Friday, December 19, 2014

Crayon Wreaths

This will be my last post till after Christmas. I'm actually getting a few days off next week and I can hardly believe it! I'm going to unplug while I bake and cook and enjoy spending time with my family. I'm sure I'll fit in some reading as well!

This year for Emily's teacher's Christmas gift I made a crayon wreath. I also made one for my mother who is an art teacher.

These were a bit time-consuming. I made them in September though so I'd have plenty of time if I messed up. I do plan ahead for mess-ups. :)

I had to use an enormous amount of crayons. Luckily I got a good bit of them on sale. But even then, it was not very expensive. I bought the embellishments at Michaels.

There are various ways to make this. I've seen all kinds of different ones on Pinterest. Just do a search for "crayon wreaths." Some are thinner than these if you do not want to use as many crayons.

When I finished I wasn't too sure if I liked them. But when I pulled them out of the closet this week I realized these were probably my favorite projects to complete this year.

Emily decided to draw me a present. Fantastic! Except she's kept it in her closet and for some reason she put it under the tree last night and told me not to look under the tree. How am I going to not look under the tree when I have to get the presents to give away? She thought she could disguise the present using her Barbie case and Barbies. 

She decided to place her two princess ornaments on our Frozen-themed tree. Super! Except one broke and for some reason she has kept Belle's decapitated head.

Should I be concerned? It's such an odd-looking ornament now I couldn't even get the picture in focus.

Have a Merry Christmas! I'll be back the Monday after Christmas. I'll include posts about my favorite books of 2014 and what I'm looking forward to reading in 2015.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book review - Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher


Sometimes when I'm reading a book I just want to yell at the character. I want to say, "What are you doing to yourself? Why can't you get it together?"

That's how I felt about this story. I actually really liked this book. It was heartbreaking at times. The tenacity of both the kidnap victim and the kidnapper was astonishing.

From Goodreads:
"It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere. 

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?"

It's been a while since I read this book, but I remember being frustrated at Gemma. This poor girl was kidnapped, taken to another country, had to live in the ... Outback. Yet I found myself being frustrated at her ability to develop feelings (not necessarily romantic) for her kidnapper. Can anyone say Stockholm Syndrome? Cause that's what Gemma had going on in captivity.

We never know how we would handle situations like these. We immediately think we would never forgive someone who did us so wrong. We sure would never forgive somebody who took us away from our parents. But, when the kidnapper is all you have in life, feelings shift. 

This book is a good read for those who like kidnapper stories. Let's face it, there are a bunch of us who are interested in how these type of stories turn out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Greatest Library Haul of All Time

I've always complained that my library is not on the ball when it comes to books. I frequent the library a good bit, but their selection of newer books, particularly young adult, is not that good.

All that changed when I requested, that's right requested, the library purchase certain books. "Sure, just send us the list with no more than six books. They must be published within the last year."

It's almost like opening Pandora's Box.

Sure enough, in November, I requested my six and here's what I got in return. I've dubbed it, "The Greatest Library Haul of All Time!"

Over the last few months I've thought about biting the bullet and buying them on my Nook. I was waiting for Christmas in case I received gift cards. I even put these on my spreadsheet and Goodreads shelf of "To-read-in-2015."

For your viewing pleasure:

The Girl with All The Gifts by M.R. Carey - Zombie kids in a school, but what happens when they must leave the school? I finished this one already. Review to come!

Welcome to The Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz - Teens submit an essay stating their biggest fears. They get to confront their fears which turn out to be horrific nightmares. Another one I've already read, so review is on the way.

Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke - Imogene has had a lot of pain in her life. She now has to adjust to a new stepsister. I'm starting this one today.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - This one involves time travel. The reviews have been really good and this one was a finalist for Book of the Year on Goodreads.

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler - Teen who's best friend is a Hollywood star. What is real and what is not in this city of make-believe?

Confessions by Kanae Minato - Teacher whose pupils killed her ... own child! Revenge is on this teacher's lesson plan.

So far, two out of six have been fantastic. Who knows, maybe I can read all six by the end of the year. To quote Judy Blume, "then again, maybe not"

Have you requested brand new spanking books from the library before?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My wish list!

It's that time of year. Time to wish upon a star for that incredible amazing Christmas gift. This is what's on my list:

Christmas Gift Card

Yep, that's correct. This is really all I want for Christmas. A Barnes & Noble gift card. I have tons and tons of books I've already picked out to read next year. In order to accomplish this, I need gift cards and the library.

I'm not picky about the cards either. There are so many different versions.

Frozen Gift Card

Oh, there might be a fight in our house if Santa shows up with this one. Emily would love that card. Hands off little lady.

There's this one which is super cute:

Hello Kitty Gift Card

I'm a closet Hello Kitty fan. I love cats and I love Hello Kitty. Rumor is she's not really a cat. What??

Just a little cheeky humor for your Tuesday. Santa's coming soon!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book review - The Troop by Nick Cutter


I have a fantastic book blogger recommendation for you all. Julie at Book Hooked Blog has fascinating book reviews that aren't too long or boring. Nine times out of ten I like the books she recommends. There have been some gems that I never would have know about were it not for her blog.

The Troop is one of those books I may have missed if not for Julie. This year I've dipped my toes into the horror genre. Surprisingly I like most of what I've read so far.

The Troop is borderline over-the-top with the gore. There is another series I read this year in which I felt the slasher-film-type pages were not necessary.

The rest of the plot makes up for the gore.

From Goodreads:
"Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.

Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other."

A bunch of teenage boys being stranded on an island with a psycho man (or is he a man?) running around makes for a creepy story. It's Lord of the Fliesesque (I made up a word!). The boys must overcome the demon on the island as well as the demons in their own head. 

I think this would be a fun read for campers and boy scout leaders. OK, maybe not. However, if you like books where the characters are stranded and must depend on kids, rather than adults, to save the day, this is one for you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book review - Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige


If you are a Wizard of Oz fan, this book is for you. If you are not a Wizard of Oz fan, this book might be for you. If you do not like remakes, retellings or expansion of characters from an original story, this book is NOT for you.

I'm not too big into fan fiction. I'm picky when it comes to retellings of old stories. Only in the past few years have I gotten on board with expanding original character storylines. You know the saying about not messing with a good thing? That's normally how I feel about these types of plots.

Dorothy Must Die is different in this is post-Wizard of Oz. This is set in a world where Dorothy runs everything. Muwahahahahha!

From Goodreads:
"I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and I've been given a mission:

The Tin Woodman's heart,

The Scarecrow's brain,

The Lion's courage,

And then—


We have another unstable parent, but screw that, cause Amy does what Amy does: saves Oz! Or does she? The story does include the lion, tinman, flying monkeys, the Wicked Witch of the West, ruby slippers and a tornado.

But it's a lot more to it than that. It's an interesting tale about finding the strength and courage within to make your life better. 

There are a couple of e-novellas that I need to read. And in 2015, The Wicked Will Rise! 


I love these covers. I bought the first one in hardback and I'll do the same for the second. Dare I guess the second book will be about ... a wicked witch? 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book review: Mean Girls Grown Up by Cheryl Dellasega


This is a long title: Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees.

From Goodreads:
"Almost every woman has experienced bullying. Whether her role was that of victim, aggressor, or bystander, the pain of relational aggression (female bullying) lasts long after the incident has passed. "In Mean Girls Grown Up," Cheryl Dellasega explores why women are often their own worst enemies, offering practical advice for a variety of situations. Drawing upon extensive research and interviews, she shares real-life stories from women as well as the knowledge of experts who have helped women overcome the negative effects of aggression. Readers will hear how adult women can be just as vicious as their younger counterparts, learn strategies for dealing with adult bullies, how to avoid being involved in relational aggression, and more. Dellasega outlines how women can change their behavior successfully by shifting away from aggression and embracing a spirit of cooperation in interactions with others."

I told myself this year I'd read more nonfiction. An online blogger friend reviewed this book and I thought hey now, this could be interesting. However, I thought a lot of the "advice" was basic and common sense. 

It was fascinating to read all the examples of women hurting women. Whether in the workplace, in the family, in friendships, the book gives reasons why some women are queen bees while others go along with what the queen wants.

I think readers will be able to pick out which bee they are. It is kind of frightening to read that women in their 60's are still dealing with some of these issues.