Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: The Right-Hand Shore: A Novel by Christopher Tilghman

The Right-Hand Shore: A NovelThe Right-Hand Shore: A Novel by Christopher Tilghman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although this book took a few chapters to get in to, by the middle, everything seemed so real and NOW that I forgot it was told as a series of flashbacks!

Beautifully told, history (late 1800's-early 1900's), race relations and economics are viewed through the lens of the Mason family in the northeast United States. There are too many memorable characters to name, both good and bad. There's enough heartache, triumph and drama to make you beleive the Masons are a real family, and live on a real farm.

My favorite aspect of the book concerns a forbidden love between a young white man and his childhood friend, who happens to be a black woman. Although many stories are told in this novel, this one stands out to me. The two involved families try in vain to separate the couple, knowing they have nothing but pain ahead of them. The young people even try themselves to forget their love and move on. In the end, they cannot stay away from each other, and a daring plan is devised that offers some hope.

At its core, this book centers on race division and its effect on the inhabitants, both white and black, of the Mason Retreat. Take time to enjoy this book, the conclusion is well worth it!

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: The Memory of You by Laurie Kellogg

The Memory of You The Memory of You by Laurie Kellogg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Even though overall I enjoyed this book, I had to rate it as just "OK" because so much of it was unbelievable. This book was recommended for fans of The Lucky One (Nicholas Sparks), so that's why I picked it up for my Kindle. They are both about war veterans searching for healing and love, but that's really the only similarity.

Matt is a Vietnam vet who has lost his memory of everything in his life prior to becoming a POW- his name, his childhood, his wife. When his identity is finally discovered, he tracks down his wife, Abby, to make sure she is happy. He intends on letting her live her life as it has become, and go about his merry way. So far, so good. Sad, but believable.

Upon seeing her with their son and a new man, Matt's resolve falters. He keeps his identity a secret, calling himself Mac, and convinces Abby to let him move in as a handy man. This is where you really have to suspend belief... a single mother lets a total stranger move in, develop a close relationship with her son, and talk her out of marrying her fiance. Wow.

I will admit the passion and connection Matt and Abby rediscover is beautiful to witness, as is Matt's bonding with the son he never knew. The build-up to Abby realizing who this stranger really is ends with a disappoiting revelation- it just lacked the drama I thought was sure to happen. The characters themselves are likable-mostly. Abby's huge, trusting heart borders on stupidity, and Matt clings to his made-up name and motives just a little too long to be considered selfless.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Lovely (A Layout)

Once again finding older photos and finally getting them scrapped. Today's page features two of my beautiful nieces, and a hidden flap...

Paper- American Crafts, Bazzill
"lovely" card- Kenner Road
Rub ons- Doodle Bug Designs
butterflies (unknown)
Helmar Scrap Dots adhesive
ribbon (unknown)

Two smaller portraits hidden under a flap!

Love how Scrap Dots add just the right amount of dimension.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'll Run Away! (A Layout)

I ran across these pictures and a scribbled story about my oldest daughter (3 years ago), who threatened to run away from home. When I told her how much I would miss her if she did that, she patted my arm and said, "Mommy, you can run away with me".
Definitely a moment worth scrapping!

Paper- My Mind's Eye
Creative Memories alpha stickers
Top Note Sizzix die
Tea Dye Distress Ink
Misc. buttons and thread

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book review: In the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel

In the Midnight RainIn the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I truly got sucked into this mystery/romance story set in Texas.

Ellie is a novelist, researching the dual mysteries of the disappearance of Mabel Beauvais, a blues singer, and the identity of her father, which was never revealed by her now-deceased mother.

The romantic relationship between Ellie and Blue develops with great tension and passion. That they don't immediately fall into bed is a great bonus, in my mind. Blue has his own demons to conquer, which throws roadblocks in front of Ellie's galloping heart.

The southern details ring true, as well as the references to small-town America in during the Vietnam War. If the secondary characters are a bit numerous, this tiny flaw is more than made up for by the richness of the core players.

By the end of the book, all questions are answered and everyone gets a happy ending. *Sigh of contentment*

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Larsson is as wordy as ever in the third and final installment in the Millenium series. Wordy, but certainly intertaining. Even though the title obviously refers to her, our Lisbeth Salander is conspicuously absent from most of the book. Understandable, since she was shot in the head and buried alive at the end of the second book!

Crack journalist Blomkvist, along with some new police-type friends, scurries to uncover the truth about Lisbeth's father, who is smack dab in the middle of a decades-old government cover-up.

Spy-like behavior abounds, complete with surveillance equipment, safe rooms, and a smuggled computer tablet. As usual, Blomkvist and anyone unfortunate enough to be near him is in almost constant danger. Good stuff.

The trilogy resolves satisfactorily, if not necessarily happily. Highly recommended, you won't be sorry you sat through book 2.

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Finally Scrapping!

Wow, it has been way too long since I've spent any quality time in my craft room. I remedied that yesterday and completed 7 pages! I was especially excited to start the dance album for my youngest daughter, so I'll share those pages today.

Spring 2011- Rehearsing for the recital finale, "Firework" by Katie Perry.
Supplies- Paper (My Mind's Eye, Reminisce, Prima, Creative Imaginations, Basic Grey); Martha Stewart punch; Top Note Sizzix die; Zapdots; misc. ribbon

Popped up the title panel

Had fun layering papers, punches, and ribbon!

"More Rehearsal Moments"
Supplies- Paper (My Mind's Eye, Creative Memories); My Mind's Eye brads and flag

"Dazzling Darlings" professional portraits.
Supplies- Creative Memories Dance paper pack, metallic silver cardstock; CM star punch; Stampin' Up stamp (Baroque Motifs); Staz On Black ink; Studio 18 rhinestones; Funky Brush Sizzlet alpha dies

I love how Staz On ink allows you to place your stamped images on multiple surface types!

The perfect amount of shine...

Thanks for stopping by today!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: XVI by Julia Karr

XVI (XVI, #1)XVI by Julia Karr
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book. All I knew from the jacket was that in this version of the future Chicago, something terrible happens to girls when they turn 16. The book annoyed me from the first couple of pages with terms that didn't make immediate sense... vert, PAV, tier-two, FeLS, trannies. Seriously, some of these things weren't spelled out until well into the book.

Annoyance number 2 was the characters. Dull and sterotyped. Nina, the good-girl main character. Sal, her brave and mysterious boyfriend. Sandy, her sex and fashion-obsessed best friend. Wei, the smart and tough Asian, complete with martial arts skills.

My third annoyance: the plot. It was just bad, boring and predictable. Even the chase scenes and other dangerous moments were tampered with lackluster dialogue and character reactions.

The abrupt ending, with NOTHING resolved, begs a follow-up. Which there is, called Truth. The truth is, I won't be reading it.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This almost qualifies as historical fiction, if it weren't for the classic supernatural SK bent. Published in 2011, this may be my favorite recent work from King.

Our protagonist Jake (King sure likes that name, huh?) is a humble schoolteacher who finds himself on a time-traveling quest to thwart the assassination of John Kennedy. Jake orginallly believes that each time he goes back to his "now", everything he changed during his time travel is reset- wiped out. As he becomes more familiar with the dubious rules of his "rabbit hole", he finds out this is not the case. The expected moral delimma about messing with the space-time continuum unfolds, and Jake is faced with the potential consequences of saving the woman he loves.

This book has the wonderful, spine-tingling weirdness of some of my other favorite King stories, like Duma Key and Rose Madder...characters you come to love...a bittersweet ending. SK fans and conspiracy theory nuts alike will enjoy this jaunt into the late 1950's and early 60's.

All that being said, there are some very passionate and eloquent reviews by fellow Goodreads members- I urge you to check them out!

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

The WitnessThe Witness by Nora Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit this is one of my favorite Nora Roberts books. It's more thriller than romance and kept me reading all day! This book is cleverly divided into three sections:

1. Liz, in which we meet the stifled 16 year old uber-smart girl who gets wrapped up in a Mafia crime.
2. Abigail, the paranoid woman-on-the-run Liz becomes.
3. Elizabeth, who bravely attempts to love and put a rest to her demons and fear.

The book is filled with rich characters, a great little community, believable family dynamics, and some heart-pounding moments. Definitely recommended for Roberts fans, as well as those who just like an entertaining thriller/romance. That being said, it's still a fairly "fluffy" NR read, so I can't give it 5 stars.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)Song of Susannah by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Being the sixth and next-to-last book in the Dark Tower series, I can only hope that some of the more mundane scenes in this comparativly short installment are simply a set-up for the final novel.

Song of Susannah has its good moments- Eddie and Roland's shoot-out when they cross over the Unfound Door, Jake's use of his strengthening Sight, and some of the Mia/Susannah internal conversations- but nothing great. Overall, the struggle between Mia and Susannah becomes strung-out and boring, without the benefit of any sort of conclusion about the "chap". At least not in this novel.

The insertion of King himself into the story is a point of contention for many fans- you either love it or hate it. I was mildly interested in the references to such an eventuality in previous books in the series, but when he was in the story as a fairly important plot event, I was disappointed. The Coda at the end of the book sorta makes up for it- it contains pages from King's journal that further explain his process emotions concerning the series' development.

As I still have to finish the series, I can't tell you if skipping this book will leave you lost or not. In my opinion, certainly the weakest of the Dark Tower books.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Book Review: Jackpot! by Jackie Pilossoph

Jackpot!Jackpot! by Jackie Pilossoph
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found the premise of this book to be fairly interesting (otherwise I wouldn't have picked it up)- a Jewish mother wants nothing more than to become a Jewish grandmother, but her single, selfish son and daughter aren't cooperating. Then, she wins the lottery and makes them an offer they can't refuse...or can they?

If either of her children can produce an offspring over the next year, they get 8 million dollars.

The rush to find baby-making partners ensues.

At this point, the plot becomes overwhelmingly and disappointingly predictable. You can probably guess, so I'll just go ahead a tell you- the quest for a willing sex partner leads to true love for both. Said partners find out about the jackpot agreement, everyone gets dumped, then everyone finds forgiveness and they live happily ever after.

There are some humorous moments and likeable characters that make this a decent read, despite the lack of true surprises. Quick and easy, not a bad summer choice.

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