they do it all. AND, they do it to inspire others to create art in THEIR own way. Our task at DIGITALMANIA was to draw inspiration from the duo’s digital creations. Here are some of theirs…

…and here are mine…

Continue to stay safe…but ENJOY!! Hope to see you next posting.

Big Hugs, abbyj


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: Life is lived in many layers.

Layers…we all have them. Art can help to reveal those layers of our lives…to ourselves and to others. This week, THE THREE MUSES ( asked artists to create art with layers. I wonder if you’ve done any peeling away of those layers…examining them to determine who you are and what’s important to you during this sheltering at home time. I know I have! I pray for your continued good health…

As our world opens up, little by little, please continue to be aware of your surroundings and choose the safest environments for yourself and your loved ones. Let’s aim to keep our “layers” healthy…both mind and body.

Hope to see you for my next posting.

Much love, abbyj



Wildlife across the planet is stretching its legs, less inhibited from the hustle and bustle of humanity. Air pollution is plummeting in some of the most polluted cities around the globe. People are walking, biking, running, reading, talking with friends and family (even if it’s via FaceTime) while physically distancing…and attending virtual concerts, dinners and meetings. Most humans are proving their resiliency while dealing with the threat of COVID-19. Just wondering how much longer until we’re back to “normal…” whatever the new NORMAL will be. Hoping you and yours are doing well and will remain vigilant.

This week, TAKE A WORD challenge blog ( decided on the theme “STAYING HOME.” Here are my art pieces for this theme…

That’s it for now, dear ones. Be safe and enjoy a week of contentment peppered with joy.

Big Hugs until next posting,