Monthly Archives: March 2013

Book Review : Speaking From Among the Bones

Title : Speaking From Among the Bones

Author : Alan Bradley

Publisher : Delacorte Press

Publication Date : February 5th, 2013

Pages : 378

Stand Alone or Series : #5 in the Flavia de Luce series

Why I Read : I’ve read all the other books in the series and I love them!

Three Words : mystery, young heroine, English sensibilities

Red Flags : very small amount of violence esp. associated with the murder.

Summary : We find ourselves once again in Bishop’s Lacey with the irrepressible Flavia de Luce. The church is opening the crypt of the town’s patron saint, St. Tancred and the village is a-twitter. Although all the adults are trying to keep Flavia away from the opening, she would not miss this for the world. And of course, all their fears are realized when it is Flavia who discovers upon opening the tomb that it contains the bones of one deceased fellow – not St. Tancred! It is actually the church organist who disappeared several weeks prior. He is found with a strange gas mask attached to his face- very strange indeed. Flavia CANNOT let this stand and decides to find out what has happened and who is responsible. As she delves into the past, she uncovers many secrets including ones to do with her family…..specifically her missing mother!

My Take : Sigh….I just delight in Flavia de Luce. Every time I read one of these books I close the cover, hold the book to my chest and sigh. Part of me just wishes that I was Flavia – she is so mischievous, so intelligent and yet she cares fiercely about her family including her “hated” sisters. The mystery is always interesting and keeps you on your toes. There is always fun scientific tidbits thrown in through Flavia’s interest in chemistry (specifically poisons). One of the best things about these books are the combination of Flavia’s extreme intelligence with the naivete of being a child, she doesn’t always understand the very grown-up things that are happening around her. But in true Flavia manner, she always thinks she understands perfectly. Does is sometimes stretch the imagination that once again, there is a murder in the sleepy village of Bishop’s Lacey? Well of course- but honestly who cares when the writing is this fun?

My Rating : eight and a half shoes – Very very good.

Trina

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Filed under book review, Bradley; Alan, eight and a half shoes, Mystery, Speaking From Among the Bones

A Roller Skating Party and DIY Treat Bag Tutorial

Part of the reason why I have been MIA lately was planning my daughter’s 7th birthday party. We try to do something special but not over the top every year for birthdays around here. I always make the cake or cupcakes to follow the theme that they pick out. This year, my DD decided she wanted a roller skating party since she has recently discovered love of the roller skating. (This was a very affordable party to pay for on the scale of most birthday parties outside of the home). The roller rink provided invitations, drinks, paper products and pizza. I provided the cake and the treat bags.

My adorable roller skate cupcakes!

My adorable roller skate cupcakes!

These were so easy and cute! I found the idea for these on pinterest( and I can’t find the website now so if someone knows the original creator please let me know ). I simply tinted the frosting pink (although it looks closer to red in the picture). Then I bought some rolled fondant from Michael’s and shaped them into shoe shapes. Then I just added Mini M&Ms to the side of the shoe as wheels. DD loved them!

Treat Bags

Treat Bags

We gave each child who attended a treat bag. I found these cute star ones at Target (8 for $2). I thought they kinda went with the whole roller skating theme. We included finger skateboards, a small slinky, a star lollipop (all purchased from Party City for about $10) and a custom candy treat bag.

Treat Bag Topper


Custom Candy Treat Bag

I have seen these everywhere on Pinterest and I thought I would try to make them for the party. It is VERY easy so I am including a quick tutorial on how to make these.

Materials needed :

– Ziploc snack bags or any other treat bags

– card stock ( I had mine printed at Staples so I didn’t actually purchase card stock – also my printer doesn’t have a color cartridge right now ūüėČ

– treats to put in the bag ( I used Skittles to go along with the color scheme of the bags)

-stapler

1) Find a background for your bag topper. I went to Pinterest and typed in chevron background. Here is the website I found :

Chevron Background Screen Shot

It is from a site called Doodlecraft. I just right clicked on the image and then saved it to my desktop.

2) Now you have two options. If you can print at home and would like something smaller and already sized then go to Avery.com. Go to Design and Print Online, then Marketing Solutions. They have one option for Bag Toppers where you can customize it the way you want to and print it out yourself. I decided to send my project to be printed at Staples. To do that, open Microsoft Publisher and start a new project. I picked one that was the size of a regular letter in landscape.

3) Now, go to Insert —> Picture —–> From File —–> [insert whatever background you found]

Publisher Screen Shot 1

4) Measure your bag and make a box the size you want your topper. When you get it right, make a copy and put it below the first box. Should look like this. Publisher Screen Shot 2

5) Now comes the fun! You want to add the elements for the front of the bag to the BOTTOM box. I inserted a clip art of a roller skate by going to Insert—-> Picture—–> From Clip Art. You just have to search what they have and put it where you want it.

6) I also wanted a star shape to write the thank you in. On left side, there is an Auto Shapes button. I chose a 5 point star. Publisher Screen Shot 3

Once you place it and make it the size you want, you can right-click on it. There are options to fill it with a different color (I chose white) and adjust the outline (which I made a higher weight and in red to reflect the star from the treat bag). Once you get everything the way you like it, save your project. Here is the finished project.

Publisher Screen Shot 4

7) Put your project online at Staples.com and send to the nearest store to get printed. For my 8 treat bags, it cost $7.84 to put it on card stock.

8) Once you get your hot little hands on the printed toppers, cut them out (the whole thing) fold on the white space between the boxes and staple to your filled treat bag. Voila!

That was sort of a long tutorial for a not very complicated process. I hope this helps somebody out there! Let me know if you have any questions…

Thanks,

Trina

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Book Review : The Dinner

Title : The Dinner The Dinner

Author : Herman Koch

Publisher : Hogarth

Publication Date : February 12th, 2013 (originally published in Dutch in 2009)

Pages : 304

Stand Alone or Series : Stand Alone

Why I Read This book : It was all over the blogosphere and people were calling it the “European Gone Girl” and we all know how much I loved Gone Girl.

Three Words : disturbing, character study, violent

Red Flags : language, violence (this is an adult novel)

Summary (from Goodreads):¬† An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.

It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

My Take : So on the surface this book is literally about a dinner. And at first I was bewildered as to how this was going to be like Gone Girl. I mean I like food as much as the next person but I don’t need a 300 page accounting on how you arrived at the restaurant, what you ordered, what everybody was drinking, etc…But much like that book, seemingly trivial details and commonplace occurrences begin to take on sinister overtones. The narrator is completely unreliable and almost unwittingly reveals that he is unreliable through his recounting of past experiences. As you go further and further you realize just how disturbed all of these individuals are! I REALLY enjoyed this book and at the same time disliked it intensely because it made me feel uncomfortable. As a parent I was disturbed immensely by these people and thought about this book for days after finishing it. And honestly, I love that feeling. I love thinking about something I’ve watched or read for days afterwards. There were definitely parts that dragged….especially in the beginning when they were setting up the dinner and ordering the dinner and all of that but in the end I was really excited about this book.

Rating : 9 shoes

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Book Review : Bitterblue

Title : BitterblueBitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Author : Kristin Cashore

Publisher : Dial

Publication Date : May 1st, 2012

Pages : 563

Stand Alone or Series : #3 in the Graceling Realm series

Three Words : fantasy, mystery, royalty

Red Flags : violence including sexual in nature, psychological trauma, some language…(definitely for older adolescents or young adult)

******WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for the first and second books of this series  РGraceling and Fire  (click for review). YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!! *******************************************************

Summary : It is eight years after the events in Graceling during which King Leck was finally killed. The country of Monsea is still reeling from thirty-five years of horrific acts of physical, mental and sexual depravity that in some cases they have committed themselves. Queen Bitterblue is attempting to heal her country while still trying to learn what it means to become a queen. Under advice from her council, she has pardoned all crimes committed during Leck’s reign and is attempting to forget everything that happened. However, Bitterblue notices that people are acting strangely (including her main advisers) and that maybe revisiting the past is the only way to heal the pain. She decides to sneak out of the castle at night and in disguise. While out and about, she meets two young thieves who only steal what was previously stolen and return it to their rightful owners. They open her eyes to what is really going on in her country. Will Bitterblue be able to help her country become prosperous and move on from their painful past? Can SHE move past what her father did?

My Take : So if you did read my other two reviews for the books in this series, you know that I LOVE these books. I was so excited about Bitterblue that I rushed to the library to pick up my precious copy. And maybe I was so excited that my expectations were slightly over the top….but Bitterblue did NOT live up to it. ( A tear is dropping from¬† my eye right now….) I spent much of the first two-thirds of this book in a state of confusion. Yes, people were acting strangely and that was mysterious and all but mostly it just didn’t make ANY sense. Bitterblue was just annoying me because she seemed so flighty and unsure of herself ALL the time. Weird things would happen (that didn’t connect to anything else mind you) and she would be all¬† ” Woe is me….I just don’t know what to do.” I spent a lot of time feeling like shaking her and saying (in my head) ” WAKE UP! Do something for the love of Christ.” Also, the romance with one of the thieves was not what I would call awesome. I just didn’t really like him all that much (not in the way I loved Brigan from Fire or Po from Graceling). All that being said, the last third of the book finally brought things together and was a satisfying ending to the trilogy. So while I was in a perpetual state of confusion and anxiety for the first part of the book, I ended feeling ok about the whole thing in the end. In the end, I wouldn’t give up reading two FANTASTIC books for a less than awesome ending. This makes the whole rating thing hard…..

My Rating : Seven shoes (I averaged a five for the beginning and a nine for the end )

Trina

 
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Filed under Bitterblue, book review, Cashore; Kristin, seven shoes, YA

Book Review : The Daughter of Time

Title : The Daughter of Time The Daughter of Time

Author : Josephine Tey

Publisher : Touchstone

Publication Date : November 29th, 1995 (first published 1951)

Pages : 206

Stand Alone or Series : #5 in Inspector Alan Grant series (each a separate story)

How obtained: print book from the library

Three Words : mystery, British, historical

Red Flags : none

Summary : Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is laid up in the hospital after the humiliating accident of having fallen through a trap door while chasing a criminal. He is literally bored out of his mind. When a friend brings some historical portraits for him to browse through during his convalescence, he is taken with a portrait of man who seems both full of suffering and thoughtful. When he finds out this is a portrait of Richard III, he is shocked….THIS is the murderer of small children, the evil hunchback of Shakespeare’s play? As he begins to explore the history and with the help of an American researcher finds sources to figure out the mystery, he starts to doubt the historical version of the events surrounding the murders. Together they try to solve this mystery – did Richard really kill the little princes?

My Take : Remember the whole finding Richard III in a parking lot thing? Maybe you were much like me and thought “Well that’s interesting but I’m not sure why I should care…” But THEN I found out that this was the guy who was supposed to have killed two little boys in order to keep the throne of England and it became infinitely more interesting. So when all of this happened, the blogosphere (at least the booky one) was blowing up with mentions of this book. So that is how I happened on this little gem of a book ( at 206 pages, it doesn’t take very long at all). This appeals to me on so many levels – historical, I am a total sucker for anything having to do with English monarchy especially of the Tudor kind (Richard was the last of the Plantagenets subsequently replaced by Henry VII – a Tudor), mystery – I just love a good mystery and this one is real, library research – there’s no going around interviewing persons of interest in this one, it’s all research at the library, digging through primary sources, making deductions based on such. I’m sure I’m not selling this one very well because it probably sounds crazy boring but somehow Tey manages to make this whole thing completely interesting. I really enjoyed this one and it certainly made me think about Richard III more and definitely made me think I should check out more books in this series. My only issue with the book was two things : one (and this is somewhat a criticism for myself) the family history, some of the other English things were a bit confusing to the point where I just gave up understanding it completely and two, it was a little bit TOO one-sided in defense of Richard. It really didn’t allow for any other points of view. Not much to criticize though…

Rating : eight shoes – solid, interesting, mystery.

Interesting side note – in looking into this whole thing online, there is an actual Richard III society that is trying to clear his name still to this day. If you are interested you can find them at http://www.richardiii.net (Maybe I’m the only nerd who likes to research these things online….)

 

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Filed under book review, eight shoes, Mystery, Tey;Josephine, The Daughter of Time