Month: June 2014

I used the new release template “Whippoorwill” by Southern Serenity designs by Amber Morrison and the kit “Real Life in Pockets: Candid” by Mommyish and Just Jaimee. All Products can be found at Pixels & Company.

I used the New Release Template “Brave Heart” by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison. Paper: Summer Nights, Summer day by Happy Box. Elements: Summerific by Creashens; Summerlicious by Anita Designs; and Andiamo by Scotty Girl. All available at Pixels & Company.


Book Review: City of Dragons (Book #3 of the Rain Wilds Chronicles) by: Robin Hobb

I gave this book three out of five stars.

If you expect the third book to flow seamlessly into the first two books of the series, you will be disappointed. Older characters from other series are revived and the first one hundred pages are spent introducing new-old characters. Madness, utter madness, but then really there were only a few plot climaxes left to the original story.

What I liked:

1) The city of Kelsingra. I enjoyed learning about the city and seeing it come to life. I think that was undoubtedly the best part of the book.

2) The continuing changes for Thymara. Did Thymara actually pick a partner? Way to go Hobb, upping the drama. This might be the one plot line that gets me to read book 4.

3) There is some really fun action in this book. Without giving away any spoilers let me just say, a character gets shanked in a brothel, dragons may or may not learn to fly, Thymara may or may not mate, and a dying Duke may or may not get healed.

What I didn’t like:

1) The redundancy. Did I mention before how redundant Hobb can be in her characterizations and narratives? In case you missed it, or missed it in my last review, Hobb writes a lot of redundant things. The repetition is annoying.

2) There were several monologues of narrative, which the author tried to hide as character dialogue. There are at least three scenes where characters monologue back and forth with stagey information. These are just contrite and silly, not only do people not talk to one another like this, these character have no need to tell each other this information. I wish Hobb would just write a narrative. Write a quick narrative, and while you write it, imagine your reader is smart and stop bringing up the same details over and over again.

3) Why is the evil Duke still alive? If he is such a bad guy, hated by everyone, weak, defenseless, and dying he should be dead. Should be easy for even his servants to just kill. It doesn’t make sense to me why he has the ability to wield the power he does when he should be easy to kill and overthrow.

I plan on reading the next book. I don’t know if book four is the end, but I would like to see this series end. I’m hoping Hobb has something sinister in store for Hest. I hated that he was a key character in this book. Kill that man off already. I also look forward to reading about what happens with Sintara and Thymara.

Augustine with her stuffed friend duck-duck who she brought to introduce to her piano instructor Stephanie. I used the kit “Knicknackery” by Tami Miller Designs available in her Pickleberry Pop store. The template is “Blossoming” by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison and available in her Pixels & Company store

One of the things Miss Gwen loves to do is paint. I even refer to the word paint as “the P-word” because if she hears any mention of it she wants to do it. For this layout I used the recent new release “Feeling Mellow” by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison, and the “My Lil’ Artist” collection by Kim B. Both are available at Pixels & Company.

Choose Happiness Kit by Sweet Digi Scraps available at The Digi Chick. Template from “Slightly Off” by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available at Pixels & Company. 

Book Review Dragon Haven (Volume two in the Rain Wild Chronicles) by: Robin Hobb

I gave the book three out of five stars

The action in the second of the Rain Wild Chronicles picks up, and some of the various sub plots from book one are resolved.

What I enjoyed about the book:

1) The character conflicts. Hobb does an excellent job of depicting the tight ebb and flow of relationships in an on going stressful situation. The younger characters are developing into adults. They are learning about relationships, leadership, and some of life’s harder lessons. Sedric’s character arch was my favorite. I adored how funny and endearing his relationship with Repelda was as it developed.

2) The journey was wonderful. The danger depicted was intense. It plays out in tandem with the real up’s and downs of traveling so far into the unknown. It was a long journey, but Hobb’s kept the action moving.

3) The resolutions begin. This book heals many of the pain and buried secrets we learn about in book one. Finally Sedric confesses his biggest secret to Alise. The shock, tension, and long term after effects from their conflict were real and constructed beautifully.

What I did not like:

1) This had to be the longest series “introduction to book 2” I have ever read. I was skipping over paragraphs of unnecessary character introductions. Then right when I thought the book was taking off there was more. Entire paragraphs of backstory information, which I could swear, were copy and pasted right out of book one.

2) I don’t like the conflict between Sintara and Thymara. I don’t believe it. People don’t go on day after day, confined with routine intimate contact, and continue on with this unresolved tension. All of the other characters seemed to evolve in book two, why have these two not? Sintara effected a physical change, but really nothing else moved between the two of them. Why would Sintara hide the changes she was implementing on Thymara? She’s never been above bragging before? I just don’t believe these two could have so much continuous conflict, in tight quarters, needing one another to survive, but still go on without a solution.

3) Part of the plot felt preachy to me. It was like the author had constructed a whole sub plot to illustrate why pre-marital sex is bad. The timing of Billad’s lecture to the girls was inappropriate. I could not believe her character would be so insensitive since she herself was the most intimately familiar with the tragedy-taking place. I also thought the character reactions were out of character for everyone else in the scene. Was it a good idea for an older woman to school the younger girls? Certainly. Was that scene the right time and place? Never. If anything this lecture to the girls should have taken place in book one, if at all.

The spotlight kit for Designer WM(Squared) this month is her Vintage Summer – Reloaded Kit. You can purchase it for 30%off with a coupon code found on her blog HERE

The Scrap Orchard has done a massive (and cool) up grade to their gallery. In the process many old layouts have vanished. So as much as I wanted to show off the layouts made with this kit during my blog post over on the WM (Squared) blog, it was not possible. I asked Wendy if she was cool with me making a freebie for my post, and she said “YES!”

I hope you like it, you can pick it up on my post over on the WM(Squared) blog HERE.

Photos from Jacobs 5th Birthday at Cheap Skate in Coon Rapids. Celebrate The Kit by WM (Squared) and available at The Scrap Orchard. Life’s a Project #4 Template by AK Designs and available at Scraps N’ Pieces. 

I got to have a little “Me Time” the last time  I took my little one’s to the McDonalds playland. The ran around building up their immune system while I did some writing. Kit “Me Time” from Pixelily and available in her Gotta Pixel Store. I used Rainy Dayz 2 template pack from Rainy Dayz Designs (retired). 

My girls and I wearing sundresses on one of the first warm days here in Minnesota. I used the new release collection from KimB called “Pretty Amazing” which is available in her Pixel’s & Company Store. “Free Bird” Template from Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available in her Pixels & Company Store.

Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison has a double template pack that is FREE in her Pixels & Company Store

Designer KimB has a FREE kit up on her blog. You can find the link HERE.

Heather Greenwood has a really cute FREE printable on her blog! You can find it HERE

A beautiful evening spent watching Gabe play baseball. I used the new kit “Personality” from Tami Miller Designs, it is available in her Pickleberry Pop store. I used a retired template from Little Green Frog Designs.

A selfie of me with my mothers day flowers this year. I used the new release “Hear Me Roar” by WM(Squared) which is available in her store at Scrap Orchard.

Pixelily challenged everyone on her CT to make a page with a selfie of themselves when we used her new kit “Photo Junkie”. I took this selfie of me with a cookie from my thirty-one director Kelly. Just a little something she sent me for having a great April. The kit “Photo Junkie” is available in Pixelily’s store at Gotta Pixel.  I used the “Triple Threat template #4” from Connie Prince Designs. 

I used template #4 from “Dauntless”, a new release from Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison, which can be found in her Pixel’s & Company Store. I used the kit “Keen” by Creashen’s available at Pixels & Company.

Pictures from this years Mothers Day Brunch at the Old Northland Inn. I used Aimee Harrison Designs new release Birthstones: June which is available in her store at The Studio. The template is Little Green Frog Designs “Simply Blocked: Garden Gate” and can be found at Scrap Orchard.


Book Review of Gone Girl by: Gillian Flynn

I gave this book three out of five stars.

This book is disturbing, well written, and grotesque on many levels. The first mystery thriller I was not able to predict the ending to in a long time. I think the “Who’s Afraid if Virginia Woolf” reference was the best example of where the book was headed. Like the play, this book imposed a similar disorienting disgust and wonder on me. Reading the end of the book I immediately thought of the end of the play. For some reason the equivalences made the unresolved conflict palatable for me. I’m not sure I would have been happy with the ending otherwise.

What I liked:

1) The parallels drawn to the real life Scott Peterson case. It was the perfect case to reference since it captured the nations attention so completely and for such a long period of time. I also smiled at all of the crime television references made.

2) The writing is good. The prose fit well into the heads of a book staring two self absorbed snarky writers. My favorite internal dialogue was Nick’s when he explained where his life was before Amy. How he was bored or blanketed in malaise because “the second hand experience is always better”. It was like reading a prettied up personality outline of a generation X attitude.

3) I like how Flynn keeps the reader guessing by adding details you may or may not need to know. I thought the Nick’s father was a brilliant embellishment.

What I didn’t like:

1) The characters. I was fascinated really, to read a book where so many of the characters were offensive and not endearing. Character attachment had nothing to do with why I finished the book. I kept cautioning myself to not infer the author shared the character opinions, but it was difficult with so many characters espousing similar haughty views. The character Rand sums up every narrative description or observation made of the Midwest when he say’s: “I have to tell you, it’s really quite ugly here.”

2) Inconsistent Characterization. I was disappointed when Amy lost her smart sociopath edge. I liked hating her and seeing her as a calculating, OCD, list making nut case. What happened at the roadside inn, and her reaction was not smart. If she is so cunning and forward thinking that never should have happened. Did it make her more human, sure. Do I really believe she cooked up what eventually happened with Desi while she was curled up in the fetal position at a rest stop for forty-five minutes? No way.

3) The plot. Since when do sociopaths include their own demise as part of their revenge plan? She’s a narcissist not depressed. You could see where Flynn may have said, “I don’t know what to do now” when Amy’s at the roadside motel. Why wasn’t milk-spitting Amy executing some clever plan against these two “redneck” offenders? Once Amy meets up with Desi, her character really falls apart. She let’s Desi pen her up for how many days? Seems like her ultimate solution for him could have been carried out within the same week she’s brought to his lake lodge. It was a little too convenient for Desi to be who he was originally rumored to be. At the end I don’t believe the police or FBI would just shrug their shoulders and go home. Not really how a situation like this would play out in real life, but this is a fiction book. If the ending mirrored real life then there would be too much light in what is meant to be a dark book.

Setting up for my Spring Garage Sale in May this year. I hauled all the bins down from the garage attic by myself. I used the newly released kit Collecting Moments: May by Pixelily, which can be found in her Ginger Scraps Store. I used a “Sprout” template from Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison and can be found in her Pixels & Company Store.

On one of the first nice days of Spring Chris took Augustine, Jake, & Gwen out to fly the kites they made with Gabe’s Cub Scout troop. Augustine had a blast. I used the new release from Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available in her store at Pixel’s & Company.  The kit is “Up in The Air” by Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage which is also available at Pixels & Company.

Gwen was singing and dancing in the falling cottonwood during Gabe’s Baseball game this week. I used the new release “Here Comes The Sun” from Pixelily. It’s available in her strode at Ginger Scraps. Photo mask is KimB’s Fun Photo Masking and can be found in her Pixels & Company Store.