Monthly Archives: October 2012

Home Tour : The Dining Room

The dining room is by no means done at this point. We have been seriously thinking about painting red like the living room but we just haven’t gotten there yet. I was pretty sick of looking at it with nothing on the walls. I’m thinking about switching the pictures to something else but in the meanwhile here it is:

View from the hallway to our dining room.

 

Closeup of my centerpiece. I spray painted some gourds from the dollar store and put them in with a candle and hurricane from Walmart.

 

View from door from the kitchen.

My favorite wall art from IKEA. Nine small mirrors together make such an amazing impact.

 

Corner of dining room. I love this baker’s rack! When I get more stuff I will fill it…

View of the buffet and my Halloween tableau.

 

Closeup of my Halloween decorations….I especially am in love with my gold skull. Only $4 at Walmart with gold spray paint.

 

Well I hope you enjoyed my first time trying to implement some “spooky” Halloween decorations. It’s not perfect but I was pretty excited about it. It has definitely inspired me to try some more next year.

Happy Halloween!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review : Kept in the Dark

Yeah! It is almost Halloween! I love Halloween mostly because my girls are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. We will be escorting Princess Ariel and a princess vampire around for candy treats this year ( don’t worry I will post pictures…). I haven’t decided if I want to dress up or not. This year I have mostly decided to channel my Halloween urges into decorating the house in a spooky yet elegant manner. I did some fun things in the dining room that I will post on Wednesday.

On to the book review….I had read this book over my long hiatus and somewhat forgotten it. But as I’ve been reading other blogs with lists of creepy or horror novels to read, my mind had a flash and I remembered this book. Kept in the Dark reminded me of Before I Go To Sleep and The Collector – you know psychological suspense type thriller novels. Since I didn’t really have a “horror” book to review for this Halloween week, I thought I would share my thoughts on this one.

Title : Kept in the Dark (also published as Tideline in England)

Author : Penny Hancock

Three Words : psychological, suspenseful, disturbing

Red Flags : Drug use, sexual situations, violence… not appropriate for children

The book begins with Sonia opening the door and inviting in fifteen-year old Jez, who is there to borrow a record from her husband. As she talks to the boy, Sonia becomes convinced that she doesn’t want him to leave and just decides to keep him there. Sounds crazy but that is literally what happens in the first chapter. Jez is the nephew of a family friend – an alcoholic woman with problems of her own. She isn’t convinces that he is missing but reluctantly begins to search for him. She never suspects that Sonia has taken Jez. After all, Sonia is wealthy and attractive, a successful voice coach who has been seeminlyg happily married for more than twenty years. As the search for Jez intensifies, Sonia must devise ways to keep Jez in her control and hidden from the world, while dealing with the memories of the terrible truth of her childhood. Why is she keeping this boy? How far will she go? Will Jez ever go home to his family? What is Sonia’s secret past?

I enjoyed this book although occassionally it felt a little slow. It succeeded in conveying the “banality of evil” (as Hannah Arendt called it). Sonia isn’t all crazy Hannibal Lecter-y style. In her mind, all of her actions are completely reasonable – she needs to keep Jez and that is all there is to it. In every instance, she simply decides to go through with ever more horrific actions. Also, the terrible secret of her past is pretty crazy – I did not see that coming at all. Jez’s aunt is not the most sympathetic character in the world, she is an alcoholic who feels like everyone is over-reacting when they are concerned by Jez’s disappearance. She is so self-absorbed with her own issues and problems, it is difficult to connect with her or sympathize with her on any level.

The biggest problem I had with this book was the pace of the writing. It was a pretty slow buildup to the final events. Sometimes, I just wanted to scream “Alright! Get on with it!” In the end , I was glad I stuck with the book and found out the secret because that really made me feel all creepy and disturbed inside. One of those books, I just think about for a couple of days which is one of my favorite feellings. I would give this book eight shoes – my black knee high boots which I love, but they have a boxy toe on them so sometimes I feel like they look a little old-fashioned but I digress.

What creepy books do you recommend for Halloween? Has anyone read this one?

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Friday Five …. a Day late ;)

So I’m a little late on the whole Friday thing….

I was inspired by this amazing list from one of my favorite book review blogs The Book Smugglers. I love a good, unsettling story ( a la Gone Girl) so I thought I would put together a list of more classic novels that are still a great horror read.

Here is my own list of classic Halloween reads :

1) The Shining by Stephen King

This book has scared the bejeezus out of me ever since I read it one cold and rainy night in the basement of my soon-to-be MIL’s house. I was all alone and it was dark and creepy. There was a lot of me laying in the dark freaking out much later but I could NOT put the book down! King manages to infuse the empty Overlook Hotel with as much malice and evil that a house can have. Between alcoholic unstable Jack Torrance, strange, telepathic little Danny and other crazy shenanigans you will absolutely be hooked. Trust me when I say that you should probably not be alone in the house when you pick this one up. Love!

2) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Ok, bear with me on this one…it is obviously not the standard horror fare but still has plenty of creepiness to spare. One of the most famous first lines ” Last night I dreamt I was at Manderley again ” starts out the classic romantic suspenseful novel. It starts out with the heroine (we never actually learn her name)meeting Max de Winter on vacation. After a whirlwind romance, they marry and she returns with him to his ancestral home, Manderley. But all is not well at Manderley, where the presence of Max’s first wife – Rebecca – is felt everywhere. The creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, makes our poor heroine’s life hell while slowly messing with her mind. Soon she begins to doubt everything. Is Max still in love with Rebecca? What happened on the night that she drowned? So good…this is a classic – also if you like old movies then this is a great one. One of Hitchcock’s with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier.

3) Dracula by Bram Stoker

As you all know, I love the vampires…..sparkly or not, I cannot get enough of the undead. This is the book that started it all and there is a reason that it is a classic. This vampire is no romantic figure, he is cold, cruel, and purely evil. Written in epistolary form (one of my faves!!), it follows Jonathon Harker to Dracula’s castle where he is abducted and fed on. Eventually he escapes but he has some serious PTSD issues. Dracula follows him back to England and craziness ensues. Can it get a little bogged down in old-timey wordiness? Yes but the story is absolutely riveting and I just feel like occassionally you should start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. (I’m not sure how Sound of Music crept in there…)

4) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

This is one that I have not read but I keep reading about and I want to try it. Stephen King named it one of the greatest horror novels of the 20th century so it has to be pretty good right? The story follows four people who are staying in the house. The house has a reputation for the paranormal – some are there to debunk this theory, others are there to prove it. Obviously, lots of paranormal stuff starts to happen and more creepiness settles in. Lots of you, I know, have read Shirley Jackson (remember “The Lottery” from high school?) and I always liked that short story but found it very disturbing so I’m looking forward to checking this one out.

5) The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

Another one I haven’t read but again heard lots of good things about. Here is how Fantastic Fiction describes it :

Their love would never be the same.
Colquitt and Walter Kennedy enjoyed a life of lazy weekends, gathering with the neighbors on their quiet, manicured street and sipping drinks on their patios. But when construction of a beautiful new home begins in the empty lot next door, their easy friendship and relaxed get-togethers are marred by strange accidents and inexplicable happenings.
Though Colquitt’s rational mind balks at the idea of a “haunted” house, she cannot ignore the tragedies associated with it. It is as if the house preys on its inhabitants’ weaknesses and slowly destroys the goodness in them — ultimately driving them to disgrace, madness and even death.

Sounds interesting, right?

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?

Trina

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Home Tour : Living Room

Well I totally missed Wednesday’s post of the next room in our House tour. I was out with my sweet little daughters of whom oldest is on Fall Break…it’s hard to tell that it was Fall because it almost 80 degrees out but whatever. So I thought you would enjoy seeing the second room on the House tour : the Living Room or Music Room (or perhaps Conservatory). When we moved in the room already had beautiful red walls so I was super excited to not have to paint these walls 😉 We needed furniture for the room so we made a trip to Ikea. Here it is :

View from the doorway of the living room

Here is the corner to the right of the doorway. I love the two pencil drawings of my children and my fur child. I also just adore the way the blue lamp pops against the red walls.

Our Ikea purchases included this sofa, the cushions and the side table. We had the pictures at the old house…dramatic opera posters that just happened to have all the right colors.

Pillow from Ikea – has the blue and red colors to go with the rest of the living room.

The rug was a housewarming gift from my parents…it is amazing! Picks up all the colors from the decor and really warms up the room.

I made these silhouettes myself! I was so excited and all it cost me was $10 for the frames and $4 for the posterboard. Yeah me!

I thought the curtains were too light and airy on their own so I doubled them up on each side. I love the way they contrast in the room.

OK….so there is the living room. We got a piano from my dear MIL and Eric and I decided to put our cello and guitar in the room to emphasize the music aspect of it but it has also quickly become one of my favorite reading spots. Hope you enjoyed it.

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Book Review : The Stepsister Scheme

For those of you with little daughters who are coming up on Halloween, you are probably in the midst of dealing with princess mania. For those of you who don’t have girls, count yourselves among the lucky. I NEVER wanted to know this much about princesses….we know so much that I recently heard myself correcting somebody else on the color of each princesses’ dress in very serious tones. My feminist self rails against all that the princesses stand for (i.e. helplessness, waiting for a man to rescue them, wicked older women etc….) but my mommy self cannot deny that my girls love it and it is extremely hard to be all wicked mommy on them. This review is therefore to those other mommies (and possibly daddies) who are sick of the sacharine sweet Disney princess….

Title : The Stepsister Scheme (Bk. 1 of the Princess Novels)

Author : Jim C Hines

Three Words : Fantasy,  fairy tale , action adventure

Red Flags : Some Violence (not gory) , some sexual situations

We meet up with Cinderella or Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas) AFTER her happily every after. She has married her prince and everything went great (if you don’t count a certain crazy pigeon incident). Soon after the wedding, Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte and being all princessy she is not so good at the defending herself. Luckily, Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty) comes to her rescue. But even she can’t fight Charlotte’s brand new magic powers, and the stepsister gets away. It is at this moment that Danielle discovers some disturbing facts : her husband has been kidnapped and magicked away to the faerie realm, she is pregnant and her MIL runs a secret spy agency that includes Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (hereafter called Snow). The three princesses band together to conduct a secret mission into the dangerous fairyland to rescue Danielle’s husband. Can they rescue Armand, get back before the baby comes AND maintain the delicate diplomatic relationship with the fairies?

Sound pretty good, right?? If you are like me, it is refreshing to read a story with princesses where not one man comes to their rescue. I really liked how differently this story is told using many of the old Disney fairytale conventions that we are familiar with.. Talia has all sorts of crazy fairy graces or abilities and is a fighting machine. Snow White uses magical mirrors to perform her feats of derring not to mention killed flirting abilities. Another thing that made it a fun read is that the princesses are totally bad-ass. However, this does come with a price…..The princesses all have some sort of intense PTSD issues from their ordeals – Talia views her fairy “gifts” more as curses due to the horrific way she was woken up and Snow lost the only man she loved (the huntsman) when her mother had him killed. Hines adds some new twists to the story – an unrequited love story from an unexpected character and the fairies being kinda evilish. All in all, the biggest thing I can say about this book is that it is fun. There is a lot of action here from one fantasy locale to another. Having said that, I think this is the book’s only downfall. This book is heavily plot-driven but very light on character development. While we do see Danielle develop from passive princess to a more forthright lady, we don’t get to see much more from Talia or Snow. And while you end up liking all the princesses just because they are fun, you don’t really develop the same interest in their well-being that you would with more developed characters.

Rating : 7 out of 10 shoes (stilettos that you really love but you can never wear cause you don’t really have any place to wear them 😉 )

Enjoy!!

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Friday Five List – Vampire Edition

Since I’m adding new things to the blog, I’ve decided to make Friday my list day. These lists will be mostly book related but really could be anything….. This week, I decided to do a Vampire Porn list in honor of Halloween for those times when you are feeling sexy and fang-y (but definitely not sparkly).

1) The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris

Starting with Dead Until Dark (and continuing for now 12 books) you can read the books that inspired the True Blood series. These books are filled with sly humor, mystery and of course lots of erotic moments. Sookie is a fun heroine who is brave, kind and hopelessly attracted to vampires (not to mention she is supposed to be a curvy girl – which I love!).

2) Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

I know, I know – totally cliche but sometimes you just gotta go back to the original. Rice writes a totally engrossing memoir of a vampire’s life. Not just any vampire, but one who has a conscience and is torn up by his very nature. Along the way, we get to delve into the vampire world and meet the irrepressible Lestat – both villain and friend. There’s plenty of vampire porn in this book and the subsequent followups written by Rice. This book was made into a horrible movie although I always thought that Tom Cruise was an excellent Lestat (yeah I totally just said that…)

3) The Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I was turned onto this series by my good friend Sara ( thanks!). It has all the earmarks of excellent vampire porn – immortal with sexy good looks and dark disturbing past is handcuffed to a  young beautiful woman who just happens to be an accountant (yep…). They fight, they feel passion, they seethe, they fight their passion….sexy times ensue. Throw in some dangerous evil that they must battle. Start with Night Pleasures…there are about a million more.

4) The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R Ward

I haven’t read this one personally but I know many people who are quite into it. Taken from Fantastic Fiction :

“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.”

There are 11 of these books so far with plans for even more.

5) Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton

There are 21 books in this series following the petite vampire hunter. She lives in a parallel world of supernatural beings including vampires, werewolves, and other were animals where vampires are given equal protections under the law. Anita is a bad ass who doesn’t trust any supernatural folk but is strangely attracted to both the head vampire of the city and the head of the werewolf troop. LOTS of sexy times.

These are just a few of the more popular series. There are many, many more….Obviously, none of these books is what I would call child appropriate (unless you want to have frank conversations about the birds and the bees). I know I can’t be the only one. What is YOUR favorite vampire porn?

Trina

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The Family Room and a Halloween/Fall Mantel

When I posted the picture of the outside of our house, I had a couple of requests for more pictures of the inside. Well, your wish is my command! I’m hoping to add more topics to the blog so stay tuned. I hope you enjoy!

Our house is a tri-level with a large Family Room that is on the lowest level. The Family Room was one of the BIG reasons we fell in love with the house. I wanted this room to feel really warm and inviting, and reflect our family in its’ decorations.

View of the Family Room from the staircase

Here is the other side of the room from the staircase.

Closeup of the Gallery Wall and table arrangement

The Gallery Wall was somewhat of a nightmare. I wanted it to be all perfect and such but it actually looks cuter a little more naturally placed. I found some decorative balls at Target to put in the birdcagey thing (a leftover from my wedding). I just got the orchid for $9 at the Home Depot. I’ve always wanted to try having an orchid but was afraid of killing it and spending a bajillion dollars on a plant. But $9 is totally worth a try. I think it really accents the wall beautifully.

The first thing I did in the room was to decorate the bookcases using our own knickknacks and positioning the books in what I thought would make it look more interesting.

Fireplace and Bookcases

A wonderful chair that my mom brought me as a gift from her house. It is so cozy and warm, I’m so excited that I’m able to use my basket as a side table.

 

My Fall/Halloween Mantel

Closeup of the mantel – all my updates for $15.

I wanted to decorate the mantel for Fall AND Halloween so I chose some things that could work for the holiday but that I could easily replace when Halloween was over. The pumpkins were purchased at Target ($2.50 each) and the raven and skull are from Dollar Tree. The wreath is my own from long ago tied onto the mirror using the picture wire from the back (in case you wondered how that was done 😉 ).

There you go, room #1 in the house tour. As we finish more rooms, I will be putting them up on the blog. Thanks for checking it out.

Trina

 

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A Brief History of Montmaray or Aren’t you missing Downton Abbey? Aren’t YOU??

I am missing the Downton…BIG TIME. Aaah the intrigue, the gossip, the manners, the clothes, the biting sarcasm from delightful Maggie Smith. I love it! If you haven’t watched Downton Abbey, you are sincerely missing out. I know, I know, it sounds all boring and lame and “geez Trina it’s on PBS so that totally means its education or something” but truly it is such a GOOD show. Have I convinced you yet?

What does this have to do with “A Brief History of Montmaray” you may ask? Well this awesome YA trilogy (not dystopian though 😉 ) completely reminds me of it. No, it doesn’t share the same setting or same type of characters but it just has the same delicious feel.  Let me share :

Title : A Brief History of Montmaray (Bk 1 in Montmaray Journals series)

Author : Michelle Cooper

Three Words : epistolary, royal wartime, YA

Red Flags: Some violence

So Sophie FitzOsborne (I know – the name alone got me hooked) is a shy, smart sixteen year old living in a decrepit castle on the tiny island nation of Montmaray. (And before you start to feel like “God I must be so stupid at geography because I have never heard of this place” it is fictional) She receives a journal for her birthday and decides to chronicle her everyday life with the remains of her eccentric royal family. We’ve got the insane (literally) king John who mostly stays in his bedroom except occassionally to throw things at people, his daughter Veronica (Sophie’s cousin who is keeping the family afloat), the housekeeper (who only has eyes for John), Toby (Sophie’s older brother – next in line to the throne, charming with zero responsibility but a wonderful heart) and Henry (Sophie’s little sister – who is opposed to dresses, baths or anything girly) and of course, the housekeeper’s son (whom Sophie has a HUGE crush on but who may or may not be messing around elsewhere ). The year is 1936 so including the day to day craziness of their world, stuff is going down in Europe with that Hitler character. We get to meet her family and suffer along with them while they are struggling to make ends meet and keep everything together but they are still delightfully nice and cheery people. THEN a boat lands on their shores and it is carrying some Germans and things really go to hell then.

I loved this book!! So many things make it awesome but I’ll just tell you a few. One, I could not be sicker of the heroine of every book being all I’m ugly but really she is a stunning beauty with fierce intelligence, a kind heart etc…. People are not really that amazing! Sophie is attractive, but not a great beauty. She is intelligent but prone to overwhelming shyness. She has lots of great qualities but not ALL of them. Two, I love all the little details about Montmaray. I’m a big fan of epistolary novels and I love learning about Sophie’s home and family from her. She brings it to life so that you can picture the crumbling castle, the craggy island and the family she fiercely loves. Three, the war is portrayed in a realistic manner that a teenager would deal with it i.e. some interest, some worry but not always understanding everything that is going on. Also, I love the little asides about Hitler ” Surely Mr. Hitler would not invade other countries…” that sort of thing. Sure, sometimes everybody around her is a little too awesome and nice. And sometimes things work out a little too good but it’s a fictional book and sometimes I want things to go right! In the end, I give this book nine shoes (damn near perfect) – this is my super favorite pair of pink wedges with the orange stripe . Go read this book!

The second book is just as good so if you like this one keep going. The newest book is coming out any day so I am anxiously awaiting it. Anybody else read this series? What did you think?

Enjoy!

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