Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery by Melinda Mullet

  • Posted on March 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business MysterySingle Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery by Melinda Mullet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First a shout-out to NetGalley and Alibi/Random House for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! The story arc was quite satisfying, the murderer was a surprise, but not a total surprise (I just had a tiny inkling that maybe…), and I loved the protagonist. She has a spirit that is both strong and fragile at the same time, showing credible vulnerability at the appropriate times and a robust backbone that is completely in keeping with her background and career choice. All rounded out with a dash of romance for fun. Truly a well thought out and well crafted book of surprising quality for a first time author. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

  • Posted on March 16, 2017 at 9:41 pm

The Marriage PactThe Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The view was not worth the climb.

First of all, let me be clear – I received an advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I may never receive a free copy again after this…

In all seriousness, I wanted to like this book. I really did. I saw that the author was a New York Times Bestseller with a major publishing company and I expected a really polished read. This was not that. I can only hope, for the sake of everyone involved, that what I read was either an unedited or unproofed copy of the manuscript because it was very rough. I counted four mistakes in one sentence. Four. That alone is normally enough to turn me off, but I was determined to get through it because I felt an obligation to do so.

Initially, I was drawn into the book. The premise of a signed contract with an organization whose objective is to help support and protect the institution of marriage is an interesting one. But at some point near the middle, the pace of the book slows down and I found myself repeatedly checking the count at the bottom of my Kindle to see how much farther I had to go before the plot started wrapping up. Again, a good edit to cut some of the fat would likely go a long way to resolving that issue.

My biggest issue is that after I had waded through the murky middle bits of the book and my trusty Kindle led me to believe that I was nearing the finish line, the ending was somewhat predictable, brief, abrupt and unsatisfying. There is a very long windup for how few pages are actually dedicated to the conclusion of this story. I’m not a gal who needs a happy ever after ending, but I do prefer some sort of clearly defined ending. Complete cliffhangers, especially when it’s not written to be part of a series, leave me feeling like I wasted my time. For as emotionally invested as I became in the characters and their story, not having a concrete ending just frustrated and annoyed me.

Bottom line: This one was not a good use of my time.

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Grim by Thea Atkinson

  • Posted on March 15, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Grim (Reaper's Redemption Series Book 1)Grim by Thea Atkinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Not having read any of Thea’s work before, I didn’t know what to expect, so I kept my expectations fairly low. Imagine my surprise when I could not put this book down! There are some minor plot flaws in there (and a fair number of typos; I read an advance copy and assume that most have been corrected), but it happens and is something I can easily overlook if the overall work is good. And this is. From the beginning, nothing goes as you might expect. The primary character starts out to help a friend and finds her life irrevocably changed in the process. Quite an interesting set of twists and turns that will keep you feeling off-balance. And a great setup for future books in the series. There are so many avenues and characters to explore, even the ones that you are going to love to hate. Definitely worth picking up if you want a quick read with a good pace. If you like the supernatural without gratuitous sex and violence, with a touch of darkness, give this a read!

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2017 Stitching Goals

  • Posted on February 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm

I’ve had so little time to stitch, I didn’t even bother to set goals last year.

Let’s see what, if anything, I can accomplish this year.

—————–

Joan Elliott – Water Wonderland — Complete stitching
Joan Elliott – Water Wonderland — Frame (?)

Lizzie-Kate – Dog Lessons for People — Make significant progress on stitching

Nordic Needle – Flower Garden — Complete stitching

Teresa Wentzler – Sun Dragon (Turquoise) — Make significant progress on stitching

Complete stitching on at least 2 Just Nan designs in my stash. This includes new starts as needed to work through my Just Nan stash.

Book Review: Dead Lemons by Finn Bell

  • Posted on February 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Dead LemonsDead Lemons by Finn Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer #1: I am a freelance editor. Typos, grammatical errors, tense inconsistencies and the like drive me nuts. So there are sections of this book that annoyed me greatly from that standpoint. No offense to Mr. Bell, but he needs an editor. All writers do, no matter how good they are.

Disclaimer #2: I was offered this book to read for free in exchange for my review. I hope you’ll see that the price of the book doesn’t affect my reviews.

That said, let’s get into the meat of my review. I initially found the flash-forwards disjointed and confusing. As the book progressed, it made more sense, but initially it’s very jarring and hard to get your footing in the timeline of the book. I know that jumping around is a common tool in an author’s toolbelt, but it takes a deft touch to make it work well. This book didn’t elevate to that level for me. Personally, I think it would have been less confusing if the chapters were only marked when the time changed significantly (jumping backwards or forwards).

Once I got past the confusion of the timeline jumps, I was really able to settle into the story. The main character’s background is slowly revealed throughout the book, so you start out with very little idea of who he is and where he came from. (And I am still confused by the fact that his country of origin is just blithely thrown in at the end so that I’m not sure if it really matters or if I even care.) Sections of the book are quite slow. I didn’t get truly sucked in until the last quarter or so of the book and then I could barely put it down because I wanted to know who did the dastardly deeds.

However, the ending hit me as flat.

For a whodunnit, there was no story arc to the real villain. A reader wants to know a character’s motivation, how they became who they are, why they did what they did. Background. Details. None of that is provided here. I feel like the character was completely glossed over, undeveloped, shallow. It made for a boring ending, quite frankly. A twist, for sure, but one that didn’t make sense. A skilled writer will leave breadcrumbs throughout the story so that the ending is a bit of a surprise at first, but then makes sense in hindsight. There’s none of that here. The author tries to explain how it comes together, but there was never enough information to make it fit.

In summary, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed because I had no idea what to expect from this author. But by the time I neared the finish line, I wanted far more satisfaction than I ultimately derived from the ending. There was a lot of build-up but no pay off. Do I feel like it was a complete waste of my time? No. Would my precious little bit of reading time been better served by a better book? Yes.

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

  • Posted on February 28, 2017 at 10:15 am

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having never read this book before, it was highly recommended to me by several female friends on the heels of the 2016 election. It is a stark portrayal of the stripping of women’s rights that is chilling and ominous. A fascinating read for anyone who believes in human rights and wonders just how wrong this world really could go. The frightening part is that this is not an inconceivable future, where women are stripped of power and rights and pigeon-holed into specific areas of usefulness (or sent away if they fail to be useful). There are some small sections of the book that are a bit muddled and unclear, but it’s a good read overall.

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Book Review: The Body Reader by Anne Frasier

  • Posted on June 28, 2016 at 11:32 am

The Body ReaderThe Body Reader by Anne Frasier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simply put, my definition of a great book is one that I cannot put down until I have read it from cover to cover. This book fits that definition and then some. I’ve long been a fan of Anne Frasier, but this book elevates her work to a whole new level, in my mind. She artfully uses flashbacks to add details and context at just the right time. The number of twists is enough to catch you by surprise, but not excessive. The depravity of man is highlighted, as is our inherent suspicion. She also explores the darkness that can overwhelm the soul with despair and yet how a glimmer of light can remain to awaken the spirit and motivate the body to take action. I don’t want to give away any details, but if you enjoy psychological thrillers, this book is for you!

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No More School Posts (Legacy)

  • Posted on April 26, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I made the decision to pull down all of the artwork that I did back in 2008 as part of my classes at the Art Institute Online. I was told some time ago that subsequent students were downloading my photos and submitting them as their own. I added watermarks to all of the photos upon learning that, but have now decided that the work is old enough that I am going to hide everything from the public. That includes the posts on here that I had under the School category. That way I will still have my scans (of course I still have the originals) with my notes, should I want to reference them. I had to delete them completely out of my photo album because hiding it in Gallery allows them to still be accessible via direct link, so anyone who found them via Google would still be able to access them.

It’s a little strange to be deleting what was a significant effort in my life, but my hope is that future artistic endeavors are yet to come, so I just get to clear the slate and start again. :) Some time in the near future, I will take photos of the couple of drawings I’ve done a little more recently, so this blog won’t be completely devoid of traditional forms of art.

2015 Stitching Goals – Update #2

  • Posted on April 26, 2015 at 1:18 pm

New progress since I last posted:

My Purin design is finally complete, as of last night. I didn’t stitch for a while, so I didn’t knock it out until I sat down and really concentrated on it for two days. I have interrupted any further WIP progress to crank out an impromptu piece – The Sweetheart Tree – Teenie Graduation Announcement. Unfortunately, the stitching hasn’t gone smoothly today. Lots of ripping and restitching, but I hope that I’m back on track now. It’s a small piece, but as with all of hers, the fractional stitches are numerous and intense. Once that is finished, I will turn to Joan Elliott’s Water Wonderland. It’s a Christmas gift for my mother and since we will be back for a cousin’s wedding, I’m tempted to try to get it done and framed by then, which means it will have to be completed by the end of September, roughly. Throw in our annual trip to Walt Disney World in late September and that deadline backs up to mid-September. That’s 5 1/2 months, though. I hope I can manage that with all I have going on (fodder for another, personal post).

On Bluebell and Heirloom Memories, they have arrived at Jill’s studio. I have heard nothing further, but knowing their backlog, I gave Amber free rein to take their time, as needed.

I confess that I’m dying to either kit up Nora Corbett’s Waterlily (which just needs floss pulled to complete kitting) and get it on a scroll frame or to pull another WIP from the pile and work on it, but I must be disciplined right now.

—————–

Nora Corbett – Bluebell Pixie — Complete stitching
** Stitching completed on January 6, 2015 **

Nora Corbett – Bluebell Pixie — Send to Jill Rensel for framing
** At Jill’s studio **

The Victoria Sampler – Heirloom Memories Sampler — Complete stitching
** Stitching completed on January 23, 2015 **

The Victoria Sampler – Heirloom Memories Sampler — Send to Jill Rensel for framing
** At Jill’s studio **

Joan Elliott – Water Wonderland — Complete stitching
Joan Elliott – Water Wonderland — Frame by end of October(?)

Jenna Magee – Purin — Make significant progress on, if not complete, stitching
** Stitching completed on April 25, 2015 **

Passione Ricamo – Mystery SAL 2013 — Make significant progress on stitching
** In progress **

Lizzie-Kate – Dog Lessons for People — Make significant progress on stitching

Nordic Needle – Flower Garden — Complete stitching

Teresa Wentzler – Sun Dragon (Turquoise) — Rip and restitch necessary sections; complete stitching
** Ripped *
Teresa Wentzler – Sun Dragon (Turquoise) — Send to Jill Rensel, along with his purple brother, for framing (provided I can afford it)

Mirabilia – Fairy Moon — Make progress on stitching

Complete stitching on at least 2 Just Nan designs in my stash. This includes new starts as needed to work through my Just Nan stash.
– Grow pincushion?
– Minerva Mouse?
– Lorelei Lamb?

2015 Stitching Goals – Update

  • Posted on April 14, 2015 at 3:02 pm

New progress since I last posted:

The Victoria Sampler – Heirloom Memories Sampler has been completed and significant progress has been made on my Purin design. I intend to knock out Purin on my week off next week. Teresa Wentzler – Sun Dragon (Turquoise) has been ripped out where I wanted to rip out and is on a scroll frame. Joan Elliott – Water Wonderland is on a scroll frame, as well, and waiting in the wings. This one I need to get done and framed by the end of October (the deadline has advanced). Passione Ricamo – Mystery SAL 2013 is on a lap stand and I have been making some progress. It’s such a huge piece that hours of work don’t look like much.

Nora Corbett – Bluebell Pixie and The Victoria Sampler – Heirloom Memories Sampler are on their way to Jill Rensel as I type this.

I joined a SAL group on Facebook for Mirabilia – Fairy Moon, so that is progress, at least in my mind.

No other progress to report at this time, but hopefully a finish to report soon!

____________________

Nora Corbett – Bluebell Pixie — Complete stitching
** Stitching completed on January 6, 2015 **

Nora Corbett – Bluebell Pixie — Send to Jill Rensel for framing (provided I can afford it)
** On it’s way to Jill **

The Victoria Sampler – Heirloom Memories Sampler — Complete stitching
** Stitching completed on January 23, 2015 **

The Victoria Sampler – Heirloom Memories Sampler — Send to Jill Rensel for framing (provided I can afford it)
** On it’s way to Jill **

Joan Elliott – Water Wonderland — Complete stitching
Joan Elliott – Water Wonderland — Frame by end of October

Jenna Magee – Purin — Make significant progress on, if not complete, stitching
** Completion anticipated by end of April **

Passione Ricamo – Mystery SAL 2013 — Make significant progress on stitching
** In progress **

Lizzie-Kate – Dog Lessons for People — Make significant progress on stitching

Nordic Needle – Flower Garden — Complete stitching

Teresa Wentzler – Sun Dragon (Turquoise) — Rip and restitch necessary sections; complete stitching
** Ripped **
Teresa Wentzler – Sun Dragon (Turquoise) — Send to Jill Rensel, along with his purple brother, for framing (provided I can afford it)

Mirabilia – Fairy Moon — Make progress on stitching

Complete stitching on at least 2 Just Nan designs in my stash. This includes new starts as needed to work through my Just Nan stash.
– Grow pincushion?
– Minerva Mouse?
– Lorelei Lamb?


My Stick Family from WiddlyTinks.com