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Friday, December 20, 2013

Cross My Heart by James Patterson

Cross My Heart (Alex Cross, #21)Cross My Heart by James Patterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story was as good or better than most of the other books in the series! 

Alex hunts a serial killer as a killer, obsessed with proving that he is smarter than Alex, hunts his family.  As a reader, you and "smarty" see both strands unfold, but Alex only sees one until it is almost too late. :(  And then the story STOPS!!!!! There is no ending.

Patterson set us up and then snatched away the conclusion holding us hostage to the next book. How do I feel about that?  Grossly manipulated, extorted and frustrated. When I purchase a book, I expect to get all of the story.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci

The Sixth Man (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, #5)The Sixth Man by David Baldacci

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!  This one is a roller coaster!  And, the ending was a total surprise!  When you begin this mystery refrain from thinking that you will have it figured out halfway through the story.  Then get ready to learn a lot about U.S. intelligence agencies, the complex business of data gathering and data analysis, and the quest for power in government.  There is enough substance here to keep you engaged through 80 plus chapters.

Edgar Roy is an amazing character.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

The Silver StarThe Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Silver Star is a complex story told seamlessly by Jeannette Walls author of the memoir The Glass Castle.  Clearly, she drew upon her memoir to create the characters Bean, age 12, and Liz, age 15, for this novel. I am always amazed when an author creates children that are so authentic that you can remember thinking and behaving like them when you were a kid.  If I had to conjure these memories on my own, I would fail.  That makes it so sweet to have Ms. Walls do the conjuring leaving me to just enjoy them.

Above all, this novel reminds us that being a kid is not as easy as it might appear.  While their mother tries to find a career in music after a series of poor decisions in her small hometown that send her out on her own without much of a plan, Liz and Bean fend for themselves, existing on chicken potpies and going to school, during many long periods when their mother leaves them alone.  Liz is a creative girl who keeps her worries from her younger sister all the while distracting her with word games and make-believe.  She is the protector.  Bean, is smart and resourceful.  She idolizes Liz and depends upon her. She learns from her. The story allows us to watch as Bean and Liz subtly change roles.

I marveled at the unconditional love between these sisters. The characters are very well-developed.  I cared about them. The story is heartwarming and a joy to read.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween was so much fun this year. :)
Judy asked for help decorating her car for Grace's school "Trunk or Treat."  Rob suggested a ghost because her car is white.  Here is the concept that I developed.  Judy and I put it together in 1/2 hour!

If you ever have to decorate a car trunk for Halloween, this ghost is EASY, simple and elegant.
  1. Use binder clips to hang a white sheet from the trunk lid.
  2. Place a couple of battery powered lanterns inside the trunk and turn them on.
  3. From poster board, use a box cutter to carve out two oval eyes and a quirky mouth.
  4. Use large safety pins (I strung two big ones together above each eye) to attach the eyes to the sheet.
  5. Suspend the mouth from the eyes with fishing line. 
It was a bit like a mobile. The weight of the sheet and a gently breeze made it move.
We used ghost face plastic treat bags lined up under the bumper to hold the candy.  I found them in the grocery store.  It was unique!

Here are my favorite pictures from the day.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Jersey Shore, Winter 2012"

This is the quilt that I am donating to the Nutley Thriving Survivors this year.  It will be a door prize at their brunch on Sunday, October 27, 2013.

"Jersey Shore, October 2012"

Quilt size:  64” X 65”    Date Finished:  April, 2012     Machine pieced and machine quilted

The ocean in winter at the Jersey shore was the inspiration for this quilt.  The miles of boardwalk and blocks of homes are mirrored in the linear design.  The colors are those of winter at the shore.

Standing on the boardwalk at dusk in the off season, dark power was visible in the colors of the sky, the water and the beach.  There was a feeling of quiet energy.  I tried to capture all of this in these colors.  The purples represent the sea.  The tans and browns bring together the sand and boardwalk.  The pinks and greens are the colors of closed boardwalk businesses and homes.  Aqua squares are the bright spots in the view – the wave caps, last rays of the sun, lights coming on along the boardwalk.

Now, after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the shore in October 2012, I think of the aqua squares as bright spots in a storm – the volunteers, neighbors and public safety workers who were there to lend a hand.  In that way, aqua symbolizes “community,” the same kind of “community” that helps survivors thrive.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hannah's First Overnight Visit...

...was a blast.  A little thinker, she processes information and takes things in stride.  She is like her Dad and Uncle Rob in that way.  She is also an investigator like her Dad.  Able to focus on objects and cause/effect processes, Miss Hannah has remarkable concentration.

  • Putting the dollhouse garage on the floor permits a better focus on moving the car in and out, and examining the people and furniture on the rooftop patio.
  • The bucket of little animals contains two of each animal. She can hold one in each hand, put that pair down and find two more that match.
  • The small set of blocks is magnetic.  Hannah found that they stick to the dominoes tin.

While her Mom and Dad enjoyed the local AMC Dine-In Theatre, Hannah and I had dinner.  Then she had her bath, a story, play, and to bed.  She slept until 6 a.m. or so, then looked for her Mom a bit, no tears though.  Assuring her that Mom and Dad would  come to Nana's, we looked at their pictures in my Nexus for a while, and another while, and then went on with our morning.  Mom and Dad were here when she woke from her nap after lunch. :)  They got an animated welcome from their little angel. :)

I think that Miss Hannah may be a Friday night guest often.  I love this whole grandchild business.

Tonight, I am having dinner with Kathryn and CJ. (Rob's busy season at work, he is traveling now.)  So, I will see what Mr. CJ is up to.  When I saw him on Wednesday, he showed me airplanes when he heard them overhead.  And, of course we played ball. :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Explorations: Barron Arts Center

On Sunday, 9/22/13, I visited Barron Arts Center to see "iView: Analysis."

 Featuring 16 fiber artists and their impressions of our world, the exhibit was an amazing presentation of 64 pieces that each measured 4" x 6". The size of postcards. Each artists presented four related works representing their view of "i". Some type of rug hooking, punch hooking or Russian needle punch had to be present in at least part of one of their four pieces. Each artist created a story that brought viewers into their own visual world.

This series was my favorite.

The artist is Kim Dubay from Maine.  Here is the description in her own words.
"These hand-stitched merit badges are reminiscent of what young girls in scouts would earn. My hope is that the viewer think about these "lost arts" and realize our lives do not need to be taken over by technology!" Pictured from top left and going clockwise are:  Letter Writing, Making Things by Hand, Talking Face to Face, and Reading a Book.

And, the Arts Center was an interesting building too.  This was my first of what will be many visits.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Moving after 43 years on Warren Street...

...was not so difficult after all!

Here is my new place.
Tiger Moving Company did a fantastic job of packing me up on August 1st. and moving me here on August 2nd. Because they moved the boxes to their truck as they packed, I didn't see how many boxes there were until they unloaded them at my new home. What a shock! I thought that I would be lucky to have them all unpacked by Christmas. :(  However, without television or cell phone service immediately available, I found myself working full-time unpacking and getting information the old-fashioned way (asking questions of real people and consulting phone books).

I have to give high marks to my kids, Jackie and Rob, and their spouses Kat and Adam, and to you Aunt Jackie for emotional support and physical labor. Moving would not have been possible without you guys and gals.  I love you.

So, here are a few interior photos requested by my sister, Debbie.  I wish that you could come for a visit, but I understand how physically difficult that would be for you.

 The building lobby,
 community room,
 game & party room,
fitness center,
and library.

Here is my apartment dining area,
living room,
 and den, sewing room.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pool Party

The Reeves cooked out last weekend and invited the Carneys and me.  The little ones "christened" the kiddie pool.  Kudos to Adam and Jackie for hosting a wonderful summer afternoon.  Enjoy the video. :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Alex Cross, Run" by James Patterson

Alex Cross, Run (Alex Cross, #20)Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love James Patterson's detective, Alex Cross.  So, I was eagerly anticipating another thrill ride when I finally downloaded "Alex Cross, Run" to my Mp3 player.  As serial killings and vengeance plots unfolded and Alex tackled the crimes in his expert fashion, I found that I was suddenly tired of him.  This story tried to break new frontiers for the series by increasing the layers of crime.  It's time for Patterson to take Alex away from serial killers and psychopaths and give him some fresh new challenge.

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"The 7th Month" by Lisa Gardner

The 7th Month (Detective D.D. Warren #5.5)The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Detective D.D. Warren is seven months pregnant when she agrees to sign on as a consultant to a movie company making a film about a serial killer victimizing women in Boston.  In short order, she finds herself embroiled in a real murder in a graveyard with 104 potential killers.

A short story with spiraling complications, "The 7th Month" was a good listen as I traveled.

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"One Summer" by David Baldacci

One SummerOne Summer by David Baldacci

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now and then, David Baldacci breaks out of his crime, mystery, thriller mode and writes a really touching story.  One Summer is one of these, all ready for Hallmark to buy and produce as a special. 

David, military veteran and terminally ill father cared for by Lizzie, devoted wife and love of his life, are raising their three children when their downs go further down and their ups struggle to rebound. It's a roller coaster that stretches believability.

I'm not sure that I could have kept reading this story as a print and paper book.  The audio book helped me pass the time as I traveled the GSP.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Grace's Sixth Birthday Party

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Hannah's First Easter Egg Hunt

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CJ's First Easter

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Hannah's First Birthday

Little Miss Hannah celebrated her first birthday with a Luau Birthday Party on March 16, 2013.
It was a snowy day for a luau.
Jackie's house was very welcoming.
Leis, Hawaiian print table linens and paper goods, beach towels on the floor beach balls, and resort casual wear were everywhere.

Adam made Blue Hawaiians for the adults.  We all snacked on finger sandwiches of peanut butter and jelly/ham and cheese, fruit salad, rainbow-colored goldfish crackers, chips, Sugarush cookies, Hershey Kisses...
The guest of honor.

...and, of course cake! d caption

Hannah's first birthday cake.

CJ with Aunt Jackie
The favors were coconut drinking cups with straws (for toddlers) filled with Hawaiian-shirted little rubber ducks and packages of colored tablets to dissolve in bath water to create various colored baths.  FUN!
Blowing out the candles
It was a very good afternoon.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Snowy Day

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Holidays 2013

Catching up.

The holidays were so busy and happy.  Time with family and friends created so many good moments and memories that will last. This was the first Thanksgiving for Hannah and CJ at their Nana's.

 It was also their first Christmas, Kyle's 12th. and Grace's 5th.

 I stayed over with Rob and Kathryn to see CJ on Christmas morning. Then we went to Visit Grace and Kyle on their Christmas morning.  We stayed to have breakfast with them. Grace came with us to visit Jackie, Adam and Hannah.  We had dinner together there with Adam's folks, John and Joyce and his brother Thomas. 

It was a Christmas filled with new traditions, happy kids and the warmth of family.
Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has a terrific plot. Without giving away the story and spoiling the tension, it is almost impossible to describe.  Think of a marriage that appears perfect, but that has gone horribly wrong in a really disturbing way.

"Disturbing" is the best way to describe this novel; disturbing events, disturbing language, disturbing conclusion.

It left me feeling "disturbed."


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