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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Charlatan's Boy Book Review

From the back cover: "As far back as he can remember, the orphan Grady has tramped from village to village in the company of a huckster named Floyd. With his adolescent accomplice, Floyd perpetrates a variety of hoaxes and flimflams on the good citizens of the Corenwald frontier, such as the Ugliest Boy in the World act.

It’s a hard way to make a living, made harder by the memory of fatter times when audiences thronged to see young Grady perform as “The Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp.” But what can they do? Nobody believes in feechies anymore.

When Floyd stages an elaborate plot to revive Corenwalders’ belief in the mythical swamp-dwellers known as the feechiefolk, he overshoots the mark. Floyd’s Great Feechie Scare becomes widespread panic. Eager audiences become angry mobs, and in the ensuing chaos, the Charlatan’s Boy discovers the truth that has evaded him all his life—and will change his path forever."

I've always had a soft spot for Young Adult fiction.  I still love to read the books I grew up loving: Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, to name a few of the series I enjoyed.  Well, this book is NOTHING like those!  But different isn't a bad thing.  Different is definitely good.  In fact, one of the most meaningful lines in the book says, "It just goes to show what fear of the unknown will do to a feller."  In addition to being a great story, The Charlatan's Boy is peppered with thoughts and ideas such as this.  
The story itself caught me from the very first page.  It is unique, for sure, and interesting.  The writing style is skillful, purposefully rustic, and definitely well-written.  The themes of identity and honesty from someone who isn't sure about either lends a different perspective.  This story commends integrity without preaching it.  Perfect for young audiences that are just forming their own opinions and character.
It is overall a very interesting and enjoyable story that has more to offer than just fluff!  Looking forward to the sequel coming out sometime this year. And yes, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Latest and Greatest (yes, more digital scrapping)

A page I whipped out last night (you can go so fast with a good template and kit) after the kids were in bed and while my husband was getting together the final paperwork for our home loan.
Alpha: Marie Stone

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lady in Waiting book review

From Publisher's Weekly on Lady in Waiting, by Susan Meissner: "Veteran author Meissner (White Picket Fences) blends past and present in this compelling novel about making choices. Jane Lindsay never thought she'd be alone, but after her husband leaves her, she must face the reality of her marriage and life choices. One small ring, found in the binding of a book bought at an English rummage sale, changes the course of Jane's thinking as she researches another Jane, whose name is inscribed in the ring. Readers jump back in time to England after the death of Henry VIII. Lucy Day is ordered to Sudeley Castle, bearing a dress for Lady Jane Grey. Lucy narrates the tale of Lady Jane, pawn in the schemes of powerful men who seek the throne of England even as young Jane Grey is determined to live-and die-on her own terms. Modern Jane studies Lady Jane, coming to realize that she alone must choose how she lives. Both the history and the modern tale are enticing, with Meissner doing a masterful job blending the two."

When I started this book, I was determined to read it with a critical eye and find things I did not like.  Honestly, the things I wasn't so fond of (for personal reasons) were non-issues by the conclusion of this book.  I really really liked it.

Susan Meissner is a good writer.  Her style suits me well, seeing as I was sucked into the story immediately.  Right away, I was interested in Jane Lindsay and her story (and nervous about how it may go).  And I love history, so the chapters about Jane Grey were fascinating to me.  Perhaps the only criticism I could offer is on this point: the story switched back and forth, and some people may find that....annoying?  I personally didn't, and I don't think it was hard to follow because of those switches either.

The underlying issues of happiness and choice spoke to me.  I've long thought that if you were unhappy with your life, you needed to DO something to change it.  The power of choice is incredible.  The possibilities available to anyone are amazing...but it is all about the choices you make.  And on that note, I've often looked at my life, and the lives of those around me, and traced back the choices that led us each to where we are today.  And I've often thought about the choices that are still before us, that can completely change our path.  Seeing these ideas I've pondered traced out in the lives of these two Janes was both validating and interesting.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book.  And yes, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  Which is why I tried so hard to find things I didn't like.  But...well, it's a good book!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My latest digital scrapping page

So for those of you who don't know, my husband just graduated from law school in May.  We were lucky enough to spend those three years of law school in Eugene, Oregon (home of the Ducks!).  And I loved it.  And I miss it.  I use digital scrapping as a way of recording not only my family's life, but a little like a journal as well.  So I used the little bit of "me" time I had over the last couple days to make this page.

Journaling reads:  Immediately after Dallin was born, we moved to Eugene, Oregon for Landon to go to law school at the University of Oregon.  Being a first time mom hundreds of miles from home, family & friends was hard.  But I grew to love Eugene with all my heart.  When it was time to move on, I felt like I was leaving part of myself behind.  I loved the trees, the ward, the farms, the laid back lifestyle, the coast, and most of all, all our friends.
I think I'll always be a little homesick for Eugene.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Housewarming Gifts

Well, I'm back for the new year.  Things were crazy crazy crazy for the holidays.  I had so many projects going on!  And, disappointingly, some of them I didn't take pictures of.  Oh well.
But here's something I did snap some pictures of.  We've had some close friends buy their first homes recently, so I made them a little something for a housewarming gift (though I think they would be good wedding presents as well).

Pine boards, cut to the sizes I wanted.  Drilled holes in the hanging plaque.  Then painted them both and applied the vinyl lettering I designed.
I think they turned out cute!  I still can't decide which style I like better!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Little Star book review

Little Star, by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Mark Elliott

I have a three year old little boy, and he is just now getting the idea of Christmas.  Meaning he gets presents.  We are Christians, and we tried so hard this year to drive home the concept that he gets presents because it is Jesus' birthday.  We told him the Christmas story over and over, had him act it out with his Fisher-Price little people nativity, and read him lots of stories about the true meaning of Christmas.  This book was one of those stories, and we all really liked it.
It was a unique take on the Christmas story, in addition to addressing other issues like being laughed at or ignored, that you can be important even when you are small, and sacrificing for others.  It was really a sweet beautiful story of Jesus' birth.  I recommend it to anyone trying to teach a child how Christmas began, and why it is important today.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  (But that doesn't mean I didn't say exactly what I think!)
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