Friday, September 30, 2016

September in Books

I thought I'd try my hand at a different kind of post.  I follow a few people who share their book list each month and as an avid reader, I always find it really helpful and interesting, so I thought I would try that here.  So without further ado, here's what I read this month:

The Secret Rescue - by Cate Lineberry - non-fiction - 4 Stars - I really enjoyed this.  I read a lot of WWII non-fiction and historical fiction and this was the story about the rescue of a group of U.S. nurses and medics whose plane went down in Nazi-occupied Albania during the war.  The writing was a bit slower than other books, but it's a great story with a happy ending.

I.Q. Book One, Independence Hall - by Roland Smith - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - GREAT book.  Ellie's school is having a 'Battle of the Books' in December.  They had nine books identified at the end of last year for kids to read over the summer and just announced another seven.  Basically it's a trivia contest, each class will have three representatives, but they will also be able to 'phone a friend' so the whole class can be involved.  Anyway, I agreed to read all the Battle Books with Ellie, and they have really been outstanding.  I personally enjoyed this one a lot.  If you are looking for good upper elementary books for boys, I'd recommend this.  I have already ordered the second book from the library.  I will say that although Ellie was very drawn into the story, there are serious subjects in it involving spying and terrorism.  Ellie is a worrier, so while she wanted to find out the ending and what happened, it has made her a little anxious, and she did say she didn't want to read anymore in the series for now.

The Swallows of Kabul - by Yasmina Khadra - fiction - 3 stars - This was kind of a meh book for me.  I do read a lot of books on the Middle East and this one was just kind of depressing, and maybe that was the point, but I just didn't enjoy it much.  The protaganist was annoying, the story unfulfilling, maybe too real.  I guess I like my stories to have hope.

The Devil's Mistress, The Diary of Eva Braun the Woman Who Lived and Died with Hitler - by Alison Leslie Gold - historical fiction - 1 star - HATED this book.  Don't read it.  I should have paid more attention when I borrowed it.  It said diary, so I thought it would be interesting to read and see what it was that made this woman tick.  Come to find out that it's an imagined diary based on bits of a diary that were left by her.  How you can string together an imaginary diary based on what amounted to about six extremely short diary entries that survived from her I don't know.  Bottom line, I had wanted to find out more about her, and I just didn't.  I didn't like her, and maybe that was the point, but I also feel like basing a book on sixish fragments from a diary is a bridge too far for any author.

Salt to the Sea - by Ruth Septys - young adult historical fiction - 5 stars - LOVED this!  I had read her other book, Between Shades of Gray, earlier this year and adored that one too.  This is another WWII story, actually takes place at the tail end of the war when people are rushing to get out of Eastern Europe.  Septys is just an amazing writer, I loved her characters and that this was actually tied to Between Shades of Gray, something I didn't put together until towards the end.  I really can't wait to see what she writes next.

Elephant Company: The Inspiring story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II - by Vicki Croke - non-fiction - 4 stars - This is the story of James Howard Billy Williams (those Brits like having a lot of names!).  It's not quite what I expected, I thought it would have more details on WWII and what the did (and I really didn't know anything about elephants in WWII until I saw this book and was intrigued).  The majority of the book is about his life prior to WWII, about his job working for a rubber company in Burma and dealing with/training elephants.  It was really fascinating and I learned a lot from it.  It was a bit of a slower read and I thought kind of a bait and switch if you were really looking for a war story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Lilac Girls - by Martha Hall Kelly - historical fiction - 5 stars - Another excellent WWII historical fiction novel that follows the stories/viewpoints of three women.  I had heard about experiments that were performed on inmates at concentration camps and that is central to the story here.  I had always been under the assumption that those operated on were Jewish and eventually died from the experiments, but this tells the story of a group of female political prisoners who were operated on (leg surgeries where they introduced foreign elements, removed bones/tissue, etc.) and then released back into the camp population.  Once released they were nursed and protected by other inmates and many years later when an American found out about them, she organized a drive to bring them to the U.S. for restorative surgeries.  Read it, you'll love it.

Land of Stories Book 5, An Author's Odyssey - by Chris Colfer - juvenile fiction - 4 stars - Ellie and I have been reading this series ever since she got the first book for her birthday last year.  I've rated all the previous books as 5 stars, this one wasn't as compelling for me.  I still enjoyed it, but not as much as the first four because I really like the characters and the overall story, this particular book seemed more like a really long lead up to something, when I'd rather just get to that something.

Hissy Fit - by Mary Kay Andrews - fiction - 5 stars - One of my favorite bloggers is Stephanie Howell, in addition to really loving her work, she's got a great sense of humor and perspective.  She's also an avid reader and her favorite author is Mary Kay Andrews.  She blogged about her a while back, and recommended Hissy Fit as a first book for anyone new to Mary Kay.  I loved this book and have already borrowed another of her books from the library.  I just love how she was able to weave so many things together in the story, when I started reading I would never have predicted that that was where it would go.  I'm looking forward to reading more from her!

Come Rain or Come Shine - Jan Karon - fiction - 5 stars - This is the latest in Jan Karon's Mitford series.  I've read all of the Mitford books and this was as good if not better than the rest.  This was a quicker read, it was told more in fragments of thoughts from different perspectives rather than the usual prose from the Mitford novels, but I enjoyed the difference and it worked for the focus of the story - the build up to Dooley and Lace's wedding.  You get the frantic pace that goes with weddings and have seen the characters grow up, it was just such fun to read about them becoming a family.

Hopefully I haven't bored you out of your mind.  I love reading, and if you've got suggestions will gladly take them!  On the docket for October so far are:  My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, The Pentagon's Brain, I.Q. Book Two, and then a bunch of Ellie's Battle Books.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

You're in My Prayers

I was able to ink up one of my newest sets the other day - Altenew's Beautiful Day set that I have been eyeing for months and months now.

It's one of those floral building sets, which I'm generally not great at using, but the great thing about this set is that it's very forgiving because you can choose not to use the solid layer which means you don't have to line things up perfectly and lining up things perfectly is my downfall.

Anyway, for this card I used just the leaf images.  There are three - the outline image, the solid, and then the detail stamp.  I used just the outline and detail layers.  

I stamped the panel and then cut about an inch out of it.  The stamped pieces were adhered directly to the card base.

For the sentiment I used another of my new sets, Hero Arts' Prayers Stamp and Cut set.  Prayers was die cut three times, adhered together and then to the base, and the secondary sentiment was stamped with Versafine.

That's all for me today.  Thanks for stopping by!  It's been quiet here, but I've got some fun things in store for you on Saturday (World Cardmaking Day) and Neat & Tangled's October release landed in my mailbox over the weekend

Thursday, September 22, 2016

MFT Card Design Superstar, one more - Birthday Flyby

I managed to finish one more card for the MFT Card Design Superstar contest.

This was so fun to put together.  I die cut a bunch of the littlest balloons from the Balloons STAX set, and arranged them in the corner of the card, popping a few of them up for some extra dimension, and then trimming down the balloons as necessary as some went 'off the page'.

That cute pup is from the Top Dog stamp set. She was colored with Copics, and after I figured out where on the page I wanted her, I doodled in some balloon strings.  I wish my hand wasn't so shaky for that!

Then I just popped her up and added a sentiment from the new Magical Dragons set which was perfect for the card.

That background print is also MFT, from the Homespun Gingham 6x6 pad.

OK, that's all for me today.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

MFT Card Design Superstar Entry

I thought it would be fun to play along with the MFT Card Design Superstar contest.  I pulled out some old favorites for this.

The background is the Four Way Chevron Cover-up.  It was cut with Grout Gray cardstock (my all-time favorite MFT color) and I kept it intact, just adhered the whole thing to a scrap piece of cardstock.

The images were cut from watercolor paper, stamped with Versafine and then painted with my Kuretake Gansai watercolors.

The sentiment is from another favorite set that was just retired, Stay Tuned, but perfect for this card.  And was embossed on Steel Gray cardstock (another favorite) which I used for the base too.

There is still time to play along with this challenge and a pretty sweet prize ($250 to spend in the MFT store).  I think I have another card in me....

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Today is a Great Day

I've been playing with some more Cosmo Cricket goodies.

I pulled out a watercolor tag and my resist pen, and using a guide, added a resist strip every 1/2".

Then I watercolored some stripes using Pixie Paint.  The stripes are offset, so you get the resist from the pen as well as some overlap between the two colors.

The feather is from the WIP Art Deck.  It was also painted using the Pixie Paints and then fussy cut.  I adhered it over a couple of pieces of vellum and added some machine stitching around the mats as well as down the center of the feather.

For the sentiment, I cut up a sentiment from another WIP Art Deck piece and added watercoloring.

The tag was then popped up on my card base.

Thanks for stopping by, hoping that today is great for you too!

Enabler Alert - Stamp Sale

Hey everyone, I haven't tried one of these posts, but since they just announced a stamp sale at Ellen Hutson (20% off), I thought you guys might want to take advantage . So, here are the latest crafty stamp purchases I have made.  You haven't seen some of these in use yet, but I'm working on it....just very slowly..... ;)

Also, full disclosure, I did pick up the upper case Sophisticated Script too, but it's out of stock right now so I didn't want to torment you with that image.  And, these are just the stamps I have gotten....there might be other crafty things too, but we're not talking about those right now.

One last thing, if you're looking for some inks to go with these stamps, I highly recommend Altenew.  They are my current go-to inks and I might have picked some more of those up.  I love how well they cover and that they don't leave a ton of staining/require a ton of cleaning.  I didn't link those up because I don't think they are covered in the sale, but for stamping, they are my number one pick.

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