Saturday, February 22, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 94

I must admit, I'm waiting with baited breath to watch the men's hockey "go for gold" game. It was so great to hear about the win of the Canadian women's hockey team. Their win was so dramatic and I'm going to try and get up at four in the morning so I can watch the Canadian men's hockey team go for gold. Canada has done terrifically wall in this Olympics and we're proud of all our athletes and any color medal they bring home. In fact, as a friend, Arnoldo expressed, "I think we should be proud for any of the athletes who get to the Olympics at all!". I totally agree, it shows their commitment to their sport, these athletes are the best the world has and to be part of the Olympics is something to be proud of even if you don't bring back a medal. 

On that note, congratulations to all the athletes who have competed and congratulations to whichever team wins the hockey game on Sunday. GO CANADA!! ;o)
Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!


Best,

I'm so lucky to have been asked to review the newest book by Harlen Coben, he's one of my favorite authors. I'll be reviewing his new book Missing You (out on March 18, 2014) so watch for that upcoming post!
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

I just read a good book that they seem to be making into a TV movie or series. The book is called "The Returned" by Jason Mott and I was so surprised to look up and see the trailer on the TV as I was sitting reading this book! I had no idea they were making it into a movie/series so it was so weird to see it. It will air in March, 2014 on the ABC network under the title "Resurrection".

This book started slowly. Like the metronome on a piano, it ticked away, giving details slowly and building a story piece by piece. The really good news is that even though the story builds slowly, the reading is so easy, you don't mind so much. This story becomes worth all the reading in the end of the book. Here's how it went for me...

First half of the book - "I'll give it three stars, it's not that exciting. Really interesting idea but the execution isn't winning."
Up to 75% done - "Ok, getting a little better, maybe more than three stars but not even three and a half yet."
Now 85% done - "Hmmm, definitely a solid three and a half stars... how is this gonna END?"
Less than 10% to go - "Wow, definitely a four star book. I didn't think it would get there."
Done - "So worth reading, it made me think and in the end I'm so glad I pushed through and didn't give up!"

Jason Mott
It's very rare for me to push through when a book doesn't keep me interested. But strangely, I couldn't say the book didn't keep my interest, it just moved in a metronomic pace, giving information and telling the story in a way that was not unenjoyable. I know that doesn't sound like a ringingly good endorsement but I don't want to mislead you into thinking it's an into the night, can't put it down kind of book. What it is is a book that stays with you and makes you wonder, ponder, think and consider. The great news is that even though the first part is slower, it's SO easy to read that you don't really notice. Let me give you a synopsis of the general story and then I'll give my opinion about why I think it works that the book starts out slowly.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's son died in 1966. They grieved but time helped smooth out the searing pain any parent who lost a child feels. Then, many years later, their son reappears, still eight years old and missing his mommy and daddy. It's happening all over the planet, loved ones who have previously passed away are returning. The author, Mr. Mott eloquently and with sparse, elegant words paints a picture of a small town dealing with "the returned" and a world dealing with the chaos these "miracles" bring. No one knows where the returned are coming from or whether it's a miracle or a curse. As communities come to the brink of collapse the author makes us deal with questions of life, death and everything in-between.

I believe that Jason Mott wrote The Returned in a slow metronomic rhythm to mimic life in general. There is always twenty four hours in a day and we each make our way through those hours in our own way. The author uses the pace of the book to show that we all have that same time constraint, what you do with it is your choice.

Oh, I shouldn't forget to tell you that Jason Mott has given several bonuses to the reader by writing three short story prequels (each is about thirty pages) that are free right now on Amazon. The three prequels can be downloaded onto a Kindle app and are named "The First", "The Choice", "The Sparrow". I liked Jason Mott's original book enough that I'm going to read these three extras this weekend! It's like finding an extra piece of candy when you thought you'd eaten it all. :o)

I highly recommend this book, it made me cry by the end of the story and also made me think throughout the telling of it.
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 93

OMG, I did it again, I did it again!! How is it that I can't keep track of which day it is??? I blame the Olympics, all the regular shows aren't on and I don't notice the difference from one day to the next! Grrrr. I must admit, I'm missing my regular programming even though the Olympics are exciting, one can get tired of them at times and just want to veg out and watch something regular. Oh well, at least Canada is doing quite well with the medals. Although I have a bone to pick with the announcers. It's not nice to say that it's a shame that an athlete didn't get the gold but ONLY got a silver or bronze. Holy COW, they're second or third best in the WORLD. I think they should give medals for the first five or ten, hehehe. What do you all think?? Here's the link for this week!
Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!


Best,




Can't wait to see everyone's art! Once again, GO CANADA!!
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Between You & Me by McLaughlin and Kraus

Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus are famous for co-writing The Nanny Diaries. Happily for readers, the duo have continued to write together and I got the opportunity to review Between You & Me. As you'll notice, this book came out last year. I read it on my Kindle in the middle of the time where I was so sick and unfortunately promptly forgot to review it. I'm therefore correcting my egregious mistake and reviewing it now.

The novel opens by introducing us to Logan, a smart but unfulfilled twenty-seven year old with an MBA. We learn that our main character has a famous cousin Kelsey who Logan grew up with but has been estranged from since their parents split them up for undisclosed reasons. Logan doesn't remember what happened almost two decades ago but she knows she misses her cousin desperately so when Logan is contacted about visiting Kelsey she jumps at the chance to reconnect.

Essentially Between You & Me is a book delving into the dark side of celebrity. Logan is thrown headlong into the role of Kelsey's assistant and it's obvious that Kelsey needs her cousin's help. Some reviewers have questioned Logan's motives about why she stayed when she learned just how awful her job would be and what she would be expected to do, overlook and put up with just to satisfy Kelsey's parents. I think this book illuminates how far one will go for loyalty and love. Kelsey's parents are nightmarish and feed of their daughter's talent and stardom but Logan feels compelled to stay and try to protect her cousin from both her own bad behavior and the abusive parents who she cannot escape.

This book is not so much a beach read as it is an all night, into the wee hours novel. I would have to give it a solid three and a half stars. I know the online book review sites won't let me choose half stars but it's just a whole lot better than just a three star book. My only caveat for not giving it four stars is that in the end one wishes one learned more about what was going to happen with Logan. The book is written through her perspective but her character isn't as fleshed out as a reader may want. The view into the celebrity superstar life is illuminating though. It gives clarity about just why Justin Beiber or Brittany Spears have gone off the rails. Fame at a young age with unhealthy parental supervision seems to lead to downfall.


The authors continue to co-write together successfully and have published several other books together, look up their book list here. Their writing is always good and although this wasn't a ten out of ten like The Nanny Diaries, it's still a good read, McLaughlin and Kraus write terrific books that peak into the relationships between people and help flesh out the motivations that may drive human behavior. Their newest book is already out, it's called The First Affair.

Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 92


Good Lord, I have a memory like a sieve lately! I swear, about twenty minutes ago I'm making my way to the washroom, yelling over my shoulder to my mom, telling her that I swear there's something I've forgotten to do today.

"Maybe I should make a list", I ruminate.

Well, it didn't take five minutes when a lightbulb went off above my head.

"It's SATURDAY today!!". Yes Jenn, it's Saturday, get your head out of the proverbial clouds. Hehehe. See, when I was previously writing themes for APR I did a huge bunch of them ahead of time, even fitting the theme into whatever season or holiday was coming up. Now, with no themes, I'm writing them on the spot, saying what's on my mind at the time. The problem is my memory seems to totally suck at the moment, hehehe. 

Anyway, I have a favor to ask of my cool, terrific and generous readers/friends. I've been really craving Baking Powder Biscuits lately! As most of you know, I have to be gluten free and baking powder biscuits are one of the few recipes I truly miss. Donuts from Tim Hortons? Nope. McDonald's Big Mac? Not really. Mom's fresh Baking Powder Biscuits? HELL YA!!

So, has anyone out there got a tried and true gluten free baking powder biscuit recipe? I know I can troll the internet but we also all know that that's a total hit and miss kind of game. You might get something terrific, or you might get a hockey puck! Speaking of hockey pucks, GO CANADA!! The women's hockey team already won against Switzerland, YAY!

Anyway, if you have a recipe to share I'd be forever in your debt. Can't wait to see your art this week. Oh, did I mention... GO CANADA!!

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!


Best,




Haven't the Sochi Olympics been interesting already, with all the tweeting about the accommodations not being finished etc? So far the sports are going off without a hitch. LOVED watching the snow board tricks last night, wow, so cool. Great addition to the Olympics, don't you think?
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: The Shadow Tracer by Meg Gardiner

I've been really lucky lately. I've come across several new good authors. In fact, Meg Gardiner is the third new author that I've added to my very long list. I keep a list of author's names to search under when I'm looking for my next good read. I was lucky enough to be asked to review The Shadow Tracer and was happy to be sent a Kindle copy.

I really liked this book, I'd have to give it at least four stars. I say at least, because one isn't allowed to give half stars, like four and a half stars out of five when reviewing book for Goodreads, Amazon or Chapters/Indigo. My usual genre is mystery, as I've said before and this fits the bill. Touted as a thriller, I'd have to also agree, Thriller/Mystery hits the nail right on the head.

Meg Gardiner has written a terrific book about about a main character named Sarah Keller and her young daughter Zoe. Sarah is a skip tracer who tracks down people who have gone on the lam, running from prosecution. The interesting twist here is that Sarah has to choose to grab Zoe and go on the lam herself. Sarah's daughter isn't actually her daughter, Zoe is the daughter of Sarah's murdered sister and when this whole scenario blows up, our main character has to take five year old Zoe and run for their lives. Will her skills as a skip tracer help her evade the people who want her dead? 

The Shadow Tracer was a real roller coaster ride. The book is filled with questions about motives, who's good and who's bad. Our main character is put through the ringer trying to find out just what is going on and who she can safely trust. I would have given this a five star (or a four and a half if I could, lol) if there were one or two few car chases. Please don't get me wrong, it's never boring  but I did feel once or twice that I wish I'd finally figure out just what was happening. That's probably just what the author intended, to turn the action up to full throttle and throw the reader headlong into a desperate need to know just what the heck was gonna happen already!! I worked, I read The Shadow Tracer into the wee hours of the morning just to finish the last page.

Ms. Gardiner has written many other books and I have to admit I've already chosen the next one I'm going to read. I can't wait to sink my teeth into Ransom River. What a great new author to add to my list!

Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 91

Oops, I almost forgot to put up APR today! Silly me, I've been busy catching up on all the things I put off before Christmas. As you may have noticed I've put up a book review last week and that will continue as I read all the books I said I'd review, lol. It's so nice to feel more energy. Talk to you all later, I'm pretty sure with art, hehehe. Happy painting!

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!


Best,




Hope you all enjoy the Olympics, GO CANADA!
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