Monday, December 31, 2012

Final 2012 Layouts

December 2012 Album: 29th - 31st

November & December Photo I Love pages

December 2012 Our Month in Numbers

I'm excited to complete these three projects as 2012 winds to a close today. My 2012 Photos I Love 8x8 album is on the shelf, and I'm looking forward to getting my Month in Numbers and December daily digital pages uploaded to Persnickety Prints later this week for printing. Did you finish up any projects as the year comes to a close?

Book Series Reviews

If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you already know that I am an avid reader and enjoy an eclectic mix of books. This year I've read several book series and am sharing my thoughts on those today.

  A Rose Remembered 


One of the teen girls I've mentored loaned me her favorite book series, The Secret of the Rose by Michael Phillips. This book series takes place primarily in Prussia and Germany before, during and after World War II. The story follows Sabina von Dortmann, a young lady in the years before the war, and Matthew, an American living overseas with his diplomatic father, throughout their lives. I honestly learned a lot from these historical fiction books, however they were what I would call "slow" reads - very informative but difficult to get through because of the German & Russian names & places and the multitude of characters. There were numerous plots and sub-plots throughout the series - click the links below for more detail about each book.

I collect children's and young adult books, and one of my favorite series is the American Girl series. This year I read all six of the Addy books about a girl growing up during the Civil War. I love the way these books are stories about the everyday life of girls yet they teach so much history and reflect life in a particular time period.

The My Name is America and Dear America series are similar books - they share stories of one person while including history within the story. These books are written in the form of journals, however I think the writing is occasionally above the level of the youth who is supposed to be writing the journal. This year I read three of these books:
(1) The Journal of Jesse Smoke : A Cherokee Boy, Trail of Tears, 1838
(2) Color Me Dark: The Diary of Nellie Lee Love--The Great Migration North, Chicago, Illinois, 1919
(3) The Great Railroad Race: The Diary of Libby West, Utah Territory 1868

I read the final two books in the Inheritance Cycle series this year, too. I read the first couple of books in this series over five years ago when I was still teaching middle school and many of my students were reading these books. I recently finished up the final two books, completing the 860-page Inheritance a couple of days ago. These books remind me of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series with humans, dwarves, elves, and various other species. The primary characters are Eragon, a farm boy who becomes the last Rider, and his dragon, Saphira. These two go through many adventures and battles as they help save the Empire. I thoroughly enjoyed these books, however they were each very long and it sometimes took me a while to get into them. (And besides that, the hardback copies I have were much too heavy to hold while I was riding the exercise bike!)

Have you read any good book series lately?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Reviews

I haven't done a good job this year of reviewing the books I've read. I've read 58 books and have reviewed only 24 of them here. So, I thought I'd do a couple of posts with quick reviews of some of my favorites. Today I'll share a few of the individual books I read, and tomorrow I'll share about some of the book series I either read, completed or started this year.

This Christian non-fiction book by Debbie Macomber was recommended by my friend Ellyn for my monthly book club meeting. One Perfect Word shares the author's stories of her focus on one word for a year. She began this practice many years ago, and I really enjoyed reading the stories about how the words helped shape her life and focus. This would be a great read for scrapbookers who participate in Ali Edwards One Little Word project. The author is not a scrapbooker, however she does offer advice at the end of each chapter with ideas and suggestions to maintain focus on the word.

Constantly Craving: How to Make Sense of Always Wanting More is Marilyn Meberg's newest book. I heard the author speak at a couple of Women of Faith conferences several years ago and always enjoy her spiritual insights tinged with bits of humor and stories/examples from her own life. This book looks at our cravings and offers advice on how to manage them as we await the fulfilment of our primary craving (for relationship with Christ) in heaven. [I downloaded this e-book free from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.]

I always enjoy Anne Rivers Siddons' books, but I have to be sure I don't have a lot of other commitments when I start one . . . they are hard to put down. Sweetwater Creek was no exception as she once again drew me in with her characters and description of the South Carolina low country. This story focus on 12-year-old Emily who lives with her father and brothers on a plantation where they raise hunting dogs. Emily is a born trainer, but her life changes dramatically when LuLu (a rich 20-year-old) comes to stay with them one summer.

I found a copy of Stacy Julian's Simple Scrapbooks several months ago at a used bookstore. This book has ideas for a variety of theme and mini-albums. Stacy wrote this book after she initially developed the system she now calls her Library of Memories and teaches in the Finding Photo Freedom workshop at BPC. I enjoyed the variety of ideas for albums in this book and will be incorporating some ideas from it in my 2013 scrapping.

I have enjoyed most of Frank Peretti's previous novels, so when I saw that he had a new one out I added it to my To-Read list this year. Illusion: A Novel is classified as a Christian fiction, however the spiritual focus of the author's previous novels is missing. The book is about two magicians who married and performed together for years before a fatal car crash took the wife's life. Or did it? Dane meets a young girl who looks just like Mandy did when they met forty years ago. What follows is an intriguing tale of magic, time travel, illusion, deception, and corruption with lots of surprises along the way. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Have you read any of these books? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on them in the comments. And, of course, I'm always up for books suggestions as I prepare my 2013 To-Read list (and for a fun reading challenge I'm joining in - which I'll share about soon).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 2012 Album: 23rd - 28th

We had plans to be out of town this week, however Winter Storm Euclid arrived and we have instead enjoyed a relaxing week at home. Here's a look at more of the 7x5 digital pages for my December 2012 Album. (See my other pages here and here and here.)

I hope you're enjoying these last few days of 2012 & making plans for a fantastic new year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 2012 Album: 14th - 22nd

As always, this month has been busy around here, but I found time today to catch up on the 7x5 digital pages for my December 2012 Album. (See my other pages here and here.)

We're looking forward to Christmas and a little road trip to bring this year to a close. It's hard to believe there are only nine days left in 2012 - what do you have planned?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 2012 Album: 8th - 13th

Here are six more 7x5 digital pages for my December 2012 Album. (See my first seven pages here.)

I'll have more to share about those mini-album projects in a few days. Are you doing a December album this year? How's it coming along?