Friday, July 1, 2022

June 2022 in Books

A really good reading month.  Not only was I able to get a lot of books in, there were some really fantastic ones in the bunch.  Overall favorites were Lessons in Chemistry and Green Island.  Read on for the recaps:

Lessons in Chemistry
- Bonnie Garmus - fiction - five stars - This was such a fun, clever, book.  It's about Elizabeth Zott, a scientist who is famous for a cooking show.  Zott has dealt with a lot of adversity in life, but faces it head on.  She is matter of fact, briliant, and blunt.  I really enjoyed her character, how she dealt with adversity, her outlook and attitude.  I also loved the cast of characters that surrounded her.  Just such a fresh character who was true to herself and uncompromising.  Must read. 

Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit - Colby Cedar Smith - juvenile historical fiction - five stars - Ellie really enjoys books written in verse, so I pick them up for her whenever I see them.  This was one she and I both loved.  It's loosely based on the life of her grandmother, and bounces between her present day life during the Great Depression, and her mother's life during WWI.  I loved all the characters, past and present day, as well as the different voices in the book.  Very well done and highly recommended.

Delphine Jones Takes a Chance - Beth Morrey - fiction - five stars - Delphine Jones was destined for big things.  She was a great student and ready to take the next step, but then got pregnant at 17.  She kept her baby, Em, who is now going to the same high school she went to growing up.  Delphine has just been fired from her job, and encouraged by Em, starts to expand her life and try those things she thought were lost to her.  I loved the relationship between Delphine and Em as well as the other characters in the book.  Just a really good, uplifting read. 

We Are Wolves - Katrina Nannestad - juvenile historical fiction - five stars - I first heard the term wolves when I read Tears of Amber earlier this year.  It refers to children who roamed/lived in the woods in Prussia following the war because they had lost their families and homes.  They banded together into packs to survive.  This is the story of Mia and her siblings who flee the Russians and then become separated from their mother and have to learn to survive on their own.  Carina actually read this one first and really enjoyed it.  There are some very hard/sad parts in the story.  It definitely doesn't sugarcoat things, I thought the author balanced the good and the bad really well.  Mia is likable and you are rooting for her.  Highly recommend. 

The Water Keeper - Charles Martin - fiction - five stars - Finally going back and reading the first book in this series after I accidentally read the second book first.  I really enjoyed this one, there was a twist I definitely wasn't expecting, but it was definitely a slower pace than the second book, which I wasn't necessarily expecting.  It's the story of Murphy Shepherd, who rescues people for a living.  The story is focused on him helping a woman named Summer recover her daughter Angel from men who plan to auction her off to the highest bidder.  Meanwhile, he is dealing with some losses of his own.  There was one thing in particular that I had a big problem with in terms of the storyline, but overall I really liked the characters, although some of it was a little anticlimactic since I had read the second book already.

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle - Jennifer Ryan - historical fiction - five stars - The story centers on two women, Cressida Westcott a fashion designer who has to flee London after her home and design house are bombed, and Grace Carlisle, the vicar's daughter who is preparing to marry.  At the local sewing circle, the women meet while attempting to mend Grace's mother's wedding gown.  Eventually an idea is hatched.  Since so much, including fabric, is rationed during the war, the women begin to collect and fix/update old wedding dresses that brides can borrow.  The sewing circle becomes something more as well, a community of women working to help each other.  I'm a big Jennifer Ryan fan and her newest book does not disappoint.  

An Unlasting Home - Mai Al-Nakib - historical fiction - four stars - Sara, a philosophy professor in Kuwait is accused of blasphemy.  As she grapples with the charge and the potential ramifications, the book talks about her life as well as that of her maternal grandmothers.  Her family's story spans Lebanon, Iraq, India, and the U.S.  I thought this was a really fascinating look at the journey of a family from country to country as well as a really interesting look at more recent events (such as the invasion of Kuwait).  While Sara was not my favorite protagonist, I really loved her grandmothers and their stories.  Definitely worth the read.

With Love from London - Sarah Jio - fiction - four stars - I enjoy Sarah Jio books as they have likable characters and are quick, easy reads.  It's kind of like Mary Kay Andrews, you know what you're going to get and if you like the genre that's good.  In this book, Valentina Baker who is in the midst of a divorce, learns that she has inherited a bookshop in London from her recently deceased mother who left her. years ago.  There had been no contact since.  Valentina goes to London with intentions to sell the store, but falls in love with it as her mother introduces her, through a scavenger hunt, to her favorite people and places.  The story flips back and forth between present day Valentina, and previous Eloise (her mother) explaining the backstory and why she left.  Light and easy and sentimental.

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow - Jessica Townsend - juvenile fiction - five stars - This is the third book in the Morrigan Crow series and it's been out for a while, but I'm just now getting around to reading it.  Morrigan has finally gotten permission and has begun to be trained as a Wundersmith.  I thought that how this is being done was very clever since there really aren't any Wundersmiths around anymore except Ezra Squall.  At the same time, there is a disease that is affecting the Wunimals (animals with human like tendencies/cognition) that makes them dangerously violent and then turns them into Unimals (normal animals).  Morrigan works to learn her craft and also solve the mystery of how the Wunimals are being infected and how to stop it.  A really good read, as I mentioned I thought this was pretty clever overall and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Green Island - Shawna Yang Ryan - historical fiction - five stars - Really loved this one, like last months' Peach Blossom Spring it's a book that focuses on Taiwan.  It follows the trajectory of the Tsai family which is caught up in the martial rule/purge of dissenters during the time of Chiang Kai Shek and later his son.  Dr. Tsai, the father is jailed for ten years for speaking out for democracy.  While he is away the family adjusts and when he returns unexpectedly, it's a shock to the system.  He has changed and so have they.  The narrator is his youngest daughter who was just a baby when he was imprisoned.  She marries a family friend and they go to the U.S. to study and then stay and become naturalized.  Her husband is an agitator for a free Taiwan and the book details his activities and how it affects the family in the U.S. and in Taiwan.  This was another fascinating look at Taiwan, and I learned a lot.  Highly recommend.

Coco at the Ritz - Gioia Dilberto - historical fiction - four stars - This was probably closer to three and a half stars but rounded up.  I had always heard about Chanel being a collaborator, and this book really explored it.  The scope of the book is pretty narrow, just a few years when Chanel is living at the Ritz in Paris under German occupation.  She takes up with 'Spatz' a German who most consider a German spy.  The book details their relationship as well as her brief questioning following the German retreat.  Chanel is not particularly likable, nor do I think she is supposed to be in this retelling, but I think it's a pretty fair representation that also covers her justifications/reasoning.

I'm currently working on Violeta and enjoying it so far.  After that, I've decided I want to try and read some new and not new to me classics.  I'm going to start with East of Eden which I remember really enjoying years ago.  Would love to know what you guys have been reading!

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

SSS Let's Chill Embossing Folders

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.

Hey everyone!  I have some super quick and easy cards to share today featuring a truly easy technique and some of the new embossing folders from the Let's Chill release.

This first card features the Floral Harmony folder.  I started by running a piece of watercolor paper through the embossing folder.  Then I lightly swiped across the embossed piece with two of the newest inkpads - Fawn and Morning.  

For this technique I held my inkpads basically horizontal to the surface of the panel and swiped horizontally across the panel.  I did this in both directions, but consistently swiped horizontally, across the panel versus vertically.

I added a bit of inking in the corners using Fawn and a blending brush, did a final swipe across to punch up the color, and then trimmed the panel down.

I added a mat and a sentiment strip which was lightly inked with Fawn and popped up over the panel.

I really loved the moody colors, but thought it would be fun to create a brighter card as well.

This time I used the Sunflower Field embossing folder, and Lemonade and Fawn ink.

I added both a yellow and white mat, and again used a sentiment strip sentiment to finish things off.

Super quick and easy card.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

SSS Let's Chill, Layering Cosmos

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

Hi all!  I've got a stencil only card to share today featuring the new Layering Cosmos stencil from Simon's Let's Chill release.

I love how easy this stencil is to use.  For the petals, I used Cherry and Blush, and then Fairway and Sprout for the leaves/stems.  Sunbeam was used for the flower centers.  For each of these layers I used the new Detail Round blending brushes.  Simon also released new Flat blending brushes.  These smaller brushes are perfect for smaller areas like these flowers.

Once my flowers were complete, I thought the panel needed just a little something else to kind of ground/balance the image.

Solution, the Geo Leaves stencil.  I placed that over top and just added a light inking around the edges using the new Flannel ink color.  This stencil is perfect for this application because the design is a bit more sparse in the center portion, so I didn't do any masking, just applied the ink towards the outside of the panel.

To finish, I just added a simple sentiment strip from Reverse Well Wishes which was popped up over the stenciled panel.

Super quick and easy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

SSS Let's Chill, Retro Tiles Background

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

Super quick and bold card today featuring the new Retro Tiles Background from Simon's Let's Chill release.

I started by creating a fun inky background using my Distress Inks.  

Using a panel of Tim Holtz Watercolor Paper, I added ink to the panel, with yellow towards the center and then orange and some pink around the edges.

I pressed those same inks onto my craft mat, spritzed and smooshed my paper into the ink to create some fun texture.

Once I was happy with the panel and it was fully dried, it was time to stamp.

The background was stamped with Versafine.  I could have stamped repeatedly until I got a really solid inking, but for this card I wanted to keep some of that texture.

I finished the card off with an older Reverse Sentiment Strip that was popped up with foam tape.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

SSS Let's Chill, Delightful Dragonflies

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

Hi all!  I've got a fun card to share today featuring the Delightful Dragonflies Hot Foil Plates and Dies from the Simon Says Stamp Let's Chill release.

I started by creating my background panel using the Radiating Squares stencil set.  I used a couple of the new purple inks, Amethyst and Lilac, along with some previously released greens, Fairway and Sprout.

The panel was trimmed down and backed with a green mat.

For the sentiment, I used the Yay You dies, cutting the sentiment itself from Matte Gold cardstock and using white for the shadow piece.

This was popped up with foam tape.

Then it was time for the dragonflies.  I foiled them in gold, die cut them, and then popped them up with foam tape.

I love the fresh springy feel of this card, especially now that it's a little bit sweltering here in Virginia!

Thanks so much for stopping by, more Let's Chill nspiration tomorrow!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

SSS Let's Chill Blog Hop

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

Hi friends!  I'm so happy to be participating in a blog hop today celebrating the new Let's Chill release from Simon Says Stamp.  You should be arriving here from Emily Midgett's blog.

It's not a blog hop without some prizes!  Simon will be picking one commenter from each stop on the hop to win $25 to spend in the store.  AND, all orders this weekend will receive this cute Doodlebug Chasing Rainbows sprinkles pack with the code PRISM.

For today's cards I thought it would be fun to use some of the new Box Card Beach and Sky dies for a regular rather than a box card.

These Box Card dies are perfect for creating little vignettes/scenes.

I started by cutting a piece of soft blue cardstock for the base of my scene.  Then I die cut the cloud piece in white, and added just the softest bit of blue inking to the edges of the clouds.  The sand piece was cut from kraft, and the waves from a dark blue cardstock.

All of the box card dies have tabs on the sides.  For these cards, I just trimmed those off.  Originally I was going to use the wave piece for water, but when I was arranging the pieces I thought they worked perfectly as hills, so I left a bit of the background showing for the water.   

For my focal point, I used the new Deck Chair dies which were cut from white cardstock.  I did add just a very soft bit of shading using my N0 Copic Marker.

The sentiment is from the Chill Summer Sentiment Strips.

I liked this card so much I wanted to create another.  Since the previous card didn't use any stamps, I thought that for my focal point on the second card I would use one of the huts from the Beach Huts stamp set.

The hut was stamped on red, white, and a soft cream cardstock and then pieced together with the red as the base.

The rest of the panel was prepared in the same was as for the first card, but this time I used the waves as actual water.  I also chose to add the sentiment along the bottom of the frame.

It was really fun to create these little scenes and I'm thinking I need to pull out all my Card Box dies and create some more.

Thanks so much for stopping by, your next stop on the hop is Mindy Eggen, and I have the entire hop list below if you need it.  Happy hopping and good luck!

Friday, June 17, 2022

SSS Let's Chill, Beach Party Umbrellas

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

I really love this new Beach Party Umbrellas background from the Simon Says Stamp Let's Chill release.  It's perfect for coloring.

This is one of my favorite coloring cheats with backgrounds, tone on tone coloring on colored cardstock.  I love it because it gives the feel of a fully colored background even though you've really only colored a third to a half of the background.

In the past I've used just one color/tone for this technique, but this time I thought I would try using two shades of color. 

I started with a piece of light blue cardstock.  This background was stamped using blue ink.

Then using two Copics, B04 and B05, I colored portions of the background.  No shading, just straight coloring.

Once complete, the piece was placed back into my stamping platform, stamped with Versamark, and embossed in gold.

The sentiment, from the Beachy Keen set, was embossed in gold as well on that same light blue shade of cardstock, and then die cut with the coordinating dies.

Same technique for the yellow version of the card.

I used Y17 and Y38 for my coloring, and this time I used a die cut sentiment, the new Hello Sunshine dies that are part of this release.

The sentiment itself was cut from Matte Gold cardstock and adhered to a shadow piece cut from the same yellow as I used for the background.

That's all for today, come back tomorrow for a fun blog hop!