Friday, June 2, 2017

book review: Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours by Christine Schmidt.

I'll admit, it has been a looooong time between when I got this book and now, when I'm finally reviewing it. I'll also admit that I don't really have time right now to test drive any of the cute, quirky crafts in this lovely little book, what with the twins due to arrive in 6 weeks or less! But that doesn't stop me from admiring the projects within this book and certainly making mental bookmarks for future endeavors.

Make It Yours by Christine Schmidt is a light, airy, colorful, and approachable collection of DIYs and crafts that center more around types of patterns than project type. It lays out instructions on how to embellish items from scarves and t-shirts and tote bags to dressers and wall art and upholstery. Projects are labeled by difficulty, and utilize a wide variety of techniques like screen printing, dyeing, stamping, stenciling, iron-ons, and more. Provided with the projects are tons of templates you can test drive before going off with your own patterns.

I've always been curious about some of the techniques in this book, like stamping and especially screen printing. I would definitely use this book instructionally to try out some of Christine's projects, even if I'd have my own patterns or applications in mind!

For more on Christine Schmidt, Yellow Owl Workshop, or this book, check out these links:

Happy crafting!

**Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, all opinions are my own!

Friday, February 10, 2017

book(ish) review: amazing animal facts postcards by maja säfström

This review is a little different! It's not exactly a book review, but it's not exactly not one, either. Confused yet?

Awhile back I fell in love with Maja Säfström's book, The Illustrated Compendium of Animal Facts. So, for a couple of reasons, I jumped at the chance to check out her Amazing Animal Facts postcard set! First off, the postcards contained within are based off the aforementioned book, which I loved. Also, I had the fun idea of framing some of the postcards for the twins' nursery and/or our kiddos' playroom. Perfect way to see these cute, quirky illustrations and fun facts all the time!

Well, after looking through this postcard set, I was not disappointed and I definitely plan to frame some of the cards for the nursery. I really like the keepsake setup of the box, and the fact that the black-and-white postcards are colorable. The material they're printed on is sturdy, but perfect for coloring. I'm not sure whether I'll go that route or if I'll just mat them with bright colors to make them pop. Either way, Avery is going to love looking at the different animals, and the twins will, too, later on!

(I think the owls are my favorite.)

I highly recommend checking out these cute postcards from a really great artist. Especially if you have kiddos--they'd love looking through all the amazing animals!

For more on Maja Säfström, her artwork, and her books, check out these links:

**Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, all opinions are my own!

book review: the lost hero (heroes of olympus, book I) by rick riordan.

I've been meaning to start this series for ages, and I finally did it!

(The Heroes of Olympus series)
by Rick Riordan
Disney-Hyperion, 2012
4.5/5 stars

From the publisher:

Jason has a problem. He doesn't remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she's his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they're all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids." What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea-except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he's in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn't recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?

Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What's troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper's gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all-including Leo-related to a god.

Rick Riordan, the best-selling author of the Percy Jackson series, pumps up the action and suspense in The Lost Hero, the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series. Fans of demi-gods, prophesies, and quests will be left breathless--and panting for Book Two.

As I mentioned, I've been meaning to read The Heroes of Olympus series for a long time. I really enjoyed the Percy Jackson series--not without some criticisms, and not without favoring some books in the series over others. But as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the series as the fun, funny, adventurous romp that it is, populated by colorful characters against the backdrop of Greek mythology painted with a light, humorous, modern touch. So, of course I've intended to dive into the follow-up series at some point. It's been a few years, but here I am, back to the world of the demigods!

The Good:

  • I think if I had read this right after finishing the Percy Jackson series, I would've been disappointed in the switch to shifting points of view, because it's not Percy and because it's a big difference from the previous series. But having waited quite awhile, I actually really enjoyed the switch up.
  • Just a great, solid story from Riordan! Tightly woven, wonderfully plotted, exciting and engaging. It pulled me in immediately. This guy does epic adventures well.
  • I love the subtle way this story takes a step toward being more grown up than the original Percy series. Longer, more epic, more complicated, older characters...but young, avid Percy fans could jump in and not be out of their depth by any stretch. The writing style is basically the same, even if just a bit more mature with the distance from Percy. Because, let’s face it, he's not the most mature demigod!
  • The characters were great. Jason maybe fell the most flat, but with no memories, that's kind of forgivable. Piper and Leo were nicely fleshed out and quite relatable and likable.

The Bad:

  • I don't have any serious criticisms. This solid series opener was better written than some of the Percy installments, in my opinion. If anything, you could argue that it was almost too much of the same, but...if you finish the Percy books and are ready to dive into the Heroes series, you're probably not looking for something wildly divergent from the demigod adventures you know and love.

The Unexpected:

  • Not much to report here, either. The story pretty much played out and read how I expected it to based on my Percy experience, if not a little more maturely (see the good above).
  • As far as finer points go, there were some pretty juicy twists and reveals that surprised me! But I can't spoil them for you, sorry! ;)

The Takeaway:

Loved it! I was not disappointed. I'm ready to dive into the rest of the series, which I hope continues strong with the momentum of The Lost Hero. If you enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, I think you'll love this one, and if you haven't read Percy yet and you enjoy fast-paced, funny fantasy-adventure, you've got a lot of catching up to do!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

book review: the princess diarist by carrie fisher.

*I'm playing around with a new format for book reviews! Let me know what you think!*

The Princess Diarist
by Carrie Fisher
Blue Rider Press, 11/22/16
4.5/5 stars

From the publisher:

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. 

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a regular teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

I finally finished reading The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher, and I'm so glad I did. The timing could not have been more, well, timely, with her recent passing. I had begun the book before she passed away, and finished it after the fact. It certainly brought a whole different perspective to my reading of the book.

The Good:

  • I just plain enjoyed reading this book. I went into it knowing who I was dealing with, meaning I had certain expectations for a bit of craziness, rawness, brashness, and even lewdness, and maybe I encountered more of some of those parts and less of others than I expected. It was an excusably jumbled collection of funny, often well-written, yet sometimes foggy memories and feelings. It was emotional and revealing and sad. Much more sad than I expected. Perhaps made more sad by Carrie's passing. 
  • Overall, it was something I came away from glad I had read. I feel like I understand the enigma that was Carrie Fisher just a bit more from having read it. I am going to have to read her other memoirs at some point, now.
  • Some parts were so funny and witty! Carrie may have had a sharp tongue in interviews, but she had an even more honed wit with the pen. 

The Bad:

  • I don't feel like I have any major criticisms of this. It's not a work of fiction. It is a piece of her heart. Sometimes it read like a confused, contradictory, jumbled mess, but I felt like that only reflected Carrie's clouded memories and feelings about that portion of her life. 
  • If there was anything truly bad, it's that the focus of this book sort of lasered in on the lead-up to her casting in Star Wars, the affair, the diary pages themselves, and then a meandering sort of wrap-up that brought us into the present. I wanted more details on life during Episodes V and VI. How were things between Carrie and Harrison then, when their affair had broken off but they were still working together? I wanted more details on other parts of her life, too, but I realize those parts have been covered in other memoirs and were too much to pack in here, again. It's not necessarily a bad thing that I came away wanting to read her other memoirs, though!

The Unexpected:

  • I expected more of the book to be her diaries from during the filming of Star Wars, and less her unpacking the situation before, during, and after for the reader.
  • I was surprised by how Carrie's writing voice was less reflective of her wild, brash public persona, and more introspective and thoughtful (all the while as wry and witty as you'd expect from her). If I had read any of her previous works, I'm sure I would have expected that. But it made the narrative all the more raw and sad when you realized she was a bit more down-to-earth than you thought she was.
  • Sure, it was her telling of the affair she had with then-married, much older Harrison Ford. But it was told in MUCH less racy detail and much more emotional detail than I expected.
  • I had no idea so much of the diary portion was written in the form of poetry! It was fascinating to digest nineteen-year-old-Carrie's feelings through the vehicle of her verse. 

The Takeaway:

There's no better time to read this book and get a glimpse into Carrie Fisher's last emotional, funny, witty, revealing memoir. I highly recommend it!