Month: March 2015

I used the Remember Me Page Kit from Meagan’s Creations, and the Kid Fun Word Art Pack from Word Art World by Jennifer, both sold at Gotta Pixel. The template is a new release from Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison and available at Scrap Stacks.

Book Review: The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt

I give the Pulitzer Prize winning Goldfinch three out of five stars for its beautiful language and speckles of both dark and light emotions I think anyone can relate to. The trick is, you need to care about Theodore Decker, or take an interest in the plot to experience these things. If you pick this book up and are bored within the first two chapters, like I admit I was, then just go ahead and shelve it. It really doesn’t get much better. I wanted to see the brilliance of the award-winning book, so I went against my better judgment and finished it.

What I liked:
1) The language, it was highly visual and worked well in a book that spent time exploring the love of objects, priceless art, and the restoration of furniture.

2) The detailed portrayal of every place Theodore goes. When I say everyplace, get ready for the extreme including hotel lobbies, backyard pools, the inside of bus stations, and every street Theodore walks his dog. I liked this extreme in Las Vegas and when Theodore travels to Europe.

3) Rooting for the flawed Theo. I wanted to see his redemption just like I wanted to see the Goldfinch painting returned to a museum. These are what pulled me through the book. If you don’t like Theo, you will struggle getting though this book.

What I didn’t like:
1) The pacing, its slow and in my opinion looses focus after Las Vegas. This book is a great “how to” on the writing of a boring bombing and gunfight scene. How is that even possible, I didn’t think it was, but no I was bored reading both of those scenes. I waited for Theo’s redemption and I waited for his enlightenment. I wanted to see Theo have his “a-ha”, light bulb, I get it now moment. Meanwhile I was subjected to Theo’s endless drug induced haze. Theo experiences just about every drug except intravenous heroin. I could be wrong, I’m sure there’s more drug’s out there not mentioned, but I learned way more than I ever wanted to about cancer level narcotics and glue sniffing.

2) The monologue’s, proof it’s not just novice writers who fall into the trap of having several characters speak in the same voice. The narrative of Theo’s thoughts, are one big rambling monologue, and then there’s all of these introspective monologues spoken by random characters. I was laughing when a drug addict art thief did a monologue over his stolen works the same way Theodore’s mother did in the front of the book.

3) This is a tragedy. Is that a spoiler? There’s nothing wrong with a good tragedy, I just wish it could have been executed in less words, and I’m still ticked off nothing in the synopsis gave the hint of “tragedy”. They’re billing this book as some kind of philosophical thriller. If you guess in the beginning like I did, where Theo speaks about love and his mother, and think, “gee that’s tragic”, then there it is and it doesn’t get any better. Readers of this book should be prepared for heavy themes of death, idolatry, a debasement of love, and a temporal outlook on the meaning of life.

Readers should also be aware of the extensive portrayal of drug use, as well as a how to guide on shoplifting and thievery inside the antiques trade.

We returned to the same restaurant we ate at the night we got into to Walt Disney World in 2012. The food was outstanding and I discovered the head chef is the winner of several awards, including the dinner’s choice award for Best Dessert in Orlando. We were seated in the main dining room this time, and got to enjoy the live entertainment. At one point children were invited to come on stage and try dancing. Gabe’s never had trouble taking the stage to dance at the Renaissance festival, went on up to give it a try. He did a great and was rewarded with a certificate and photo opportunity. I used the recent release Great Escape-Ireland the kit, and Great Escapes-The kit from WM(Squared); the templates are Fiddle Dee-Dee Designs Fuss Free Freebie’s 127 & 128. All can be found at the Scrap Orchard.

 

It’s been years since all of our kids could fit into one tub at home.  They all had fun piling in the whirlpool tub of the master suite of our room at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. I used the new release from Pixelily at Ginger Scraps. The template is This Is January from Southern Serenity Designs and available at Scrap Stacks.

Pictures from where we stayed at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa. I used Pixelily’s new release All You Need is Love and available at Ginger Scraps, and Lifes a Project 4 by AK Designs and available at Scraps N’s Pieces.

Our first breakfast in Walt Disney World this year was the O’Hana Aloha Breakfast with Lilo and Stitch. We had a great table in the corner and it looked out over the lake towards the Magic Kingdom. Lilo thought Jake’s new stitch head pen was great, and Stitch was a hit since he is a big favorite for our family. I used the new release Lucky Charm from Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison and available in her store at Scrap Stacks. She is currently running a promotion there to buy 4 sets and get one free. I used Great Escapes-Hawaii The Kit, and Vintage Summer from WM(Squared) which are both available in her Scrap Orchard Store.

Layout made with True Story from Tami Miller Designs and available in her store at The Digi Chick. I used a retired template from Southern Serenity Designs.

New Release, Take a Number Templates from WM(Squared) and Great Escapes The bundle, both available in her store at Scrap Orchard.

 

Book Review: Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire #1) By: Mark Lawrence

I give this book five out of five stars for its gritty dark exploration of grief, the uniqueness of the protagonist Jorge, a quality narrative, and a story that refused to leave my thoughts until it was finished. I eagerly look forward to reading the next book in the series.

What I loved about the book:

1) I am of the belief that if an author is going to take you somewhere dark, then they need to go all the way, or not bother. Lawrence went there with gusto. He takes you into the painful life of Jorge, a young man who has been changed by grief. We see him lost to youthful pride, running from what he defines as weak emotions, and twisted by a few outside manipulative influences. Rooting for Jorge is a superb ride as he deals with these things and evolves past his loss.

2) The world building is very well done, and gets better as the story progresses. The hints of a dystopian place hooked me deeper into the story. It wove an added layer of interest into this place and made the magical characters that much more fascinating.

3) The narrative is excellent; created with a solid balance between action, character interaction, and insight into the protagonist’s emotion. The language is elegant and it’s possible to pick out different characters by the impeccable dialog.

The content includes a high level of violence and some mild nudity, all of which I found appropriate to the setting and plot.

I landed us a table at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. It was an early morning for us with a table reservation for 7:00 am, but we all really enjoyed it. The food was great and the Characters all had fun. I used KellyBell Designs Taste of Magic Kit which is available in her store, and two templates from Snow in Love by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison which is available at Scrap Stacks.

Pictures from the train traveling to Fantasy Land in Walt Disney World. I used the new kit from Tami Miller Designs, Good Vibes and available at the Digi Chick. The template is Peppermint Creatives Pimp My Page template #6.

Some pictures from Gallway Bay during our three week bus tour in 2002. I used Great Escape: Ireland the bundle by WM(squared) designs and available at Scrap Orchard.

Book Review: Unbroken by: Laura Hillendbrand

My review of this book is based on the writing of Hillenbrand and how she put forth Louis Zamperini’s heroic story. She was given a gold mine of material to work with, but in my opinion, this is not her best work. I give the book three out of five stars for thorough research and a quality idea.

What I like about the book:

1) The authenticity of the details. It’s easy to see the amount of research Hillenbrand did for this book.

2) Zamperini’s amazing story. I feel it’s the power of this, and not the author, who carry the reader through this book. I left this book wishing another historical fiction author had taken on this prime subject from American History instead of Hillenbrand.

What I didn’t like about the book:

1) The narrative. I read this book because the action compelled me, not because I felt vested in the character of Zamperini. Personal thoughts and character impressions are skimmed over, and deeper insight or detail of what kept the men of World War II hanging on was glossed over. Hillenbrand’s narrative separates you from the characters but brings you uncomfortably close to tragedies most people could not fathom of their own cognizance. The violence is so frequent I became bored reading about it. Desensitized, I was also tired of repetitive second and third retellings of afflictions.  These were only changed slightly by the administrators of the punishment, the weather, or a twist with some secondary threat or torture mentioned. I was ready to shelve this book around chapter twenty-two.

2) Poor characterization. I felt no strong ties to any of the characters, which there are many, and over time the sketches of them made it difficult to decipher one from another. Names are given in rapid succession with brief descriptions much like: so and so is this and he was known for such and such. I was soon lost to all peripheral characters, and clung to job assignments as a clue to what relevance they held in future scenes.

This book is not for the faint of heart. Hillenbrand has gone to great lengths to include several chapters of material with excruciating details of life as a Prisoner of War in World War II Japan. While I think it is relevant and sound to revisit the dark corridors of human history, anyone looking to read this book should be well advised of its graphic and disturbing content.