September 30, 2012

Book Review: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare KingNicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before he became Santa Claus, his name was Nicholas St. North—a daredevil swordsman without a care in the world. St. North eventually ends up seeking treasure at the legendary city of Santoff Claussen and the home of the wizard, Ombric Shalazar. But when North arrives, legends of riches have been driven away by terror and nightmares.  Can St. North save the day and find the other Guardians in time?

This was a fantastic book for kids.  I loved the illustrations and the side stories.  It was original and lots of fun.  I love the idea of Santa Claus having a past and eventually becoming who we know him as today.  I'm excited to read the other installments and will perhaps see the movie that is coming out this fall.

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September 27, 2012


Homemade Tikka Masala via Pioneer Woman.  This is a new "regular" at our house.  We love it.

 The malt flavor list at one of our new favorite burger joints.  So far, we've tried Creme Brulee, Lime Freeze, Bacon, and Apple Pie.  The Creme Brulee is our favorite so far, divine!

 Garlic fries from the same joint.  Good thing I just ate dinner or I would be starving right now.

September 20, 2012

Book Review: The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

The Dry Grass of AugustThe Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It's the 1950's in Charlotte, NC and 13 year old Jubie and her family (minus her father and plus their black maid Mary) are on their way to Florida for a family vacation.  On their way, Jubie takes note of increase in segregation and hostilities towards Mary, whom Jubie adores.  The trip does not end well, as manifested in the first couple of chapters, the rest of the book being a flash back of incidences that occur to their family down in Florida and on their way back home. 

I did not like this book at all.  The characters fell flat for me, everyone being one dimensional in their personalities.  Mary was a saint, the dad was a monster, the mom was a complainer, etc.  The book jumped around so much at the end, I didn't know what was the point of all the incidences after they drove through Georgia.  It all seemed a bit far fetched that all of those things (funeral, business law suits, suicide, divorce, etc) would happen so closely together and resulting in the conclusion of the book.  I was told this book was like "The Help", which I loved, and it didn't even come close in my opinion.  I don't object to a sad book that deals with tough issues, but I didn't really see the point in this one.

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September 18, 2012

Book Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Firelight (Firelight, #1)Firelight by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacinda is a draki, a dragon that can change into human form, and there are very few of her kind left on the earth. They are hunted mercilessly and, due to a mistake on Jacinda's part, she and her mother and sister must go into hiding in the human world.  Jacinda is not happy hiding out, but finds solace and romance with Will, a boy that turns out to be the one person she should definitely not fall in love with, for Will is a draki hunter.

I didn't think I would like this book so much by reading the excerpt, assuming it was just another forbidden love/Romeo and Juliet/Twilight copy cat.  It did have those elements at times, but the draki idea was a fresh concept and the author does a good job of describing being a dragon, the feeling of flying, and how much it means to Jacinda.  I could have done with a lot less of the love sick teenager monologue in the middle of the book, and Jacinda's mom really bugged me, but the ending picking things back up for me and I am looking forward to seeing what happens to Jacinda and Will in the upcoming series.  

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September 17, 2012

Quote of the Week: Fair

Saw this quote on Pinterest the other day, original source HERE, and I had to put it up on my chalkboard for my family to ponder.  My oldest read it, thought about it for a minute and said, "Yeah, as long as you get your 'fair share' of cotton candy!"  Hmmm...not exactly what I was expecting him to say, but he definitely understood the concept, which was the point of me writing it in the first place.  Good job, son.

September 16, 2012

Book Review: The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

The Vanishing GameThe Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow, this book really has me torn, but I'm going with the lower star rating because I thought the ending was just so ridiculous that I may have exclaimed out loud, "You have got to be kidding me!  That is the lamest ending EVER!"  I shouldn't say it was the "ending" that was the bad part.  The last chapter of the book was pretty good, but it was the final clue to solving the entire mystery that was so ridiculous.  Sorry, didn't work for me and I can't say more without spoiling it for everyone.  I'm sure there are plenty that disagree, but it just didn't add up at all in my mind.

Jocelyn's twin brother was recently killed and she is devastated.  Suddenly, she starts receiving communication from him, in a way that only she and Jack knew about.  Did her brother fake his own death?  Jocelyn must know the truth.  She is led down memory lane of her and Jack's crazy and sometimes horrific childhood through the foster care system, making her way through each stop by clues that Jack has supposedly left for her to find.  With the help of their childhood friend, Noah, can Jocelyn solve the mystery and find Jack at last?  

Read it for yourself to see if you agree with me on the mystery of Jack's disappearance.  The writing was good and the story moved along.  Some of their childhood memories were a bit much for me, so many sad things happened to them!  I did enjoy the puzzles that Jocelyn and Noah had to solve, some were pretty clever.  That was probably the only thing that really saved me from completely hating the book.

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September 9, 2012

Three Layer Cake

The next time you make a layer cake, take a couple extra minutes and add some food coloring to each pan before baking.  Your kids will love it when it is cut and served. Each of my boys got to choose a color for one layer...hence the lack of pink or purple cake.

This was a "just because" cake.  Sometimes, those are my favorite ones.  Thanks for all your messes help boys!

September 8, 2012

Book Review: The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riodan

The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sadie and Carter must save the world once again!  The dark forces of Chaos are gathering and the Kane siblings, along with their small band of fellow magicians, Egyptian gods, and a large baboon are struggling to hold the world together (literally).  Can Sadie and Carter suppress Chaos once and for all...and save those they love....or will they die trying?

I loved this concluding book in the Kane Chronicles.  The Percy Jackson books are still #1, but these were a lot of fun and I really grew to like the narrative style, switching the point of view back and forth between Sadie and Carter.  I appreciated the touches of romance throughout the book and totally called it on Sadie's little love triangle.  I liked how the author was able to solve that seemingly impossible mess and that Carter was able to have a little resolution as well.  I loved the Egyptian god characters, some of them were hilarious.  I laughed out loud several times with all of the books.  Khufu, the crazy baboon, was my favorite character out of everyone though.  His comic relief, fighting skills, and eating habits never disappoint.  Highly recommend these and will be buying them for my boys to read someday.

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September 7, 2012

Big C

A birthday present from my crafty friend, Jamie.  I love monograms, fun patterns and textures, and cool colors.  Blues and greens are my favorite.  It works out nicely since I live with a bunch of boys.  It also works out nicely when your friend knows you well and gives you a great gift.  Thanks, Jamie!

September 6, 2012

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio RacesThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every November the inhabitants of a small island community hold the Scorpio Races.  The dangerous and often deadly horse race combines riders with the mythical water horses that arise from the ocean each fall.  Catching and training them can be more dangerous than the race for some.  Sean is a Scorpio Race champion, respected and sometimes feared.  He longs for a life free, answering to no one but himself.  Puck is a spirited, young girl, looking for a way to save her family from financial ruin.  The prize money from the races can provide that for her.  Who will win the race and who will die trying?

I really liked the premise of the book.  The water horses were fascinating, based on mythological creatures and tweaked by the author's imagination.  I enjoyed the beginning of the book and how the characters were developed.  The tension and love story between the two main characters was well written.  I could taste the salty air and feel the spray in my face as I read the book, the descriptions really transported me there.  My biggest beef with the book was the pacing.  I expected the race to be a many day event and began to wonder when we were finally going to get around to actually racing.  It seemed like there was a lot of build up for this race that only took one chapter from start and finish.  Perhaps if I hadn't already planted the idea of some long, drawn out endurance race in my head, I wouldn't have been annoyed two-thirds of the way through the book, thinking, "When are we going to get to it, people?!"  It's all about expectations.  That being said, I did enjoy this story, as I have enjoyed all of this author's books.  I will continue to read her novels in the future.

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September 2, 2012

55 Years

Invite I designed for my grandparents 55th wedding anniversary.

My aunts put it on for them and did a country farm theme: gingham tablecloths, hay bales, mason jars, and sunflowers.  Hopefully I'll get to see some pictures of it soon.

Wish I could have been there, love you two!
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