Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

{read: bestselling fiction} The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

This is one
This is one of the best books I've read recently. It's a perfect blend of storytelling, a protagonist I liked but who was complex, and a hint of magical realism. After being disappointed by Open City, which many people loved but I couldn't get into, I was glad that this much-hyped book lived up to the buzz for me.

Natalia Stefanovi is searching for answers to her grandfather's death in a war-torn Balkan country that's strongly reminiscent of the former Yugoslavia. Like her grandfather, she's a doctor, and she learns of his death when she and her longtime friend, Zora, are traveling to an orphanage across the border, post-war, to vaccinate the children. She was the only one who knew he had cancer, but she didn't know he had left home, ostensibly to see her, and she didn't know that he had died until she returns a page from her grandmother. (She and Zora have pagers but no cell phones.)

Pieces of this book hit just the right tone, neither too subtle nor too heavy handed. I was almost holding my breath, waiting to see if Tea got it right, and I was never disappointed. In this, she reminds me of Tom Franklin and his dialogue in Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Although these are two completely different stories, the authors find just the right tone and approach.

I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who doesn't mind a touch of the magical (a deathless man, for example) in their fiction. I know I'll be reading it again.

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (Random House, 2011)
My rating: 4 stars

Don’t miss these two great author events!
It’s {th}ink's first giveaway! You could win a signed, personalized copy of You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon.

April 1 - Author Nina Revoyr (Wingshooters) will be at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., at 7 p.m. (See other tour dates/locations.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

{crafts} Egg inspiration

It is just about that time of year - Easter eggs! I have always loved decorating eggs. I think it is a great activity for anyone at any age. Each year we have a contest to see who can create the ugliest, most unique, brown egg. Wouldn't it be wonderful to create some beautiful eggs this year? The techniques below show how you can create delightful egg centerpieces. Enjoy!

Crafts by Amanda shares 7 Cool Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs.

Martha Stewart creates these cool Paper-Napkin Decoupage Eggs

Celebrations at Home explains how some simple add-ons can make eggs beautiful: Decorating Easter Eggs.

Sewing and Crafting with Sarah shows you how to create a cute egg holder:
Easter Eggs for Spring Decor.

And don't miss {th}ink's first giveaway! You could win a signed, personalized copy of You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

{a thought for Thursday} Butterflies

"...butterflies were wind energy made visible."
Anne Lamott (Imperfect Birds)

See Anne Lamott on tour for the paperback release of Imperfect Birds! For those of you in the Milwaukee area, she's speaking at Alverno College on April 12. Tickets are $16 and include a signed, paperback copy of Imperfect Birds. Buy tickets by calling Alverno's box office (414-382-6044).

And don't miss {th}ink's first giveaway! You could win a signed, personalized copy of You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

{giveaway} Win a personalized, signed copy of You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon!

Author Siobhan Fallon has graciously agreed to give away a signed, personalized copy of You Know When the Men are Gone to one randomly chosen reader of this blog!

Read our review
and get ready to win!

Buy It:

Don't want to wait? Buy the book now at Siobhan Fallon's website. A purchase is not necessary to enter the giveaway.

Win It:

{th}ink is giving away a signed copy Siobhan Fallon'sYou Know When the Men are Gone to one lucky winner. This giveaway is open worldwide. Entries must be received by April 1 and the winner will be announced April 5. For a chance to win, you must do the following:

Required: (You must do No. 1 in order to qualify for the giveaway)

1. Answer the following question in the comments to this blog entry: What is the most interesting thing you learned from Siobhan's Q&A section on her website?

Optional/Additional Entries:

2. Follow {th}ink via Google Friend Connect. Current followers count!

3. Follow bookreviewcraft on Twitter: Current followers count!

4. Tweet the following (can be tweeted daily): Siobhan Fallon's You Know When the Men are Gone Giveaway @bookreviewcraft:

5. Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post on this blog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

{craft along} - Knitting Squares & Inspiration

Lets keep going with our Bright Garter Patches Throw. This week I ran out of the Sweat Pea yarn so I switched to the Lamb colored yarn. It was nice to change it up and knit with a different color. I have two more squares complete. Here is what my pattern looks like with the knitted squares filled in:

Happy Spring! I am excited to show off some handmade crafting inspiration with a beautiful spring theme. This is what we are loving:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

{read: inspiration} This is Water by David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace, perhaps best known for Infinite Jest, his 1,000-page fiction opus (still on my to-read list), as well as essays about attending the Illinois State Fair and going on a cruise (“A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” published in an essay collection by the same name that I did read and love), can make you laugh out loud with his cutting observations. He can also make you think, “Yes! That’s exactly right.” This is Water is the 2005 commencement address that he gave at Kenyon College. The text of the address was published in 2009, following Wallace’s 2008 suicide. It wasn’t commonly known that he suffered from severe depression, and reading his 2005 remarks knowing what is to come is bittersweet. Although I attended a state public university and not a liberal arts school, I can relate to what he said to those young graduates, and now that I’m in my early 30s, I know this: He got it right.

This book is a dose of inspiration, a way to choose to escape from the day-to-day drudgery of life and its endless, petty irritations: groceries that eternally need to be bought, bumper-to-bumper traffic with rude drivers. You can listen to the speech, delivered by Wallace himself, in Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube. To hear it in his own voice is moving, but I also like to have the book so that I can find the parts that I like and read them whenever I want to. The whole book doesn’t take long to read, maybe 15 minutes. Pick it up today for a dose of inspiration or listen to the speech on YouTube, and take a minute to mourn the passing of one of the great writers of our day and celebrate his insights.

This is Water by David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company, 2009)
My rating: 5 stars

Monday, March 14, 2011

{crafts} Inspirational crafting sites

Today we are going to take a break from our craft-a-long and have a look at some inspirational craft sites. These are geared towards kids and they have some wonderful ideas to get your creative juices flowing. There is nothing better than a day spent creatively with a child. It is so fun to watch them create.

Jean Van't Hul has many wonderful ideas on her blog: The Artful Parent
The blog is full of photographs showing her art projects. She does them with her own children, as well as with groups of children. Many of the projects you can accomplish with materials you already have laying around the house.

Monoprinting project on The Artful Parent.

Julie Voigt shares her experience on her blog: Art for Small Hands
This blog is full of projects which are geared towards groups, but if you are looking to do a project with one or two children you can gather inspiration from her lessons. Although some projects require special equipment, like a kiln, there are ideas that can be created with common art materials.

When looking for a craft project, blogs often have a lot of inspirational ideas. Gather your materials and spend a nice afternoon crafting with your little one. It could be messy, but also a lot of fun!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

{a thought for Thursday} Two Lives

“I often feel sorry for people who don’t read good books;
they are missing a chance to lead an extra life.”
Scott Corbett

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

{read: vampire fiction} The Radleys by Matt Haig

I confess that the vampire craze has passed me by. I tried to read the popular Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer but couldn’t make it halfway through the first book. The fascination with blood-sucking vampires is just something that hasn’t bitten me. However, I did enjoy this book about current-day vampires living in London, trying to be just like the neighbors. British author Matt Haig brings to life the struggles of a family that just wants to be “ordinary” like the other neighbors. The parents have abstained from blood-sucking, whether it be each other’s blood or that of ordinary humans, despite the ill effects it causes: headaches, weakness, rashes. They just don’t feel well. But they (especially the wife, Helen) think it’s more important to abstain than to feel healthy, so they do. In fact, they’ve been abstaining so long and so successfully that they’ve never told their children that they are vampires. Although their son suffers from rashes and abnormally pale skin that burns in the palest sunlight, the secret must be kept -- until their daughter decides to become a vegetarian. She can’t understand why animals always run away from her and think maybe this will help. Unfortunately, depriving herself of all meat has a tragic side effect. When a boy starts to molest her at a party, she bites his hand to get away … and then she can’t stop. Before she knows it, she’s killed him and ripped him apart, eaten his flesh. Horrified, she calls her mother. Her parents rush to the rescue. And, of course, they end up confessing their secret to their children.

The plot unwinds from there as the parents try to keep their daughter safe from the authorities and all four struggle to figure out how to mesh their “normal” lives with their vampire cravings. After all, how long can you really deny who you really are?

Although I’m not a vamp lit fan, I enjoyed this quick read because some of the plot twists were surprising and yet felt exactly right. The characters were easy to identify with, and it was a pleasant trip into another world. Isn’t that what all good books should be?

The Radleys by Matt Haig (Canongate Ltd., 2010)
My rating: 4 stars

Monday, March 7, 2011

{craft along} - Knitting Squares

A bit of a busy week behind and another one to come. I only got three squares done this past week, but that is ok. There is no deadline for this project, we will just knit along until it is complete.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

{a thought for Thursday} Carpe Diem!

"Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you could do. If you lived in that world, what would you do? Go. Do that." -- from Poke the Box by Seth Godin

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

{read: mystery} A Very Simple Crime by Grant Jerkins

This mystery reminded me of James Patterson. That might be good for author Grant Jerkins, since Patterson is a hot author these days, but it wasn’t a hit with me. The chapters are very short, which made the story choppy, and the characters felt superficial.

A Very Simple Crime is the story of two brothers. The wife of one ends up dead after being left alone with their son, a mentally retarded man prone to violence. Throw in a prosecutor who is desperate to regain his reputation after setting free a serial child killer and being relegated to processing traffic violations, and you have all the elements you need for a great thriller mystery - but for me, it didn’t get there. There was a lot of violence against women in this book, and I thought that it seemed gratuitous. Perhaps it was supposed to show the character (or lack thereof) of the two brothers, but I thought that Jerkins got carried away. I had high expectations for this book based on its reviews, but I was disappointed.

A Very Simple Crime has been optioned as a screenplay, and it almost seems like Jerkins was writing more for Hollywood than for the reader. It will probably make a better movie than it did a book. I wouldn’t read another one by him.

A Very Simple Crime by Grant Jerkins (Berkley Trade, 2010)
My rating: 2 stars