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Book Review: The Fire Mages Daughter (A Part of the Brightmoon Annals) by: Pauline M. Ross

I give this book three out of five stars for being an entertaining read with competing magic systems and atypical representations of women in power and leadership positions.

What I like about the book:

1) Ross has a consistent style with ideas that construct vivid cultures, magic, and fantastical societies. I can count on this author for breathing new life into old ideas or showcasing things new and different ways.

2) This is a strong feminist piece, yet I don’t think the author intends it to be such. The heroine, the mentor, the primary antagonist, and two of the largest supporting characters are women. Basically the coolest characters in this book are women, and men comprise roles which women are more commonly cast.

What I think could have been done better:

1) EMOTION, where is it? The book is written from a first person point of view, but most of the time it feels like reading something third person. The ideas and magic in Ross’s books are so vivid yet something is consistently is missing: emotion. The characters withhold how the action in the story impacts them and most major feelings are not conveyed well to the reader. In general I only found out a character was distraught when the character said they were crying. If the reader could be in tune with the characters emotions more this book would be a five star home run.

Book Review: Time’s Divide (The Chronos Files, # 3), By: Rysa Walker

What a terrific end to Kate’s fantastic adventure through time. I give this book five out of five star for its breakneck pace, jumping me back to interesting moments in American history and forward to a fascinating future. My mind bent with ideas of alternate timelines, and things capable of remaining constant when a change rocks the course of events in the past. Really this book earns every star just for tying up what felt like a million loose ends.

What I liked:

1) The stakes are high in this final book and it’s a nail biter. The lives of most of the world’s population are on the line as Cyrist’s seek world domination via a bio terrorist event. This event jeopardizes Kate’s life, and the lives of everyone she cares for. The danger only increases as people are murdered, lost in parallel timelines, and kidnapped. Will Kate gain true love in the end? Which Kate is she, Kiernan’s or Trey’s? I was happy to see the final book answers these question, as well as the biggest one of all, will Kate get her original life back?

2) The historical events covered in the book, each was picked well and added nicely to the underlying social ideas explored. One of my favorite moments in the book was young Pru’s rant to Kate about Victoria Woodhull, and why she was never taught in grade school. I enjoyed the mission to discover if Houdini possessed a Chronos key. Kate’s parallel moments of gender disparity from the Cyrist future, and the Beecher-Tilton trial past were well done.

3) The character’s, each demonstrated motives of their own, which I considered well developed, and unique. The suspense was terrific, with break neck action from line one. Those trusted in previous books are now suspect, and some considered adversaries become unexpected allies.

I recommend the other book in Kate’s series be read before reading this book. While I do think its possible to enjoy this book as a stand alone, some of the interesting details connecting the stories in this series will be lost. I purchased all of these prior books and loved them, which made the ARC of this book a real blessing.  I received the ARC through Netgallery, in exchange for an honest review.

To learn more about the author Rysa Walker you can find her webpage HERE, and her titles on Amazon HERE.

My younger two children either play exceedingly well or they are at each others throats fighting. I melted when I caught them playing with the loving family doll house together. I used the Pixel Club exclusive kit Cheerful by Silvia Romeo from Gotta Pixel. 

Augustine wanted a new pair of fashion boots since her feet outgrew the pair she had last year. She found these pink knit ones on sale and her first day wearing them she came down in an entire pink outfit to match. I used The Wonder of it All kit by Mandy King and available at Gotta Pixel.

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.

As a paper crafter with almost twenty years experience, I’m pretty certain if there is a scrapbooking adhesive out there I have owned it or used it in some capacity. I have a variety of different paper crafting adhesives in my craft room. I’m going to pull them out and discuss the types, the pro’s and con’s of each, and the most common uses for them.

Quick disclaimer on photo preservation: This article covers a variety of adhesives for scrapbooking and general paper crafting. I would like to mention that most of what is available in the paper crafting section of craft stores is archival, however not all adhesives are photo safe. If you are preserving photos I do not recommend using the following: Rubber Cement, Glue, Glue Sticks, and Foam tape. While most of these are popular for being inexpensive, some contain acids that will damage and degrade photos over time, and others will damage photos by warping or seeping through the paper.

Tape Runners: One of the most common forms of adhesive, they consist of a running adhesive contained and distributed through a mechanical device. Some tape runners are refillable, and some are disposable. The adhesives deposited vary. Some have little dots of adhesive, some a continuous line, and others deposit little strips or squares. Most function well at adhering paper and photos. Not all can hold together dimensional paper projects or heavy weight card stock.

 

My tape runner of choice is the 3M Advanced Tape Glider (ATG). I haven’t found a paper project yet that this baby can’t handle. Developed for professional framers, I like the archival quality of the tape, the strength of the adhesive, and the price of refills. For the same price of an average tape runner (13 yards), each ATG refill (36 yards) gives me almost triple the quantity. I generally buy my refills in bulk from framingsupplies-shop.com. They sell the pink ATG with two refills for $24.95, and refill packs of the 908 Gold ATG refill for $4.70/ea. If you are armed with a coupon at Michaels, JoAnn’s, or Hobby Lobby you can usually purchase one of these or its refill for a comparable or better price.

Photo Tabs: Little squares of double sided tape that is sold in a flat package with sheets, on a roll in a box, or in a tape runner. These are designed specifically to affix photos to paper, and I suggest only using these for that purpose. They can be used for other paper projects, however using them to hold layers of heavy weight paper or certain specialty papers will not work or may only hold temporarily. I also do not recommend using these to secure together corners or edges of dimensional paper projects.

Photo Corners: Small triangular pockets that fit to the edge of a photo and secure to paper. These have been around for a long time and the newer ones are nice because adhesive is not applied directly to a photograph. They can be found in the more traditional paper form and come in black, white, and tan. They are also sold in a clear plastic form, and can be found in various sizes. I like the traditional ones because they act as an embellishment, and I’ve even used them on cards. The plastic photo corners I use with older photographs and also on pages holding large professional photographs. They are a great way of mounting a photo you might choose to remove from a layout at a later date.

Glue Dot’s: Just as their name says, these are little dots of glue and are a very versatile adhesive for paper crafting. They are sold in a flat package with sheets, on a roll in a box or table stand container, or in a tape runner. They come in various sizes in both width and height. Some brands even have various strength dots. I consider these the best adhesive for dimensional paper projects, working with specialty paper, and affixing dimensional embellishments. I usually carry at least two sizes of glue dots in my crop bag. I love glue dots because I can buy them in flat packs that fit nicely in my crop bag.

Glue: There are several paper crafting glues on the market, and most come in bottles. Glue is typically used for dimensional paper projects, adhering chipboard, or as a topcoat laminate. While I have known a few scrapbookers who only use archival safe glue for constructing the paper portion of their layouts. If you are a beginning scrapbooker I do not recommend using glue on your layouts. It’s messy, you usually need some form of brush to apply it evenly, and once something is glued together, it is nearly impossible to take it apart. My glue of choice is Club Scrap’s Bookbinding glue. I also really like Close to My Heart’s Liquid Glass.

Glue Sticks: Glue in a semi solid state and usually sold in round application tube. While inexpensive, glue sticks are my least favorite form of adhesive. It’s easy to over apply this adhesive, which causes lumps, paper warping, and seepage. This is not a good adhesive for dimensional projects, photo mounting, or layering of heavy weight paper. Once dry this adhesive has also been known to dry, crack and flake off. If I were to use a glue stick, it would only be in the construction of a small paper project like a card.

Glue Pens: A pen or marker containing liquid glue. These are better than glue sticks because they allow for more control over the amount of glue applied. These are great for adhering intricate and fine detail die cuts. The larger marker sized glue pens can be good on layered paper projects. These are not recommended for adhering photos or the construction of dimensional paper projects. I keep a Close to My Heart Bonding Memories Glue Pen in my crop bag for adhering intricate die cuts.

Foam Mounting Tape: A double-sided adhesive that is 1/8 inch thick and sold in small dots, small squares, or on a continuous roll. These are a nice way to add dimension to a project and are most commonly used to “pop-up” an embellishment. I do not recommend using these to directly adhere a photo to paper because not all foam tapes are made with photo safe adhesive. I usually carry a roll of 3L’s Foam Mounting Tape in my crop bag. It allows me to customize my tape width and the adhesive they use is high quality.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope this article was helpful. If you’re a long time paper crafter what’s you adhesive of choice and why?

Book Review: Blood of Dragon’s (Volume Four of the Rain Wilds Chronicles), by Robin Hobb

While this fourth installment of the Rain Wild Chronicles is entertaining I give it three out of five stars for an unbalanced plot tempo, more repetition than is necessary in a book series, and the highly predictable ending. I’m a fan of happily ever after but the plot and sub plots were predictable with each one boxed into a crescendo finish or disaster.

What I liked about the book:

1) I’ve enjoyed how the city of Kilsingra has been almost a character itself. It is such a cool idea to see the new inhabitants of this ancient city explore the lives of old inhabitants by witnessing their memories captured in stone. Much more is discovered about the city in this book, and I enjoyed seeing its mysteries come to life.

2) It was good to see some resolutions for both dragons and elderlings. Especially the reconciliation or understanding established between Thymara and Sintara.

3) The one day battle was very entertaining. I wish less time was spent seeing the dragons and elderlings ready for battle, and more time was dedicated to seeing it.

What I didn’t like about the book:

1) It’s a complaint I’ve had reading previous books in this series, Hobb likes to repeat things, often. She did a better job of regurgitating information from previous books in this one, but some of it was not relevant. If we the reader witnessed certain actions take place in the previous chapter, we should not have to read a subsequent chapter with characters rehashing the previous chapters action. It’s just unnecessary and makes the story drag. Once again two hundred pages in and details are being repeated in the narrative about long established cultural elements.

2) Hest was built up as an unredeemable bad guy, but then he is put through paces during a horrific situation. I still didn’t care what happened to him, and I think entirely to many words were wasted on him. There was a nice little bow tied on his plot line, but this was not as powerful as I think it was built up to be. What happened to Hest was an obvious choice and it would have been more interesting for his ending to go in an unanticipated direction.

3) The length of time it took for the Thymara, Tat’s, and Rapskal love triangle to resolve was just annoying. To me this “confusion” and “need for time” made Thymara look weak minded. I like how she delineated herself from the memories Rapskal embraced and how she went about revealing this to Tat’s. However it was clear to me Rapskal was no longer in the running for her a quarter of the way into this book. How annoying for this resolution to be dragged through the entire 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.

Book Review: Dragon Keeper (Book One of the Rain Wild Chronicles) by: Robin Hobb.

I give this book three out of five stars.

A vividly real read from start to finish. I adore the authors endearing and flawed characters. I would like to have given this book four stars, but the ending or lack of one killed my affection for all of the other very good things found in this book.

What I liked:

1) How real the characters are. They are presented with flaws, or make mistakes, and have quirks. The characters are varied, Hobb introduces you to a fairly large cast, but she has made it easy to like and get to know each one.

2) Hobb has a gift for creating a new and vividly real world. You get to see life in a city nestled high in the canopy of the rain forest. The life of another city nestled on dry land, and then the life in cities excavating ancient cities below them. We see the brilliant idea of a “living ship” and witness life aboard a river barge. She takes you into a dragon’s point of view. You feel the exhaustion from a serpent migration, the taste of mud as she built an encasement, and then the exhausting hunger as she emerged to a new life as a dragon. There are social rules, history, and culture that effect and add contrast to this story.

3) I like how the author kept me guessing about which of the keepers Thymara might eventually have a romantic connection to. How she see’s each of her three prospects differently. Feeling jealousy over one, comfort from another, and strange desire from one she doesn’t really like. It was a wonderful way to mix both plot and characterization into the unfolding action of the book.

What I did not like:

1) No more back-stories Ms. Hobb. Cease and desist from writing anymore sad childhood memories, and recollections from the past. These would have had more impact if used sparingly. The dragons memories were needed to provide understanding of this world. Alise’s established her character, and Leftrin’s successfully added drama by way of hidden secrets. However the rest could have been edited out. Sedric’s was especially annoying, where it was placed in the book made the story drag, read as redundant, and provided little to no new information. I just don’t know why the author thought it was needed because I felt she did well establishing Sedric and Hest in a devoted relationship. I was hoping for more drama when their big secret was revealed. While these memories told us for certain our suspicions were correct, they told us nothing more we did not already know. I would rather have the depth of the Hest/Sedric relationship confirmed in a scene between Sedric and Alise. I also think every scene from Hest’s point of view could have been eliminated. He would have been a better bad guy without them, and the drama of Alise’s failed marriage would have increased.

2) Did I mention redundancy? If I didn’t, or if you the reader are not keeping up, let me mention it again, there’s redundancy in the book. Yes this is a fantasy fiction book and many authors build redundant descriptions into the narrative to teach the audience about this fictional place. However in this book, some of these character and place establishing lead in’s went from annoying to insulting. I wondered about it after awhile. Were these remnants of an old outline that never got cleaned up in the editing process? Did some suggest Hobb restate these basic facts over and over again? Does she really think her target market has this low of an IQ? I would read these and hear myself grumbling, “No kidding, we’re 300 pages in.”

3) The ending was a disappointment. Not only was the main plot not resolved, but none of sub plots were either. The ending of this book is not an ending. This ending was not even something I would classify as a cliffhanger. To me the book just stops mid story, as if the author was only allocated so many words by her publisher, or this was the best place to stop according to her editor. This did not throw me too much. I have the next two books in my pile of “to-read’s” at home. However I caution anyone who needs resolution from their books, to have the next book on hand.

Last week I reviewed Extinction Point, and this week I am reviewing Exodus (Extinction Point #2) by Paul Anthony Jones. I gave this book three out of five stars. 

**This review does contain spoilers about this book.**

The fast paced action and terror continues in the second book Exodus of the Extinction Point series. I enjoyed the tense roller coaster ride the author creates as Emily makes her cross country trek to Alaska.
What I liked the most:
1) I loved the opening of the book. What a “Ground Control to Major Tom” moment.
2) I like the attempts the author has made at creating strong female characters. He does it with the commander of the space station, Emily, and I even saw it in Rhia. Could all of the characters use a little more polish-sure, but kudos at what’s there. It’s far better than others I’ve seen.
3) I liked the mystery of what attacked the seven frozen dead near the end of the book. It really made meeting Jacob a little more eerie. I thought Emily was kinda crazy not taking a closer look at them, but they left a lot of open doors for book 3 which I liked.
Things that bothered me:
1) I don’t think it was necessary to come up with some mysterious weather impervious valley to create more survivors from the red rain. I think it would have been more interesting for her to stumble across a clan of preppers living in a bunker. Simon asking if she was there to save them like she’s with the government, wow he’s dumb.
2) She left all of her gear at the other house-how stupid is our protagonist Emily? Come on she was supposed to be getting better at this survival thing, not worse.
It was like a bad horror movie when Simon left his kids to go retrieve the Durango. I was irritated when this happened because it just did not fit the common sense test. Why is he leaving his kids with a stranger? A father abandoning his kids to go get a vehicle when he knows there is an unquantifiable danger lurking about-NO WAY. They didn’t stick together to save time-he gets car and stranger lady is going to pack the kids stuff? NO WAY. We knew what was going to happen when Simon left and it pissed me off. I think it would have been more dramatic to be ambushed by the creepy creature at the other house and have to watch the creature take over Simon and then come for the kids. No need to split up, the terror of it all would remain the same. And it was a little bizarre how little miss “I don’t know how to drive” magically figures it out enough to ram the creature not once but twice-without flipping or destroying the SUV. What happened to all the cool rifle skill’s Emily gave us in book one?
3) I did not believe her character should have had so much unease at the drop in temperature. The woman did grow up in a small town in Iowa, she should be in her element. She’s from the Midwest, people from this part of the USA know all about winter-it starts in November and drags into late March. She should have been having flashbacks to her childhood. Not reminding herself of the cautions Jacob gave over the phone about the cold.
4) If I’m not mistaken this is a kill or be killed scenario. If you are going to kill a kid-turned alien get it over with. Why was it more important to spare his sisters feelings than keep them all alive? Why did she not shoot the alien Ben when it was hunched over Rhia in the middle of the night? Emily’s dealt with enough creatures at this point to know the boy Ben is dead. Does she really need to overnight with an alien to spare his sisters feelings? And why are they burying him in a rose bush-without a shovel-when the red storm is raining on them? That’s one of those sorry dear-we need to leave him here and press on moments.
5) Why is Emily freaking out on Jacob over the other people not being there? She broke into an apartment in book one because she was so desperate to find another living human. I don’t think she would have not gone to Alaska even if he did tell her what happened. Besides he’s basically saved her life dragging her there.
I still look forward to reading book 3 and seeing how this series shakes out.